Monday, August 8, 2011

Shart (The Bet) [1986]

Directed by Ketan Anand, son of Chetan Anand (whose debut film Neecha Nagar was the first Indian film to win at Cannes Film Festival), Shart was part of 1980’s “parallel Indian cinema” movement. Consequently the psychological thriller was given the look and aesthetics of an art-house movie with emphasis on character dynamics and pace (or rather, lack of it) instead of content (storyline). The movie’s premise is very interesting. It begins with the gruesome murder of a hooker by a mysterious serial-killer. A capable cop, who’s famous for achieving results, is given charge of the case, and he traces the killer to his best friend in college (though they aren’t in touch with each other now). Quite obviously, the director’s intent wasn’t to create a tale of murder mystery; rather, it was to bring out the two characters, and the choices and moments that lead them to take divergent routes in their lives. Unfortunately, the promise that the film potentially had was never realized thanks to subpar storytelling and shoddy treatment by the director, not to mention the weak script. The most jarring aspect of this pseudo-arthouse film lied in the pretentious filmmaking combined with the director’s inability to go beyond the lurid and the clich├ęd. Though provided with a weakly developed character, Naseeruddin Shah's performance remains one of the few praiseworthy facets of the film.

Director: Ketan Anand

Genre: Thriller/Psychological Thriller

Language: Hindi

Country: India



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