'Zeher', a laboured no-show

By Subhash K. Jha, IANS

imageFilm: "Zehar"; Cast: Emran Hashmi, Shamita Shetty, Udita Goswami, Ninad Kamath; Director: Mohit Suri; Scriptwriter: Mohit Suri; Producer: Mahesh Bhatt; Cinematography: Fuwad Khan.

Won't the Bhatts ever give up? After plagiarizing every conceivable Hollywood film, producer Mahesh Bhatt has now turned his sights on Carl Franklin's B-grade thriller "Out Of Time".

The Denzel Washington-starrer has now been converted into the laboured and lumbering no-show in "Zehar" - where Siddharth (Hashmi), a perpetually drunk and raging inspector, more than meets his match in the sultry Anna (Udita Goswami), a wanton material girl.

Debutant director Mohit Suri appropriates the original "Out Of Time", scene by scene, almost word for word.

The first half shows Siddharth groping with his conscience in his alliance with Anna.

The second half finds him making a desperate lunge to get back money - eased out of him by Anna - and wife Sonia (Shamita Shetty) who had left him in a huff in the first half.

Emran Hashmi, though wooden, takes the role of agitated and stressed cop by the horns. But the best part of the film is Ninad Kamath, who literally steals every scene with his role as James.

Unlike the Bhatt-produced "Murder" last year, which aped Adrian Lyne's "Unfaithful" without falling on its face, "Zehar" is an out-of-step "Out Of Time".

It's amusing to see how Suri tries to 'Indianize' what's essentially a Hollywood-centric idea.

But the early scenes between the warring husband and wife fail to take away the stench of a borrowed tale.

No amount of evocative songs and smouldering cinematography can cover the result of the film that borrows its format, mood language and theme from another source without a hint of acknowledgement.

Brazenly, debutant director Mohit Suri claims credit for screenplay. He might as well claim he created Denzel Washington's stardom.