Seeing this movie was the most fun I've had at the cinema in a long time. However, I am not able to say whether this is a good or a bad film, because such simple qualifications simply cannot be applied.
This picture has everything any movie could ever have. It has characteristics of a romantic comedy, a political commentary, a thriller, a drama, an action movie, a musical, and an absurdist self-conscious art film. It's all in there, adding up to a myth.
The basic premise is about an Indian couple, Nandini (Karishma Kapoor) and Shekhar (Sanjay Kapoor), happily living in Canada, who rush to India to visit the husband's parents after a disturbing news report. The rest of the story takes place in India, where the couple find themselves in the midst of a plot of fratricidal violence. At one point, the story borrows from "Not without my baby," but to call Shakti a remake of anything would be an injustice.
The ostensible story line takes a backseat to a number of astonishing interruptions, including Shah Rukh Khan's dream of Aishwarya Rai which comes as if out of another movie. In fact, the two stars are on all the posters, but they appear really late in the film, and only Shah Rukh ends up being a real character. Yet he makes up for it with a spirited and truly unexpected performance.
Karishma Kapoor is the one with most work to do in this film, and she does an admirable job, having to link up the film's twists and turns with a show of believable emotion. Another notable presence is Nana Patekar, who plays Narsimha, the tyrannical father of the husband Shekhar. Nana Patekar dominates every scene he's in with a scary but nuanced character.
The movie is not without its share of realism. Violence is rampant, but truly disturbing in the abuse received by most of the female characters, with Karishma getting soundly beaten on a number of occasions. At times, this violence is clearly disturbing but ultimately it becomes surreal as every dramatic sequence is usually followed by such comic and spectacular turns that the overall effect is nothing but cathartic.
I have seen a share of Bollywood releases, and the mixing of genres and incredible plot resolutions are certainly their norm. But "Shakti" raises the bar by absorbing an even greater masala without becoming ridiculous. It is a film that achieves the grandeur of a Shakespearian tragedy, where the audience of the rabble and royalty is equally entertained. It is pure, gratuitous cinema, and the director Krishna Vamsi must have had a dream of a good time by throwing in every trick in the book. Perhaps, the all-important message of violence begetting violence and the inspiring extents of motherly love were not the thoughts on my mind, but I came out of watching "Shakti" exhilarated. Making movies can be the most fun in the world