Cast: Tabu, Sushmita Sen, Sanjay Suri, Palash Sen
Director: Meghna Gulzar
Music Director: Anu Maliik
Nutshell: modern ‘relationship’ drama that doesn’t quite work despite fine acting
Reviewed by: Faiz Khan
Meghna Gulzar’s maiden venture raises expectations well beyond the norm by reason of her father’s name which is why her fall is that much greater than any other new director’s would have been. Filhaal is the story of two friends, Rewa (Tabu) and Sia (Sushmita Sen). The film opens with a downcast Rewa looking at an album and then goes straight into a flashback with the two friends fencing away, Sia stabbing Rewa in the tummy. You wonder if that is going to be the cause for Rewa’s inability to have children but it is not. We then race again into the present with a pregnant Sia in the hospital with Dhruv(Sanjay Suri) who happens to be Tabu’s hubby. Confusing to the viewer, we enter yet again the realms of the flashback and the story unfolds, rather unconvincingly. Rewa marries Dhruv but miscarries. Sia, a career woman and unprepared for marriage to Sahil (Palash Sen) and unwanting of kids, sees her pal Rewa dwindle away because of the miscarriage. So she suggests that she be the carrier of their baby as Rewa is unable to carry a child to its full term. Rewa jumps at the chance even if Dhruv is not smitten by the idea immediately. Sahil frankly does not come into the picture.
The film then charts the friendship of the two girls during the pregnancy, the small jealousy that builds up within Rewa towards Sia, the petty problems that Dhruv and Rewa go through and the repercussions on the relationship between Sia and Sahil. All of this is dealt with not a great deal of depth and frankly, much of it is simply too unconvincing to be genuinely moving or worthy of discussion.
Meghna’s problem lies primarily with a poor script. Sia’s transformation from career woman to that of sacrificing womb for hire simply does not gel. Yes, the relationship shown between the two is done very naturally but the build up of tension and the ease with Sia seems to take the situation leaves much to be desired. Similarly, the relationship between husband and wife does not really extend to very much and it does not seem to be the director’s concern to delve into the ramifications of surrogacy and the effects of it. The cruder and more bollywoodised Chori chori chupke chupke actually raised more questions about surrogacy then does this effort which shows you how badly Miss Gulzar misses the mark. She is also not in complete control of her medium in that often, the film jerks to a halt and it is not always clear whether we are in the present or in the past. Unlike Dil chahta hai which blended present and past beautifully, here it really adds nothing to the film. Songs burst in at intervals and serve no purpose but to bog it down even more.
What saves the film are the performances for which credit must be given to Meghna.. Tabu, a faultless performer is perfect but is almost acted off the screen by a most natural and effortless performance from Sushmita Sen. It is her best role yet and how one had wished that it was in a worthier effort. Sanjay Suri is also excellent but has a lesser role to the leading ladies. Palash Sen is wooden. Bland and expressionless, he really should stick to singing.
Anu Maliik, with his added “i” to his name, comes a cropper with a dull score except for the title track by Asha Bhosle. I love the title of the film, very fitting but I am afraid that this one is an uninspired and rather dull effort.