Prague review: A psychological thriller without the thrills

Mihir Fadnavis

Sep 27, 2013 09:02:47 IST

Debutant filmmaker Ashish Shukla and (relative) newbie screenwriter Sumit Saxena have lots of cool ideas and they don’t want to take the commercial route – on that front, Prague is a neat little experiment. The film could have been equally fascinating had it matched these cool ideas with equally cool execution. Unfortunately, Prague, starring the underrated Chandan Roy Sanyal (Mikhail from Kaminey), is a psychological thriller that merely goes through the motions of a thriller without actually delivering the thrills.

The film starts off on an intriguing note: a man is so caught up with his own insecurities that his only way to have a relationship with someone is by feeling guilt. This is quite a cerebral concept for an Indian film. That an indie film with such a premise released in theaters, despite its unsaleable story and no big stars, is probably triumph enough.

Prague review: A psychological thriller without the thrills

The poster for Prague.

Sadly Prague is not the indie film to lead a revolution, because it’s just not a good movie. One would expect a movie about a man on the verge of a breakdown to be zany and gripping. Unfortunately it winds up being as exciting as a travel brochure about Prague. In every scene, it feels like the filmmaker used a ‘Movie-making for Dummies’ guidebook and missed an opportunity to make a truly great movie with the style and atmosphere that its premise deserved.

Prague caters neither to the mainstream crowd nor indie enthusiasts. The former would probably rue the lack of item numbers and Sallubhai while the latter are likely to constantly be 30 minutes ahead of the characters. Anyone who has watched psychological thrillers will crack the great mystery of Prague in about 15 minutes into the film. To then hang around for two whole hours, knowing what’s going to happen next becomes extremely tedious.

Even formulaic and predictable thrillers can be enjoyable if they make the viewer feel invested in the characters, but Prague fails to do this. Sanyal is talented, but his performance is not particularly interesting here, unlike his co-star Elena Kazan (last seen in John Day) who is quite effortless and has a stronger screen presence.

The characters are very poorly written and they turn out to be just as one-dimensional, ludicrous and unconvincing as the events that unfold around them. The dialogues range from wannabe to cringe inducing. For example, this is the great advice that an idealist stoner dude gives to his friend: "If you f*** a girl, she may or may not end up with you. But if you mindf*** a girl, she will definitely end up with you." These gems would probably work in films like Pyaar Ka Punchnama (which Saxena co-wrote).

The only element of Prague that offers a welcome break from the dreary, amateurish and clichéd story grafted onto a bad two-hour ad for the city of Prague is the music by Atif Afzal and Varun Grover. Director Shukla gets all the music montage scenes just right, but every single one of those scenes are so tonally detached that they seem like they belong in another movie. Pity.

Updated Date: Sep 27, 2013 09:02:47 IST