Film: Woodstock Villa
Banner: White Feather Films
Cast: Sikander Kher, Neha Oberoi, Saif Ali Khan, Arbaaz Khan, Shakti Kapoor, Sachin Khedekar, Boman Irani, Anupama Varma, Sanjay Dutt, Gulshan Grover, Gaurav Gera
Director: Hansal Mehta
Producer: Sanjay Gupta, Shobha Kapoor, Sanjay Dutt
Mumbai: Certain names always predict our expectations. Sanjay Gupta is one of them. In Woodstock Villa, he makes sure he doesn’t disappoint us with what we are used to seeing from his stable. Yes, we sure have seen it all before. Many times over.
The movie is a crime thriller aimed to impact. A rich husband (Arbaaz Khan) in a quandary about his wife’s disappearance, a rich, lonely wife (Neha Uberoi) staging her own kidnapping and turning up dead and then, not again, a spoilt, playboy (Sikander Kher) in a financial spot gets involved and the whole story spins round and round till it finally comes to a lame end.
The movie doesn’t fail on the story level as much as it does on the screenplay level. The first half lurches forward in between establishing characters and plot points and before you know the major turning point stares at you in the face.
Soon after, the lights in the hall blink with the onset of the interval. Far from gripping, it sustains a lukewarm interest to uncover the end. But in mysteries like these, it is the journey rather than the end that is more cherished. It has some interestingly worded conversations that are brisk and sharp.
Simple facts to crucial acts have been glossed over with a disdain truth of any commercial film. That definitely marks down the viewing quotient of any film but for a suspense thriller it is hara-kiri. Woodstock Villa suffers this bravely.
The lead pair debutantes Uberoi and Kher turn in a confident performance. Kher exudes a rough attractiveness and fills the screen with presence which makes up for the lack of flair. His unkemptness sure stops him from being eye-candy and close-ups especially do not love him a lot, but his tall frame, screen presence and a solid voice back him up. On the other hand, Uberoi is great eye-candy, another typicality of Sanjay Gupta films and brings a nice controlled performance to the table but takes a beating when it comes to emoting. Dead pan expression rules her acting roost, clearly not her forte.
Arbaaz Khan is himself, cut and fit for the role he plays and does a passable job as always. Sachin Khedekar and Daya Shankar do the done-to-death eccentric policemen duo bit very inefficiently. Gaurav Gera, the only sane and sensible chap around seems like a misfit. Anupama Verma’s cameo surprises by the length and importance of the role for which any newbie would have sufficed. Gulshan Grover plays the Bad Man in his own imitable style but remains a peg in the proceedings. The days of the dreaded villains are just over, too bad.
The music of the film is sadly as jarring as the camera angles and cuts. The background score as well as the tracks play loud and uncontrolled, not adding anything substantial to the proceedings as such. Faded frames, constantly undulating camera perched on unknown angles, flash and jump cuts that make you wince and rub your eyes in pain and a narrative tired of its own repetitive usage complete the gimmickry package that Sanjay Gupta films, unfailingly serves up every time.
In itself the film isn’t half as bad as at the general tripe the mills churn every week. But mediocrity comes in with an over-used plot-line, theme of changing morality, crime and double crossing and the technical impact it pleads to make. The experience too much of been-there-done-that.