Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Aaja, Khinchle...

Watched Aaja Nachle, about 'small town Shamli' - in an asli small town Solapur. A town deep inside Maharashtra - no flights, no three, four or five star hotels. One where, 'families with ladies' were allowed to enter the cinema hall first ('As in Titanic?' quipped the hubby), and the balcony ticket cost Rs. 40/- (also price of hiring the autorickshaw for an hour). Solapur welcomed the entry of Madhuri Dixit on screen with whoops of delight and wolf-whistles. Later, collapsed into laughter everytime we were shown the two locals of Shamli sitting down for a drink and pouring a bit into the tin cup of the third hanger-on (Why did they find this so funny? Who knows... but hey, it was crazily infectious :-) ). An audience WANTING to love this movie about their amchi mulgi coming back, and soon, an audience let down completely, resulting in an ominous quiet very soon, as the story got - not curiouser and curiouser, but 'boringer and boringer'.

Aaja Nachle was like falling into the hands of a bad dentist who's taking his/her own time to khinchofy your teeth.

So here was one more movie with the trope of a Bollywood small town - a vanishing point of low buildings beyond the hillock, a place where announcements, we were given to believe, still needed to be made from a bhonpu-cycle-rickshaw... the geography always looks suspiciously similar in all these places. What else can we expect, built as they all are under the sky of the Film City property in Goregaon Mumbai, where if you turn the camera an extra inch either way, you get to see the high-rises of the suburbs.

Ill-thought out storyline of half-baked aspirations. Worse, the makers forget that small towns whether quarter or half baked, do rest their beliefs within the ideological framework of the 'Indian Family' - much more into 'shame' and 'values' than their more metropolitan counterparts - for that very reason, the protagonist comes across as one that not the hip youngster nor the wannabe of the city, and not quite the small-towner will relate to... a carelessly carefree woman, following her own instincts. Instincts are shown to be proven wrong - from a small town perspective anyway, when it is carelessly thrown in, that she got 'divorced' (bad girl!), and one who comes back running at the bidding of a long forgotten 'guru', but never the parents, presumably because they did not yell out for her.
And why Laila-Majnu for God's sake! as the story-within-the- divorcee-story? In 2007?

Well, it didn't seem to weave any magic in a small town, that's for sure. Not sure if the folks in metros will throng the multiplexes situated within shopping malls to see this sanctimonious story that is built on the theme that small towns should not get this shopping mall. Oh boy.

Ugh, and why does every movie have an audition sequence nowadays? Was intriguing in RDB, just about OK in OSO but by now in this one, it is like mildewed roti being served on a platter. And the only actor who manages to step out of the pasteboard boundaries set for them is Irrffaaan or whatever his spelling goes nowadays. An unscrupulous businessman is an ubiquitous Indian phenomenon, and he makes it spine-chillingly so. The rest are just not there anywhere in the story. Kunal, Konkona, Raghubir, Ranvir, Jugal are not different from the hundreds of 'Shamli' residents who suddenly step out on stage during the grand finale ('yeh kahan se tapke' asked the Solapur audience to one another).

And will YRF please explain the most inexplicable point of all? How do you get the pulse of India so right with Chak De, and so devastatingly, off-kilter in your very next?

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