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Yeh Saali Aashiqui Movie Review: It Is The Surprise Shocker Of The Year


Yeh Saali Aashiqui

Starring Vardhan Puri,  Shivaleeka  Oberoi

Directed  by   Cherag Ruparel

Rating: *** ½ (3 and a half stars)

By the  time the film’s  protagonist  gets down to chasing his  primary target of wrath  with an oversized  hacksaw, you begin the fear not  only for his mental health but also for the stability and  equilibrium  of this  film.

 Both  survive, right down to the  bloodied and bestial  finale when  , in a  manner of speaking, things  falls apart and  all hell breaks loose.

Yeh Saali Aashiqui is  a film that chooses to stay many steps ahead  of our expectations. For starters, one would hardly expect  a debutant from a  distinguished  film family to start his career with a pitch-dark thriller where he is shown in far from flattering light (and boy, the  cinematography  by  Pratik Shah is unforgiving).

  But here  he  is, Vardhan Puri, consumed by  a kind of  death wish that comes  to seasoned actors who  are fearless in their  quest for orginal  and  untried adventures.In his  very  first film Vardhancracks it as Sahil  a traumatized  hotel –management recruit who looks for  nothing but true love. He meets the  devi from the Devil’s own private  harem Mitee(newcomer Shivaleeka Oberoi).

What  follows is  a plot never seen before in Bollywood, as  layer after layer if   frightening  psychological disorder,brutal   betrayal and violent vindication are laid open in  sequences that  pile on  the  shock without caring for the repercussions.

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 What lies  underneath is what  concerns the co-writers(leading man Vardhan and his director Cherag Ruparel  co-wrote this twisted homage to deconstructed love). The  film’s pace never slackens even as the two principal players  grow  progressively  embroiled in  a game of mutual destruction.And the editing(Anirban Dutta) is as  sharp as some of  the instruments  used by the characters to inflict  hurt on one  another.

To me the film’s achievement  is in showing the  other side of  the gender conflict. If men can be deceptive and predatory, so can women. And  hats  off to  debutante Shivaleeka Oberoi for carrying off  a role so  contrary to what  our  Bollywood leading ladies are  expected to be. At times her makeup lets her  down. But she is bang-on in expressing the subtle  shifts  of emotion in an unhinged  mind , from  despair to deception.She nails it.

 Vardhan has  chosen a tough role to begin with . His character struggles with demoniacal  inner conflicts.And then  the she-devil appears in his life. Puri  clutches at his character’s throat and shakes it hard enough to  give  the unstable   goings-on an anchoring presence.Vardhan has a  bright future ahead.

 I also liked some of  the  supporting  cameos. Johnny Lever’s son Jessey Lever as the  hero’s buddy and  Ruslaan Mumtaz as Mitee’s  moneyed and sensitive  fiancé leave a mark. But this is  primarily a compelling cat-and-mouse game between two  characters  who ought to be  singing songs of togetherness, not running after  one  another  with murderous  intentions. 

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This is  that  unexpected  dark thriller  of  the year  where the  boy meets the  girl little knowing she is the woman from hell we all dread meeting. In this the era  of  the burgeoning MenToomovement when  men are also being recognized as  victims of sexual-emotional exploitation YehSaali Aashiqui  is  a  bold  step forward . There is  along show-reel  towards the end when various  men come forward to share their agony in the hands of an unscrupulous gold-digging women. Many would see this  as a misogynistic   manoeuvre.  But it is actually not. This unusual and gripping thriller  reminds us  that awful things can  happen in relationship to  either the man  or a woman.

Let’s not  see  only one of  the  sexes as a  victim.

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