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Sensitive work with a soul



REALISTIC DRAMA: Viruddh

Viruddh
Genre: Drama
Cast: Amitabh Bachchan, Sharmila Tagore, John Abraham, Anousha
Director: Mahesh Manjrekar
Storyline: An aging couple has to fight the system after their son witness a murder.
Bottomline: Offbeat tear-jerker

We've seen him as the eccentric teacher in "Black," then as the angry old cop in "Bunty aur Babli" and as the frail but all powerful Sarkar this season. Now watch him play an aging old man forced out of his retirement in one of the most realistic, subtle and refined performances from the veteran.

This is the season of the Bachchans. But wait, hasn't Bollywood always had a season earmarked for its biggest star ever, since the 1970s ? "Viruddh" is also one of Mahesh Manjrekar's most sensitive work, since "Astitva." Here, he sets up a beautiful world of a totally adorable aging couple, Vidyadhar (Bachchan) and Sumitra (Sharmila Tagore) with their feel-good banter and aging frailties.

The couple is on a high when their son Amar returns home from London for his birthday with his British girlfriend, who, inspite of talking with an American twang, is received with great love and affection from the picture-perfect family.

And then, Boom! What you feared most, happens.

The peaceful world comes crashing down when his doting son Amar (John Abraham) witnesses a murder.

Without resorting to any major theatrics or melodrama associated with such scenes, Bachchan transforms from the angry, weak, timid old man to the heart-broken yet strong, stoic old man. He brings a tear in at least a scene or two as the film progresses sensitively and sensibly, at least till its euphoric end.

Sharmila Tagore as the woman of the house is a delight to watch, and the warm chemistry she shares with Bachchan makes you adore the couple.

"Viruddh" has a lot of soul but its screenplay is weak towards the latter half of the film. Manjrekar deserves credit for creating realistic family situations within Bollywood's age-old Gajar-Ka-Halwa goodness.

Screenplay writer Yash Vinay chooses a convenient end. There is a simple yet effective climax sequence but the courtroom drama that follows takes the film away from its realistic mould and into the fantasy genre.

But hey, it's a Bollywood film after all, even if it had the guts to do away with the songs and tone down the melodrama.

SUDHISH KAMATH

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