Choked on Words: Nishabd

Best Friend insisted on watching Nishabd. Aware of his tastes in cinema, I made several subtle attempts to dissuade him. I failed miserably, as always.

Nishabd had already made splash across various media with its unconventional story of 60-year-old man falling in love with 19-year-old teenage girl. Quite unconventional, by Indian standards. Yesterday’s edition of Hindustan Times enlightened me that 15% Americans undergo this phenomenon.

News channels went berserk hoisting a number of interviews with director Ram Gopal Verma and actor Amitabh Bachchan. Not to mention slew of chat shows and discussions on the subject of older man falling in love with teenage girl. I guess Amitabh Bachchan obliged to forestall any impending controversy on the subject. It sure would have been pain to Mr. Bachchan to answer same questions over and over again:

“Were you uncomfortable giving intimate shots with Jiah Khan (actress who is playing the character of 19-year-old)?”

“Why did you choose this role at this age or at this point of your career?” It had, at one point of time, begun to get on the nerves of a viewer.

Shot in Munnar, the movie carries an excellent cinematography. The pictures of tea estate and other locations can easily be termed exotic. Jiah Khan in skimpy clothes made quite a pretty picture. How long can you watch a woman’s body, even if it is a beautiful one? It didn’t help that the camera kept constantly panning to Jiah’s thighs to capture her walk. I was almost relieved when she started wearing trousers and long skirts.

I don’t know what they mean when directors say that film was shot aesthetically. Does aesthetic means keeping sexual undercurrent without including sex? If that is the definition, the movie is aesthetic. However, at the end of the movie, I wasn’t convinced that it was love between 60+ Amitabh and the teenage Jiah Khan. It looked more of an infatuation on both sides.

Director’s Message. Now that is a tricky one! After sitting through two hours of movies, best friend and me concluded here were the two things Ramu wanted to convey:

It quite happens that old ones do fall in love with nublile 19-year-olds.  When that happens, such men are lost. They can neither get what they want for the fear of losing social acceptance nor are they able to do justice to their existing relationships. They are nowhere.

So is Nishabd meant to send out a “Beware” message to all those 60-somethings who yearn for Lolitas. Not quite, it is more of “Look before you leap” message to them. There is another sotto voce message when Amitabh tells Jiah Khan in the movie, “Jindagi apne faisle pur hi jiyo!” Sad, he failed to live up to his advice in the movie. 😦

Amitabh Bachchan, as always, is convincing in his performance. Revathy, as Amitabh’s wife, was wasted, as is cliché for film critics to say when a good actor has nothing much to do in the movie. 

And Jiah Khan? Well, she was the surprise in the movie. She has a great screen presence and was effortless in her role as a carefree teenager. I particularly remember her expression in one scene where she made veteran Amitabh admit that he was in love with her. I thought I saw triumph in her face. It must have been a daunting task to match up to India’s one of the most iconic actors. It was one of the best performances of a debutante. I am looking forward to see more of her. It would be interesting to see how her career shapes up in Bollywood. (😳I am dead if any of the film fraternity finds me using this term. Bollywood, huh? ) 8)

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