7 Khoon Maaf is wickedly original
This tale of love, sex and deceit, is based on a short story by Ruskin Bond and the protagonist is Susanna, a super rich orphan presiding over a gothic bungalow and a coterie of loyal servants.
Enter husband number one, a army man who has lost his leg in Operation Blue Star and seems to compensate with a heightened suspicion and hatred for his young beautiful wife.
He in due course becomes panther food, thanks to Susanna. And like the computer generated beast in the film she too has tasted her first blood. There is no stopping her now.
Then follows a procession of spouses. A wannabe rockstar who has a taste for plagiarizing songs, cross dressing and of course heroin; a soft-spoken poet who turns into a torturer by night; a Russian spy who Susanna alleges has a wife in every country among others.
While watching the stunning protagonist annihilate each of her highly unsuitable husbands, the viewer is bound to think, why does not the woman simply divorce these fellows.
But as her trusted butler says, Saheb is not someone who changes her ways. And that is where, the film, brilliantly shot in a colour palette of rich tones and lush backdrops, falters. The audience soon loses sympathy for Sussana.
After the murder of her fifth husband, she becomes a deluded Miss Havisham like character, unsuccessfully trying to seduce the young orphan she befriended who has now returned as a young doctor (Vivaan Shah), trying to hold on to the last bit of her swiftly passing youth.
As she moves from one man to another, you wish she gave you some reason for her violent ways other than the fact that the man was not good in bed. The death of her ill-fated fifth husband, a sarkari babu she sleeps with to avoid prison for the murder of her fourth, is comical.
The high-point of the film is it`s performances with Priyanka, justifying the director`s casting choice, with a stellar performance as the vulnerable-but often deranged Susanna.
She is aptyly supported by the actors playing her husbands, with Neil Nitin Mukesh throwing a surprise with his menacing tenacity.