Naqaab, the latest offering from the Abbas-Mustan director duo, begins in the middle of a slightly strange live-in arrangement. Karan Khanna (Bobby Deol, who somehow always gets to play an affluent man) is a wealthy heir who wears matt-gold shirts and crystal-embellished jackets to work, and Sophia (Urvashi Sharma), a burger-flipping waitress, is quite the urban, new age middle-class girl who wants to pay her half of the rent for the house she shares with beau Karan.
The romance between the two is already under strain, and buckles with the entry of Vicky (Akshaye Khanna), a two-bit out-of-work, albeit rather charming, actor. Following a chance dance encounter between Sophie and Vicky at a restaurant, the much touted three-angled love story begins. What follows is a series of rather unpredictable events, leaving you slightly out of breath.
One of the problems with Naqaab is that for a film that is supposed to be a whodunit, by the interval you are still not any close to understanding who is it that is supposed to have done what – the how and the why are nowhere close to being answered, or even asked properly. And just when it all starts and you are starting to think it’s a good time to go get some more of that popcorn, the pace gets cranked up dramatically as the directors start to frantically weave their fragmented plot together, the result being a feeling of too much too soon in what so far seemed a languid film.
The movie is also peppered with almost everyone secretly video-recording everyone else – so much so that the video camera could almost be accorded a separate billing. To the directors’ credit, these cameras, even if slightly overdone, manage to build the suspense while not lifting the veil off the plot. The black and white, through-the-lens effect, while distracting in bits, is ultimately understandable as the threads unravel.
Urvashi Sharma mostly looks good and pulls off her off her first movie role with aplomb (the generous amount of cleavage on display does not seem to hurt either). Bobby Deol too has his two-and-a-half expressions down pat, but it’s Akshaye Khanna who is the surprise. We have all known Akshaye Khanna, the actor, for quite a while now – all rise and welcome Akshaye Khanna, the consummate dancer. He certainly has come a long way: from his bumbling two-left-footed attempts, to an endearing charmer with bedroom eyes who can actually salsa convincingly.
Lyricist Sameer and music director Pritam have done a reasonably good job with the music of the film, and the songs are pretty toe-tapping. Most of them are also picturised well and fit in agreeably with the storyline. And while the dialogues could have been better to bring more novelty into the scenes, the screenplay manages to carry the 2 hour movie to its finish line without unduely stressing you out.
The film does have some entertaining parts where you see Vicky and Sophia playing the happy kids falling in love – like the well-done scene at the Hyatt hotel. Set in glitzy Dubai, the movie also treats you to the excellent cinematography that you expect of an Abbas-Mustan movie. If for nothing else, the film is watchable for these, and the memorably choreographed salsa sequence ...and the twist in the tale.