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Dec 19, 2003 02:18 PM 8098 Views
(Updated Dec 19, 2003 02:39 PM)





August 15 was ID (Independence Day). August 16 was 3D (Teen Deewarein).

Not an ardent follower of Bollywood movies, I had not heard of 3D till a few days back. One does hear about a lot of movies from friends - but what I heard of 3D, and particularly from whom I heard, mattered and off I went to lend the VCD on the first day I was free.

3 D is an off-beat “Hinglish” movie from Nagesh Kukunoor of the Hyderabad Blues fame (also of Rockford or Bollywood Calling 'infame', if I may be permitted to say).

Very rarely do you expect anything different than themes revolving around NRIs and NRI-returns from off-beat Hinglish movies made by the “new age directors”. Also they dish out some really bad stuff (though packaged very well) and their movies are overhyped. But there are few others (on second thoughts make that “very few”) who are true to their work and bring out some seriously brilliant cinema. And one of them is Nagesh Kukunoor.

The Story

The story revolves around three prisoners, who have been sentenced to death, and a reporter, who wants to make a documentary on the three prisoners. The story for its most part centers around these four characters and happens in the prison and the climax goes out of it.

The Characters

The story revolves around the characters mentioned below. The characterisation is outstanding and understanding the nuances of each character is a necessity to enjoy the movie.

Jaggu, played by Jackie Shroff, is a famous lawyer, who has killed his wife, regret having done so and is willing to accept the death sentence without further appeals. He also writes poetry and is a good cook.

Nagendra Babu or Nagya, played by Nagesh Kukunoor himself, is an accountant who has allegedly (why ‘allegedly’? - because he claims he did not do it and that the police tortured him into acceptance of the murder) thrown his wife onto an oncoming vehicle. He believes that he will be acquitted and that justice will prevail. Satmeva Jayate!

Ishaan, played by Naseerudin Shah, is a small time thief, who accidentally kills a pregnant woman carrying twins (does that make three murders?), while robbing a bank. Ishaan looks positively at life and does not have any regret about his actions. He is on the constant look-out to escape from the prison, like the three times he had done earlier.

Chandrika, played by Juhi Chawla, is a reporter, who wants to make a documentary on the three prisoners facing death sentences, to study their feelings and the impact of the sentence on them. In her personal life, she is married to person who ill-treats her and does not want her to work.

Inspector Mohan, played by Gulshan Grover, is a jailor who runs the jail on the revenue generated by it (like a business) and not wanting to depend on the Government for funding. He believes that all prisoners deserve their share of personal life and treats each inmate with the respect of a fellow human.


Direction and Screenplay

The director, Nagesh Kukunoor, is at his best in this movie. I would rate this movie even better than all his previous efforts on direction including Hyderabad Blues.

Nagesh has done the screenplay too himself. The screenplay is tight and never lets you go. Each of the scenes and the dialogues are not mere exchanges, but are insights into the characters. There is hardly any scene or dialogue wasted, which is the trait of a great script.

The way movie manages to move between Hindi and English is effortless. Not once do you feel that there is ‘Intentional English’ in the movie as lots of today’s movies have. The screenplay instead of dwelling on the surroundings, explores the character of each of the three prisoners. By the end of the film, you feel you know each of the four characters in the movie closely. All the scenes are written with lot of thought – ditto for the dialogues.

Superb Acting

Though all the actors have done their part well, Naseerudhin Shah and Nagesh stand out with sheer brilliance.

Nagesh in his Hyderabadi hindi has done a smart job of playing the ‘Hyderabadi’ to the hilt. It appears as if he has lived through his role, with frequent ‘Kaiku’ and ‘Satyameve Jayate’, and not acted through it.

Naseerudhin Shah is an actor in a separate class and he just marvels in this movie too. Having seen an old Ivory Merchant movie ‘The Perfect Murder’ on Star Movies the day before, for me, Naseerudhin seemed to carry on from where he left off in that movie.


Most part of the movie is shot in the confines of the prison. But one never feels the monotony or the need for a change in the setting. I feel that the cinematographer, Ajay Vincent, has done a commendable job within the given parameters.


As already mentioned in ‘about the movie’ and ‘script’ parts, the script writer has portrayed meaningful characters. Getting your characterisation right is half job done while writing a strong script.

No songs

Though some may see this as a negative aspect of the movie, I don’t like ‘songs for the sake of songs’ in a movie. And for a movie with such a serious theme, according to me, it was better off without songs that with songs.

Dramatic scenes

There are some wonderful scenes that you can watch over and over again. The movie kicks off in the most gripping way. It starts straightaway portraying three deaths (will resist from calling them ‘murders’, because that is what the theme of the movie revolves around). Another smart scene is the depicting of the interrogation session by Juhi, where she is shown asking a question and answers by three prisoners given separately to that question is shown together.

The jailor and the jail

Though this is a silly thing to add in the list of positives, I am seeing a jail being portrayed in a positive way for the first time unlike the normal police brutality, fighting inmates, etc. This was a welcome change to the concept of prison (Not that I don’t mind going to such a prison!)


Lifting (Inspiration, perhaps?)

The theme, I am told, is lifted from movies like The Green Mile, Dead Man Walking, Midnight express and particularly The Shawsank Redemption. I will just say he has done a good job of adapting it for the Indian audiences. For the statistically inclined, both ‘The Shawshank Redemption’ and ‘3 D’ are 142 minutes long. (I didn’t check on this; the critics did).


The ending of a movie is an important aspect of a movie. Even a bad movie with a very good ending can be engrossing. However 3 D ends with a bit of ambiguity. I have got three different views about the ending till now. Though there are people who loved the movie for this, I personally did not like a movie that left me guessing how it ended.


The movie is excellent in execution and story-telling. It is bound to leave lasting impression on you and bound to make you think about how subjective right and wrong can be. An enriching cinematic experience!

Post script : If any of you have seen the movie, please let me know your version of the ending.

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