It’s a tightly strung movie. Strung so tightly that if you start worrying that it might not snap, you would not be able to enjoy it.
This movie is to be enjoyed….In its entirety.
As for bits, there are many.
Playing a character that’s a xenophobic take on Thakerays, Amol Gupte, redefines acting in a villain’s role. He pulls off the role of menacing villain as convincingly as a Marathi chauvinist reduced to a farce when faced with his sister’s choice of a love-interest from Barabanki in UP.
Three Bengali brothers playing one set of villains is an unparalleled quirky feat. Tenzing Nima is another marvel of characterization as coke snorting Tashi.
Then there is Shahid Kapoor. Two of him, actually. A double role has seldom been this unselfconscious. A stammering Guddu and lisping Charlie is a masterstroke of a conceptualisation of a double role that only an able filmmaker like Vishal Bhardwaj could have pulled off. That Shahid, of that illustrious lineage, being Pankaj Kapoor’s son, does full justice to it, is to his credit.
Priyanka Chopra is another revelation. Playing a saucy Maharashtrian young girl to a hilt, she surpasses her image. Her’s is the rarest of the characters of Hindi cinema who takes things in her hand when the hero plays shy while making love.
Making love is as it is - making love without any explanations offered. There is no thunder and lightening that makes heroine cling to the hero as if she didn’t want to. No rain that requires the hero and heroine to get off their clothes ‘forcing’ them into a ‘situation’. They just do it as any boy and girl in real life would do it when they know they won’t get caught.
That’s as real as cinema can be, within its constraints of catering to lowest common denominator of cinema audience.
Vishal Bhardwaj does it with aplomb. The tightly strung movie does not snap. The filmmaker, who happens to be a dialogue writer, co-writer and music director of the film, walks a tightrope with a confidence of a master.
This is confident cinema of the new breed of filmmakers. This is a cinema that is in a contemporary medium, as contemporary as it can be, in a diverse country like ours, without resorting to any apologies. So you have characters speaking English, Marathi, Bangla and even an African language in a Hindustani film without taking anything away from it. To top it all you have Gulzar making a song out of that childhood war cry Dhan Te Nan inspired from background music of that period’s Hindi films.
Filmmakers like Vishal Bhardwaj are redefining the language of cinema. It’s heartening to note that people are lapping it up.
(This review was first published in the South Asian Observer)