PAAPI –VENGEANCE OR SOFT PORN?
Producer: Sanjoy Roy
Story and Direction: Aziz Sejwal
Dialogues: Debashish Basu
Lyrics: Priyo Chattopadhyay
Cast: Prosenjit, Arya Babbar, Sayantika, Pooja Bharti, Rajesh Sharma and others
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Paapi is a classic example of one end of the spectrum that represents contemporary Bengali cinema where the other end is represented by Moner Manush, Prosenjit being the greatest common factor that bridges these two polarized ends. Paapi is also a microcosm of the broadening of borders of Bengali cinema written and directed by a filmmaker from Bollywood, a titillating hot number from Telugu cinema and a not very successful actor from the Mumbai mainstream. This time, however, the combination fails miserably.
The film appears to be an action thriller with generous doses of blood and violence when it begins. But as the cop-and-robber story unfolds, the narrative goes haywire with the cop (Prosenjeet) taking time off to romance his girlfriend (Sayantika). The robber (Arya Babbar) with two identities, one real (Aditya) and one assumed (Rahul) is fleshed out as a playboy whose conscience has gone on a sabbatical and as a rich business tycoon who has just landed from London, each as unrealistic and illogical as the other. This good-versus-evil story is just a peg to hang all the soft-porn scenes of smooching between Arya Babbar and Pooja Bharti on, creating a record of sorts of soft-porn in Bengali cinema picturised to generate more than enough shock among the entire audience. Sayantika as the police officer’s pretty and lissome girlfriend is relegated to crude song-and-dance numbers like bhaike saala banao in artificially designed gardens and palatial mansions. Prosenjit does not really have much to do except try and play God in police uniform which is as incredible a combination as it is funny. Pooja Bharti seems to have solid experience and little inhibition about performing cleavage-revealing smooching scenes with Arya Babbar. She is quite convincing as the avenging and wronged woman as she is in her prison scenes and in her bikini scenes getting wrapped and caressed all over by Arya Babbar.
Arya Babbar however, could not have made a more disastrous debut in Bengali cinema than in his title role with two faces in Paapi. He is terrible both in appearance and in performance and the very bad dubbing do not help him at all. Shubhayu’s music is as bad as Priyo Chattopadhyay’s lyrics. One suspects whether they took their revenge for not being paid their dues, who knows? Jokes apart, the one sentence needed to sum up Paapi is – it is a bad joke on the audience, on the producer’s money and on Arya Babbar who put a lot of faith into a foothold in Bengali cinema. What a come-down for Arya after that brilliant cameo in Madhur Bhandarkar’s Jail!
-Shoma A. Chatterji