Thursday, October 29, 2009

Waking up Sid but not quite smelling the coffee

Imagine if an alien landed on earth in India. He is then told that to gain an understanding of India he should a. Watch Cricket b. Watch Bollywood movies. Now apart from figuring out leg before wickets and the subtle differences between fine legs and long legs, the alien can be excused for assuming that everyone in India is rich, work in some kind of creative field or manage their father's business.

We guess by now one would have guessed we are not big fans of "Wake Up Sid". And against this backdrop we present our review. Watching the trailers one can easily make out that "Wake Up Sid" does not claim to have even an ounce of realism in it. So by the time the movie starts you can predict that Sid will fails his exams, meet Konkona, decide that he wants to do something in his life, his coming-of-age moment, that Konkona will be working in some kind of creative/yuppie field like writing/music composing/acting, that her workplace will look uber-bohemian, the mandatory marine drive scene, have someone with long hair at the workplace, that there will be some kind of props referencing cult movies(Annie Hall), authors (Murakami) and watching Sid snapping away at his camera that he will end up becoming a photographer.

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We so wished against our better judgment that there would be at least one place where the director could surprise us, like maybe Konkona would refuse to let Sid stay at her place and he instead finds refuge at Kashmira Shah's place and gets a better understanding of life. For once it would have been good if we had Konkona working at a place where has to work with say MS Excel or Cadence or something equally banal since that is what most of our work involves. On the other hand the scene which we thought could have sparked a modicum of interest in the movie, the part where Sid and Konkona talk well past midnight by the sea is such an ordinary, trite, inane piece of conversation that we would prefer "Beta maine tumhaare liye gaajar ka halwa aur mooli ke paratha banaaye hain" any day.

And why this fetishism with Bombay/Mumbai. We had high hopes after "Jab We Met" that maybe someone would actually make movies about Ratlam or countless such towns which we guess have much more unique and interesting stories to say. One only has to watch Dor or Manorama Six Feet Under to realize that life exists beyond what is easily the most cosmopolitan city of this country. By the way the Bombay depicted in Wake Up Sid and which Konkona goes ga ga about in the whole movie, almost going so far as to becoming a character in the movie, all we can say is that the titles of Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na was infinitely more preferable.

Overheard a friend saying "Wake Up Sid a good sing song movie, a bit like Lakshya much better and far lesser senti ness in it". So it seems like this is what the "Multiplex Movies" are all about, make movies which do not tug at our emotional strings. To answer another friend who contends that today's Bollywood movies are better than the 80's, well what can we say that it is still the same escapist fare. Just that the Bollywood movie watcher these days is the kind of person who so wishes he becomes a rock star rather than a I-banker. Leads us to wonder whether having a wide choice of movies to choose from is leading us to choose the kind of interpretations of the world around us that make us happy and maintain status quo rather than ones that would actually provoke one to think, to debate. We have a sneaky suspicion that our previous generation forced to watch movies on DD every Sunday afternoon might have watched a wider range of movies dealing with more varied subjects and settings.

There is a big positive in this movie and that is the casting. Everyone seems to be tailor made for their roles. Ranbir Kapoor is fast evolving into the new Saif Ali Khan, playing roles of overgrown confused boys effortlessly. Konkona is bang on as the girl with big eyes in the big city, Sid's mother is endearingly played by Supriya Pathak. Anupam Kher as the father is refreshingly different from what he was in yer another cult DDLJ. The song "Dil Bole Iktara" has a very high hummability quotient about it.

"Wake Up Sid" reminds us of a great mannequin at a high fashion store. It is exquisitely clothed, the curves are gorgeous, the clothes oh so elegant and the lighting exactly right. But all said and done it is still a mannequin, give us a real lady any day with less than perfect clothes.