KHAMOSH (1985) : A THRILLER PAR EXCELLENCE THAT FLEW UNDER THE RADAR

As I dwelled into various readings about Bollywood, I couldn’t help but notice a lot of “Best Bollywood Films” lists featuring a film called “Khamosh”. A film that I had never heard of before. The fact that it was directed by Vidhu Vinod Chopra (who at that time called himself just Vidhu Vinod) and is one of my favorite Bollywood directors made it that much more interesting for me to somehow get my hands on this film. As is the case with obscure Bollywood films, Khamosh was very difficult to find. The film seemed to have had a DVD release but that was nowhere to be found. Finally a few days ago I found it on Youtube. It was definitely not an official print but it was up long enough for me to watch it twice back to back. I believe it’s still up there even though I am not sure for how long.

The film revolves around a film crew involved in shooting an evidently B-Grade murder mystery in Pahalgam. The crew is about to wrap up the schedule when a mysterious murder guised as a suicide shakes their somewhat blissful existence. The police are all over the case and a CID officer is sent to the spot to investigate the murder. As he is trying to nab the culprit, more mayhem ensues as more people are killed and the case gets more complicated by the minute.

What I loved about the film?

  • There are very few Bollywood thrillers were you cannot predict the murder until the very end. Khamosh is one such film. I couldn’t predict the killer let alone his/her motives till the final reveal was made. The director wonderfully leads us to different characters who in fact had the inclination and reasons to kill and makes us believe in a line of action that is taken away from us with interesting twist and turn of events.
  • The film is divided into quadrants and every quadrant makes us believe that we have found the murderer but by the time we reach the end of that quadrant we are lured into some other character who we now believe is the murderer.
  • It is interesting to note that the real killer and his motives were laid out to us within the first half an hour of the film. But it is so well guised and subtly done that the chances are slim that the viewers will catch a wind of it.
  • Throughout its runtime, the film presents a look and feel of being a gritty diploma film. Owing to the meager budget and resources, this film is made in a manner that has absolutely no shine and gloss attached to it. I cannot dwell enough on how well it complements the mood and feel of the film. It is exactly what the need of the hour was and it elevates the film to a whole new level of realism.
  • The performances are one of the reasons that make the film what it is. Naseeruddin Shah, Amol Palekar, Pankaj Kapoor, Ajit Vachani, Soni Razdan, Sadashiv Amrapurkar, Sudhir Misra are all at the top of their game. There are multiple facets to every character and at some point of time or the other, we think them to be guilty of the heinous crime.
  • Khamosh is a nail-biter from start to finish. There is a feel to the whole film that is not only unsettling but also highly uneasy. Until the credits rolled I was constantly in discomfort. That is the power of Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s filmmaking.

Why you should watch it?

  • It is the kind of film that is not just entertaining but highly affecting
  • I can pinpoint numerous thrillers that took queues from this film and that is for understandable reasons.
  • Khamosh has been lost for a very long time but with the growth of the internet culture and people’s interest in obscure Bollywood films, its popularity is on the rise. It’s only a matter of time before the film finds takers among the young generation and it gets its own and well-deserved cult following.
  • Khamosh can be watched by people who are interested in low budget independent filmmaking as they can not only get inspiration from a terrific film that was made on a shoestring budget but also learn how to use the deficiencies to their advantage and build a film around it that feels authentic and makes the most of the resources at hand.

Final Words:

Khamosh is the kind of film that shows us all that is the very best in Bollywood. It is made with a kind of urgency that is reminiscent of a filmmaker who is enthralled by the extent to which he can pull the envelope of minimalistic movie making. It gave me the feel of being made by a man who has just fallen in love with the art form and that is exactly what makes this film so very organic and enjoyable.

Rating: 4.5/5 (4.5 out of 5 Stars)

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