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.

PK vs OMG (Spoilers)

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There was so much hype about PK. Ever since the intriguing posters of Aamir standing naked but for an old-age tape recorder slung around his neck came out, PK has been in the talks. For one, no one really knew what it was about – Aamir has always made sure that the mystery around his films remains intact – which helped the buzz around the film. Secondly, and this one goes without saying, it was an Aamir Khan film, whose name itself has come to be associated with quality. Although I do admire Aamir for not relegating himself to the typical bollywood no-brainers, I do also believe that his talent for manipulation is quite unmatched. His best film since Lagaan (2001) remains to be Taare Zameen Par, despite the release of 3 Idiots soon after.

Coming to PK, I walked in with extremely high expectations, having read an array of excellent reviews and the public hailing it as the best thing since sliced bread, I had pretty much convinced myself that it was a great film before even watching it. However, as it turns out, PK was a strictly average movie, laden with emotional manipulation and bogged down by unnecessary subplots. Raju Hirani is an exceptional film maker, no one who has seen Munna Bhai MBBS would say otherwise, but the success of 3 Idiots muddled with his creative process. The premise of PK is commendable, a person unblemished by the hypocrisy of this planet is left here to experience it first hand by a twist of fate. The refreshing part is PK’s simplistic and untainted view of the world. How, when someone’s point of view is not colored by the ways of the world, it appears so brutal.

However, when I want to watch a movie high on emotional drama and dripping-with-social-commentary, I will pick up a DVD from the 90s and enjoy it without too many expectations. Like Govinda’s character says in Happy Ending, another movie that released not too long ago, “300 rupees mein logon ko jeena mat sikha” – it applies perfectly to PK. On the other hand, OMG achieves the same goal without being too weepy. The dialogue is crisp, witty and actually funny. The protagonist is much more relatable and consequently so are his struggles. How many times have we come across people who are jammed in a tussle with their Insurance companies, or have been involved in such a tussle ourselves? It is the story of every aam Indian. The way the concept of god has been incorporated in that tussle is both unique and smart. Unfortunately, Paresh Rawal neither has the starpower nor the marketing tools to match up to PK in terms of reach and visibility.

Who wanted a love track between Jaggu and PK? I, for one, did not give a rat’s ass. The film’s ending was diluted by discarding everything it was trying to prove and only focusing on a teary eyed farewell between PK and Jaggu. He was carrying two trunks full of batteries so that he could hear her voice on his tape recorder all the time. How romantic. Yawn.

The problem with PK was that it tried to be too many things at once. It was good until it was only about PK’s view of Earth, it became sloppy when his feelings for Jaggu, his attempt to reconcile Jaggu and her ex-boyfriend and the unnecessary songs came in. If I had known that before I would have gladly taken a few loo breaks.

Finally, I think that I would have probably enjoyed PK much more had it not come with so much publicity and hype. For everything that’s being said about it, it isn’t such a gem. If you want to enjoy a film based on the same concept, go watch OMG. It’s so much better.

Sweetest movie of the year

English Vinglish. It has to be the simplest yet the most beautiful film made this year. I had watched it in the theaters twice but I recently also bought the DVD. Watching it alone without any human presence interfering with my attention made me enjoy it even more. I guess that’s probably because you’re not really worried about time and space at home. You can simply slump in your couch, hang your legs in the air and watch a film. Only suspense and horror films should be watched in a theater.

Anyway, what I love about English Vinglish is that it’s completely unpretentious. It doesn’t try to emotionally manipulate you or try to deliver any strong moral message. It’s a slice of life film where the protagonist could might as well be either you or me. How many times have we come across a relative who really struggles with english and yearns to speak it well? Probably many times. It’s unfortunate that an alien language has become such a major yardstick to judge someone’s personality in our nation now. After all, English is but a foreign language just like Chinese or French or Italian, albeit spoken and accepted more widely. Shashi is a middle class Maharashtrian house wife who, despite being the best mother and the best wife one could hope for, still endures a lot of disrespect (dished out to her by her own family members) due to her lack of english speaking skills. She is also an entrepreneur as she is equivalent to a laddoo manufacturing plant (delicious ones at that) but she is not respected for that endeavor either. Fed up and infuriated by their behavior, she sets out to learn english and prove them wrong.

The film itself is like a breath of fresh air that leaves you with a huge smile on your face. Nobody’s a villain here. The husband is not evil, he is simply someone who has fallen prey to the same superficial culture. He doesn’t respect his wife and consequently nor does the daughter. They both do love her, but they don’t value her. She eventually does earn that respect and it’s a heartwarming moment. Shashi is a character one roots for. She may not be heroic but she’s a hero nonetheless. It is the small things that eventually matter, after all.

Sridevi has always been a favorite. Chaalbaaz, Mr. India, Sadma and Lamhe are amazing films. She, along with Madhuri Dixit, are the only two female superstars that India has ever seen. She still commands attention. She completely embodied Shashi. Not once did the shadow of the superstar she had once been cross her eyes. She made Shashi’s turmoil and eventual happiness both equally identifiable. When I watched it in the theater, people clapped when her name came on the screen in the beginning. I must add here that 2012 has been the year of the ladies. Vidya Balan, Priyanka Chopra, Kareena Kapoor (although ‘Heroine’ was a pile of unadulterated horseshit) and Sridevi. All the men can go take a hike now.

Everyone else in the cast was equally good. Special mention to Mehdi Nebbou, oof! what a cutie! Uske saath mera dil bhi toot gaya 😦 His relationship with Shashi, pure friendship yet bordering on something more, was poignant. Special mention to Priya Anand, the actress who played Radha. Her character was Shashi’s true friend, the one who supported her throughout her road to self-fulfillment.

Out of the songs, Navrai Majhi is my favorite and always makes me happy. Cinematography is so beautiful that I wanted to board the next plane to US and stay their forever. The cameo by Amitabh was totally FTW! It was a little OTT but heck, who cares. The man was kickass and I loved every bit of it (Band karo yeh gober!!)

I think everyone should watch this film, if you have no reason to watch it, just watch it to feel good about yourself. You are the way you are. Love yourself and everything about yourself. Or just watch it for Sridevi *shrugs* Gauri Shinde is a winner all the way. She’s a very sensitive person and it shows. May you direct many more films!

P.S – Sridevi’s voice is still a bit jarring though. Add to that all the surgeries she’s underwent. Why do people do this to themselves? :scratches head: