Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Three films I forgot about: Break Ke Baad, Mere Brother Ki Dulhan, Love Sex aur Dhokha.

One of the ways this blog is supposed to work is as a sort of opinion repository, which I can access to recall what my initial thoughts on a movie were, or what my thoughts after a multitude of rewatches ended up being. But then it so happens that I am absolutely lazy and occasionally forget to write about films I watch. The following three are some films I watched in the last 18 months that I then completely forgot to write about.

Break Ke Baad was a plane film for me, so I must've watched it when flying to Asia in early 2011. Or flying from Asia, little later than year. I honestly can't recall. As a plane film, this one is perfect - I don't particularly care for either of the stars, so I wasn't very likely to seek this one out, but I was nonetheless very enthusiastic to see more of Deepika Padukone and Imran Khan. They are a part of the new generation of stars I rambled about in this post: the folks who haven't yet quite impressed me but I keep hoping I'll get on the bandwagon soon enough.

The film itself is a simple enough romcom story: two childhood best friends, falling in love, and complete with the sorts of misunderstandings and failures in communication that happen when you've got two very different people interacting in a new mode - going from friends to loved ones. I remember being very unimpressed with the film initially, but sometime over the second half I was won over. I'm usually more forgiving when it comes to plane films anyway. When you're on a plane, I find myself in that weird, almost unreal state between sleep and consciousness. My ears are clogged, there's a lot of background noise, I'm surrounded by strangers.. It's all just weird. So when at that point I can submerge myself in the world of a film, it works a little better than if I was on the ground, in my bedroom, watching it on my laptop. So by the finale I was in tears - Deepika has a monologue bit that just kind of broke me.

But then .. it was a plane movie.

Mere Brother Ki Dulhan seemed to have everything going for it but somehow still failed in my eyes. The quirky romantic comedy setting of Imran's character seeking a bride for his brother (Ali Zafar!), and finding one who he happens to have a past with (Katrina Kaif) sounds like a pretty solid Bollywood entertainer. Add good songs, lots of Hindi filmi referential fodder, and a flashy YRF coating on the whole thing, and I should be melted into a happy puddle at this film's feet, right? Correct! I'm not that hard to please, honestly.

And yet...

Katrina's character's "rocker chick" style and "outrageousness" felt so try-hard it was unbearable instead of just cheesy (and therefore acceptable, the kind of thing you forgive a film that's otherwise charming). The manipulation from the main pair of the whole situation would have been fine, had I liked either as a character, but they both seemed very cardboard and bland. Ali Zafar's character, regardless of the fact he was kind of an asshole, ended up winning my sympathies more and the secondary pairing was pretty much a highlight of the whole film for me.

And what about those filmi history references? They didn't even make me crack up a smile. It was like they didn't try very hard to make the references clever or creative, it was just reference after reference and after a while, it was just like "Oh you referenced that movie, oh you referenced another film, oh yes Sholay is a famous film, well done, yes Raja Hindustani did have a scene like that, you are correct!". It just didn't really come together. Of course, this is all entirely subjective. I'm the kind of reviewer that probably likes or dislikes a film depending on how much coffee I drank that morning. But still. I keep thinking of films I enjoyed which also had a ton of filmi references. And I just can't help but think they put more of a creative spin on those jokes than this film did..

This film is not very new by this point but I did only watch it late last year, and it's definitely worth talking about, for all those who didn't see it: Love Sex aur Dhokha is a little, more independently produced than mainstream Hindi film, that slots comfortably in the "found footage" film genre. It's composed of three, slightly interjecting stories of precisely what it says on the box. Since the actors are unknowns, the film manages a brilliant, slightly eerie vibe of how this could actually all be very real, even when at the back of your head you know it's a completely fictional story, if somewhat based on real events (such as DPS MMS Scandal).

A part of what makes LSD so brilliant is how it uses the "found footage" genre's tools to create smaller stories than previously (after all, the genre was kicked off by Blair Witch Project, a supernatural horror film, and later made it big when JJ Abrams did his Cloverfield, a found footage monster actioner). Horror is probably the automatic choice for this genre, because the idea of people going missing, vanished into nothingness, with all that's left is a recording of what precisely happened to them, is a powerful starting point for any film.

LSD does something more mundane - it makes the footage portray its characters in a way that feels intimate and real, and then when things go wrong, the viewer just feels for them. It's not horror, where you're asked to reflect their anxiety and terror yourself, but there's more range to the emotions than just running around scared. There's empathy, joy, uncertainty, betrayal... There is a bit of horror, too, but mostly at the fact that if you made the wrong choices in life, messed with the wrong people, stepped over the line one time too many, this might happen to you.

However, the benefit of sticking to realism, and not trying to showcase the supernatural or gruesome killings, is enormous, and this film is utterly worth watching, if only for how the stories seam together. The soundtrack - yes, there is one, and the way it's integrated is pretty interesting - is also very much worth listening to.


Filmi Girl said...

Girl! If you liked LSD, you should check out Upendra's "A" if you can find it. He does some very cool things with reality-filmiverse-found footage.

I commend you for sitting through Break Ke Baad. I've decided that Imran Khan bores me to tears but Dippy has some potential - as long as she's doing a character that requires a lot of physicality. One of her problems is that she doesn't know what to do with her limbs if nobody tells her.

veracious said...

Oh man, that sounds really interesting! I'll try to look for it, even though Kannada films aren't too available for me. Thanks for the rec!

As much as I want to like him, I think Imran bores me as well, and Deepika I've never liked. So BKB was really a great plane movie for that.

mithil293 said...

LSD is just the reason why iam eagerly waiting for 'shanghai'.