Sunday, April 17, 2005

Socha Na Tha& White Noise 

Socha Na Tha

The guy can’t make up his mind— his ‘duh’ness is cute up to a point, but going through a whole movie in which a young man ping-pongs between two girlfriends, three sets of families and a whole lot of needless confusion, is a bit much.

Viren, the hero of Socha Na Tha, is the typical spoilt young son of a rich family, who has no other kaam-dhanda, except hanging out with friends— including a rather unpleasant girlfriend Karen (Apoorva Jha) and sounding-board best buddy.

Viren wants to marry Karen, and turns down Aditi (Ayesha Takia), the girl his parents want him to marry. Aditi doesn’t mind in the least (she is used to being interviewed and rejected), but her family almost goes to war with Viren’s stern clan.

Now, for no reason but that it suits the director (Imtiaz Ali), Viren needs to go to Goa to propose to Karen, and has to take the help of Aditi to get Karen there. In Goa, Viren and Aditi hit if off rather well, which causes problems back home, when she is spotted giving him a chaste good-bye hug.

Of course, everybody raves and rants and refuses to listen to reason. Plus the hero does go to great lengths to complicate his love life. When his family agrees to let him marry Karen, Viren realizes he actually loves Aditi, but she is getting married to someone else. And the whole rigmarole starts again.

Viren and Aditi must be the most brainless duo to have hit Bollywood, which is anyway not too high on IQ. Not only can they not make up their minds and speak coherently, they are constantly being ‘enlightened’ about their own emotions by other people.

Still, the first half of Socha Na Tha has a nice, bubble-gummy youthful charm; the second half is a drag, with a mournful song or two that needs to be chopped off (Sandesh Shandilya not in top form).

The dimpled Abhay Deol is not the Adonis type, more boy-next-door material, but he does well in the role of a befuddled young fellow. But this debut was designed for him by the doting Deol family; his talent will be proved when he is thrown into the big bad outside world. Ayesha Takia is simple and unaffected and really a welcome relief from all those sex-kittens bombarding Hindi films.

White Noise

Excellent opening scene: wife walks into the home of her husband’s girlfriend, tell her the affair is off, calls her names, leaves her shattered. Girlfriend jilted by proxy proceeds to get drunk, drives to office of the man, who is also her boss, throws a hysterical fit and gets fired.

Okay, you feel a twinge of sympathy for her, lots of gullible young women get into affairs with married men and get dumped. But if all she does afterwards is get drunk, wallow in self pity and throw hysterical fits, the sympathy doesn’t last for very long, neither does interest in Vinta Nanda’s White Noise.

After being thrown over personally and professionally, Gauri Khanna (Koel Purie) gets a job as a writer (with ex-boyfriend’s recommendation) on a soap called Pavitra Aarti. The male boss (Jatin Sial) promptly hits on her and the female (Mona Ambegaonkar) is a jealous virago.

One doesn’t know why Gauri is such a star writer, since her idea of resurrecting a soap is killing off all the characters. When she is not working, she is staggering around the city in drunken state and sleeping in her car because “there are ghosts in the house.”

Karan (Rahul Bose), an editor on the show, takes an inexplicable shine to the Gauri and spends all his spare time running after her with a blanket – literally and figuratively. A gossip item about her, unhinges Gauri completely, though of course Karan is around to pick up after her.

Writer-director Vinta Nanda was one of the leading lights of television, so one would expect her to be a little more accurate about things. Since when do the newspapers bother about a soap writer and editor? Who even knows who writes, directs or edits all those high-TRP soaps? Why would a talk show hostess base an entire episode on some TV producer and his wife, throwing barbs at some poor, drunken writer?

How come Gauri had dozens of friends to go on a picnic to Alibag, but absolutely no well-wishers or confidants otherwise—except the masochistic Karan, whom she treats worse than a garbage collector?

How do TV writers and editors live in such plush apartments? At some point someone says that if weren’t for Pavitra Aarti, Karan and Gauri would be on the streets, then how does Gauri manage to get money to make a film?

The two lead characters are supposed to be complex—they are given psycho-babble reasons for their loony behaviour; his mother remarried (all through the film his parents pathetically try to call him) and her father abandoned her. But they just come across as irritating losers. It would take a master to make an appealing film with characters like this, Nanda can’t swing it.

The worst part of White Noise, is the florid dialogue, delivered by all characters in a grand theatrical manner.

Koel Purie (given garish make- up and ghastly wardrobe) manages to laugh and cry rather well, it’s the in between stages that don’t work. Rahul Bose’s character is quite vague, so he can’t be blamed for going through the film with a dazed look, probably passing for extra intense.

While one cannot expect a pro-woman agenda from a female director, Vinta Nanda’s take on today’s urban professional woman is annoying. The girl-- beautiful and talented—hasn’t a shred of dignity of self-respect. She sleeps with her married boss (that she loves him is no justification), needs a man’s charity for a career, and a man’s help to deal with a personal, self-inflicted trauma. Not done!


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