Monday, March 1, 2010

Abhay party update: I admit it, drunk already.

I am crossing the border between sane, clinical interest and into the wild realms of crazy-enough-to-get-all-completist when it comes to Abhay Deol filmography. But you can't possibly blame me, because just like Siddharth, my only other object of filmography completism, this man does not make bad films.

He really doesn't.

So of course I'll keep watching. Insert narcotics addiction reference of choice.

Oh well. At least his films don't come with a 30 dollar shipping charge from BhavaniDVD (yes I am looking at you, Siddharth). Plus it's always great to know that I'm not alone. If I was truly crazy I'd get completist about somebody who boasts a 200+ credit filmography and has been known to appear in some stinkers, right? These guys with their barely 10-film long filmographies are peanuts.

But really delicious peanuts.

Ek Chalis Ki Last Local (2007), directed by Sanjay Khanduri, is a bit of a weird one. It's a black comedy about two people who miss the last train (that leaves at 1:40 AM) and try to kill a few hours to catch the morning one. In the beginning of the movie, Nilesh (Abhay Deol), our narrator, has walked away with 2 crore in a suitcase, but how? A movie-long flashback scene begins. First he crosses paths with Madhu (Neha Dhupia), who is also heading towards the same part of Mumbai as he. It's a bit of a Kaminey Lite - we see various characters in different situations and towards the end, most of them part of the underworld, things get messier, and we see the individuals coming together. It's all just a little Tarantino, for better or for worse.

I had some small irks, like how boring the characters besides Nilesh and Madhu are, and how I didn't really care about what happened to them, or the romantic arc, which is definitely one of the strangest I've seen in a while. It starts out as frank sexual desire on Nilesh's part, as well as a bit of a saving-the-girl complex, then dissolves into something undescribable, then Madhu does something one could only do to somebody they truly cared for, and by the end.. Well, see it for yourself. Throughout the film there was a bit of an uneven feel to it. I liked it but at the same time I felt like I shouldn't like it.

But overall, I definitely liked it. Like Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye!, it had me constantly chuckling to myself, even if the humor here is broader in some ways. Abhay is great and Neha Dhupia totally reminded me of why I like her; the role is not the most typical but she gives it great edge. And she's of course amazingly gorgeous. The kiss between them (yes! there is one!) happens under bizarre circumstances storywise, but visually it's great, not awkward in the least.

Ahista Ahista (2006) is quite honestly the Abhay Deol film I've liked least so far. The plot tells of the aimless, ambitionless Ankush (Abhay Deol) meeting Megha (Soha Ali Khan) who has eloped to Delhi but her boyfriend never shows up. Ankush takes care of her, makes sure she has a roof over her head and as she gets settled back into a regular life, he slowly falls in love with her and also manages to make progress with his own life as well. The story is fairly unbalanced towards Ankush's side of things; we see very little of what Megha thinks or feels. Soha does a great job portraying some of it with her eyes rather than dialogue, but it still feels like we're missing one half of the story.

Normally I'm not one to chuckle at lame "hey this word means another thing in some other language" but whenever I type "ahista" I am reminded of the Finnish colloqualism, "ahistaa", roughly meaning "I'm feeling distressed/anguished." The verb ("ahdistaa") used can also mean "pressure" so I guess the idea is that you're feeling pressured from all sides, feeling trapped somehow.

It certainly in some ways describes my feelings towards this movie, even though I know the Hindi meaning is quite different. I never get a sense of whether the film is trying to be a love story or a coming-of-age story or both or neither, and the ending really kills most of the fondness I had for the movie. I hate to say this because I know Imtiaz Ali normally writes good stuff (he scripted this): the ending is just bad writing. I disliked the second half so much I began skipping and what I did see of it was not good. I suppose the ending in some ways may seem logical. But I just wasn't into it.

And now I have to recommend everybody out there watch CNBC TV18's Beautiful People interview with Abhay Deol. Part 1 of 3 is here. Seriously, seriously good stuff, including what makes an independent film in the Hindi film industry (vs non-Indian ones), art vs craft etc. Some people may disagree with me on the interviewer but I rather like her. She puts actors on the spot, and doesn't necessarily make them feel comfortable by patting them on the head and showering them with compliments all the damn time. Her interview about Salman Khan is also worth a look; Salman looks positively pissed off at her, but he reveals a lot of stuff and in the end I think he's just frustrated at certain things fame has brought into his life, which he'd rather keep quite simple. Beautiful People, based on what I've seen, is ALWAYS a good watch.

PS. I want to coin the term Hindie for Hindi 'independent' films. Of course, it makes no difference when spoken out loud but I just kind of dig it.


dink213 said...

Until a few days ago I had only watched one Abhay (socha na tha)I found it cute but no reason to watch more Abhay, then I saw Dev D.
I am such a fan now, currently waiting for the maleman to feed my new addiction, I'm clearly crazy-enough-to-get-all-completist.
Irritating and expencive that it only takes one movie!

Ness said...

My dvds of Dev.D and Oye Lucky Lucky Oye JUST ARRIVED in the post (freaky timing!)... have never seen Abhay in anything and now am INTRIGUED - especially after seeing just the first few seconds of that Beautiful People interview you linked. Uh oh...I feel like already I may join the completist club!

veracious said...

dink213 - Ways and means. I didn't buy all of his movies, some are on youtube with English subs.

Ness - w00t. I appreciated the soft landing of Honeymoon Travels because I plunged in deep with Dev.D etc. But I hope you enjoy your films & that he doesn't disappoint.

That interview slayed me because he used my favourite English word "awesome" like three times and well, dimples. [/easy to please]

Beth said...

Abhay is definitely great. I too found Ahista Ahista a bit meh but am glad Ali kept working on the "White Nights" idea to get to Jab We Met.

bollyviewer said...

Thats a really nice interview of his. One of the few actors who actually sounds intelligent! Cant wait to see more of his films.

Anirban said...

Abhay is one of my favorite actors. He picks roles in films that span the range between satire and noir.

ajnabi said...

Wow, he's quickly moving up the ranks of veracious' favored actors, isn't he? Dev. D's up next for me, although I'm awfully backlogged in reviews, so maybe I'll catch the Abhay bug too.

veracious said...

Beth - Come to think of it, most of Ali's films I've seen so far (all 'cept LAK) have had that theme running through them; a couple where one has another beloved but they get each other despite.

Bollyviewer - Isn't it? I enjoy the Beautiful People interviews a lot, typically.

Anirban - That's true, his films are pretty much always dark and/or funny. Good genre to go for.

ajnabi - I'm a shameful nepotist at the core; his uncle Dharmendra also became a Veracious favourite lightning-fast. I hope you like him! Dev.D naturally showcases a character notorious for being a total prick but I think Abhay as an actor just works, and then you can watch somewhat more likable roles of his, like Manorama Six Feet Under or Oye Lucky Lucky Oye.

Lime(tte) said...

I didn't really like ECKLL, and was a bit disappointed, because Abhay is one of my fav. actors.