Aitraaz (2004)


Aitraaz (2004) 
Cast: Akshay Kumar, Kareena Kapoor, Priyanka Chopra
Director: Abbas Mustaan
Music Director: Himesh Reshamiyya
Synopsis: Yet another local take on Hollywood material – strangely compelling though


Abbas Mustan are the kings of the thriller..or rather, adaptation of the Hollywood thriller and so far, buy and large, they have provided the audiences with fairly palatable “adaptations” mixing mainstream Bollywood with, if not quite an edge of the seat thriller, than a engrossing and entertaining fare. This is a follow up on Humraz (we leave tarzan-the wonder car out of the loop) and we have our auteurs borrow heavily from Disclosure, the Demi Moore-Michael Douglas starrer.

We start off the proceedings with a crass build up to the marriage of Raj Malhotra (Akshay Kumar), an engineer to Priya, (Kareena) a non-practicing lawyer. Raj works for a telephone communications firm and has aspirations of doing well, well enough to be able to afford a 3 crore house for his wife. A plethora of songs follow before we are introudcyued to the owner of the firm, Mr Ranjit Roy (Amrish Puri) who arrives with a seductive and scantily clad companion, who it transpires is his young wife Sonia (Priyanka Chopra) is among the board of directors. Sonia is also the managing director of the firm and seems to take an immediate shine to our hapless hero. Made CEO of the company, Raj returns home victorious. Sonia makes overtures to Raj which he continues to keep at bay, in love as he is with his rather ordinary plain jane of a wife. However, one dark night, we enter the world of flashbacks which show the lovely Sonia exiting the sea a la Bo Derek but without the dreadlocks to be the immediate object of attention by our jogging hero. One thing leads to another and soon, the two are an item. But Sonia is a predator and moves on any opportunity she can get. She’s a model and not content to be just anyone, aspires for more and more. Shocked that she would go to the extent of aborting their child, Raj leaves her and we then re-enter the present.

So Sonia is back to reclaim her man…but its not for love but for sex. She wants a purely physical relationship and indeed, mentions that she wants him as his “keep”. Turning the sexual discrimination theory on its head, Raj rejects her advances leaving her enraged and finds that that the story does not end there. Accused of attempted rape, he is asked to resign from the company but the irate and outraged hubby. Raj has too much to lose but egged on by his innocent wife, he decides to file a case against her for sexual harassment.
We then enter the realms of the court room where Raj appears to be losing his case…until his wife takes up the cudgels for him to enter what promises to be a clash of the cats.

Aitraaz promises more than it delivers. For once, Abbas Mustaan squander opportunities to make this more of a thriller and play it in a rather flat manner. After the awful opening sequences, we settle down to what could potentially have been an interesting plot. But the flashback device doesn’t work here and reveals the truth about Sonia’s machinations much too soon and therefore, deprives the story of any real suspense. The build up to the accusation comes too soon and we advance very quickly to the court case which by and large, falls flat. For this, the directors are to blame for maintaining a rather uninteresting narrative without any surprises as such. The mobile telephone default is an obvious ploy incorporated to wrap up the proceedings and can be seen a mile off by anyone who has half a brain. This makes Aitraaz a disappointment because it could have been a taut and interesting film. However, caught up in the bharatiya Nari against the predator out to gorge as much as she can, its obvious which one will win. But did it really have to be so easy?

Akshay Kumar is a consummate actor and plays Raj as well as can be expected. Kareena has almost a side role until the climax and is wasted completely. Priyanka Chopra takes on the predatory Sonia and makes her into a cold and calculating gold-digger which she plays to the hilt. And hats off to her because its an out and out nasty role and judging by the hoots she got, she managed to reinvent herself into what would have been Bindu’s role in the 70s.
Handsomely shot, the film is let down by a dreadful score from Himesh Reshammiya. By and large, this is your mainstream bollywood film, somewhat crudely directed but providing the audience with a reasonable if not thrilling three hours.