By Subhash K. Jha, Indo-Asian News Service
Film; "Ek Ajnabee": Cast; Amitabh Bachchan, Arjun Rampal, Perizaad Zorabian, Vikram Chatwal and Baby Rucha: Director; Apoorva Lakhia: Rating **
After watching this high-velocity action thriller, just one question came to my mind - about the scene where Bachchan rescues a little girl from kidnappers in Bangkok? Why is the screenplay credited to Manoj Tyagi and Apoorva Lakhia, when it is almost entirely lifted from Tony Scott's "Man On Fire"?
That apart, "Ek Ajnabee" is an above-average adaptation of a clever thriller with a central performance that tears through all cynical reading of celluloid apery.
The awesome Bachchan doesn't walk the talk. He strides through the lines as though to the baritone-born. He hardly speaks. But when he does - you cling to the words that slice the stillness.
This is certainly not Bachchan's first strong-and-silent loner's role. What makes this one special is the interweaving of emotion and action. The narrative packs in a punch both ways.
Set in Bangkok, Gururaj R.J's camera rips across the rhythms of violence to form a beautiful bonding between the sullen bodyguard and his mature little custody.
One can't say Baby Rucha plays against Bachchan as effectively as Ayesha Kapoor in the neo-classic "Black". But she gets her expressions and reaction dead on.
You wish there was more of the unlikely pair's interaction. But the scarcity of their emotional expression serves the narrative's purpose well.
Here's a pair that needs more time together. And when the villains whisk the impish scene-stealer from the protagonist's range of vision, all hell breaks loose.
The director captures the heat, sweat and violence of a city without missing the link. Steven Bernard's editing is first rate though a little hard on the eye. No shot lasts longer than 10 seconds. This creates a perceptional problem. We don't get to recognise any of the characters from the inside.
As a surface look at lives soaked in vinegary danger and crime, "Ek Ajnabee" works fine.
The film captures some tender moments between Bachchan and the little girl, but tends to saturate the soundtrack with too many sweaty sinister sounds. Music composer Amar Mohile could have gone for a less exacerbated background score.
Whatever the film's follies of friskiness, they're more than compensated by performances. The narrative has some nice supporting performances, particularly by Arjun Rampal who has gone both over and under the skin of his bar-owner, ex-army man's role. Not only Rampal look right, he feels right. Perizaad Zorabian as the kidnapped girl's sincere mother is sincere.
But as usual it's Bachchan who towers above all. His clenched jaws and sad eyes convey eons of bridled energy.
Watch this film for the Bachchan's ceaseless celluloid strength.
Bollywood.com Rating: 2.5