Planet Bollywood
Producer: Saaya
Director: Anurag Basu
Starring: John Abraham, Tara Sharma, Mahima Chaudhary, Zohra Sehgal
Music: M.M. Kreem, Anu Malik
Lyrics: Sayeed Quadri, Parveen Bhardwaj and Anand Bakshi
Genre: Romantic
Recommended Audience: General
Film Released on: 04 July 2003
Reviewed by: Alok Kumar  - Rating: 8.0 / 10
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Public Rating Average: 5.11 / 10 (rated by 410 viewers)
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After watching Saaya earlier this evening, I found myself wondering if all of the so-called “trade analysts” and “reviewers” in the industry have any taste at all. After all, some irresponsibly gave Saaya mostly negative reviews while praising loudmouth Kareena Kapoor’s latest misfire to the skies. Andaaz, a retrograde and regressive version of any Ektaa Kapoor soap currently airing on Sony TV, also won favorable reviews from other critics, the very same critics who trashed Honey Irani’s wonderful Armaan and last week’s loveable Jhankaar Beats. Well, after watching the film, I conclude that Saaya, while not a perfect film, is definitely worth a look for its interesting content. The latest film from the Bhatt stable is an intriguing romantic thriller.

Starring John Abraham and Tara Sharma, Saaya falls in the tradition of Mahesh Bhatt’s past presentations – lifting the plot of a Hollywood movie (Kevin Costner’s bomb Dragonfly in this case), adding an excellent musical score (Courtesy of M.M. Kreem and Anu Malik), and keeping the project low budget. What results is a classy and suspenseful romance that solidifies John Abraham’s position in the industry as a major upcoming talent and a film that the Bhatt family will definitely profit from, both commercially and critically. The look and feel of the film is elegant and the film is well paced and well directed. Director Anurag Basu redeems himself after the horrendous Kucch To Hai and shows us that he has it in him to direct a mature and subtly stylish film, a film that will surely give its competition, Guddu Dhannoa’s sleazy Hawaa, a run for it’s money.

Saaya revolves around Dr Akash (John Abraham), a young physician who has just lost his beautiful wife Maya (Tara Sharma) in an accident. He copes with his loss by drowning himself in his work. What follows are sets of bizarre occurrences surrounding hospital patients, leading Akki to believe that his dead wife is trying to contact him from the grave. Akki is eventually convinced that Maya is trying to contact him. Those around him, namely Akki’s comely friend (Mahima Choudhary), feel that he has been unable to cope with the death of his spouse and is loosing his mind. Support comes from a nun (Zohra Sehgal), who encourages and supports Akki as he tries to piece together Maya’s ghostly messages and the clues surrounding her death.

First and foremost, Saaya is not a horror movie. Those walking in to the theater expecting a tacky scare-fest will be disappointed. The movie does have its eerie moments, but can be most easily classified as a romance. The film works well as a romance thanks mainly to the depiction of the relationship between Maya and Akash. The love between the two is very realistically done without being overly melodramatic. Abraham and Sharma look very dignified together and make a handsome couple. The handful of scenes with tension and suspense are genuine because they are very well handled and subtle.

John Abraham’s performance is another plus point. The actor conveys a restrained intensity that is absolutely necessary for this type of role. Abraham brings a tasteful amount of silent edginess to the film, without overacting or going into hysterics. Leading lady Tara Sharma, who made her debut in Anupam Kher’s Om Jai Jagadish, is stunning. Though her dialogue delivery is flawed in places, she manages decent work given the length and requirements of the role. More apparent than any real acting prowess are her bewitching looks. Mahima Choudhary gives a solid supporting turn, proving once again her ability to shine in supporting roles over leading ones. Zohra Sehgal is excellent as well. Furthermore, the look of the film is marvelous. Once again, the Bhatts do an excellent job with wardrobe, set design and atmosphere, creating the right look for the film as they did in Jism. The real star of the enterprise, however, is the music. The songs are soulful and romantic, with beautiful lyrics and excellent picturizations.

Finally, Saaya is a class act as well as an enjoyable way to spend an evening. It manages to deliver an engrossing and convincing love story as well as a few genuinely spooky moments. Though the film is hardly original, it is definitely an improvement on its sappy, preachy source material and is a safer bet than Barjatya’s latest crapatastrophe, Hum Prem Ke Deewane Hain or Main Prem Ke Saath Saath Rehke Unki Deewani Bhi Hoon. Thankfully, we’re spared wretched Kareena Kapoor’s failed attempts to look good and act well. Next up is Pooja Bhatt’s directorial venture Paap, another thriller starring John Abraham and newcomer Udita Goswami. Hopefully, this one will be as mature and engrossing as Saaya.

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