Reviewed By Abhishek Bandekar
Posted 06/29/05 23:06:58

"Triptych Of Three Women"
3 stars (Average)

Shahrukh Khan, as a very informal raconteur, tells us that ‘Silsiilay’ is about three women who are as unalike as chalk & cheese and their quest for the ultimate goal…self-respect. No problems with that, except that the three women aren’t as unalike as he leads us to believe. Nevertheless, ‘Silsiilay’ IS about three women and it IS about their quest for self-respect. More importantly, ‘Silsiilay’ is yet another step in the right direction for Bollywood which has pleasantly begun to experiment with newer and bolder themes.

Told in an episodic style a la Mani Ratnam’s ‘Yuva’, the first of the three stories deals with Zia(Bhumika Chawla)- a successful Bollywood actress. Zia suffers from an inability to find closure for her broken relationship to Neel(Rahul Bose). Although she seems to have everything going for her- success, fame, money –she desperately pines to give meaning to her life. Apparently the relationship meant much more to Zia than it did to Neel who’s quickly moved on with his life and is set to get married to Nandita(Priya Badlani). It is interesting to note that writer-director Khalid Mohamed chooses to show Neel in a positive light, unlike the typical negative cardboard stereotypes. I’m sure it is one of his deliberate decisions, one which he must’ve contemplated while reviewing films as a film-critic. The second story is about Anushka(Riya Sen), a working girl unsure whether she should lose her virginity before marriage. Coaxed by her sassy and rambunctious roommate Piya(Natassha), Anushka almost sleeps with her boyfriend Nikhil(Ashmit Patel). However, Nikhil’s sex-crazed demeanour in a moment of forced intimacy alters her views about him as a potential mate. Besides, Anushka is also loved silently by her colleague Tarun(Jimmy Shergill in a thankless and underwritten role). Although the resolution to this story is extremely novel, it lacks tempo. This segment is the least rivetting of the three and unfortunately, the longest!

But Khalid saves the best for the last. Tabu enters in the third story as Rehana, a rather unsophisticated and plain wife to a very sophisticated and stylish Anwar(KayKay Menon). Rehana spends her days watching reruns of old Hindi classics, laughing and crying along with them, in a futile bid to fill the void left by her husband’s disinterest in her. Anwar is busy charming an air-hostess Preeti(Celina Jaitley) whom he wishes to make his third wife! Khalid includes a bold angle in this story by creating an incestuous situation. There is an implied sexual tension between Rehana and her stepson Inayat(Karan Panthaky). Inayat sees through Rehana’s façade of normalcy and urges her to confront Anwar about his affairs. Her brazening out with Anwar and Preeti at their love-pad is a smartly written and deftly handled scene. It helps that this story is benefited by Tabu’s wonderful portrayal of Rehana’s painful vacuity. KayKay is brilliant as a cold and remorseless husband, but he is overshadowed by Karan Panthaky’s screen-presence. Karan, in his debut, manages to convey mixed emotions of compassion and forbidden love effortlessly. With such finely nuanced performances, this story didn’t deserve Celina Jaitley’s lackluster act!

The other performances range from the poor(Ashmit Patel) to the blasé(Rahul Bose). Riya Sen is better than she has ever been, but then she was never that good to begin with! Natassha gets the best lines but screws-up with her terrible lip-syncing, while Divya Dutta is wasted as Zia’s sister. If there is any other performance that can rival Tabu’s, then it is that of Bhumika Chawla. She is simply superb(both with a capital S) as the frazzled actress who has forgotten how to cry for her pain. While Rehana sobs and Riya doesn’t feel any need to cry, Zia’s tears have dried up. Her sister cries for her! Bhumika makes every scene that she is in as her own. So comfortably casual is she in her donning the role of Zia that when she spouts sarcasms at Rahul Bose’s character, we don’t even bother looking at the otherwise talented actor. With her acting and those full lips, Bhumika has a career ahead of her for sure!

If there is any problem with ‘Silsiilay’, apart from the languid pace of the second story, it is that Khalid Mohamed falls into the same trappings that he so vehemently criticizes as a film-critic. There are unnecessary songs peppered into the running time which slacken the movement. What's more, the songs use the clichéd flying odhnis and bare-chested male dancers. Shahrukh Khan’s narration only spoils the film and isn’t that consequential either. Frankly, there was no narration required.

One more thing wasn’t required…Khalid tries to bring together the three stories but his effort to do the same comes off as a strained exercise which is ultimately lame. The film could’ve worked better had the three stories been separate. Even so, Khalid deserves a pat for penning three beautiful accounts of three women that aren’t really that different after all!

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