Friday, October 12, 2012

Keep It Up Bollywood

The last few weeks have been a season of movie watching for me. And I am surprised. I haven’t been disappointed with a single movie. None of them was typical boy girl romance. All the themes were fresh and proved that a movie can do well even if it does not have sex and violence.

Looks like Bollywood is doing a good job. Keep it up.


Burfi was sweet : )

There is a bit of drawl but perhaps it is inevitable when the central characters are deaf, mute and autistic.

Ranbir has acted really well.

Ileana. There isn’t much to her acting. The one expression of ‘oh-cho-chweeeeeet-I-feel-like crying’ is recurring in several frames.
At least her pretty face would have fit in nicely. But even that was not to be.
I have seen her before and I thought she was gorgeous. But now, with all the weight she has lost, she looks anorexic and needing hospitalization. Some of the frames in which she is exposing her collar bones, oh! She looks like a Somalian woman, no exaggeration at all.

Priyanka is perfect for the role. I think she is one heroine who hasn’t aged at all. At all.
In this movie too, there aren’t traces of much makeup but she looks like a school kid. She has acted well too, though I sometimes think, it’s easy to perform in the roles of an autistic and a lunatic person. Rani Mukherjee, in comparison, had a lot more to do in Black.

It is relieving that the movie does not overemphasize the sorry-difficult plight of the physically mentally challenged and comes to the point, avoiding the tragic mood thereby. Why, the deaf mute Ranbir far from being tragic, is funny, cute and at times, endearing.
It is interesting that the script includes some mystery and thrill – kidnapping and bank robbery... but sensibly, lightweight mystery and thrill that blends with the mood of the rest of the movie.

The misty and green small town setting that is yesterday’s Darjeeling definitely adds a charm to the movie which would not have been the same if it were set in urban Bombay or Delhi of today.
A movie maker can seldom go wrong with setting a story in the past, for past has a nostalgic charm, inherent in all pasts, and it takes good care of at least 50 percent of the overall effect.

But there was no need to have the story narrated from the present time through it’s various characters, now old and sad looking, going back at what happened 50 years ago. The movie could have dwelt completely in the time of the story, without there being ‘a present time’, as in Parineeta, for instance. Temporal shifts could have been avoided.
That way the viewer could have been completely transported to a past and without jerking them back to the present now and then.

Also the story could have ended with the marriage of Barfi and Jhillmill. How they lived afterwards could have been left to the viewer’s imagination. There was no need to go all the way to their old age, and show them together in their deathbed as well.

Going overboard, is surely one thing moviemakers should beware of.


I loved the movie. There is a good story here, packed with interesting turns throughout. I can’t remember a single frame that’s wasted. No unnecessary lingering, dilly dallying...
What also makes it rich (if I may say so) is the variety of roles included in the movie. Each role is so distinct.
The problem with any book, movie, script is never really ‘too many characters’, as long as they all have distinct and meaty roles. It’s when multiple characters perform in similar roles, or when there characters that are not necessary, that there is a problem and the viewer feels there are ‘too many characters...’

It brings home very well the message that ‘those in the glamour world, in their chase after success and glory don’t realize what they are losing’.
The story does not help to make a generalization however, because the central character in the movie, Maahi, is shown, not as a typical Bollywood heroine having typical situations to deal with, but a special case of an impatient, impulsive, vulnerable woman, not bitchy, good at heart, subject to anxiety, needs help at times and reckless at other times.

If the movie attempted to reveal the plight of the true lives of Bollywood heroines, it would have to make generalizations and therefore would need a different character sketching of its heroine.

And I am glad that Aishwarya did not get to do the movie. Kareena is definitely better suited to the role, though I don’t like her. She has acted well. Good job really.
And what more, the movie ratifies the utter contempt and pity I have for the glamour world and its people.


No love story. No violence. No thrill. Just a good story for family viewing. That’s what I call maturity. It’s amazing that these fellows in Bollywood, as they talk about sex becoming rampant and accepted these days, defend it saying ‘Indian audiences have matured!”

Anyway, a lovely movie, I thought.

And I liked the fact that they haven’t gone overboard as they show the embarrassment of the family - husband and children – at the woman’s inability to speak English.
It is kept subtle and real and therefore avoids a typical Bollywood folly, which usually is a compulsion for stressing every damn point.

In dealing with such a theme, most of the movies go overboard and overemphasize the unhappy position of a central character – over victimization and making other characters seem like villains who are shown oppressing and persecuting the main one (to the exasperation of the audience) – something which is impossible to relate to because people are never so villainous in reality, may be insensitive in varying degrees, that’s all.

The husband and children are shown to be loving her generally but occasionally embarrassed at her not knowing English and taking her for granted (without realizing it) as housewives usually are taken for granted.

The attraction between Shashi and the French guy, a classmate from English tuition classes, is also kept very brief and very subtle. If they had gone any further, they would have unnecessarily brought in a contradiction in the character of Shashi.

Although the title gives a general impression that the movie attempts to question the importance attached to the English language, the central character in the movie, Shashi, initially mocked at and a cause of embarrassment because of her not knowing English, eventually gains ‘respect, love and acceptance’ not by proving that she is more capable/intelligent/wise than others despite her not knowing English, but by proving that she could learn to speak English too! But that’s just a minor point.
A well made movie, on the whole.

One point though. High time Sridevi learnt the proper Hindi accent! It’s so South Indian at times.
But a good job of sari draping. It’s something you cant miss.


It’s an experiment in script writing.

A man, Kanji, not religious and denied insurance settlement for the collapse of his shop in an earthquake(an act of God not covered by the insurance company), sends a court notice to God as well as the insurance company.

There is a battle in court between Kanji, religious heads and the insurance company; Krishna himself descends to protect him from the wrath of priests, guides Kanji, who mocks at religion and who sent a court notice to God(Himself) !!! and the Kanji wins in the end.

It is entertaining, it is a fresh theme, its humorous and it’s riveting too.

But it has alas, made some typical Bollywood blunders.
It has gone overboard. In trying to deliver a ‘message’, instead of keeping it a total comedy.
In overemphasizing the issue of blind faith.

Making priests look like scheming underworld dons was totally unnecessary.
All the snarling, thundering that they make those saffron robe clad men do, only a fool would take.

The message, if any intended, in the rhetoric ‘dont go to a temple after today, dont visit any ashram, don’t contribute a rupee to the boxes kept in temples, Godmen are demons...’ is an example of the age old blunder of trying to uproot a tree as a cure for a few decaying leaves.

The movie should have completely avoided ‘the message for the society’ and remained a lightweight comedy, packing in some more wit and humour and showing more of ‘matching of wits’.

Parts of the movie giving a ‘message’ are a digression.

Casting Akshay Kumar as Krishna was cool. It’s done so well, it seemed perfectly possible and acceptable. Didn’t seem like a joke/parody at all, as I would have thought, had someone narrated the story to me. Akshay has done a good job too. He has taken his role really seriously.

Tisca Chopra is simply gorgeous! What a nice red sari and a red bindi to go with.


Radhika said...

will watch them, sowmya :-)

Sowmya said...

Welcome to this blog and thanks Radhika, my childhood friend and well wisher ;) Hope to see you here often...

Nitish Ratnam said...

Good one Chomi, hey by the way you will get your books in Jan.

Sowmya said...

Hey Nitish,
Welcome back after a long while... keep coming here more often...

Look forward to meeting you...