Rajeev Masand

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Masand’s verdict: Being Cyrus

 
Rajeev Masand Reviews
 

  In debut director Homi Adjania’s 85-minute English film Being Cyrus, Saif Ali Khan plays a young man who accepts an invitation to work as an apprentice to once famous sculptor Dinshaw Sethna, played by Naseeruddin Shah.

But when he moves into the Sethnas’ Panchgini home, he finds himself spending more time attending to the needs of Dinshaw’s neurotic wife Katie, played by Dimple Kapadia.

Very soon Cyrus becomes intrinsically involved in the lives of the Sethna family, which includes Dinshaw’s ageing father who lives in Mumbai at the mercy of Dinshaw’s burly brother Farrokh and his wife Tina (played by Boman Irani and Simone Singh).

The film, which opened at cinemas on Friday, is a stylish thriller that’s told in an immensely engaging style. But the problem is, the story itself is rather weak.

What’s meant to be a twist in the tale, is rather predictable actually, and that’s why you enjoy the whole journey to the end of the film, but not so much the end of the film itself.

Do you get what I mean? It’s all very interestingly leading up to a big climax, but the climax itself comes as a bit of a damp squib because you’ve guessed it already, somewhere along the way.

However, what’s delectable – no two ways about it – is the style, the format and the narrative which is edgy and innovative and constantly throwing up new surprises.

The thing about Being Cyrus is that you really want to like it. It’s clever, it’s well-intended, it’s shot and narrated so dramatically, it’s done in English yet it’s done using actors from the mainstream – it’s got almost everything going for it.

But despite the 85-minute running time, truth is, the film seems really very long. Because, like it or not, very little actually happens in the story.

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I’m even ready to buy the argument that not all films are plot-driven, many are character-driven pictures.

But that argument is hardly appropriate in the case of Being Cyrus, because really it’s all about the plot – it’s all about how letting an outsider into your world can change your world upside down.

Of the cast, Dimple Kapadia disappoints with a hysterical performance that’s way over the top. Meanwhile, Naseeruddin Shah adds these little touches to his character that make all the difference.

Cast as a character with hardly any lines, he’s immensely watchable every time he’s on screen.

As Cyrus, the protagonist of this story, Saif Ali Khan, is marvellous. His body launguage, his dialogue delivery, even his long silences contribute so much to his construction of the character he plays.

Yet, if, like me, you feel he delivered a finer, more nuanced performance as the bad guy in Ek Hasina Thi, then you’ll agree that the blame for that rests less with Saif and more with the writers of this film for plotting a weaker story.

But towering above the rest of the actors in this film is Boman Irani who’s practically indistinguishable as Farrokh Sethna.

Let’s face it, one of the reasons Being Cyrus is so enjoyable despite its flaws is because of Boman Irani’s performance which resonates with a trueness, a naturalness that is so rare in the movies these days.

So you see Being Cyrus is an impressive debut no doubt, but it’s hardly the stuff dreams are made of.

Rating: (Good)

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