"Jurm" is a cadaverous thriller that turns more corny with every scene. It tries to subvert and overturn the faithful wife tradition of a Hindu marriage by making the wife, Sanjana (Lara Dutta), more of a libertine than Shabana Azmi in "Log Kya Kahenge" and Aishwarya Rai in "Khakee".
Three years ago, director Vikram Bhatt had cast Bipasha Basu as yet another wife named Sanjana in the successful "Raaz". She went all out to protect her husband from evil forces. But how can anyone protect the people in this doomed project?
Sanjana in "Jurm" goes the other way. She gangs up with her husband Avinash's best friend Rohit, disinherits him and leaves him for dead. "Double Jeopardy" anyone? That was the story of a wronged wife, framed and put in jail by an avaricious spouse whom she seeks out and punishes.
Bhatt gives his protagonist a sex change and then leaves the plot instead of the protagonist for dead.
Deol, trying hard to look wronged and tragic, tells the sympathetic shoulder (Gul Panag): "The law punishes the wrongdoer, but doesn't enjoy giving punishment. I want to punish my tormentors and enjoy myself." Wish we could share the emotion.
For the audience, "Jurm" is one lengthy and painful excursion into crime time. Dead at the centre, pale at the edges, the narration is replete with gaping holes and absurdities that director Bhatt tries to fill up with a certain surface sleekness.
The hot chase between the wronged husband and the wanton wife moves to Malaysia in the second half. This gives cinematographer Pravin Bhatt a chance to cruise through the foyers of plush hotels. Alas, the camera does little justice to the actors who seem to project a dejected depletion in their demeanour.
While Bobby is sincere, Lara is once again misused. Her inconsistent looks and excessive makeup takes away from her innate loveliness. Lara deserves a lot better than what Bhatt gives or going by his recent track record, should I say, is capable of giving.
Her act as the unfaithful wife is grotesquely unworthy of her. Kareena Kapoor did a similar role in Ken Ghosh's "Fida" with a lot more support from the director and cast. The other female actor, Gul Panag, is made to get into a hideous wig and crimson lipstick and seduce Shakti Kapoor.
Milind Soman who plays the villainous lawyer doesn't even get to speak in his own voice. Vikram Bhatt jumps into the soundtrack to do the needful.
The cast and production values are way below par. "Jurm" is one more instance of wasted opportunity that mainstream Hindi cinema specialises in. Its inert and underdeveloped characters scream a story of sad, sobbing impotency, as the plot takes off on a cruise through the pulpiest fiction obtainable to our cinema. "Jurm" is too brain-dead to qualify as a potboiler.