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Saturday, October 02, 2010

AA+Khichdi 

Anjaana Anjaani Before one actually gets down to looking at Anjaana Anjaani, there are a few questions. Like why are so many mainstream filmmakers making what look like English films in Hindi. Can’t simple love stories take place in Indian? Is there nowhere to take a road trip in this big, wide country?

American films have barely begun to acknowledge the existence of Indians in the US, but in our made-in-America (or any other foreign location), Hindi speaking Indians are everywhere. People living and working in the West, routinely speak to each other in unaccented Hindi and even address strangers in this language, when there’s no means of knowing if the other person is of Indian origin. But apart from all this annoying sheen of artifice, the designerwear clad characters, consuming gallons of alcohol and dancing in nightclubs (to Hindi songs) wearing really tiny outfits, sleeping in the same bed, are actually all desi at heart— the guy and the girl are coyly waiting for the right person, to, you know, ummm, do it!

Then, no matter how ‘original’ the film may be, it still has a seen-it-somewhere look and feel—hundreds of Hollywood films and dozens of Karan Johar kind of films. Everything so, so déjà vu!

Akash (Ranbir Kapoor) just lost a fortune in a stock market crash, Kiara (Priyanka Chopra) cannot get over heartbreak, so both end up on a bridge to commit suicide. Then after many failed attempts, decide to live for a few more days and do what they always wanted to do. Money, still doesn’t seem to be a problem when it comes to hiring boats, or paying for gas to take a road trip across the US, or paying hospital bills!

One doesn’t really mind the farfetched part of the film, it is the calculated-ness, the look-at-me cuteness that starts to grate on the nerves very soon, and the film goes on and on much after patience has run out. There are some really nice moments though (like the two stranded mid-ocean), and a couple of funny ones (like Akash’s jig in a gay bar), but the characters’ plight never really touches the heart.

Also, it is completely incomprehensible how people in films never seem to know when they are in love, when everyone else can. Then they are hit on the head with the realization when a conveniently at hand friend, at the right moment, mentions it. Then predictably the rush to find the loved one. Oh, but they don’t have each other’s numbers, not even email ids.. what about Facebook or Twitter? This is the stupidity you encounter in films that get their ideas from other films.

However, the film really looks good enough to be a come-to-America advertisement. And Ranbir Kapoor can still give his stilted, early Shah Rukh Khan-esque character some genuine heartfelt moments. He is totally without inhibition –whether it is lounging in pink slippers, or letting the girl rescue him from an almost-rape. Priyanka Chopra has the chirpy part, all talk and tears, but it is Kapoor who delivers the goods. The kind of film teens will giggle and chomp (popcorn) through and forget about the moment they step out of the cinema.

Khichdi The Movie

At least, filmmakers are looking in different directions for inspiration—Khichdi The Movie is the first television sitcom to be adapted into a movie in India. Friends, or Sex In The City it ain’t but the film, written and directed by Aatish Kapadia who also created the sitcom, has its share of madcap moments.

The characters in the series-- the ineffectual patriarch and his idiotic brood -- have all the quirks of a Gujarati family, even though people as moronic as these would be difficult to imagine—or rather imagine a whole lot of Rowen Atkinsons and Jim Careys on speed, but dressed in Indian costumes.

Kapadia has the ability to wring humour out of the most mundane situations and every line has a pun popping out. If it also had better production values and a coherent plot, the film might actually have been trendsetter. Not having seen a single episode of the serial, one has no way of gauging whether it is faithful to the original or not, but as a standalone entity, this Khichdi needed a lot more salt and pepper—or why not simply watch reruns of the episodes at home. The idea of getting Himanshu (JD Majethia) a bride along with a memorable love story is too thin to stretch over a full-length film.

The positive thing is that some of the very good comic actors in here would never have got an opportunity to star in a film. Supriya Pathak, Rajeev Mehta and JD Majethia are hilarious. And the film, in spite of its over the top silliness and amusing in parts. It actually looks like a large part of the low budget must have been spent on junior artistes in low rent finery, because so many scenes are simply overpopulated with garishly dressed people. Like the 65-member Punjabi family next door to the Patels, all called Parminder!

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