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Masand's Verdict: Karzzzz, a lazy rip-off


Rajeev Masand,CNN-IBN
Oct 20, 2008 at 07:28am IST

Cast: Himesh Reshammiya, Urmila Matondkar, Shweta Kumar, Dino Morea, Danny Denzongpa, Rohini Hattangadi, Raj Babbar

Direction: Satish Kaushik

I never thought the day would come when I'd feel sympathy for Dino Morea, especially since he's inflicted such terrible performances on us in his short but shameful acting career. But after watching Karzzzz, I have to say my heart went out to the poor guy even though he doesn't perform much better this time.

To be cast as a character who's bumped off prematurely only to be reborn in the body of Himesh Reshammiya is a humiliation nobody deserves.

Yes, it's true. In director Satish Kaushik's remake of Subhash Ghai's popular 80s B-movie Karz, Dino Morea plays Ravi Verma, the millionaire romantic who's killed by his wife Kamini (played here by Urmila Matondkar), until he returns to seek revenge 25 years later in the dancing shoes of pop-icon Monty (played by Himesh this time).

Despite its preposterous premise, the original Karz touched all the right chords because it was done convincingly. Because it somehow succeeded in being suspenseful, and because one felt familiarity with its characters.

The new Karzzzz doesn't work because it has no soul. It's a lazy rip-off where everything from characters to dialogues has been more-or-less duplicated, the only changes being superficial ones which grate rather than update.

Why transport the story to Kenya, where, let's face it, a Kaali-Maa ka mandir looks a little out of place bang in the middle of a barren field! What's the logic behind mute villain Sir Juda (played by Gulshan Grover) who communicates by punching musical notes into his computer-operated metal arm?

And pray who is going to digest Himesh Reshammiya playing a 25-year-old while Urmila's meant to be, what, 50?

The least you expect of a remake whose plot and narrative you are fully familiar with is slickness. But Satish Kaushik's Karzzzz is a sloppy, sluggish soap-opera. The film feels like a showcase of the worst ensemble acting you've ever seen. Every single actor – the leads, the supporting cast, even the junior artistes who appear in insignificant bit roles seem to be trying to outdo each other in the over-acting department.

Veteran talent like Danny Denzongpa, Rohini Hattangadi and Raj Babbar ham it up so bad, it's as if they woke up from a five-year coma and discovered they'd forgotten how to act. Newcomer Shweta Kumar who stars as Monty's true love Tina, is more blank than a freshly scrubbed slate, and believe me, I'm being kind to her.

But Karzzzz belongs to the embarrassing ineptitude of its two star leads. Urmila Matondkar quivers and shivers even when she's not meant to be afraid; she widens her eyes, she arches her brow, she goes through a whole range of expressions with the speed of lightening. As Princess Kamini, the murderous wife, she lacks the elegance that Simi Garewal oozed in the original, and that terrible accent of hers doesn't help.

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Himesh Reshammiya – his chest waxed, his tummy trimmed – makes a very sincere effort to pull off Monty. However, despite the careful styling and the precautions to not take too many tight close-ups, Himesh is ultimately unconvincing as the heartthrob pop-star who's hurting inside.

His body language is awkward, his facial expressions are contorted, and his dialogue delivery lacks modulation. Suffice to say he doesn't hold a candle to Rishi Kapoor who pulled off the original film on the strength of his charm alone. Yet it's only Himesh who actually appears convinced about the plot and it's only him who seems to want to make this film work.

Much of the appeal of Subhash Ghai's Karz lay in its timeless music – who can forget such evergreen hits as Om Shanti Om, Dard-e-dil and Ek hasina thi?

Himesh Reshammiya's remake has catchy numbers in his signature style, but it's unlikely that we'll be humming tunes like Tandoori Nights and Lutt jaoon twenty years from now.

This Karzzzz is a hopeless failure, and blame for that must go to its director for failing to keep the pace slick and the tone consistent.

Consolation comes in the form of a half-dozen scenes that are unintentionally hilarious. Whether it's the sight of Urmila going into a seizure on hearing a familiar tune, or Urmila again maneuvering a plane while firing bullets at Himesh, this film works best as a pastiche, a lampoon, a parody of that popular hit.

I'm going with one out of five for director Satish Kaushik's Karzzzz. I wouldn't even recommend it as a film that's so bad it might be fun.

This one's just plain bad and I recommend you stay far away.

Rating: 1 / 5 (Poor)

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