29 April 2007 | HeadleyLamarr
Visual Blank Verse
Meenaxi - is the story of a famous novelist Nawab (Raghubir Yadav) who has lost inspiration and is unable to write. He sees/imagines a beautiful perfume seller Meenaxi (Tabu) and tries to write a story around her character. The love interest is portrayed by Kunal Kapoor, a wannabe musician who repairs cars for a living. The story is presented in fragments with the reality (?) of the imagined Meenaxi in whites, grays, blacks and a distinct Deccani Urdu accent mixed in with the fictional Meenaxi in full blown vibrant Rajasthani colors and a suave sophisticate royal accent, and the fictional Maria as a Western girl living in a nunnery in Prague.
A word of caution to the reader - I am a fan of Renaissance art, of the well executed and exquisitely painted scenery or portraits and do not much enjoy abstract art. Meenaxi is absolute abstract art. I can see what MF Hussain tried to accomplish and think he achieved his aim extremely well but the story (well there isn't much of one) fails to engage me or touch me as it is too abstract. Having said that, I do see the visual artistry in this film and the excellent performances. Santosh Sivan is a master cinematographer and this could be his crowning achievement. The movie is like walking through a gallery of beautiful paintings, you want to stop and admire every frame. I will touch on this more when I talk of the songs.
The acting is by and large very good. Tabu is excellent as the Hyderabadi and Rajasthani Meenaxi but fails to engage me as much as the Maria from Prague.. And she is amazingly beautiful and mesmerizing throughout the film. Kunal Kapoor is fair to good - a decent debut. Raghubir Yadav is brilliant - he gets under the skin of Nawab and is the most engaging character in the movie for me.
The direction is good - Hussain the artist obviously is the force driving Hussain the director. But I cannot help feeling that I might have enjoyed the film more if it was less abstract.
The music is quite good - there are many songs and I loved almost all of them.
Noor-un-Ala-noor is brilliantly choreographed and has some Middle Eastern overtones. Rang Hai is drenched in color and visually stunning. The song/dance in the potter's village seems very Satrangi Re (Dil Se) inspired to me. Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai is a pleasing number set in the desert with monochrome spots of color and Tabu looks divine. Chinnamma Chilakkamma - what on earth was that? I couldn't figure out why the song and episode was in the film at all. My favorite song is Badan Dhuan Dhuan - it is in the backdrop of a play in Prague, but but why is Maria singing in Hindi? I do not know who choreographed which song but they were all brilliantly choreographed.
In the end I give the film an 8/10 for the visually stunning spectacle and acting but I wish that it had been less abstract and had engaged me more as a story. Now I want to watch Gaja Gamini by Hussain and see why he makes these women inspired films...