×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

The Doll

The theme of the ventriloquist whose dummy acquires a life of its own has served as meaty drama in such classics as "Dead of Night" and "Magic." In "The Doll," the latest from Bengali director Goutam Ghose, and his first Hindi-language feature, the idea is the basis for an obsessively weird romance with political overtones. Pic is handsomely produced and contains interestingideas, but its length, greatly augmented by the usual clutch of songs --- which are important for Indian auds but basically time-fillers --- militates against Western acceptance outside the fest circuit.

With:
Johnny Mendez ..... Mithun Chakraborty Rosemary ..... Nandana Dev Sen Hamid ..... Pran Braganza ..... Mohan Agashe Munna Bhai ..... Masood Akhtar

The theme of the ventriloquist whose dummy acquires a life of its own has served as meaty drama in such classics as “Dead of Night” and “Magic.” In “The Doll,” the latest from Bengali director Goutam Ghose, and his first Hindi-language feature, the idea is the basis for an obsessively weird romance with political overtones. Pic is handsomely produced and contains interestingideas, but its length, greatly augmented by the usual clutch of songs — which are important for Indian auds but basically time-fillers — militates against Western acceptance outside the fest circuit.

Set in scenic Goa, which is spectacularly photographed by the director, the film kicks off by introducing the aging Hamid (Pran), an itinerant ventriloquist who does an act with his female doll, Urvashi. When Hamid is stricken with throat cancer, he trains his assistant, Johnny (Mithun Chakraborty), to take his place. Johnny, who is adored by Rosemary (Nandana Dev Sen), a lissome young woman he keeps at arm’s length, modernizes Hamid’s act and is soon a hit on the vaudeville circuit, but finds himself taken up by devious politicos fighting an election.

Rosemary is understandably frustrated because Johnny spends more time talking to Urvashi than to her (he calls it “rehearsing”), but when called upon to put across the politicians’ party line, Johnny is unable to give Urvashi a voice. It’s his moral crisis, but the politicos respond by beating him up and smashing Urvashi to pieces.

Ghose sees the pic, with its echoes of “A Face in the Crowd,” as a metaphor for India’s film industry, which is also at times plagued by political connections. The writer-cinematographer-composer has fashioned an interesting but prolonged and unsophisticated pic that builds slowly to a contrived ending.

Dev Sen is a lively presence as the eager Rosemary, which makes Johnny’s constant rejection of her an irritating plot device. His obsession with his doll is never very convincing. Nor are the machinations of the politicos.

Production credits are of a high order, with the lab work slick.

The Doll

(INDIAN)

Production: A Plus Films production. Produced by Amit Khanna, Mahesh Bhatt. Directed by Goutam Ghose. Screenplay, Ghose, Ain Rashid Khan.

Crew: Camera (color, widescreen), Ghose; editor, Moloy Bannerjee; music, Ghose, Arthur Gracius; production design, Ashok Bose; costumes, Nilanjana Ghose; sound, Sujit Sarkar, Samar Nandy; assistant director, Ramesh Sen. Reviewed at Cannes Film Festival (Un Certain Regard), May 11, 1997. Running time: 114 MIN.

With: Johnny Mendez ..... Mithun Chakraborty Rosemary ..... Nandana Dev Sen Hamid ..... Pran Braganza ..... Mohan Agashe Munna Bhai ..... Masood Akhtar

More Film

  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame

    'Hunchback of Notre Dame' Live-Action Reboot in the Works at Disney

    Disney is in early development on a live-action “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” movie, based on Disney’s animated film and Victor Hugo’s 1831 novel “Notre-Dame de Paris.” Playwright David Henry Hwang is attached to write the script, with Mandeville Films and Josh Gad set to produce. Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz will pen the music. [...]

  • Bill Skarsgard and Eliza Scanlen

    'It' Star Bill Skarsgard and 'Sharp Objects' Actress Eliza Scanlen Join Netflix's 'The Devil All the Time' (EXCLUSIVE)

    “It” star Bill Skarsgard and “Sharp Objects” breakout Eliza Scanlen will star in Antonio Campos’ adaptation of “The Devil All the Time,” which Netflix has officially acquired for distribution. Skarsgard and Scanlen join an all-star cast that includes Tom Holland, Chris Evans, Mia Wasikowska, Robert Pattinson and Tony Award winner Gabriel Ebert, who attached themselves [...]

  • READY PLAYER ONE

    How Writer-Crew Collaborations Are Changing the Script for the Creative Process

    In traditional filmmaking, once a script is written, the director and department heads break it down and figure out the costs and logistics of production. But if the screenwriter collaborates during the creative process with key crew members, the entire production can benefit.  Such collaboration offers the prospect of help on many fronts. For example, [...]

  • FICG TV Pitchbox Confirms Fox, Alazraki,

    FICG TV Pitchbox Swells Key Company Attendance

    Fox Networks Group Latin America (FNGLA), Alazraki Films, EndemolShine Boomdog and Fabula have confirmed their attendance at the inaugural FICG TV Pitchbox, the new co-production market of one of Latin America’s biggest film events, Mexico’s Guadalajara International Film Festival (FICG). They join previously announced participants HBO Latin America and Turner Latin America (FNGLA). More attendees, [...]

  • Alamode Acquires Lone Scherfig’s ‘The Kindness

    Alamode Acquires Lone Scherfig’s Berlin Opener ‘The Kindness of Strangers’

    Munich-based Alamode has taken German and Austrian rights to Lone Scherfig’s “The Kindness of Strangers,” ahead of the picture’s opening-night gala screening at the Berlin Film Festival next month. Alamode acquired the rights from London-based HanWay Films, which is handling worldwide sales. Entertainment One is distributing the film in Canada and SF Studios in Scandinavia. [...]

  • Voltage Pictures to Produce Airborne Thriller

    Voltage Pictures to Produce Airborne Thriller 'Blackwing' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Voltage Pictures will produce and fully finance screenwriter David Loughery’s latest thriller “Blackwing,” Variety has learned exclusively. The company will introduce “Blackwing” to buyers at the upcoming European Film Market at the Berlin Film Festival, which opens Feb. 7. More Reviews Iranian Film Festival New York Review: 'Sheeple' Film Review: ‘Storm Boy’ Nicolas Chartier and [...]

  • ‘Metro Exodus’ Opens Up Post-Apocalyptic Russia

    ‘Metro Exodus’ Author On Film, Possible TV Series, Expansive New Game

    Since the launch of the post-apocalyptic survival first-person shooter “Metro 2033” in 2010, the series has kept its action confined to the tunnels running underneath Russia. “Metro Exodus,” due out next month, takes the gameplay to the surface for the first time, going above ground with sprawling levels against a changing backdrop of weather conditions [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content