Lolly & Pop
When the 60-year old hero looks towards the open door, out of which his 18-year old object of affection has just run out of after expressing her love, we are left with a pretty photograph of his wife in her prime, framed on the wall right beside that door.
A few scenes later, when the shocked wife shuts the door on him literally, the fallen hero stands in the corridor, halfway between a door that’s shut and another that’s open, with the girl anxiously waiting inside. If only the rest of ‘Nishabd’ was as subtle.
But for these two scenes of individual brilliance and maybe the final monologue, there is very little in ‘Nishabd’ that bears the stamp of the master filmmaker.
Not only does he make 18-year old Jiah wear very little, Ram Gopal Varma also tells us very little about what led to the unlikely romance in the first place. Yes, we know they spent a day out in the estates, pretty much like ‘The Bridges of Madison County’ and all, with photographer Vijay (Bachchan) finding reason to sing again, thanks to the arrival of his daughter’s friend Jiah (Jiah Khan).
There are things we must be told. Like, what was the first conversation the old man ever had with the girl who is his daughter’s age. It begins on an interesting premise, with what could also be a one-line self-explanatory excuse for having shot the film the way he did, Varma makes the photographer say: “It is not necessary that the rest of the world sees it through my perspective.”
Brilliant. But, moments after that first line of serious conversation they’ve ever had, Varma decides it’s not important to tell us what they spoke about next. He increases the background score and shows them talking. Lazy screenwriting or weak direction?
What we see more of is a skimpy Jiah getting wet endlessly, pouting like a Playboy pin-up with her index finger in her mouth, and sometimes, with a lolly, perhaps the perfect metaphor for the entire romance.
The kid can’t act for nuts and even if her accent that swings from American to Australian does not distract, her favourite catch-phrase does. “Take light” sounds more like tapori-speak from ‘Rangeela’ than something that a sophisticatedly rich, foreign-raised brat would say. But then, like any teen who knows her pavement shopping in Dharavi, she also sports a hand-bag with big block letters: L-O-V-E.
No doubt Jiah is a pretty photogenic bombshell, but there is a difference between making her look innocently sensuous and professionally raunchy. While Vijay’s own photographs bring out that innocence of a teen having fun with a hose-pipe, Varma’s own frames throughout the film seem pretty distracted by her anatomy. It’s also another thing if Varma’s intention was to tell us that it was lust and physical attraction that led the old man into grey territory.
But he insists it is that purer emotion called love.
Full credit to Amitabh Bachchan’s finely sensitive portrayal of that angst of falling for his daughter’s friend. But Varma lets him down drastically, using silly jokes borrowed from SMS forwards as ice-beakers between the couple. And the more important conversations consist of her stilted dialogue delivery followed by long pauses and predictable monosyllabic answers from Vijay. If he wants us to understand their predicament, Varma ought to tell us more. The intensity of the romance appears watered down by weak screenwriting. As a result, the entire episode comes out looking like an old-man hopelessly infatuated by a teen with a juvenile crush on him.
Equally annoying is Varma’s way of hammering down what is implied and understood as he makes Jiah ask Vijay: “Do you like my spirit?” or her telling her best friend “I don’t recognise boundaries” during a tiff over her metaphorical ‘foul’ play during a game of badminton or Jiah asking Vijay: “What is black and white at the same time?” and actually making her say it: “Nothing.” Yes, yes, we got it in the first place, it is not radio-drama, Mr.Varma.
Revathy stands dignified in an otherwise sketchily etched out film, Bachchan emotes with all his heart and Nasser lends a little maturity to a support role. The camerawork (Amit Roy), probably intentionally quirky and at times lucidly metaphorical, only distracts an already wandering narrative. Amar Mohile’s score haunts, thanks to Vishal’s melody of ‘Rozana’ – the only song finds no place in the film.
Somehow everything seems too rushed up and hurried with unrealised, pregnant potential.
Or maybe, we are reading too much from a shallow script that might have worked just right for a 10-minute short.
when is the review on Departed and Prestige coming?
Hey Sudhish, I saw your movie sometime last week. Worked for me!
When I left these links on Nilu’s blog, to let him know about his ‘fan following’ he deleted them and banned me from posting comments there.
Suderman, please don’t reject the comment again. I plead you to publish this.
Do you think he deserves your mercy? Especially after carrying a continuing defamatory hate-campaign against you and popular bloggers like Krish and Kiruba?
I request you to kindly publish my response to maangaliker because I’m not able to find another way to communicate to him.
Maybe you should send your fan-mail to New Sunday Express. Did you know his senior has a nice little blog? http://www.bytheganges.blogspot.com/
BG writes on sex too but at least it is honest and not meant to titillate. Nilakantan Rajaraman who calls himself Nilu writes kinky porn under the nick theothernilu in his blog http://www.themaanga.blogspot.com and anyone reading it can see how perverted he is.
I’m surprised Indian Express isn’t embarrassed with him writing for them. Or maybe they don’t know yet. His editor’s name is Sushila Ravindranath. Going by her articles, she is a very intelligent woman.
Her email address is email@example.com
Why would she hire him?
Suderman, I trust you to be fair.
Raja Sen has written a fantastic review on The Departed. I would completely agree with every word he’s used to describe the film. I can’t write a review after reading it without repeating any of those adjectives. Look it up.
Prestige blew my mind. But I need to watch it yet again to write a proper review. So let’s wait till it hits the theatres.
Thank you. Glad it worked for you. It didn’t for a lot of my women friends but then it was all about male bonding and women do tend to feel left out.
You must be nuts to spend that kinda time on the kid. But hey, I loved some of those illustrations. Nice compilation… Two funny little hate blogs there. But seriously man, it’s not worth your time or anybody’s time for that matter.
i bow to your perseverence. there you are again. i don’t know which of those popular bloggers you are but let me tell you that i published your comment only because I thought I must tell you: “Don’t let an idiot get to you. I did that once. And then, I decided to grow up.”
Besides, I have no other way of communicating to you anonymous souls.
And thanks for BG’s blog link. Yes, “honest” is the word to describe his blog. 🙂 I’ve met him before and he did come across as interesting. Nice to know he blogs. I remember talking to Sushila about Babel. The lady has a sharp eye and a no-nonsense air about her. Have met her only three times and she treats me like a friend. Absolutely down-to-earth. Totally admire her.
And guys (maangaliker, ganesh, rajaraman, nilu’s mom, kaushik and many others I don’t remember and rejected),
let this be the last mention of Nilu in this blog. I will not allow any further discussion on him in my space. You can all settle your personal scores personally.
You call this film shallow. I read your script itself is shallow.
Goodness gracious. You online at this hour???
Well, if I call the film shallow, I have also explained what was missing from what should’ve been there to make the story complete.
In the case of my film, reviewers haven’t explained why it is shallow, thereby making their own critique shallow.
If I decide to make a film on four friends, the regular guys we know, chasing their dreams, then I make sure I tell the audience everything they need to know about what the guys want to do, what stopped them and what they did to get those dreams. If any of that was missing, you can call the film shallow.
I intentionally did not go into why they wanted to do the things they did because most of us do not have reasons to become what we want to become. We just want to be. In fact, during the first draft we gave them all some motiviation for the things they wanted to do and realised we were being very filmy towards the whole thing. We wanted to keep it simple and regular, like everyday life and regular dreams… Many science students dream of becoming a doctor or an engineer, commerce students dream of becoming chartered accountants, many dropouts think of advertising and the dreamers think of filmmaking… that’s a generalisation but it is a generalisation that works with the lowest common denominator among youth.
The challenge was to make a film based on this generalisation without stereotyping them. Which is why we made a guy with a tattoo chase a serious dream… he wants to be a doctor. Which is why we removed that scene where the guy who wants to make a movie gets yelled at by a big director. Which is why we removed that huge scene where Zebra talks in detail about his dream of building a brand called Sex.
We used the comic book to underline our intentions… the characters you see in the film are going to be uni-dimensional as the comic strip. That’s single-dimension gives me a generalisation that can will help a whole lot of like minded people relate to the film.
That’s why it worked with some and that’s why some people found it shallow.
Actually this deserves a larger post. Maybe later.
Nice blog! visited first time to read Nagesh’s interview and have visited regularly after that.
I run one small community website named http://www.desicrunch.com . Would you be interested in answering few interview questions, which I will publish on my website as an article.
you seem to be doing great work in movie making, your pointers will be of great interest to Desi audience in USA.
Pls. let me know if you have more questions.
(for Desicrunch.com team)
I will be glad to answer your questions. you can email me at madeinmadras at gmail… thanks.