By Taran Adarsh, IndiaFM
Choosing an interesting story is difficult. But doing justice to the story is nothing short of an achievement. AWARAPAN, directed by Mohit Suri, gets it right on both the levels -- on paper first, on celluloid later.
For Hindi moviegoers, the story may remind you of Rakesh Roshan's KOYLA [SRK, Madhuri, Amrish Puri], but in actuality, AWARAPAN borrows from director Kim Ji-woon's Korean film A BITTERSWEET LIFE [2005; Korean title: DALKOMHAN INSAENG; starring Lee Byung-Hun, Kim Young-Cheol, Shin Mina]. Nothing wrong with being inspired, since every director has his way of interpreting a story. Also, Mohit adapts the content to suit Indian sensibilities.
AWARAPAN is as raw as a gash inflicted by a rod. A number of Hindi films have plunged into the underbelly of the underworld/mafia in the past, so how different is AWARAPAN from films of its ilk? AWARAPAN packs in all this and something extra in those 2 hours -- a love story and spirituality.
More than anything else, AWARAPAN marks the coming of age of one of the most under-rated actors on this side of the Atlantic -- Emraan Hashmi. Shunning and discarding his by-now-famous casanova image, Emraan enacts a role that every actor craves for in his heart since the opportunities are limited in the masala set-up. And the youngster interprets it with aplomb.
To sum up, AWARAPAN has style and substance, both. The film packs a solid punch in those 12 reels.
AWARAPAN is the story of man called Shivam [Emraan Hashmi], who searches for joy but finds pain and loneliness. It is the journey of a heartbroken lover who, in order to escape from the ghosts of his tragic past, dedicates himself to serve his gangster boss Malik [Ashutosh Rana], who runs a chain of hotels in Hong Kong.
One day, Malik asks Shivam to do an unusual job for him. He asks him to keep an eye on his young mistress Reema [Mrinalini Sharma] while he is away on a brief business trip. Reema is a young Pakistani girl who is a victim of human trafficking. Malik had 'bought' her in the flesh market in Bangkok.
The brief is clear: If Reema is found cheating behind Malik's back, Shivam has to eliminate her. From the moment Shivam sets his eyes on Reema, his frozen past begins to raise its head. He is reminded of his lost love [Shriya Saran] and how he had failed to save it from a catastrophe.
And then one night Shivam is shocked to discover that the innocent looking Reema has a secret boyfriend [Rehaan Khan], whom she has tucked away and is planning to run away with. Does Shivam remain loyal to Malik and execute his orders or does he take on his wrath by daring to go against him?
Frankly, you need to have a strong stomach to absorb a film like AWARAPAN. The film is dark, serious and violent. The romance, therefore, is minimal, but whenever injected in the plotline acts as a coolant.
Director Mohit Suri continues to grow as a storyteller. Note the sequence when Shriya's father catches Shriya and Emraan red-handed and the confrontation that ensues, leaving Emraan's life devastated. Note another sequence: Emraan walking up to Ashutosh Rana and after a verbal duel, fires at him from point-blank range. There're more sequences that only illustrate the fact that Mohit is amongst the finest storytellers today.
But, on the flip side, the excessive violence can be off-putting for a section of viewers. Emraan being buried alive or the constant gunshots and gore can compel you to take your eyes off the screen. This film is definitely not for the faint-hearted.
Pritam's musical score is refreshing. The tunes are fresh and so are the voices. Cinematography [Raaj Chakravarti] is good, although a few sequences could've been better lit in some scenes. The background score [Raju Singh] is excellent. Dialogues are a highpoint. The dialogue between Ashutosh Rana and Mrinalini, drawing parallels with a sick puppy, is superb.
As mentioned at the outset, Emraan delivers a magnificent performance. When the year draws to a close and the 'Best Actor' nominations are being formalized, including this performance would only be appreciating and acknowledging qualitative work.
Ashutosh Rana is splendid and all you want to ask the actor is, aap kahan thhe itne mahine? Shriya Saran has a small role, but she sparkles every time she appears on screen. Mrinalini is a talent to watch out for. She's outstanding!
Purab Kohli is superb as the eccentric nephew of Ashutosh Rana. Ashish Vidyarthi is wasted. Salil Acharya is a welcome addition to the list of talented actors. Shaad [introduced in WOH LAMHE] is very good. Rehaan Khan [introduced in JAANA] is hardly there. Atul Parchure is nice.
On the whole, AWARAPAN is a well-made product that should appeal to its target audience -- the youth, especially those who appreciate genuinely hatke themes. At the box-office, the film will be affected due to multiple releases in a week. Releasing the film in an open week, without oppositions, would've only helped. However, AWARAPAN should grow with a strong word of mouth.
Bollywood.com Rating: 3.5
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