Movie review: Anubhav, An Actor’s Tale

Cast: Sanjay Suri, Gul Panag, Anoop Menon, Sudha Chandran, Jackie Shroff, Mita Vashishth, Raj Zutshi

Director: Rajeev Nath

How does a self-respecting actor, struggling to make it big in the movies, end up becoming a paid-for toy boy? A few years ago, a film called 'Oops' made a stab at the still-uncomfortable, still-taboo topic of male sexual exploitation, but it didn't push too many boundaries : the hunky lads stripped and danced, and lusty ladies showered notes on them.

'Abubhav, An Actor's Tale', takes the argument further. Theatre actor Anubahv (Sanjay) rebuffs the advances of a lonely co-star (delightfully termed as a 'refusal to compromise' in Bollywoodspeak), and gets stuck on the sidelines of showbiz. A fatally-ill baby, and a delusional wife (Gul) pushes him straight into the arms of a cheery pimp (Raj), and a series of beds, making needy, rich women happy in return for ready cash.

Good idea, sleazy execution. That a gigolo also has his 'majboori' is a valid point, and Sanjay's act has pathos, but the plot is improbable: in his situation in the film, he had other ways to go. The director falls into the trap of showing and telling: unattractive flesh is flashed, unsavoury lines are spoken, and it all turns crass. Pity, because this subject could have done with nuanced, sensitive handling.

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