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Kaveetaa Kaul Reviews ‘Saawariya’

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Spoilers ahead

In the present age when media of all categories and cadres, is purposefully bombarding ones senses and time, willy nilly, with information essentially suggestive as if hypnotic capturing of ones personal opinions, myriad reviews of a film overwhelm thought processes. Easily influenced gullible minds fall prey to the insidiously, oftentimes stridently suggested message tags of ‘hit’ or ‘flop’. A more discerning populace admittedly small in percentage, decide to cast aside ‘fed’ ideas and view open minded a movie which promises ‘greatness’ in the cinema-ic denotation.

‘Saawariya’ enraptures you. In the hands of a less acclaimed director, the film might have degenerated into a fantastic escapade that misses the mark. It might have emerged, fabricated, synthetic and soulless.

The director in this case had previously won us over with his dexterity enough to woo us into his personal universe .Sanjay Leela Bhansali and the conviction of his vision, coupled with the mastery of his craft, transports you into his world via a fable with a dreamy and satiric edge.

It is a poetic outing matched with touching gravity. For those unwilling to glide along in those fascinating gondolas, lilt in the blue of the azure background and waft along dewy eyed with its endearing characters, the film would perhaps leave them unmoved. But so does the ‘art’ of Michaelangelo. For some its merely another experience, for others a ‘divine vision’. I daresay that personal stage of spiritual evolution often dictates the level of response to art, as a whole.

‘Saawariya’ held me captive from the very first frame. My childhood was spent in a ‘make believe’ world of doll houses and silvery streams. It was as if my soul had been peeked into by a kindred and displayed back how splendidly in munificent revelry, a story could be spun around this fantasy land.

The film is awash with amazingly endearing characters and four nights in their life. A myriad emotions engulf them and the central character Ranbir Raj, a flaneur, whose innocence and gentility magically charms its way into your heart.

It is a hard task to set a film rolling moreso when you demand from the audience ‘ a willing suspension of disbelief’ to a greater degree than other Bollywood films, since undertaking a journey into another’s mind asks for immeasurable faith. What is evident in this film from the first frame to the last is just that. The mind of Sanjay Leela Bhansali exposing itself in a cul-de-sac world. Is he courting disaster? No.. he has taken films in India and from India to another level altogether. I can firmly state that never before has there been a director of his stature, in his genre of films.

Based on Dostoevskys ‘ White Nights’ the story unfolds with poignant preciseness, through the wailing of a child and Ranis outburst, Raj’s reaction and revealing of his character all in a sweep of a few minutes. Its remarkable. You find yourself right in their midst willing to roll along eagerly.

Rajs meeting with the wholly delectable Lillipop his to-be-landlady where he melts her heart and ours by the one question he asks of her and the silent, almost soundless cry that emerges from her, while they hug is one of the most cathartic moments. There are many such where subtlety is the forte in this elegaic film.

The look on Sakinas face when she hears the sound of her name , expecting Iman and in a flash, hope dies when she sees its only Raj. Underplayed yet thunderously powerful. In fact this can be enumerated as the mainstay of the film… the subtle nuancing of emotional scenes. Suggested more than enacted. Metaphors abound which necessitate a sensitive heart and fine tuning to appreciate. Those hardened by years of Bollywood drama unwilling to experience subtleties at play need to get in touch with their emotional, loving, trusting self to truly enjoy this ‘outre’. A cursory , casual, inattentive viewing would be downright unfair. That attitude is best reserved for the laugh-a-minute-riots which often grace our screens.

Is film making only about story telling? If yes, then how different is it from reading a book? Imo it is in the the magical usage of tools of cinematic expression that differentiate a classic from a perfunctorily shot story. Can you imagine what “Deewaar’ can metamorph into if shot by Scorsese? This is where Saawariya scores. Or then read Dostoevskys short story

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Rani Mukherji has never looked as beautiful. Her dialogues were superbly written and superbly enacted. Every little lift of the eyebrow, a cock of the head seemed measured, yet not rehearsed. Not overtly over done, despite the demand of the character, in perfect balance, as if she knows exactly how she’d look and what effect even a wag of a finger is bound to create.

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Ranbir Raj or Ranbir Kapoor is a discovery who will enchant movie goers for a long time. He was simply brilliant. His fragile character, interluded with boyish passion, charm, wit, innocence, effusive and poignant stays with you as somebody you know you will continue to love. He has made a dent in ones psyche, enough to last a lifetime.

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Sonam Kapoor could not have asked for a better debut vehicle. She was lovingly presented, carved to perfection. Not a classic beauty, she grows on you through the perplexity of her character and the dynamism of her personality. She would have to be choosy of her future assignments. Not everyone is SLB to have spent years in grooming her. For success and accolades to sustain, talent has to be honed as a continuous process and resting back on laurels would be disastrous.

Zohra Sehgal as Lillipop is the last word in acting. She is an institution by herself, unmatched and incomparable. Her portrayal and its layering contributed vastly to the films claim to classy performances.

Salman Khan had little to do as far as histrionics go. But his star quality lent the character a solidity and foundation it required.

Impeccable an immaculate set designs which were a stellar character of the film came across as an embodiment of SLB’s take on a beautiful world physically but intrinsically one which enshrouds human sorrows as much. In other words despite the perfection of ones surroundings, it is the mind which makes or mars the perfection as a whole.

Suffering is not confined to an address.. its universal.

Virtual marriage of cinematography and direction is more apparent in this movie than any other. To be able to translate a directors vision is no mean task. The two technicians have to be perfectly synchronised. Art is mostly personal. Cinema, contrarily is the only form of art which involves a team. Therefore its imperative that each member find a space of synchronicity to operate from. Sanjay and Ravi Chandran have achieved this imaginatively.

Aural contribution by Monty songs and background score complimented the film superbly.. crafted to excellence.

There were flaws I confess. References to Raj Kapoors films, or scenes meant to convey lineage/tribute diminished the pristine quality of the tale that sought to be conveyed. It was not needed. Also to my mind, the story/ screenplay in the second half was a tad forced. The progression continued well till Raj promised to bring Sakina home. It should have carried on directly to the shock of Salman’s return. The detour to Rani, a song and a fight was jarring. This also turned into a continuity faux pas, since after the fight, when Raj is shown bruised, his next scene with Sakina displays none. Which brings one to believe that the additions in-between were an after thought perhaps to increase Rani’s footage and relevance. Affected the wholesomeness of the film imho.

Apart from this, the film has enchantment as its cutting edge which is saying a lot. Reminiscent of “Edward Scissorhands” a fabled tale which brought out the genius of Tim Burton, Saawariya is on similar lines. SLB comes across as a true movie visionary. Take a bow SLB..you deserve it.

In short as gulabji would say.. ” I likes it” An aside..Why do I get the feeling that the usage of “Jejus ‘” and such ‘likes’ were sourced from the effervescent Rakhi Sawant ?

To conclude..A splendid effort at providing an uncommon insight into the torment of innocent hearts in an ethereal land.

Mashaallah!

Rating 4/5

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Kaveetaa Kaul

14 COMMENTS
  1. Tango

    Thanks Kaveetaa ji for your extremely well written review.

    And welcome back to NG after months ?

    Boliye kahan theen aap :?:

  2. sheeru

    Nice review here…liked every lil bit of it.

  3. KaveetaaKaul

    Hi Tango..huzoor shukriya. I was around ..lets say umm…in spirit. Not been seeing too many movies since I lost my mother. Trying to slowly move back to normalcy.
    Life has to go on…and reviews have to be written :)

    Thanks a ton Sheeru .

    Have you guys seen the film?

  4. Tango

    Sorry to hear about your mother Kaveetaa ji.

    Yeah I saw it and agree with most of your points. I guess somehow the audience is not connecting with the movie, spl Monday onwards. And it has nothing to do with bad reviews.

    Black was masterpiece that connected with audience.

  5. jayshah

    Excellent review Kaveetaa and welcome back

  6. KaveetaaKaul

    Thanks Tango.

    About the movie not connecting with the audience , largely this seems to be the case. However I went for the late night show on a midweek to a packed house which is a good sign.

    Unfortunately for Indians , entertainment = switch of brain. Therefore any film which requires an out of the ordinary task, such as open minded assimilation alongside viewing, it is rejected immediately, spontaneously as too much work. And then they crib constantly about Bollywood films being crassy when all they do is patronise the very same..It is such a conundrum at work here. Nyways sincere makers should continue making their kind of cinema while we, for whatever its worth should lend them a hand by acknowledging it and applauding it, in the hope that one day hamara Bharat desh will jago.

    Thanks so much Jay…good to be back.

  7. beldevere

    My sincere condolences kaveetaa

    The problem with art is that it is a very subjective field. Just bcoz very few people understand paintings, you can’t call the rest ignorant. Similarly, I believe some movies are for niche audiences and sawariya at best seems to be working for a select few. For others, it seems to be a flawed product.

    Btw, nice spelling to the name.

  8. Elvis

    An exquisite review.And some extremely valid points.
    Only disagrrement is about Sonam.She has a klot of potential but SLB didnt really do her justice.Keeps her role a little unidimensional and she suffers in comparision to Ranbir.Again a minotr issue but overall an excellent piece.

  9. Ravi

    Excellent review Kaveetaa, sorry about you mother.

  10. KaveetaaKaul

    Hi Beldevere..Yes sadly ‘Saawariya’ has proven to be a product for niche audiences although I am quite sure the maker did not intend it to be so.I guess he was testing waters with “Black’ to gage how well a film which is so tangentially different from the usual stuff, would be received. The almost unanimous equivocal acclaim of the same encouraged him to go all out with ‘Saawariya’. Unfortunately maybe he misjudged. Our audiences, as in masses are as yet not ready for cinema of the kind. But the niche audience is growing in numbers enough to sustain films of the genre..hopefully.

    Nice spelling.. wow.. that was a first..thanx :)

    Hi Elvis,
    Thanks. And about Sonam maybe I wasnt lucid enough. I have not for a moment doubted her potential. My wariness arose for the following reasons.

    1) Heroines lovingly presented by passionate film makers sometimes fail to contiguously carry on in an illustrious career if not careful about future choices. Examples: Mandakini and Raj Kapoor, Bhagyashree and Sooraj Barjatya, Neha and VVChopra, Dimple and RK later Ramesh Sippy, Ghai and Mahima Choudhary of Pardes. .. all of these made stupendous debuts and then failed to carve the expected niche because of immaturedly handled career.

    2) heroine oriented subjects being a rarity, for Sonam now the challenge would be to work with the top in perhaps not exciting enough roles, nonetheless leave a mark, sometimes with not a competent enough Director. Its the heroes who dictate terms here.. A heroine does not sell. Its a tricky tightrope walk..Therefore the warning in my post.

    THanks ravi.. so generous of you all.

  11. som

    superb review Kaveetaa!sorry to know about your mother’s demise.

  12. rks

    Kaveeta: Good points on heroines.

    Since the review is long, I need to see it to appreciate the review. Will revisit after watching the movie!

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