Thursday, January 29, 2009

Rab Ne Bana Di Story

Even though I pick Hindi movies to watch with great care, I'll still end up watching a few that blow. Or a decent one that drags. And so I've devised ways to entertain myself while watching movies. Often I'll have flights of fancy. I'll develop a conspiracy theory. I'll try to imagine what the writer might have been thinking and try to guess the next plot twist. And before you know it, three hours have whizzed by and I walk out all happy.

I'm not trying to imply that the well-meaning Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi sucked, although there were moments when I wished I was in the Bahamas instead. And even though I wasn't looking for a story within the story, the big entity upstairs decided to give me one. Here is how it worked.

In RBNJ, Shahrukh Khan plays two characters - both are the same person, but different persona. As Suri, he plays a bespectacled, unspectacular "common man" - kind of like those that inhabited R. K. Laxman cartoons, but with more hair. And he also plays SRK, although here he calls himself Raj Kapoor. Caught in between is poor Anuskha Sharma, played like a ping pong by the two Shahrukhs. In the end there is much drama as she must choose, but I'm getting off track here.

Somewhere in the second half is Roop Kumar Rathod's romantic lullaby Tujh Mein Rab Dikhta Hai . Chasmis Khan and Flashy Khan both sing this song in turns. When Chasmis Khan is singing in an awkward, affectionate way, Anushka barely notices him and repeatedly walks right past him. But when Flashy Khan takes the stage and does the "pelvic Indian dance", Anuskha is instantly charmed and throws him a look of endearment or two.

Chasmis Khan is Aditya Chopra in my Rab Ne Bana Di Story. Flashy Khan is some phataka new director like Murugadoss . Anuskha is the Indian audience. I know its a stretch, but who can question what the Rab has in store for you?

Ghajini and RBNJ both opened close to each other in theaters - pitting the two maharathis of the Indian box office - Shahrukh and Aamir Khan - directly against one another. Ghajini raked in the moolah, RBNJ was a modest hit.

Ghajini director Murugadoss did balle balle all over his film - filling it with rapid edits, cutting on action, camera shakes, one superb fast motion scene and variable speed. He was trying to grab eyeballs by sheer visual momentum. It was Youth Film Making for the B4U generation.

In RBNJ, director Aditya Chopra is relatively fuddy duddy with his technique. He stages each shot with care - not resorting to any post production effects to punch up the scene. He trusts his story enough that he allows himself to tell it. Ironically enough the flashiest moments in the movie come in a scene that is an homage to Yash Raj Films' Dhoom 2 - the mother of all flashy flicks.

This is purely my opinion but Aditya is a better writer than he is a director. He infuses RBNJ with some nifty layers - there is a standout scene in which an inebriated Flashy Khan taunts (a replica of) Chasmis Khan and threatens to steal his wife from him. If anything Aditya's turns of plot need polish and appear to be a little out of touch with the zeitgeist.

So while watching the movie I couldn't help but think that this entire contraption is a device to tell us about the crossroads Indian Films find themselves at. There is the old school style of film making (see for example Hollywoodland) - sober, quiet, endearing and faithful to its audience. And then there is the new style full of audio and visual shimmies, brought on by a generation of filmmakers who cut their teeth on commercials (see for example Death Race). Which is the style that will define the memories of an entire generation of Hindi film goers?

Aditya's female lead spends all her time ignoring sober Bollywood and finding pleasure in flashy Bollywood. And what happens in the end? Well, if you were Aditya, how would you end your story?

22 comments:

meena said...

If I were Adi's fem lead, I would go back to chasmish but not before I gave chasmish a resounding slap when he confesses that he is also flashy khan right after she makes her emotional choice. I found chasmish's expectations emotionally dishonest and utterly unfair to the woman.

I didnt think aditya chopra could execute it so wrong..he is in barjatya territory.

..umm wait a minute, if cliches is all I can expect here, i am going with flashy khan...murugadoss here I come :0

musical said...

He he, i know i should not be asking this, but does Anushka's character have vision problems in the phillum? I mean she couldn't recognize that both are SRK :-D.

My guess is that Chashmish bhaiyya and Anushka khushi khushi rehne lage. But based on the snippets, i didn't like either avatar of SRK much, chashmish was too much of a stereotype and flashy was, well, an eye-sore! And this, when i LOVE SRK!! Ok, i'll pick Suri, if i had to :).

meena said...

haha..musical..whether its movies made good-old-fashioned style or flash-sizzle style, its the same old badly executed stories.

Indian audience, just like anushka in the film, gets taken for a ride :)

Aspi said...

I think I agree overall - Aditya's story telling seems to be in order. But his grasp of where the world is emotionally seems to have slackened considerably.

Anonymous said...

So Asin or Anushka? I'm hearing all kinds of opinions on that one.

Mind Rush said...

First off, wah wah! Drift saab---review ho to aisa! Mazaa aa gaya!
Thank god for a review that had an intelligent and original take on the film. And come to think of it Aditya in real life also has a moustache.

But I would choose Aamir over SRK...

Spark said...

Somebody pl explain...y on earth would someone get into hibernation for quite a long spell and then come out with this shit!!!!!Had he not been the same guy who gave us DDLJ.....and had it not been srk...ths movie would have been trashed BIG time....Also kinda speaks volumes about aam jantas typical behaviour.....some star, age old story or may be no story...movie hit...lesser know director with lesser known stars, but good/superb storylin...moviee flop or barely manages to float by!!!!

maxdavinci said...

oh aspi ji, tussi wonderful ho ji.

Aspi said...

Anon, on the "new" heroine wars - there is a post in there I tell you.

Spark, no question about that - a lot of star vehicles generate more attention than they are worth. Its part of the star system and why people like SRK command $$$. Now whether its deserved or not...

Yet a new wave is coming. We can all feel it. Maybe it'll create a more movie-driven market.

Let's start with the blogs :) If I see as many tributes to good film making as there are to SRK (or Hrithik, say), we'll know things are turning around.

NatC said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
NatC said...

first time it has happened that during a SRK movie i have dosed off....the moviee made no sense to me......the wife...can't figure out her husband without glass and moush what about his voice.......and yeh i agree with meena.. I would give the chasmis a good peice of my mind before i go back to him.... by the way why did he not go back to the flasy look khan...
good work Aspi..

Aspi said...

I think the most brilliant part of this movie - and the reason I'm convinced Aditya is a genuis - is this: we all know most Hindi movies barely make sense from a plot perspective. And this applies to RBNJ. But Adi makes the case that all this is happening because THE RAB wants it to be this way. And we shouldn't be questioning THE RAB now should we?

God. Just another Bollywood mechanism to make sense of it all.

girlie girl said...

Nice write up Aspi. Now I don't need to see the movie. I basically knows what happens throughout the movie and I can kinda guess the end because, let's face it, it's A) a Hindi movie, and B) a YashRaj movie.

Even when i saw the trailers for this, I had no desire to see this movie. It was on my "movies that I Don't have time for" list. Others on the list, Dhoom 2, Neel & Nikki, Golmaal Returns, that crappy Saif and Rani movie where she's marry poppins...and yes i konw that most of the movies on this list are YRF! Coincidence?! I think NOT!

meena said...

what a convenient crutch for lazy scriptwriters. Rab. Remember the other time he was used..
'Usne hum sabko jodiyon mein banaya hain' - Dil to pagal hai.

its true Rab is very handy..:)

..interestingly rab is the only new element in adi's version of the story (the girl chooses the staid husb over the glam bf). other versions done scores of times before (notably Swami, h dil de chuke sanam) didnt use him..

..there must more stories around that can be recycled by adding Rab :-)

musical said...

He he, Meena , i had totally forgotten about "jodiyon mein banaya hai" business :-D. Oh, and NatC, there is another SRK movie by the name "Ram Jaane", i had to walk out halfway!! It was unbearable. I don't know whether it was just the movie or the whole experience, but that one was, like, crazy!

Aspi: "Let's start with blogs" :).
We can always count on Drift :). But where are the movies to write tributes on?

Aspi said...

I'm pretty sure Race can be recycled with RAB in tow. How does all this pecheeda planning work? Rab! How on earth does someone fall down so many stories and still survive? Rab! Who's whacky enough to make such a plan? Someone driven by Rab! And how in heaven's name does anyone know who's side who is on? Rab!

Anonymous said...

You want to see a movie? ya'll go see Luck by Chance. Now that's a real movie. Four stars.

Need a review on Drift.

Spark said...

M telling u...may be the two avatars played by srk was actually meant to be 2 characters....may be they ran out of moolah...n hence cut down on the other character n just made it into an avatar... ;-p

Aspi said...

Or they ran out of make up money to disguise SRK properly and had to get THE RAB involved to amp up the believability factor.

Spark said...

Aspi...u got me LOL at dat!!!!

workhard said...

I have been following your posts, nice blog, its more entertaining than bollywood itself... Will be back...

Work from home

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