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Sep 2, 2008

Saawariya


Every frame of Saawariya is a visual poem. I have said this quite a few times in this blog lately, I have to repeat it again - Hindi films are going places, where they have never been before. Sanjay Leela Bhansali is known for creatic cinematic verses like Devdas(which I didn't like much), Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam(again not one of my favorites although not due to the treatment but due to my basic dislike of the core story), Khamoshi etc. This is perhaps the first Bhansali film that left a positive impression on me.

As is the case with most things in life, it is good to watch a film without expectations. Ranbir, son of yesteryear Bollywood stars, Neetu Singh and Rishi Kapoor and the namesake of his grandad Raj Kapoor(Raj Kapoor's real name was Ranbir Raj Kapoor) stars opposite Anil Kapoor's daughter Sonam(yet another Bollywood Kapoor, but totally unrelated to the first khandaan of Indian cinema - The original Kapoors which includes Ranbir's whole family right from his great grand dad Prithviraj Kapoor to Raj Kapoor, Shashi Kapoor and so on.)

Based of Dostoevsky's story White Nights and translated in to tinsel by Bhansali and his art-director Omung Kumar, Saawariya is a Bollywood musical in the tradition of old style musicals. Although they took the elevator to Bollywood by the virtue of their birth when many others are still panting up the stairs, Ranbir and Sonam do exhibit a flair for acting. But the one who steals the show with her acting prowess is Rani Mukerji as Gulabji the vivacious prostitute. I shouldn't forget to mention 96 year old Zohra Sehgal as "Lillipop." Now did we really need those characters? Probably not. It reminds me of the question my Russian friends have asked me quite often, "why do you Indians spoil good food with all that spice?" It's all upto you to decide whether we need more spice(characters) or not?

Saawariya bombed at the box-office. Ranbir and Sonam seemed to have escaped unhurt. If you peel away the rich veneer of the set and the costumes, Saawariya is not the usual Bollywood staple. The core story is left untouched. St.Petersburg is transformed to an ethereal blue-green-ultra marine-turquoise world. I cannot but marvel at the amazing flight of artistic expression acheived by art director Omung Kumar and the talented camera man Ravi K.Chandran(the cinematographer who started off wielding camera for Malayalam films) whose lens captured it in mind-blowing frames. Of course all thanks to freedom they were given by the director. As some one who was trained in a visual profession, the sheer artistry of the scenes make up for all its flaws.

Om Shanti Om and Saawariya were released on the same day. If I were to choose the first day-first show ticket I'd have chosen OSO for its entertainment value. Saawariya will be reserved for the day when crowds would've thinned out, the movie hall virtually empty and I could lie back and be enveloped by the rich deep blue hues of a fantasy land. If Saawariya made a rather hasty departure in your part of the world as it did everywhere else then this is a movie best fit to watch on your new wide-screen television. My review: unbelievable visuals, good songs and eye-candy actors.

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4 comments:

Nicely summarized in your last sentence :)

cheers
Beth
http://bethlovesbollywood.blogspot.com

drummer........u did not say anything about story....whether u liked it or not?

Story was Dostoevsky's, it was probably a good one. My review was of how it was translated into the moving image medium.

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