"Shocked?" asks the manipulative femme fatale Anjali (Stunningly beautiful but untalented actress Meera) of the various men she uses for sex and profit and than crudely discards. The oft-repeated question is Anjali┬┤s irritating trademark line. Kind of like Gulshan Grover┬┤s "Bad man!" in 1989┬┤s ┬┤Ram Lakhan┬┤ only much more annoying, if you can believe it. Yes Meera, we┬┤re extremely shocked. Shocked at the fact that a film with such an interesting premise could be so dissapointing. "I don┬┤t like shocked people, so get lost!" sneers Anjali, complete with twisted smirk and whorey clothing/makeup. Amar (Lucky Ali) is one of the many men ensnared by Anjali and besotted by her chest...er, I mean charms. But then, I┬┤m getting ahead of myself.
┬┤KASAK┬┤ is producer/director Rajeev Babbar┬┤s attempt to be taken seriously as a filmmaker after some dire Mithun Chakraborty projects from the late 1990s. He fails. Miserably. His film, starring Meera and Lucky Ali, looks and feels just like a Mahesh Bhatt thriller. It has a beautiful lead actress, classy four-star music by M.M. Kreem, and decent cinematography. Unfortunately, beauty is only skin-deep, and one wishes that the film had the soul of Bhatt┬┤s previous thrillers as well (like ┬┤Saaya,┬┤ for example).
Any amount of criticism of Rajeev Babbar would be understating the facts, but Babbar is a terrible director. He just doesn┬┤t know what he┬┤s doing. He manages to take two otherwise strong actors, amazing music, and a different script and makes a complete mess of it. I could go on for paragraphs and paragraphs discussing how someone should have a restraining order taken out against Babbar forbidding him from going near typewriters, cameras, and most importantly, production houses and studios, but I think you get the point.
To make a long (somewhat interesting but terribly executed) story short, ┬┤KASAK┬┤ is all about unrequitted love, lust, materialism, and betrayal. Amar is a nurse who works at a clinic for diabetic patients. One particular patient, a sweet elderly woman with a small private fortune and a cretin for a son, decides to leave her modest wealth for Amar, who treats her with more kindness than her own brood can muster. Anjali (I can also go on for paragraphs and paragraphs about how stunning and attractive I find Pakistani star Meera to be, but I won┬┤t) is another fellow nurse working in the same clinic who initially mocks Amar for his naivte and general innocence, but gradually comes to seduce him and obtain his wealth by using her not-inconsiderable slutty feminine wiles.
Amar, who has never felt the touch of a woman, is overwhelmed by Anjali┬┤s overtly sexual advances and is unable to see through her facade. Eventually, Amar proposes to Anjali and the two get married. Amar, on his wedding night, gifts his newfound wealth to Anjali, who then proceeds to show her true colors. She decides to overwhelm Amar with vulgar sex play after marriage, sex play that she knows will turn him off. You see, Amar┬┤s preferences lean towards more tender and conservative acts of love. After he┬┤s unable to perform sexually due to Anjali┬┤s mild S&M behavior ("Have you ever seen two animals @#$&*" She asks while straddling him. "It┬┤s intense!" - a complete rip-off of Madonna┬┤s line in Body of Evidence), Anjali drops him like a rotten apple in a garbage can and divorces him. Even while she moves on from sexual partner to sexual partner (once cruelly forcing Amar to listen on the phone to her lovemaking cries), a dejected Amar tries valiantly for the remainder of the film to regain his wealth and win his love back. Eventually, Amar comes to realize Anjali┬┤s rotten colors and proceeds to get his revenge.
In spite of the terrible execution, there were some good things about this film. As mentioned above, M.M. Kreem┬┤s music is absolutely brilliant, especially soulful ghazal "Jaana Hai." His music, along with the plot and actors, are worthy of a far better film. Each and every song of Kreem┬┤s is a winner, and the CD gets a perfect score in my book. ┬┤Kasak┬┤ most definately has one of the best musical scores of the year. The songs are also pleasantly shot as well and fit in with the story. For a film with such a terribly executed plot, the songs do succeed in showing the different facets of Amar and Anjali┬┤s relationship, from love ("Chandni Hai Khoyee Khoyee", and "Yeh Zindagi") to lust ("Saansein Madham Hain") to betrayal ("Todh Diya Dil Mera") to perserverence (the jewels in the crown, all three versions of "Jaana Hai"). The only misfit is the title song, picturized on newcomer Nandini. To be fair, the song is filmed innovatively in a jungle as Nandini sits in a bathtub of grapes and does vulgar and suggestive things, but I just couldn┬┤t get over her bulging tummy and flabby thighs. Surely, we┬┤ll never see or hear frumpy Nandini trying to be sexy in another Hindi film ever again unless Babbar succeeds in making a new film, which would be anarchy.
Lucky Ali┬┤s performance has been panned by many critics, which I can┬┤t understand. A mediocre singer, Ali is actually quite a good actor who underplays his role. Ali is endearing and absolutely believable as the lovestruck idiot who you can┬┤t help but feel bad for. But then, what else can you expect from our Indian critics who praise D-grade performances in terrible films like Maine Pyaar Kyun Kiya and Mujhse Shaadi Karogi? These same critics write of Ali┬┤s horrendous colleague Salman Khan, "The talented Salman Khan gets under the skin of his character" but pan Lucky Ali┬┤s subtle and nuanced performance in this film. Forget the fact that Salman Khan has no talent, is an embarrasment to Indian cinema, and has only gotten under the skin of audiences with his annoying on-screen antics, never (ever) the character. Lucky Ali is much more deserving of praise and should be applauded for his performance.
Meera scores as well, but only in the looks department. She looks extremely beautiful in this film inspite of some dubious designer outfits. She has gorgeous features and an expressive face. As a sex symbol, she is perfect. As an actress, however, she┬┤s absolutely hopeless. After a strong performance in Mahesh Bhatt┬┤s creepy, exploitative, yet enjoyably murky thriller Nazar, Meera bowls a complete zero with Kasak. Her English pronunciation is terrible. I┬┤ve heard the woman speak Urdu very well, so I can┬┤t understand why her director would give her lines in English when she obviously struggles with the language. She doesn┬┤t say "Shocked" but instead chooses to say "Shogged," as other reviewers have hysterically pointed out. She generally goes completely over-the-top and hams her dialogue. But I don┬┤t blame Meera for such a poor show, I blame Rajeev Babbar. Clearly, Meera needs a first-rate director or even a director with the slightest glimmer of talent and intelligence (Which Babbar clearly doesn┬┤t have) to give a credible performance. She has a slew of upcoming Hindi releases, including an Umraao Jaan remake opposite Ajay Devgan, Mahesh Bhatt┬┤s action thriller ┬┤Killer┬┤ with Emraan Hashmi, mythological epic ┬┤Draupadhi,┬┤ ┬┤Roti┬┤ with Bobby Deol, an untitled Subhash Ghai production, and an untitled Mahesh Bhatt project on the life of 70s screen icon Parveen Babi. Hopefully, she┬┤ll prove herself with these films and make ┬┤Kasak┬┤ seem like a faint memory.
Finally, the story really did have the potential to be entertaining. The idea was fresh, which is no doubt why the film was backed by Archana Media. The promotion was also innovative, highlighting the stars of the film and a soulful four-star musical score. However, the film┬┤s undoing is in the direction and in its screenplay. The ending is different yet happens so fast and is so underdeveloped that it looks ridiculous. The film┬┤s sexual content is strong, and is definately not for children. ┬┤Kasak┬┤ is a far more controversial film than ┬┤Nazar┬┤ in my opinion. Even though I found it to be slight, Meera┬┤s kisses and frank sexual talk/behavior could be construed as far more risque by conservative Indian and Pakistani audiences. In spite of the fact that it could have been so much more, ┬┤Kasak┬┤ still ends up being a weird little film with interesting lead stars, a decent plot, and brilliant music. However, moreso than Amar┬┤s romantic woes, a shoddy screenplay and lousy direction end up skewering the film and are the real tragedies behind ┬┤Kasak.┬┤