A movie so sad, even the film is crying.
Also, Amitabh is Shaft.
But we always knew that, didn't we?
Also, a public service announcement: never, ever get into a car (or airplane) being driven by a Kapoor, especially this one.
But we knew that already too. Take away his keys, get him some coffee, and call him a taxi (not metaphorically).
A context disclaimer, specially crafted for Silsila: I have never been married, I have never (to my knowledge) been romantically involved with someone who is, I don't have any siblings, my parents are still alive, no one I know is in the air force, I have never seen any of the other Indian movies released around the same time that deal with adultery (mentioned by Filmi Geek here), and I only watched this one so that I could experience all available Shashitabh primary source material.
This movie drove me crazy: the constant wandering through people-less, plant-heavy outdoor locales; the sparse, uninviting interiors; the screeching violins that accompanied whooshing camera zooms on people's faces during dramatic moments; Shashi's hammy drunking and self-important character;
Shut up, Squadron Leader Shekhar Malhotra.
But what irritated me most of all was that I felt the film offered no significant discussion or examination of why Amit decides to marry Shobha - and thus set in motion all the painful and destructive behaviors he and Chandni indulged in throughout the film. If it's due to social pressures, then where were they? These characters glide around in a world in which playwrights flirt with socialites to get productions okayed, where parents acquiesce to their daughters when trying to arrange their marriages, where getting plastered at parties and flailing around is unremarkable - and, most notably, in which a couple was not judged for getting pregnant before marriage (and hurrah for that!). Yes, social norms don't have to come in prescribed bundles, and writers have every freedom to include one stereotypical convention but ignore others, but that's not how these sorts of movies tend to work.
Two other major problems for me. One, Chandni came across as a wet noodle in all but a few scenes (her opening dance and her nervous meeting of Amit in a hotel), and I do not understand what was so compelling about her to Amit. As with Amit, the story would have really benefitted from some sort of explanation of her thought processes or feelings beyond misty forest cooing. Blurgh. I don't know if this is Rekha's fault or the writers'. Had she been a full character allowed to express things other than tears, there would have been much more complexity for me to sink my teeth into, and I bet I wouldn't have been so cranky. Two, its ending is a colossal lazy cop-out and leaves two major characters completely unresolved. It's like the story becomes as selfish as Amit is. Amit's lines about "the only thing that is true is that we're married" is stupid; just because you've reprioritized your life does not make other components of it, past or present, untrue. Less important, yes; false, un-real, or otherwise less extant, no. Oh, and two and a half: absolutely, great idea, pregnancies are a sure-fire way to solve and stabilize rocky marriages!
Despite being really irritated by and unimpressed with the whole thing generally, Silsila did have a few features that I responded to positively: Rekha and Amitabh's opening song "Pahile Pahile Bar Dekha," which actually had some life to it and made fine use of both actors' physical skills; "Rang Barse"'s effective creation of uncomfortable, relevant tension and awkwardness; the visual emphasis on contemporary architecture, which probably meant something but I'm not sure what (maybe that these characters have modern outlooks?); and the utter lack of judgment on the couple who were pregnant before getting married. And I loved Kulbhushan Khrabanda's police officer giving Amit the what-for - that's one death match I'd pay big money to see.
Then again, some of it was just weird. Do most grown men make sodomy jokes with their own brothers?
Silsila's meta factor is veeeeery interesting, and I had a hard time separating it out as I watched. If the timing of the supposed affair was before or during the making of the film, though, I think that's okay, because there's no way it wans't also on the minds of the people in and responsible for the movie. Did they or didn't they, and how did those relationships affect their decision be in the movie and how they felt about it? Even if none of the rumors was true, somebody had a lot of savvy for market and audience-milking - and a much keener taste for wry humor than I would have guessed possible in a soft-focus Yash Raj film.
The only other blog posts I could find about Silsila were Filmi Geek, PPCC, and Bitten by Bollywood (and apologies if I missed yours, dear readers! Please post the link!), yet somehow I've gotten the impression this is a Beloved Classic Treasure of Hindi Cinema. Or do I only think that because there are YRF ads on every DVD under the sun? And if it is a BCToHC, that's interesting too - a mainstream voice like YRF seeming to say that adultery is okay and ultimately not destructive! What I know is, I want nothing more to do with it (other than the comment thread here, of course! Comments ho!), certificate in Shashitabh Studies notwithstanding. Silsila may have made the PPCC SAD - Silsila Affected Depression - but it gave me SARS - Silsila Affected Rage Syndrome.
That's my reaction to the movie too, Amit.