Zindagi Milegi Na Dobara — of Guilty Pleasures and Frightful Escapism


It is sometimes harder to criticize an otherwise inoffensive, fairly passable film like Zindagi Milegi Na Dobara, specially when ‘Bollywood’ produces far worse on a regular basis and despite the equally common self-congratulatory pieces in the media about the present state of the industry. But this current film precisely because it is fairly enjoyable at one level and a cut above many in this genre is an even better example of its industry’s ongoing malaise. If this is the ‘best’ the industry is capable of, at least following those complacent narratives, one should be very afraid for this industry. That is, if one is still invested in the idea of cinema as ‘experience’ and not simply consumption or entertainment of the disposable variety. If a film like Zindagi Milegi Na Dobara offers tonic for our souls we should be rather worried about the state of our souls! It is much like deriving spiritual solace from a Deepak Chopra ‘self-help’ narrative where nirvana is promised in return for doing really nothing or simply maintaining one’s life as it is with a little ‘aside’ for spiritual dialog from time to time. This is a program Madonna can sign on to (and has!). Similarly the pseudo-angst and faux-crises of Zindagi Milegi Na Dobara are therapy for those terribly unfortunate souls who find it very hard to cope with the pressures of deep-sea diving or face terribly anxiety before their sky-dives. The film is palliative for those Munch-inspired nervous wrecks who have to choose between vintage Chevys and contemporay SUVs as they plot their spiritual pilgrimages through the tourist resorts of Spain. It is panacea for those extraordinarily brave among us who have the fortitude to achieve transcendence against the odds in a bull-running festival. You only live once after all. Why not risk the Tomatina festival?

Once one gets past all the heavy philosophizing the film is quite alright! The first half, admittedly more plotless than the rest of the film, is really the better and more sincere one. It does not pretend to be anything other than a jaunt through Spain with bits of conflict occurring here and there. One excuses the frivolousness of it all as long as the film also stays at that level. However when it tries to turn serious it takes several missteps and in ways that stall the film quite a bit. Because the crises presented here are either completely banal or else totally contrived. Essentially this is a bachelor-party of a film that wants to play ‘spiritual guru’ every so often. It is not even very invested in the latter as a certain narrative flatness is maintained throughout. This again works for one half with its very modest gestures, the comedy track, the hints of greater drama. The three leads work with a certain chemistry. Farhan Akhtar is best suited for this terrain and not surprisingly gets some of the best moments in the film in more ways than one. On the other hand Hrithik playing a restrained part is not a bad complement either even if he seems tentative at points. Abhay Deol however is simply lusterless for the most part and despite getting enough footage. For all this the chemistry works and the film should really have focussed on these relationships. However Zoya Akhtar gets distracted by the scenery and the water-sports soon enough. She similarly introduces a somewhat unnecessary character with Katrina Kaif’s part (though presumably the lady’s unerring box office instinct justifies her presence in other ways). Beyond a point the linearity that was working just fine for the film is unhinged by the episodic consequences of such choices. The three leads are still central to the film but the chemistry suffers and the twists that are introduced allowing for more somber moments for the trio in turn seem too hurried or forced to register at any deep level. It cannot be said that the film is sunk by ambition but certainly Zoya Akhtar could have taken her Spanish vacation on her own time. Her work reconfigures some of the memorable terrain first introduced by her brother’s fine debut a decade ago but it is candidly not half the film Dil Chahta Hai was in any sense of the term (nor for that matter is any other that has followed in its wake). This is a pity because there were ways to reconfigure the male bonding of that earlier film in interesting ways. Even with the physical setting of Spain and all the activities here that are so incredibly indexed to a certain presumption of class and economic advantage the story could nonetheless have earned its crises and the eventual resolutions. It could have truly made its characters empathetic. But the director is truer to the rules and regulations of tomato-throwing. Indeed if you have the deal the leads in this film have you would not wish to be reborn!

Nonetheless if this film is still watchable it is because most others in its genre fail even at this elementary level. This viewer at least finds it impossible to sit through the vast majority of what is offered in the name of ‘multiplex fare’ or under the aegis of some banal label like ‘youth film’ and so on.Zindagi Milegi Na Dobara is a sad effort because it is yet again symptomatic of not just Bollywood’s lack of purpose but also the audience’s total refusal to foster a more intelligent cinema. Even as one decries the films on display one should equally fault the target audience here (the multiplex segments that drive the Bollywood ‘economy’) for its complete complacency about the arrangements of the present, its depressing political quietism, its utter lack of any compass of responsibility which would question to any degree this mad desire for consumption at all costs. This is in short an audience that rejects authentic ‘experience’ in cinema and in life. It is only devoted to maintaining the circulation of a consumption economy of which it has been the principal beneficiary and within the ambit of which cinema too becomes just another item on the hyper-market shelves of incessant audio-visual stimuli. Zoya Akhtar must at least be appreciated on this score for toning things down a little and not running her film by the same frenetic rhythms even if she otherwise feeds the same ‘multiplex desire’.

It is not that one expects film audiences to be political revolutionaries. Nor does one expect movies to be stirring manifestos. It is equally true that no hegemonic class is less than satisfied with the way things are in any age. But what one argues against is the sheer and unparalleled narrowness of vision exhibited in film after film, the extraordinarily shrunken (and shrinking still) field of vision which prevents one from focusing one’s lens on anything or anyone that does not conform to one’s very limited aspect of extremely privileged experience. The polemic here is not necessarily intended to advance the cause of mass cinema or anything as universal as that. It is not even a clarion call for rooted engagements in the medium (which ‘rootedness’ is never only about the national space in any obvious sense). One is quite willing to accept films like Zindagi Milegi Na Dobara on their terms. But couldn’t the purveyors of such cinema compromise a bit and offer just a little more empathy, a bit more literacy with respect to the greater socio-political parameters of their societies? One is not looking for a didactic film or even an instructive work in some more abstract sense. Is is however too much to expect something more than designer cinema? Is it that much of a light-year stretch to demand the same from the audiences in avenues of life not related to cinema? Consumption economies are certainly a global phenomenon by this late date but this hardly means that questions of responsibility fall in the very same ways on consumers in all such societies. This isn’t only about an ideological objection to consumerism but an expression of despair on the accompanying political irresponsibility that goes hand-in-hand with it in India (and by extension many other societies of the planet though not all). Consuming in London is not like consuming in Bombay because the socio-political fields are very different configured in each case. The ‘plea’ then is a very modest one for meaningful entertainment that does not operate with a certain blindness towards its overall social constructs. Once upon a time masala fare was defined as ‘escapist’ (by the very same social classes.. this must never be forgotten) and ‘mindless’. But even on its worst day this brand of cinema exhibited a certain understanding of the larger body-politic that is completely absent today. Even in the fairly pedestrian masala resurgence in evidence today the gestures might be rather stale and impossibly low-brow but there is nevertheless an acknowledgment, no matter how weak or debased in its formulation, of a greater socio-political contract. Multiplex cinema in its principal genres has simply been ‘on vacation’ in these matters for a couple of decades now. The exceptions here illustrate the general bankruptcy, not the other way round and especially so when one correlates these efforts with their respective box office results.

It would not have been too difficult to do a little more with Zindagi Milegi Na Dobara and thereby render it more ‘intelligent’. There is a compromise here that would have elevated this film without forsaking any bit of its box office success. But neither the film-makers nor the audience seem to be particularly interested in more. Expecting Zoya Akhtar to be her father’s daughter might be an impossible dream in contemporary Bollywood. Is it however that unreasonable to expect her to be just a bit more of her brother’s sister, at least with respect to Dil Chahta Hai? Is this really such a high bar? The same question should be presented to the audiences. Is it so impossible to exhibit just a little less passivity when it comes to the entertainment one chooses? Is it so very difficult to ‘experience’ cinema just slightly more than has been doing for so long? Can there not be a space in life for one to think and feel a touch more than one is ordinarily inclined to? Something to offset just a wee-bit one’s mindless consumerist choices?

Even as this piece might seem very harsh on Zoya Akhtar’s film it is meant to be a much more damning indictment of the class she represents. Her film is not a bad watch as sheer narrative. I have been trying to insist on this point. But it is certainly indicative of a larger rot in Hindi cinema’s popular imagination and suggestive similarly of a deeper irresponsibility in the classes that nurture such choices at every end of film production.

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149 Responses to “Zindagi Milegi Na Dobara — of Guilty Pleasures and Frightful Escapism”

  1. So….how was the score?

    Just kidding. A characteristically super polemic, Satyam. I wasn’t going to touch this film for precisely the reasons you discuss. At least not in the cinema. I’m far more into raw consumption when I can do it in the comfort of my home! I’m glad you at least found it entertaining, if problematic.

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    • Ironically (for me!) the only song I like here is the one the three sing and dance to. Which is actually a simple transposition into Hindi of a Spanish ditty!

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    • And of course I am as much into consumption as anyone else. We all are. It’s just that as I see it this cross-section of Hindi viewers is defiant about certain political choices that then find their counterpart in this sort of movie consumption. It’s one thing to enjoy ZNMD but also be open to other sorts of cinema and quite another to just do the former. So I am not judgmental about pure consumption. No one today can step out of that fold. But there’s a distinction to be made between being enframed by it (we all are) and being awash in it as a conscious choice every day of one’s life. In other words consuming ‘unconsciously’ if you will because that is our world and doing so ‘consciously’ everyday as a political choice.

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      • I have little doubt that I won’t enjoy ZNMD as I might an episode of a good sitcom. I’m just tired of DCH redux for the fifteenth time since 2001, so I think a DVD watch is good enough here. Having said all this, I liked LBC for the most part and I do think Zoya Akhtar occupies a unique space as one of the very few notable female directors in an overwhelmingly male-dominated filmmaking guild. Specially as she grows more prolific and makes more of a name for herself, I hope she works outside of her comfort zone. Her choice here of taking on what looks like a male-bonding movie is interesting, I suppose, but I do think it’s unfortunate given where she started. There is a dearth of stories in this industry with a strong central woman at the fore, and most of the time when something pops up it’s usually a banal bit of showboating for whichever actress currently pops up on, say, Bhandarkar’s shortlist.

        LBC is of course right in Zoya’s comfort zone in that it’s about her industry, but it also makes some interesting choices in the main couples’ dynamic. It almost worked like a more believable take on Abhimaan.

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        • I agree with everything here and even though I wasn’t as much of a fan of LBC I do think that where she got it right in that film she was better there than anywhere in ZNMD. Note by the way how, and in light of everything you’ve said, Zoya Akhtar did not find it necessary to make a film about female bonding. She could have done so, she could have taken some important female stars, people would still have showed up in enough numbers and then suddenly the whole terrain would have been very different. and this sort of film could have made for some sort of response to DCH from the other side. This is perhaps the greatest opportunity missed by her.

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          • Yes this is what I was getting at. She is not of course obligated to make such a film simply because she’s a woman, but this would have been a far “newer” film for her industry and something that extended the uncommon perspective she assumed by way of her first film’s protagonist.

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  2. I tried to stay focused on the overall theme of my polemics here and again this is more an indictment of a social class at the present time with ZNMD as the symptom rather than any total dismissal of the film itself but in any case the ‘aspirational’/wannabe (depending on one’s thinking) here gets a bit ridiculous at times. So hrithik opening up his laptop in the middle of nowhere and speaking to his Japanese client using Japanese expressions or elsewhere using Spanish and so on. The economics of colonization comes built-in with anxieties. The more one ‘follows’ blindly without integrating things into one’s own ‘world’ the more one is internally aware of the hollowness of this gesture. In other words a gap is created which begets the anxiety. And at the level of a film like ZNMD those anxieties come through.

    Which is why repetition can never come about without difference. Hence even as these films imitate certain Hollywood genres the contexts in which those gestures come about in each case are very different. Three American students taking a road trip through Europe is not the same as three Indians doing the same. An archive exists in one instance in a fairly ‘common’ sense while in the other it’s a negligible sliver of the Indian experience. Completely atypical. Which is fine except that the film in question then presents this as fairly obvious a set of lifestyle choices or precisely as something typical. It is not that people within that Indian class do not go to Europe in all contexts but an archive is something different. An archive suggests an aspect of experience that can be recognized in more contexts than just the immediate one. So for example in Midnight in Paris the whole ‘Americans in paris’ archive is referenced which is as old as the hills and has a long history. As does the road movie in American pop culture.

    Now it is also true that as part of this process of colonization many Indians are of course leading such lifestyles in a loose sense. But the problem with the films is that these are simply imitative. So for example (SPOILERS) the absent father in ZNMD turns out to be a painter hiding out in Seville! Again is there an Indian archive corresponding to this? If Zoya Akhtar had allowed for an Indian ‘difference’ here she would have presented this aspect of the film somewhat differently. But it’s as if one is watching a Hollywood film in Hindi. No matter how colonized a culture and/or a generation and no matter how ‘imitative’ there are clear local distinctions that have to be accounted for. And if this is the case the films immediately become more authentic. This is not about the box office. Whether people are living the ZNMD lifestyle or not clearly the aspirational aspect is good enough for its target audience. But that’s the not the issue I’m debating on.

    Also this is fundamentally unlike the 1960s (the last decade in which the economics of Western colonization were so acute… the interesting thing here is that these ‘influences’ reach their greatest peak within cinemas/cultures that are otherwise conservative in some ways.. so the 60s wasn’t like the 50s or the 70s in terms of the ‘experimentation’ in HIndi cinema.. and there were larger global trends of fashion and cultural mores ongoing in the 60s as well..) when despite a great deal of colonization and imitation the influences were fundamentally integrated into very ‘Indian’ stories. Much as film music has always revealed/betrayed these traces but always within the service of a very Indian ‘fusion’ (even when it has not been successfully realized at the level of an R D Burman) but for a long time now Hindi film music has often been about Western rock songs with HIndi lyrics. There is a big difference here. As with the music so with the films.

    And again if one wonders whether the sort of mix I am suggesting is ever possible one only has to turn to Tamil cinema over the last twenty years where by and large global influences both in a formalist sense and thematically have been very well adapted to older Tamil frameworks. Or else the cinema has evolved as a Tamil (Indian) cinema by accounting for these newer global trends. Again one could get into the details here from the frenetic cutting of even pedestrian masala fare (something one sees at the beginning of BBuddah for example) to the more auteurist impulses of new wave Tamil cinema and so on. They too make some very ‘Bollywood’ films but this isn’t the dominant impulse. And nothing illustrates this better Vinnaithaandi Varuvaaya. I select an iconic love story to better juxtapose with various Bollywood efforts and here the contrast with ZNMD is extremely instructive and not in a way that does credit to the latter. In Bombay too we’ve seen some more rooted films like BBB and Tanu weds Manu and JWM succeed. the balance can be struck if one has the commitment. If anything one could easily produce the mass love story (once upon a time Bobby and Ek Duje ke liye were possible). It doesn’t have to be a ‘beat-em-up’ every time there’s masala let alone the kind of really miserable comedy that is the order of the day.

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    • and here for various logistical reasons I find it difficult to access Tamil movies on a very regular basis. But this hasn’t prevented me from reducing my Hindi viewing increasingly over a long period of time and to the point where I really watch very little every year even at home. if I could solve that logistical problem on Tamil I’d switch over completely. Wouldn’t make a difference to my Hindi viewing either way I suppose.

      Again note I don’t have the same aspiration for Telugu cinema. I’d rather watch mindless masala to mindless Bollywood multiplex fare but ultimately I am not interested in either option. So if there’s a very good Telugu movie I check it out not otherwise. Barring a couple of stars. Because this industry just makes Singam as far as I can tell when it doesn’t do the love stories (remakes or otherwise.. more Bollywood oriented or Tamil-inspired). I stand to correction on this of course but my impression is that there’s very little reason to watch anything from this industry (barring star preferences) if one has access to or interest in Tamil fare. Cultural reasons are a different ballgame of course. Not talking about that here. Obviously if one is Telugu-speaking one has good reason to watch whatever is available.

      The reason I get into this at length is that sometimes people have the impression that I’m supportive of mindless masala. I’m not. I didn’t even like Magadheera. I do give credit to Telugu cinema’s greater rootedness, I can even enjoy its crasser fare from time to time (Don Seenu!). But this is hardly a model to uphold.

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  3. “There is a compromise here that would have elevated this film without forsaking any bit of its box office success…”

    And Satyam, I would absolutely delighted if you could throw some light on this…as to how Ms Zoya could have changed the script and elevated the movie to the levels of her father or brother (just one or two specific example would suffice). It would be interesting (and also enligtening for me at least) to know. Hope you respond to that humble request instead of ignoring my several other requests (such as top 10 romantic movies etc etc).

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    • Let me start with the romantic movies for now. I actually forgot about this. I thought I’d think about this and not leave anything out but then I didn’t have a chance to do so. I am just going to offer some random examples off the top of my head in no order:

      1)Bobby
      2)Alaipayuthey (original of Saathiya)
      3)QSQT
      4)Chronicle of a Love Affair (Antonioni)
      5)Antoine and Colette (Truffaut)
      6)A Heart in Winter (Sautet)
      7)The Way We Were
      8)Amar Prem
      9)Mouna Raagam
      10)Sangam

      again it’s very hard to recall everything. I’ve just listed some favorites. I’d have Ek Duje ke liye here (or the Telugu version) but much as I adore the film I detest its ending. Cannot stand the excess it all comes down to with the rape and everything.

      On ZNMD some other time!

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      • vatikala Says:

        A very good list. All my favourites here.

        Ek Dueje Ke liye ending seemed to be forced and unnecessary. They could have a happy ending like Bobby.

        Moogamanasulu(telugu) and its hindi version Milan also had a subtle love story.

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      • “her getting raped and then the lovers rolling down those rocks to a terrible death.”

        What is hindi movie without rape scene, water-fall scene….etc.

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  4. Thank you Satyam! Amar Prem had good songs (and I am not very much into songs and stuff)! 2 R.K films! For some reason Barbra Streisand annoys me alot. I would also include Roman Holiday (because I am forever in love with Gregory Peck) and Gone with the wind (loved the book as a kid), Kagaz kay phool (love G.D), wuthering heights (Lawrence Olivier and love the book), gods must be crazy, bridges of madison county (just so that I can include my first love, Clint Eastwood), When Harry met sally (for that one scene and the motto-Men and women can’t be friends because the sex part always gets in the way)…just a few off of top of my head.

    Will wait for ZNMD stuff.

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    • vatikala Says:

      These five are on my list too. But Gone with the Wind, Wuthering heights as novels are more engrossing.

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      • I think Hero/Heroine (vivien and clark) both were nominated and got oscar (not sure if they got it…but most likely they did). I love it when heroine is strong woman! I think it is epic movie…similar to Mughal-e-Azam. I think MeA should also be in the list. I loved Elizabeth (Shekhar Kapur) but ABSOLUTELY loved Dame Judy Dench’s portrayal of Elizabeth in Shakespeare in love (same year as Shekhar’s movie) and what a delightful role that was…she is SO good! Not sure if Dangerous Liaisons can be considered a typical romantic movie…but I loved that movie for Glenn Close…she is AWESOME artist (IMO).

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      • Watch this one:

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    • Spoilers here….

      They could have done a lot more with Hrithik’s character for example. He seems to be the more reflective type, also the guy who’s lived the whole Indian yuppie dream with a dash of diaspora bearings (he’s based in London), in any case the character who seems to have aged the most in the interim. And hrithik also looks much older than the other two, they could have used this to delineate his character more. He’s more uncertain in romance and so on. Rather than have him be impressed with the frighteningly mediocre stuff Katrina says or suddenly discover transcendence after a deep-sea dive his character could have been employed to explore the emptiness of his chosen lifestyle and its assumption. Instead there was the extremely trite breakup with the girlfriend and so on.

      Similarly the father angle could have animated Farhan Akhtar’s character much more than in the last 5 min of the film. He seems to be the most given to ‘non-seriousness’ within the group, perhaps this is a defense mechanism in some ways, the film hints at it towards the end but again doesn’t do anything with it barring a scene with the father.

      In the same vein we learn by the end that Abhay Deol is not quite interested in that marriage. But he’s been sucked into it for the absurdest of reasons. Leaving this aside what if the entire trip for him is a way of escaping from the marriage and not really about a reunion with friends? Again the film hints at it towards the end when Hrithik’s character talks to him about it but once more it’s too little too late.

      The ethos of Spanish history and culture, even allowing for the touristy, gimmicky side, could have been used for a certain self-interrogation on the part of the lead characters. About how their admiration about all things Spanish in terms of the festivals and what not were rooted aspects of the tradition when they were really living rather deracinated lives on their side of the equation.

      I could keep going on. The point is that all of these elements wouldn’t require a radically different film. Just very small moves here and there. This is what contemporary directors have never learnt from those great middle cinema talents of the 70s like Basu Chatterjee or Hrishikesh Mukherjee where often a great of information and sentiment was conveyed with small, subtle gestures and delicate shifts. Not having a plot is never an issue in a film that makes a virtue out of this. In more recent times Rock On was a modest effort but I liked it for certain reasons. Here’s a brief older comment:

      “In this context I was encouraged by Rock On’s relative success (for its scale.. otherwise a very successful film on trending) as for the first time I witnessed a multiplex film about an Indian Gen X that also questioned the conformism of the present dispensation. Yes, it’s not a strong enough film but clearly this central theme of ‘disappointment’ resonated with viewers.”

      I saw Rock On twice and though it’s not a ‘great’ film its central theme of disillusionment and loss felt genuine. And here the interesting thing was that from Farhan Akhtar’s character to Rampal’s, one very successful, one who loses his way, the sense of loss is universal. and this film did quite well all things considered. So even as I blame the audience there are more possibilities here than the filmmakers would have us believe.

      DCH here is still the best example. Again not a phenomenal film. I have issues with its resolutions in some ways but overall (and leaving aside the aesthetic questions here where Farhan was fine) there is a genuine core here. Even in Lakshya the first half was interesting in some ways but the second half was completely conformist and Farhan lost the film. He displayed these tendencies even in DCH but there was more mediation here by way of the multiple characters and so forth. And on the same note to repeat ZNMD was quite enjoyable in the first half and despite my objections still alright in the second. But so little is attempted here by Zoya Akhtar. Really the barest minimum. Compared to this Rock On was profound. That shouldn’t be the case when Zoya Akhtar starts off with much greater advantages.

      And here it is also really about a class of directors who lack the experience to create ‘experience’. They belong to a social fabric where they have simply not experienced life in any serious sense. They have not known true loss or pain, true disappointment. They have not known the ‘irreparable’ in life. And it shows in the films. They invent fake crises because they know no better. Their horizons are astonishingly limited. Not only have they not lived life (rather ironically given the title of this film) they have also never been curious about anything not within their immediate social ethos. And it really shows in everything they say and do. The exceptions among them are rare. But in general they display a certain cockiness about their films and so on which is so disproportionate to anything they know either in terms of the lives they’ve led or the kind of culture they’ve exposed themselves to. They live lives of cliche and they are vulgar about it. It’s like Karan Johar one year comparing the gross of one of his films in the US with that of Tsotsi (a South African film nominated for the Oscars that year) and suggesting that ‘most foreign films don’t do more than 2.5 m! So you watch a few of the films that make it to the OScar shortlist, you watch the usual Hollywood fare, you see an Awara or two, a Guru Dutt or two and maybe (if you’re really ambitious) a few other foreign classics. And you start believing you’re hot stuff! This sounds like caricature but this is the kind of ‘experience’ 99% of the Johar and Zoya Akhtar types share. And it is reflected in their films at every level as well as their off-screen interviews. In some cases there is a sheer vulgarity to it. Take a film like Wake Up Sid. Is it possible to make a film ‘smaller’ than this in its concerns?! Most of this cinema is just appalling. Sure it’s often well shot again in some cliched ways and that’s about it. And by the way ask these people how many Rays they’ve seen or if they’ve even heard of Adoor Gopalakrishnan or some Bengali stalwarts over the last 3-4 decades and if they mention Pathar Panchali that’s probably an accomplishment! And these are great names within their own country. These guys are no better that frogs in a pond except that because of the cross-cultural traffic of globalization the pond sometimes includes a Tsotsi or too. and they’re happy. True cinema at any level doesn’t come about with such smugness. Johar in many ways is just the most vulgar figure here not least because he’s also the most visible one. But the rest for the most part aren’t far behind. There are exceptions sure! There are always exceptions. I am however referring to the general mindset here. And to this degree I have been disappointed to see Farhan Akhtar give up on his fine start in DCH or even his acceptable second film Lakshya to pursue a meaningless acting career or an equally meaningless directorial stint doing one don after another. I don’t have a problem with his acting parts. I don’t mind him on screen. He represents a certain Gen X type convincingly. But if you are capable of DCH and settle down into these sorts of acting parts there’s something very wrong!

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      • Thank You Satyam from bottom of my heart! I don’t have so much technical knowledge or ability to critically evaluate movie at your level but it certainly was enlightening to read what your take on it is (and I agree).E.G below paragraph
        “And here it is also really about a class of directors who lack the experience to create ‘experience’. They belong to a social fabric where they have simply not experienced life in any serious sense. They have not known true loss or pain, true disappointment. They have not known the ‘irreparable’ in life. And it shows in the films. They invent fake crises because they know no better. ”
        Manmohan desai lived in a chawl and could have but didn’t move out till the end of his life (commited suicide from his chawl home). Similarly too, I believe an actor needs to have certain experiences in life to bring pathos. Of course, they also so that an actor doesn’t need to go thro’ experiences and can “act” it out which makes him a true actor but I believe that it just brings in that little extra…like Steroids to Carl Lewis (Bad analogy I know) and sometimes it is that extra that makes you stand above the rest. I hope Zoya reads your review and above comment! I truely hope she does that because it will enable her to grow as a filmmaker. I see or sense a certain sincerity in her and her brother (compared to Karan Johar). KJO I feel is little better than many of the south bombay boys that I know and I personally strongly believe that he speaks VERY well (that he doesn’t have strong values on which to speak about is a tragedy). Ray, Adoor…etc…they don’t make them like these stalwarts anymore. These people were true thinkers, had strong sense of value or value system (over just making money). In that I always write in bachchan blog, that he should *see* beyond money (for he already has arrived in economically). Thanks again for posting…so nice/sweet of you!

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  5. “Wuthering heights as novels are more engrossing…”
    Seldom movies do justice to the book; unless it is Ruth Pawar Jabawala who is writing the screen play. Love this genius lady! What a FABULOUS trio this was. Ruth-Merchant-Ivory! Hats off to them.
    I also had like memoirs of a geisha (not just for romance part of it but the far east part of it)…lovely novel…shoddy movie!

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    • vatikala Says:

      Geisha. Are they still there in modern Japan? Their tea ceremony is awesome. And their kimonos as well. Kimonos sort of look like modern day nighties with lots of complicated stitching.

      There is some mystery about far eastern countries, their rituals, their understanding of buddhism etc. Sad that these earthquakes target them with merciless regularity.

      Scarlett might be a strong woman, but she was incapable of true love. She was far too practical for that tender feeling. And one needs selflessness to love.

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      • “Kimonos sort of look like modern day nighties with lots of complicated stitching.”
        Hahahha…Vati…you are truely humorous. You are in “form” as Guruji proclaimed today 😉

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  6. “Scarlett might be a strong woman, but she was incapable of true love…”
    No arguements to those who like meena kumari’s incessant tears or desire to drink daru to truely *merge* with her husband or get his attention!! LOL.
    How does one define “true” love. Rhett loves her truely. Why do men not be capable of true love , fidelity and why only women should love/hanker/run after men!! In that angle I like GWW. In most movies (chick flicks for that is how they are designed) it is woman who loves man and man does all kinds of bad deeds..etc..most hindi movies anyway.

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    • vatikala Says:

      Men can love. But they feel it is less macho and more feminine to declare that feeling. Women usually understand men in that respect.
      Men who declare love in flowery words are more suspect. Take our Javed Akhthar. He easily moved on to Shabana when he found his wife too heavy, it seems. Farhan and Zoya must make an honest film about that. Marriage vows must have one more sentence. We stay together in thickness and thinness.

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  7. “Take our Javed Akhthar. He easily moved on to Shabana when he found his wife too heavy, it seems….”
    Hmmm. Shabana was quite a home breaker (had bad reputation) and apparently drove Shashi Kapoor’s wife (created HUGE rift bet. shashi and his wife) to illness. Finally when that relationship didn’t workout and she was closing in 40s, she went after Javed who she always knew because he was fellow poet and came to meet Kaifi Azmi all the time. There is more than meets the eye here. Film actress (I personally feel) are like Henry the 8th. They know the *power* they have due to their filmy aura/stature and they can get any men…therefore you would find Rekha, Sridevi, Shabana, Smita, JayaP (and many more) who go/settle for 2nd marraige because it was THEM (the actress) who had pursued married men in the first place! The second angle is that these women have money or fat bank balance and in certain cases (Sridevi) the men go after their money (R.K and Nargis…apparently whole RK studio was financed/paid by Nargis’s earnings!!).

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  8. Of course they can get a nice, ordinary single man (like Madhuri Dixit..though he is a doctor or Meenakshi Sheshadri) but some how the glamour of married men prolly entices them otherwise they too can have a common, bourgeois marraige and lead a normal bourgeois life!! Apparently Hema is looking for such bourgeois Tamil Iyer groom for her daughters for some ttime now with their daughters having a flop career and all….

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    • “Apparently Hema is looking for such bourgeois Tamil Iyer groom for her daughters…”
      I hope our romantic guruji is listening 😉

      P.S: Alex..its not YOU, I am talking about! LOLz

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  9. vatikala Says:

    This coming of age theme has been done to death. Now they have to go for something different and more innovative. If Zoya insists that her brother must star in every movie of hers, she will tend towards scripts where his limited appeal can be camouflaged and that will ruin creativity. It will tend to become Farhan centric.

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  10. Take it easy, Satyam. Were you really expecting any kind of rootedness from this film or did you watch it just so you could write this piece? They showed you the tomatina, bull fighting festival and all the other foreign stuff in the trailers that most indians haven’t heard of. You knew what you were getting into. Enjoy it for what it is.

    BTW I would rather have no socio-political context at all rather than the immatured, childish one we get in most Hindi films.

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  11. Thanks for your take Satyam. It’s hard to comment anything about it, because your understanding of cinema (in the Indian context among other things) is truly great and I’d not be in a position to put in my views to contradict anything that you’ve said. On the other hand, despite liking the film for whatever it is, I thought something was missing and after reading your piece, I couldn’t agree more with what you wrote.

    I need to comment something about the performances too. Farhan shines and is his performance is memorable precisely because he gets to display his comic talent and gets the finest lines to deliver.

    Abhay is best suited for a role that requires him to act naturally – an independent Anurag Kashyap film, perhaps. I cant imagine him excelling in histrionics.

    Hritik was good in the film but his fake accents dont go down well with me. He appears to be a wannabe.

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    • thanks much.. and again it’s just a certain perspective.. it’s not the only one possible.. your take was absolutely fine too.. and I keep repeating that I didn’t mind the film at all.. but there is a whole mindset and ‘class’ of films that I am railing against if you will. A comparable example would be DDLJ, a film that I loved in the 90s and still consider a ‘classic’.. I then enjoyed DTPH too even though it was not even close to DDLJ.. so on and so forth.. but eventually I realized that there was a certain worldview that was emerging in this brand of cinema. Any one film no matter how successful is not significant enough for one to get too worked up about even if one doesn’t agree with the ‘politics’. However when it becomes a family of films or a whole brand of cinema it has clearly become a dominant paradigm. That’s when my problems begin (if I have issues with such a paradigm). Again I’d rather watch ZNMD than any of Akshay’s comedies and so on. But there’s a difference between a film that’s ‘bad’ or poor on aesthetic grounds and one that is questionable for its ideological positions. of course with the latter everyone will not have the same issues. It depends on one’s overall orientation. But it’s not that my view is ‘right’ or anything that can’t be contradicted.

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  12. very interesting topic.
    there will always be more of gents in society who choose films rather “light”. But what is unfortunate is that it DISCLAIM movies “innovative, intelligent” and even the actors
    make use of films “commercial”…

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  13. Utkal Mohanty Says:

    Satyam, agree with your comments about the politics of the film and lack of rootedness in multiplex fare. Also agree about the observation on Tamil films, I realy admire the w ay they Indianise the narrative, both in trms of the narrative styles and the social landscape. Not only Vinatandi.. even a film like Endhiran does it so admirably. But in Hindi too there has been a JWM, Tanu Weds Manu and BBB..not to mention Al of Hirani’s films who has such a unique vision , and can straddle the single screens and multiplexes with equal felicity.

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  14. You’ve seen the movie “What Just Happened?”
    they talk about a hot topic I think..

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  15. Satyam, thanks for your thoughts on this film. Not very surprising, considering the trailers.

    Did you post a review of Delhi Belly? If so, could you point me to it, as I think I missed it.

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  16. Incidentally (and as everyone ought to know by now) I don’t just have ideological objections to a certain sort of multiplex fare. Here for example and even before the film has released one can see that I have the gravest doubts about Aarakshan in the same political sense:

    https://satyamshot.wordpress.com/2011/04/26/bachchan-1093-1094-1095-1096-1097-1098-1099-1100-1101-1102-1103-1104/#comment-94395

    and this just the other day:

    https://satyamshot.wordpress.com/2011/06/15/bachchan-1154/#comment-99392

    I had similar problems with Rajneeti. I loved watching the film but there seemed be no genuine insight on any kind of politics here much less the region (generic) being represented. Elsewhere I have also suggested that this is the sort of worldview that goes down well with multiplex viewers in major metros, who imagine heartland politics to be this sort of personality-driven deal with the specific agendas being unimportant and so forth. But still dealing with ‘politics’ as an abstraction in the guise of a Godfather tale doesn’t register the same intensity of protest from me. However when it comes to something more specific like ‘reservation’ the stakes are that much higher because of the very deep histories involved , the very profound stakes called into play. Hence if Jha makes a film as enjoyable as Rajneeti but treats the reservation issue as cavalierly as he did ‘politics’ in Rajneeti I would find the film (Aarakshan) quite unacceptable. So one can be entertained with a film and yet find it severely problematic in other ways.

    But Bombay doesn’t make too many such films so it’s hard to say much on these subjects. On the other hand the ZNMD genre is indulged in all the time. But similarly I have also had questions about films like BBB and Tanu.. because even those I like the ‘atmospherics’ here I am otherwise not convinced about the commitment of those filmmakers to a more rooted cinema. In fact in some of these films the ‘local sights’ are grafted onto a very multiplex-soul. It’s still better than the alternatives of course. Finally I am not opposed to any film shot in Spain or wherever as a knee-jerk reaction. But Bombay does it in certain ways. Despite all of this one should still be able to separate a film that entertains at some basic level from one that doesn’t and ZNMD did entertain me where many others of its kind simply don’t.

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    • “ZNMD did entertain me where many others of its kind simply don’t.”
      I will sum it up for you. It entertained the “common” man inside you but didn’t satisfy “intellectual” inside you (I know your dislike for those words but can’t help it)

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    • vatikala Says:

      Aarkshan will be a good film boxofficewise. Reservations issue is too serious to take a stand for or against it. So Jha must have taken a safe course of neutrality. though the title is Aarakshan, the treatment may not go deep. It seems Prateik is encacting Rajiv Goswami type of a role who tried to immolate himself.I only hope that Deepika is not depicted as his sister falling for the dalit boy or man Saif ali Khan. It wil be too filmy. Or is she Bachchan’s daughter in the film? This film has a readymade target community of students. A sure hit.

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    • Correct me if i am wrong Satyam but his is how i interpret you thoughts and by the way i completely concur with them.

      1) By rooted cinema you mean films which are socially relevant, give an in depth and proper analysis of the issue in question. Most of films are entertainers with social issue as the backdrop. Proper research is missing and the focus is on the drama. Rajneeti, znmd belong to this group.

      By the way i will be curious to know what are your thoughts on films like stanley ka dabba, TZP, RDB, Gulaal, Dev D, well done abba, welcome to sajjanpur etc. in the above perspective. I am not very aware of older movies so i only could quote these ones.

      2) Movies like Rajneeti and znmd are suited to the taste of multiplex audience who are more accepting to the superficial view of issues rather than the actual complexities involved. These films are still better than mindless entertainers because they can entertain a more intelligent audience.

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      • 1)I don’t mean socially relevant cinema. In fact I have problems with this label inasmuch as it smells of something didactic. But ‘rooted’ for me is a film that is very specifically indexed to a genuine world. But that doesn’t have to be simply the space of the ‘native’ in one form or the other, it could certainly be a film with the native traveling elsewhere, it could even be a fantasy world. However that world must justify itself, must mean something authentic and shouldn’t just be a kind of flat reality beneath which there is really nothing. Now as a related matter I might feel that the Indian experience is not being represented enough in Hindi cinema (though this has been better lately) but not because I am some nationalist on this matter. The reason here is that in my worldview the ‘universal’ is most accessible in the locally precise. In other words a film like Piya ka Ghar isn’t just about chawl dwellers in Bombay but opens onto a much larger series of truths about urban life, the human experience in such and so on. But ‘local’ too isn’t just about faithfully representing a geographical space. It could be this but it doesn’t have to be so. I love many visions of Bombay as these have appeared in many films but I don’t confuse these with some reality out there. In any case we never access reality as a whole. We just get slices of it depending on our cultural environment, our own choices in life and so forth. But the vision produced in a film must be persuasive. There are sci-fi films in Hollywood that are more persuasive than realistic dramas that take place on actual city streets. So this isn’t about finding that sort of correspondence. A ‘world’ is not the same thing as any one specific definition of a ‘world’. There are different ideas of Bombay. Masala cinema creates one. But this isn’t the only one out there. Nor is it even the ‘best’ one. It is simply one of the persuasive ones. And this because the city in this sort of imagining is indexed to larger questions of society and culture and politics and the law etc. But again it doesn’t have to be this either. It could be more about an idea or a site of the imagination. So you could have for example a road film where people travel through some very non-descript parts that are not easily defined in any sense and yet this film could be more rooted than one set in Bombay. It all depends on what the director does with it. Similarly Indians in London does not make for the lack of rootedness on its own. It is so only when at either end of this divide the world created or suggested is not a plausible one. So for example I do not ‘buy’ the London of K3G or the NY of KANK. I do however subscribe to the London of CK. I do not have a problem with Raj Kapoor’s world tour in Sangam, I have one with Zoya Akhtar’s Spanish jaunt. for similar reasons but the most important one here being that Raj Kapoor relies on an authentic archive (the great world tours of the 60s and 70s which many in India partook of and not only in India.. you could buy an affordable ticket and get very many Euorpean stops and so on.. this does not exist anymore.. it’s a slice of an older world but this is what Raj Kapoor references and it is very much in keeping with the class he’s representing much as Midnight in Paris relies on another archive of the American in Paris). Rootedness in any case shouldn’t be confused with a realistic portrayal of existing Indian spaces much less any program of socially conscious cinema. However given the predilection of Hindi cinema since the 90s even this literal kind of rootedness is a good start and this has been the case for some years in many kinds of films. Similarly I do not like ‘message’ films. The work must be fine enough or great enough to be first and foremost an artistic product or one of meaningful entertainment within which larger questions might then be embedded. But there are infinite ways of doing this. I don’t see Deewar as a message film. It’s just a potent tale which operates at a number of registers. But it does not present itself first and foremost as political or social critique.

        Haven’t seen Stanley yet. Of the rest liked TZP a lot, found RDB problematic on political grounds but not much otherwise, liked Gulaal too but this too becomes a mess in some ways. Dev D again is a film that I would recommend even if it could have been much better than it was. well Done Abba didn’t interest me enough for me to complete it but some have praised this one. I don’t remember much of Welcome to Sajjanpur. Might have seen this in distracted fashion.

        2)On the point you make about Rajneeti and ZNMD and even though I enjoyed them at a pure entertainment level (the former way more than the latter) I am not sure if I could agree completely with your statement. Because the moment one raises a certain discourse or certain kinds of questions the stakes on the film in question go up. One cannot just give credit to a film for bringing up certain issues irrespective of how successfully or not those very issues are addressed. An Akshay Kumar comedy might just be silly entertainment and that’s all one can judge it on. But the moment a film decides to be about something other than silly entertainment it automatically has to be questioned more rigorously also. So again with the Deewar example once all those issues have been raised one has to work through them carefully (assuming one is interested in this.. of course films make an impact either way.. even if one is not interested in this sort of ‘deeper’ reading one must still wonder why certain films work so well in one age and not in another and what accounts for changes in taste and so forth). I made the same point with respect to Aarakshan. Once you say you’re making a film about reservation I expect a certain seriousness. The film can be a total entertainer but it cannot lack clarity (whatever one’s perspective might be) and it cannot then be non-serious about certain issues. Rajneeti for me was a compulsive entertainer for the most part but fairly pathetic as an insight into any kind of heartland/hinterland politics. And even worse it seemed to confirm the old ‘multiplex’ biases where politics in certain parts of India is never about ideology or party platforms but only about horse-trading and personality and gangsterism. The latter are all part of the deal but these do not define things in the first instance.

        And you’re absolutely right that these films represent the taste of multiplex audiences which is why the piece here is ultimately much more a critique of this ‘taste’ than the film itself.

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        • However that world must justify itself, must mean something authentic and shouldn’t just be a kind of flat reality beneath which there is really nothing.

          Rootedness in any case shouldn’t be confused with a realistic portrayal of existing Indian spaces much less any program of socially conscious cinema

          ISNT THERE A CONTRADICTION IN THE ABOVE TWO SENTENCES?

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          • You first point has left me more confused

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          • If it is real it has to be socially relevant. What do you mean by flat reality? First you say it should be reality but not a flat reality and then you say that rootedness should not be confused with realistic portrayal of indian spaces. I did not get it.

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          • what I meant was that in the example of ZNMD I am not opposed to shooting a film in Spain but this film remains at the surface level. Spain is just a totally random choice here. It could have been Italy or France or any other place too. Because the narrative is never really anchored to the Spanish experience in any serious way. Similarly there can be a rooted film that also operates in such a superficial way. Lanfangey Parindey. The Indian city here is simply grafted onto a narrative without being ‘justified’ in any deeper sense. This is a little harsh for a film that’s not the worst one around but you get the point.

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          • After many readings i finally understood it or i think i understood it. Rooted is more about the plausibility of the world it is set in even if it is a fantasy world.

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          • Take a film like BBB. It is ‘rooted’ in terms of its geographical spaces. And I give it some credit for it. But once it takes care of this ambience it is suddenly no better than the usual Yashraj fare. So a film can be ‘literally’ rooted but not necessarily a fine effort just on that score. The reason I point this out is that I am not just devoted to the ‘letter of the law’. BBB is preferable to KHNH but KHNH could have been a better film than BBB despite not being set in India. Just shooting a film in India doesn’t define the limits of rootedness. Something more is needed. I found that ‘something more’ in Do dooni Char that I didn’t in BBB. The former was more specific in outlining its world than the latter. This is one part of it.

            On the second point let me offer two Bhansali examples. I would call Saawariya a more ‘rooted’ film than HDDCS. This might sound strange. I do have a certain partiality for HDDCS but Bhansali created a neverland here in the first half of the film within a more realistic framework. It’s this fantasy mansion with a Rajshri kind of family in the middle of nowhere. Salman literally treks across the desert to get there. This kind of ‘imaginary’ creation weakens a film that otherwise has no such conceit. Then the whole bit about Italy (Hungary!) is somewhat better done because he’s at least shooting there but still there is a certain looseness to the attention given to physical places. the Johar-like focus on iconic sites and so on. I don’t know Budapest at all but I’m certain if I did I’d have the very same objections here that I have with respect to Johar’s NY. He just selects some iconic sites, shoots too many scenes in this way and the city becomes very fake with such handling. It’s only because one knows the city. Even when one isn’t aware of the continuity gaps in this sense people who shoot films this way are also never observant about little details. they’re only focusing on the big obvious things. Like that famous Budapest bridge or the Wall St bull in KHNH and so on. But RGV in something like Satya isn’t out to give viewers an iconic tour of Bombay. This is why the fiction works.

            In Saawariya on the other hand the world created by Bhansali is quite obviously artificial. It is explicitly designed to look like a set (Broadway or whatever). The set’s physical spaces represent an idea in many ways and not meant to be representative in any sense. It’s a surreal sort of environment with those color choices etc. Now one might find the film flat as a narrative matter as I did but the problem here isn’t lack of rootedness. I don’t have issues believing in Bhansali’s world. Meanwhile in Black the director again goes half way in this sense and it is problematic at times because again a neverland world is evoked though unlike HDDCS the film never gets out of those spaces and is otherwise fairy-tale like in some ways so it’s not a huge problem.

            This at any rate was the second point I was trying to make about rootedness. One can create a convincing world without having to set it in a real Indian town or what have you. A world can be created with enough specificity to seem completely plausible or like Saawariya it can be more of an imaginary one with deliberately abstract choices. Each can be equally justified. Each can be equally convincing. but since in any commercial industry you don’t get such auteurist approaches too often I don’t discuss these as much as focus on the more literal rootedness. But not because this is the only definition of rootedness I subscribe to.

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  17. “film as enjoyable as Rajneeti but treats the reservation issue as cavalierly as he did ‘politics’ in Rajneeti I would find the film (Aarakshan) quite unacceptable….”

    Actually I did not think it “cavalier” at all..as a person living outside of India and also who grew up in India, I think lot of things were spot on. I (personally) felt, like shakespeare, the movie had something for everyone…entertainment for masses and also message for intellectuals. Will come back later with specific examples (gotta go )

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  18. I was talking about Rajneeti (FYI)

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  19. oldgold Says:

    Actually everything you’ve said here could be said for DCH.
    In fact it was among the first films that I tried to watch after being reintroduced to hindi films.
    I didn’t know anything about Amir Khan, not even his name so you can’t blame that for my opinion.

    The first time I tried watching, I stopped at almost the beginning with the disco scene where this character (AK – who I didn’t know then) was hamming away to glory and doing some comedy copied from an old american serial (three’s company).

    I couldn’t go beyond this point. It looked so alien. It was only after a year or two, wfter I had got acclimitized to bollywood that I could continue.

    They were all so rich!! So useless!! and the thoughts that ran through my head were somewhat on the same lines as you’ve come up with.

    So I really don’t understand this bit about that being better? Why? Because AK is in it? Because DCH came first?
    I haven’t seen ZNMD, but I didn’t think it was necessary to express my astonishment here at all this praise for DCH when thrashing ZNMD with the same whip that could be used for DCH .

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    • Oldgold, I would say first of all that at a technical level DCH is much superior to ZNMD. But fair enough that’s not what my piece is really about.

      Actually I have over the years (not on this blog as much) always criticized DCH on a certain point. Which is that the second half involves the taming of the three leads and leads them to resolutions that perhaps Johar wouldn’t disagree with too much. Nonetheless it is a film that at every level is far more genuine. So for example there’s a rift there between two of the friends that’s handled with a certain seriousness unlike in ZNMD where it’s just treated in passing and is more or less a ‘background’ affair (barring one scene where Hrithik’s character erupts over it after his phone has been tossed away and this too is taken care of very quickly). In DCH what I liked about the tension that develops between Aamir’s character and Akshaye’s is that it’s not about this or that thing really much less stealing someone’s girlfriend (by the way this too is treated in a non-serious way in ZNMD.. so hrithik complains Farhan did this to him.. the latter meanwhile seems not very apologetic at all.. and meanwhile Abhay brokers the piece suggesting that the woman was a user who used both guys equally.. thereby completely ignoring any ethical infraction on Farhan’s part..). Here it’s really about two different personality types. Sure they’re friends but Aamir’s character I think is the least sympathetic in the first half of the film while Akshaye is the sensitive guy and so forth. If I might put it a certain way Aamir’s character in his narcissism (before he changes in the second half of the film) could be read as a critique of the SRK archetype of those 90s love stories (much as Maddy in Anbe Sivam could also be read this way). In any case the point here is that when the fight breaks out one has to be on Akshaye’s side. This move also allows the director to deconstruct Aamir’s whole approach to life. Then there is the angle between Akshaye and Dimple, really the best one in the film, I wish Farhan hadn’t abandoned it in the end but given the parameters of that relationship it is not the most unjustifiable decision. And again something genuine happens here. In the second half as I see it there’s a domestication of the three leads in a Joharesque direction but for all this there is at least the sense that life involves a growing-up phase. perhaps the guys become sell-outs to the very bourgeois apparatus they’re otherwise laughing at through the first half but they do have to reconsider many of their romantic fantasies about life. Even akshaye who’s already the most serious guy has to do this. Finally saif who operates more or less in a comic vein throughout the film has some genuinely funny moments when he goes through the whole process of an arranged marriage (more or less) or something to that effect and Farhan takes this opportunity to poke fun at bourgeois notions of success and stability. hence the anal guy who looks to be marrying Sonali Kulkarni and his whole demeanor and sense of organization about his life is simply ridiculous (and hilarious).

      I could add some more examples but I haven’t seen the film recently. The point, certainly from my perspective is, that even as this film heralded a whole wave of multiplex cinema in that genre hardly anyone really learn from the ambivalence of this film. Yes there is a kind of happy ending here but there is a lot that takes places in DCH’s world that cannot be equated with any easy celebration of multiplex mores or those of the target audience here. The film definitely has its bitter-sweet moments. The idea that this is just about fun and frolic is I think misplaced and frankly Aamir wouldn’t have done such a film in this genre were it just about this. In all the films that have followed in its wake Rock On is the only one that stands out in my mind because it takes some of the ‘disappointment’ implied in the process of ‘growing up’ seriously. Certainly it takes this hint from DCH. Again I would never compare Rock On to DCH as an overall achievement but it is almost alone in striking that tone. Now finally to ZNMD. To be fair Zoya Akhtar, and as I’ve already mentioned, does try to work within the DCH space in some ways but I’m afraid she got Joharized at some point. It’s not just about being in Spain but about not justifying this choice enough. We’ve seen so many films where the locales seems to dictate the logic of the plot than the other way around. ZNMD falls into this trap. This film could have been set in tons of places around the world and it would make little difference. But this is still not the biggest problem. The larger issue here is that there is just not enough ‘cost’ to Zoya Akhtar’s tale in any sense. The film stays at a certain narrative and emotional plateau throughout. There are some nice gestures here but nothing much comes of them. Again I don’t want to repeat things I’ve already said but I don’t think there’s any way one can compare this film with DCH irrespective of what one things of the older film. By the way DCH is hardly my favorite film. I’m just not very fond of this genre. That doesn’t mean it’s all the same. One cannot paint everything with the same brush. Just because certain elements might be common doesn’t mean the treatment is the very same. And Farhan Akhtar interesting has had this streak in him. He’s never been that celebratory about the multiplex present at least when he’s made those films. DCH is an example but so is the first part of Lakshya. Even in the second half of the latter there’s an unconvincing move towards ‘nationalism’ which is still not the same as endorsing multiplex mores. In fact this is precisely a demographic that is not really into the military and that brand of nationalism and so forth. After this Akhtar has just made the Don films. This is why I have rued the fact that he hasn’t explored the DCH terrain some more. Even his persona in this sense (though I hardly think much of him as an actor) doesn’t have that celebratory vibe to it.

      I would also say here that a film that seems ‘alien’ is not questionable just on those grounds. My problem with ZNMD isn’t that it’s ‘alien’. Many people in India live like that and certainly aspire to that lifestyle. But this is where my questions begin. Which is why I haven’t just focused on the film in the piece. And within the bounds of this debate I find DCH far more nuanced. Not saying it’s Sholay! Similarly Rock On at least shows another side. ZNMD tries to do the same but very inadequately. But sure I still prefer it to stuff like WUS and so many others precisely because it is still better than many other films. One shouldn’t lose sight of these distinctions. as a general matter I don’t like Akshay’s comedies. But some are still better than others.

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      • oldgold Says:

        My use of the word ‘alien’ doesn’t literally mean that. It means that I couldn’t relate to it.
        Your views are also about how you relate to these respective films.
        I’ll let you know how I relate to ZNMD.

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    • Alex adams Says:

      “The first time I tried watching, I stopped at almost the beginning with the disco scene where this character (AK – who I didn’t know then) was hamming away to glory and doing some comedy copied from an old american serial (three’s company).I couldn’t go beyond this point. It looked so alien. It was only after a year or two, wfter I had got acclimitized to bollywood that I could continue”
      Lol enjoyed reading that….well written earnest cumment!!
      Why did u have to be “reintroduced” or “acclimatised” to Bollywood… I mean there is a SMALL gap between meena kumari and dil Chahta hai….lol
      An expectedly good piece from satyam on znmd — will read it completely after watching the film(if I can)

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    • @ Oldgold. Gotcha. At it as usual, dismissing your pet hate.

      No problems there mate. You are free to dismiss whoever you instinctively dislike..

      My point is this–poor Aamir didn’t really ham in any scene of DCH as far as I remember. He filled his role well, did a great job of it, despite being the oldest of the trio; was never filmy, just right, funny, sad as needed, brought the screen alive with his character, looked good, and really played his urban brat with a heart character– so well, so different from the rural dhoti clad Bhuvan we had seen a month earlier in Lagaan. No , Aamir did not ham in DCH–my opinion and the opinion of many other bloody loyal Aamir fans.

      But, even i have to admit, that Aamir hammed a bit in his Ghajini- furious baldhead avtar (not in the early sensible hero portions). Aamir was attempting masala after long (RH) and he needed to be OTT.

      As was dear ol’ SRK in Devdas–wonderful hamming there.

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  20. oldgold Says:

    >I mean there is a SMALL gap between meena kumari and dil Chahta hai…

    LOL! What I meant was that I never watched contemporary films, but started to, after Jodhaa Akbar. Otherwise I’m quite happy with my old film DVDs.

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  21. Hmm. I liked the review and understood it in the first read unlike other Satyam reviews.
    You would have no problems with znmd if it did not pretend to be more than an entertainer? The success of this movie will set precedent for more such movies which are hollow on the content which is promised with the theme of the movie.

    The setting of the movie is borrowed from the west. This kind of movie will be more culturally relevant there than India with a different treatment off course.

    The audience also lacks depth in their thinking and understanding of issues. They want to be fed superficial interpretation of serious issues.

    I don’t think i can agree with you on the comparison with DCH. DCH may be better on a technical level of film-making but i don’t think it addressed any serious issue the way they need to be addressed. Striking the proper balance is a difficult task to achieve.

    Farhan and company and film-makers of the same breed and also the urban audience have a lifestyle which is totally hollow at a lot of levels. It is unlikely for them to think beyond their consumer approach. You talked about deft touches by older film-makers to convey the point. But then you are expecting too much of this breed. The society where they have grown up reflects in their films and their approach to the films.

    People who have the ability to make the films as you want to be made lack the resources or the cool tag which is associated with akhtar siblings or similar film-makers. Shayam Benegal may be more suited to your taste.

    You main problem is their pretentious approach. The theme of film promises to be much more than it actually is. But then again it manages to sell itself to the audience who end up finding it socially relevant. DB is on that account is sold as a frivolous film which it actually is while znmd is shown to much more which it is not. \

    And then you talk about the pathetic content of hindi movies and by content i mean films addressing the issues in society in a proper manner. The problem is lack of investment in writing department in HIndi film industry. It is wrong to expect layered and wise writing from cool urban film-makers especially with the baggage that they arrive.

    Like

    • I will agree that Bombay does lack serious script-writers and no industry can be truly strong without good writing. However it is also true that some of the good writers in recent years have been more into smaller fare or something like Khakee/EHT/DMD with the Raghavans. The good writers today are not really interested in the ZNMD kind of universe which too creates an asymmetry as the most economically empowered audiences want this kind of cinema, the filmmakers too but the writing talent is only rarely drawn towards this.

      Like

      • “The problem is lack of investment in writing department in HIndi film industry. …”
        Sometimes…just sometimes…I wonder if world has changed (?) or if KJO is how india thinks today…I wonder if I have become fossil and KJO types are the reality today! I have few relatives of my own back there and sometimes…I wonder…

        Like

  22. i wrote this above comment before reading your reply. Some of the points you have addressed and have been clarified in your other comment.

    Like

  23. Some great discussion points on what seems to be a rather fluffy film.

    Like

  24. salimjakhra Says:

    just saw the film – thought it was pretty shit.
    i had actually thought u guys were being overly pessimistic in the build up to the film, but it ended up even worse than everyone had predicted.
    a lot of it was cringeworthy (most scenes with hrithik-katrina). abhay was mediocre. only farhan was decent.

    Like

  25. “just saw the film – thought it was pretty shit.
    i had actually thought u guys were being overly pessimistic in the build up to the film,..”

    Maybe not meant to be, but quite hilarious comment! hahahahha

    Like

  26. Satyam,

    >> “found RDB problematic on political grounds ”

    do you have a link of your review of RDB or your views, to understand your above comment. Would really like to read about the problem with RDB. I’ve always thought it was great story and it did have a message for the youth. Not that they should go and kill a political but atleast revoke..

    Like

  27. vatikala Says:

    One thing baffles me no end. Ready so far made around 121 crores and declared a blockbuster by boi. And Murder 2 which made around 35 cores is also declared as blockbuster. Are they not diluting the importance of blockbuster by this strange logic?

    If a movie is made with 2 crores and earns 10 crores, will it also be declared as blockbuster? Okay, a handheld camera movie like paranormal activity type made with a budget of around 2 lakhs and earns 12 lakhs will it also be declared as blockbuster??

    Like

    • A very valid point.

      Like

    • Usually the term ‘blockbuster’ carries some connotation of scale. so a film made for 2 crores and grossing 10 crores wouldn’t normally be called one. For example a few recent Scorsese films that have done well are not called blockbusters. A Pirates or a Transformers might be depending in the box office. So there are questions of scale, often those of genre which sort of follows because not every genre can lead to a blockbuster. But yeah it’s all messed up in India in so many ways.

      These days the most overused word, with Taran for example, is ‘humongous’. And even otherwise all these guys from him to BOI have a select set of adjectives that they beat to death. Each film that does well must somehow be defined in more exaggerated terms than the previous one. There is not even the pretense of neutrality. Leaving aside favoring one star and not another box office commentary should have some element of neutrality. It shouldn’t look like you have a stake in the film! But getting back to those kinds of words, ‘humongous’ and so on, this kind of language can be justified for films like Ghajini or Dabanng or something not DB or ZNMD no matter how well these films do relative to their genres.

      It’s unfortunately a diseased system in every sense. Just take the kinds of predictions Taran and Nahata have been making for SIngam. I’d be quite pleased if the film does a Ready or whatever though I have my doubts. But the point is that leaving aside everything else, all the agendas and politics. there is a minimal conflict of interest when as a ‘trade’ figure you go out and make all sorts of predictions with every film. later you then present the box office picture in a way that doesn’t contradict you completely. And so on. If you think about it this too is a way of exercising power. ‘Hey no one’s going to like this film’ or ‘the youth will love this film’ and so on. No one who has anything to do with the business is interested in these pronouncements. They’re just for media consumption.

      Like

  28. Satyam,

    You seem to have problems with films not deeply rooted or fakeness with respect to the background they represent. That way, you must dislike all SRK’s NRI-targeted films of the 21st century (to some extent even KKHH and DDLJ).

    Just want to know – which is your favorite SRK film?

    Like

    • DDLJ (within that whole family film/romance genre). Otherwise Dil Se. Have a weakness for Kabhi Haan Kabhi Na.

      I do have problems with most of SRK’s films in the Yashraj/Dharma genres but I can still be entertained by the right film! I still enjoy DDLJ, it’s way superior to everything else. But my objections to DDLJ are also less of the ‘rooted’ kind. KKHH I have no taste for simply because it’s too juvenile for the most part. DTPH can always be enjoyed for Madhuri! The point in any case is I enjoy many films that I might object to one way or the other. But much of the multiplex fare these days is not even enjoyable at that basic level.

      Like

  29. Alex adams Says:

    Who said test cricket is dead?- jam-packed lords…
    England 120/2.
    Immense hype here bout 10dulkars Possible 100th ton in those following cricket!!
    Full page photos in newspapers of 10dulkarz son practising cricket @lords!!!

    Like

  30. alex adams Says:

    Havent seen the movie but a few songs are good in the car (at crazy speedz…)—Good peppy stuff by Shankar ehsaan loy—
    Like the High pitched bit in this one….(hope dont bang into something….)lol
    Lyrics in this high pitched interlude (courtesy google) are…
    “Kahe halke halke yeh rang jhalke jhalke
    Jo kisse hain kal ke bhula de tu
    Koi haule haule mere dil se bole
    Kisi ka toh hone chal jaane de koi jadoo”

    Like

    • the only one I liked here (which is of course not SEL’s work!):

      Again note here how despite being an infinitely lesser dancer than Hrithik Farhan seems much more ‘attuned’ to the vibe of the song here in terms of his body language. Abhay of course is simply poor on this score.

      Like

      • alex adams Says:

        ya –but didnt like the “gay” vibe here–
        the way hritik prances around and the way Farhan is having illusions of being a singing dancing superperformer!!
        lol

        Like

  31. alex adams Says:

    continuing in the musical mood—

    a personal favorite (once again!!)—-
    bring it on—-

    by popular demand—
    One love
    One blood
    One life
    You got to do what you should
    One life
    With each other
    Sisters
    Brothers
    One life
    But we’re not the same
    We get to
    Carry each other
    Carry each other
    One…life
    One

    Like

    • again the amusing thing here is that this Javed Akhtar stuff is completely out of place in the world of this film. It’s unimaginable that any of the characters could have these thoughts much less in that language!

      Having said that these moments are ‘pause’ elements that the film could have used more of. The footage juxtaposed here does more credit to the film than the film itself! And again the pity here is that there was a better film buried here somewhere. The characters have their reflective moments but these are all too brief and don’t set the tone in any other sense.

      Like

    • Farhan Akhtar’s poetries in ZNMD to be released on audio CDs
      By Bollywood Hungama News Network, July 23, 2011 – 15:59 IST

      Farhan Akhtar Of all the films released in the recent times, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara happens to be one of the films that stood out, courtesy its quintessential male bonding story and the stunning visuals. Even though all the actors delivered some of their best performances, it was Farhan Akhtar’s poetries that became the toast of the film.

      And if you happen to be one of those who went gaga over Farhan Akhtar’s poetry in the film, then gear up for more. These poems that were penned by Javed Akhtar will now be released as audio CDs soon.

      Like

  32. alex adams Says:

    in znmd songs, Spain is captured well–no doubt
    Spain definitely wont mind a boost in any tourism fuelled by bollywood considering the economy there!!

    In a similar space, liked Lucky alis work with Mahesh Matthai…
    Am fond of the musical arrangements by Mike McCleary (who incidentally was his brother-in-law)– exwife was a new zealander…Like his music sense (when he has the focus/drive)

    Like

  33. alex adams Says:

    Just heard this song while driving today.
    SEL and Javed akhtar at it again—good job!
    Fond of the trio Shankar Ehsaan Loy —
    hritik as good as eva n even farhan threatening to emote.
    MAn, if the songs are some indication, the movie should not be bad…if Zoya has messed this opportunity, she needs to be spanked-lol

    Like

  34. alex adams Says:

    “again the amusing thing here is that this Javed Akhtar stuff is completely out of place in the world of this film.”–Agree–but when u have such talent @ home, one better use it!!
    btw Oldgold–As in the spirit of ZNMD—“let yourself go” lol

    Like

  35. alex adams Says:

    Amy Winehouse found dead in her London flat!!

    Like

    • In another scene, Hrithik is shown deep in love, feeling the wind on his face as the vehicle speeds along. A female voice croons in the background while Hrithik sports expressions typical of a “woman in love”, an affected look we are more accustomed to seeing on our heroines’ faces

      — Ha Ha!! I’ve felt the same as the author. Anyhow, I never liked HR’s over acting.

      Like

  36. Bachchan has talked about the film on his blog and Abhishek is similarly praising it on twitter.

    Like

  37. tweeted this…

    @Javedakhtarjadu If you are still the writer who wrote Deewar you might be interested in my piece on ZNMD: satyamshot.wordpress.com/2011/07/19/zin…

    @Javedakhtarjadu My previous response wasn’t meant to be a dig. I have enormous respect for your work and your contemporary political commentary. However, and if I might put it this way, I have often found this ‘figure’ MIA when it comes to being a useful critic on ‘Bollywood’. Indeed times change and with time comes ‘compromise’ but surely the bar is higher for poet and writer such as yourself? I have often found you to be an incandescent intelligence but I have rued the fact that you have never been a polemicist on the contemporary Hindi film industry (which is to say over the last two decades or so). This is your most immediate sphere of influence and yet I have not seen much from you on this score. Today I see the ‘father’ celebrating ZNMD and of course you have every right to but I always have the fond hope that the father will lose to the ‘thinker’ when it comes to someone of your caliber. One should compromise a little but one shouldn’t compromise on everything. The bar is always higher when we can ‘see’ more. If one is too comfortable with the arrangements of the ‘present’ one has contributed to all its ills. ‘Bollywood’ has been for the most part this immense sea of mediocrity and bankruptcy in every way imaginable. This wouldn’t be the worst thing if the same were also not celebrated at every turn. It is therefore very disheartening to see someone like yourself not contribute to the debate in forceful terms. In this context I would once again say: where is the co-writer of Deewar? Where is the writer who created that revolution and who walked and worked with giants? Where is the writer who can still given extraordinary interviews on politics but cannot bring himself to say a tenth as much on everything that ought to be offensive to him on contemporary ‘Bollywood’? And to repeat YES the bar is higher for you. Because of who you are. Regrettably and despite your very great history you too have simply ‘nodded’ to ‘Bollywood’. If I were less true to what you have done in the past I wouldn’t be protesting so much today. I love your polemics on religious orthodoxies and political parties and so on but isn’t it rather strange that you show this much greater courage and are not willing to reveal the lesser one that would be required to honestly comment on the industry’s present with all its many ‘failures’?

    Like

    • Ami (formerly 'Annoyed') Says:

      Hmm…apparently Javed Saab has objected to the lack of realism in today’s cinema- and offered up the success of ZNMD as an example of today’s youth having depth.

      http://headlinesindia.mapsofindia.com/entertainment-news/bollywood/wheres-realism-in-todays-cinema-asks-javed-akhtar-96144.html

      By the way- I’m surprised to see you being so harsh on Zoya. As a scriptwriter- her work in ZNMD was severely lacking. And I really did not get the fuss over Farhan’s cliched/ juvenile dialogues either. But I thought she shone as a director- several excellently orchestrated sequences in the movie- not the kind of thing that KJo and the other guys at Dharma would ever be capable of. It was a lazily/ superficially scripted but well-directed movie.

      Like

      • though I guess he’s referring more to the poetry being appreciated in ZNMD than anything else. Having said that I suppose one is allowed to say such stuff for one’s children! Because otherwise ZNMD is exhibit A of everything he’s criticizing in that piece! Here one must truly appreciate bachchan’s ethics who praises everyone supremely except his own son. and when he does so on the rare occasion the media gets on his case! Getting back to Javed Akhtar I think it’s too easy to pass the buck onto an abstraction like ‘society’. In the very same country Tamil cinema is engaging in far more politically and socially conscious cinema (the ‘new wave’ here). There’s been a renaissance in Marathi cinema over the last decade or so. Responsible artists don’t exactly wait for ‘society’! A much larger problem here is that Bollywood no longer feeds off those larger artistic and intellectual currents that were once its mainstay. Javed Akhtar exemplifies that earlier generation. In Tamil cinema you still have a number of people like that. But Bollywood by and large is totally divorced from its societal and political contexts. The nepotism practiced by the industry isn’t the actual problem in this context because you have very many industry kids in the South as well who are still embedded within the same ‘rooted’ system. What’s happened is that Bombay has been catering to teens and aunties for a very long time. The word ‘auntie’ is something I intend to be provocation but not insult. It stands in for a vast conservative bourgeois (which does not define the entirely of the bourgeoisie) apparatus that tends to be politically quiescent in a certain configuration. You combine these two strands (the equally consumerist beneficiaries of ‘new India’, teen or otherwise) and you have a multiplex coalition that prefers to be on a vacation from politics and history. And we see the result. All these Bollywood genres are represented in Tamil cinema but there is a lot more going on and these genres do not define Tamil cinema as some other kinds of cinema does. This again gets to the point I was making elsewhere. Singham no matter how debased as masala incorporates some sense of social and political conflict. Things matter in this kind of universe.

        Like

  38. jayshah Says:

    I liked ZNMD…quite a nice story with moments of realism in how relationships and mistrust can play out in a relationship. I preferred Abhays story the most but felt Hrithik gave a really strong performance in this type of role. His scene near the end about destiny was well acted out. Nice movie overall.

    Like

  39. http://baradwajrangan.wordpress.com/2011/07/29/lights-camera-conversation-armchair-epiphanies/#more-2784

    Does the success of ‘Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara’ indicate that multiplex audiences want their stories of redemption shorn of rough edges?

    Like

    • excellent piece by Rangan. And this is the sort of ‘argument’ that cannot be divided into a simple like/dislike opposition. One can find ZNMD ‘enjoyable’ and yet be ‘concerned’ with what it represents in so many ways.

      The point is that cinema doesn’t begin and end with ‘entertainment‘.

      Like

    • wow, if Satyam’s reading of ZNMD was on the Dollar, Rangan’s reading is on the Euro……..

      Like

      • by the way you’ll like this — I saw Dus Numbri, Sanyasi and Beimaan recently!

        Like

      • Dus Numbari will be in my top 20 movies, Sanyasi is simly aweful ( except the songs), Beimaan I do not remember much of…
        you should also watch Shor and Roti Kapda aur Makaan…

        Like

        • Shor is a serious film. Roti Kapda.. I have somehow always been repelled by (that rape scene in it is one of the worst ones I’ve come across in Indian cinema)! On Dus Numbri it’s fun (Manoj Kumar in a Che kind of outfit is extraordinarily humorous on its own!) but truthfully it’s very low-brow stuff! On Sanyasi you’re right on both counts (Manoj Kumar probably has the worst look ever of Hindi cinema here!). Beimaan is the best narrative of the three. Will watch Pehchaan shortly and this will do it for me on this round of Manoj Kumar ‘revisits’! Dus Numbri incidentally was a big hit at the time.

          Like

  40. “I was quite sure that ZNMD would work” – Hrithik Roshan

    By Devansh Patel, August 10, 2011 – 12:44 IST

    Hrithik Roshan In the last few years, Hrithik Roshan has made girls jump over tables, print their kiss marks on his posters, fight with their boyfriends on questions like – who’s better? That Khan or that Roshan? And of course, demand to go shopping, with their boyfriends, swiping the plastic and girlfriend buying the same chequered shirt that Hrithik pulled off with ease in ZNMD. The stories are endless. So if there is ever a mainstream cult in Indian cinema, it has to be Hrithik Roshan. For those who thought the actor would never be a part of such ensemble films starring two other leads is now just a mere thought. The reality has been redefined. In fact, what the actor masterfully managed to avoid has today changed the mind sets of the audiences and filmmakers. For Hrithik, films are like art galleries where audiences come and appreciate his surreal performance, except that you just can’t buy him. So all you’re left with is poster collection, some DVD buying and hopefully a Hrithik figurine that might come out soon and the closest you can come to buying is posing with him with your arms wrapped around his waist at London’s Madame Tussauds. Girls, gird your loins because I bring you the God of Thunder.

    So, how’s your zindagi looking post ZNMD?
    My zindagi post ZNMD is great, thank you! I’m all about living life to the fullest and balancing out my work and family time. Whenever it’s not work, it’s family time and the best form of relaxation or therapy for me is spending time with my beautiful wife and children. 2011 is also a busy year for me as audiences will see me in one of Indian cinema’s most iconic roles – Vijay Dinanath Chauhan – in Agneepath. This is a role I’ve worked hard on, as I am extremely conscious about doing justice to Mr. Bachchan’s unforgettable performance in the original.

    You can say I’m a method actor as I like to fully get into the skin of the character
    You’ve always been selective about your roles in films. You don’t mind going out of the box doing an ensemble film with other male actors?
    Yes, I do go for the challenging roles because I like to keep it fresh and interesting. I also believe it’s really important to identify with the character and to really get involved, it takes huge amount of focus, commitment and un-divided attention. You can say I’m a method actor as I like to fully get into the skin of the character and am not like one of those actors who juggle multiple roles at once.

    Hrithik Roshan Besides Katrina, did you have any fixation for ‘Bagwati’?
    (Laughs) More than me, it was more of a fixation for Farhan.

    Honestly, this industry is all about sustainability. Are we now seeing some sustainability at the box office too?
    I’d like to think we are. I guess with any industry or life span, you will always have your peaks and troughs and you just have to ride it like our industry is doing.

    If you trace back your entire road trip now, what is that one thing that you’d like to come to get back?
    I would like to get back each and every moment I spent on the road trip – an experience of a lifetime! I don’t think I would be where I am today if I didn’t experience the bumps and hurdles of my life’s road trip. Who wants a smooth ride anyway?!

    Humour in Indian cinema has been going through a lot of change. Dil Chahta Hai got new additions to it, then after a decade came Delhi Belly and now ZNMD. Do you too see that change and how would you describe it?
    Yes, I do see the change and the change is for good. The positive part of Indian cinema is it always has a positive growth. I’m a huge fan and advocate of cinema that pushes boundaries and comes out of its comfort zone to unearth new talent, both behind and in front of the camera. Humour is the driving force of our industry just like songs are. If it wasn’t for the humour, who has put a smile or a laugh on those millions of faces?

    I’m a huge fan and advocate of cinema that pushes boundaries
    Spill some beans on the ‘not-seen-before-madness’ of Farhan Akhtar. I hear he is hilarious off sets. Some incidents that tickled your funny bone?
    Farhan has always been hilarious. Knowing him personally, as said there are a lot of secrets kept in the bag, I think it was the right time to display the talent on screen. He has let some of it out if not all of it (laughs).

    Hrithik Roshan What was Senorita Sussanne’s take on ZNMD?
    Well my senorita enjoyed the movie a lot, thank you!

    What self-realization have you been through or re-collect now that’s happened in your life?
    I think the importance of celebrating your individuality and character traits that make you ‘you’ and not following the herd.

    What took you most by surprise besides the collection and audience feedback and their love?
    I wouldn’t say so much of a surprise as the project has been a complete labour of love which audiences connected to and appreciated. With a formidable crew and Zoya at the helm and great screenplay and characterisation, I was quite sure that the film would work and I am elated with the response.

    Do you think ZNMD makes for a sequel?
    Definitely! There’s so much to the characters in the film than meets the eye. A completely new chapter in their lives awaits them and I’m sure that’ll make a super script.

    Like

    • “Yes, I do see the change and the change is for good. The positive part of Indian cinema is it always has a positive growth. I’m a huge fan and advocate of cinema that pushes boundaries and comes out of its comfort zone to unearth new talent, both behind and in front of the camera. Humour is the driving force of our industry just like songs are. If it wasn’t for the humour, who has put a smile or a laugh on those millions of faces?”

      What is he even saying?! This whole interview is pure BS.

      Like

  41. Just saw the movie and more or less agree with your review Satyam.. too boring, too foreign and too fake… maza nahee aaya jyada……

    Like

    • the best scene for me was when Hritik very mastter of factly tells farhan- teri salary se jyada ka bag hai……

      also I think Joya tried to capture the subtle diffrence in equations between friends because of economic disparity ( rather brilliantly) in the beginning but then did not go all out for it, which I think is a shame….

      Like

      • to expand on my last night’s comment- I have personaaly seen that no matter how close you are friends …mostly chaltee usseee ki hai jiske paas paisa hota hai……
        the fact that two rich friends wanted SUV and got it, they sat in the front and Farhan in the back in the SUV, the scene with the Bag etc. etc. were pretty subtle way of pointing these things…
        P.S.- I wish they had expanded the Bad scene some more…may be it getting lost by Farhan …..

        Like

    • you should be commended more for reading this interminably long piece than watching the film!

      Like

  42. Finally saw this film and Satyam pretty much says it all. The only unique thing about this film are those moments of poetry – not least because they are coupled to the only moments when the film seems genuinely interested in its setting. I never expected the filmmakers to “use” Spain for anything more than its postcard, quintessential European beauty, and perhaps some corny cultural clashing. It’s only in those exhilarating underwater and skydiving sequences (the bull run was stock) when these guys would finally shut their inane traps and connect to the place they were visiting in a way that seemed remotely interesting – engaging as they do with three traditional elements – the sea, the air and the earth. But there’s really nothing below the surface here. There’s nothing in this film to suggest that Zoya Akhtar was moving forward as a filmmaker following a promising debut in LBC. ZNMD isn’t a bad film but it’s a pointless and incredibly redundant one.

    Like

    • Yes, there’s not much to add to the chorus on this one. Except for one tiny little positive note about Hrithik. I haven’t read all the reviews but if there’s a feeling that Farhan Akhtar ‘stole’ the show then IMO those feelings are just bogus. There are only fleeting moments when the acting appears to be genuine…and in my opinion all of those moments belong to Hrithik.

      I’m hardly a fan (and I’d probably watch the Agneepath remake just to make fun of him) but in this setting he did surprise me. This is not to suggest that he was very good, but amidst the sea of mediocrity, I found him to be refreshing for a change. By far his best outing since Lakshya (discounting the cameo in LBC). So, Hrithik — the dude — isn’t all that bad…just not as good as he probably thinks he is. Otherwise he wouldn’t have attempted Agneepath at all…

      Like

      • Hrithik is fine here but I don’t think it’s much of a stretch for him to be honest. And I completely agree about Farhan. Couldn’t help thinking that ten years after making DCH he’s made the unfortunate decision to star in its near-remake.

        Like

        • I’ve heard that the film was conceived years ago as a Dil Chahta Hai sequel, and the script only recently tweaked/re-worked into a “new” film.

          Ahh, the existential questions in contemporary Bollywood: to make a sequel? Or just a downright stale film? Or, better yet, the sequel to a remake?!

          Like

      • wouldn’t say he stole the show but he is the film’s symbolic center in some ways which then leads to that perception..

        Like

      • I should add that if Akhtar was attempting to load the boys’ extreme activities here with some kind of metaphor for their individual emotional problems, then the final moment is inadvertently telling. Because this film’s misguided celebration of escapism ultimately tells us that one can never expect these guys to take the bull by its horns. They will forever be running from their “bull”, how ever it is manifest.

        Like

  43. I think you guys are being too harsh on ZMND. Not a great film by any stretch but I found it a fairly enjoyable one time watch. I do agree with Saket that Hrithik manages to surprise. Sometimes, it is good to enjoy what is on the surface instead of trying to find something underneath.
    Not a DCH by any means but more enjoyable than the usual multiplex fare.

    Like

  44. Satyam- I never thought a day will come when both Modi and Obama would be compared to Hitler.
    what has the world come to ???
    yeh kya ho raha hai……

    Like

      • Hitler has just become a cuss word. I think relevance or legitimacy of the comparision doesnt matter. It is like a maa-behen wali gaali in politics.

        Like

    • BTW how are the Occupy Wall street protests comparing to the Anna Hazare protest ???

      Like

      • Now Canter calls the protestors – MOB !!!!this is more and more becoming like Anna Hazare protest..
        Aside- Satyam- what did you think about the assasination of an American Citizen by Obama Administration?

        Aside-2- was listening to an interview wiith the author of the book-Terrorists in Love” on NPR..seems to be a pretty intersting book-http://www.npr.org/2011/10/05/140947193/terrorists-in-love-the-psychology-of-extremism

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        • “what did you think about the assasination of an American Citizen by Obama Administration?”

          There are definitely some legal implications here irrespective of the fact that it was never going to be feasible to arrest him and give him due process and so on. The problem is that using a national security concern a great many things can be justified. But Obama has been fairly ruthless in this sense. He’s been dubbed the ‘Drone president’ by some and that’s not inaccurate. He’s clearly decided that grounds wars are impractical in very many ways. The Drones can keep the pressure on till eternity. Obviously there is high collateral damage in many instances but it also keeps the terrorists terrorized who are always afraid that something’s going to fall on them from the sky. Getting back to your question some have argued that when a US citizen declares war against the US there is no issue in terms of killing him. But the law isn’t quite as clear cut as that. The left meantime keeps criticizing him for not being progressive enough on the domestic front (without of course ever being able to demonstrate a how an agenda more left than his gets through Congress, even a Dem Congress!) but gives him more or less a clean pass on these National Security issues. Of course it’s remarkable that Obama has more or less taken foreign policy off the table. The tables have really been inverted this time. usually the Dems are vulnerable on this score whereas the Republicans are attacked on stuff like the economy.

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        • very well put Satyam, LOL on Drone President….kaheen Drona kee tarah flop na ho jaayen next elections mein…

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          • very interesting read……. I more or less agree with the memo, but fear of it being abused late on…..

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  45. Beautiful People with Chetan Bhagat- part 1

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  46. The third part is interesting, where he talks about the 3 Idiots controversy…but by and large, he’s a very ordinary and predictable author. There’s a sameness to each of his books. And he’s not really changing the social landscape either. All he’s offering through his books is hope…more like self-help philosophy masquerading as fiction. This is why his first book remains his best and will retain its position forever.

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  47. iffrononfire Says:

    he is revolutionary these days(has opinion on everything) and thats exactly the name of his new book(revolution 2020)

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  48. Really nice piece Satyam , its another matter that I dont agree with it entirely (for a change haha), But yes do agree with most of it and how it did miss something at the core level of most of the characters, I too felt that the lead characters “awakening” was a bit half baked kind of a deal here (especially with the underwater sequenece). But for me, it was a little more than just a passable fare. I did enjoy it for what it was. (Maybe it was the first movie I saw after I came back from my month long vacation in Aug, must have been deprived of movies ffor that long, so lapped up anything that came my way..lol).

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