Khoya Khoya Chand (2007)

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When I first heard about this film I was excited, because—as you may have figured out by now—I love Hindi films from the 50’s and 60’s, and have devoured every biography on every personality from that era that I can find. Also I think Sudhir Mishra is a good director, and Shantanu Moitra was doing the music; his songs for Parineeta were as close to the quality of old film music as most modern film music gets.

So—was I disappointed? Not entirely, it had several things to recommend it. But it lacked two essential elements: characters that you could invest in, and a strong story. Soha Ali Khan as struggling actress Nikhat seemed miscast to me; or perhaps she’s just too inexperienced yet—I would have liked to see what Rani Mukherjee or even Kareena Kapoor might have done with the character. As it was, Soha tried; but she didn’t quite manage to imbue Nikhat with much depth or personality. She looked sort of old and haggard too (although strangely better towards the end, when she was supposed to look old and haggard!). Shiney Ahuja didn’t do much with his aspiring writer/director character Zafar either beyond clenching his jaw or shouting.

I think the story lost out partly because the performances weren’t up to it, but also because it wasn’t tight and cohesive enough. It was uneven and disjointed and never achieved any kind of flow. The end seemed thrown together and Nikhat’s downward spiral didn’t ring true (although I always love a Shammi plug in any film!).

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What didn’t disappoint me was the sense of authenticity—the romantic liaisons, the politics, the changing alliances and the machinations of people struggling to attain or maintain their positions in a claustrophic and unforgiving industry. The sets and costumes created the right atmosphere (although I sometimes found the grainy film effects distracting). And Rajat Kapoor as the aging film hero Prem Kumar and Vinay Pathak as an aspiring director/producer did hit the right notes, essentially rescuing me from having nobody to care about much. And those two things together were enough to entertain me, although not enough for me to say that it’s a really good film.

Some of my favorite scenes for their nostalgia value:

I always love it when the hero sings a gorgeous song and plays piano with the heroine…

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I have coveted the glass chandeliers and lamps in so many Mughal historicals…

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and I would give anything to go to a film premiere at the Regal Cinema!

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I found the parallels between the characters and people who actually exist(ed) interesting. For instance, Zafar plunges into Guru Dutt-inspired depression and drink when his pet project flops with critics and audiences:

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Nikhat does a Helen act as a vamp in a B movie:

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And of course, her final ailment is lifted right out of Madhubala’s life.

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As I said earlier, Rajat Kapoor’s turn as aging film hero _________ (insert any one of them here) is very impressive. And the music is beautiful, although it is incorporated into the film as awkwardly as the plot.

In essence: if you are an old movie buff, you will likely enjoy at least parts of Khoya Khoya Chand. If not, it might be heavy going. I really wish it had been a better film.

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7 Comments to “Khoya Khoya Chand (2007)”

  1. It’s funny how you think people would assume you’re disappointed with the film. Can you explain what the first two images are of?

  2. I WAS disappointed in the film :-) although it had its moments…but I was hoping for a good story and characters I could be involved with in addition to the ambience.

    The first image is taken from the opening credits (film poster and old projector); the second is from the section of the film that shows Nikhat’s decline into alcoholism, ruining her career (although she’s miraculously “cured” of it with no explanation by the end of the movie). I just liked the Shammi reference on the Filmfare magazine cover.

  3. Have to see this one one it comes out on DVD. I love period movies and I agreed to go along with the SRK fanatics at home only because I knew they were re-creating the 70s in the first half of the movie.

  4. Hi Greta,
    I am only half surpised at your being disappointed by Sudhir Mishra’s last film: in my mind he had been going rather downhill since Main Zinda Hoon in 1988 and Dharavi in 1992. I had wanted to see Chameli (2003), and to me that was a certain disppointment. So even if I’m a little sorry to hear that the last output isn’t top-notch, well, perhaps it’s logical. One should tell him to go back to the important issues he had addressed in his early films!
    cheers,
    yves

  5. This could have been a really great film, but it was too disjointed and choppy. Bad screenplay/story and mediocre performances from the lead pair especially. It had its moments though and is worth a watch if you’re an old movie buff.

  6. I watched this movie for the second time today. The first time I saw it, I enjoyed it in parts. I felt the same way you did. I thought the first half was very compelling and well-paced. After setting the stage, I felt the movie fell flat.

    Watching it a second time, I was completely enthralled. I was able to overlook some of the minor lapses, and focus on some of the finer details including the camera work and the Urdu dialogue. It reminded me of Zubeida and Sardari Begum in parts, both films I love.

    • I should watch it again. But I have a huge stack of things that I haven’t seen yet and I feel guilty rewatching something I didn’t absolutely love the first time around :) (ps I loved Zubeida too, mostly because of the gorgeous AR Rahman music, haven’t seen Sardari Begum though)…

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