Sunday, November 11, 2007

Saawariya - Poetry @ 24fps

I swear all you Sanjay Leela Bhansali haters out there, I went in to watch this movie wanting to hate it. It was a desperate choice as I did not get tickets to Om Shanti Om. Initially I preferred not to watch any movie if the only option available to me was Saawariya. God deals terrible hands sometimes, and then with the same hand you hit royal flush. Well if not a royal flush, Saawariya turned out to be quite a nice hand dealt by the one above (movie projectionist).

I watched Black after hearing a lot of rave reviews about it; the performances, music and what not. I was so disappointed with the movie that I painted my TV white to get the bad taste out of myself. Black was where the magnificence of Sanjay Leela Bhansali was totally uncalled for. Sanjay Leela Bhansali directing Black was more or less like a wedding coordinator handling a funeral ceremony. It was grim and dark and brooding, but it was also fantastical, if for the lighting, the sets, the costumes and the snow that falls from the sky, just like that.

With Saawariya, Sanjay Leela Bhansali does what he did so marvelously with Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam and Devdas, though the latter was a wee bit over the top what with each character mouthing their 1001 definitions of love. Saawariya is a true blue fable, as Gulabji (Rani Mukherjee) needlessly inform us at the onset of the movie. Bhansali takes over the reigns from there and pulls us through this wonderful Neverland (which in its full 'spectacular' view appears like an oil painting) with characters that are all white; yes, there is nothing called a black or gray in any of his characters. They are all angels sans wings.

Initially, when I read about the movie, I thought I would feel seriously claustrophobic with his flamboyant sets eclipsing out a real world that exists somewhere out there. But Bhansali's tone of blues and greens are so magnificent, I felt like strangling someone when the door was opened to let the light in as soon as the end credits started rolling. The sets are really breathtaking and have been done with intricate precision as to the swooping curls on the walls or the staccato footpath or even the design on a lamp shade. I wonder why people criticise Sanjay Leela Bhansali of being opulent. If 30 Crores can be put into use for creating this, I really don't mind. That money in my opinion can be seen in every picture perfect frame of this movie. When the DVD of the movie is out, freeze the frame on Raj's (Ranbir Kapoor) guitar and you would know why.

All great works of art can seldom be appreciated without a human angle to the whole proceeding. The mega debutantes of the year despite my earnest attempts, conquered my heart. How can your heart not melt when Sakina (Sonam Kapoor) laughs out loud? Or Raj, when he hides hard realities from Zohra Sehgal (I really didnt get her name, it went something like Liliput or Lily Pup) over a phone conversation, his voice is filled with excitement and ticklish joy, but his face and eyes just shouts at us the despair and the frustration inside him at that moment. Rani Mukherjee with the over-the-top sensuality of a street walker is again beautiful, and her eyes are so magnetic that I wish I got stuck to the screen during a closeup. The only creaky wheel in this ride might be Salman Khan. No offence to Salman Khan and his fans or anything, he was good, but I just couldn't see full-of-life Sakina falling for the kohl-eyed terminator-styled dialogue delivering Imaan. I would have appreciated if Sakina falls head over heels or long strands of hair over even more long strands of hair in love with someone who was a bit more full of life; the least he could have done to justify it maybe to, ahem, smile? Maybe I am asking too much, maybe opposites attract, maybe I just don't know the world enough.

The music of Saawariya is beautiful in its own self, but Sanjay Leela Bhansali transforms them into visuals so serene and vivacious he just tugs your heart with them. There is a scene in the beautiful 'Jaan-E-Jaan' when Raj extends his hand to Sakina. Sakina pulls herself back just as the song drains itself out of color and the frame pulls back to show the distance between the 'lovers'. The outlandish romantic that I am, I could feel the pining Raj feels inside. The whole movie is like life choreographed to perfection. I never knew jumping across or around or on puddles could ever be made into a romantic jig. Though I must tell you, 'Jab Se Tere Naina' with all the flailings of the towel, made me realise why there are neon signs and not any person for Raj's neighbours. From the cinematic angle its a notch below eroticism, though I cannot really imagine what the neighbour's angle might have shown.

I dont force anyone on their choice of movies, and for a whole lot of us who have been fed Dhol, Dhamaal and Heyy Babyy for a long time, getting to savour such a movie might be rather difficult, as was apparent with the out-loud proclamations some of the others in the theater had at the end of the movie. But this is one time I wished people would acquire a taste for slow movies rather than at-your face comedy or next-plot-twist-here kind of screenplay. Alas, the humanity.

Oh, there is someone that I want to emphasize on a little more. I had just given her about 5 words in this whole writing, but there is one character who I loved so much I am willing to give my life for her, and that is the absolutely fantastic Zohra Sehgal. She is such a bundle of wrinkled up joy that you just wish you could hug her. In one scene, Raj echoed what was shouting inside my mind from the first time Zohra Sehgal appeared on screen in the movie.
Zohra Sehgal... 'WILL YOU MARRY ME?'

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