So I’m back in the motherland, home of jovial cabbies (be they from eastern Nigeria or Cavan) and three-point plugs for all outlets (common currency my foot, when will Europe have a common plug??).
I decided to flee for a few hours from the choices of floral arrangements (hmmm, one that spells out “Mam”? it does lend a real Dublin touch, but perhaps not”¦), readings for the Mass, selection of tenor and accompanying music (there will be a Josh Groban number at the close, as if we won’t all be in tears anyway), champagne for the reception, and all the other accoutrements of a funeral for one’s only mother, and reverted to my escape of choice: a Hindi movie.
God bless the after effects of the Celtic Tiger and the ensuing immigrant groups who have come to Ireland for better economic opportunities and a change of scenery (the reverse journey my Mom took years ago), there is now a large enough mass of South Asian peoples that a large, modern multiplex in the heart of Dublin has determined it’s worth their money to screen the latest releases from Bombay.
At the Cineworld on Parnell Street tonight, one could choose from not only Bachna Ae Haseeno, but also God Tussi Great Ho and Singh is Kinng. The almond buns at Bewleys may be gone, but Bollywood has arrived.
First, a shout out with much thanks to the very sweet Hughie from Cavan, who didn’t have change for a 50 Euro note, and who gladly took 3 Euros for a fare that was almost double that”¦.
By the time the 9pm show started, we were approximately 100 in the theater, nestled in our big cushy seats. No Hindi movie trailers, but there were four others, including The Rocker, the Madagascar sequel, and Bas Luhrmann’s Australia. Oh yes, and some frothy Disney flic”¦..I think it was one of those perky High School Musical films”¦”¦
So here’s the thing: I was more excited to see this movie because I had seen the sets when I was at Yash Raj studios, than at the prospect of another Ranbir Kapoor film. Heaven help me, I’m sure he’s a lovely guy, but I’m sure you all know how it is”¦..some actors appeal to you, fascinate you, cause some sort of a reaction, and others just don’t, and for some reason, Ranbir just doesn’t ring my bell. (Though I will admit, he dances well and keeps himself in lovely shape.) So I went into the cinema excited to see a first day of the big Yash Raj banner release, but just because it was YRF and because I wanted to see where the big set I had been on was going to appear. (See photo below.)
But to my own surprise, I liked BAH, and RK, much more than I thought I would. In this film, the Yash Raj folks have managed to produce something that is modern enough to talk of flavored condoms and whipped cream, while its heroines sport mini, mini, mini dresses and short shorts, and actually kiss the hero on the lips, and yet everything is fresh and clean and without even a hint of sleaze. If Bachna Ae Haseeno were a fragrance, it would be one of those bluish “water” scents that are so popular in summer, think L’Eau de Issey or Aqua di Gio.
Ranbir plays Raj, who we meet at three intervals in his life, in 1996, 2002, and 2007, during which he gets involved with Minissha Lamba, Bipasha Basu, and Deepika Padukone, respectively. He romances the first in Switzerland, with many Hindi movie references and regular nods to DDLJ on almost every quarter of the hour, like the chimes on the mantel clock in my grandad’s house in Clontarf. Next, he’s on to Bipasha Basu, a struggling actress in Bombay, who agrees to move in with him (a hero and heroine living in sin in a Yash Raj film! Chee!).
After carelessly breaking both their hearts, Raj hightails it to an assignment in Sydney, as a successful computer game executive, bedding so many blonde Aussies (ah, those easy goris”¦.) that he can’t even remember the correct name of one date. Cue the entry of Ms. Padukone, who plays a strong independent girl, driving a taxi for a living when not studying at b-school, and who says she has everything she needs and doesn’t want to get married. Raj is hooked and yes, you can see where this is heading. Someone’s bad deeds from the past are about to bite them on the butt”¦..(and boy, do I hope that sort of thing happens in real life too…)
The rest of the film is about forgiveness and growing up and making things right. There is a special appearance by Kunal Kapoor, whose sardar role calls for a turban and beard, both which serve to highlight and augment the existing beauty of his eyes. Costumes by Aki Narula are colorful and sweet (though I thought the green harem pants on Minissha were a bit much, and the younger Ranbir outfits seemed to have fallen out of a trunk marked “Jhoom Barabar Jhoom: property of Abhishek Bachchan” and then there’s the white “Right Here Right Now“ fedora from Harrods food hall that appears in the opening number”¦.). The set designs (by Sharmista Roy) are modern and elegant. Watch for the scene where Bips is in an Italian villa, waiting for someone to tie the white straps on the back of her gown”¦.even the yellow roses in a small bowl complement her and her ensemble.
Ranbir shows more depth here than in Saawariya, especially when it comes to the latter scenes, where he’s supposed to be older. But I really think the star of the movie is Bipasha, who is so strong and so mesmerizing that you can’t stop looking at her. The song picturized in Italy is gorgeous, zooming over sand, sea, cobblestoned campi, and I found myself losing a tear or two as I watched Deepika and Ranbir dance on the emptied Piazza San Marco, where I sat out with my late Mom for an aperitivo one evening some years back.
See it or skip it
See it. Though it does run a wee bit long, it’s one of those lovely summer movies to lose yourself in.
That said, it’s not totally empty and frothy. And I did wonder how the writers would sort out Deepika’s wonderful and adamant “I don’t need a husband” stance, which I almost stood up and applauded, and I mused on whether she’d turn tail and decide that life wouldn’t be complete without the saat phere, I think it was scripted well enough to not be seen as caving in to trite expectations of what a good Hindustani ladki is supposed to do, both in Deepika’s character’s case, and that of Bipasha’s.