Search This Blog

Friday, February 29, 2008

"Jab We Met",and the importance of keeping things simple

I had been looking forward to watching "Jab We Met" for a few months,actually.I just hadn't done it.Now with the small matter of my mid-sem exams out of the way,I had my chance.The film had drawn rave reviews,especially for its lead pair,Shahid Kapur,and Kareena Kapoor.(The two of them having broken up garnered a lot of attention)I can now safely say that the film richly deserves each and every one of the plaudits it received.
The plot is fairly predictable,reminiscent of the popular Korean novel and film"My Sassy Girl"(Elisha Cuthbert will star in a Hollywood version later this year)as well as of a comparitively little-known O.Henry short story"The Miracle of Lava Canyon" (the character reversal stunt is pulled off far more convincingly in the film,though).The film's flaws are all-too apparent 'yet when Geet(Kareena)tells us "Mujhe bachpan se hi shaadi karne ka bada shauk tha,by God!!!",we believe her,revelling in this rollercoaster of a flick.And herein lies the importance of keeping things simple.
A film like "Jab We Met" is very important,and needs to be to appreciated for its innate rawness.It is almost as if it is a curious,wide-eyed child playing with a camera,delighted with his new toy,adding his own playful touches. From the first frame itself,it is very clear that the film is on trodden grounds,yet it makes for a highly engaging cinematic experience.It also helps that the lead pair Shahid and Kareena are on song,with crackling chemistry,and impeccable timing.
The dialogues are exceptional,revealing a lightness of touch,as well as an emotional maturity beyond the years of the young writer-director Imtiaz Ali.The film is sprawling with delightful one-liners,and the lead pair perform with elan,resulting in an absolutely cracking first half.These are just some of the things working for this wonderfully fresh effort.However,I believe the single most important thing working for the film is the way Imtiaz Ali interprets some rather-run-of-the mill situations.On at least two occasions there is a dialogue lampooning the "usual" Bollywood response to a particular situation,yet the director somehow manages to make it look like his very own doff of the hat to the masters.

The film is also refreshingly free of baggage of any sort,is absolutely unpretentious ,in this age of righteous outrage(which so delights the purists and a few toffee-nosed "serious" critics).It is,in my book,the finest romantic movie of recent years,and one hopes that director Imtiaz Ali continues to go from strength to strength.His own story would warm the hearts of many a romantic.The soft -spoken,shy Jamshedpur lad's rise to celluloid success is every movie-maker's dream.After the appreciated "Socha Na Tha",he has taken a huge step in his short career.But far more importantly,he has reminded people that a film need not be heavily stylized or densely plotted to capture attention,and the focus should be on that elusive quality:matinee magic.


Exam-time in IIT Kharagpur can be quite a spectacle.(See the attached photo if you don't believe me!!! This is a few hours away from my English exam).A time when more inviting prospects like gaming(Counter-strike seems to be quite the rage),partying(there's always one on at my hostel,and everyone more or less invites himself),or simply whiling one's time away chatting online;are eschewed in favour of a far more mundane option:dragging yourself in front of your books to study.
I read somewhere that IIT guys have "exceptional test-taking skills" (now what the hell's that supposed to mean?!!!).Some of these aforesaid skills have to have their roots in this monthly ritual of exam-eve cramming that we engage in.As I said,it's quite a spectacle.Guys who would normally greet you boisterously on the stairs("Halloooooo you son of a gun,where have you been??? Now haul your ass downstairs,we're goin' for a bite!") start to behave like tortured war veterans who had their pension cut by the government.They hardly give you a glimpse,and on the rare occasion that they acknowledge your existence,they utter one of the following blasphemies-
1."Hey man....listen do you have the notes given by Professor X? They are supposed to be really cool,you know..."(here,let the reader note that this fellow's views on Professor X remain,to the best of my knowledge,quite utterly unprintable.)
2."Do you know what THEY are saying....topic Y is most likely to turn up in tomorrow's test."(Till date,I have heard no word more likely to strike terror in a guy's heart than that versatile preposition "THEY")
3.(The one I find most offensive) "Say.....have you solved such-and such problem....could you help me out???"(by now he has been showered by a deluge of the choicest 'uns from my side)
You will see these and many more hilarious scenes during the week or so of non-stop cramming.Guys muttering formulae under their breath,carrying absurdly fat books with them everywhere(including the mess),and turning up puffy-eyed,nerves frayed from the impending test.I am yet to meet a person who is immune to examophobia.It is something which seems to strike terror in the very best of us.Perhaps one of my friends,who has a delightfully simplistic turn of phrase,put it best when he said"You don't understand AMJ,it's not the exams which scare me,it's just the results!"

Monday, February 11, 2008


I return to this blog after almost five weeks....well,college can do that to you.Although I have written a few thingshere and there(including a play),I couldn't drag myself in front of the laptop to actually type out a blog entry.It took the sublime intervention of an undisputed genius to overcome the hitherto undefeated gates of my lethargy.Yesterday,I saw India notch up an all-too rare one-day win against Australia,but perhaps more importantly,a single stroke that shook the the Little Master Sachin Tendulkar.
Australia had their backs against the wall.Shot out for a paltry 159,they were keen to return the favour.Sehwag was dismissed early,and Brett Lee(the best fast bowler in the world by a mile),was steaming in like a raging a force of nature,a thing of terrible beauty.Little did he know that he was up against an equal and unstoppable adversary.The prelude was a fiercely carved out cover-drive which trickled rather than sped over the ropes for four.
What followed next was something which I shall remember as long as I am alive(that's something I have in common with Harsha Bhogle).It was a 150 kmph fizzer from Lee,just short of a full length,and Tendulkar was on to it in a flash,smashing it right past the shell-shocked bowler,for a straight-driven four that resonated with the ring of steel.Not a man moved an inch as the ball took on a life of its own,absolutely screaming along the turf.Sachin did not so much as see whether someone had gone to retrieve the ball,performing a supremely nonchalant and minimal follow-through of his bat.
It was a moment of sporting perfection,a moment of rare purity, from a man who has delighted pundits and public alike for nearly two decades now.The effects were palpable.Lee visibly lost his nerve,and with it dropped the shoulders of the Aussies.Fielding teams seldom like their strike bowler to be thrashed about with such disdain.The last nail in the coffin was punched when a couple of deliveries later,Sachin uncorked another champagne straight-drive,this time with minimum effort,and a ballerina-like grace,the result being a foregone conclusion.
The record books will show that Sachin scored only 44 runs yesterday,but the impact of that thunderous shot was felt by everyone who had the privilege of seeing it in real time.(including the poor Aussies!)Like Pavarotti hitting that elusive oh-mi-gosh-it's-that-high note,like Brando making us an offer we just couldn't refuse,it was pure magic.....reminding us ,that perhaps life itself is all about,well,moments.