Officer (2001)

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Officer (2001)
Cast: Sunil Shetty, Raveena Tandon
Director: Naeem Sha
Music Director: Deepak Chaudhary
Nutshell: Cheap reworking of Vertigo would have Hitch turning in his grave!

 

Set against a setting sun, our protagonist Sagar Chauhan shots towards the audience. The credits roll. Snatches of our hero shooting against the sunset, diving, flying, jumping is mixed with scenes of a posse of baddies, preparing an attack. It appears that that our hero has to protect a judge who is being threatened by the underworld to “exercise caution” with regard to his family when it comes to sentencing. Sounds like a film of our times in Bollywood today. But before you think that this may your usual good guys against bad guys routine, the film takes a different track altogether.

A friend of Sagar’s asks him to meet his boss Pratap Rai (Danny Denzongpa) who needs his assistance. Pratap Rai tells Sagar that his wife appears to have lost her marbles after the death of her father two years ago and he wants him to keep an eye on her from a distance. For cinema fanatics, the plot is a giveaway at this stage as its quite obvious which film this is a copy of but for those less acquainted with old Hollywood classics, lets not give the game away as yet. Minal (Ravena Tandon), draped in heavy sarees and jewellery drives recklessly, sits at the seaside dreaming of nothingness and for no rhyme of reason, jumps in only to be saved by our gallant hero who seems to have neglected his job as an officer of the Special Protection Unit and is more taken up with following the damsel in distress. The inevitable happens and they fall in love. Oops. Then one day at a mela, on going up the ferris wheel, Sagar seems to have a turn and he reveals that he has a fear of heights.

Taken to the doctor by his lady love, the doctor tells him that he has agorophobia (which incidentally is a fear of open places and not of heights) and that if he ever finds himself in a sticky situation, he should close his eyes!!! Now realising that he has erred and that this is not a love that is possible, he tells his distressed lady love that he cannot marry her as she has decided to leave her husband which sends her hurtling away in a car with officer Sagar following on his motorbike. She dashes up an old building with our officer in hot pursuit but is then overtaken by his dizzy spells. So he closes his eyes but manages to catch the sari of a falling Minal from the building. Unfortunately the sari tears and the lady falls to her death. Castigated for not having saved the woman, and caught in his own memory trap, the man takes a holiday in Goa accompanying his servant Lobo who is visiting his family. There on the beach, he sees a busty, brazen chick who looks just like Minal.

A feisty club dancer, Pari is irritated with his attention but Sagar begins to pursue her. He even manages to get her to wear the shaadi ka jora that Minal wanted him to see her in. Is she a long lost twin? Is she just a humshakal? To say anymore would be giving the plot away but the film becomes more and more convoluted from this point with the emergence of a Michael Myers masked avenger emerging in the latter half and a scantily clad dame with machine gun, blasting the Special Protection Unit, all adding to the incredulousness of the plot. It does however manage to sustain a modicum of interest, especially for those who are not familiar with the old classic that this is more than just based on. For those who have not guessed it, this is a reworking of Vertigo, Hitchcock’s classic tale of love, obsession and death. The Master of suspense would be turning in his grave if he knew that his masterpiece had been butchered, in fact decimated and turned into a cheap crime plot. Oh what a travesty.

As a film on its own, Officer is a long drawn out and rather dullish fare. And Indian audiences are well versed in stories of humshakals and long lost twins so the emergence of Pari is no surprise really. And if you really wanted genuine suspense, then cast someone who does not have an image of a villain so that suspicion is deflected. But with Danny in the film, in all of about three scenes in the first 2 hours of the film, it stands to reason that he will emerge as the prince of darkness later. In this respect, the role of Tej Sapru is a good example. Playing villains all his life, he plays a role where you expect him to be involved with the nasties…but he is not. A pleasant surprise. But on the whole, Naaem Sha has simply lifted the story and scenes from the film and divested it of all the themes that Hitchcock so effectively dwelt upon on his film. This is not a director with any great imagination or flair.

Sunil Shetty goes about his role with a certain ease and I must say that he has improved as a performer and has a certain charm about him. Raveena Tandon looks jaded at times, sometimes reasonably pretty but never attractive. Draped in sarees, she looks like a middleaged housewife and as the feisty Pari, she looks fat and charmless. Her song in the club is quite grotesque with her thunderous thighs and fat legs on full display. Her performance is adequate. Music is forgettable, most of the songs pretty dire except “na jane kyon” which is passable. Not a pleasant experience especially for those familiar with the original masterpiece.