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Rebecca in Rajasthan

Anamika is “the untold story” that has been told many times on stage and so masterfully on screen that it could have done without an Ananth Narayan Mahadevan remake. It’s Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca from start to finish, as seen in Alfred Hitchcock’s classic screen interpretation.

The rip-off is an audacious one, too. Though elsewhere in Bollywood, one producer has had to cough up Rs 2 for a single music loop, Mahadevan has credited the story all to himself! That’s not his only crime. Stripping Rebecca of all its mystery and suspense, the director has not even come close to capturing the spirit of the novel.

For those who haven’t read the original or seen Hitchcock’s version, Anamika is about a rich widower who marries a naive young girl but cannot escape the grasp of his dead wife. The entire mansion seems to reverberate with her memory, casting a shadow too long for the shy new bride to counter.

Vikram Aditya Singh (Dino) is the young heir to a Rajasthani citadel who marries a meek Mumbai girl Jiya (Minissha) to forget his first wife, Anamika, and start life afresh. But once back in the huge haveli, everything from the table napkin to the ballroom reminds him of Anamika.

The other players in the game are Malini (Koena), a caretaker who has grown up with Vikram and his sister and brother-in-law.

The real charm of Rebecca lay in the mystery surrounding the dead wife. You never see her but the mere mention of her name was enough for an eerie mood transition. In Anamika, nothing of that sort happens. The screenplay moves so slowly that you feel like giving it a helpful push along the way. It has no urgency and does not even excite interest in discovering what happens next.

The cast does an okay job. Minissha Lamba, who is in almost every frame of the film, is refreshing yet again, letting her vulnerability speak volumes. Unfortunately, she can’t dance, but given the kind of songs Anu Malik has churned out for the film, even Shakira would have shied away.

Dino Morea plays the suave charmer effectively. Expecting anything more from him in the emotional scenes is asking way too much. Koena Mitra was never an actor and Anamika shouldn’t change anything there.

There’s really nothing to recommend in Anamika. It’s one of those films which should have gone straight to home video. Arriving on the big screen on a Friday is a waste of time for so many people — from the ushers in the empty halls to bored critics like us.

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