Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Dhund That To Me One More Time

Like so many bad horror films I've watched over the years, 2003's Dhund: The Fog (original review here) has improved with time. Not that it's necessarily any better, as such, but it was a lot better on the second viewing.

Some of this may be because, when I first saw Dhund in 2007, I had a limited frame of reference for Hindi films. My first encounter had been via the comic stylings of Salman Khan and Govinda, so I probably should have been more charitable to its stretches of so-called comedy. The best word for the early section of lighthearted romance is still "interminable," but now I'm more accustomed to the Bollywood rhythm of slow-paced, non-narrative shenanigans that suddenly take a drastic turn in tone and/or genre.

Certainly the film's logical problems are still noticeable. Like why a heroine who was willing to get some guys arrested for putting her picture in a fashion magazine wouldn't even TELL anyone that a creepy dude has literally threatened her life, broken into her family home, and killed her dog. It seems like she'd be right on top of that. And, unfortunately, the so-called motive for the murder spree is more nonsensical the more you think about it. But the charms I noticed the first time around, like the dramatic musical chord when the villain tosses his hair,and the crazy tub o' blood, are now ones I'm almost as fond of as that redeeming scene in Ruby when the guy gets a cup full of blood out of a pop machine.

Speaking of redeeming, there's really only one word to explain why we watched this again: IRRFAN!

Yes, this is the movie that introduced me to Irrfan Khan.

After this, I next tracked down a movie called The Killer, reviewed here. Yes, it's basically a rip-off of Collateral, but if you can get past the lack of subtitles, you can check out a scene on YouTube that shows off how much better a premise is with Irrfan in a role. It wasn't long before he became my favorite actor: not in Bollywood films, but period.

Now, Irrfan was NOT attractive in Dhund (although if you've seen Maqbool, wowza!), and his part is a pretty one-dimensional villain, but he immediately caught my eye. As he became more famous, appearing in a slew of high-profile American films and working with the likes of Wes Anderson, Danny Boyle, and Ron Howard, my best Bollywood friend has often asked me, "How did you KNOW?"

All I can say is that my years of B-movie watching have helped me develop a spider-sense -- speaking of high-profile American films in which Irrfan was wasted: he was totally set up for more in The Amazing Spider-Man, but then was barely on screen. In Dhund, however silly the story gets, he's super-intense, full of charismatic conviction. And although they ugly him up as much as possible, there's still a handsome framework peeking out underneath.

This is from Jurassic World, in which he also didn't get nearly enough screen time, but totally ruled the movie when he did.

NOTE: I've had a draft of this post revisiting Dhund: The Fog sitting around, and this morning, I woke to the news about Irrfan's death on April 29, 2020. I don't have a summary of anything, but that seems appropriate for this moment in time. Love to all. #irrfanforever

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