Director: Nagesh Kukunoor
Cast: Rannvijay Singh, Ayesha Takia, Tanvi Azmi, Anant Mahadevan, Raghuvir Yadav
Synopsis: In order to support herself and her family, a 25 year old Aranya (Ayesha Takia) runs a watch repair store in a small hill station called Ganga. It is here that she meets Andy (Rannvijay Singh), who returns everyday to get his water-logged watch repaired and leaves her a 100 rupee note in the form of an origami swan. Aranya and Andy gradually fall in love. The story takes a dramatic turn when Aranya discovers the truth about Andy.
Mod is one of the few attempts made in Indian Cinema on the intriguing subject of ‘Multi Personality Disorder’. Considering how hesitant Producers and Directors have been to venture into a subject that predominantly relies upon the developed senses of the Indian audience, one would be tempted to laud Nagesh Kukunoor for his effort. But hold on to that thought. For even before you burden the audience with understanding a psychological subject, isn’t it the primary responsibility of the film maker to tell that story convincingly first? And that is definitely not the case here!
Aranya (Ayesha Takia) is a simple girl who lives with her father (Raghuvir Yadav) and Aunt (Tanvi Azmi) in a remote Hill Station. She owns a watch repair store which is precisely where a love story blooms. A sweet and shy boy Andy (Ranvijay) one fine day appears at her door steps to repair his watch. Turns out, Andy is Aranya’s classmate from school days and has been in love with her ever since. A series of encounters follow, where Andy returns everyday with a water logged watch and leaves behind a 100 rupee note in the shape of an origami swan bringing a gleeful smile on the girls face. The Scenes between Andy, a weird shy kid and Aranya who is going through her first love are very aesthetically handled.
The first half is where Nagesh Kukunoor as a Director excels. Relationships between characters are developed and handled beautifully, which have always been Kukunoor’s forte. Be it Aranya’s relationship with her father, a heavy drinker and an ardent Kishore Kumar fan, or Aranya’s relationship with her Aunt who seems to be her only guiding force. Constantly punctuated by gorgeous landscapes and well written dialogues & poems, the first half perfectly retains the essence and purity of a sweet little love story set up in a remote Hill Station.
But right when you think you can stretch your legs and enjoy a light hearted lazy Romance, something drastic happens! With the beginning of the second half comes in a new character (or personality to be precise). A series of strange behaviors by Andy causes Aranya to prod further into Andy’s life, which is when the revelation is made – Andy does not exist! The guy she fell in love with, in actuality, is a split personality of this other guy who goes by the name ‘Abhay’ and who apparently lives in a Mental Asylum! Turns out every time Andy met Aranya, it was actually Abhay being overcome by the ‘Andy personality’. And in this state he escaped from the Asylum (everyday), through a simple procedure of – climbing out of his room window (talk about security in a Mental Asylum!).
What follows is an epitome of boredom. In the bid to justify how the alter personality ‘Andy’ came into existence, the story drags on. Once justified the Director and Writer seem at a loss for ideas, as to what exactly there are supposed to do with these two personalities they have created. Add to it some ridiculous instances like Aranya (a watch store owner) running to Abhay’s mom, flaunting a couple of printouts, claiming she can cure Abhay through some research she has done online, and you start questioning the authenticity of the medical profession too! (Why become doctors guys… just go ‘Online’!)… And no, it doesn’t end there… not that easily… It drags on some more…. And some more… till the point your own brain starts creating an alter-personality.
One of the main positives to retain, of course, are the performances. Ayesha Takia who has always been an underrated actress, plays the character perfectly. The subtlety and innocence she brings to the character make it believable. Ranvijay is better than his past performances and is convincing as the shy Andy. Tanvi Azmi and Raghuvir Yadav as always are wonderful. The Music and background score is good and definitely helps elevate the film, especially in the first half.
For Indian Cinema’s sake, it is very important that a film with such an unconventional topic does well, for only then will more Producers come out of their safety net and venture into unexplored paths. And sadly Nagesh Kukunoor has failed in this errand.
Verdict – The first half is accentuated with typical Nagesh Kukunoor finesse but be prepared to endure the never ending mental turmoil of the second half too.
Vikram. N. Acharya