Friday, January 28, 2005

Kisna Costner

For a while now, Amrish Puri has carried a certain image about him on screen. That voice tells you he's evil. That manic look jumps at you for its proximity to borderline insanity. Not only did he look and sound evil in Kisna, but Subhash Ghai hammered it in by putting a silly wig on him in addition to a glass eye.

He (Puri, not Ghai, sadly) meets with a timely demise at the end of Kisna's (Vivek Oberoi's) sword as he attempts to carry off Antonia - Kisna's babe - and end her struggle with the local dialect. ("Keesna, keedaar oh?") Needless to say, she survives one attempt to kill and rape her after another. Kisna is always there.

"I love her now!" he booms back at a nerveless elder brother who tries his hand at silencing Antonia. The elder brother has failed and is getting a good talking-to. We empathise with big brother when Antonia says, "baut ho gya! Bai dusri bai se nahi lad suktey! Merko maro!" (It's nearly accurate.)

Ah, yes. Why is Antonia on the run? It's like this. Her father is in charge of a district in pre-independent India and he - but of course - despises Indians. Amrish Puri hates him back and has him murdered. He tries to stop Antonia's Hindi once and for all as well, but she escapes narrowly.

Kisna's mum, a cool woman wearing a cool choker, sends him out on a totally uncool task: to protect Antonia with his life and make sure she gets home safe. There's a slight problem, though. Kisna's engaged to a paranoid woman who dances her anger away. Never mind that though, and he sets off with Antonia without informing his betrothed.

Like every good adventure, they do fun things on the side. They stay over at Kisna's pal's place (Vivek Muskan, I think) and have a bath in a river. The Ganges, I think. Antonia steps out of it in a very wet, very white and very transparent sari, and when Kisna sets his eyes on her in this state, their souls meet. No, seriously.

Anyway. They do another fun thing by stopping over at Sushmita's pad for a dance. Then Antonia nearly gets raped by Rajat Kapoor, who plays a lustful raja. But Kisna's there. Like Kevin Costner in The Bodyguard.

The direction is rubbish, really. It's supposed to be 1947. Imagine the horror when there's this shot of a bridge, and a modern car drives by. His dialogue writer is inspired by Times of India's "thought for the day".

Kisna: "He who knows nothing, knows everything."
Antonia: "Let us think not of big things, but of good things."

No one talks like that. No one. Speaking in sayings is horrible, and definitely not part of a society that counts openness among its virtues. But in Ghai's mind, I suspect, there are no demarcations of any kind. His characters exist on the surface, without history, without a future. It's a very right-here-right-now case. It's pop.

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