Witness and Paap – Bollywood Interpretations and Hollywood Originals – I
A young boy is waiting in a Philadelphia station with his mother. He goes to the bathroom and becomes a silent witness to a murder. The detective in charge of the case discovers that the murderer is a senior police officer. He shares this finding with the Chief of Police. Within hours, an attempt is made on the detective’s life. He gets shot caught in the gun battle but manages to drive away with the boy and his mother to their Amish village in rural Pennsylvania, where she nurses him. Close proximity, physical contact, good looks cast their magic. The Inspector and the widowed young mother get attracted to each other to the dismay and outrage of the woman’s father. Eventually, the bad cops discover his hideout, a gun-battle ensues and the detective kills the bad cops. At the end, in true Hollywood fashion, the detective tells the Amish woman that he cannot tear her away from her life and leaves. This is the story of Witness, an excellent male-oriented action film that stars Harrison Ford as the detective and Kelly McGillis as the young Amish widow.
In the ethereal Himalayan mountains, lives a stern father with his young daughter. His goal is for her to join the Buddhist Math. The young woman discovers a romantic poet inside her. She composes her poetry in secret and tries to hide her book as well as her feelings from her father. One day, a handsome young man comes in to her life. The young woman is caught in a struggle between her feelings for the young man and her upbringing. The father deeply disapproves of the developing attraction between the young man and woman. He chastises the young woman and accuses her of sin (hence the title Paap or sin). In the end, in the true Bollywood fashion, the father sees the light and lets his young daughter go. This is a sensitive female-oriented story, a classic tale of the emotional pressures on a young woman growing up in an orthodox, conservative household.
Two totally different tales that are poles apart emotionally!
Yet, Paap weaves these two tales together seamlessly and creates a wonderful cinematic experience. The Himalayan scenery is pristine and beautiful. The Young Officer is played by the John Abraham in his prime. The movie introduces Udita Goswami, a tall, svelte young woman who is a perfect fit for the part.
Paap opens with both a visual and a musical delight; Udita Goswami swimming underwater in white lingerie in a Himalayan lake composing her poetry (who are we to question the muse of a poet), her thoughts are heard in a beautiful soft song called Intezaar (or “wait”). Rather than reading our description, view this song on You Tube at http://www.You Tube.com/watch?v=Ko7vpOSy6Tw
Udita Goswami is asked to go to Delhi to pick up a young boy who is heralded as the reincarnation of a great Lama. During the return trip, the young boy witnesses a murder in the hotel bathroom. Enter the tale of the movie Witness. The scenes of the sub-plot of the murder and the investigation are very similar to the scenes from Witness.
Unlike Witness, the real story of Paap is the developing attraction between Udita Goswami and John Abraham, the young Inspector whom she nurses. This is treated with a subtle tenderness that makes Paap a success. For a brief but gorgeous glimpse of how the attraction develops, view the song “Lage tumse manki lagan” on You Tube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W77tM1Vyv_8&feature=related
The end is classically Bollywood. The father realizes his mistake and permits his daughter to embrace her new life with her love. Our description may be trite but the final scene of the movie is not.
Paap is visually beautiful and sensual. Udita Goswami is perfect for this role and virtually carries the film. The exquisite music of Paap uses only three songs, each a background score that enhances the visual impact of the scene.
Only Bollywood could have taken a terrific male-oriented action film like Witness and adapted it beautifully to a female-oriented tender tale like Paap. Get a DVD of Paap from your neighborhood store and watch it. Then tell us what you thought of the film and our comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.