Film: The Xpose
Cast: Himesh Reshammiyan, Yo Yo Honey Singh, Irrfan Khan, Adil Hussain, Ananth Mahadevan, Nakul Vaid, Sonali Raut, Zoya Afroze, Jessy Randhawa
Director: Ananth Mahadevan
This is an entertainment generate ‘karne ke liye kuch bhi karega’ type – a fictional detour into Bollywood lore, this whodunit set in the film industry uses R.D.Burman style music accompanied by Himesh and Yo-Yo’s combo beat as a catalyst for its feckless story-telling. It’s weirdly wired but entertaining nevertheless – especially the hair-raising dialogues uttered by Himesh in typical Raaj Kumar fashion.
Alec D’costa (Irrfan Khan in a role that is hardly befitting his International star stature) is the black marketer, sutradhar – he’s telling the story of 60’s Bollywood. An Xpose of sorts of the shady behind-the-scenes shenanigans of the wannabe stars and their ruthless easily corruptible Svengalis. Zara (Sonali Raut) and Chandni (Zoya Afroze) are rivals to the hottest Bollywood newcomer post.
Zara is well set in the race thanks to the favours-for-film route she takes, while Chandni, a small-town girl involved with an actor (Nakul Vaid), doesn’t want to expose for the camera. A chance barb from Zara and her boyfriend’s arrogant reaction to that, pushes Chandni off the pedestal she put herself on. She goes skimpy on camera and her film, Directed by Bobby Chadha (Ashwin Dhar) and thanks to some behind-the-scenes shenanigans, manages to score a grand opening.
Zara’s film ‘Ujwal , Sheetal, Nirmal’ produced and directed by Subba Prasad (Ananth Mahadevan) starring Chandni’s boyfriend and co-starring south superstar Ravi Kumar(Hinmesh), on the other hand, is close to bombing badly. Then comes Zara’s sudden death and the equations change big-time. First denoted a suicide and later on as murder, with fingers conveniently pointing towards Chandni’s boyfriend as the killer, the narrative takes a turn for the worst. Of course there has to be other guests at the post award show party, who may also be involved in Zara’s death. How else will this be a whodunit?
A large portion of the first half is about the pulling-each-other-down filmy machinations that characterise mainstream Bollywood cinema lore. Once the characters are established, the story takes a different turn. The rivalry between Zara and Chandni, leads to an establishment of rival camps. But Zara is not to be thwarted and sets her own rules while staking claim for the big chance only to end up losing her life in the process. Ravi Kumar who is a disgraced cop turned south superstar gets back into investigative sleuth mode and ferrets out the real culprit. While he does that he also manages to capture Chandni’s heart. So romance also finds space in this telling.
The film is replete with references (both musical and scripted) from the past- mainly 60’s and 70’s Bollywood. Zara appears to be loosely modelled on Zeenat Aman, though her suicide/murder has that Divya Bharati tragedy indent. Chandni, is an amalgamation of several heroines who start off their careers unwilling to expose and then break that vow at the slightest provocation. Ravi Kumar is truly the pick of characters here. Not for its realistic bent but for the near toonish trait-combo of Raaj Kumar and Rajnikanth.
The dialogues he utters (and credit must go to Himesh’s deadpan earnestness and the dialogue writer Bunty Rathore’s wild creativity) are so weird it’s just too funny. The two actresses are fairly adequate while Ananth Mahadevan, Irrfan Khan, Adil Hussain, Jessy Randhawa, Aryan Vaid, Ashwin Dhar and Honey Singh (yes Yo-Yo) give us some interesting takes.
The dialogues are audience rousing no doubt and the music inveigles its way into your mind (even if you don’t want it to). The first half tries to emulate the flamboyance and colour of Baz Luhrman’s ‘the Great gatsby’ but can manage only an insipid, artifice laden visual engagement. Mahadevan is deft in his craft and doesn’t allow time for any questioning of logic. There are plenty of loopholes scattered around the narrative but the high entertainment levels keep you engaged enough to overlook them. This is not a masterpiece or even a great thriller-romance. It’s just a passably entertaining one!