“Teen Paheliyan”, an omnibus of three short films available on Hotstar; Starring Vikant Massey, Surveen Chawla, Kunaal Roy Kapur, Tina Desai, Paoli Dam, Akshay Oberoi, Shraddha Das and Rukhsar Rehman; Rating: **
There is so much hope hanging on to this seemingly promising omnibus of three stories, each of approximately 45-minute duration with an attractive cast and fairly decent production values. The presentation is outwardly inviting. There are moments when one is lured into an aura of gorgeousness, only to be sharply steered back into the presentation’s prevalent mediocrity.
Such is the dual life that this triple-layered lair of lies lingers in. The stories are brave and imaginative to begin with. But they falter when they try too hard for that corkscrew twist at the end.
And to think that a time-tested producer, Sujoy Ghosh and three capable directors are at the helm… What went wrong’
The first story and the one that I thought pulled off its act with less failure than others, was the Sujoy Ghosh-directed “Good Luck”, about a down-in-the-dumps salesman (and who better for the loser’s act than Kunaal Roy Kapur’) who sells ‘good luck’ to some characters who really need it.
Sadly, it turns out the film needs it even more. The cafe setting is warm, cosy and believable and the relationship of mutual affection that grows between the salesman and a cafe owner, a single mother (played by Tina Desai who seems to be a Priyanka Chopra fan), is well mapped.
But then as the incidental characters begin to drop dead, the story too goes towards a rapid degeneration. A pity since we expect so much more from Sujoy Ghosh. If only the plot didn’t do bone-breaking cartwheels that feel like Satyajit Ray’s stories on a writer’s-block day.
The second story “Copy” is directed by Arindam Sil, who did last year’s brutal and dark real-life crime thriller “Dhananjay”. In this short film, he opts for a half-baked cloning story that seems inspired by everything from “The Prince and The Pauper” to Prakash Mehra’s “Haseena Maan Jayegi”.
The talented duo Vikrant Massey and Surveen Chawla try hard to inject credibility as truant Man and cheated Wife into a laughably addled plot. Vikrant tries to enjoy playing his double role. He is definitely more convincing as a clone than Nawazuddin Siddiqui was in a ridiculous short film titled “Carbon”, but still not convincing enough to be considered an honourable failure.
The most disappointing of the three stories is “Mirchi Malini”. Directed by journalist-filmmaker Pratim D Gupta, it promises the most among the trio of stories, and delivers the least, as Paoli Dam (remember her in “Hate Story 2″‘) presides over an all-women’s dinner party where some startling skeletons tumble out of the women’s closets.
Again, the narrative trips over its own cleverness after a promising start. The women players, especially Rukhsar (who looks stunning as a fading film star) and Neha Chauhan (cast her, please) are interesting. But to believe that the affable Akshay Oberoi bedded all these women is a bit of a mind-bender.
The three stories aim to titillate, shock and seduce us. They set off on the right path but finally seem to have bitten more than they can chew. More than anything, I felt sorry for the gallery of appealing actors who have so much to give. Here they end up investing in what turns out to be a losing venture.
By Subhash K. Jha