Monday, October 03, 2005

Fake-Pretend or True-For-Real?; or, Suneil Shetty as the Voice of Reason: Hulchul

This movie seems to get lukewarm reviews, especially in comparison to its director's prior hit Hungama. I don't know why. I thought this was really funny. Less manic - which given the number of people in this is saying quite a lot - but better. Whatever the director did to get Kareena to calm down was miraculous -I thought she was quite successful in depicting someone trying to sort herself through a confusing, emotional situation without reverting to screeching, hissy-fits, drama queening, etc. Akshaye seemed more unhinged, which worked for his character. It's not like his family had provided him with a good model of anger management. Two people responding to a strange situation in their own ways but still coming together. The slapstick worked for me too, even the cow disguise and flinging the groom across the house on a garland of marigolds. And "Rafta Rafta" was delightful, if wildly un-subtle - I'm sure "eeeeyoo, this boy has cooties! oh wait, he's looking at me, so I best quickly switch to demure and flirty!" is hard to pull off delicately.

And Jackie Shroff produces what is surely the finest "No you didn't!/never again" finger-waggling in cinema history. You could feel the weight of that "NO" through the screen.

Best throwaway moment: Jai imitating Anjali's gaggle of giggling friends.

Apart from the violence, which I never like, the only downside of this was how long it took them to explain the conflict that was the root of all the tension in the movie. At first I thought maybe I had missed something due to subtitling - why didn't I understand why these families were so mad at each other? But then Suneil explained it all - apparently Anjali was as in the dark as I was - and everything gelled. Or at least it did relatively, using the logic of movie plots. And since Anjali didn't know, I'm wondering if Jai didn't know either. Knowledge is half the battle, kids.

"A for effot" award: Arshad Warsi as Jai's sidekick/instigator Lucky. Sometimes he seemed to be trying, rather than succeeding, but other times he really nailed it. Poor guy - I'm sure he didn't choose to fall out of trees. His arguments to get Jai riled up into whatever course of action were great.

If you needed it, this movie provides excellent support to my theory about the symbolism of basketball/basketballs in Bollywood, first posed here. There are basketballs and people playing basketball all over this movie. I especially like those that are lying about randomly when Kareena is prancing around in Akshaye's shirt and tie. Basketball as fake-pretend sexual tension. Note: after re-watching a bit of KKHH while having my morning coffee today (a v bad behavior to indulge in on a work day, by the way), I'm noticing how many basketballs are in that too. Even Rahul gazing at a basketball as though it were Anjali. Interesting.

Aside to sound designer: in the restaurant scene when Jai shows up to give Anjali a flower, truly excellent use of Celine Dion and that pseudo-"Bolero" cell phone ring as background irritants adding to the general feeling of awkwardness and tension. The person in the office next to mine has that cell phone ring, leaves her phone on a lot, and is rarely in her office when it goes off for four or five rounds, driving me completely pagali. Ellen DeGeneres even makes fun of it in one of her stand-up shows. That's how annoying it is.

Aside to costume designer: boxer briefs?!? What is wrong with you? Boxers. Please.

Aside to Akshaye: I miss you already. Please make more movies! I'm not asking for six a year, but if you start adopting Aamir's pace, I'll cry.

Second aside to Akshaye: as you continue in filmmaking, I hope you don't stick to this "I'm really mad, so I'm going to yell" style of emoting. That was just for this character, right? (Although wait, you did it in Taal sometimes too. Hmmm.) The world does not need another actor from the Al Pacino School of Talking Normally Then Suddenly Yelling to Emphasize the Dramatic, Frightening End of the Sentence.

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