Monday, November 05, 2007

Of Sanjay Leela Bhansali and Saawariya

Eagerly awaited and hopefully looked upon time by Bollywood is approaching as Diwali nears. This year, Diwali is going to witness two mega-budget releases Saawariya and Om Shanti Om. As for, whole versus thing, I will reserve it for another post. For now, I am here to talk about Sanjay Leela Bhansali and his latest offering Saawariya.

Sanjay Leela Bhansali silently entered with not-so-successful Khamoshi, but he really hit the marquee with Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, which went on to become one of the most successful in the year and put Bhansali at front of successful directors. Bhansali continued his success march with really-mega-budget Devdas, churning out enough money to justify the big budget, even resulting in the selection for India's official entry to best foreign-language film at Academy awards, only to be ousted too early just like most of Indian films. Strengthening Bhansali as one of looked upon figure of Bollywood, but surprising was yet to come. In 2005, Bhansali came up with "breakthrough cinema", "critically-acclaimed", "beautifully crafted" et al BLACK. Now let me try to put Saawariya into my own little perspective about Bhansali and his films in general. I won't dig too much past, just little something from recent past. Devdas and Black.

Now, as everyone knew Devdas was an adaption of a novel, which was already adopted twice before and in fans' words immortalized by K. L. Saigal and Dilip Kumar respectively. Bhansali roped in Shahrukh Khan, baap of all of them, atleast as far as melodrama is concerned. Gargantuan sets, full of colours, two beautiful leading ladies, graceful choreography and dependable Shahrukh Khan made this movie a huge hit. Devdas, as a novel and even as a movie is classic example of all the drama/melodrama that can be incorporated. Bhansali did just that, so although people might have described it as gaudy or anything, one needs to understand that it needed to be gaudy. So far so good.

Then came BLACK. Bhansali set his eyes on critics and junta both this time around and decided to remake Academy-award winner The Miracle Worker. A story of deaf and blind girl and her teacher inspired from Helen Keller. Decided to go for black and white instead of colours. Name of the film is black you see. Whatever came out was darling of critics and not to mention a huge hit. He got all the praise for venturing where no Hindi movie director had gone, lifetime role of Amitabh Bachchan and Rani Mukherjee etc. etc. Now here is where my problem starts. Black was a good watch alright, but it went little too far. Let me try to put it into words. Raja Sen, one of the prominent hate-figures on rediff message boards and among my favourite movie reviewers, in his article Why Paheli is better choice than Black for Oscars raised a few good points. I may not agree with all good things he said about Paheli, but for black.. sure!! (No wonder people hate him like that. I mean "how can he bash ah-so-great, movie of the century, Black like this..."). Greatbong, in his review rightly described movie as A technically polished weepy is all that I can call it. Baradwaj Rangan properly describes Sanjay Leela Bhansali as unapologetically melodramatic. That works for Devdas, but not quite for Black, mate.

Now coming to Saawariya. As we know, Saawariya is adaptation of Fryodor Dostoevsky's short story White Nights. Russian authors are known for their dark, depressing love stories about unrequited love, with most of the stories ending in agony, nervousness and depression. As a screenplay, story is good alright but why do I have this serious apprehension that all of that is going to get lost between sets, songs and Ranbir's bottom? (Rediff insanity at its peak. What do you mean Should INDIA see Ranbir's bottom????. Oh, let's keep nuclear deal aside for sometime, while INDIA discusses the utmost national security issue such as this). Or is it only me that has this feeling that Bhansali will be as unsuccessful in doing the justice to the subject as he was in Black. Well, only time can tell that but as of now let's just say that I am apprehensive about Saawariya and would rather wait-and-watch.

(cross-posted to DesiCritics)


Anonymous said...

Nice review

one correction though

Junta should be janata or janta

Vaishno said...

Hello Nishit,

Kaise hai aap!I hope u remmbr me!
Nice article.. even my latest blog was about saawariya and of course OMO...

But will u agree with me if i say no other indian director could have adapted the story as beautifully as SLB??? He is extrmly creative and has the abiliy to move the crowds...

Frankly i dont think he made this movie for the mass or with a hope of this being a major hit. But, one must accept, it was a good attempt and worth the trial.

Music and stuff are an inseperable part of Indian, kuch ho nahi sakta!