Monday, March 26, 2012

adventures sans subtitles: Kahaani and London Paris New York

I will neither confirm nor deny that there was a point in Mumbai at which we found ourselves so hot and tired and overwhelmed and frustrated by the city and the things we had thought we would do in it that we said "Screw it!" and spent ten hours at InOrbit mall. Whatever my activities that day may or may not have been, they did include seeing both Kahaani and London Paris New York, the former because it looked really good and the latter because it seemed like the kind of thing that 1) makes for suitable vacation-brain viewing and 2) the enjoyment of which would not be particularly impeded by my lack of Hindi.

I loved Kahaani while it was unspooling, but once it ended and I had all the facts of the story I was extremely unsatisfied with the way it had been set up. There was something about the tone of the truth, so to speak, as compared with that of the rest of the film, that did not work for me at all. The movie  was totally gripping and exciting, and the acting and characterizations were BRILLIANT. And don't you just want to sink onto Parambrata Chatterjee's shoulder on the bus one warm, glowing, tired night and take him home with you (your motivations for doing so are your business)? But I was disappointed once everything was in place. Whether understanding the dialogue better would have changed this, I'm not sure.

The other note I want to make about Kahaani is that of any Indian film I have seen it is the most amazingly evocative in capturing, generally, what it's like to be in India and specifically to find yourself arriving in a new-to-you Indian city. I haven't spent enough time in Kolkata to comment on how the film depicted that city, but the overall feel of the film perfectly expressed much of my experience in getting into and becoming even a little familiar with a new place. The people who will instantly help you and offer you kindness, the people who refuse to answer your questions, the people who explain at length why they're doing something different than any reasonable interpretation of their self-described duties would suggest; the crowds and isolation; the noise and music; the heat, the softness, the richness of the air; the dirt, the color, the discovery (for better or worse) at every corner.

As for London Paris New York: there are far worse things to do than stare at Ali Zafar for a few hours, even in the vaguely tiresome and uninspiring context of pretty privileged twentysomethings figuring out their love lives, but my biggest pleasure in the film was experiencing a singing voice that perfectly matches the actor's speaking voice and his whole persona/character. As expressive as some actor/singer pairs throughout Hindi cinema can be, there is nothing quite like letting someone sing for himself, especially someone who has the chops and knows how to sing. It felt so fresh and different. The other highlight is some probably unintentional hilarity in the painfully awkward choreography in "Ting Rang." Perhaps it was supposed to realistically suit the setting of our hero just wandering into a pub and being fawned over and forced to dance by a group of drunk English bimbos? Whatever, just watch it and laugh. Everything else in the film is forgettable, though in a very pleasant timepass sort of way.

Now, back to Parambrata Chatterjee....

7 comments:

Sonia said...

Agree with both the reviews. I wish Parambrata Chatterjee was given more attention than he has been given in the Indian media.

Since the female lead is Vidya Balan, most people forget that it's a character movie, i.e.- every character has something to offer, something to love, something to hate. There is an almost tangible feel to each character instead of just focusing on the leads (as seen in most Bolly flicks). This often saddens me and I'm glad you focused on this character as he is one of the most endearing ones.

Also wondering, do you like Vidya Balan? :)

Mette said...

Oh, I'm so jealous of you being in India! I guess I'll be able to go there like... 2,5 years from now. And I've been waiting to see it for many years.

Anyway, it sounds like you were having some fun inside that mall anyhow... I'm curious for Kahaani, and LPNY sounds entertaining too.

sakshi said...

kahani is simply amazing...

veracious said...

I am eagerly awaiting a chance to see Kahaani! Meanwhile,

my biggest pleasure in the film was experiencing a singing voice that perfectly matches the actor's speaking voice and his whole persona/character
YES. This is truly what makes Ali Zafar a pleasure to see on-screen.

Pretty much agreed on the film otherwise as well. I liked it as I watched but jesus those characters were unpleasant.

veracious said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
priya mehra said...

beautiful movie

কুণ্ডপর্ণী সম্মাদ্দার said...

Superb story.. Pleasure for the eyes..