Tag Archives: Ashish Vidyarthi

Movie Review: Rahasya (2015)

Rahasya3 Stars (out of 4)

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Rahasya is a solid police procedural, with an intriguing pool of suspects in the murder of a teenage girl. Inspired by a real case, the movie elucidates the way ordinary secrets can come back to haunt us.

The mystery begins when the body of 18-year-old Ayesha Mahajan (Sakshi Sem) is discovered by the family maid, Remi (Ashwini Kalsekar). Sometime between 11 p.m. and 6:30 a.m., Ayesha was murdered in her own bedroom, her throat slashed.

It seems obvious to police Inspector Malwade (Nimai Bali) that Ayesha was murdered by her father, Dr. Sachin Mahajan (Ashish Vidyarthi). Dr. Mahajan was angry at discovering his daughter’s sexual relationship with a Muslim neighbor boy, Riyaz (Kunal Sharma), and he killed her in drunken fit of rage, Malwade assumes. Never mind that Riyaz is nowhere to be found, and that the other member of the household staff, Chetan (Manoj Maurya), also absconded during the night.

The case draws the interest of Central Bureau of Investigation agent Paraskar (Kay Kay Menon), who finds the answer offered by the police too convenient. Specifically, he doubts that Sachin could have slashed Ayesha’s throat so precisely given how drunk he was.

Paraskar’s investigation — with the help of his dutiful assistant, Parvez (Abhinav Sharma) — uncovers additional motives that shine the spotlight on everyone from staff members to neighbors. It also puts Paraskar in the crosshairs of the real killer.

Menon’s captivating performance is the main reason to watch Rahasya. Writer-director Manish Gupta knows this, so he employs closeups of Menon’s face liberally, encouraging the audience to focus on his star. Detective Paraskar’s initial quirkiness is short-lived, allowing the character to establish an identity distinct from all the Sherlock clones out there. He’s meticulous and principled, chasing down each lead while ignoring his wife’s suggestion to just take a bribe and be done with it.

The mystery itself is compelling, with each suspect and theory laid out in turn. Only during Paraskar’s final reveal do things slow down. Right when the audience wants the answers, director Gupta delays with flashbacks and interruptions by the suspects. It’s not a fatal flaw, but it is frustrating.

Gupta’s spin on a true crime story highlights the dangers of jumping to conclusions. While everyone is innocent until proven guilty, those with the strongest motives may be those you least suspect.

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Movie Review: R… Rajkumar (2013)

R..._Rajkumar_Theatrical_poster_(2013)1 Star (out of 4)

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Director Prabhu Deva’s schizophrenic style strikes again. In R… Rajkumar, he derails an enjoyable action rom-com with a casual treatment of violence against women.

The double shame is that the character who suffers most from this misogyny, Chanda (Sonakshi Sinha), is a strong female character. Yet the script reduces her to a plot device, beaten and threatened with rape just to inspire the heroic deeds of the title character, Romeo Rajkumar (Shahid Kapoor).

Romeo, a hired thug, comes to town to join a gang headed by Shivraj (Sonu Sood), a drug lord at war with a rival opium dealer, Parmar (Ashish Vidyarthi). He falls in love with Chanda at first sight, becoming so lovestruck that it hampers his ability to carry out his duties on behalf of Shivraj.

Romeo’s love-induced impairment repeatedly endangers the life of his fellow henchmen and best friend, an apparently unnamed goon played by Mukul Dev. Their playfully antagonistic friendship is the highlight of the movie, even though it mostly disappears in the second half of the film.

The humor in Romeo’s friendship and in his pursuit of Chanda are hard to reconcile in the context of a movie that treats violence against women as a given. Chanda is brutally lashed with a belt a dozen times by her uncle, who objects to her romance with Romeo. In the very next scene, the same uncle is seen clowning around with his underlings, accompanied by a flatulence sound effect.

Is the audience supposed to ignore the beating the uncle administered to his niece just seconds earlier? Is he supposed to be a source of comic relief or a monster? It’s one thing for the uncle to abuse his underlings; they signed up for the job. Chanda is beaten because she is a woman.

In another scene, Shivraj threatens Chanda in order to provoke Romeo: “I’ll tie her up and rape her in front of you.” However, in the English subtitles, the word “rape” is censored, written as “r**e.” So rape is too vile a word to read, but not too vile an act to depict onscreen or use as a threat?

It’s so frustrating because R… Rajkumar is otherwise pretty good. Romeo and Chanda develop a sweet relationship over the course of the film. Kapoor shows a wide range in his performance, and his dancing is top-notch, as always. Sinha is brave and resolute while enduring all the abuse the script throws at her.

I wish I could recommend R… Rajkumar, but I just can’t. It portrays violence against women as a social norm, something a woman can only escape if she has a boyfriend with superhuman strength to defend her. Why couldn’t this just be a fun movie and not a regressive piece of social commentary?

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