Review: ‘Kisna – Beyond Love’

Helmer Subhash Ghai has recently served up a string of flops, with the January release "Kisna -- The Warrior Poet" no exception. Now in an international edition, cut down from three hours and re-named "Kisna -- Beyond Love," this version plays like a dime-store novel with cringe-worthy dialogue only rarely interrupted by enjoyable musical numbers.

Billed as Bollywood’s Showman, helmer Subhash Ghai has recently served up a string of flops, with the January release “Kisna — The Warrior Poet” no exception. Now in an international edition, cut down from three hours and re-named “Kisna — Beyond Love,” this version plays like a dime-store novel with cringe-worthy dialogue only rarely interrupted by enjoyable musical numbers. Tepid romance, told in flashback as if channeling Gloria Stuart in “Titanic,” features a mix of Indian and English actors, but crossover chances, a la “Lagaan,” are nil.

At a press conference, Lady Katherine (Polly Adams) harks back to 1947 and the heady days of India’s independence movement, when she (Antonia Bernath) fell for the stableman’s son Kisna (Vivek Oberoi). A paint box of colors can’t disguise the inept English script, or the perfunctory helming. In his last role, the late Amrish Puri, as Kisna’s vengeful uncle, chews up the scenery, though not as badly as Michael Maloney’s stereotyped British officer. Bernath (Priscilla Presley in the miniseries “Elvis”) is surprisingly incompetent, while only Oberoi escapes with his boyish charm relatively intact. Sushmita Sen, in a fun dance number, temporarily livens things up.

Kisna - Beyond Love

India

Production

A Mukta Arts Ltd. production. (International sales: AV Pictures, London.) Produced, directed by Subhash Ghai. Screenplay, Ghai, Sachin Bhowmick, Farukh Dhondy, Margaret Glover. Script editor, Glover.

Crew

Camera (color, widescreen), Ashok Mehta; editor, Michael Parker; music, A.R. Rahman, Ismail Darbar; lyrics, Javed Akhtar, Blaaze; production designer, Samir Chanda; costume designer, Neeta Lulla; action director, Tinu Verma; choreographer, Saroj Khan. Hindi, English dialogue. Reviewed at Cannes Film Festival (market), May 13, 2005. Running time: 100 MIN.

With

Vivek Oberoi, Antonia Bernath, Isha Sharvani, Polly Adams, Michael Maloney, Caroline Langrishe, Amrish Puri, Om Puri, Yashpal Sharma, Rajat Kapoor, Sushmita Sen, Hrishita Bhatt, Zarina Wahab, Ronit Roy.
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