Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. When a beautiful Anglo-American woman, Susanna Anna-Marie Johannes (Priyanka Chopra), sees red, she spills blood. Based on Ruskin Bond’s short story, Susanna’s Seven Husbands, Vishal Bhardwaj’s 7 Khoon Maaf traces a woman’s illusive quest for true love. She quickly mops up every failed marriage by getting rid of the root cause, her husbands. Bollywood takes a bold turn with this woman protoganist who doesn’t play the docile wallflower girlfriend or wife but is revengeful, daring and shrewd.
The narrative of the film unfolds interestingly from the eyes of Arun Kumar (Vivaan Shah), a servant boy in Susanna’s father’s house. He loves and worships her for transforming his pitiable existence through a chance at good education. Besides him there are other servants who are loyal enough to back Susanna in everything she does, murders included.
In an offbeat and quirky style, Bhardwaj takes his audience through a witty ride. Humour lines the entire dark and morose subject. You see her walk down the aisle with her to-be husband and then the scene quickly retorts back with him in a coffin. As an audience you have to pay close attention as subtly added in details end up changing the entire game. You never see her kill directly; hints of what has transpired mar the scenes, leaving a lot to the imagination and a faster paced storyline.
Her first hubby dear is a possessive and jealous Major Edwin (Neil Nitin Mukesh). Freeing herself from his strict confines, she relishes her freedom with her next, a choir-boy turned rockstar, Jimmy (John Abraham). Alas, he cheats on her and turns into a junkie. When repeated attempts to rehabilitate him fail, one day he’s discovered dead – reason cited drug overdose.
Her next not only has her name changed but also her religion. Wasiullah aka Musafir (Irrfan Khan) is a romantic muslim poet by day and a sadistic wife-beater by night. Unable to bear his abuse, she buries him alive one dark night. He is followed by a Russian spy, a sleazy lecherous police officer (Annu Kapoor) and finally a mushroom-eating naturist (Naseeruddin Shah). Six husbands in six decades, all dead and leave her sanity questionable. Somehow she has the gall to marry a seventh time and to someone who knows all her murderous ways. What’s next? I’m still confused about the “satva khoon”, watch it yourself to figure it out.
Priyanka Chopra in an award-winning performance once again proves her acting prowess. And it’s not just her make-up (courtesy special make-up effects artist roped in from Hollywood, Greg Cannom of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) but also her character that undergoes a marked transformation as the story journeys from when she’s 20 right up to when she’s 65. Neil and Irrfan pull-off commendable performances while Annu Kapoor surprisingly fits his character like a glove and creeps you out completely. Another unexpected revolting scene is that pulled by Chopra as a haggard desperate ageing woman who drops her robes to seduce the now grown-up Arun. Chopra pulls off quite a few bold scenes and Indian audiences have matured to understand the complexity and different shades of the character that she dons. Naseer’s son Vivaan is definitely not your regular debutante and is one to watch out for. “Darrrling”, the Indian adaptation of the Russian song “Kalinka” is a foot-tapping hit. The rest of the music is passé.
All-in-all Vishal has come a long way from Kaminey and PC gives one of the best performances in her career. Make sure you witness these murders.