Produced by: Onir, Sanjay Suri, Mohan Mulani & Bhavna Talwar
Directed by: Onir
Written by: Onir, Merle Kroger & Adhiraj Singh
Starring: Raveena Tandon Thadani, Ashish Bisht, Simon Frenay, Areesz Ganddi, Raj Suri, Arpita Chaterjee, Sanjay Suri and others
What’s Raveena Tandon doing here???? This is a vexing a question, that is not explained merely by her role, as we shall see.
“Shab” is more than 100 percent (!!) pretentious – of the pretentious, by the pretentious, and maybe for some of the pretentious! In the first half of this all-too-long and super-tedious evening (Shab!), the primary agenda seems to be sleeping with (or trying to sleep with) each other – both heterosexually and homosexually.
A small point that piques my interest is: Delhi seems to be indeed an edgy, quirky and even vicious city the way it is projected in most films nowadays.
In theory (!), the movie follows five characters’ sexcapades, under the holy veneer of following their struggles and love lives. Mohan (Ashish Bisht), who speaks as wrong English as this film’s entertainment grammar, travels from hilly Dhanaulti to Delhi to become a model and also someone of the level of Shah Rukh Khan, looking more like the beginner (1980s) Aamir Khan’s kid sibling than Khan’s brother Faisal!
He is rejected at a talent hunt, but judge Sonal (Raveena Tandon), a neglected wife, decides to make Mohan her boy-toy. She introduces him to the world as her personal trainer Azfar, the gifted one, and keeps promising him that she will introduce him to a good designer.
Mohan has friends Raina (Arpita Chatterjee) and her boss Neel (Areesz Gandii). Raina falls for her French neighbor Benoit (Simon Frenay), a waiter at a cafe. Neel is gay and suffers heartbreak after his boyfriend gets married to a woman. A former professor at a University in France, Benoit is gay too, and in the past, his student-cum-boyfriend has committed suicide. Raina introduces Benoit to Neel. The plot thickens! No, I am joking. The plot gets wafer-thin!
The only plus-point of the film is that it is non-judgmental, which is expected from Onir. However, even the limited engrossing and entertaining quotient of “Sorry Bhai!” is missing here. It may not be atrocious as “Bas Ek Pal,” which remains one of the worst films I have ever watched, but it is listless, too tiresome despite its 108-minute length, and with all the unanswered questions and fence-sitting at the end, a complete waste of time.
In a recent write-up, Onir called himself a mainstream director who does not know why he is differently typecast. Now, that’s about the limit of wishful thinking!!
The bright spot here is Raveena Tandon, far better than in her recent excess, “Maatr.” Sensual, alluring and with a seductive voice, she has note-perfect expressions and body language, and so, maybe we can explain her presence here. But we must ask her whether a good role is all a good artiste looks for? What about the FILM itself??? Okay, okay. You are trying to compensate for the vacuous glam doll image you had in the 1990s!
Bisht is decent; his cutie-pie-meets-macho looks just right for the rookie model from a small-town. The rest are ho-hum, though Aparna is someone who can do better in nicer Hindi films after making a mark in Bengali films. I loved the fluidity of her facial expressions.
The music is, to use a clichéd term, “so-so,” ditto the lyrics. In the final take, a plodding and indifferent script, a pretentious base and a desire to be anti-conformist for the sake and heck of it finally makes the film go precisely nowhere.