21 August 2011 | rsa5387
Daring & Innovative, yet ultimately unfulfilling
Saat Khoon Maaf is a daringly different film that falters under the weight of its own ambition. Bhardawaj has taken great care in crafting the aesthetics; every frame is splendid, from staging to cinematography and costume/sound design. From the panoramic vistas of Pondicherry, Kashmir, and Moscow, to the hushed, dark tones used for the grittier portions of the tale, the film is dripping with ambiance and style. In Bhardawaj style, this is a dark, brooding work in lieu of other genre favorites such as Sympathy for Lady Vengeance & Kill Bill. Though not as hyper-stylized as those films, 7 Khoon Maaf has a far more engaging, drawn out plot that is involving and emotionally fulfilling, yet ultimately disappointing due to a few of the stories being half-baked. At times, it seems that Susanna's (Priyanka Chopra) faults with each husband she eventually murders is of her own vocation, stemming from rushing into one affair after another. For the majority of the film, however, the outcome of these relationships is rightfully on the masquerading male, each with a fatal flaw that is hidden until the knot is tied. The ultimate problem with the narrative is not with the flaws, but the majority of her husbands are not fully developed, for the most part their personalities and actions seem archetypal and single-minded. To Bhardawaj's credit, the majority of the supporting characters are three-dimensional, especially Susanna's adopted son Arun & her servants. Moreover, Susanna's emotional plight resonates and the conclusion is affecting and satisfying. Priyanka Chopra owns every frame of the film. Susanna's character is one that is rarely seen in Hindi cinema, her ability to display the complexity and various shades of Susanna across a period of sixty-years cements her position as an actress of great depth. While this is by far her best role, this is not Bhardawaj's most accomplished film. As daring and innovative as the theme and treatment of the film are, the lack of depth afforded to Susanna's husbands ultimately affects the films narrative and emotional quotient. Even so, the screenplay is engaging, the film looks decadent, and Ms. Chopra's brilliant performance is worth a watch and a few accolades.