Starring: Amitabh, Jia Khan, Revathi, Nasser
Director Ram Gopal Varma deserves credit for exploring so many diverse topics through his films. There is no question that he has a tremendous repertoire of movie making skills. If you consider sheer diversity of topics (Rangeela, Sarkar, Company, Satya etc. etc.), RGV is easily India’s leading Bollywood director. Nishabd is one more movie in this category of thus far unexplored themes in Hindi films.
Nishabd is about an old man (played by Big B) falling in love with a young girl (played by new comer Jia Khan), his daughter’s friend, who visits the family to spend a holiday. The movie is set in Munnar (in Kerala) and needless to say the location is beautiful.
The movie is extremely well-made with great attention to detail, like most RGV films. The acting is optimal (restrained) with minimal dialogues. The Director focuses instead on facial expressions and uses a monologue by Big B at the start and various points in the film to talk about issues related to the story. There are only a handful of actors in the film and all of them deliver good performances. In films like these (in particular most RGV films), there is very little of the conventional melodrama that is associated with Bollywood cinema. So purely from an acting point of view, the actors have to emote with minimal or often no dialogue. It almost feels like the actors have little to do, while the bulk of the work revolves around, the background score, the lighting, the editing etc.
Big B handles a role, unlike any he has ever played, and delivers an impressive performance. Revathi is a good choice for the role of the wife, but barring a couple of scenes, she has little to do. The movie is dominated by the leads, Amitabh and Jia Khan. The newcomer, Jia does a creditable job for someone in her first film, especially when it appears that the Director appeared to be more focused on her legs than on her acting!
The director possibly chose Amitabh for the role, because of his stature in the film industry. From the point of view of the story, however, a younger man (Anil Kapoor perhaps?) might have made the story more believable but probably not as “sale-able”. Overall, this film is fundamentally different from other Bollywood films. Some might find this movie too slow, others might find it arty, but at the end of the day its different, and worth watching (IMHO).