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Culture Movies
Culture: Naqaab
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Monday, 23 July 2007 Written by Henry Midgley

Rich and handsome
Naqaab rides high at the moment in the UK box office- and in reality there are good reasons for that. It has many features which would and should attract viewers- set in the luxurious capital of the UAE, Dubai, the film's background is filled with skyscrapers, appartments that must cost millions, swimming pools and beautiful people partying. Many of the films characteristics are exemplified in its opening shots- a wonderfully photographed sequence of DVD and CD covers melting and melding into each other disapointingly segues into a video of the sexy starlet who fronts the film, Urvashe Sharma, in various poses. Both sequences though reveal something about the film- the DVD and CD covers reveal that this is essentially a film about fakeness, a film attempting to uncover deeper meanings behind the glamour- but to use your main actress's body as a chief selling point is to reveal that ultimately no matter how arty your film, your thinking and your ideas are profoundly shallow.

That was ultimately my impression of this film- it is incredibly shallow- the plot insofar as one cares about any of these characters is incredibly complicated- indeed it is so complicated that by the end it is difficult to know who is deceiving who and more importantly for what end. It all revolves around a supposed love triangle- but these folk seem to switch devoutly even murderously held passions for people in an afternoon- swooning over one man, our heroine is perfectly capable of dancing with another and falling passionately in love with him. Our heroine indeed is the most culpably drawn character in all of this- she oscillates between the epitome of naivety and an incredible cynicism.

But furthermore throughout the film all the characters seem to care about is the glamour of their surroundings- again take our female lead. She is undeniably attractive- but she is also shallow and vain. This is a girl who wants luxury and sees marriage as a way to that luxury- as do her friends, silly and vapid as they are. There is a kind of purposelessness about their lives- their destiny is to manufacture children and grandchildren with the same perfect white teeth that they have- a purpose which would scarcely satisfy a beetle let alone a full grown woman. But the vapid nature of the film goes further- the girl in question Sophia is a migrant worker working in Abu Dhabi- working in Burger King, a fashion salon and on at one point an oil rig (how her coiffure manages to be perfect in all situations is an intriguing question!). Of course the plight of migrant workers in the Middle East is a live political issue- especially when they come from South East Asia- but in this film, apparantly being a burger king worker is the equivalent of being a princess as long as you can find a rich enough husband. The end of the film deals with celebrity culture but in a similar way- the flashing bulbs here are not an annoyance but merely a glamorous accessory- this is the life of Paris Hilton, the way that a wannabe Paris Hilton might shoot it!


or poor and sexy which will she take
The film is an attempt to deal with the difference between appearance and reality- there is a twist that I won't reveal (its the equivalent though of the story ending beloved by children and hated by English teachers- it was all a dream) but it never really explores the subject at all. The point is that we never know anything about these implausible characters- so ultimately if they are all lying to each other noone cares. That lack of plausibility is reinforced by some farcical acting- or should I say overacting. Sharma is particularly guilty of treating acting as an art of switching between already chosen expressions- she can do her angry look, her sexy look, her knowing look- and she will switch between them without allowing you any insight into the emergance of one from the other. She is not a human, but a shuffling pack of cards, with different facets of personality coming out on top as the script requires.

Overall Naqaab is neither a good film nor an interesting film. Its directors and writers deserve to be thoroughly ashamed of the effort that they have put in. However its better moments are its set pieces- a dance number in particular is wonderfully choreographed. The sequence at the beggining with the DVD and CD covers is also perfectly photographed. A sequence in a hotel where Sophia and her boyfriend Vicky manage to steal some food is perfect for capturing the illicit tones of young love- and for a moment that photography gets a real feeling something that the majority of the film fails to capture.

Despite these moments of brilliance- the mundanity and stupidity of the rest of the film lets it down- sickly sweet it cloys the tastebuds- at the end of the film your reviewer had the definite impression that it offers up a vision of the life of the beautiful people- a vision which manages to fail to be attractive or to be critical- to advocate the boring life of a set of perfectly manicured pigs in a very shiny sty!