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Being Cyrus was released in the UK in March 2006 having been released 6 months earlier in France (funnily enough it was released in India at the same time as the UK - funny in that it's an Indian film)... The film stars Saif Ali Khan, and although a Bollywood film, it's rather different to the normal Bollywood fare in that the entire film's dialogue is in English and the film runs for less than 90 minutes.
The movie stars Saif Ali Khan , Naseeruddin Shah , Dimple Kapadia , Boman Irani and Simone Singh. Being Cyrus was directed by Homi Adajania (who also wrote the screenplay with Kersi Khambatta) and produced by Ambika Hinduja, Dinesh Vijan, Raman Macker and Munnish Puri (quite a large production team there)!
The music for Being Cyrus is by Salim and Suleman Merchant and the rather unusual art direction is by Navin Kenkre.
Cyrus Mistry (Khan) arrives at the secluded home of Dinshaw (Shah) and Kati (Kapadia) Sethna in Panchgani, a hillside region of India. Dinshaw is pretty much a has-been sculptor whose confidence is boosted by Cyrus's request to be his apprentice, whilst his wife Kati, who's much younger than her husband, starts an affair with Cyrus.
We see Cyrus flitting back and forth between Mumbai and Panchgani. Whilst in Mumbai we see him visiting Dinshaw's elderly father who is sadly neglected by Dinshaw's greedy brother Farokh (Irani) who has taken charge of his father's properties, which are basically a run down block of flats. Farokh's wife Tina (Singh), tries to make her father-in-law's life more bearable but her husband is rather nasty to both his father and his wife at all times, for no apparent reason. When the infirm father of the Sethna brothers is murdered, we being to see a trail of intrigue, betrayal, and suspicion as the story unwinds very quickly. We start to really get to grips with why Cyrus has befriended the family and it's quite shocking as the story unravels. No one is really as they appear!
This is Saif Ali Khan's first English language feature film and he really does deliver. He does the voiceover for pretty much the whole film, as if he's telling the story. Initially he talks of his childhood and how he and his younger sister were abused and then orphaned. He ingratiates himself into Dinshaw's and Kati's lives before moving back and forth from Mumbai where he befriends the very lonely father Sethna. His mind games start to unravel and we start to see a different side to all of the main characters. You see really humane sides of Cyrus and then quite sinister sides, all of which Saif portrayed to perfection. This is the first time I've seen him out of his usual role which is the young romeo / joker (apart from his role in Parineta which was serious but not sinister).
Naseeruddin Shah's character is really quite amusing, sadly his character isn't given a whole lot of screen time but the time he does have, he portrays his dope fuelled artistic eccentric character with ease. He seems almost child-like sometimes and is pretty much tucked away in his own little world throughout the film even during the dramatic climax.
Dimple Kapadia plays the aging beauty Kati quite ably on the whole, pottering around their large home in the hills with pretty much nothing to do, but I did feel she hammed it up a bit too much. Her character is fairly exaggerated throughout the film and often I felt like telling her to calm down or shut up! You see moments of affection for her husband where she obviously remembers why she fell in love with him when he does something that appears romantic (quite by accident, mind you), then seconds later, we see the grimace on her face as she's reminded how uncouth he really can be, as she proceeds to verbally abuse him.
Boman Irani comes off very well in this film. You have to despise his character and I almost enjoyed what happens to him in the end. He's really awful to his housebound father and screams at the poor man constantly. He treats his wife appallingly and is having an affair with someone which his wife seems to be aware of. There's an amusing scene when a neighbour's dog attacks his ankles and he has a screaming match with the dog's owner from the street as she hurls abuse at him from 3 or 4 flights up (as she's wheelchair bound). The abuse is not in English but you can tell they're swearing at each other profusely whilst an audience appears in the street. By the mere fact that he kicks the little dog and hurls abuse at a wheelchair bound person we are given an insight into just how nasty this man is. He's totally convincing in his role and I felt like giving him a good punch!
Simone Singh is not given much screen time either but we get to see her at the end of the film showing her real side and it's quite a surprise. I've not seen her before in a film and couldn't tell from her brief appearances if she's someone I'd like to see more of in films or not. Her character is pretty accepting of her husband's ill-treatment of her and one wonders what her motives are for this acquiescence.
Overall this is blatantly a film noir with some black comedy thrown in for good measure. We see disturbing images when Cyrus dreams which are somewhat sexual in nature and somewhat scary. All the main characters in the film appear in his dreams and it makes no apparent sense. Cyrus is very confused and at that stage in the film I wasn't sure if we were supposed to like him or loathe him.
There's not one single song or dance in sight in this film, another point to prove this is not typical Bollywood fare. Although there is a good deal of atmospheric music during the film which is quite eerie but adds to the suspense.
WHERE TO GET IT
Being Cyrus is available on DVD from Amazon for £15.99 or from selectcheaper.com for £12.11 or even from DVDSource.co.uk for £12.99 or the cheapest I could spot it was from www.sendit.com for £11.99. You could also try renting it from your usual DVD rental source
I'm not 100% whether or not this was a really clever film or a really stupid film trying to be too arty. Nonetheless, I enjoyed it to some extent, but maybe it was too clever for me as I can't rate it more than 7 out of 10. It was very unusual for a Bollywood film, but then again, I think the director was definitely trying to get the message across that this is not your typical Bollywood film and that Indian filmmakers are trying to reach a much wider audience. I doubt it will appeal to the Bollywood masses as it's short, has no song dance routines and some may feel a longer film would have allowed more character development, but it will almost certainly do well outside of India. Who knows? This film might even receive International film awards
It's entertaining, it's confusing, it's funny and it's got a degree of thrills, chills and double crosses. Watch it and judge for yourself...
By the way, the film is certified a 12 but I doubt children of that age would find this entertaining to sit through.
Recommended? Yes, indeed it is...
NB: this is a "film only" review as dooyoo has now stopped doing separate DVD and VHS options for the same film.