Shab movie cast: Raveena Tandon, Ashish Bisht, Arpita Chatterjee, Simon Frenay, Areesz Ganddi, Raj Suri
Shab movie director: Onir
Shab movie rating: 1.5 stars
Shab offers up slices of Delhi life : awkward but athletic young men strutting their stuff on the ramp, high-society hi-jinks, middle-aged women and their muscular ‘personal trainers’, gay designers with an eye for fresh flesh, wounded women of the night, and so on.
This has been explored before. Madhur Bhandarkar got a whole film ( Page 3) out of the rich and the famous and the good-looking and their ugly peccadilloes. The subject keeps surfacing : what people do, why they do those things, and the gaps between intent and execution, are all endlessly fascinating.
Given Onir’s experience in creating interesting characters grappling with the kind of personal demons not usually seen in Bollywood, especially in his last outing ‘I Am’, ‘Shab’ should have been a far more accomplished film. But this is a sloppy, choppy piece of work.
There are interesting faces here. Newcomer Ashish Bisht playing a ‘desi’ boy desperate to become a model leaves an impression. He’s also the most detailed character, and a few things he does – picking up a godawful garment, using broken English to impress—is life-like.
The others don’t fare so well. Raveena Tandon plays a rich man’s bored wife, but you wish her character had been written with more depth. Why is her marriage in the doldrums? Does her husband play the field, or is she by instinct a cougar?
There’s a French guy ( Frenay) with a sad past, and a short-haired woman ( Chatterjee) with a fraught present, but again, they are drawn sketchily. A predatory gay mentor-to-hopeful-boys ( Suri) shows up. So does a man left hanging by a flighty boy-friend.
All these are characters, fleshed properly, could have given us a film. But there’s simply not enough, and we remain uninvested, uninterested.