November 9, 2007

Once in a Blue Night

Saawariya marks the debut of Ranbir and Sonam Kapoor. In case you aren't an Indian then I'll inform you that they are the children of Rishi Kapoor-Neetu Singh and Anil Kapoor-his wife (Sunita…?) but that is really immaterial for Saawariya is another wet dream of a certain Sanjay Leela Bhansali.

Mr. Bhansali has taken two star kids and one crazy set designer (Omung Kapoor) and decided to paint the town in shades of blue; interspersed with 10 songs and some bizarre shots and there ya go- that's Saawariya. Of course, there will some story (supposedly inspired by Dostoevsky's White Nights) and lots of loud background score but hey how the hell would Melodrama King achieve his goal? Mr. Bhansali has commented that if the great Raj Kapoor were alive, he'd have made the same film for his grandson. Every time a Kapoor offspring decides to act (what else can they possibly do!) they start yakking how the great Raj Kapoor would have been happy and how they are going to do the name proud. If Raj Kapoor were alive and had launched Karishma, Kareena and Ranbir, who knows they'd have retired after the first outing. Anyone remember Rajeev AKA Chimpu Kapoor?

Ranbir might be a good-looking guy and has the makings of a 'star' but the dude has a long, long way to go. His father, according to me, is the only actor from the 70's who managed to carve a niche for himself in front of the towering Amitabh Bachchan. At some award function many actors were paying homage to Rishi Kapoor by dancing to his songs and it dawned upon me that perhaps after Mr. Bachchan, Rishi Kapoor is the only one has kind of left a legacy. The funny thing is that whenever some Kapoor child is launched, he/ she is asked the obvious question- wouldn't be wonderful if you were launched under the RK banner? Of course it would be but the fact of the matter is that RK banner is almost defunct and it'd take a miracle of Biblical magnitude to revive it. Imagine Rishi Kapoor launching Ranbir in some film as opposed to Mr. Bhansali calling the shots? Even the harshest critics of Mr. Bhansali would side with him. Someone asked Ranbir the same dumb question and he came up with a dumber reply- RK Films ain't defunct, only that nothing has excited them in the last four or five years. Well praise the Lord for that! Did anyone see the last two films that came out the studio and managed to redifine regression- Prem Granth and Aa Ab Laut Chale. These two films seemed to have been sadly resurrected from the pile called 'Discarded Ideas' in Raj Kapoor’s old office!

One look at the promos of Saawariya and you’d know that Mr. Bhansali exists in a world that is created by him. Every filmmaker does that but Mr. Bhansali doesn't allow a two-way traffic in his world. There is nothing wrong in imagining a world and making others a part of it but what troubles me is that such regression on the part of what is considered to be the best of 'Bollywood' sends out really wrong signals. Is there really a need for the kind of sets that he makes or the grandeur that he believes in even when he is telling a simple story? Considering that this film was bankrolled by Sony Pictures, I wonder how long before they shell out some dough for venture #2?

No matter how much Mr. Bhansali props up anything that he does, the failure of Khamoshi, his debut film blessed with the straightest and simplest execution, haunts him and perhaps this is why he wants to remake it. Most of his films are re-hashed old Hindi films or lifts from classics- Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam is nothing but a good looking modern version of Woh Saat Din and Black is as much The Miracle Worker as the original. The smart thing he did was that he took old films and gave them his unique twist (his version of Devdas has Paro and Chnadramukhi prancing together!) and laughed all the way to cinematic fable land and the bank. If I know anything about the working of human mind then Mr. Bhansali will remake the film but only add a Rs. 30 crore price tag and who knows that might just work.

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