Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Dhan-ta-naaaan Nana Nana

What a number! No, I mean it! I love the song! It’s peppy, it’s fast, it’s foot tapping, and best of all, its got my favourite combination of voice and lyrics – Sukhwinder crooning his heart out to Gulzar’s amazing verse. Good Hindi, good music, good singing. Now if only the rest of the film was as impressive.

Yes, I finally saw the much awaited (by me at least) Kaminey. Midnight show at the nearest multiplex, low priced tickets, (thank god,) and a bunch of fellow Vishaal fans; should have been the ideal recipe for a great night. There was only one hitch. Vishaal let us down.

It’s a good film. Much better than most Bolly fare. Technically it is sleek, cinematography is good, camerawork is nice, but that’s not enough to lift it out of the levels of “good” into the realms of “great”. And while this may not be a problem (I mean who wouldn’t want to be “good”) for other film makers, and their fans, I personally felt very much let down. After all, from previous experience, I have come to expect something more along the lines of international greatness from Vishaal. And this time…I didn’t get it!

Shahid was good, but no metamorphosis a la Langda Tyagi. He is merely GOOD, which he has shown ample signs of being already. So where, one couldn’t help but wonder, was the trademark Vishaal touch which transforms even competent actors into amazing thespians? He has managed somewhat with Priyanka. Heretofore never more than the regulation Bollywood Hottie with not much to do in most of her films, she has done quite a fabulous job at the “theth Marathi mulgi”. For a Punjaban to get the tone of the language down the way she has, (and I know from experience that getting the tone right is half the battle), is commendable.

The characters were half-hearted. None of them had enough screen time to develop into complete human beings for the audience. There seem to be no back stories to explain any quirks in their behaviour, and a lot of good actors are wasted (especially the three Bengali brothers). Even with the two characters Shahid plays, there seems to have been less than enough attention paid to make them rounded enough, and there are things that have been WAY overdone. Most of all the whole lisping versus stammering thing. Its overdone to the point of tears sometimes…and what begins as a smile at “main f to f bolta hun” disintegrates, by the end of the film into winces.

It also takes away from Shahid’s performance, because you can almost see how much of his attention is focused on getting the respective speech impediment straight, leaving that much less of himself to give to his acting. Priyanka’s brother, the “reminds-me-so-much-of-Raj-Thackarey-virulent-chauvinist” bhope bhau, is another character who, by the end of the film, ceases to ring true. His far from convincing metamorphosis into a wannabe gangster grasping for the diamonds is, frankly, excessive and too sudden. Not to mention the seriously badly done, very very wannabe, tarantino like shootout at the end, where (unconvincingly) everyone suddenly walks into the fray with blazing guns.

Vishaal is good, even great, but this has proved that he is no Tarantino. The almost psychedelic, hopped up on acid, mind fuck of a Tarantino gun-fight ending is something no one else seems to be able to duplicate, not even Vishaal; not even with the big budget and all the tech toys he had at his disposal this time around. My question of course is, why try? Shouldn’t Vishaal of all people, just by virtue of the fact that he is himself better than average, have been able to recognize the impossibility of replicating such a scene? After all, as a writer, good or bad, I certainly recognize the impossibility of doing a Rushdie, as a poet I recognize the sheer pointlessness of trying to do a Plath or a Sexton, don’t I?

When one has found one’s voice, one’s style, it tends to come through in pretty much all one’s work. Experiment or not, that doesn’t seem to have happened in Kaminey. The quintessential Vishaal style, the understated but very effective voice, that I am so fond of, seems to be completely absent from this film. Post half-time, especially, it was more a torture, than a pleasure, to sit through Kanimey.

Came out angry and disappointed, with the only redeeming factor of the entire evening being the low priced tickets. If I had had to pay the full multiplex price for this, I would have thrown something or hit someone. Vishaal, apparently, has recently stated that he doesn’t ever want to make another film like this. I heartily hope that he doesn’t. At the end of the day, was Kaminey DHAN TA NAAN? Na na na na!

1 comment:

  1. The thing that happens in Tarantino is that we always get a great sense of each and every party's motivations for taking part in the shoot-out AND in a sense the shoot-out itself seems logical.

    But then Tarantino's last two films have been Death Proof and Inglorius Basterds.

    Unfortunately, even someone like Bharadwaj seems to have made a movie for money, in which, he clearly didn't have full freedom to do what he wanted and this has affected everything.

    Finally, if a "serious" filmmaker uses lisping and stammering as comedy points, then I have already started to question how "serious" this filmmaker really is. (I fear, this, at least, was Bharadwaj himself and not his producers interfering.)