By Subhash K. Jha, Indo-Asian News Service
Film: "Kyon Ki"; Cast: Salman Khan, Kareena Kapoor, Jackie Shroff, Om Puri, Riimi Sen, Mohan Joshi, Suniel Shetty; Direction: Priyadarshan; Rating: ***
No matter what the film's flaws, the pieces of life's jigsaw fit in beautifully in "Kyon Ki".
Celebrating the conundrum of life, Priyadarshan's bitter sweet take on life and lunacy conveys that peculiarly exaggerated lyricism which is typical of this versatile and virile director.
Thiru's cinematography and Sabu Cyril's artwork sweep across the Ooty outdoors and the hi-tech Hollywood styled indoors representing a mental institution. The film's melodrama suggests a looming link between the theatre of the absurd and the vagaries of life. The crisscross of dramatised relationships provides the director with an opportunity to explore the darker side of love and life.
Priyadarshan has Salman Khan to support his journey into the dark side of the moon. Khan played dark, repressed, outraged characters in "Tere Naam" and "Phir Milenge". His unclothed performance holds up a lot of the improbabilities in "Kyon Ki" and actually makes us overlook them.
Salman is almost as endearingly wacko as Jack Nicholson in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest", the film to which Priyadarshan turns more than once for support sustenance and inspiration.
If Milos Foreman had grown up making Malayalam films he would probably have done "Kyon Ki". Very often Priyadarshan pulls out all stops to deliver monstrously exaggerated blows in the storytelling.
Om Puri's turn as the asylum-head is specially scary... stuff that constitutes Hollywood's slasher films. Largely though, the director soft focuses on the delicately drawn spiral of romantic emotions that emerge from the main characters.
Salman's smirky sensitivity and that extraordinary mix of brattiness and eccentricity are used to the hilt. Kareena is silently effective as the doctor on duty. In that one sequence when she gets to know that Anand (Salman) has been cured and will probably now leave the asylum and her attentions (shades of L.V. Prasad's "Khilona"), Kareena's anguished expressions are worth watching.
Riimi Sen as Salman's blast in the past is surprisingly well-presented. The French convent ambience where the romance grows, provides a rhythm of the Riviera to the proceedings.
But the flashback flashes too long. The sequences and episodes overstay their welcome. After a while, the characters seem like nice but unwelcome guests. You really want to pack them off to their happy finale. The morbid endgame (which borrows liberally from "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest" and Asit Sen's "Khamoshi") is way too defeatist. It destroys the spirit of optimism that the film seems to uphold throughout.
It's hugely interesting to watch the way Priyadarshan builds a pyramid of relationships within the confines of the asylum. While the inmates and the hospital staff are deliberately caricatural (madness is always a crazy puzzle in our films), the key relations work beyond the immediate rock-video styled bustle of lunacy.
Jackie Shroff as a kindly doctor has never been in more sensitive shape in his recent films. His pain at watching his benefactor's son suffer the wages of lunacy is palpable.
The Shroff subplot has a well-furnished complete look, lacking in some other stranded strands in the storytelling.
Though done in satisfying shades of longing and pain, "Kyon Ki" is ultimately a casualty of an inconsistent vision. Too many thoughts and working styles crowd the narrative. Every mood from Milos Foreman to Asit Sen and L.V. Prasad comes into play. The end-result isn't maddening.
The material could've done with a firmer hand - just like the hero who's allowed to break too many rules of disciplined institutionalisation.
Bollywood.com Rating: 2