13B | Movie Review

Friday, March 27, 2009

After innumerable discussions that I have had on films with friends, I surmise that there is a commonality in most of these discussions. We actually don’t discuss films but the people behind them. And I think this is the case with a lot of people who think they discuss films. Probably that is the reason why we sit and spend hours analyzing even silly things made by big people and overlook some good things done by small people. 13B is one such film. I will keep myself from saying that it is a very good film. It is indeed an average product but the idea and the efforts put in by the team are creditable.

I decided to watch this film after I figured that no one who had watched the film trashed it. I was surprised because I never thought that a non-entity like Vikram Kumar could team up with Madhavan (a talented but unsuccessful actor in Bollywood) and come up with a decent film. The song Sexy Mama that later changed to Crazy Mama too reinforced my belief that the film didn’t stand a chance at the Box office.

13B is a spooky thriller. It belongs to the same genre as The Ring. The film is not copied but it sure looks inspired to an extent. The best thing that I liked about the film is that it thrills you without creating any sort of paranoia about ghosts. In fact in the whole film, it is just Madhavan and then later his friend and a doctor who get to know that there is a ghost in the house while the others live normally without realizing that they are a part of the supernatural game played by the invisible ghosts (quite a welcome change from the Ramsay ghosts who made you puke). The film is about paranormal activities and has some bizarre moments but the genre is such that these unbelievable events need to be a part of the film. The biggest problem is its length. I don’t know why can’t Indian filmmakers break the rule when it comes to deciding on the length of their films. The film stretches to nearly 2 and a half hours and at times you want to question what the editors were doing when the film landed on their tables.

Vikram Kumar is the director of the film. He does a good job with this one. The film is a bilingual made in both Hindi and Tamil and released simultaneously. Vikram Kumar deserves credit for doing it as both the films have different supporting cast. He weaves a lot of interesting and thrilling scenes that make this enterprise edgy at times. To help him in the endeavor is a charged up Madhavan and an eerie background score that add value to the fare. Sadly, the length reduces the impact. The dialogues seem to be the work of an amateur. There are loop holes in the story that will seem obvious when you watch the film giving a feeling that despite a commendable effort, there is ample scope for the writer to improve. Also, Vikram Kumar’s ability to handle different characters did not come to test here as the focus was majorly on Madhavan who has been around for a decade now. I will not pass any verdict on Vikram’s caliber but for this film of his, he deserves a pat on the back.

13B is a total Madhavan movie. Besides him and the blind old man played by Dhritiman Chatterji, no one gets to portray much and they end up looking like props. Poonam Dhillon appears on the big screen after a long time but sadly, there is no meat in her character. Neetu Chandra is okay. Sachin Khedekar does a routine job. Deepak Dobriyal as the mentally challenged Ashok leaves an impression. Murli Sharma as the police inspector is relegated to playing a side kick.

The music is by Shankar Ehsaan Loy and they deliver ordinary stuff for this small budget movie. I liked a song whose words I can’t remember now but it was not required in the film at all. And just for the records it was not Crazy Mama for sure.

Now, a few scenes that I found interesting:

a.) The scene where Madhavan starts to turn the pages of a photo album and figures that the people clicked actually appeared on a television soap.
b.) The scene where the blind man’s dog refuses to enter the flat
c.) The scene where Madhavan realizes that there is something wrong in the house by clicking his photograph by stepping inside and then outside the flat.

Everyone has an opinion and since Barkha Dutt is in no way related to this film, I can take the liberty to comment on what I feel could have made this film better. First and foremost the length. Had it been a two hour affair, it could have been an out an out edge of the seat thriller. Second, the director should have worked on creating a fear inducing impact through the serial ‘Sab khairiyat’ that gets telecast in Madhavan’s house. The serial looks like a regular soap opera and hardly makes you believe that it could be a supernatural phenomenon at work. Lastly, the final scene of the movie looked more like a joke rather than anything else. If it was meant to make a shiver run through the spine, it failed to deliver. The director could have thought of a better closing scene.

13B will in all probability be a film that most of the people give a miss not because it is a bad film but because it doesn’t have any big name associated with it. I watched it on recommendation and didn’t come out feeling robbed of my time. Since it is a super natural thriller, many of the ‘real’ film enthusiasts will find it absurd. But I will give it a 3 out of five for the novelty of the effort. Mind you, 13B is not your typical Bollywood horror flick. Whether I recommend it – I will rather leave it to your judgement!


Sensible Garbage said...

Read this on the internet - "Hollywood studio Weinstein Company was quite impressed after going through the synopsis of "13B, which stars R. Madhavan and Neetu Chandra, and now wants to know more about the film before getting the rights."

A marketing gimmick? Slumdog effect? The film (13B) itself?

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