With Vivek Oberoi’s star shining brighter than ever with his success with Prince, I thought it would be fun to watch something from his back catalog to get me in the mood for the buzzed-about Rakta Charitra. Almost at random I picked a film from the long, dark interval between the Press Conference of 2003 and, well, Prince. The Vivek Oberoi starrer I happened across is a little slice of pure joy called Naksha, It’s an almost 100% substance-free film (although the quality of viewing will almost certainly be enhanced by the legal substance of your choice - I had a nice glass of red wine) but it’s almost 100% packed full of Vivek charm, Sunny’s fists o’fury, Sameera’s rack with only a small concession to things like “plot” or “emotional resonance.”
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Naksha is the story of the world’s most charming Vicky (Vivek Oberoi). Vicky lost his father at a young age and one day (“20” years later), he gets it into his head to go out and complete his father’s final wish - to discover some artifact on a secret map. Complicating things are Vicky’s half-brother Veer (Sunny Deol), who has been tasked with bringing Vicky back to his mother, much to Vicky’s chagrin, and the luscious Riya, a model who gets separated from her photographer while on a photoshoot in the jungle and needs escorting back to safety (no, really).
Together, they are hilarious.
Oh, yeah, and Jackie Shroff is also after the treasure... but he’s evil.
Obviously, this isn’t Shakespeare or even Imtiaz Ali but Naksha wasn’t aiming at either, mostly, it just wants you to sit back, buckle in, and enjoy the ride. And the tone of the script is pretty intentionally campy - at one point Vivek Oberoi actually winks at the camera after delivering a really good quip (no, really.) The camera work is very dynamic and, especially in the beginning, makes some fun use of split camera angles. The songs are fairly unmemorable in and of themselves BUT - and this is a big but(t) - the picturizations are playful and a lot of fun. For some reason, the lyrics of a couple play up being Punjabi for no reason whatsoever that I could fathom - so much so that I actually paused at one point to see if the film was Punjabi. The dialogues are a lot of fun and poke good-natured fun at the public personas of both Sunny (who makes constant reference to his “Dharmendra-like” punching ability) and Vivek (there is a line about how when he enters a room, people leave it.)
(Riya: "I did come here to strip, but not myself - your plan.")
(Veer: "But I punched you like Dharam-ji, isn't it?")
The weak link in Naksha is the plot, which is pretty dull. The chase sequences were fun, as was the buddy-buddy comedy, but how everybody got to the situations was kind of stupid - at the beginning it was awesomely stupid but as the movie went on, the “awesome” kind of drifted away.
And another thing for me, especially, was that none of the written clues were translated in the subtitles, meaning that for 20 or 30 seconds at a time I was just sitting there looking at something I couldn’t read. I mean, can’t you throw your non-literate audience a talking-head-in-a-letter bone? And the over-arching mythology that was supposed to be tying everything together also went completely over my head. But none of that really mattered since I turned off my thinking cap about the time Sunny Deol started beating up a village full of midgets (no, really.)
I’ll leave you with a final thought: Vivek Oberoi is a fantastic actor (no, really.) It’s a real shame that filmi rivalries kept him making tripe like Naksha for 6 long years but it’s to Vivek’s credit that he doesn’t just sleepwalk through the film, he dishoom’s the FUCK out of it. Vivek sells every joke, nails every punch, works up believable chemistry with Sameera Reddy, AND manages some nice mother-son moments with his filmi Maa.
Naksha is a not a great film and it’s not even a good one but it is a fun, brainless film - the pure essence of timepass. If you happen to share my (and Ness’s ) love of B-grade cinema and you haven’t seen Naksha, I would recommend popping it right in your DVD player. It’s available from Netflix.
Note from Filmi Girl:
I love Bollywood - and all the ridiculous things that happen in Bollywood - but it doesn't mean that I can't occasionally make fun of various celebrities and films.
If you don't like my sense of humor, please just move on by - Trolls are not appreciated and nasty comments will be deleted.
xoxo Filmi Girl