Truth is stranger than fiction. And real stories sometimes have much more power than the fictitious ones.
Mahesh Bhatt’s latest presentation Woh Lamhe is no fanciful creation of an imaginative writer. It is rather an unraveling of the turbulent relationship that Mahesh Bhatt had with the late actress Parveen Babi .
While none but Bhatt can tell how authentic an account ‘Woh Lamhe’ is of his stormy affair with Babi, the movie does come across as a hard-hitting, complicated love story between an aspiring filmmaker and a schizophrenic actress.
The movie is multi-layered. It is the story of a woman who is gradually sucked into the whirlpool of her own madness. It is the tale of a man who fights against all odds to save the woman he loves and helplessly watches her go insane. It also takes a dig at the film industry where professional contracts and money takes precedence over a human being. And, last but not the least, it is Bhatt’s final farewell to the woman he loved and lost.
At the first glance, ‘Woh Lamhe’ seems like too mature a concept to handle for a 25-year-old director. But Mohit Suri , with guidance from his mentor Bhatt, handles the theme with remarkable sensibility and sensitivity. The movie doesn’t make us feel pity for the ultra-phobic female protagonist. We rather feel empathy and sympathy for a woman who has no control over her unfortunate fate.
Kangana Ranaut deserves full credit for bringing astonishing credibility to her character in the film. She plays actress Sana Azim, who is at the prime of her acting career. Shiney Ahuja plays an out-of-work filmmaker Aditya Garewal, who is looking for an opportunity to get his lucky break. He doesn’t mind using Sana to make his own career as a filmmaker, until he falls in love with her.
The film breezes on a rather light note all through the first half, with ear-catchy songs by Pritam (‘Kya Mujhe Pyaar Hai’ and ‘Chal Chale’) and with many moments of unexpressed emotions between Aditya and Sana. The sequence in which Sana is raped by her dominant boyfriend (Shaad Randhawa) does stand out like a bolt from the blue.
In the second half, the film takes a rather serious course when Sana’s insanity begins to come to the fore. She begins to hallucinate. In her delusions she begins to see a woman who warns her that everyone is out to kill her. Sana loses her trust in people. She even suspects Aditya.
While the people in the film industry and Sana’s mother want her to undergo electric-shock treatment, Aditya objects and elopes with her to Goa where he hopes that Sana will get cured by his care and love. But destiny has something else in store for Sana. She vanishes. Years later, when Aditya meets Sana again, she is on her deathbed.
‘Woh Lamhe’ is the story of love, loss and despair. It is a Kangana Ranaut film all the way. And the girl does a laudable job in her very second acting assignment after Gangster . She does have the making of a talented actress. The love, the fear, the dementia and the resignation that she brings to her character has to be seen to be believed.
Shiney Ahuja continues to live upto his reputation. He brings a required mix of confidence and helplessness to his character. He does get his golden sequences in the second half (his altercation with Sana’s mother, for example) where he gets to show his histrionics.
Shaad Randhawa is efficient in his brief negative role. Masumi (playing Kangana’s delusion) is effective.
On the whole, ‘Woh Lamhe’ is a well-crafted, finely written, beautifully enacted movie that is definitely worth a watch.