IN THE ZONE ( At the Box Office )

The heroine decorates the scenery, the hero fights the villain and good ultimately triumphs over evil. Nothing really different in the sci-fi thriller Rudraksh except that the proceedings are wrapped up in a blinding blaze of special effects.

By Sudha Mukerjee

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Published: Sat 14 Feb 2004, 3:15 PM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 12:34 AM


(At Plaza Cinema and other theatres in the UAE)

A modern day demon Bhuria (a blue-eyed Suniel Shetty) wants a partner-in-grime for his dirty deeds and earmarks Varun (Sanjay Dutt) for the task. In Bhuria's possession is Ravan's legendary Rudraksh - which brings immeasurable power to the bearer - but he needs Varun to help him attain this clout. Blessed with healing and mystical abilities, Varun cures people during the day and works as a bouncer in a club at night.

Enter Dr Gayatri (Bipasha Basu) who conducts experiments on paranormal activities and she is keen to know what makes Varun tick. Meanwhile, Bhuria tries to ensnare Varun who rebuffs him at every turn. It is only when Bhuria kills his father (Kabir Bedi) that Varun sets out to destroy him. How he finds and foils Bhuria is what Rudraksh is all about. Along the way, we are taken to the Himalayas, Ravan's Lanka, Bhuria's futuristic abode and an even more exotic place - the human mind.

The comic element is provided, although unintentionally, by Dr Gayatri and her bimbo team from America, especially her chief assistant Suzie Q who climbs walls ˆ la Spiderman. Young and nubile, all of them wear hot pants and brief tops to work and the heroine also favours backless blouses.

Since Varun works in a club, that is enough excuse to throw in an item number, which gives scientist Gayatri a chance to jump on the ramp and indulge in some unscientific gyrations. And - believe this - Madam Gayatri harbours hopes of winning a Nobel Prize for her exposure. Oh sorry, expose.

The performances are lost in the special effects. Sanjay Dutt and Suniel Shetty, wearing long and untidy locks, look like they are having bad hair days. They are later joined by Kabir Bedi (looking like Professor Dumbledore from Harry Porter) who is having an even worse hair day. Bipasha Basu (still trying to act and still failing miserably) and Ishaa Koppikar (as Bhuria's love interest) slither around and provide the obligatory glamour quotient.

Directed by Mani Shankar (who is also responsible for the story, screenplay, dialogues, editing and, phew, SFX design and supervision), Rudraksh has a fairly fast paced first half but drags in the second. Varun's efforts to find Bhuria are long-winded and the repetitive flashbacks are tedious. Shankar, who made his feature film debut with the white-collar thriller 16 December, pumps more energy into the computer graphics than the script. Result: Rudraksh ends up being obscure, chaotic and plain nutty at times.

If you plan a trip to a theatre this week, make sure to carry a science textbook. Everyone throws around technical jargon and here's a quick sample: electro magnetic field (a hot favourite, tossed around at least a dozen times), quantum domain, genetic mutation, oral patterns, multi-dimensional holograms and thought transmissions.

There is also some talk of 'static zone' between Sanjay Dutt and Bipasha Basu. Or do they mean 'ecstatic zone'? Watch out for a preposterous so-called healing session where Varun administers a heavy duty oil massage to a hyperventilating Dr Gayatri, underclad in some tight thingummy. What exactly he is trying to cure her of, we couldn't say.

If you want a crash course in scientific terminology accompanied by visual pyrotechnics that you have seen done more effortlessly in several Hollywood films, Rudraksh is a good bet. Science friction, anyone?

Rating: ***

Starring Sanjay Dutt, Suniel Shetty, Bipasha Basu, etc.

Music Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy

Producer Nitin Manmohan & Sohail Maklai

Director Mani Shankar

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