Strictly (technically) speaking, 8×10 Tasveer is a milestone for Nagesh Kukunoor. As a storyteller, Kukunoor has tried changing his genre, stepping out of his comfort zone and right into the suspense-thriller genre. For a filmmaker, that stepping out can go either way. Where one was hoping for an intelligent film, one gets a technically brilliant but otherwise weak supernatural thriller gone awry.
The film sees Akshay Kumar as Jai, a forest ranger in Canada who can look into the past through his unique powers. Not exactly premonition, in fact don’t even try going into the science of it. It is illogical. Jai can look into the past for exactly a minute or less via an eight by ten picture. Hence, the stupid film name.
Anyhow, the death of his father, which looks natural enough at first but soon turns into an investigation, turns Jai towards his powers. Jai comes across often as a loon because no one believes him. But with some curious questions from a kind but odd and a tad obsessive cop, Happi (Javed Jaffrey) leads Jai to hunt down the answers.
What begins as an interesting outing, though, gets boring in the end and the answers don’t give too much of a clue. Indeed, only the identity of the villain is the highpoint. It isn’t that the film isn’t engaging but it simply loses points because it drags on; this despite the fact that there is only one song in the actual film.
Shot in Canada and South Africa, 8×10 Tasveer looks gorgeous on celluloid. It’s green, lush and shot extremely well. It’s very stylistic for an Indian film, certainly flashy but it works.
The problem is with the script. It meanders on endlessly in the grand tradition of long Bollywood films, a trap that Kukunoor fell into instantly. And even though Akshay Kumar is gripping (it is a nice change to see Akshay Kumar attempt something other than just comedy, which has become his overdone forte), it doesn’t save the film.
When he enters the picture, Akshay becomes lifeless and he does this sequence in various instances quite convincingly. The idea is to show that he is in the past and vulnerable to the real world and Akshay does a splendid job. His demeanour throughout the film is sober, subdued and slightly peculiar and it’s a relief to see Akshay attempt this challenge. But where he delivers, one wonders why Sharmila Tagore signed the film in the first place.
She plays the mother and her role is neither as explosive as a one-off scene cameo and is inadequate for a performer of her caliber. Sharmila Tagore’s presence may add to the film’s star power but it hardly adds to the film.
The other person, who does add slight charm to the film include Ayesha Takia who plays Jai’s girlfriend Sheela. In the first half, she is plain boring but by the end, Sheela plays so many different shades that one is completely thrown off.
In the end, the biggest problem is the moral correction in the film. The ending is moralistic and Jai is the goody-goody who continues to battle for good. These preachy undertones make the film unbearable by the end.
Despite the fact that 8×10 Tasveer is the last film to have hit Indian multiplexes before talks broke down between producers and exhibitors there, one would’ve thought that the film would work since it’s the only one out there. But even Akshay Kumar’s star power and one film in the multiplex couldn’t save this show. In India, the film was beaten by Hollywood’s Fast and the Furious and soon it was declared a flop.
In a nutshell, 8×10 Tasveer begins as a supernatural thriller and turns into a moralistic family saga and the suspense is too thin to keep one engaged. Watch this film only if you’re a fan of Akshay Kumar and want to see some flashy and beautiful cinematography. Otherwise, skip it – Maheen Sabeeh (Rating – 2 OUT OF 5)
Cast and Production Credits
Year – 2009, Genre – Thriller, Country – India, Language – Hindi, Producer – Shailendra Singh, Director – Nagesh Kukunoor, Music Director – Salim Merchant, Sulaiman Merchant, Neeraj Shridhar, Bohemia, Cast – Akshay Kumar, Ayesha Takia, Sharmila Tagore, Javed Jaffrey, Girish Karnad, Anant Mahadevan, Benjamin Gilani, Rushad Rana, Uttara Pawkar