My Wife's Murder

Reviewed By Abhishek Bandekar
Posted 08/21/05 14:03:11

"My Ears’ Murder!"
3 stars (Average)

How, oh how, did Amar Mohile pull off such a precipitous step downward after his remarkable, nay astounding, work in the Factory’s ‘Sarkar’? Mohile’s loud, jarring and cacophonous background score in 'My Wife’s Murder' takes away every admirable aspect about it. 'My Wife’s Murder' is not a run-of-the-mill thriller; it is an incisive character-study about an average Joe condemned to a nagging wife…and the one bizarre moment that changes his life as he knows. There is no murder…and no, this isn’t a spoiler. This revelation is established in the first fifteen minutes itself. If there is any murder, then it is that of this film at the hands of Mohile and his music(or the lack of it!).

Anil Patwardhan(Anil Kapoor) is your average Joe, a film editor working late hours at his lab with a young assistant Reena(Nandana Sen). Anil comes home every night to his grouchy, querulous and complaining wife Sheela(Suchitra Krishnamoorthy). Sheela suspects an affair between Anil and his protégé Reena, even though Reena is in a live-in relationship with Raj(Rajesh Tandon) while Anil seems too hassled to have any time for himself- let alone an affair. There is however a vague connection between Anil and Reena; she cares for him and knows his habits & he shares his marital problems with her and concedes in a defeating tone that his marriage has failed. Anil persists with his wife-from-hell only for his kids, Karan(Faiz Khan) and Minni(Mariyaah Khatri). However during one of their various heated exchanges Anil slaps Sheela, and in a weird play of physics, she bangs her head against a bed and dies instantly. All this happens in the initial few reels. Fearing that the police wouldn’t believe his account of the story, Anil decides to dispose Sheela’s body in a lake. The whole sequence starting with Sheela’s death till her disposal has a lot of tension and were it not for Amar Mohile’s shameless rip-off of James Newton Howard’s score for M. Night Shyamalan’s ‘Signs’, I’d have been more riveted. The remaining film concerns Anil’s desperate attempts at resurrecting a normal life with his children while evading Tejpal Randhawa(Boman Irani in terrific form), a nosy cop deducing(literally) foul play!

My Wife’s Murder is an uncommon film for Bollywood, as it doesn’t fall into any specific genre. It is not a mystery, not a thriller and definitely not a drama; although Mohile’s work would like us to believe that it is a horror-flick! His inharmonious thuds and sudden clangs, for no apparent rhyme or reason, make you jump out of your seat. A subtler and understated score would’ve genuinely benefited this screenplay. Atul Sabharwal and Jijy Philip have taken an unconventional subject and given it the proper treatment that it deserves. Bollywood films have had a history of unrepentant heroes who get away with any crime whereas My Wife’s Murder has in Anil, a protagonist who pays for something which he isn’t even guilty of. And there’s no payoff, feel-good, scene at the climax either. Sabharwal and Philip boldly refrain from bowing down in the house of Rimmon. The plot is entirely believable, and the actions of Anil- though dubious –make sense under the circumstances.

For Anil Kapoor, this is his best performance to date. I don’t remember the last time I saw Anil this frazzled. His histrionics when he visits his in-laws, acting surprised about the absence of his wife, is a testimony to Kapoor’s ability. Ditto with his final scenes, whether he is coming clean before his children or reading a letter from them. Anil has deglamourized himself completely for the role- uneven beard, sweat soaked dull shirt(he wears just the one all through the running length), plain glasses and an overall scruffy countenance. He is matched at every step by Boman Irani in a nuanced performance deserving of many accolades. Boman takes a part of a regular cop and makes it more than that by giving him little idiosyncrasies. Boman’s Tejpal is a junk-food loving, over-weight and over-smart cop. Watching him relish a plate of biryani makes you wanna order one yourself. So much has Boman chomped on during this film, I’m sure he must’ve put an additional few kilos in the course of filming. Nandana Sen is efficient in her part, while Suchitra almost teeters on the brink of over-acting(perhaps intentionally). I shouldn’t even bother mentioning the technical aspects…in a Factory product, it’s a given that they’ll be good!

In the field of painting there is something called a pentimento- meaning the reappearance of an underlying coat of paint when the added layer becomes transparent. It not only confirms the artist’s change of mind, but also shows us his actual intent. Beneath the callous spook-fest like score of ‘My Wife’s Murder’, lies a silent and attentive look at a simple man twisted by destiny. Go watch it, but keep your ear-plugs handy!

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