All slick, no substance

Priyanka Chopra and John Abraham in `Karam.'  

Karam (Hindi)

Cast: John Abraham,

Priyanka Chopra

Director: Sanjay F. Gupta

IF "SOCHA Na Tha," released past week, was fun, this week's `Karam' is a wonderful exercise in patience. One has seen this kind of story often enough - we have a hero fallen on bad times, trying to shake off bad guys of his back and be a good guy all over again.

He is an ace shooter who never goes wrong. One trigger and lo! The foe is gone just like dust off the lapel. That he holds his own in front of the menacing gang leader is only to be expected. Hey, seen all this over and over again?

Well, this one, a Sanjay F. Gupta enterprise, is not quite the kind of cinema you would relish with your girlfriend popping corn, sipping cola. This is the not the kind of film that will attract frontbenchers.This is also not the kind of film that will draw whistles at the box office.

But what's the film all about? It is the kind of film that is worth watching, if at all, for some novel action, some picture perfect sequences, and a constant eye for aesthetics that Gupta displays. Every now and then, he tries to bid adieu to stereotypes and step beyond the trite.

But God, there's a difference between intent and implementation! The film, a story of a contract killer fighting his conscience more often than his bullet-laden opponents, makes a few brave new noises. But the noises of new-age cinema are feeble.

And in between we get a real scream of mediocrity with a hero, John Abraham, who refuses to look anything but glum.

And a heroine, Priyanka Chopra, almost fully clad all along, bar one song - who is too concerned about her rouge, her eye shadow, her nails. . Never does an emotion find room on her visage.

We also get a story of two groups of villains, each gang full of cardboard strong characters, each as dubious. Every action is just action. No reason. No rhyme. Just in for glamour?

Gupta's film is all style without substance. It is slick and smart without being arresting or appealing. Karam is a classic case of honest intent reaping sodden fruit.

By Ziya Us Salam