Revisiting Saathiya

The phase from 2000-2005 was arguably one of the best phases Bollywood has seen; it’s just not given enough credit. The industry churned out some pretty amazing films before the mindless south-indian remakes and Rohit Shetty took over. Films like Hera Pheri, Mission Kashmir, Dil Chahta Hai, Lagaan, Kal Ho Na Ho, Munna Bhai MBBS, Swades, Yuva, Hum Tum – and many many more amazing films were made during these years. I think the above films pretty much sum up my favorite films of all time (minus the terrific 90s of course)

I will probably re-watch them all and dedicate one blog post to each film. This one is about Saathiya – one of a very, very, very few bollywood romantic films that I have loved. Bollywood has always been about formulaic stories when it comes to the romance genre with little variations and tweaks here and there. Up until now, which I consider to be bollywood’s transitional phase, we have hardly been served any truly moving romantic film. Saathiya, however, is a major exception to that norm and stands out in the past decade and a half as a game changer in it’s genre. Perhaps not to the same degree as DDLJ, but a strong voice nonetheless. Mani Ratnam, who is undoubtedly a genius when it comes to the romance genre, is not surprisingly the architect of the screenplay (the original Alaiyapayuthe was directed by him as well) and owing to his solid writing and the presence of a strong reference point, Shaad Ali pulled off a brilliant product.

Films that explore the dynamic of marriage fascinate me. It’s not an easy feat. I assume that’s the reason why bollywood has always chosen to drop the curtains when the hero and heroine are galloping away into the sunset. No one wants to talk about what happens after the grand finale; when the cheers die down and the celebration ends – that’s when the actual journey begins. Saathiya does exactly that. The romance is cute. The chase is fun. The chemistry is great. The passion is scorching. All of that adds up to rosy dreams about a gorgeous future filled with nothing but happiness and togetherness…but when those dreams start to become reality, the couple realize that it isn’t as rosy after all.

The beginning of every romance is exciting, it gives you a high like no other and makes you feel like you could conquer any problem. But the excitement can only get you so far. Real life isn’t exciting all the time. You can’t be romantic and passionate when there are bills to be paid and food to be cooked. Marriage is in the mundane things of life. It’s loving someone even when you don’t like them. It’s about seeing the same face for years and years and still finding some magic. It’s about fighting over issues like laundry and wall color and grocery lists. It’s about supporting each other through thick and thin because not supporting is simply not an option…and it’s not always a pleasant journey. It’s not always as appealing as popular culture would have you believe.

Saathiya is about a young couple who fall madly in love with each other and elope away after their families don’t accept their marriage. They make a vow to never turn back as they enter this exciting new phase of their lives. Afterall, what could be worse than being kicked out of your respective homes? The worst is already over, right? Apparently not. After the first few blissful months of matrimony, when the chase is over and there are other problems waiting to be addressed, cracks begin to appear in their relationship. The guy isn’t the romantic goofball the girl had fallen for. The girl isn’t just a challenge anymore. They aren’t always there for each other.

One of the important scenes in the film that highlights how much of a thin ice their marriage is on is when Suhani has had a bad day at work and hugs Aditya in the balcony of their house, not caring about all the eyes. But apparently Aditya does, and squirms as she clutches onto him. She realizes how emotionally distant they are from each other and that he cannot even understand her state of mind, leave alone being supportive. That is also the moment Aditya realizes – shit, I didn’t know I would have to be emotionally available as well. 


Everything starts to spiral into a downward abyss after that. They can’t seem to put their marriage above their personal interests. A love that had survived the resistance of society begins to crumble under it’s own pressure. They reach the breaking point when Suhani’s father dies unexpectedly and their marriage is not able to take the strain of that setback. Suhani blames herself for his demise and Aditya feels resentful about his perennially sad wife who can’t seem to put her mind anywhere else. These are the times when a solid partnership, mutual understanding and maturity are the need of the day. One person needs to take a step back and allow the other person to take as much space as he/she wants, because he/she is the one going through a hard phase. Unfortunately, Aditya doesn’t put Suhani’s needs above his own and they reach a point where they can no longer stand each other.


The film captures the failing marriage brilliantly. Their immaturity was one of the major reasons why their relationship was always on uneven grounds and that fact is highlighted many times. They were too young to be able to have a successful marriage. Like I said, love and passion can only get you so far. After that, it’s being selfless and truly wanting someone else’s happiness more than your own that matters.

Despite their immaturity though, they still try to hang onto small threads. Aditya’s attempt to reconcile Suhani’s sister and ex-fiance is endearing; more so because he knows it would mean something to Suhani. It is this event that both becomes a boon and a curse for them. It makes Suhani realize that Aditya isn’t a completely unsupportive husband afterall; but it also leads to her getting into a fatal accident, that puts her at the verge of losing her life.

The film is beautifully interspersed between the present and the past and slowly merges into one. The one thing we know about the present is that Aditya is looking around madly for Suhani. What we get to know from the flashbacks is that he is looking around madly for her despite all the problems in their marriage. Her absence makes him realize her worth and importance in his life; and how much he took her for granted. It is only when he is at the point of completely losing her that he tries to hold onto their relationship with his life. As he says at Suhani’s bedside – “Sach toh yeh hai ki, aaj samjha hoon main humara rishta. Ab tak to bas khud hi ko dhoond raha tha” – being with Suhani was also one of his attempts to find himself. It wasn’t selfless love until she was about to be snatched away. It always takes a life changing event to make us realize the most obvious things.

Another wonderful arc is the highlighted relationship between Yashwant Rao and his wife, Savitri (brilliant cameo appearances by SRK and Tabu). The way Yashwant supports his traumatized wife and acts as a strong anchor even in the most tense of times is heavily contrasted against Aditya’s casual approach to his own marriage, thereby also establishing the difference between the commitment of a man and the passion of a boy. He is there for his wife to fall back on when she is crumbling down in a way that Aditya never was.

In the end, a dialogue from Alaiyapayuthe sums up marriage perfectly – “A young tree might look beautiful with it’s lush green leaves and blooming flowers; but can’t sustain a storm because it’s roots aren’t thickly embedded into the old tree might look ugly and rusted, but it can sustain hurricanes because it’s roots are so firmly sewn within the earth. That’s what a strong marriage is”

Scenes that stay: Love Aaj Kal (Climax)

There are times you watch a film and one particular scene sticks with you for a very long time. It may be because it stumped you visually, had a catchy dialogue or moved you emotionally. With me, it’s mostly when a scene has emotional impact that it stays with me for years to come.

I am a movie buff. I love bollywood and I love watching films at any given point of time. I grew up on the cheesy 90’s flicks and unabashedly admit to watching films like Badshah, Yes boss, Biwi No.1 and even Ghar ho to aisa every single time they air on TV. I try not to miss a good release (and that excludes horrors like Happy New Year, Dilwale, Rowdy Rathore, Bodyguard etc) and catch every flick on the 70 mm screen. Even though I am not someone who cries during a film, I do feel moved or affected just as deeply and keep that emotion with me for a while.

Love Aaj Kal is a fairly good film. I liked it despite it’s flaws. I agreed with what it was trying to say – true love will find a way to come back to you; and once you have found your soulmate (for the lack of a better word) it is difficult to lead life with someone else or even alone; no matter how hard you try. Something will always be amiss. What takes the entire film a notch higher for me is the climax – Meera’s breakdown when Jai finally returns to her.

Pain, fear, relief, happiness – all rolled into one fine moment. I don’t know what it is about this 3 second scene that hits me hard every single time I watch it. It is deeply humanizing and shatters the glorified bollywood reunion of the hero-heroine where people clap as the heroine runs into the hero’s arms. You feel Meera’s pain as she tries to contain her emotions at his re-appearance. It is so brilliantly directed by Imtiaz Ali. It is these nuances that make him the master of the ‘romance’ genre. His films are more about discovering different facets of love than going through the motions of a formulaic film. Even though Socha Na Tha is his best film (After Tamasha, in my opinion) – this particular scene is somewhat of a masterstroke. The fact that she doesn’t breakdown in his arms like the typical heroine would is brilliant writing in it’s own right.

I didn’t look at Deepika the same way after this film. People usually credit the upswing in her career to Cocktail but this film showcased her talent long before. This scene and the one where Jai rants on her wedding day, while Meera stands there resolutely, are testament to her talent.

Special mention to Dooriyan – a song that never goes out of fashion for me. That song is magic.

Reasons why Kal Ho Na Ho rocks my socks. Everytime.

Kal Ho Na Ho is a masterpiece. If I had it my way I would put in it on the No.1 spot on the list of “Movies to watch before you die”. Every dialogue, every scene and every character in this film is genius. From the perpetually cranky Naina to the “she-wants-your-money” Chameli, uh, Camilla. From the forever-butting-into-other people’s-business Aman to the goofy flirt Rohit. From Naina’s “Maar-daala” Dadi to Sweetu’s horny sister. Rohit’s Gujju parents deserve a separate mention altogether. Coz they’re anything but “normal chhe”.

Let’s begin, shall we?

8) 6 Din, Ladki in – Only SRK, dude. Only SRK. Hell if Aman was the prospect I would say yes within 6 minutes. The whole sequence was a win. “Oopar dekho, neeche dekho, doosri taraf dekho, ab apni naak mein ungli daalo..haha! just joking jawaan”. The assumption behind this funda is true though. Girls tend to take it personally when a guy stops smothering them with attention. In Aman’s golden words, “Ladkiyon ke baare mein mera ek usool hai. Jitna tum ladki ke peeche bhagoge, utna woh tumse door bhagegi. Agar tum uske peeche nahi bhagoge toh woh confuse ho jayegi aur tumhare peeche bhagegi yeh jaan ne ke liye ki woh confused kyun hai. Aur isi confused ladki ki confusion ka humein fayda uthana hai” 

Aman’s swag – “Main sunday ko kaam nahi karta”

7) She wants your money! – So dejected Rohit gets attracted to Camilla, or maybe just her legs. They decide to go on a date and the omnipresent Aman decides to butt in. The sexy Camilla, however, is a con artist working with her mom who reels Rohit in by pretending to be in a Mandir while she’s taking a bath in a jacuzzi. Finally, Rohit delivers the smashing lines that make Camilla arrange a one way trip to Mr. India’s oblivion – “Camilla darling, mujhe apne daddy ke paise bilkul nahi chahiye. Main apni zindagi khud banana chahta hoon, aur apne pairon pe khud khada hona chahta hoon. Kya tum mera saath dogi?”

Yeah, I’ll join you when hell freezes over! (did you see what I did there?)


6) Kantaben – Well this is one iconic character. The actor hardly delivered a total of 50 lines yet the character came very close to overshadowing the film itself. Hardly a single award show passed without making jabs at Kantaben and her homophobia. The exaggerated tremors, temporary speechlessness and the brilliant gujju background music made her one of the funniest characters ever.

“Aman bahar gaya hai! Ladki ke saath! Girl!”

5) Galat Ghar! – Well this scene sends me into a wild fit every time. You have a bunch of insane characters thrown in with another bunch of insane characters. Sweetu’s big sister J.Kapoor gets to put her jism ki bhookh on full display in this scene. Rajpal Yadav makes an entry as Guru who ends up being mistaken as the sardaar sent by a matrimonial agency. While Rohit is mistaken as Guru who was supposed to be Sweetu’s blind date. And when the real sardaar finally turns up, he is shooed away by the traumatized duo of both Rohit and Guru.

Meri aankhon mein dekho, tumhe kya dikhai deta hai?….BATHROOM!”


4) Frankie Ramdayal – As you can see from the title of my blog, I’m a big fan of this guy. He may not have delivered too many lines, but his presence itself elicited some genius dialogues. The whole exchange between Sweetu, Aman and Naina was nothing short of epic. I won’t write the whole dialogue here, but am embedding this oscar worthy scene in this post.

“Mummy ko bhi saath leke aana!”


The brilliant bhangra group – “Daler chhaddo saanu dekho” Well, lol.

3) Sweetu – AKA Jaspreet Kapoor. With 2 o’s. Iski life ki do problems hain – wazan hai, jo kam nahi hota aur is baat ka ise gham nahi hota. Sweetu, in my opinion, was a rockstar. She didn’t give a rat’s fart about what anyone thought of her figure and unabashedly continued to fawn over guys openly. She had one dialogue that teaches you not to take either yourself or life too seriously.

“Ladka, ladka, ladka! tumhe aur kuch nahi soojta na? Kya hoga, tum usse shaadi karogi bacche paida karogi aur phir? Phir ek din woh tum sab ko chhod ke chala jayega, phir kya karogi? What will you do then?”

“Doosri shaadi karungi, aur kya karungi”



2) Rohit’s introduction – Son of the owner of Dial-a-dhokla has to be a lava of coolness (um, well) He is a loser who still has swag. Poor guy got thwarted by almost every girl he hit on, but in Naina’s words, he never stopped trying! From Julia to the woman in the elevator to the divorcee Geeta to the old woman whom he takes out on a date – he has tried them all.


1) G-U-J-J-U – This song should have been the song of the year. Even though it is a caricature of the Gujrati community, it does so in an endearing way and is a chart topper anyway! I loved all sequences with Rohit’s parents though. Including the first scene with Rohit’s mom welcoming him home with “Maaro Rohit ghar aaye ho o raam ji” dance and the scene when they go meet Naina’s family – “We have a very big hole” A winner parental unit, ladies and gentlemen.

If you haven’t watched this film yet, then kill yourself with an overdose of The Weasley’s U-No-Poo powder.

Hits and Pits of 2012

I love Bollywood. I love everything about Bollywood. I grew up on it, in a family full of movie buffs. My grandfather, who is a self-proclaimed (and rightly so) a couch potato, loves sitting in his huge armchair and watching some of those silly hindi dubbed south movies – Indra The Tiger, Meri Jung – One man army, Sivaji The boss, Mere badle ki aag etc etc. Another one of his favorite films is Sooryavansham, Now I, for the love of god, can’t understand what’s so amazing about watching an almost old Amitabh Bachhan dying his hair black (and desperately trying to hide those wrinkles) and playing a character half his age, but whatever, he enjoys it immensely.

Anyway, coming back to the topic, I’m a bollywood junkie and I watch a film every weekend. So here is my list of the best and worst films of 2012.  It was a great year for bollywood. We saw some of the best mainstream films this year. So here we go.

The Hits:

1) English Vinglish – As you all already know, I love this film. This film was like a breath of fresh air (cheesy, I know) but really, it was. It was simple, sweet and completely unpretentious. It didn’t try to ape hollywood inspite of having been filmed almost completely in the US, it stuck to it’s roots. It was a film made right from the director’s heart. Sridevi’s dazzling performance was the cherry on the cake.

2) Barfi – Oh, how I love this movie. This film was brilliant on so many different levels. Everything about it was poetic and pure. The fact that Basu managed to create a supremely engaging film without the crutch of dialogue for the most part, is a feat in itself. The story was a simple one about love, and how we find in the strangest of people. The film, despite having two disabled protagonists, does not seek sympathy or pity which was another plus point. The performances were top notch. If Ranbir doesn’t win an award for this I’m going to throw a massive fit. Priyanka has been a favorite since Kaminey days and she proved her metal once again in this film. Illeana was the surprise here. In short, a brilliant and heart-touching film!

3) Kahaani – A thriller in the real sense after a long, long while! Kahaani was arguably a flawless film. It had everything right – a good story, a good cast and a good screenplay. It kept the viewers on the edge of their seats with a consistently paced storyline and gripping screenplay. I watched it twice in the theatres and wasn’t bored either times. Vidya Balan puts in another brilliant performance as the pregnant yet determined woman looking for her lost husband. I usually figure thrillers out quickly but this one was genuinely a surprise. For that alone, it deserves a huge applause!

4) Gangs of Wasseypur (I and II) – I have never watched a film, ever since the Mahabharata series, on such a large canvas with so many varied characters. Unlike other films in this list, I wasn’t excited about this film before, but when I finally watched it I admittedly became a huge fangirl. I love a well made unapologetic violent film. GoW was that film. It’s gritty, it’s violent, it’s bloody, it’s ruthless and it’s completely in-your-face. I love that! But apart from the action, it has a very well written storyline and screenplay, and a very authentic and real adaptation of the same. The characters and the situations seem real and not fabricated, which is one of the reasons why the violence works too. Anurag Kashyap is undoubtedly one of the best directors in the country today. He literally put together a Mahabharata-size story on the silver screen. Take a bow.

5) Shanghai – This film was dark and understated, yet engaging in it’s own way. A tale about corruption at the lowest tier in our country, and how it affects multiple lives. Dibakar Banerjee is an edgy filmmaker, he doesn’t shy away from putting the truth on the table the way it is. The film is elevated to a different level by the performances. I’m not a huge Kalki Koechlin fan but she was at her natural best in this. Emraan Hashmi is an actor I’ve always liked despite his serial kisser image. All he needed was a life saving haul from the Bhatt camp. In this film he shed all his inhibitions and sunk his teeth into a character that is possibly the toughest one in his career so far. Abhay Deol is a consistent performer, and this performance is no different. His character really dominated the climax, which according to me was one of the best climax scenes in recent times.

Now, to the Pits of 2012. There were quite a few.

1) Heroine – Yeh film keval teen cheezon ki wajah se flop hui – boring, boring aur boring. The audiences are so fed up of watching Madhur’s same old saga presented in a different packaging over and over again, that this time no one even attempted to stop themselves from dozing off while watching the film. Everyone already knew what was going to happen next. Even Kareena’s talent and skills couldn’t save this horrendous khichdi of a film from getting burnt. Madhur tried to pack every possible tragedy that can happen with a Hindi film heroine, but instead of having a hard hitting impact (as was intended) it ended up confusing the audience. From drugs to alcohol to smoking to adoption to break ups to link ups to financial crisis to homosexuality to loneliness to Bipolar 😯 It’s sadder than Devdas, which is arguably the most depressing tale in Indian literature. Plus it had some of the most unintentionally hilarious lines ever. In short, boring screenplay + choppy dialogue = disaster. You’re going to have to come up with a more entertaining version of your ‘reality’, Madhur.

P.S – Kareena can’t dance sala! What a phus item number 😕

2) Khiladi 786 – Himesh Reshammiya. Producer. Actor. Story writer. Need I say more? The masala trend is really beginning to fade away. I want to thank every official god out there for putting an end this torture. The trailer itself chew away quite a few of my brain cells. If I had to watch a hero smashing a jeep with one kick, I would go watch The Incredible Hulk. Himesh, you need to buy a one way ticket to Timbaktoo and get lost from Bollywood forever. You aren’t contributing in any field whatsoever. Take Katrina with you.

Here is Akshay making a fool of himself:

3) Rowdy Rathore – What a bad year for Akshay. This man has a lot of potential and he’s a genuinely good looking as well. If only he wasn’t swayed by the extremely horrific trend of masala movies that leave the audiences brain dead in every sense of the term. This film was a cheap imitation of it’s South Indian counterpart at best. Sonakshi loves to play useless roles and she has said that on record. Akshay couldn’t save the film either. I would rather sit at home and watch random South Indian fight sequences on Youtube than waste 200 bucks on this film in the theater.

4) Jism 2 – Now, I haven’t exactly watched this film but I don’t think I need to. It’s legit porn on the silver screen and it’s not even erotic :l Sunny Leone is pretty much a gold mine for the Bhatt camp because they believe they’re the pioneers in making erotic thrillers in India 😕 But of course, outside their schizophrenic world the audience knows that their films are neither thrilling nor erotic. They’re stale duds that don’t even cater to the Rickshaw walas and cycle walas as they have the C-grade bhojpuri films to satisfy themselves. This film was pure unintentional comedy. Sunny Leone’s dubbed voice only contributed to that.

5) Players – Oh, the horror! The Italian Job, one of the most acclaimed heist films of hollywood, was converted into a film that even kids under 12 would laugh at. It looked more like a spoof than a remake. Actually, I’m laughing while typing this. Even the memory of this film makes me laugh. This wannabe film had nothing going for it. The funniest thing was Neil Nitin Mukesh’s character. He was normal at first, but his transformation from that to Mr. Spidey was the ultimate punch. Or wait, Perhaps Sonam Kapoor’s character seducing Mr. Spidey was better. Abbas Mustan, I’m going to offer you more gold than your Players set out to rob to stop making films anymore. You, along with Ram Gopal Verma, need to walk towards the nearest exit.