Saturday, July 29, 2006

Yun Hota To Kya Hota

Definitive spoilers alert.

Naseeruddin Shah’s directorial debut Yun Hota To Kya Hota is so good, interweaving four unconnected stories, which themselves are well-told, that, I wished there was no 9/11 at first place.
As far as this film is concerned, the 9/11 tragedy is hardly the point [1]. The director’s intention that the audience be well aware of the looming tragedy is loud and clear. But, when it eventually happens, it becomes a sort of letdown, (perhaps, because it’s played much too explicitly) that I wished it could have been something else.

The film juggles between four disparate threads, each of which has people at crossroads, vying to go to the U.S.A., for different reasons. Tilottima (Konkona Sensharma), a newly wed, who can’t join her husband to the U.S., as her VISA is not ready yet. Salim (Irrfan Khan), a stockbroker, all set to go to U.S., but, wants his girlfriend to come along with him. Rahul (Ankur Khanna), who has got the admission for an M.S. course, but has to take care of his ailing dad. Rajubhai (Paresh Rawal), an organizer of cultural shows, who, in the process, also smuggles people to the U.S.
It’s nice to see the film judiciously switch between the threads, with well-fleshed out characters and well-conceived sequences. For example, though the Salim-Javed [2] story doesn’t play out all that well in its entirety, the sequence of their meeting with the DCP (a superb cameo by Boman Irani) stands out. While, the Tilottima story and Rahul story are sufficiently engaging throughout.

Finally, it’s the individual stories that make the film work. The theme of the impact of blind chance on a person’s life isn’t explored much (though that is supposed to be the film’s central theme). And hence, the film doesn’t come off anywhere close to being a Kieślowskian meditation on chance. (To be one such, perhaps, reflections on multiple paths a person’s life could have taken, à la Blind Chance or Run Lola Run - a masterstroke that Kieślowski “invented” in film - were inevitable).
The films sports an indie look except for the soundtrack. The performances, throughout, are neat and spot-on, not to mention the host of actors in brief roles and cameos (Naseer’s son Imaad who has fun speaking shudh Hindi, Ravi Baswani, Rajat Kapoor, Ranvir Shorey, Makrand Deshpande, etcetera).
Naseer, as the director, deserves applause. I guess the script, by itself, examining the influence of chance incidents and encounters doesn’t have much merit. It’s the drama, humour (the man, sure, hasn’t lost his sense of humour!) and the quirkiness that he brings in, that makes this film worth what it is.

And then there is the fourth story with Paresh Rawal, who has come up with an amazingly nuanced performance, in the lead. Every time the film cuts back to this story, it works wonders. Be it, the man’s ex-ladylove, made up literally as a beggar in a shooting spot, pleading with him, or the “sensual” sequence between him and his love, or the silent shot of the girl, dozing off sitting on a chair, about to fall over her “dad”, this one’s a sheer delight!
Just for that, this film is highly commendable and worth every penny.

[1] - Though, Mr. Taran Adarsh, in his review, says it’s “the first Hindi film that makes an effort to present the 9/11 tragedy that struck America and had repercussions the world over.”
[2] - A cool reference, that one! One can’t help but chuckle when they introduce themselves.

Cross-posted at

Wednesday, July 26, 2006


Madhur Bhandarkar’s films seem to follow a certain pattern. All his films expose some thing to the audience; exposé on various systems, structures, lives etc.

Exposé. That’s the word. He keeps making film after film exposing something or the other, and he categorically states so, himself.

“Here, I show you the page 3 world as it is,” it was in Page 3.
“Here, I show you the corporate world as it is,” it is in Corporate.
In his next film, it is going to be, “Here, I show you a Traffic Signal, in and out, with all its intricacies.”

In Page 3, Madhur Bhandarkar not only lacked the finesse to portray celebrities for what they are, but was so judgemental on them that it could have given S P Muthuraman’s Sakalakala Vallavan a run for its money. It even had a police inspector telling an upper-class party dude, “First, be a good Indian!” or something to that effect.
Thankfully, Corporate, by and large, stays away from that sort of stuff. (But, just like in Page 3, every now and then, some peon or security guard pops up and tells his associate what and how corporate world is. So disconnected, out-of-place and irritating, to say the least.)

revolves around the business rivalry between two companies, both of them big players in the food industry. Every element one could think of in this genre - money, power, politics, treachery, foreign investments, and shamefully shady deals – finds a place in the plot.
And, that is all there is. There is no emotional thread that ties the proceedings; nor, is there any revelatory moment that makes us connect to the characters. The result is a dull, long-drawn film that diligently documents the goings-on in the two companies which play it all dirty to beat each other, and goes nowhere else. The corporate log, the politicians, the middlemen, roll their dice on and on, sometimes losing to, sometimes striking back at, and sometimes winning over their counterparts.
It’s late into the film, when the pesticide scandal episode surfaces in the plot, the film engages us, despite the oh-so-naïve ethical stand some characters take in the meeting when the issue comes up.

Among the actors, Rajat Kapoor was really cool, as only he can be. Kay Kay Menon was very good too, but he is getting stereotyped for the role of a brooding man. It’s high time he reinvents himself in some other kind of role.

Towards the end of the film, Atul Kulkarni, in the voice-over, says that, the junta forgot about the pesticide scandal very soon. That is pretty much our reaction to the film too.

Jul 27, 12:08 p.m.: Cross-posted at (Also, slightly modified the post.)