By Subhash K. Jha, IANS
Film: "Fareb"; Cast: Manoj Bajpai, Shilpa Shetty, Shamita Shetty, Milind Gunaji;
Direction: Deepak Tijori
Full marks to the Shetty sisters for playing rivals in love with the same man in Deepak Tijori's mildly engaging 'lust' triangle.
Take away Shilpa and Shamita and you are left looking at a film that borrows chunky bits and pieces from "Disclosure" (lady boss wants married employee to surrender sexually), "Basic Instinct" (the seductress is a cold blooded killer) and "Fatal Attraction" (the go-getting glam-god won't take no for an answer).
Tijori sews up his source material in a not-unpleasant pastiche of erotica, adultery and murder, served up at fume temperature. You mightn't be enchanted by the story of the man, woman and the wild. But what the heck! Even if necklines plunge downwards, aesthetics never touch rock bottom.
Though the goings-on don't exactly have you riveted, you can't but get mildly intrigued by which way the 'scream' play intends to head beyond the bed.
Characteristically, this urban thriller pulls out all the stops to portray the urban predatory woman-of-the-world who won't stop at anything to satiate her lust for life. Like Priyanka Chopra in "Aitraaz" and Mallika Sherawat in "Murder", Shamita Shetty plays a married woman who starts licking her painted lips the minute her roving eyes fall on ad-man Manoj Bajpai (trying hard to look like a cool dude and failing miserably on all counts).
Shamita Shetty's seduction song in and around the swimming pool of what's supposed to be her home is almost a perverse pantomime of those 'haunted' songs with which Madhubala in "Mahal" and Sadhana in "Woh Kaun Thi" lured the mesmerised hero into their lair.
The lair is an elaborate boudoir in "Fareb" where after some heavy-duty breathing, panting and what-have-you Manoj decides he can't be unfaithful to his dumbly devoted wife (Shilpa Shetty).
Spurned seductress throws a fit, decides to do a Demi Moore in "Disclosure" on Manoj by making his life miserable at her workplace. By the time the junior Shetty is bumped off, the narrative too kicks the bucket.
The whodunit hoopla in the narration is, at best, a tag -- on best watched with minimal expectation.
Yes, the denouement does take you by surprise. But it isn't quite the shocker that you carry home for future reverence.
In all fairness, "Fareb" isn't the horror that you prepare yourself to expect. Unlike Tijori's previous "Khamosh", where the question wasn't whodunit but whydunit, the urban characters in "Fareb" are obtainable and sometimes even believable.
The love scenes strive to be steamy. But Manoj's lack of expertise marginalizes their impact. His outbursts border on the hammy, making you wonder if he has forgotten how to act.
Watch the film for Shilpa's controlled and occasionally surprising turn as the devoted wife and Shamita's wildly wanton act. This is a film and plot where the ladies simply take over. And nobody minds.
Bollywood.com Rating: 2