New kitsch, old kitsch
So weekend before last, we were watching Dhoom2. Normally I would not undertake such an ordeal, but the movie garnered so much negative reviews, I wondered if it might entertain in the ‘so bad – that it’s good’ kind of way. Plus, I was drunk, with friends, and posters suggested gratuitous displays of Biapasha Basu‘s legs – so I took the plunge.
Since the GreatBong has satireviewed (a word I just made up meaning reviewed in a satirical manner) the movie so there is little to review as such, but a few observations anyway:
1. Unless you are a huge fan of Hrithik Roshan, his impossibly chiseled pecs and his incredibly fluid dance movements, this movie is not an experience you want to inflict on anyone – save the worst of enemies.
2. If you do not fall under (1) and still find yourself compelled to watch, make sure that like me, you are sloshed and have plenty of friends around to appreciate your wise-cracks (also so that you can have fun watching the infamous Aish-Hrithik kiss in slo-mo, see below). Three to four martinis (with more than liberal measures of gin or vodka), more than half a bottle of wine, or few six-packs of beer (the last has the added advantage of sending you to bathroom-breaks quite often) should do it.
3. It does not bode well for a film where the best performance, relatively speaking, comes from the goofiness of Uday Chopra.
4. I had a bad case of ‘like-alitis’ (interjection of the word ‘like’ within, like, every two, like, or like, three spoken, like, words) for a couple of days after trying to mimic Aishwarya’s (Suneihri from Andheri) conversation style during the movie. Thankfully, they did not incorporate the ‘you know’ habit. Seriously, are the youths in India really trying to out-do their American counterparts in the bad-speaking department ?
Ditto question for Hrithik‘s American-urban-ghetto getup and basketball playing routine.
5. Perhaps it was the alcohol, but a few things I actually liked in the film: Bipasha Basu‘s second role as the Copacabana hot bimbo surfer Monali Bose; I thought her ‘Hi Housie-Wowsie !’ routine was a hoot; Uday Chopra imagining married life in a Baywatch slo-mo sequence was fun as well.
6. There was much anticipation for the widely talked about, litigious, and now censored-on-request-of-future-in-laws kissing scene between Aish and Hritik. Perverted as we were, the scene was paused and slow-forwarded for an in-depth analysis. My only comment is that I hope Aish pays better lip-service to Abhishek in real life.
7. The filmmakers, one assumes in all honesty, were attempting to make a slick production that combined the suaveness of Ocean’s 11/12, edge-of-seat actions of Mission Impossible and the sexiness of Bond movies. However what is served up is only a con-fused mishmash of these elements. I am not even talking about the plot-holes and physical unrealities, which are but expected and can be tolerated with suspended disbelief in action films. But it works only if the plot elements gel together into some form of a minimally cohesive storyline. In the obsessive indulgence towards spicing up the film with chic glamour (shots of Rio, the Carnival and some dance resembling salsa etc) the story is totally ignored.
8. Okay, so the last bit of rant was a tad too serious for this kind of movie. Really, if all you want to do is ogle at the hip and trendy – this is the film for you. Enough shots of Aish’s bare belly, Bipasha’s pretty much everything and Hrithik’s bulges to satisfy everyone’s cravings (you only have to put up with a misshapen, though muscular, Uday Chopra)!
In conclusion, if you go in with the right attitude (see #2), enjoyment is to be had in watching this movie – else, use it to drive out guests who stay late.
Last weekend, we watched ‘Yaadon Ki Baraat‘, a movie last viewed on the venerable Doordarshan almost twenty years ago. For some reason, I have a good recollection of having watched this film (which I also remember was shown a week or so after another great Nasir Hussein hit, Hum Kisise Kum Nahin). At that time, I think I actually liked the movie and was rather touched by the title song Yaadon Ki Baraat and all the sappy brother’s reunited after long-time stuff.
Watching it in the present day, I realize that the film has great songs – Chura Liya Hai is arguably the most recognizable, if not outright the best melody composed in Hindi cinema – and a few interesting twists in an otherwise formulaic story (family separated but brought together by a song), but is full of unintentional hilarity and fashion disasters.
Let’s begin with the the guitar, which while ubiquitous in almost all the songs, no attempt is made by any of the actors to at least pretend they are playing the instrument. It is really jarring to hear guitar strums while the fingers over the fret are static !! Then there is the debutante Tariq Ali, prancing around the stage like a high-strung Johnny Cash, wearing a velvet jacket with heavy silver gold-embroidery and oversized sunglasses (worn mostly indoors). Oversized sunglasses also find favor with the villain, essayed by the incomparable Ajit, who also happens to wear differently sized white shoes on each feet (an important plot element) to go with his white jackets, black gloves and enormous blonde wig. Worse still, there is the immensely proportioned Neetu Singh with a friendly appearance during the song Lekar Hum Diwana Dil, stomping around the psychedelic stage in a red mini-skirt. And there is Dharmendra, trying to hide his mid-section corpulence and following the angry-when-constipated method of acting (to be fair, he did have some good performances in the early B&W movies).
In spite of all this cringe-worthy material, I noticed we were more indulgent towards Yaadon Ki Baraat than Dhoom 2, even as they share the common trait of being strong in the glamour category but ultimately weak in the acting and story departments. YKB obviously scores in the music department: somehow I don’t see Crazy Kiya Rey retaining the same zeitgeist as O Meri Soni not to mention, Chura Liya Hai. D2 is on the other hand way more sophisticated in the technical aspects and special effects (even after accounting for the obvious difference in period): wooden sliding doors (supposedly pneumatic, but obviously hand-operated) and electrical signal boxes composed of piano-type switches being replaced by hand-held electromagnets and acid releasing shoes.
Eventually my conclusion was that while Hindi films might have reached a level of technical sophistication, its still pretty much the same kitsch.
Final note worth pointing out. In Dhoom 2, there was this really irritating trend I noticed in recent Hindi movies to deliver a dialog in English, and follow up with a Hindi translation – even for inane stuff like ‘I love you’. But Yaadon Ki Baraat had a number of short English dialogues – which, to our surprise were delivered without the subsequent Hindi translation !