This movie is worth watching just for Priyanka Chopra's performance. The rest of the lead cast is only a bonus. Now how I wish, there was a little bit of a surprise in the narration or at least I understood even half of why the characters behaved the way they did. Now if the only explanation is weird attracts weird and together they all get weirder, either I didn't get the film or it is one zany experience that didn't go down all that well with me. And yet I wouldn't have wanted to miss watching this one.
I'm still digesting 7 Khoon Maaf. Bit-by-bit it’s sinking in. Though I cannot say that I like it any better or worse, but the more I think about it, I certainly understand it that bit more. I'm sure my grasp of the film will only improve with a second or even third viewing. But, I don't think I can make myself watch it again for it's a tedious watch. The narrative is way too plain and predictable to hold my interest.
This is largely made-up for by enigmatic Susanna, who is played out, breathtakingly by Priyanka Chopra. One of the main thoughts and images the film leaves behind is, the mystery that Susanna is. She scares you, but at the same time, she doesn't let you forget that your heart went out for her warmth, just an hour ago. You wanted to protect her, you still want to figure her out, you desperately look for her motivations that justify her whacky behavior - just so that you can continue liking her. Only to be greeted by a development that is crazier than anything you've seen thus far.
The problem though is that you know how each of the episodes, each of her marriages is going to end. Of course, 7 Khoon Maaf is not meant to be a thriller. But, nothing is gripping about how or why the husband dies. And after the second one, the reason for marrying itself is dissatisfying. You begin to doubt if she did it just so that she could enjoy the how it would end. shudder Anyway, one of the culprits could also be the straightforward, linear narration. Also, way too often, the build-up falls flat.
Now, given Vishal Bharadwaj's command over adapting novels to films, I'll assume that the story itself didn't quite work for me. Reading Ruskin Bond's Susanna's Seven Husbands is on my to-do list now, just for a confirmation. It just wasn't detailed enough.
For example, the side characters (Maggie, Khan, and Gunga) seem out-of-sync with the plot but their quirkiness has to be a part of the story. Not to mention that the performances (Usha Utthup, and two male leads (names, anyone?)) are extremely distracting too. I understand that Susanna and each of her husbands are eccentric too and thus quirky side-characters can find a home in their midst. But, the lack of rationale behind the three side-kicks' enthusiastic loyalty is confusing, if not disturbing.
Fortunately, the rest of the performances are perfect. Also, there are some very powerful sequences. The manner in which Musafir's (Irrfan Khan's) idiosyncrasy is shot and executed, sticks way past the two and a half hours spent watching the film. The nervous laughter in the theater is a giveaway that Hindi film audience is not comfortable watching sexuality on screen. Not that our filmmakers have been too good sexual scenes either. And both filmmakers and the audience know the others' shortcoming. With this background, to not only show, but to also explicitly explain Musafir's need is as stunning as it is brave. And once you have overcome the shock, you are completely pulled into that chapter of the Susanna's life.
Knowing for a fact that Vishal Bharadwaj films have something going on beyond the superficial, I tried to dig deeper. There's of course, the riddle that Susanna is and you can identify with her deterioration as a person. But save the fleeting references to the socio-political events and the climax, nothing looked like it had a larger purpose. Besides serving as a timeline, the events mentioned in the film might indicate our apathy to the society we live in. Which is why maybe Arun's wife (Konkona Sen Sharma) is hardly moved by Susanna's acts. To her it is just a fun story, till she gets affected by it personally. The climax and what it implies is sophisticated but is by no means a breath-stopper. Our Susanna has come of age but how she got there was too hard to comprehend.
If you haven't figured it out yet, 7 Khoon Maaf is one of those films that I didn't enjoy watching at all, but it still leaves a good aftertaste. A film that I didn't like watching, but I liked. Yep, I'm still figuring it out. All I know right now, is this - it is heavy, weird and dark; as a breather it has awesome performances; AND it is a very difficult film to recommend.
- meetu, a part of the audience
It's an all out adult film. To be kept out of children's reach
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