The Ivory-Merchant duo are known for their luxurious-looking films, the camera often caressing each fish-fork with the same love it displays for the protagonist. It's somewhat refreshing here to see Merchant without Iv...展开ory. Merchant's camera displays the same love for detail that the Ivory-Merchant duo's does, except that it is much grittier, caressing the protagonist's vomit with the same attention that it bestows upon his exquisite Jamewaar shawl. I refer to Shashi Kapoor as the protagonist, because he steals the role away from Om Puri. Om Puri plays the timid Deven, a college professor bent on interviewing his idol, the formerly grand but now-alcoholic Urdu poet, Nur. Shashi Kapoor is perfect as the obese, alcoholic, henpecked, decaying poet because his own appearance encapsulates this decay. Those who do not recognize him as the hero in scores of Bollywood films or in many early Ivory-Merchant productions will miss the subtlety of this cinematic reference, because Kapoor's own physical decay perfectly encapsulates the theme of decay that is central to the film. Shabana Azmi is as competent as ever, bringing a hint of feminism to her character's plagiarism of her husband's work, as well as highlighting the inherently masculinist nature of the poetry that confines a woman's role to the object of desire and nothing else.