Over the past month or so, we have seen more movies than we saw in the year before that.

We saw “Rang De Basanti” in a theatre and liked it a lot.

Then we decided to get caught up on the 2005 Hindi movies that we had not seen. We have seen two thus far, were delighted with one while the other was a slight let-down.

Let me start with the “let-down” first. Perhaps if we had seen this first, we might have enjoyed it. But we did not and the other one so enthralled us that “Parineeta” was perhaps doomed from the very beginning.

Having a wondrous and simple beauty as the heroine, one of the most improved dramatic actors as the hero, and a wonderful sound-track from Shantanu Moitra that has dominated the airwaves for over 10 months now (at least), it was but obvious that our expectations were sky high.

I have not read Sarat Chandra’s story so am not sure if the problem is with the original or with the way in which Vidhu Vinod Chopra and Pradeep Sarkar have interpreted it in the screenplay. But the movie begins well and has several lulls that are frustrating.

The worst sequence is the one where a (hopelessly mis-cast and ugly) Sunjay Dutt is bragging about how he became a steel magnate. It really challenges one’s intelligence to think that his sister, who has been gushing over his desire to eat her “hand-made” cake has not told the rest about his life story. It was set in the 1960s so it is possible (though improbable) that this beloved and wildly successful brothers pictures were not available to share with his doting sisters and their “like-family” neighbours. But by making him narrate his own life’s story, it makes the Sunjay Dutt character singularly self-obsessed and arrogant, and contrasts dramatically with what emerges later.

Equally bad is the inadequate direction given to the beautiful Vidya Balan on how to balance laughter with tears. The best example of this is of course Kamalahaasan in Ramesh Sippy’s “Saagar”. But otherwise, it is best to avoid such sequences entirely – the inexperience of Pradeep Sarkar as a movie director shows through here.

And the end was so melodramatic, with the scrawny Shekhar (Saif Ali Khan) suddenly seeming strong and breaking open the wall between his house and Lolita (Vidya Balan) – even though it was plausible that she would have left for the airport before he got through with his efforts.

Great music, a haunting performance from Saif Ali Khan, a beautiful new heroine, excellent supporting cast (other than the aforementioned and aging Mr Dutt), great sets and wonderful recreation of th 1960s era Calcutta, brilliant photography, a director with a brilliant feel for visuals, Rekha in one of the most dignified and stately “item numbers” since her own “Salaam-e-Ishq” way back when, a star turn by using Amitabh Bachchan as the sutradhar providing the voice-over, all of it has gone into making an above-average movie (and not the great one it could have been) because the debutante director did not know where to draw the line on the maudlin.

Thankfully, we still had memories of the great movie to fall back upon…will dwell upon that in a separate post.

Comments when first published included:

Aruna said…
hey! for starters nice to see a posting from you after a while….or i have not been peeping in that often :-((liked your review. yes i didnt like the movie that much as well but i thought the biggest pull for this movie was the music. i just loved it. Secondly, vidya balan is a beauty that comes once in zillion years! (yes! i am grinning from ear to ear – she is a TAMBRAM!!)

Pardeep Sarkar (must be over 50 now!) has spent all these making ad films and i guess Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s touch has not rubbed off on him that much!!

waiting to read ur review on RDB!

1:42 PM


Jaunty Quicksand said…
I think “RDB” would count as a 2006 release, wouldn’t it?Haven’t seen it, but have been told by some very good friends that it is a must-watch (including a Chennai-born friend who does not know Hindi but he follows along enough to keep up and understand what is being said).

10:50 AM