Ever since his directorial debut with Hyderabad Blues, Naagesh Kukunoor has built up a reputation as an avant garde film maker. With 8 x 10 Tasveer, he continues to venture into unchartered territory, this time exploring the supernatural genre. The result is bitter sweet.
Jai (Akshay Kumar) is a forest ranger in Canada. Due to an accident in his childhood, he has a special gift – he can enter a photograph as one of the subjects clicked and see what happened for a minute after the photograph was clicked.
His father (Benjamin Gilani) owns an oil company (mentioned in a sketchy manner), with his wife and friends as stakeholders in it. Father and son do not share a cordial relationship as the latter feels the oil business is exploitative. Kukunoor does not explain why Jai feels so about his father’s business. The father somehow has a change of heart and decides to sell off his company and fund Jai’s forest ranger company. A day before he is to do so, he dies mysteriously aboard a yacht with his stakeholders watching on. Jai then taps into his supernatural powers to nab his father’s killers. He is pushed and prodded along the way by an eccentric detective Happi (Jaffrey) who carries enough guns on him to be mistaken for an arms smuggler. One wonders why Kukunoor portrays a detective as bumbling and even forgetful; it obviously does not add anything to the plot.
That said though, the plot thickens with every passing minute. The scenes are slick and draw the viewer in. But just when you think the suspense has built up well enough, the screenplay goes haywire. The last twenty minutes are a complete letdown to the rest of the movie; what was heretofore constructed as a taut thriller now limps, huffs and puffs its way to the finishing line. The killer’s motive is hard to believe and so is the reaction of the lead character Jai.
Akshay, in a role starkly different from the mad capers he regularly features in, delivers a sincere performance. Ayesha Takia and Jaaved Jaffrey are restrained and make their characters seem plausible. The other cast members do a good job too, within the limited scope the screenplay gives to their characters.
Kukunoor does an excellent job with his attention to technical detail, depicting the same scene from different points of view brilliantly. The background sound ably complements the plot; the cinematography is decent as well. The music though is unwarranted in a movie of this genre. The three songs in the movie could have been entirely avoided; the romantic number breaks the pace of an otherwise tight buildup.
Those are minor glitches though. What really kills the movie is the climax; it appears as if Kukunoor was satisfied with the way the plot was built up, and then arranged for a proxy to direct the climax.
Nevertheless, with Tasveer, Kukunoor sure has his heart in the right place. It is the execution that leaves a lot to be desired.
Verdict: Certainly a good one time watch, but don’t expect the Kukunoor touch.