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ROAD..................... ...just a time pass
Oct 18, 2002 07:35 PM 2324 Views
(Updated Oct 18, 2002 07:36 PM)





The movies are about surprises. Sometimes you get nuggets, sometimes you get lemons. Road falls somewhere in between the two. The spectre of Ram Gopal Varma looms larger than life over this film. Made by his assistant Rajat Mukherjee, whose earlier outing was Pyar Tune Kya Kiya (2001), this pirated version of California (1993) meets Joyride (2001)which further meets an oldy Duel (1971) and Breakdown (1997).

Lovers Arvind (Vivek Oberoi) and Lakshmi (Antara Mali) decide to elope. Driving from Delhi to Rajasthan, they pick up a hitch-hiker Babu (Manoj Bajpai). Within minutes begins a game of cat-and-mouse across the highways. Smoking, making irreverent remarks on everything from the music in the car to Lakshmi's erotic appeal, Babu's a nightmare. Also turns out that he is an unhinged serial killer sort.

The strange bond between a travelling serial killer and one of his intended victims is interesting. But only just. One could perhaps blame the lacklustre script, which cranks up the tension only to let it dissipate amid pointless plot twists.

Road sacrifices story in favour of mood too many times, and wastes the considerable tension it generates in setting up pointless secondary characters and dead-end subplots. In true Varma tradition, liberal digs are made at Bollywood. This time it's Sanjay Leela Bhansali who's at the receiving end. Ouch!!!

Rajat Mukherjee never achieves the disturbing grittiness that a movie of this genre demands. Moreover, the inclusion of the songs serve as a major deterrent. If this blood-drenched road movie is watchable, it's only because of its technical roster and performances. Cinematographer Sudeep Chatterjee's palette infuses each frame of his film with flashy shades of dread. Thumbs up to Arun Nambiar's sound design and Anil Mohile's background score.The saucy Antara Mali tantalises in a Lolita-ish way. Despite an ill-written role, Vivek Oberoi is rivetting, as he harnesses the impotent anger that accompanies such a no-win situation. Manoj Bajpai turns convincingly unhinged over the course of the two-and-a-half hours of highway terror. As always, he struts his stuff brilliantly, in every nasal snort and lascivious leer.

But, but, but, there's a statutory warning: Road blocks ahead.

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