Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Jai Bajrang Bali!

It is probably an indicator of the sorry state of Indian cinema (as a whole) that you're left wondering in amazement if you've really seen two back-to-back Indian movies that not only *didn't* make you cringe, but actually left you with a contented feel when you exited the cinema theatre.

Stripped to its bare essentials and bereft of all intellectual over-complications, a movie can be judged by how it left you feeling when you take those few steps from your seat in the movie hall till you exit the building. Unless you are one of a handful of people in this world, the probability of you reviewing the movie in those precious few minutes tends to one. And this is quite a definitive opinion to hold.
And by this method, both Baahubali​ and Bajrangi Bhaijaan​ are resounding successes.

Since reviews/opinions of Baahubali are dime a dozen and the fact that I agree, by and large, with most positive reviews, I'll dedicate this post only to #BajrangiBhaijaan.

Shortly after the movie starts, your first impressions of the movie (after, of course, noticing how cute the girl is) are -
1. Bhai's dance steps reminded me of Rajinikanth's dance moves ever since he turned 50. And what's with the constipated look? Was he trying to be funny, cute or both?
2. How Kareena Klux Klan is still eye-poppingly attractive in those chudidhars so many years after Jab We Met.
3. How it must be such a hard time to be a left-liberal these days - if Baahubali's not-only-unabashed but also in-your-face Hinduism wasn't enough, we now have Bhai playing a Hanuman-bhakt who keeps chanting "Jai Shri Ram", even to Pakistani Rangers. #BurreDin indeed. :D
4. Sallu bhai, however your subtle point about the RSS being a political body was not missed. Like at all. ;)

And then Harshaali Malhotra takes over. And HOW! Her initial cuteness is merely a smokescreen to unprepare you for how she would later tug at your heartstrings. We all know how humans have this inherent *inability* to *not* fall for cuteness in children (notwithstanding the "all children are cute" epithet). Now add generous doses of innocence to that cuteness (it may be personal, but innocence has always ranked high on my list of attractiveness). Top that with mind-blowing expressions for every situation. What you get is the simply irresistible visage of Shahida.
At some point in the 2nd half of the movie, you reach a stage where every time she appears on screen, you either go "Awww" or there's a few droplets lurking in the corner of your eyes (monsoon has officially set in, no? :) ). It doesn't help that the cuteness gets compounded by actions such as her piggybacking on Bhai, her head-shake, her hand-shake, her holding the corn, her dropping the corn on the road, her curled up next to Bhai, her recording him on the video camera - so that's basically most of the scenes she appears on screen - you get the drift right? The girl carries the entire film on her fragile shoulders. Politically incorrect though it might be, but the movie wouldn't have been half as effective had the girl even been half as cute. However, credit where due - simply being cute would hardly have sufficed. And that's where all that I've said above comes into the picture.

Sallu bhai has played very well. No not his role, but the overall scheme of things - a role which doesn't require much histrionics (KKK fell in love with him in approximately 4.5 minutes and 3 scenes) but allows him to express essential emotions at strategic locations - a fight, an intro dance - just about enough to establish his mass'ness.

Nawazuddin Siddiqui​ is officially my favouritest character artiste today. I have begun to adore him as much as I felt Irrfan Khan​ was overrated. The screen lights up every time he appears. Life's unfairness hits you when you see him and Salman Khan​ share screen-space and you realize how famous each person is.

And the rest - well Harshaali is simply awesome to take over. But credit again to Sallu bhai for choosing such a script. By the end of the movie, there would probably have been 3 people in the movie hall who didn't shed a tear - all 3 being the security personnel waiting to show directions.

A movie has won if the audience know what's going to happen in the climax but are waiting for that exact same thing to happen with the eagerness of a child - which is exactly what happens here.

With all the essential ingredients taken care of (Harshaali, her looks, her expressions, her actions), the director just needed to ensure he didn't mess up the other aspects. And he doesn't.
A movie with an excuse for a story, a superstar for a hero and an angel for everything else - #BajrangiBhaijaan is a tear-jerker alright but a tearing succcess all the way!
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