By Subhash K. Jha Bollywood Hungama News Network
No wonder the director sent off an email before the film's release requesting that the suspense not be revealed in the reviews.
The plot in 8X10 unravels with such elegant dexterity you are tempted to spill the beans. However doing so would be a crime worse than the multiple murders attempted and achieved, in this understated gently violent and subtly tongue-in-cheek slasher movie.
Normally Indian whodunits are so hysterical in tone you rue the day Dolby sound was invented.
Kukunoor's narrative uses sound to create a delectable and subtle distinction between crime and lyricism. The characters move through a labyrinth of heightened luxury. The Canadian sun-kissed lakes and valleys open up a vista of narrative possibilities, some realized many unexplored. Either way, the plot obtains its bridled energy from the director's clear and present understanding of the danger that could underline the most beautiful and desirable surfaces. All you have to do is scratch.
Kukunoor definitely knows the finest suspense creators of celluloid, from Alfred Hitchcock to Brian de Palma to Manoj Night Shyamalan (who incidentally has left his glorious past behind). In these past-masters Kukunoor discovers his magic and metier. He converts the history of the whodunit into a crackling currency of characters and plot-twists that make you in the audience touch the goings-on without really embracing them.
A perfunctory attitude underlines the storytelling, creating within the high level of aesthetics a murky interior where knives are used to cut human body rather than succinct meat on the baroque dining table.
The supernatural element is used with a delicious and devilish delicacy. Believe what you will, says the director. But you have to admit that there are times when logic simply takes a backseat.
Providentially Kukunoor keeps the supernatural element on a believable scale. Having Akshay Kumar to go into intermittent premonitory bouts helps. Akshay doesn't fight the tides of improbability. He goes with the flow riding the waves with a twinkle-eyed ever-grin, sometimes-grim graciousness that allows him to get real without forfeiting his heroic image.
When Akshay is not busy being self-righteous or cocky he is very likeable in this film.
Akshay Kumar, Ayesha Takia Without revealing the climax , it would be appropriate to say here, more than anywhere else, the gripping elements of noire cinema kiss the masala conventions of Hindi cinema. It's a heady brew cooked at an even temperature that reaches the narrative to a boiling point without bubbling over.
Nagesh Kukunoor is unarguably an adept storyteller. His triumph with the whodunit is manifested in delicate details that draw inspiration from both the masters of the murder mystery and yet re-define the culture of filmed crime in a language that's derived from the director's own sensibility.
The film could have made its end-game a little less wedded to Hindi cinema's formulistic conventions. But the concession to commercialism doesn't compromise the suspenseful equilibrium of a canvas where a family photograph speaks a thousand words.
The film's quiet restrained rhythm of expression is palpable.
You can't miss the artery of understatement even when that gloved hand with the knife gleams on the polished exterior.
That's when we begin to see what the film wants to do. It takes the whodunit into a land of murderous silences.
Greed underlines the crime. But the director is not greedy. He refrains from reaching out for the entire armoury from the suspenseful genre.
For telling us that less can be more even in a whodunit Nagesh Kukunoor and his leading man must be applauded.