Monday, December 17, 2007

Saa-What Now?

Suffice to say, this review is slightly late. Not only has Sanjay Leela Bhansali's magnum opus Saawariya already crashed and burned at the box office, but fairly most of you have also been warned against inflicting its wrath upon yourselves. Especially when, pitted against it, was a far more entertaining Om Shanti Om. Nevertheless, after finally getting around to watching the film, it is only fair that I get to share my two cents on whether new kids on the block Ranbir and Sonam Kapoor are really all that and more. The simple answer to the latter is that they are, best put, promising (more so the Mr. than his leading lady).

Saawariya, quite simply, is a story of love, in all of its manifestations and with all of its trials and tribulations. It's about a happy-go-lucky boy who chances upon a damsel in distress, the friendship that evolves between them and the twist and turns that take their love story into the unexpected (or so they had hoped; in reality it's all very predictable).

It would be difficult to elaborate on the story itself, because there isn't really one as such. Bhansali takes Dostoevsky's short story White Nights and decides to really run with it. Sadly, the man runs in the entirely wrong direction, and someone somewhere along the way forget to tell him. Like his prior adaptation of Devdas, the director devotes all of his attention to the sets, costumes and look of the film, not realizing that it is actually a very simple tale at hand (i.e. there is no need for the gargantuan Venetian nightmare, pretty as it may be, nor should Ranbir be prancing around in silk and satin garments that look a little too pricey to have been sewn for a poor musician).

At least in Devdas, we were able to seek comfort in exuberant performances, superior dance sequences, a steady pace and an overall solid piece of directing. The main problem with Saawariya lies in the fact that it almost looks as if there is no director behind the camera, and the two kids are just living out any day from their childhood as they laugh, crack jokes and revel in the sort of on-screen camaraderie that shows two friends, at best, and hardly anyone who is in love.

In between their interactions we are also subjected to a highly irritating angle involving Zohra Sehgal, a role that was meant to come across endearing and instead falls flat on its face. There is also a highly underdeveloped sidetrack involving Salman Khan, who puts on his best "only for you, Sanjay" face and sleepwalks through his role. Rani Mukherjee plays Ranbir's prostitute friend, maybe because she enjoyed it so much in Laaga Chunari Mein Daag?

So you are made to sit through 2 hours and 20 minutes of what is essentially nothing, admirable as the cinematography and visuals may be. In fact, visually-speaking, it is a work of put in a museum, not the cinema hall.

Most disappointing is Sonam's character sketch; her Sakina is a girl with almost no depth, and her entire interaction with Salman is so vague and poorly drawn-out that you are unable to feel anything for the character at all. And given the film largely revolves around her and Ranbir alone, it is highly necessary to at least somewhat empathize with the young lady who so intoxicates Ranbir that he can think of no one but her. Sonam, for her part, does a decent job with what she is given. She's undeniably pretty, but breaking into a giggle every five minutes hardly gives her any scope in what could have been a smashing debut.

Ranbir, on the other hand, scores big time in his first outing. His character is over-the-top, he is made to do some rather obnoxious (not to mention homoerotic, e.g. towel scene) sequences, and yet he manages to do them almost naturally. At times he overdoes it, but for his first film it's a very confident debut. Yes, there is somewhat of a Hrithik Roshan hangover in his mannerisms, enthusiasm and dance moves, but who doesn't try to recreate Hrithik's debut nowadays?

Rani does well and looks gorgeous, but her role is rather inconsequential. Both she and Salman (who literally does nothing other than mouth "hey, look at me, I'm Muslim" words like Assalamu alaikum, Khuda Hafiz and insha'Allah) are given such insipid roles that you feel for them for owing Sanjay enough to have to appear in the film to begin with.

The music is fantastic, no doubt. Although there is a song every five or so minutes, given the slow proceedings in the actual plot, you sit and pine for another song (which to me is always the sign of a bad film).

Call it expectations, if you will. Or just call it faith in a director who is capable of so much more. Whatever you want to call it, the only outcome 'it' has is disappointment. Maybe it's enough to watch for its visual beauty, Ranbir's "be all that I can be" attitude and some lovely tunes. Just prepare yourself for a confusing journey with one ultimate destination: Boredom.

Verdict? If you absolutely must, watch it for the sake of the kids (not yours - Rishi and Anil's).


illusions01 said...

yeah it sucked so bad, i agree ranbir was better than sonam, although i got really annoyed of him. haha lillypop :p

Beth said...

"There is somewhat of a Hrithik Roshan hangover in his mannerisms, enthusiasm and dance moves"

That is a great statement! :)