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Movie Review: Videsh

Date: 03/26/2009

From a small town in Punjab, Chand (Preity) arrives alone in Ontario, Canada, to get married to Rocky (Vansh). Full of dreams in her eyes of a happy married life, Chand brings along her, her mom's narrated poems and folktales. But her dreams are shattered on her wedding night itself. She has to adjust herself in a small apartment where her cabbie driver hubby stays along with his parents, sister, her jobless hubby and two kids. Her insecure mother-in-law even disrupts her honeymoon by arriving at her hotel room. When she detests, Rocky raises his hand on her. Disheartened Chand seeks solace in reciting her mom's narrated folklore of the holy snake "Sheshnaag" which has the ability to help a distressed woman. Gradually, Rocky and his mom's insulting behaviour increases with Rocky often brutally beating Chand up. But then one night, her "snake god" from her backyard comes to life and enters her bedroom in the form of her husband Rocky. The confusion it all leads to forms the rest of the film.

Adapted from Girish Karnad's famous play Naga Mandalam, the basic plot is extremely interesting but Deepa Mehta has made a complete mess of it. So slow paced is the narrative that during this 1 hour 45 minutes running time film, you keep on yawning at regular intervals and constantly keep looking at your watch hoping the torture ends as soon A lot of time is wasted in establishing Chand's unhappy married life. Then post the interval when the Sheshnaag twist finally takes place, everything proceeds in a hurry. Even the climax appears rushed.

What keeps you from walking out of the film mid-way is Preity Zinta's outstanding performance. Most often shown make-up less in the film, Preity has delivered her career best performance in Videsh. Sometimes without any dialogues, just through eyes she expresses so much pain that you can't help but start feeling extreme pity for her character. Debutante Vansh Bharadwaj is extremely natural and appears mean to the core. Most of the rest of the cast are unknown actors and each one of them right from the old actress playing Preity's mother in law to the small kids in the house have delivered a very good natural performance.

The film in its original English version - Heaven on Earth may have received a few film festival awards but now in its Hindi dubbed version as Videsh, it is certainly not a film which will entertain you. Its tortoise pace and some absurdities thrown in at regular intervals will definately put you off to sleep.

 

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