When I first heard that Manorama- Six Feet Under is a remake of Polanski’s Chinatown, my interest in the film was gone. But after watching Dev D, I suddenly found myself fascinated by Abhay Deol. So, finally I decided to watch Manorama. This film came as a pleasant surprise to me. The very first five minutes of the film, with a very skillful long take, made me realize that this film is much above my expectations- in fact by the end of the film I realized that it is, probably one of the best film in the last 10 years!
Manoama is an artistic tribute to Chinatown. I have three reasons to support it. Firstly, it is set on the historical disputes over land and water rights of 1930′s Los Angeles, when it was merely a desert. To match this, Director Navdeep Singh sets this film in a small town in Rajasthan. Secondly, the very film noir element of Chinatown is kept intact in Manorama. I felt like watching a film by the Coen brothers. Thirdly, every scene of Chinatown is shot with Jack Nicholson in it, i.e., the film is taken from the protagonist’s point of view- letting the viewers move along with the detective, and ultimately the detective outsmarting the viewers by cracking the case. A perfect framework for thrillers. Manorama follows this formula religiously and makes magic out of it! I remember I loved a television series- Vyomkesh Bakshi, for the very same reason.
Wonderfully directed- I really wonder why Navdeep Singh still does not have a page in Wikipedia! The film brilliantly eliminates the ‘She’s my sister and my daughter!’ element of Chinatown to suit Indian audiences. Though Raima Sen has a heavy Bengali accent not suitable for her character, everything else works out for this film. From screenplay through cinematography to editing. This film is a tight slap on today’s cinematographers who replace cinematography with expensive locations- here cinematographer Arvind Kannabiran never goes into larger details of the desert, yet you can almost feel the heat of the desert and sand on your face- this is one that film silently hits that bull’s-eye!
I give it 7.5/10.