October 2, 2009

Today, I got up earlier than the usual to watch the early morning show of the latest release, Wake Up Sid. That it was a national holiday made it a no-brainer for my friends to consider anything beyond sleeping and snoozing until the noon. The city of Gurgaon wore a thick coat of thin dust particles covered by the perennial construction projects.

The Bollywood buff inside me drove the solitary consumer to the theater. I sat in a scantily occupied theater to enjoy the first day first show of the much-anticipated movie. Without fail, my hidden motive behind watching the early-morning show—saving money—failed again. The large popcorn tub and the jumbo Pepsi cans stopped me from becoming a man of character.

I am still a duffer when it comes to accounting.

So is Sid. He strains luxuriously the night before his accounting papers; after some aimless sketching, he sleeps like a baby. I had this gut feeling that Wake Up Sid would be high on the Karan Johar factor and would have a hangover of Lakshya.

My guesses, like economic predictions, turned out to be mostly wrong, except for a threadbare semblance to Hrithik Roshan’s lazy-and-ambitionless character, Karan Shergill, in Lakshya.

The parallels lasted until the first 30 to 35 minutes of the movie. Ranbir Kapoor, the Sid (Siddharth Mehra) of Wake Up Sid, however, did it way better than Hrithik. Kudos to his performance!

The director, Ayan Mukherji, drew fabulous performances from the actors. Assisting Ashutosh Gowariker in Swades has probably taught him how to maintain a fine emotional balance throughout the movie. Mukherji reminded me of the multitalented Farhan Akhtar, who had made the unforgettable Dil Chahta Hai way ahead of time.

Wake Up Sid, although mostly predictable, stands out because of the fine performances. Sid’s obsession with printed socks is fresh in the industry. So much more is the celebration of Aisha’s birthday. Breads, jelly, and a matchstick team up to become a cake and a candle. That childlikeness, I tell you.

Konkona Sen Sharma, not so surprisingly, is superb in her nuanced portrayal of Aisha Banerjee. I wish the character wasn’t so similar to what she had played in Luck by Chance.

The high point of the movie rides on Supriya Pathak’s acting. I wiped my tears under the guise of cleaning my nose so that the Uncle sitting next to me wouldn’t get the slightest hint of it. Sid’s Mom struggles to learn and speak English so that she can become her son’s friend.

Me cooking tonight!

You didn’t passed?

Such a naive simplicity is acting? I wondered.

Brilliant, lady!

Nikki, Sid’s best friend, played by Shikha Talsania, in one of the scenes, pits Sid’s disappointment of failing in exams against her daily oaths and failures of sticking to a diet. Sid’s problems, thus, seem to be trivial.

Anupam Kher isn’t any noticeably dissimilar from his earlier roles in depicting Mr. Ram Mehra (Sid’s Dad). An intense actor like Rahul Khanna is wasted in his brief role as Kabir Chaudhary, Aisha’s boss. The role seems almost a replica of his character in Love Aaj Kal.

The not-so-phenomenal music doesn’t seem interfering with and imposing on the plots and subplots—the good part. The bad part is that the typical Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy feel in every song is tiring. The quite established figures that they are now, they can afford experimenting with new styles. The trio, for a change, can let some fresh voices sing their compositions.

The art direction, I must say, is good, especially with the choice of colors that you see on the walls of Aisha’s flat and in her office, Mumbai Beat. The slow pace of the movie gave enough time to a few people in the theater to deliberate and finalize their weekend trips to Pushkar and Jaipur.

The movie could have been a little better had the director made life less comfortable for Aisha. After all, finding a flat and getting a fitting job isn’t so easy for a newcomer in Mumbai. The flat is a dream for many people with years of a well-paid job in Mumbai.

When you find Sid swiftly bagging an internship at Mumbai Beat, the convenience of screenplay screams loud.

Enough of Marine Drive and Metro Theatre in all the Bollywood productions, don’t you think?

Last week, I saw a few of the same Mumbai locations in What’s Your Rashee. We can now shift our creative gears to other Indian cities and show the world that they are beautiful in their own way too. Let the other Indian cities reach the global audience.

What about Imphal?

***

After reaching my apartment, I created a blog page “hochpoch-ppd.blogspot.com,” named the page “Mixed Bag,” and posted my review of the movie. I don’t remember what inspired me to do so. Maybe, it was my fascination with Bollywood. Could also be my passionate childhood memories of writing for school magazines. Both starving of and craving for an expression.

All I remember is that I got into a flow—a happy and productive state of mind.

 The review won the Best Movie Review Award to my happiness and surprise. I continued writing reviews for the next thirty-nine months without a miss. I would watch the pre-releases, the premier shows on Thursday nights, start writing the reviews immediately after watching the movie, and post them before other reviews would be out.

I thoroughly enjoyed the encouraging feedback, the Google ranking, and the fast-increasing number of readers. My friends and colleagues used to send me screenshots of my review’s popularity on the Internet.

There were days when multiple movies competed for public’s attention. I would struggle against myself to watch back-to-back shows and write reviews of each of them. Watching most of those movies, truth be told, used to be a real torture, but I enjoyed the discipline of writing.

Writing divorced me from the reality, moreover.

After roughly two years of launching my venture, I stopped writing. That was a serious tradeoff I made in favor of my work—not something I am proud of. It was similar to how I had stopped attending my classical music classes before my tenth board exams, after nearly seven years of practicing and performing.

My sister continued with her passion for music. I am happy to witness her happiness when engrossed in singing.

***

Recently, when I started writing again, I realized what I have been missing all the while. To write is to explore the depths of my faculty of imagination.

Writing antidotes time.

Like Sid, I woke up. I woke up to my words hanging in air. They have stories to tell.

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