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Movie Review: My Birthday Song

Banner: Kahwa Entertainment

Producers: Samir Soni, Sanjay Suri

Director: Samir Soni

Cast: Sanjay Suri, Nora Fatehi, Zenia Starr, Ayaz Khan, Pitobash

Writer: Samir Soni

Music: Joi Barua, Rajeev Bhalla, Nitin K Menon, Ajay Govind, Pawan Rasaily

The story begins with the central character Rajiv telling his therapist why he thinks he suffers from insomnia. He is narrating the events of his 40th birthday, where he throws a party at his home. At the party, he meets Sandy and, with his wife being away, the two spend a torrid night. Rajiv also accidently kills Sandy. Crushed by the murder, Rajiv takes a few pills, washing them down with alcohol before passing out.My Birthday Song is among the many twisted tales we are currently being treated to but this one is a psychological thriller that promises to mess with your mind pretty badly. Written and directed by actor-turned-filmmaker Samir Soni, it uses an Inception-inspired ‘dream within a dream’ concept as the medium of Soni’s directorial debut. The film is a brave attempt but peppered with flaws.

When he wakes up, it is once again the morning of his birthday, and there is no trace of the excesses of the previous night. Rajiv appears to be trapped in a dream-like sequence, where he keeps reliving portions of the night he had spent with Sandy. Desperate to find an explanation for this predicament, he attempts to track her down but this only results in a tragic sequence of events.

Rajiv then experiences disturbing situations connected to the childhood trauma of his parents’ divorce and the family breaking up. How Rajiv solves the puzzle of dreams mixed with reality is what forms the crux of the story.

This is Samir Soni’s first attempt at filmmaking and is a credible one. The script, for the most part, is well written. The execution is also decent except for the time wasted in small talk between the characters. This drags the films to an hour and thirty-six minutes, which is a tad long for a movie like this.

Soni has penned the protagonist’s character quite well, as far as a psychological thriller goes but he is unable to extract the right emotion from his actors. The narrative in the opening sequence, the scene where Rajiv is filmed from behind a steering wheel, the deliberate focus on aesthetics and many other scenes, seem like they have been shot through the lens of an amateurish, artsy director.

As for the story, the plot has a few major flaws, the biggest one being the cinematic liberties taken by the newbie director. When making a thriller and calling it ‘realistic’, it simply does not work to have a series of coincidences taking place just when you want them to. For instance, a close friend mouthing cryptic lines to Rajiv just before his life turns upside-down. Or, the scene where Rajiv, who is not a doctor, decides that Sandy has died because something hit her head instead of calling an ambulance, is ridiculous.

The climax, which keeps the audience confused between dream and reality, is a mix of intrigue and drama, some of which is completely unnecessary. Also, the director has resorted to some textbook tricks to attract the audience, like showing some skin. While the prolonged, visually descriptive sex scenes between the central characters seem unnecessary, they have at least been shot aesthetically. But the editor could easily have snipped several scenes to crank up the pace.

The music of My Birthday Song will probably never make it to any chartbuster list but, thankfully, it doesn’t break the flow of the movie.

More often than not, when Bollywood filmmakers try their hand at making a psychological thriller, they end up giving the audience comedy. But Samir Soni deserves credit for trying to make a genuine thriller and ending up with quite a decent attempt for a first-time director.

Performance-wise, the film revolves around Sanjay Suri and he’s done a great job. Nora Fatehi is decent in her role but is barely there as is the other female lead Zenia Starr, who seems mismatched opposite Suri. Other supporting characters including Ayaz Khan and Pitobash, whose performances are average. Purab Kohli has a blink-and-miss cameo and Soni himself makes a Subhash Ghai-type appearance in one scene.

Verdict: Dud.

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