Friday, November 09, 2007


Such Pain!

I had actually asked two friends separately to come along with me to watch this movie, but twice I got rejected. I asked why, and got no reason simply other than the curt "not interested". I guess Hindi movies still get stuck in the old "dancing around the coconut tree" mindset, and trying as hard as I can, my persuasive powers fail me. But that of course can never deter me from watching the movie, and I've not regretted an iota for spending a good 142 minutes on Saawariya (Beloved).

Hindi movies, at least to me, from the limited number I've seen on the big screen, can be summed up in a word - spectacular. Perhaps this coming so from someone who have not been made ambivalent by the numerous offerings that Bollywood churns out. Saawariya is interesting though, as it has Hollywood funding, and the quality shines through with a bigger budget to play around with. It has all elements to make it entertaining, telling a solid love story, with song, dance, and of course plenty of drama. And to those who loathe Hindi movies for their characters breaking suddenly to song and dance (I don't know why this irks people though), and with extras appearing out of the blue to join in a dance or two, I can say you'll definitely enjoy this one, as it's a musical to begin with, and has every right naturally to do so.

Saawariya is a beautiful but bittersweet fairy tale love story, telling of the affection the characters have for their beloved, even though their beloved doesn't love them back. I find it lovely, though some may think I'm crazy, but it touches on the reality of that emotion called love, that in all its cruelty, could make a person go insane with all the unhealthy pining and infatuation. The gods sometimes inflict such pain on us because they can, and something unattainable always come with the appeal of a challenge, as we try to prove the stars wrong in denying us what we think is best. But in all honesty from personal experience, one of the worst things that can happen to anyone who thinks they're in love, is the one sidedness of it all, and the cold harsh reality that comes with it. We yearn for that thin shred of acknowledgement that there was at the very least some form of affection felt, in our at times desperate need to feel loved and wanted, and still today, I do not understand why in the quest for unconditional love, the hurdles that stand in our way dishes out very painful lessons.

Raj (Ranbir Kapoor) is a minstrel, who with his charms, glib tongue, beautiful singing voice (yes I know it's someone else's), and light feet, puts happiness into the lives of the down and the trodden. He rides into town with nothing but a guitar on his back and plenty of happiness to give, and finds friendship with the working girls in the red light district, in particular, a feisty woman called Gulabji (Bollywood queen Rani Mukherjee). However, this happy man will soon find himself tested to the limits, and be put through a series of tests which will either break him, or through the experience, emerge with bruises but putting into practice what he preaches. We will see him fall from grace, with actions that we will probably frown upon, but as a man madly in love, who will fault him when he revels in the darker side of the emotion, when jealousy envelopes his being?

The object of his wild affection, is a beautifully aloof lady called Sakina (Sonam Kapoor in her debut feature), a willowy figure he meets one night on a bridge, sobbing in the rain. Captivated by her beauty, he pursues her endlessly, but with great irony, we realise that she too is pining for someone, not Raj, but an Imam (played by Salman Khan, a departure from his bad boy persona), himself a mysterious figure that calls for a year's devotion from Sakina, their love so fleeting, yet so binding, and now choices are presented to both Raj and Sakina. Him, to try and prise her away from her somewhat imaginary beloved, or to provide her the pillar of strength and encouragement in waiting. Her, to forgo something vowed verbally, and to give herself and Raj a chance. This tussle makes it compelling on all fronts, with a token sub plot thrown in with Gulabji too providing a more level-headed approach to unattainable love.

Saawariya unfolds in 4 days, and it plays and feels exactly like a staged musical with a fixed number of purpose built indoor sets that look like a cross between those in Moulin Rouge and Perhaps Love, and with lovely choreographed dances, a wonderful palette of colours, gorgeous costumes and wonderful music and songs, that it is extremely difficult not to fall in love with. The excellent art direction makes this one beautiful movie to sit through, with a combination of animated graphics to add scale to the backdrop. Technically, it's hard to find any fault with it, and I can't help but admire the all roundedness that Bollywood actors have to be, with singing / lip syncing, dancing and acting all rolled into a typical day at work.

While there are a mixture of religions portrayed in the movie, I thought that it painted a perfect picture of tolerance and harmony, having culminate on the "Eid" festival, that the only evil that came out was a by product of green originated from man's emotion of love. We get the usual adage that if you love someone you have to let the person go, to seek out happiness that you can never provide by being together. "You're but a friend" is probably one of the dreaded sentence to hear coming from a loved one, and it always hurts.

There are many love stories presented in Saawariya, though some not as well developed as they should. Some characters have an air of mystery to them that never gets fully explained, like the Imam, and of Gulabji's motivation and hurt. The last third of the movie felt somewhat rushed to try and close all the plots that it opened, and I wouldn't mind if it had taken its time instead. Its take-away - the most important lesson to learn is as what Raj preaches, that in a boxing ring with Unhappiness, the best one can do each time we're clobbered, is to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves, and proceed to try and hit back. It is precisely of these ups and downs, that makes life Life.

I so like this movie, that it's going to be one of the contenders in my top 10 movies of this year. Amongst the array of song, the one where Gulabji encourages Raj (titled Chhabeela) gets my vote. And it's cheeky at times too, with the Brief Nudity rating given for its very brief ass shot when Raj actually flashes himself at an open window. But in any case, Saawariya still makes an excellent date movie to bring your beloved to, and be bowled over by what it means to be Spectacular on the silver screen.


I'm not sure why, but after watching the movie, I thought of this song called Desire, voiced by Deepak Chopra and Demi Moore...

Desire - Deepak Chopra featuring Demi Moore

A lover knows only humility,
He has no choice.
He steals into your alley at night,
He has no choice.
He longs to kiss every lock of your hair, Don't fret..,
He has no choice.
In his frenzied love for you,
He longs to break the chains of his imprisonment,
He has no choice.

A lover asked his beloved,
Do you love yourself more than you love me?
Beloved replied,
I have died to myself and I live for you.
I've disappeared from myself and my attributes,
I am present only for you
I've forgotten all my learnings,
But from knowing you I've become a scholar.
I've lost all my strength,
But from your power I am able.
I love myself...I love you.
I love you...I love myself.

I am your lover, come to my side,
I will open the gate to your love.
Come settle with me,
Let us be neighbors to the stars.
You have been hiding so long,
Endlessly drifting in the sea of my love.
Even so, you have always been connected to me.
Concealed, revealed,
In the unknown, in the un-manifest.
I am life itself.

You have been a prisoner of a little pond,
I am the ocean and its turbulent flood.
Come merge with me,
Leave this world of ignorance.
Be with me..,
I will open the gate to your love.
I desire you more than food or drink
My body, my senses, my mind,
Hunger for your taste
I can sense your presence in my heart
Although you belong to all the world
I wait with silent passion for one gesture, One glance from you...

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