If this is what you have been wanting to know, then Kisna is a much much much better movie than Yaadein
. Really, it is difficult, even for a master showman, to produce anything
The movie is set in the pre-Independence era. Kisna's (Vivek Oberoi's) family members are help in the house of the British resident Peter Beckett. Beckett's daughter, Katherine (Antonia Bernath), and Kisna are more than friends, much to the chagrin of Lakshmi (Isha Sharvani) who is in love with him.
The characters draw heavily from the Mahabharata. Kisna, of course, is inspired by the Lord himself, Lakshmi by Rukmini, Katherine by Radha, and Bhairav (Amrish Puri in his last appearance) by Kansa. To meet his selfish ends, Bhairav incites hatred against the Beckett family in the peace-loving people of Devprayag. Shankar, Kisna's brother, leads a band of men who kill Peter Beckett, and torch his house.
Katherine and her mother, Jennifer, escape but are separated. Kisna gives Katherine refuge, and, on instructions of his mother, takes it as his dharma to reach Katherine to safety. How he does that is what the movie is basically about. But, a few things need special mentioning.
- The mujra makes a comeback into Hindi cinema, with the lovely Sushmita Sen as Naima Begum. And though this reviewer is completely smitten by her, he has to say that it takes someone of the likes of Meena Kumari or Rekha to convey the various intricacies of this Lucknavi dispensation. May be that is why, after them, no filmmaker has walked down this road.
- This is essentially a story of love beyond all physical needs. Did Ghai have to bring in the aftermath of partition into it? And, then handle it so insensitively? Did the need for dramatic appeal override the need for humanitarian overtures?
- The movie has gratuitous nudity. It is done tastefully alright, but there are somethings that we just don't want to associate non-Raj Kapoor Hindi cinema with.
- Isha Sharvani. All the adjectives in Roget's Thesaurus would collectively not do justice to her immense dancing talent. It is almost worthwhile to watch the movie solely to see her perform. She has given a whole new meaning to the great Indian rope trick.
Ghai seems to have been under tremendous pressure after Yaadein. It shows. The effort to make a successful movie is too visible. And there lies the problem. Everything is too grandiose, too larger than life, too much like a stage show. It hinders the unfolding of the story. Post-interval, the movie is like cheese on a slice of pizza - it stretches on and on but never snaps.
It is also a treat to watch in pockets. The songs are only less beautiful than their choreography. Antonia Bernath and Isha Sharvani have put in honest performances, but Vivek Oberoi still thinks he is Chandu of Company
. The characterization is a little flawed in that only the warrior Kisna is introduced to us. The poet never makes his appearance felt enough.
But, it is a Subhash Ghai film. If not while watching it, you will appreciate the movie in hindsight.