May 2014 Filed in: Films
A few weeks ago, a friend expressed horror when I didn’t know who Parineeti Chopra was! And then, he went on to gag some other names: Alia Bhatt, Arjun Kapoor, Kangana Ranaut, Ranveer Singh and so on; none of whom I could place. The stench of my ignorance was insufferable!
In a sheepish attempt to redeem myself and obscure expressions of shocked outrage directed at me, I watched a few films I could find on Netflix and Google Play: Ladies vs. Ricky Bahl, Ishaqzaade, Shuddh Desi Romance, Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela, Aurangazeb, Band Baaja Baaraat, and Listen...Amaya. (I know to look forward to Alia’s Highway, and Kangana’s Queen).
All these movies are about bold but sleazy juvenile adults with sketchy personal and social convictions, who make godawful choices that get them in trouble, only to resolve them rather unimaginatively! Most of these films are enjoyable to watch because they are all colorful without exception; the characters are charming and relatable; there’s a lot of tongue-in-cheek dialogue; and all the actions are complemented with harmonious soundscapes. They also allow us the luxury of unabashedly judging fictional people with confused morals born of societal guilt (early modern literature stock). For instance, in Shuddh Desi Romance, the protagonists unnecessarily complicate their relationships and inflict problems on themselves because of their own bigoted stupidity and their misgivings about their society. On the other hand, if they just went about their lives as they wanted, to begin with, there wouldn't have even been a story to tell. The story is ultimately about the humor that arises from taking advantage of or creatively circumventing societal guilt.
The most creative parts of the new films point directly to the storyboards and screenplay, and how the filmmakers take advantage of cinema’s unique qualities that make it different from any other storytelling medium and cannot be replicated using any other art form. The films are very self-aware and attempt to impress us by exuding a kind of blustering, ostentatious aura that makes us pay attention to their artful non-story elements over their stock stories.
I like this! I like this for the same reason that I enjoy adaptations and re-makes. I like this for the same reason that I like the not-so-accurate gilded bling-bling in Luhrmann's adaptation of Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. Having read the book, I wasn’t curious about the story, as much as the things that can come alive only in cinema. I like cinema that has the materiality that I can never dream up on my own!
One other thing. Some of the kissing scenes in these new movies I watched have the couples aggressively going at each other like hungry chickens pecking at grain. What is that!?