O Re Paakhi…O Re Paakhi resonates in my ears and as I sit down to write the review of Sudhir Mishra’s Khoya Khoya Chand, all that flashes into my eyes is the wet paint of the film sets, the halogen flood lights, the larger than life posters, and the filled theatre screenings of 1950’s -1960’s Bollywood, build perfectly to the last inch. Khoya Khoya Chand is sincere, honest and almost perfect in technique but unfortunately what starts off as story telling ends up being a history lesson. It is so much like a long lecture which started as being interesting and colorful, until the colors became repetitive and started blinding my eye. Of course, I’d stand up and applaud the technicians of the movie again and again throughout this review for making it almost feel like being seated in a Time Machine and getting deported to an era of the pot-bellied Producer getting bullied by the Superstars, the sleazy divas, the “favourable” Superstar, the struggling writer, the non-compliant industry-outsider director, the run of the mill dialogues and screenplay and the mom accompanied struggling wannabe. All of this and much more is taken care of perfectly and this is no small feat. What OSO (the other tribute to Bollywood movie, yeah the more commercial one) tried to attempt, Khoya Khoya Chand has achieved all of that and much more and it effortlessly makes us believe in Sudhir Mishra’s vision of the Black and White era of Indian Cinema.
Having said that definitely doesn’t necessarily mean that Khoya Khoya Chand is a gem of a film. Though it is accompanied by really strong performances by the main cast as well the supporting members, it fails on many accounts. The story narrates the story of a struggling actress, Nikhat (Soha Ali), who is awestruck by the glam and glitz of cinema. She willingly submits to the reigning superstar Prem Kumar (Rajet Kapoor) in return of her favours. Soon enough , she starts climbing up the ladders of success, until she realizes that she has been used when Prem announces his marriage. Nikhat finds solace in the arms of the aspiring writer, Zaffar(Shiney Ahuja). Zaffar reminds me of the villain of the same name in Disney’s Aladdin, yeah but he did not have any relationship issues, neither did he have any ego clashes. This Zaffar had all of them, including a troubled childhood resulting from a polygamist father and 3 stepmoms. The relationship between Zaffar and Nikhat goes through enough trying times, strenuous enough to make your head ache and force you to scream out “Stop you lady, and you, yes You Mr. Shut Up and listen to her for a sec”.The relationship itself is so confusing at times, and Nikhat as a person just leaves me gasping for more explanation. But then, Zaffar’s comeback and Nikhat’s sudden appreciation of him makes us feel that yeah, probably, the director has finally realized, “Okay , that’s enough indulgence for one film, its now time for a good climax “.
That’s when the climax song Thirak Thirak features in and the entire set, including the producer and the strict manager crack up, over a silly Ghungroo joke. WTF, I smiled out for no reason.
Shantanu Moitra scores an ace yet again with the soundtrack, and lemme tell you honesty, there are no mediocre tracks here. Just one ace after an ace, of course the Ace of Spades is O Re Paakhi by Sonu Nigam. Given the era of cinema depicted here, the soundtrack has an amazing jazz and blues element in it. Take for instance, the first track Ye Nigahein or the cabaret Khusboo Sa . Both are so very blues, so very intoxicating and both depict the smokes and mirrors of cinema effectively. The title track Khoya Khoya Chand features lyricist Swanand Kirkire rhyming lines to the backdrop of a 60’s rock n roll bass-line which ultimately finds climax in a beautiful qawwali. Shreya Ghosal is the next Alka Yagnik to say the least. I don’t need to say more, just close your eyes to Chale Aao and you’ll know what I’m talking about.
Talking about the performances, I’ll begin with Saurav Shukla who actually ends up being the most memorable character in the entire movie. Perfect Punjabi flavored producer with the best of the lines. Sushmita Chatterjee appears in just a couple of scenes but makes her presence felt. Vinay Pathak as the narrator, and the strict manager of Nikhat is a complete waste of his potential. He could have done so much more, but has ended being just a sidekick in this movie, almost reminds me of his Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam days. Rajet Kapoor commands the screen with his “haraami” portrayal of superstar Prem Kumar. Sonya Jehan as the yesteryears’ diva is one of the highest points of the movie. She effortlessly makes you remind of Meena Kumari ,Madhubala, and Nadira. Shiney Ahuja must have taken his urdu lessons way too seriously and it starts to irritate a bit when it gets overboard. But it helps coz he is supposed to be from Lucknow. Nevertheless, he certainly delivers a wonderful performance as the grief stricken Zaffar searching for his eternal and internal peace. There is so much credibility in his tears and his anguish , how could Nikhat resist that? This is by far Soha Ali’s best performance as Nikhat, the ACTRESS which takes us down memory lane through the pages of Filmfare 1960’s . The pages flashing stories of the actress’ rise, romance, gossips, fall from glory and eventually finding retreat in alcohol. Soha plays the character with intense credibility, thanks to the costumes, the make up and hair stylist to have made it possible. Worth mentioning is the scene when she enters the bedroom of Zaffar while he is sleeping. She is so much like Sharmila Tagore . But yes, the best performance is by the cinematographer Sachin Krishnan who blends the perfect hues with the best of settings. Absolutely impeccable. Only if Mr.Sudhir Mishra could have woken from his indulgence a bit early in the second half, Khoya Khoya Chand could have resulted in being a memorable piece of cinema, which it has failed to be. 2 on 5. Top notch music though. I am still humming O Re Paakhi.