By Taran Adarsh, IndiaFM
The most shocking thriller of the year. With a tagline like that, the expectation from Abbas-Mustan's new thriller rises ten-fold. Fortunately, NAQAAB lives up to the hype and hoopla, to an extent.
For any thriller to strike a chord, it ought to follow three simple rules: [a] It should boast of actors who can carry off their parts with dexterity, [b] The twists-n-turns should catch you by complete surprise and [c] The climax, when the veil of secrecy is unveiled, should come as a jolt from the blue.
NAQAAB gets it right on two of the three vital fronts. The only time the film begins to stagnate is in its second hour, when the knots begin to disentangle. The film dips in the second hour, but the climax does a volte face again. The suspense catches you by surprise!
Abbas-Mustan have mastered the art of making thrillers and although NAQAAB isn't as compelling as their earlier products, there's no denying that the highs outnumber the lows in this case. One thing is for sure, the screenplay could've been tighter in the second hour.
To sum up, NAQAAB is a watchable fare with the twists-n-turns being its highpoint. Of course, with an end like the one presented in this film, it's sure to meet with varied opinions, having its share of advocates and adversaries. But what goes in its favor is the fact that it's at least different. Terms like 'predictable' and 'monotonous' are non-applicable in this case!
NAQAAB tells the story of Sophie [Urvashi Sharma], a young girl from a middle-class family. She is engaged to millionaire Karan [Bobby Deol]. When she meets Vicky [Akshaye Khanna], she's attracted to him and problems begin to surface.
The focus of the film also shifts to the past of the three characters, with some unexpected elements thrown in. Who does Urvashi choose?
The general perception is, the story bears a striking similarity to the recently released RAQEEB [which, in turn, was inspired by MURDER BY NATURAL CAUSES  -- a lesser known English film]. Not true! In fact, NAQAAB is inspired by the English film DOT THE I.
NAQAAB begins with gusto! The relationships are established at the very outset. The moments between Akshaye and Urvashi are superb, beginning with the song, 'Ek Din Teri Raahon Mein'. The chemistry is sizzling, so vital for sequences that are to follow.
NAQAAB holds your interest in the first hour. You are hooked. But the second half has its share of loose ends. The motive of one of the protagonists isn't too convincing and when the story moves further on this track, it, somehow, doesn't look too convincing.
All this while you're under the impression that this protagonist has a hidden agenda. Or, perhaps, he wants to settle a score. You're led to believe that there's a strong motive behind his actions. And when this character reveals it all, it doesn't hit you like a ton of bricks. In fact, the finale, when the story again takes a U-turn, takes you by surprise.
This may not be Abbas-Mustan's best script, but every sequence bears the stamp of the master storytellers. Stylishly shot with some great moments, the storytellers at least have the courage to walk a seldom-used path. Shiraz Ahmed's screenplay is interesting. He builds up the suspense beautifully, but the post-interval portions could've been tighter.
Pritam's music gels well with the mood of the film. In terms of melody, 'Ek Din Teri Raahon Mein' stands tall on the list. Its picturization is also topnotch. Editing [Hussain Burmawala] is perfect. The film has the right length [16 reels; 2 hours], with no unnecessary moments.
NAQAAB belongs to Akshaye, who delivers yet another powerful performance. He's splendid, the real scene stealer, the soul of the enterprise. Bobby is relegated to the backseat in the first hour, but manages to make his presence felt in the second half. Urvashi Sharma gets a dream launch and she utilizes the golden opportunity completely. A confident debutante, she enacts her part like a seasoned professional. Also, she looks bewitching all through. Vikas Kalantri and Vishal Malhotra are adequate. Raj Zutshi is hardly there.
On the whole, NAQAAB is engrossing in parts, with the suspense really catching you by surprise. At the box-office, the film should find acceptance in big cities mainly. It may've started slow, but it should pick up over the weekend. Overall, a decent fare!
Bollywood.com Rating: 2
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