The film takes place in the 60s and is about the murder of a film actress. Ravi Kumar (Himesh) is a police officer turned actor, a South superstar who stars in his first Hindi film. The heroine of the film is the actress who is murdered. Not many people like this actress and so when she is murdered, there are many suspects. The rest of the film is about how Ravi Kumar solves the mystery. Some bits of the film are said to be inspired from the death of Meena Kumari whose 1972 film Pakeezah became a hit only after her death.
The Xposé is an interesting film. I’m not sure how to label it. It’s definitely not a typical film for Hindi cinema. It’s strangely, kind of artistic. It’s like a drunk crime thriller novel, with characters from 1960s Hindi films. The story is interesting and I like the unexpected twists when Ravi Kumar is solving the crime. I just wish that more time was spent on that part. It seems a little rushed. They could have shortened the first half and expanded the events in the second half. I guess being a crime thriller, I was expecting a long set of events much like in detective novels where it turns out that the butler is the murderer. Despite this, the film got me to wonder who really killed the actress and I couldn’t guess it, so I think it was done successfully.
The Ravi Kumar character is much more interesting than the story. Himesh is such a guy that one either hates him or loves him. He has a fan following, and then there is a group who criticizes him to death about his songs, his voice and his films. I have never belonged to either category. I think he has his strengths and weaknesses but he is certainly not the worst thing to happen to Hindi cinema as some would like us to believe. I even enjoy his music. I liked his film Radio and even though acting hasn’t been his biggest strength, he has done an interesting role in this film.
In The Xposé, Himesh plays an intelligent, well dressed actor who is really full of himself. He tells the actress working with him: “tumhari takdeer ko dekh kar jalan ho rahi hai ki Ravi Kumar tumhari liye larrayi kar raha hai.*” He has a violent streak and can shoot and beat people without blinking. He gave up smoking, but never gave up the cigarette. Throughout the film, there is an unlit cigarette in Ravi Kumar’s hand but he never smokes. I couldn’t help but giggle when the “smoking is injurious to health” warning came up on the corner of the screen every time the Ravi character was sitting there with an unlit cigarette between his fingers. As uncompassionate he is to his foes, Ravi Kumar is just as compassionate towards the one he loves, another film actress. He never reveals his love but quietly supports and protects her without her knowledge.
Ravi Kumar has a lot of pride, but this pride and his unexpected reserved attitude about love, makes him attractive. Yes, I used the word “attractive” when talking about Himesh! He lost a ton of weight for this film, and his complete look, with a nicely chiseled face, mustache and well ironed suits outlining his thin structure make Himesh quite good looking. I just hope that he is not starving because even his cheeks have disaappeared due to the weight loss and I think that’s not good health wise. I think he can put on a few pounds and he will still have a nice physique because he is very, very thin now. I must say that I respect the dedication that he has, to change his looks so drastically for this film.
Himesh and his new look is not the only different thing going for this film. They also got the singer Yo Yo Honey Singh to play a full role in The Xposé. And Irrfan Khan is the storyteller.
The dialogues of the film are also very amusing. My favorite is when the film director tells the actress who asked him what she has to do for this role: “Na dance, na expression, na pose. Sirf expose.*” Bunty Rathore wrote the dialogues and he has done a great job.
I found the disclaimer in the beginning of the film funny. It says: “This story is inspired by true incidents and characters. However no inference should be drawn with any person living or dead. Any resemblance is purely coincidental.” That’s funny considering that makers of the film gave interviews to Indian newspapers before the release of the film where they said that an incident of the film is inspired from Meena Kumari’s death. They also said that they are exposing Bollywood secrets of the 60s and 70s in this film.
The music of the film is good. I like the background score and the second version of the song Dard Dilo Ke sung by Mohammad Irfan. Himesh, surprisingly, does not sing all of the songs in this film. Some think that this is because he has become conscious of the criticisms some make about his voice. Regardless of why Himesh was willing to have another singer sing in his place, I think he made a good decision. I also think that he is sending the message that he is dedicated to his acting career and does not want to be thought of as only a music composer and singer any longer. I say, we start taking Himesh seriously as an actor. I think he’s very hard working and The Xposé shows that he can in fact make decent films. I personally think he needs to follow the Ravi character and go for different types of films and characters like this. I think he can create a nice niche for himself in cinema.
I should also mention that The Xposé was watched by a record number of people online. So if people say that they don’t like Himesh and that the film sucks, they’re lying. Whether people like it or not, they became interested enough in this film to see it. And as far as the film industry is concerned, that’s all that matters. Success doesn’t equal excellent film reviews, it equals money. A film makes it, at the box office. And it looks like The Xposé made it.
*”I’m getting jealous seeing your fate, that Ravi Kumar is fighting for you.”
* “Neither dance, nor expression, nor pose. Just expose.”