I did today and I’m torn between deciding whether I liked it or not. Prior to the movie, I had no idea who was in it, who had directed it or what was it all about. Now that I’m done watching it, I got to know that:
- Well known actors from other previously successful movies have been cast in the movie. Therefore, there are a lot of familiar (read: stereotyped) faces assembled together to work their magic. Now I’m not against people finding work or anything but maybe some new faces would have eradicated the sense of deja-vu throughout the film.
- The movie’s about portraying the age old charm of Delhi. No wait, its about religious differences. But there is also romance and family drama and the Taj Mahal! And about 10 other topics that were feel-good but crammed into a 3 hour visual that couldnt decide which topic to focus on at best.
The movie starts when Abhishek Bachchan’s grandmom is diagnosed with old people’s disease(s) in the US and she insists on going back to Delhi so she can die at home. They land in Delhi airport and are immediately introduced to the tales of The Monkey Man on TV, who made several real-time news headlines sometime back by attacking people in the streets of Delhi.
In the meanwhile, our hero meets the object of his affection and does weird things like interfere in her arranged marriage proposal meetings to slapping a local cop back in reply thereby landing in jail briefly.
Heavy focus is given on the we-all-love-each-other Indian togetherness where people totally unrelated to each other do things like take granny to the hospital not to mention feeding her porridge at night. Neighbours love each other explicitly thus even though own brothers put up a wall in their house to live separately albeit under the same roof.
Oh and I forgot to mention Abhishek’s American accent which keeps coming and going throughout the movie. Its like when he speaks hindi with the locals, he’s a regular Indian boy with regular Indian accent, speaking regular Indian English. Then out of the blue, he gets a call from his mom in the US and he suddenly remembers – oh, he’s supposed to have spent his entire life in The States! And quickly think – Where the heck is my fake American accent! Okay, that was more funny than anything else.
My favourite part of the movie was the hero lecturing a crazed mob (with lit torches!) on brotherhood between two different religious communities who once lived together in much harmony. Now if this were any other hindi movie, the audience would have been moved to tears and everyone would applaud him and live happily ever after. Therefore, I for one was pleasantly surprised when people make fun of his “discourse” and tell him to get lost and more importantly get real.
The background score by Academy Award winner A R Rahman is brilliant as usual. Several characters lighten the mood including the grouchy old man who always scowls at humans and only smiles at pigeons, the adulterous couple who while spending quality time in bed accidentally press the TV remote control flipping across several channels serving double entrendes, including the final news feature on a successful release of a rocket (!!!) and so on.
Another interesting addition was the story line revolving around the Ram-Lila play where the monkey-army’s costume is to die for. Especially the red mouth held in place by a rope that goes around the back of the head.
After an unbelievable twist in the end, Amitabh Bachchan appears from nowhere and lends a mystical angle to the movie which felt too surreal, in fact bordering on the ridiculous. The ending is as abrupt as it gets and we ended up looking at each other’s faces to confirm that the movie did indeed just get over. Not a moment too soon for some people at the back who’d been generous to a fault with very loud, unconcealed yawns during the movie.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that while I got what the director was trying to convey, ultimately the movie didnt get me. The food that we ate throughout the movie was more interesting in retrospect. Overall, watchable if and only if you can keep track of the story.