Thursday, December 11, 2008

Crazy little thing called "Love"

My take on Dil Kabaddi (2008); check out the Studio 18 logo before the movie. Delicious!

Dil Kabaddi is another "event" that fills the heart with joy. Just to see story-tellers (and not just star kids, diamond merchants, estate agents) get a chance to create real cinema in Bollywood is so heartening. We loved this movie and so did everyone in the half-empty PVR auditorium, median age 35, if the constant eruptions of gleeful laughter are any indication.

Maybe he has Woody Allen to thank for it, but this did not end up as the now-too-familiar montage of slick shots against Mumbai's backdrop. I was afraid it would be the typical stilted-Hindi, handy-cam movie (with a great premise but dud execution like Mithya or Woodstock Villa) by a new-age "main bhi Hollywood" director. Dil Kabaddi does not falter in the second half simply because the director had a STORY to tell. All the humor and all the "slice of life" shots culminated in a satisfying narrative. This is where the movie truly scores.

The other reason for its success, of course, is the excellent performances. Cast against type, watching Rahul Bose as a bumbling professor or the suave Rahul Khanna as a mushy pup was a delight. Each character was well-etched, including the secondary characters of ex-boyfriend, office hunk (Rahul Khanna's cameo) and Chirag the lech neighbor. The consistency in their body language and motivations reveal a strong screenplay, with well-written characters. Something so rare even in mainstream Bollywood cinema. That said, the "Kaaya" character could have been better etched.

The cream of the crop is, of course, Samit (Irrfan Khan) as the nouveau yuppie. The subtlety of his flawed yet acceptable English grammar and "over-the-top" dress sense was an excellent contrast to his earthy logic and basic decency. His pairing with an intellectual, stylish, smart Mita (Soha Ali, looking lovely) is not that surprising today-- a lot of very happy couples around have the woman more successful, educated and well-traveled than the man.

Perhaps the movie targets a very specific audience, the mid-30s Indian. Those that grew up on Karan Johar's bubble-gum romance in the 90s and have been "happily" married for 4-7 years now, like the characters in the movie. It documents their quest for love versus their 'fantasy' of love. It is possible that this crowd will laugh the loudest, while those older and younger may find less to identify with in this story. They may yet discover it on DVD a few years later and laugh hearty. At its core, it is nothing more than a story about looking for true love. Just that true love has different meanings for different people.

While some have panned the movie for its shameless copy of Husbands and Wives by Woody Allen, others have cringed at the barrage of sexual jokes and innuendo. In my opinion, it works where Mixed Doubles (the previous multiplex outing about infidelity) failed simply because it does not hold back or have any intellectual pretense. The movie keeps you laughing almost the entire time and yet makes an honest observation about modern Indian marriages. As for the sex-jokes-- they were much more tasteful than what is dished out in family-comedy "U" rated movies every week.

It has been 16 years since Woody Allen's 1992 original. The fact that we finally identify with the type of marriages shown here is a telling comment on Indian society playing catch-up with the West. For better or for worse...


Toonfactory said...

:) Nice review what will U suggest...shall I see it now or wait for another 5-7 saal to gather all the experience and see it on a DVD...

Mama - Mia said...


this movie was so much fun to watch inspite of Cubby tying to take a walk in the dark theatre every now and then!

reccoed for every shaadi shuda couple with a sense of humour!

and yes, you cant help but try and identify with the charachters trying to wonder which one is like your spouse and you!

ofcos i do wonder, how many will understand the undercurrent of "true" love with its sexuals innuuendos and laugh a riot dialogues!

brilliant review, yet again!



Monika said...

thanks for the review... i have wanting to catch this movie and BTW that holds good for almost all the movies these days...

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