ask the monkey.

in fact ask the whole damn vaanar sena that made delhi-6 what the hell they were smoking.

cardboard characters. a cliche a minute. hokey plot devices older than the hills. overt symbolism repeated every few scenes for greater annoyance. more preachiness than a year of sunday school. and, for the truly dense, an especially helpful voiceover that harks back to moral science class spelling out the core of the problem: i.e., evil lies in us; the mad fakir isn’t mad; the people are good, etc.

at this point, i must admit that i don’t usually take movies this seriously. wherever they might be made. and while i enjoy bollywood flicks deeply and wickedly, i tend not to map my life by them, if you know what i mean. so this post is quite an aberration, even if you choose to ignore the fact that it’s my first blog in months.

the thing is, i don’t like being taken for a fool. when a film attempts to lull me into receptiveness with pretty pictures, and a stunning, stunning soundtrack, while doing the intellectual equivalent of scrolling “kill the evil in your hearts”, capitalised, bold, and underlined, in 100 points or so, across the screen, it bothers me. a lot.

why am i being touchy? oh, possibly because i’m tired of this whole nri comes to india and discovers how he’s more of an indian than the rest of the jokers surrounding him.

(aside: all local {i.e., resident} indians are charming, talkative, and dressed in primary colours. they are also passive, fatalistic, and superstitious. firang {non-resident} indians, on the other hand, are like srk in swades, or abhishek bachchan in delhi-6. they’re cool with tradition {hey, daadi, that’s the golden deer!}, though they don’t plan on staying. they’re charmed by the people {india works}, even when that charm lies in sheer predictability, in the inability of these people to be bold, pushy, go-getter types. they’re satisfied with their lives, and it is precisely this dull, bovine satisfaction that must be abolished. they must act, and since they won’t, our nri heroes will. must add, that at least srk brought electricity to the village.)

phew, deep breath. was delhi-6 entirely that bad? perhaps not. the music was brilliant. in fact, it was the principal reason i stayed back. many others (at least a row’s worth of people, which is quite a bit if you consider the fact that only about three rows were occupied in the first place) simply took their popcorn home to listen to the cd of the soundtrack. the cinematography, the casting, young sonam kapoor, ageing waheeda rehman — all quite enchanting. but to appreciate all of this, you have to endure:

1. a pigeon descended from maine pyaar kiya.

2. yet another taani wanting to be a reality show star. though this one is prettier. and doesn’t see rab in abhishek. thank god.

3. hindus ringing the temple bell, muslims kneeling at the masjid. over and over and over again.

4. a few million cutaways to tv reportage.

5. extensive watering of tulsi plants.

6. the voiceovers that spell out, linguaphone style, what the filmmaker is trying to communicate with us, the feeble-brained audience.

7. the introduction of several characters who might have been interesting had they been given some screentime: the low-caste sweeper, the spinster bua, etc.

8. and to balance that, the splendid use of patently cardboard characters: gobar, the muslim gentleman who goes from eye-liner to hardliner in a moment, the cop, etc.

9. the terrible waste of possibly the finest ensemble cast you will see this decade.

10. one heaven scene.

11. one chandni chowk meets the big apple dream sequence that looks like a michael jackson music video.

12. abhishek bachchan.

it’s easily the most disappointing film i’ve seen in a long time. the only up side is that it makes ghajini look like the usual suspects.

ask the monkey.