Rajeev Masand – movies that matter : from bollywood, hollywood and everywhere else

April 3, 2009

Photo finish

Filed under: Our FIlms — Rajeev @ 5:20 pm

April 03, 2009

Cast: Akshay Kumar, Ayesha Takia, Sharmila Tagore, Jaaved Jafferi

Director: Nagesh Kukunoor

“I have a secret,” Akshay Kumar says glumly in a scene from his new thriller film 8 x 10 Tasveer. Well, the secret’s finally out, Akshay. Now the whole world knows your film stinks.

8 x 10 Tasveer, directed by Nagesh Kukunoor, is a movie whose main conceit involves a protagonist who can travel back into a photograph and watch those moments play out in his head. It’s a pretty cool power to have, and Jai Puri, our hero (played by Akshay Kumar), uses it in positive ways to help people. The gift comes with a caveat though – if he spends more than a minute ‘inside’ the photo, his health is put at serious risk.

When his own father is mysteriously killed on a yacht one day, Jai decides to travel back through a photograph taken just moments before that fateful incident to determine who is responsible for his daddy’s death. The solution’s not that simple though, as more than one suspect may be involved, and multiple visits into the photograph means major health hazards.

Intended as a suspenseful thriller, 8 x 10 Tasveer is a hopelessly dumb film that suffers on account of an ill-conceived script that’s ridden with logical loopholes. At every turn you find yourself questioning the film’s ridiculous logic, befuddled by all the inconsistencies and creative liberties that you’re expected to turn a blind eye to. When the suspense finally unravels, 8 x 10 Tasveer delivers a back-story so convenient, you could throw your hands up in the air and laugh at the sheer stupidity of the enterprise.

Over the years, and with a few exceptions like Hyderabad Blues 2 and Bombay To Bangkok, director Nagesh Kukunoor’s name on a film’s credits has come to represent a fairly high standard in storytelling. Even without big budgets and fancy resources, the director delivered engaging stories and endearing characters like those in Iqbaal and Dor, to name just two.

With his latest, 8 x 10 Tasveer though, Kukunoor turns in his most poorly executed effort. Random scenes are slapped together arbitrarily, loose ends never tied, and the narrative suffers from pace problems.

Kukunoor throws in a silly comic track in the form of Jaaved Jafferi’s bumbling detective, and this slackens the proceedings considerably. Still, most shocking of all is Kukunoor’s inept handling of actors here.

Akshay Kumar delivers an affected performance, never quite getting a grip on his character, failing to ground Jai in reality. He goes through his scenes mechanically, and acts out his part in an almost robotic manner. Saddled with thankless roles and clunky dialogue, the rest of the cast doesn’t leave much of an impression, including pleasant performers as Sharmila Tagore and Ayesha Takia who play Jai’s mother and fiancée respectively.

8 x 10 Tasveer is neither thrilling nor imaginative, and apart from the lush photography, it’s an exercise in futility. Director Nagesh Kukunoor attempts a filmmaking format he seems neither familiar nor comfortable with, and as a result the film lacks the integrity of his previous successes.

For Akshay Kumar this film marks another misguided step after the ill-fated Chandni Chowk To China; this is after all, neither the mindless entertainment he has come to master, nor the art house credibility he aspires for.

I’ll go with one out of five at best for director Nagesh Kukunoor’s 8 x 10 Tasveer, it’s a failure on all counts and a film best avoided.

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)

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