Friday, March 09, 2007


Probably, for the first time, an Indian film celebrates lust, though in guarded terms, cautiously trying to carve out a way for itself in the rotten Indian mentality. Sorry for being blunt, but when you hear the people airing their usual pretensions about 'vulgarity', 'morals', and 'love', and even stranger platitudes and defenses, you really get fucked off. To cut the whole thing short, the film is not beautiful because it is a landmark film - landmarks can be a hovel besides my house. The film is beautiful because it is beautiful. And that's it. It is always art for art's sake, "the rest can go to hell", as Amitabh Bachchan says to Jiah.
Amitabh's great; the cinematography and the tea gardens (Munnar?) are great, the shot angles and the panning of the camera, the weight of dialogues, when, where, how much, varying depths of field, the whole screenplay - yes, everything's top class, and Ramu has surpassed his work in Sarkar. But it's Jiah who enthralls you. How many talents will India suddenly unearth? After Kangana, now Jiah? Two talents who remind me of the classic actresses, with poise in their acting - how many actors, especially the girls, have poise, have weight, have patience of absorbing the scene, the camera and the lights, the dialogues remembered by heart, and rendering them perfect? A rare breed. Greta Garbo, Ingrid Bergman, the Spanish heroine of Everytime We Say Goodbye - oh, how many of others?
And, actually, it's the lack of poise, which indicates the poise in this heroine. She has brought her own interpretation to the role of the self-torturing, living-on-her-own-terms Australian girl, the girl with no past, the girl with a destructive future. Watch Jiah in every frame - how she moves, how even while speaking the simplest and the briefest of dialogues (and the film doesn't satisfy the Indians' desire of melodrama by way of heavy dialogues), her every part moves on its own, independent and living a life, a dance of its own. Oh, how could Amitabh, a photographer, be not bewitched? She is so clearly enticing Amitabh, and yet she is so fiercely independent - a marvellous combination, so little celebrated in India.
The other debate about the film is that Ramu toned it down - no explicit scenes, or say, not even a suggestion that there did happen physical contact between the 60-year-old man and the 18-year-old girl. Yes, I agree only to a very pale extent. But, the thing is that the camera shots, usually taken with the legs of Jiah in focus whenever Amitabh is getting aroused, tell the whole story, and very aesthetically. I do not think that there was much point in going further. But yes, the suggestion could have been there that there did happen something between the two - otherwise, Amitabh's suicide wishes seem a little too abstruse to digest. But, personally speaking, if I would have written the same script, I would have included one explicit scene - that between Amitabh's daughter and Jiah. I would have shown them as girlfriends, and this puts then Amitabh's daughter not only in a state of shock when she knows about Amitabh and her friend Jiah, but also jealousy, and rivalry, and a pang of unfaithfulness from her lover, Jiah. The film did her and Jiah bathing together for the briefest of time, and I don't know why did the director not follow it up. I think, that was the hint, but it was not followed then the whole script, for fear of ostracising the already-offended Indian audiences. Would have been a marvellous story of human emotions then, with Revathi continuing to act as the undisturbed, freezed, un-understanding woman of the house.
The background score of the film is magnificient, and not what is 'expected' when films like this are made. The AB-sung "Rozana jiye, rozana marein" song could have been made a part of the end credits - it was a lapse, I think, by the director as well as the editor and post-production crew. There are only two negative feedbacks from me for the film, both minor - one, the usage of sound effects which have become now too common, and were always too vulgar (and Vidhu Vinod Chopra uses them in aboundfuls); the other restricted to only frame - a sudden swooping of the camera on the car, a very, very vigorous dollying, when Jiah is upset and climbs down from the car, having just received the first scolding from Amitabh in her acquaintance with him - totally unneeded, just being camera-happy, and spoiling the mood of the scene - the scene which so much brings out to the fore the childishness of Jiah, and the love with the father figure in Amitabh that she is with in.
The esteem that I put this film in is evident from my placing it in one of my three best Hindi films - the other two being Manisha Koirala's Khamoshi, the Musical and Dharmendra's Ghulami.