Planet Bollywood
Producer: Mukesh Bhatt
Director: Soni Razdan
Starring: Meera, Ashmit Patel, Koel Purie, Neena Gupta, Aly Khan
Music: Anu Malik, Roopkumar Rathod
Lyrics: Sayeed Quadri, Shakeel Azmi
Genre: Suspense
Recommended Audience: Parental Guidance
Approximate Running Time: 138 mins
Film Released on: 20 May 2005
Reviewed by: Shahid Khan  - Rating: 5.0 / 10
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Public Rating Average: 5.11 / 10 (rated by 410 viewers)
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It is barely 30 seconds into the film and a song pops up. The video has Meera writhing around on a beach somewhere. Like her, the screenplay is also writhing around all over the place.

Meera is Divya, a star singer who begins to receive eerie paranormal visions of future murders. She likes doing things that you are not supposed to do. Like driving alone in the darkest hours of the night. Or wandering about in a hospital blindfolded after an eye operation even though the sensible thing to do would be to stay in her room.

The story throws every cliché at you - the lonely woman staying alone in her apartment (except for a kooky maid), past tragedies haunting the protagonists and a loud hammy background score.

Bar girls are being killed one by one in Mumbai and Divya receives premonitions before every act of murder. Just as she is going doolally, in walks Ashmit Patel as Rohan the sensitive cop. He looks like he has just jumped off the catwalk what with his long hair (and if he grows it any longer, he´ll be identical to his sister actress, Amisha Patel). Rohan has his cynical work partner in tow, Sujata (Koel Purie - too good for this movie).

Cynical Sujata has to answer to a super-cynical boss (Avtar Gill) who doesn´t believe in her theory of a serial killer. "Serial killers only exist in American films, not Mumbai,” he argues. With an attitude like that, you wonder if the rate of crime has shot up ever since this dork got the job. Meanwhile, the film comes up with a few obvious crime suspects - Divya´s greedy uncle (Vishwajeet Pradhan), her slimy eye doctor admirer (Aly Khan).

All this madness sends Divya to a zany headbanger (Neena Gupta) who makes her jump with fright as if she has her fingers stuck in an electric plug socket. But she gets her answer - instead of being scared, Divya must embrace her gift. And so she works with Rohan to nail the serial killer in the end.

In her directorial debut, Soni Razdan offers us her take on a typical Bhatt thriller and although there is not much that is new, the male characters are noticeably nastier and distinctly unlikeable (with the exception of Rohan). While the men are more gruesome, the familiar Bhatt stereotype of the wailing damsel-in-distress remains the same.

The build-up of tension is decently done for the most part but the atrocious climax blows everything apart. Without revealing who the killer is, the motive is unbelievable. The murderer has AIDS and blames the bar girls for the disease. Razdan takes AIDS and demonises it. A sensitive “My Brother Nikhil”, this is not. More like “My Serial Killer”. I shudder at the director’s plans to base the theme of her next film on homosexuality. The climax of “Nazar” masquerades as a statement on social stigma but it is all about sensationalism. The movie pretends to have depth but is laughably hollow. The killer, too, is someone out of the blue and the identity is ridiculous rather than shocking.

The plot is an amalgamation of several Hollywood killer thrillers. Unsurprisingly, it also bears a Hollywood look. The editing is well done but the flashbacks could have been shot in a better way. The shaky camerawork and slow motion in the flashback scenes irritate. The songs (ordinary music by Anu Malik) act as distractions in the screenplay, which has to rely on tension. It is quite unfortunate that Meera and Ashmit Patel don’t have much chemistry - a factor that makes their only romantic song together boring to watch. Ashmit is miscast as a cop, he just does not have the look of a person embittered and hurt by tragedy.

And what about Meera? She is okay but there is a problem… she can’t scream. Maybe she should avoid films that require her to do screaming marathons. Still, welcome to Bollywood, Meera.

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