Thursday, September 25, 2008

Cinematic Escape

"Don't be dismayed at goodbyes. A farewell is necessary before you can meet again. And meeting again, after moments or lifetimes, is certain for those who are friends."
--- Richard Bach, "Illusions"

I finally completed watching the entire season of "Death Note" (Kuro-Hana)and it re-kindled my love for a lot of things Japanese.  Shikata ga nai, it can't be helped.  This fact has no relation to the rest of this post.  I just had to say it; that's all. The aforementioned quote is apropos as more change comes into my life - even though I am somewhat insulated from it, as I am living here in Saudi Arabia.   Every phone call, every meeting, every e-mail is proof positive that life offers a short time for us, and exacts a heavy price.  The best way, then, to pay for it, is to be in the moment NOW.

Which reminds me, I just have to share my thoughts on a movie I saw on the plane from Mumbai to Bahrain last month on my way back from my India trip..  This is U ME AUR HUM  (You Me & Us), directed by Ajay Devgan, topbilling himself and his wife, Kajol.

I don't know to which film this movie pays homage --- there's certainly enough fodder from movies like "The Notebook" or "50 First Dates", but somehow there's something about the movie that takes an unexpected turn which made it more memorable than either. That is, if you do like some amount of melodrama. Please read on if you do.

The first half is rather talky, and the pace was quite slow (and of course, I was on the plane, de-stressing over my travel), so I didn't pay attention to much of the dancing-musical numbers. The premise is rather simple --- a young man makes a half-serious wager with his father over how well the latter can pick up a woman. So the son chooses a middle-aged woman from a table somewhere across the restaurant and this is where the father tries to score some points.

Enter the story of Ajay and Priya. Ajay, a twenty-something psychiatrist, meets Priya, a cocktail waitress working on a cruise ship, and is promptly bowled over. With the help of his friends, Ajay woos Priya. Naturally, the girl gives him the cold shoulder. The lovestruck idiot, however, breaks into her room, reads her diary (more like a scrapbook of her hopes and dreams), and using this privileged information, gets the inside track on her heart. In saccharine fashion, Ajay is guilt-stricken and 'fesses up, and she drops him quicker than you can say "cliche!"

Somehow, they get married and this is where the fun begins... well, she doesn't get disfigured and we have to watch some Florence Nightingale tale, but it's something along the lines of the two earlier movies --- and something that tests the limits of their love. The story in itself is rather homespun, but it does have an unusual receptivity to the supporting characters, and has a much more layered take on the way men and women fall in, and out of love. Of course, the central tenet is the responsibility people take as regards the people whom they love --- do we love because we feel better about the person, or that the person needs our love?

The best moods of the movie are the dark ones --- though sometimes the visuals are rather contrived, and while there is some attempt at levity, including a misplaced music number (danced with incredible zest by Kajol, and awfully treacly at that) in the middle of the heavier dramatic sequences, the serious stuff in the movie works best.

Some of the scenes are real heartbreakers --- as someone who has a close relative dealing with mental illness can truly attest --- which again puts into focus what we value out of our relationships. How many mainstream romantic movies have you seen where the hero confesses that he’s pushed away the woman he loves because she was a millstone around his neck?

Like "The Notebook," this movie succeeds in taking the conventional themes of the genre and gives it additional texture. One warning though --- those people who have no patience for dialogue shouldn't watch it. And oh, of course, get one with good subtitles.

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