Thursday, January 12, 2006

Zinda : alive but not kicking hard

Sanjay Gupta's (Kaante,Musafir,Plan) films are usually the dark clouds in the candyfloss of Bollywood. They are technically sound heavily inspired versions of firang movies where the protagonists are the ones you would avoid bumping into on the streets of Mumbai. Zinda is probably his darkest. Every frame of the movie has a black hue and depending on the narrative, it is used to convey pain, monotony, despair and vengeance in varying degrees.
Zinda tells the story of Bala (Sanjay Dutt) a software engineer in Bangkok.Very difficult to visualize Mamu coding but we shall pardon that since Sanju baba delivers a knock-out performance. Bala is locked into a room by an unknown entity , where he is served a diet of fried wantons thrice a day . His only window into the outside world is a TV that surprisingly shows a great variety of channels. He learns through news on TV that his wife has been murdered and he is responsible for the same. Sensing vendetta he uses the time in confinement to strengthen his body by fisting rocks and copying Chinese martial arts on TV. He is finally set free after 14 years. Now Bala has to find why has he been kept Zinda for 14 years in this fashion.
The chase begins well where Bala uses a Hindustani taxi driver ( I thought that was NY trademark but here Lara Dutta is an interesting improvization to bring in the glamour quotient). He samples fried wontons at several Bangkok restaurants and manages to catch someone who leads to the place where he was confined. The confinement is actually a cool business model run by Raj Zutshi where in strict confidence they adhere to contracts of torture.
The tools used by Bala to kill are particularly gruesome, using hammers to knock off teeth, and drilling machines to amputate limbs and lastly Sanjay Gupta also throws in some Kill Bill type swordfights. One clue leads to another and finally we know that John Abraham is paying back some of the coins that Bala had dropped. The film is limited by John Abraham's limitations as a villain at times.John can look cool, but menace is completely different. Also the premise of the vengeance does not instantly appeal but it lingers on your mind. It reminds of comments you make on a daily basis. The denouement is a bit cliched and filmi.
But Zinda is nevertheless gritty and different. The whole styling of the movie definitely leaves an impact. And Sanju baba manages the entire range of emotions and of course action really well. Songs Zinda hoo mein and Yeh meri Kahani come at right times and are really soulfully written to suit the mode of the movie.In fact the music album comes with two versions Club and lounge with remixes of both songs and 2 addl songs. Sanjay Gupta once again proves he is probably one of the best technicians in Bollywood and has the ability to do further wonders if his scripts get better.


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