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Being Cyrus

Published: Friday, March 24, 2006, 15:01 [IST]

By: Taran Adarsh, IndiaFM

Friday, March 24, 2006

With the influx of multiplexes, novel concepts and offbeat themes are being attempted with amazing regularity. The fact that the moviegoer of today is receptive to changes has given an impetus to 'multiplex cinema' that's slowly and steadily taking over India. Think out of the box, is the new mantra!

Being Cyrus is a sign of cinema that defies the stereotype. It travels a path not many films would dare to venture into. Debutante director Homi Adajania not only opts for a story that may seem bizarre to many, even the execution of the material is innovative and distinguished.

Being Cyrus is definitely not one of those routine Hinglish/English films that pretends to be cool and with the times. It's more on the lines of European cinema that has to be viewed minutely, for the layers are peeled in such a way that it takes time to fathom the goings-on. If you've missed an earlier link, chances are you wouldn't comprehend the one that's unraveling presently.

Now, if this is the strength of Being Cyrus, it's also a deterrent. For, a film like Being Cyrus, though well-made, caters to an extremely tiny segment of moviegoers in India: The elite, the thinking audience and those who've an appetite for hatke cinema. In that respect, yes, it has its limitations!

Being Cyrus revolves around a Parsi family, Sethnas. A retired sculptor Dinshaw [Naseeruddin Shah] lives with his wife Katy [Dimple Kapadia] in Panchgani, while brother Farokh [Boman Irani], his wife Tina [Simone Singh] and father Fardoonjee [Honey Chhaya] live in Mumbai.

Cyrus [Saif Ali Khan] shows up at Dinshaw's house in Panchgani and offers to be an assistant. He spends a year with them and in the process a romance seemingly brews between Katy and him.

He then arrives at Farokh's house in a Parsi locality in Mumbai. Farokh takes care of their father [who lives in a room in their Mumbai apartment] and does not treat him too well. Cyrus befriends the father.

As the movie proceeds, you realize that everything is not right with the Sethna family. Not just that, even Cyrus comes across as a strange personality. The plot slowly unfurls, revealing morbid and unanticipated sides of many.

Not just the language, even the premise of Being Cyrus is English. Meaning, though the film tells the story of a dysfunctional Parsi family, the film tends to get intellectual as also abstract at times. Although the story is easy to comprehend at the start, you realize you've to focus minutely the moment Saif starts visiting the father's dilapidated flat in a Parsi colony.

Director Homi Adajania has handled portions with dexterity. Not once do you feel you're watching a film that has been directed by a first-timer. The best part of the enterprise is the way Adajania has handled the various relationships: The Naseer-Dimple-Saif portions at the start, the prickly bond between Boman Irani and the father [Honey Chhaya] and the climax, which, obviously, we wouldn't want to reveal. Even the ambience at the Parsi colony is perfect.

But the film tends to get abstract at times [screenplay: Kersi Khambatta, Homi Adajania]. For instance, the strategy Saif uses to frame Naseer and Dimple looks far-fetched and is difficult to absorb. Even the end -- although it comes as a shock -- will not be comprehended easily. Ditto for the sequence between Saif and Simone in the finale.

Cinematography [Jehangir Chowdhury] is up to the mark. Background music [Salim-Sulaiman] has an international feel.

Being Cyrus is embellished with fine performances, something that's expected from an ensemble cast. Naseer is flawless yet again. He is outstanding in the sequence when he cuts his foot while trying to pluck flowers from a well. Dimple is first-rate as the philandering housewife.

Saif is only consolidating his status as a dependable actor with every film. He is superb once again. Boman Irani evokes instant hatred, that impactful is his performance. He is exceptional in the sequence when he breaks into a fight with one of the lady-neighbors and also at a bonesetter's consulting room. Simone Singh is highly efficient. Honey Chhaya is perfect. Manoj Pahwa [the cop] excels.

On the whole, Being Cyrus is more of a Festival film that should ideally appeal to the elite and mature audiences at the metros in the domestic market. At the box-office, in the absence of any worthwhile entertainment in the marquee, the film should find patronage from the multiplex audience mainly.

Topics: naseruddin shah, dimple kapadia, boman irani
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