Friday, April 01, 2005


After watching Zeher, I was pleasantly surprised that it was such good time-pass. Here I was thinking Mohit Suri, the writer and director, has managed to bring in a streak of originality into the Bhatt Camp. The next thing I hear, it’s a remake of a Hollywood movie, ‘Out of Time’ starring Denzel Washington and Eva Mendes. 

I should have known. The only thing missing in the equation was the Bhatt penchant for ‘inspiration’.

Having said that, do set aside that little detail and enjoy this version if you haven’t watched the original.

Siddharth Varma (Emraan Hashmi) and Sonia (Shamita Shetty), both cops in Goa and married to each other, are headed for splitsville thanks to his chauvinism and her desire for a career. When Sonia moves out, Siddharth goes on the rebound, with Anna (Udita Goswami) who has an unhappy marriage with Sean (Sameer Kochhar). To make matter worse, Siddharth discovers that Anna is pregnant with his child AND has cancer. Things come to a head when Anna is found dead along with Sean, and all evidence points to Siddharth, who is quick to cover them up. Needless to say, the investigating officer on the case is, you guessed it, Sonia. So, in effect, the pace in the second half of the movie speeds up, with Siddharth trying to stay one step ahead of Sonia, while figuring out exactly what Anna’s trip in life was. 

In the midst of all this, is a briefcase of money that plays a pivotal role in the story.

Performance-wise, this film has a few surprises. I would never have expected Emran Hashmi to carry off the morose short-tempered cop, who’s trying to come to grips with his wife’s desertion. In some ways, he is the predictable choice, with his perpetual scowl, and unnecessary shouting, but on the whole, this is his best performance to date. Shamita Shetty steals the thunder from the rest of the cast. She’s able to bring out her character’s struggle to strike a balance as a woman and a cop thereby pulling off a restrained performance. This movie should prove her prowess in more than just item numbers and special appearances.

Udita Goswami is adequate and manages to emote well in some scenes. A special word of praise for Ninad Kamat as James, the colleague-cum-friend and constant presence in the lives of the lead characters. Ninad’s repartees are spot-on, and he adds life to what could have otherwise been a staid narrative. But hey, even this character exists in the Hollywood version!

Music-wise, there seems to be some confusion. While Roop Kumar Rathod has been given the credits and has scored the music for ‘Jaane Jaan’ and ‘Bekhabar’, there has been some talk of ‘Agar tum mil jaao’ being recreated by Anu Malik. However, the best track in the film, is Atif Aslam’s ‘Woh Lamhe’ that is appropriately used in a flashback. There’s also a remix version by DJ Suketu in the soundtrack and on music channels.

On that note, I must admit the remake has some things that the original didn’t – the songs and a Karwa Chauth snippet that’s repeated twice in the movie. And of course, the Bhatt tag.

Zeher is definitely worth your while, if
(a) your primary objective in watching it is NOT titillation. In fact, the love-making sequences are over and done with, thirty minutes into the movie.
(b) you don’t mind watching an ‘inspired’ version passing off as an original idea.

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