Money is power. Power is seduction. It can seduce anyone, even the simplest of men. Can one cheat death? Can fate be fought? These are the questions that Aa Dekhen Zara poses as a film.
But make no mistake. This isn’t a moralistic film. It is pure suspense with a dose of fantasy but the questions keep coming back as the film progresses and therein lies the beauty of this film.
The young hunk Neil Nitin Mukesh plays Ray Acharya, a freelance, broke and struggling photographer who is a straightforward enough guy. With the death of his grandfather, Ray inherits a camera that can take pictures of the future. But there is a catch. A black photo means death.
On the other hand is his neighbour, the beautiful Bipasha Basu (Simi Chatterjee) who is a DJ. As they fall in love and Ray figures out the real purpose of this futuristic camera, one is taken on an adrenaline ride that gains pace as the reel rolls on.
As Ray makes the moolah, he changes. A small time photographer is suddenly wearing Armani suits and driving around in a Mercedes. Personal gain and greed should not be toyed with. But human beings are flawed and greed finds its way into Ray’s life very quickly despite the fact that he plays a genuinely upright fellow, one whose motivation was never money in the first place. Lack of opportunities in the harsh city of Mumbai pushes him towards the shortcuts. But there are consequences. And those consequences are the real reason why Aa Dekhen Zara is worth a watch.
Relationships are put to some serious tests as the lovebirds struggle amidst lies, deception and run out of options quickly. As they move from Mumbai to Bangkok, the action sequences start and because they are few of them, they stand out. This is not an out and out dhishum dhamaka film and that is a relief. A jump from a high-rise building by Neil Nitin and Bipasha stands out.
The whole idea of a futuristic camera sounds unrealistic and ridiculous but this is fiction at work. Like Shekhar Kapoor’s Mr India or the Keanu Reeves-Sandra Bullock starrer The Lake House where the two live in two time frames – one is in the past and the other is in the future two years later – these are all fictional ideas and they have all worked because they have been executed sharply. Same goes for Aa Dekhen Zara.
Come to the acting and the combination of young Neil and slightly older but smouldering Bipasha Basu makes an interesting pairing.
For once, Bipasha has a film where she is the crowd pleaser, the bigger star. In the first half, she is wasted. Beyond looking good, she has nothing to offer. But it is in the second half where Bipasha Basu shows off her craft as an actress. Fear, love and bravery, she switches from one emotion to another with equal grace.
For Neil Nitin Mukesh, this is an important film. His debut Johnny Gaddar won critics over but it failed to make a mark at the box office. In Aa Dekhen Zara, Neil proves once again why he is one of the new age actors to watch out for. He plays the role naturally and that is his biggest feat in the film. This isn’t a hardcore drama but it is a film that requires a varied range of emotions to be played out. From struggling freelancer to super rich man drowning in the seduction of money to a man on the run, Neil pulls it off with a natural grace. The fact that he is a good-looking guy makes him even more appealing.
Another man who makes his mark in a supporting role is Rahul Dev who plays Captain. His role appears somewhere in the second half but his villainous ways are enticing. And the bad guy is always impeccably dressed and looks rather sexy. And he is a very good actor with films like Asoka, Insan and Kidnap to his credit. His roles may be supporting but he delivers every time. In this film, he shines out.
The main flaw, one that is common in most Hindi films, is the film’s length. It is over two hours long. The first half drags on and it could’ve been easily chopped. On the upside, there are few songs in the film and that comes as a relief especially since most songs are typical numbers. The title track, ‘Aa Dekhen Zara’, which one first heard on Sanjay Dutt’s Rocky has been remixed and sung by Neil Nitin. It is an average song. In fact, the slower lounge version is far more interesting. The other track worth a listen is ‘Gazab’ which has been running on airwaves consistently. It’s catchy and both Bips and Neil look good together in it. The rest of the numbers are dull so ignore them.
For director Jehangir Surthi, this film is a first and as a debutant director, he does deliver. He has ended the film on a note where a sequel might be possible. So watch out, there just might be a sequel with time travel in the makings.
Aa Dekhen Zara is not groundbreaking cinema but it is intriguing. The suspense quotient is sufficient to keep one glued to the film till the end.
So far, Indian audiences and critics have slammed the film. But then it is the same audience and critics who gave a film like Rock On!! two thumbs up even though it was a mockery of the rock music genre – Maheen Sabeeh (Rating – 3 out of 5)
Year – 2009, Genre – Thriller, Country – India, Language – Hindi, Producer – Viki Rajani, Director – Jehangir Surti, Music Director – Pritam, Gourov Dasgupta, Cast – Neil Nitin Mukesh, Bipasha Basu, Amrita Arora, Koena Mitra, Rahul Dev, Sophie Choudhary, Bobby Vats, Shrivas Nydu, Deepak Dhariwal, Biswajeet Chatterjee