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See No Evil

Wednesday, January 30, 2019
By Deepa Gahlot

There was a hit Gujarati play called Aandhlo Pato (Blind Man’s Buff) written by Aatish Kapadia about twenty years ago, that was turned into the Hindi film Aankhen (starring Amitabh Bachchan), about a group of blind people trained to rob a bank.

A new play, with the same title, written and directed by Anil Kakde, and adapted by the lead actor Vipul Vithlani, is not a remake, but has a visually challenged man as its protagonist-- Major Veer Pratap Singh (Vithlani), living in a secluded cottage, seeming alone, with just a dog for company.

One night, three youngsters Sonal, Vijay and Raju (Yogita Chauhan, Siddharth Bhuptani, Paresh Bhatt), break into the house, drug the dog, knock out the major, and try to open a locked door. Raju, who is deaf, has dropped his hearing aid, and becomes the initiator of a series of comic gags; things are complicated by Sonal’s muteness. Power in the cottage keeps going on the blink and the major keeps an electric radio on to know when there is light—when it goes quiet, it means the power is off.

The three make for very noisy burglars, slowed down by the communication problems and the erratic power supply. Then Veer wakes up, catches hold of Vijay, hits him on the head with his own revolver, and ties him to a chair. He does not know how many accomplices Vijay has, so there are some laughs as well as tension generated by Raju and Sonal trying to stay silent and out of the Major’s way. Just before intermission there is a murder and a twist in the tale.

In the second act, the plot goes on to a different track altogether, to explain what has gone before, including a couple of flashbacks.

Resemblance to the Fede Alvarez film Don’t Breathe (2016) could not be coincidental; added to it is a sprinkling of the comedy play See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil, and a bit of the film Rang De Basanti—a proper bhelpuri mix, which works in fits and starts, and has fairly good performances by Vipul Vithlani and Paresh Bhatt. It needs to be speeded up a lot more, though, if the physical comedy is to be effective. Also, there is patriotism blended in, which is the flavour of the season.

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