Arundhati Roy (The God of Small Things) wrote and stars in this poignant and funny made-for-TV movie about a group of architecture students at the end of their fifth and final year in 1974 New Delhi. I didn’t really know what to expect; the only thing I knew about it was that a very young Shahrukh Khan has a small role. What a gem it is, though! It’s Chashme Buddoor meets Fast Times At Ridgemont High in its deft portrait of student life and profane humor (and how interesting is it that all three films were made by women?!). There are no songs, and the background music consists mostly of Beatles tunes, which suits the ambience perfectly. The students are a mixed bunch— rebellious hippies, uptight “good” girls, goofy nerds, and the titular Anand “Annie” Grover (Arjun Raina), a hapless loser repeating his fifth year for the fourth time.
Sweet geeky Punjabis meet Barbara Cartland! How can that not be delightful? As usual I am late to this party, which normally would stop me from writing about it but since in this case I found the film so much more wonderful than most of my friends and blogging compadres did, I feel the need to bloble (blog+burble) away. Incidentally, I watched RNBDJ with my sister, who also loved it, and it helped to have each other’s company and input on the rare occasions (almost entirely at the end) where the hackles did rise.
I am not a fan of Adi Chopra’s; I know I’ve mentioned elsewhere here that I did not like DDLJ much at all. But I didn’t feel this was permeated to nearly the same annoying degree of condescending-men-know-best that his other films have been, thanks in large part to Taani’s character (very nicely acted by Anushka Sharma); but also in large part thanks to the characters of Suri/Raj and Bobby Khosla (also well acted by Shah Rukh Khan and Vinay Pathak). All three are so patently ineffective at being that sort of paternalistic man that it is a joy to watch Suri’s bumbling but well-intentioned efforts to win Taani’s heart succeed—and succeed precisely because he is inept at “macho.”
Ah, the ’90s: swelling orchestral music, wind machines, flowing chiffons, campy sound effects, foreign song locales, palatial mansions, excess on every front. How I love excess! Especially when it includes Shah Rukh’s twisty almost-crying face. Why is it that he can make that face and I don’t want to toss things at the screen? Why is it that I love this film so very very much? It should annoy me, but it doesn’t. It’s corny and cartoony and shamelessly manipulative, but it tugs at my every heartstring. I always end up awash in tears—and loving every minute of it.
Was it to see AR Rahman and Anil Kapoor on the red carpet at the Golden Globes?! And winning!!!! Congratulations to all of you for your four well-deserved awards!
***Applauds madly and cheers (would whistle in addition if I could)***
SRK was poised and articulate too in presenting the film as a Best Picture nominee!
When I started this blog, I decided that my policy would be to write only about films that nobody else has really written about, because many Hindi movies already have great write-ups elsewhere and I’ve really got nothing inspirational to add.
My USP is that I watch a LOT of movies. Movies that most people will probably never see (many with good reason). But I seldom see a film when it’s newly released. I wait for the DVD because I hate going to movie theaters and having to deal with all those other people (I’m grouchy in addition to under-employed). Also theaters showing Hindi films are few and far between in my area. I am also naturally disposed to dislike things that everyone else universally raves about (the grouch factor again). Like Chak De! India. But this movie thoroughly deserves all the acclaim it’s gotten and I want to write about it, and hey! it’s my blog.
I love Shah Rukh as much as anyone, but I can’t say I’m on board with his whole new “six-pack abs” look. Like many other aging celebrities who exercise and diet to extremes, it is taking its toll on his face (I also hate all the popping veins, and I won’t even talk about the hair). Today my sister put this comparison in my head, and now I fear I may never see him in the same light again.
It’s a slippery slope, Shah Rukh. A slippery slope. I’m just saying.
*Photo of Iggy Pop by Annie Leibovitz