Sunday, November 08, 2009
Cast: Ranbir Kapoor, Katrina Kaif, Darshan Jariwala, Smita Jaykar, Zakir Hussain
Director: Raj Kumar Santoshi
Runtime: 150 min.
Verdict: A rather amusing and largely charming cinematic comic from the house of Raj that doesn’t quite earn its title
Genre: Romance, Comedy
I should admit. Of my preconceived notions about Mr. Kapoor, who I so conveniently and ignorantly assumed was no more than an annoying face. With ever watching only a single film of his. And who I declare now a stupendous actor. There is stuff he does inside this film which I imagine only Mr. Shah Rukh Khan pulling off. Or Mr. Amitabh Bachchan. Or his dad. This is a fine young talent who has the rare gift of making the absurd work. With great charm too I might add. And absurd is what he has to dish out in spades. And boy what a joy he is. I had mistaken those perennially raised eyebrows as the over exuberance of a silly kid. Exuberance it is, but over the mark it never is, just like it never is with Ms. Amy Adams. And silly he certainly is not. I wonder what a treat Mr. Kapoor would have been in one of them black and white silent comedies of Buster Keaton.
And I wonder about Ms. Kaif, a walking and talking showpiece. You get down to the processing room, you pick up every frame she is in, you remove her from them, and you insert any random object. Any. A mannequin. A poster. Of anyone, even Ms. Kaif. A bush. Even thin air. I daresay the results would be positive. It has to be. You see, Ms. Kaif gives this false hope, whenever it is you look in her general direction, that there is a real flesh and blood person standing there in her slot, only to dash them. Anything else wouldn’t do that. I don’t know dear reader, but how much does hollow beauty work for you. Please note that I haven’t used dumb. Dumb equals to something. Hollow tends towards nothing. And hollow doesn’t work for me zilch. You see, I don’t mind a bad actor. A bad actor, I can at least enjoy a chuckle at his incompetence. With Ms. Kaif, I don’t even know where to start. Ah, she isn’t that beautiful anyway. We human beings, by our very nature, cannot stare at an attractive couch for too long. But if you can, God bless you. You shall enjoy this film even more than I ever shall.
The film. Mr. Santoshi had a notion of making something two-dimensional like one of those Bankeylal comics we would read when we were kids. Reader, two-dimensional not as a limitation, but as an intention. Every emotion, every narrative strand, and every character right there on the surface. There is supposed to be no narrative build-up. Tones are supposed to change at the drop of a hat. Often literally. In my years as a film viewer, I’ve learned that such kind of a narration is the most difficult one to convey. You see, it is all about feeling a particular scene. How well does a scene work? How much have the preceding scenes amused you? You need to in love with the characters for this to work. You need to believe in the place for this to work. There needs to be certain innocence for such filmmaking to work. The good-old 70s entertainer would pull it off with élan. Remember Hera Pheri, where a comic scene (Mr. Bachchan gambling out Asrani) runs into a mystery (Mr. Bachchan running after the man).
Mr. Santoshi, for the most part, makes it work. Hell, he makes it work all the way. Right down to the climactic fight, which is amusing and often hilarious. Mr. Kapoor makes it work. That fantastic actor, Mr. Hussain (Johnny Gaddar, Sarkar) makes it work. These guys have the chops to pull of the screwball. And, intentionally or unintentionally, Mr. Santoshi starts with them. The opening frames, and little balloons immediately put you into the land of comics. A bandit (Mr. Hussain), dressed in black and white stripes, is robbing a bank. And he encounters the goofy Prem (Mr. Kapoor) sliding downhill on a brake-less bicycle. The town is no place familiar. It has no reason to be either, for it exists solely as fantasy. And Mr. Santoshi is wise. He doesn’t oversell it like Mr. Bhansali did it so foolishly in Saawariya. He does it, economically, through small moments, and always pays attention to keep it firmly etched in the background. And it stays there, in our minds too, that place, magically cutting us off from the reality of the rest of the world.
But no, the film doesn’t quite earn its title. It is not your next great love story. It is clichéd and stupid, and I didn’t mind that at all. It is about this nice young chap, and the nice young people around. Except for a politician and his son, and some stupid parents pulled right out of one of those fairy tales, everyone else is good. Even the baddie is good. I loved him. God appears, and I was moved. Almost to tears. Such is the honesty and purity with which Mr. Kapoor prays to him. This is not a hilarious film, reader, this is an amusing film. You shall smile, just as you smiled when you read all those silly drawn comics as a child. You shall enjoy a light hearted fare. This should be a time well spent. No more, and no less. And my dear ladies, you should be prepared to fall in love with Mr. Kapoor all over again. I wouldn’t know, but if I was you, I think I would come with my heart parked in my car.
Note: To cynics, like me - Hey buddies, I don’t think there is much problem in including Jesus and excluding a more Indian god in the run of things. I know, I’ve wondered about it, but I don’t want to dwell on it too much. Might spoil the joy.
Posted by Satish Naidu at 9:55 AM