The Voyeurs *1/2
Directed by Buddhadev Dasgupta
Wow. What a wacky wacky evening it was tonight in the screening room. The film is "The Voyeurs," and its the first film that I've seen that is a straight from India production-I'm seen several of the Bollywood knockoffs-"Bride and Prejudice"-and I saw Mira Nair's "The Nameake"-but both of those films have a touch of Hollywood in them. But "The Voyeurs" is right from the country itself, and you can tell. It is vastly different from any other film that I've seen, but this movie failed terribly in my eyes. I had a hard time watching it, and much of the crowd that came into the theatre at the beginning did not end up staying for whole time-including a cute girl behind me who was alone, go figure.
"The Voyeurs" is about two surveillance workers-Dilip and Rekha. They are hired to put cameras around a hospital that recently got in trouble for having rats and cats and dogs running around their halls at night. After that good job, they end up getting hired to put cameras over the home of a beautiful Indian actress hopeful. One of the men ends up watching the woman to the point where he begins to fall in love with her, but when the two of them get in trouble for their watching business, and then they get in trouble when they are wrongfully accused of blowing up a train and killing several people.
There are a few social commentary points going on. This is another one of those films that I've noticed have been coming out of late, where technology ends up being updated to fit the times. In the past Norman Bates days, being a voyeur consisted of looking through a hole in the wall. Then in the 70's it became about tapes and audio. And now with technology changes there are all these advanced camera systems. It's endless. There is a buddy comedy element between the two voyeurs, especially some points about sex and love that really do show the culture. In any other film there would have been quite the number of nude scenes as they watch the actress on the camera, but the cultural differences do not allow that. Even though he loves the woman, he shuts the camera off whenever she is taking her clothes off. Neither of the men have ever seen a woman's body before because they are waiting for sex for love. And then there is some comedy involving a short director, but that never really went anywhere but to clock the run time higher. And then there is the thriller/cat and mouse/drama element after the train ends up blowing up.
All of these ideas and genres end up meshing to a rather messy and odd film. I could never get myself into it at all, and it became quite distracting. Especially the sound editing, which might have been the most unintentionally funny part of the film. At one point a man is punching another man-in the face, but there are the loudest punches ever. And they never match the actual punch. And it didn't even look like the man was punching the guy. The same thing happens later when a man hits a guy in the leg with a bat, and there is no damage whatsoever. I don't know if that is a trend in Indian cinema, but it was quite a laugh for most of the crowd.
"The Voyeurs" is easily the weakest film I've seen at the festival. It really was just a place filler because I had nothing on my schedule, and I wish I came home a little early. This is something that may show up at the Cinema Village in a few months, maybe a year, they seem to get all the big Indian releases. I was not fond of this film at all.