For Susanna, even 8th will do…
After the highly successful adaptations of Shakespeare’s ‘Macbeth’ and ‘Othello’ into ‘Maqbool’ and ‘Omkara’ respectively, Vishal Bhardwaj gives us another dark thriller with ‘7 Khoon Maaf’, well adapted from writer Ruskin Bond’s short story, ‘Susanna’s Seven Husbands’. To adapt a short story whose length doesn’t even run into two digit page numbers is indeed a herculean task which the writers Mathew Robbins and Vishal Bhardwaj have done so remarkably. ‘7 Khoon Maaf’ proves that even a short story can make into a compelling film if treated well.
In a country where a husband is treated more like god and worshipped by the wife diligently irrespective of how he treats her, the story of ‘7 Khoon Maaf’ comes as a total shock. Shocking for the fact that the main protagonist Susanna (brilliantly portrayed by Priyanka Chopra), goes around bumping off six husbands whom she had married one after the other over a period time. Susanna is a girl who yearns for true love. Her first husband, Major Edwin Rodrigues (Neil Nitin Mukesh) turns out to be highly conceited and brutish. Unable to bear him any longer, she ensues that he falls prey to a wild animal while on a hunting expedition by pushing him off a platform up in the tree.
Soon after, rock singer Jimmy (John Abraham) literally sings his way into Susanna’s life. But Susanna’s joy is short lived when she comes to know that Jimmy, her husband is a liar, kinky and into drugs behind her back. In spite of Susanna’s attempt to rehabilitate him, Jimmy still turns towards drugs and one day dies of an overdose. Thereafter, she moves on to the breath taking Kashmir where she meets and marries Wasiullah Khan (Irrfan Khan). She realizes too late that Wasiullah Khan is a poet by day and a sadistic animal by night and he is done away with when Susanna can’t take his beating any more. Back in her home town, she comes across the Russian Nicolai whom she marries only for her protégé Arun who’s studying in Russia to disclose to her that Nicolai is already married and has children. Feeling betrayed, she lets her pet snakes plant venomous kisses on him and he dies. Next follows Inspector Keemat Lal (Annu Kapoor) followed by Dr. Tarafdar (Naseeruddin Shah) who for a change wants to kill her for her money but gets killed in exchange.
With the police on her trial, whether she is arrested for the murders of her six husbands or if she marries off the seventh time to live happily ever after, whether she gets the true love that she always yearned for or whether she gets to drink the blood of her seventh husband as she promises Arun who’s now a forensic expert and who’s proved to the police that Susanna is dead, that forms a very crucial climax of the story. Somehow, the symbolism of the seventh wedding might not strike the audience at one go.
Overall, Vishal Bhardwaj should be commended for his brilliant take on ‘Susanna’s Seven Husbands’. Priyanka Chopra does full justice to the role of Susanna, vulnerable and yet strong, determined and yet at time indecisive, spiteful and at times helpful. Despite her negative murderous character, yet you tend to sympathise with her for the kind of men in her life. Neil Nitin Mukesh is good as Major Rodrigues. And that goes for all her other husbands. The rest of the starcast including Vivaan Shah as Arun and Usha Uthup as Maggie, Harish Khanna as the butler and the actor who plays Jockey Gunga, too have done a good job. Music by Vishal Bhardwaj is outstanding and goes with the mood of the film. Songs are good especially the catchy ‘Darling’. Art Direction simply adds to the drama. Vishal Bhardwaj, the director has done a wonderful job. The only drawback of the film would be its narrative as after the first couple of murders, you know every new husband will die. But then isn’t that what the title suggests? Dialogue though left a lot to be desired, it could have been more punchy. But overall, ‘7 Khoon Maaf’ is worth the dekho!