Film: Khoya Khoya Chand
Director: Sudhir Mishra
Producer: Prakash Jha Productions
Cast: Shiney Ahuja, Soha Ali Khan, Vinay Pathak, Rajat Kapoor, Sonia Jahan
When films become a medium of personal artistic expression the outcome is either extremely engaging or disastrous. Sudhir Mishraâ€™s â€˜Khoya Khoya Chandâ€™ seems to be a similar expression which falls in a median between the two outcomes. Typically steering off the beaten path of giving the audience what it wants, Sudhir yet again explores cinema with a wish to show them what he wants to. The film further dims the line between parallel and commercial cinema with its canvas that is bright and detailed at times, and a story that is simple but layered with intricacies.
â€˜Khoya Khoya Chandâ€™ is a story of a young talented actress and a young talented writer-director both struggling to find a hold in the film industry set in the 1950â€™s and 60â€™s. The film explores their lives and loves through their various compulsions and emotions that govern their decisions and commands the shape their lives take ultimately. The story includes a fading superstar struggling to maintain his stronghold and an equally insecure successful actress who provide a foil to the lead pair and also add a number of layers to this emotionally charged story.
The story of â€˜Khoya Khoya Chandâ€™ is engaging in its various complications and nuances it explores. Despite a strong emotional subject the end turns out to be watery discrediting the intensity the entire film commands. The film charts the stormy lives of the characters through their tempestuous journeys with their creative passions as a backdrop to the same. The end disappoints mainly because it suddenly crowns the creative aspirations and conquerings of the lead pair rather than resolving or dissolving their personal angst. This shift focus of the narrative also happens in the beginning when the tale is being told from the point of view of the Prem Kumar, the fading superstar and suddenly it is Zaffar, the young angst-ridden individual who is central hub of all activity. Discrepancies likes these along with a jerky screenplay, goes towards dis-engaging the viewer rather than deeply involving them.
Untimely jerks, which are either a screenplay or editing quality, also dilute the intensity of the experiences of the lead characters. Whirlwind of activities that come with stardom, the lull of depression, the frenzy of sexual love, the frustration of disappointed ambitions and the helplessness of lost time, all beautiful moments get lost in a hurried and unbalanced narrative. The end-result is a lot of intensity with no foundation.
A period film not only has the actors as characters but the sets, costumes, dialogues, body language and every aspect that goes into the creation of the period feel become equally important characters. â€˜Khoya Khoya Chandâ€™ is a visual treat for those in love with the high glamour of the 50â€™s and 60â€™s but it is interestingly interspersed with moments when one is shocked back into the present. The film is sweetly detailed at times and painfully careless at others. While the costumes and hairdos of the lead characters along with the sets evoke the era magnificently there are times when utter disdain to junior artists, who are supposed to create the backdrop, is embarrassingly apparent. Despite attention to great detail and a vast amount of research, Sudhir Mishra fails to captivate the audience into the spell of the 50â€™s as it was.
It is not only the physicality of the visual elements that disappoint. The events and ambience of the film industry built around in the story fail to bring out the luscious flavor of the 50â€™s industry favorably. The lead actors perform in a commendable fashion with Soha looking the part of a young actress of the 50â€™s with all that vulnerability and old-world charm on her face. She has not stretched the infinite possibilities her role is invested with but is a captivating watch. Sonia Jehan is fabulous as the glamorous superstar with her sharp royal beauty and a capability of hardening as well as melting hearts. Rajat Kapoor as the dashing superstar is equally remarkable but it is Shiney Ahuja as the struggling passionate rebelling Zaffar who disappoints with yet another insipid, at times superficial and at others unnecessarily dramatic performance which the sensitivity in his character does not demand or allow. Saurabh Shukla as the Punjabi producer and Vinay Pathak as the hanger-on writer-assistant-director make the supporting cast as strong as it is with some superbly nuanced performances.
If there is something that Khoya Khoya Chand has perfected, it is the music. The music is mellifluous and completely in tune with the mood of the film as well as the period it speaks of. It overreaches the film in its excellence and one wishes that the film were equally deep, powerful and sweet in its passion. Sadly, it is not.