Saturday, September 26, 2009


Cast: Harman Baweja, Priyanka Chopra
Director: Ashutosh Gowariker
Runtime: Time does anything but run
Verdict: It’s simple. Mr. Gowariker doesn’t know how to make a feature film.
Genre: Romance, Comedy

        Conversation, it seems to me, is a dying art. More so at the movies, where I increasingly come across conversations being swapped for some empty flash. You see, when it comes to movies, especially romance, or comedy, or drama, a conversation is often the very basic unit of the script. Often, it is everything. The window into the characters and all. That Mr. Gowariker decides to drape (actually I think he mutes) his conversations behind a rather silly sounding song is proof enough that he has nothing interesting to say beyond the clichéd/rhetoric/recycled. Think of it reader. Isn’t it alarming that a film based upon the simple premise of people meeting new people doesn’t have even a single conversation of note. I mean, I’m a voyeur. As are you. That is why we watch other’s people’s lives on the screen with such interest. I would’ve very much wanted to overhear what Pooja (Ms. Chopra, the doctor) had to say to our guy. I wouldn’t know, and I assure you neither does Mr. Gowariker. That speaks real low of his filmmaking.
        What annoys me is that Mr. Gowariker doesn’t even have the bloody sense of music. His songs do not feel a part of the film. They’re absolutely inorganic, lending less to the situation, and taking away more. If compassion and intelligence were really the currency of his filmmaking, there were at least three candidates by my estimate who shouldn’t have existed in the title track. You see, our guy, who in Mr. Gowariker’s defense, doesn’t really seem to know what he wants. Can’t really be sure if that was intended. Then again, how can one be when someone is as harmlessly untalented as Mr. Baweja. Nevertheless, my gut feel was that the dude wasn’t really interested in the 15-year old Jhankhana (Ms. Chopra, again). That leads me to believe he could never ever consider her as a possible contender. If he was a flesh and blood person. Or if he was a snapshot of the filmmaker’s thought-process. Yet, despite the dude’s and script’s instant rejection, Mr. Gowariker chooses to include her in the final scheme of things is proof enough that the man doesn’t have any idea what he’s doing. The film scarcely exhibits any shred of what is considered as human behavior. It is all conceptual, like much of everything that Mr. Gowariker makes. And boy, what a boring one at that.
        But be thankful. To the good lord, for he laid only twelve constellations in the sun’s path. In there, it feels like our path too. Really. Mr. Gowariker shows once again why he doesn’t really have much sense of at least two principles of filmmaking – scriptwriting and editing – and might also be considered mediocre at best when it comes to framing. His images are devoid of any sort of life. Absolutely. Everything feels staged and framed. I do not know his history but his aesthetics seem to betray a bend for the television soap, or a play. Not that he is good at that, like say Mr. Sam Mendes, but he is seemingly incapable of capturing a life in his image. They are mighty artificial, with only a sense of concept driving them. Every filmmaker has an idea behind his image, but the one who’s worth his name has a knack of making us feel that idea. Mr. Gowariker’s sticks out just as ugly as a fifth grader’s little essay on My Hobby. No wonder the Oscars represent such mediocrity. What else can we expect from such a voting panel?
        One needn’t look too far for evidence. You see, analyzing Mr. Gowariker’s films isn’t exactly analyzing a thesis. The simplistic line of thought exhibited in his films isn’t a progeny of an idealist by any means. It is merely, well, simplistic, much like that fifth grader’s argument. The flaws in his films are jumping on the very surface. They are fundamental ones. Like for instance, the editing. One can safely say, even with the kind of feeble knowledge of it as I do, that Mr. Gowariker has little sense of it. For instance, take the clumsy manner in which the dude is introduced to us, after the silly premise of a – money owed to the sharks resulting in a forced marriage – is laid out in front of us. Look reader, how amateurishly that entire portion of the film is structured. The family in India, after learning the only solution to their wretched predicament, decides to call our dude in Chicago. And then, what do we see. A montage, of him –waking up, going to some school, and suddenly in a nice suit at some firm. Didn’t that confuse you reader, if he was studying or working. The question is simple – is Mr. Gowariker interested in the montage of one day or his entire cycle in Chicago. We don’t know, but what we do know is that the little montage is inherently incomprehensible. Doesn’t just fit. Might have worked if it was the opening few minutes of the film, or the background for the credits. The advantages would have been threefold – (a) We might have saved on valuable time, (b) Would have made better sense, and (c) Would have got rid of that visually unimaginative credits-song that lends absolutely nothing.
        Or consider another little moment quite early in the film. Our dude knows he’s up against it. The film cuts to him sleeping on the couch. And within a matter of two beats, he gets up, conveying to us that he cannot sleep. Any filmmaker will tell you that is wrong. A scene shouldn’t exist to merely relay news. By my estimate, the scene started at least 5-6 second late. See reader, a matter of sleeplessness should first be established. The manner in which Mr. Gowariker handles it reins a sense of artifice that is very much the dominant tone of every moment of his every film.
        You know, if I come to think of it, isn’t it sad I spend almost one thousand words and I seem to have addressed only the very basic issues. Never mind. The acting is bad. Awful. Mr. Baweja, and everybody around him ought to realize that some people just cannot act. Not even if their very life depended on it. See Mr. Ashmit Patel. It’s not their fault. They’re challenged. Also given terrible material to work with. And neither is Mr. Gowariker too generous on them. He basically deals in generics and concepts. Stuff like that. Stereotypes too. That career-woman Rajni (Ms. Chopra) is an embarrassment. Is that how a caricature is done? So are many others. Silly songs deleted and more moments to these women and it would have been so much more fascinating. You see, the premise is not a problem by any means. Rather I find it to have a potential for some kind of great film. Meeting and knowing the very inners of new people is so interesting. But not here. My respect for Mr. Aamir Khan’s sense of filmmaking has jumped up a few notches. Boy, doesn’t he know how to get the job done.
        Oh yeah, just in case you were wondering whether you would be stumbling upon some insight into girls of various signs, my better half is a Sagittarian. And by god, she’s not even remotely like the one on display. Except for the simple fact that both are, you know, women. I’m sure Mr. Gowariker’s aims weren’t so low.

Note: In a humble display of my protest against the uninspiring imagery on display I attach not a still from the film but its poster.


Amar said...

Thanks. Now, I can go to watch this movie...


I wonder why you dont review any Kim Ki Duk Movies.