Monday, November 12, 2007


Rating : 2/10
Running Time : 142 Minutes
Release Date : 9th Nov ‘07
Director : Sanjay Leela Bhansali ; Writer : Prakash Kapadia ; Music : Monty
Starring : Ranbir Kapoor, Sonam Kapoor, Rani Mukherjee, Salman Khan (guest appearance)

I’m going to have to restrain myself from getting personal, but what was Sanjay Leela Bhansali (the director) trying ? All his fancy sets (including a Moulin Rouge inspired Champs-Elysees, a Peter Pan inspired London /Big Ben, and Venice complete with canals, gondola’s and Henry’s café), all the fancy details where the walls are painted with flowers and Godly images instead of grafitti, all the extremely fancy costumes which vary from the silly (the red suede Red Riding Hood look) to the downright ridiculous (the French mime dress), all the fancy foreign fancy hotel names (Windermere café and Clifton hotel), all the Raj Kapoor references (RK café, the use of ‘ji’, some other hints), all the blue / indigo / turquoise (whatever the colour in the poster above is called) thematic styling, all the fancy cursive, spidery writing of Saawariya….All of the above doesn’t hide the fact that there is no plot, no story, absolutely no substance to the movie.

I would’ve loved to be in the script reading session of this one. “We will base the story in no era, no place, a kind of realm of dreams. Then the lead character will go from set A to lavish set B and sing a song. Then he will dance to even more lavish set C and sing another song. Then he will cavort to obscenely expensive set D, where he will be joined by 2 more artistes and they will all break into spontaneous song. And when, out of nowhere, his lady love materializes, they will gush forth at least 3-4 songs capturing whatever forced emotion they are feeling at that moment (happiness, sorrow etc)”. I really would be hard pressed to come up with something more lucid than that.

Ranbir Raj (Ranbir Kapoor) swiftly befriends Gulabji (Rani Mukherjee), a prostitute with a heart of gold. She then passes him on to Lillian (Zohra Sehgal, who speaks in a British accent tinged with a pure pind Punjabi accent)and Ranbir proceeds to use even more corny, mushy lines to befriend her and become her tenant. He sights Sakina (Sonam Kapoor) one night and proceeds to attempt to befriend her as well, succeeds, and then tries to make her fall in love with him. Alas, she loves another one, Iman (a scary, over-dosed-on-kajal-eyed Salman). What happens next ? Go through 11 songs lasting 50 minutes (Source : Wikipedia) and thou shalst knoweth the answer ! Suffice to say none of the characters are built to any depth and hence we don’t feel anything at all for any of them !

Ranbir and Sonam, the newcomers, both have good points and bad points respectively. Ranbir shouldn’t try to dance or try and act ‘crazy’, he’s good when baring his tush or smiling cutely or just being cute. Sonam also has good looks on her side, dancing ability is ok -ok and emoting (crying / displaying other serious emotions) are best avoided altogether. However, given their star parentage, I think we will see a lot more of them – and maybe with a better movie their talents could’ve been made better use of. I would also really love to know what the stars really truly thought of the movie – I cant believe they didn’t spot its numerous flaws ?

We, most of the audience, walked out of the movie as if in a trance. The overall mood of the movie is depressive anyways, because of the somber lighting (its all night shots – I think there was maybe half a shot of partial daylight as Sonam dusts a carpet) and the excessive use of blue/indigo throughout the whole film. You walk out asking existential questions like ‘What was this ? What happened ? Why did I see this ? What was the hype about ?’.

And the sad thing is Sanjay Leela Bhansali does not get it. BTW, he is not only the director but also the producer, editor, the co-music director, is co-credited on the screenplay (apparently inspired by White Nights by Fyodor Dostoevsky) and also, just to while away his free time, designed the costumes for Ranbir Kapoor. I saw him on TV yesterday night, calling himself a poet, calling the film a work of art. I’m sure when the audience drops by 90% in week 2 he will call us illiterates or some other such terms. I remember a similar reaction when one of his earlier films Khamoshi (a terrible, terrible film) had flopped disastrously, he had ranted forth on how the audience doesn’t have the sensibility to appreciate true art and his sensitive love story. I think its time for him to wake up and smell the coffee ! With apologies to Shakespeare, the fault, dear Brutus, lies not in our stars (and in our audiences) but in ourselves…

PS - Pls read the comments section as well - some interesting differences of opinion !


Unknown said...

I have to thank you for saving my precious time and money. Though I heard a lot about it not being up to the mark, thought of taking a shot. Thanks to you I survived that painful experience. Just to see how low SLB can target I may watch it at home. Thanks again. :)

moksh juneja said...

Hi Apruv, I did enjoy the movie specially with Ranbir Kapoor acting skills! He does remind you of whole lot of people Raj Kapoor, Shammi Kapoor, and even Hritik Raoshan. This movie is not your typical Masala movie, it stands to differ that is why it has not been appreciated so much. The worse is its been stereotyped as a romantic movie, but it does not have a happy ending. Just because the protagonist does not get his beloved, Sonam Kapoor did her beloved and her patience paid off. Why are we seeing the movie from Ranbir's perspective.

I may have gone overboard, apologies!!

Anonymous said...

Sanjay Leela Bhansali has come up from Black to Blue...Terrible story, Terrible screenplay...infact i should say no story...well said....But i dnt agree that ranbir can't dance..he can and he does it very well...Only impressive thing in the movie was Ranbir Kapoor...He's amazing!!! Way to go


Sweta! said...

Hi Apurv,

SLB doesn't really give you Karan Johar movies, nor can you expect to watch an OSO style when you are walking in to see a classic or a different genre altogether. I feel SLB overestimates Indian audience film understanding capabilities. Pity. Opinions, are to each his own, but I would still request you to watch the movie once again, not with logic in mind but a little more passion. If you could, please do read my review on Saawariyan:

Apurv Nagpal said...

hi ! Moksh & Sweta
thanks for your comments - both of you are absolutely right in some of your comments and as you've said, everyone is entitled to their own opinion and i'm glad in some ways that there are differences.

I think my biggest grudge against Saawariya is not that there is no structured plot - though i've made the most of that point in the blog. What bugged me even more was the pathetic level of dialogue or chararcterisation.
The dialogue, in the rare moments when it did happen, was corny / cheesy / trite / unoriginal.
The characterisation was completely absent - what do we really know about Sakina or Ranbir apart from the most shallow / superficial details ? How then can we be expected to feel for their sorrow / love / happiness ?

I was trying to think of a movie which was unstructured plot-wise but i still enjoyed it. The only name i could come up with was Pulp Fiction - not the most appropriate comparison for Saawariya, i know, but the only one i could think of. There as well, the plot was hardly there but it more than made up for it with dialogues and razor sharp characterisations.
I obviously didnt go in with the same expectations as with OSO - and i enjoyed Namesake / Cheeni Kum etc - which work on a very different plane vs OSO as well. But i just hated Saawariya...

Anonymous said...

Sorry for posting a comment sooo long after the release.Its just thatI was recuperating from the shock I recieved from the film!The movie has rendered speechless.Just sum it up-SAAWARIYA is Agonizingly Obnoxious Trash can.

rhythm fadia-maniar said...

i have not seen sawaariya...or should i say could not see thru the entire movie so i kinda agree to your post...but this is the only SLB movie i didnt like..have loved all his other movies.....n Khamoshi is indeed a beautiful i disagree with u on that point...