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Cast: Vivek Oberoi, Antonia Bernath, Isha Sharwani, Polly Adams
Banner: Mukta Arts
Director: Subhash Ghai
Producer: Mukta Arts
Camera: Ashok Mehta
Lyrics: Javed Akhtar, Blaaze
Music: A.R Rahman, Ismail Darbar
`There are three heroes in Subhash Ghai's latest opus -
Ashok Mehta's cinematography, Ghai's exquisite shot compositions and Vivek
Oberoi's understated rugged and implosive performance. All three empower the
film, which is an engrossing look at the British Raj with tenderness instead of
Let's turn page, says the sage within Subhash Ghai. Let's not look
at our colonisers as vicious villains.
Smoothly substituting vitriolic
with vermilion Ghai paints a landscape of valour, idealism and melodiousness
that transport you into a realm of undulating and comforting rhythms that nature
invented for man to savour as delicacies to nibble.
Nibble on, then, as
Ghai transports us to the idyllic idealism of an era that's gone with the wind.
Sweeping with panoramic passion through a Himalayan landscape, he makes the
narrative breathe the air of untouched unspoilt characters surrendering
themselves into the bosom of nature.
"Kisna" is a film of sweet surrender. It details the milieu of a time
when the Britishers ruled our country without turning the ambience into a
fashion statement. The narrative is suffused in a pungent yet easygoing
periodicity that appeals to the heart and stirs the senses.
plot. Just swim in the tides of the Indian classical notes-based music, the
repeated invocation of 'shlokas' and 'mantras' (Sanskrit hymns), the scriptural
references especially to the Mahabharata (Hindu epic).... all packaged in an
exquisitely irresistible ethnicity.
And then there is Isha Sharvani....
Grace-personified as she twirls and pirouettes in yogic classical postures on
mud-caked floors and from atop trees. Though this newcomer doesn't have much
scope to act, Ghai makes superb use of Sharvani's extraordinary dancing
Make no mistake, this is the story of 'forbidden' love between
an Indian villager Kisna (Oberoi) and the British daughter Catherine (Antonia
Bernarth) of a tyrannical British ruler. Their escape from the fires of the
partition in 1947, their journey through strife-torn hinterland, their grand
passion (symbolised rather broadly by the trot of two horses one black the other
white) and their determination to overcome the brutal prejudices that divide the
two sides, form an arresting collage of meditative melody-driven episodes, all
shot with a grace that's epitomized by Sharvani's tempestuously twirling
really can't take your eyes off Ghai's lyrical frames. The way he shoots his
characters against fast-flowing rivers and imposing yet misty and mellow
mountains, creates a synthesis between nature and its most misguided creation,
The director has a canny sense of proportion vis a vis character and
location. He allows his lovers to grow in a glow of gloriously conceived
It's only when the dreaded formulistic designs take over that
the film's sheen wears off. Superfluous grotesque characters such as the one
played by Amrish Puri and a whole inane and wimpish chunk featuring Om Puri and
Sushmita Sen as a Hyderabadi middleman and a pseudo-philosophical 'tawaif'
(nautch girl) diminish the narrative's rugged and smooth flow.
first-half where we see the protagonist as a poet is shot in dusky orange
shades. In the second-half when Kisna turns aggressive and war-like to protect
his British beloved from the blizzard of butchery, the narrative complexion
turns shades less romantic.
Flamboyant or rusty, Ghai knows how to tell an engaging story. The
music of ambrosial sensuality (composed by A. R Rahman and Ismail Durbar) and
the performances add deep compelling shades to an otherwise-routine romantic
triangle featuring the villager, the 'gori mem saab' and the jealous village
The romance across historical-cultural dividing lines may sound
like a replication of Ashutosh Gowariker. It's in the way that Ghai has framed
the triangle and shot the film through free-flowing wind-swept vistas that make
"Kisna" look not only picture-perfect but also heart-felt.
performances are synchronized with the melody of subtle scents and supple grace.
The two debutant actresses, almost replicating the Paro-Chandramukhi axis in
"Devdas", do their parts with nimble conviction. Vivek Oberoi's performance is
mellow and deep, filled with gestures and nuances that need careful viewing.
It isn't a flamboyant part but a hugely heroic one. He performs it with
understated ruggedness, and comes out in a burst of dramatic self-assertion in
the expertly staged physical confrontation with his screen brother Yashpal
Sharma in the forest.
surprisingly engaging cameos come from Hrishita Bhatt and the old Ghai protégé
Vivek Mushran, specially the former.Fortunately the foliage of flamboyancy never
conceals the film's marked propensity to punctuate the periodicity with a
"Kisna" works as a deftly embroidered piece of
period-art. It doesn't have too many layerings of emotions. But the drama swims
just beneath 'see' level with casual grace. Though there are blind spots in the
patriotic pastiche, those are dissipated by the light of the creator's vision,
which never disappoint the drama.
"Kisna" is the kind of roomy spectacle
that creates lovely spaces without forgetting its reason for existence. You
can't take your eyes off the grace, rhythm and melody. They are just too
inviting to be rejected.
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