Planet Bollywood
Producer: Mandeep Singh/ Cutting Edge Entertainment
Director: Vikram Bhatt
Starring: Amitabh Bachchan, John Abraham, Bipasha Basu, Supriya Pilgaonkar, Pramod Moutho, Tom Alter, Shruti Ulfat, Ali Asgar
Music: Rajesh Roshan
Lyrics: Nasir Faraaz, Ibrahim Ashq, Chandrashekhar Rajit,
Genre: Drama
Recommended Audience: Parental Guidance
Film Released on: 23 January 2004
Reviewed by: Rakesh Budhu  - Rating: 6.5 / 10
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Public Rating Average: 5.11 / 10 (rated by 410 viewers)
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The much-troubled Aetbaar finally saw the big screens in January. Given that it is a Vikram Bhatt film, one would have surely thought it would have the upper hand against its contenders. This time around that was not likely as Aetbaar’s opposition had glamour, glitz and the all important solid ingredient package. A once shelved product, Aetbaar with a regular theme is merely a typical film. It doesn’t carry the Bhatt stamp of over the top suspense or the non-stop glamour. However, it is fair to say that the film does have its share of pluses, aside from the obvious Amitabh Bachchan in the main role; a few scenes garner one’s attention.

The inspiration this time around is James Foley’s “Fear” which revolves around a psychotic man and his love for a woman whose father would do anything to protect her. Essentially, Aetbaar lives to true to its tagline at getting audiences to watch it “This could happen to your family.” There is little melodrama and thanks to lead actor Amitabh Bachchan a great deal of intense emotions, which reach out to the audience.

The film revolves a psychotic man Aryan (John Abraham) who has killed his father. The film opens up with a stylish sequence featuring the car accident that changed Aryan’s life. A schoolgirl Ria (Bipasha Basu) is coming home from school and bumps into a few bike riders, one of them being Aryan. That sparks a love in Aryan’s eyes that only spells obsession. Ria’s parents Dr. Ranvir Malhotra (Amitabh Bachchan) and mother are wary of her future but it is Dr. Malhotra that is overly protective as usual. Naturally he becomes worried for her safety and asks her to stay out of trouble. That which she can’t. It doesn’t take long for Ria to see a violent side of Aryan who instructs her to not be a minute late for a meeting or to shed an eye on another. Aryan gets aggressive telling her that if anyone is more beautiful than her he will set them a fire.

A string of incidents occur thereafter and Aryan just becomes more violent. When push comes to shove and Dr. Malhotra learns of Aryan’s true ways and confronts him, Ria is elsewhere realizing that Aryan is not such a nice man. Dr. Malhotra shows his daughter the news item, which reveals that Aryan murdered his father in a fire and Ria goes to confront him. Foolishly, she falls for his sob story and tells her parents that she will not stay away from him. The script by Robin Bhatt is pretty straight forward leaving nothing much to the imagination but to just wait and see how it plays out. The rest therefore must lie within the other aspects of the film, which is where the film gains and loses a few points.

Looking at performances it is Amitabh Bachchan who unsurprisingly leaves his mark on the role of a caring and strong father. His character is the most interesting in the entourage of them all because he breaks the cliché of either letting her daughter be and facing her own trials and tribulations and or sitting back and just dealing with it without taking action. I don’t think this role would have been done any better by anyone other than Bachchan. John Abraham is convincing as the maniac but he doesn’t ooze with an amazing impression. I think a lot of his talent lies in subtle performances, which were more or less seen in his first two films, Jism and Saaya. While he isn’t award worthy in his role he also doesn’t over-act or go over the top, which is also notable. He has done a good job with the role. Seeing Amitabh Bachchan get hit and fighting back is another one of the highlights of the film.

Bipasha Basu is a horrible mis-cast in the simplistic innocent and naïve young woman. I think this casting pair was made in the decision of hype and reputation rather than storyline and it stands out. Bipasha is more suited is sultry roles or ones where she can dominate, which is why the only scene that stands out is the one where her character refuses to stop seeing Aryan. Her role as it is does not call for much but she doesn’t come across as innocent by a long shot. Supriya Pilgaonkar is average in her role. Perhaps a more familiar name would have added to the entertainment value.

Technical aspects of the film are overall sub-par. The music by Rajesh Roshan is horrible, at the very least in context of the film. Bhatt’s films usually have excellent music scores and oddly enough they are usually for films, which don’t require songs, for example Raaz. A film like Aetbaar, which revolves greatly around a romance, required better songs than it has and that definitely takes away from the film. Most of the placements of the tunes are okay but it doesn’t take away from the fallacy that is the miscomposition of these tunes. Add to that the best song on the soundtrack “Saasein Ghulne Lagi” is not even in the film, and musically you know the film loses out. Roshan’s actual compositions may be decent but they are boring and not catchy by a long shot.

The cinematography by Pravin Bhatt is average—putting it nicely. No lavish locales here and many of the portions look a bit outdated. A few of the dialogues, on the other hand, do stand out. Vikram Bhatt’s direction is also a little on the average side as well. It’s funny that, known to copy American films, with his incarnation of an American film, which could easily be replicated into a Hindi narrative and style, he does such an average job barring the well-executed and highly suspenseful climax (which brings the film up several notches).

Aetbaar has a lot of things working for it, its star cast, a nice and entertaining storyline and a few moments (like the sequence in which Amitabh appears in the dark while John is ready to kill again; and especially the climax), which keep you in suspense. However, the film had the potential to be a lot more and easily so. For the most part, this is another case where Amitabh has made an average movie just a bit above that.

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