Monday, February 28, 2011

7 Khoon Maaf: Seen It Yet?

I went in with mixed expectations. For one, it was Vishal Bharadwaj, whom I have long loved. For another, it was Ruskin Bond! But a woman who kills off her husbands? And we're told this before we go to see the movie, so all you do is sit and watch as she starts sharpening the knife? (There were no knives.) It didn't seem to be a compelling plot to me. (For me, murders have to be murder mysteries.) Plus, I hadn't been impressed with the last Bharadwaj-Bond movie.
But wow, did it work. At least, it did for me. Things (eloquent, that's me) that didn't work for others still worked for me: such as Vivaan Shah's voice (I have to admit, I have a little crush on this young boy, ever since I saw him in a play last year), Susanna's character that made it more likely she'd kill a husband than seek a divorce (if only because she felt her husbands deserved to die--which is debatable, but I was rooting for her all the way in the first murder, at least), Konkana's character that was in so many ways a stereotypical housewife but she doesn't sit home waiting for him to return but goes out to find him. As an aside: Bharadwaj's movies usually have strong female characters, and while there were only three in this one, they were all three-dimensional and interesting. (Passes the Bechdel test, for sure.)

I didn't find it repetitive or boring the way I'd expected to, a woman marrying seven times and killing each of her husbands (actually, it's six: the seventh is a gimmick that didn't quite work for me but seemed to work for others). I loved the way Susanna changes a little with each husband, going from a gentle idealistic young woman to a cynical callous murderer. Given her character, her fierce loyalty to her servants and her helpless-damsel attitude at first, it's understandable that the loyal servants help her in return: she matters far more to them than abstract ideas of justice. I loved the character of the little boy who grows up hero-worshipping her, comes to terms with the fact that she is a murderer, and yet can't quite shake off his gratitude to and attraction towards her. He destroys the spider that's supposed to represent the black widow, but he can't bring himself to aid in destroying her.

And I loved all the actors in the movie. The casting seemed so perfect: Irfaan looked so hot as the gentle poet and convincing as the sadistic lover; Naseeruddin Shah is always perfect, and his Bengali accent was hilariously on; I loved how Neil Nitin Mukesh and John Abraham were portrayed (and Neil in particular was very good, I think).

Now, all of you who watched the movie: what was the "seventh sin"? There's been some speculation in Baradwaj Rangan's comments thread, but there's no definitive answer. I suppose it was Susanna's staging of her own death: do you agree?

And what did you think of that "dance with Jesus"? I found it hilarious, but apparently it worked for Rangan, so I guess it wasn't all that bad. 


dipali said...

The seventh death was Maggie's accident, when she tries to put out the fire!
It was one helluva disturbing movie, somehow.
The last dance was probably meant to be symbolic in a mystic/Sufi-ish way.
I thought that some of the performances were utterly brilliant, though the linearity of the narration did make it a tad tedious at times.

Unmana said...

Yeah, that's what I thought at first, but I wonder if that's too simplistic. It makes most sense, doesn't it?

Yeah I know, that dance was very mystical, but didn't you find it in the least bit funny?

dipali said...

I did, but then decided not to:)

dipali said...

Of course, the 'main uska khoon pee jaoongee' angle- where the reference would be to Holy Communion- could be the seventh khoon which maaf karos the other six. Many possible angles I suppose.

Unmana said...

But then she wouldn't have confessed to seven crimes, would she?

And Bharadwaj was really sympathetic towards the character, don't you think, giving her such a beautiful way out?

Dr. Ally Critter said...

Wasn't the 7th death the whole "Jesus died for our sins" thing? Very symbolic too brde of Christ, sab jaanta hai, khoon pee jaungi and so on. I liked the film. Very dark, very twisted and yet, very compelling. Much like life. But then I am a HUE Ruskin Bond fan.

Unmana said...

@lankr1ta: Was it? That makes sense, I suppose. Thanks!

Pratibha said...

Even I thought that Susanna refers to Maggie's accidental death, due to the fire set by her, as her seventh crime.
As for the movie, I liked it too, however found the pace too tardy in parts.


The last confession was for her suicide. The evidence for the same comes after Arun says to his wife that he won't meet her again as she is dead.