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Nov 21, 2007

Manorama Six Feet Under

A quirky black thriller from Navdeep Singh. The movie, Singh’s first directorial venture establishes him as one of the latest breed of talented film-makers who are crawling out of the Bollywood wood-work with their original and offbeat creations. Abhay Deol is a Deol of a different breed (after Sunny, Bobby, Esha and Papa Deol), this cousin Deol is the proverbial everyman yet handsome and talented.

The movie is set in a Rajasthani desert town, beat up by heat and overlooked by rain clouds for years. Nothing is going anywhere, life languidly flows with what is at its disposal, which is to say not much. This is not the Rajasthan of typical Bollywood movies or tourist brochures. The colorful village belles and the multi-tasking singer-dancer camel herders are noticeable by their absence, so is the thakur-thakurayin duo and the big haveli where it is always the wedding or the infighting season. This is the small town Rajasthan of everyday India – hot, parched, corrupt, Hinduized, politicized and middle-class.

Abhay Deol plays a PWD engineer who moonlights as an author, albeit a failed one at that. The novel which was supposed to make him a household name ‘Manorama’, sold just 200 copies, but it plays an important role in the movie. Gul Panag(a former Miss India) is Deol’s wife in the movie, a role which she carries off with natural panache. Vinay Pathak, ex-Channel V VJ has a very distinct role in the movie as the local police officer and Deol’s brother-in-law. Raima Sen plays her usual role as a guy-trap. Sarika and Kulbhushan Kharbanda plays other important roles.

What is interesting is that unlike in the usual Hindi movies, there is no easily readable black and white as such in this movie, it covers a lot of grey zones. Gold fishes are used to expound life’s big lessons since people keep on making the same mistakes you and me would make and are no good. Natural, darkly comic and a lot like real life.