By Subhash K. Jha, IANS
Mumbai, May 15 (IANS) Our cinema houses are in for a shock. Both the films scheduled for this week are chillers and, that
too, with similar titles - "Naina" and "Nazar".
Quite easily, the one to watch out for is debutant director Shripal Morakhia's unusual thriller "Naina" featuring Urmila
Matondkar in the horrific and yet gripping role of a woman who regains her eyesight after several years of darkness only to
find herself being able to 'see' ghosts.
IDreams, the makers of the film, claims that the concept, theme and treatment are totally untried. There's very little
reason to doubt that claim. The conception, execution and promotion of "Naina" seem totally novel.
The special effects, which have been done entirely in London where the film has been shot, offer hitherto unravelled
dimensions to celluloid diabolism.
This isn't the first time that Urmila has done a shiver giver. Ram Gopal Varma's "Bhoot" is indelibly etched in viewers'
minds as the ultimate spook story.
However, "Naina" promises to be a totally different experience. Urmila's look and personality are transformed much beyond
"Bhoot". The location and the ambience exude a different flavour.
The producers are charged about the film. The film's distribution has been handed over to Columbia Tri-Star, which is
pretty much treating the film as an international product rather than a desi scare-fest.
After the success of "Kaal" there's no doubt that films about ghosts have a spirited chance at the box office. Unlike
"Kaal", there are no item songs bracketing "Naina". And while "Kaal" had a cluster of stars, "Naina" has just one.
Can Urmila equal the box office draw of John Abraham, Vivek Oberoi, Ajay Devgan, Lara Dutta and Esha Deol in "Kaal"? She's
the only star attraction of the film.
The other film is the Bhatt brothers' "Nazar". Mahesh and Mukesh Bhatt have an uncanny way of grabbing the limelight for
their films. And their latest is no exception.
Most of the controversies surrounding its leading lady from Pakistan appear uncalled for. Did Meera kiss Ashmit Patel in
"Nazar"? And if she did what was so eyebrow raising about it?
We shall soon have the answer to these questions. At present, there's bigger suspense to be unfolded in this
thriller...For instance, why does it have a title so similar to "Naina"? And to release "Nazar" on the same day as "Naina"
would surely confuse the audience.
Maybe this kind of confusion is seen to be a box office advantage in some quarters. Besides the title, the other common
factor is the hero-less predicament. Both films sell themselves to the audience on the strength of their leading lady's
presence. The rest of the cast, including the male romantic lead, is purely in the shadows.
Will "Nazar", which uses the male gaze to exploit the feminine gaze, succeed in getting audiences interested? Lately the
Bhatts have had success with two of their erotic thrillers, "Murder" and "Zeher". Will they be third time lucky?
More importantly, will Meera be the first Pakistani actor to succeed in Bollywood? Earlier Zeba Bakhtiar flopped in spite
of an eminently high-profile debut in Randhir Kapoor's "Henna".