Cinematic Liberties vs Cinematic Stupidities
Reacting to the absurdities and certain hackneyed elements in the script of Jab Tak Hai Jaan pointed out by all critics, a few have asked , ‘ What about the child birth sequence in 3 Idiots? ”
Let me get that out of the way first. I have always considered that to be one of the many masterstrokes that Hirani and Abhijat Joshi added to the original rich material of Chetan Bhagat. For nothing is Abhijat Joshi the highest paid writer in Bollywood and Hirani is the only true genius of Indian commercial cinema. Because their imaginative leaps are grounded in reality and are used to achieve subtle artistic goals.
To start with the child birth facilitated by a vacuum device is perfectly scientific. Let me quote “
“Ventouse is a vacuum device used to assist the delivery of a baby when the second stage of labour has not progressed adequately. It is an alternative to a forceps delivery and caesarean section. It cannot be used when the baby is in the breech position or for premature births. This technique is also called vacuum-assisted vaginal delivery or vacuum extraction (VE).
“The woman is placed in the lithotomy position and assists throughout the process by pushing. A suction cup is placed onto the head of the baby and the suction draws the skin from the scalp into the cup. Correct placement of the cup directly over the flexion point, about 3 cm anterior from the occipital (posterior) fontanelle, is critical to the success of a VE.”
“Your practitioner applies a flexible, rounded cup to your baby’s head in the birth canal. The cup is connected to an electric suction pump or a small handheld pump that creates vacuum pressure to hold the cup securely to the baby’s head. You’ll be asked to push while the doctor gently pulls on a handle attached to the cup, to help move your baby down and out of the birth canal.”
Now let us examine the beauty of this script device. Rancho has always been espousing the need for innovation, the need to learn how to use knowledge practically. The director had to demonstrate at some point Rancho a walking the talk, showing his knack for innovation, his ability to use knowledge of science and technology in everyday situations. We have had a glimpse of it when he made the seniors piss on a live electric wire with hilarious effect. This had to be one notch higher. Something the audience won’t expect. I have asked my friends from IIT if they had to think a situation to demonstrate how to use terch funda ina everyday situation, to be used in the film, what would they come up with. Needless to add, no one could think of this. But it was not the unexpectedness of it. We have seen Ranch in his male binding avatar with his two friends, Farhan and Raju. Here was a chance to reveal the feminine side of him. To show how he could empathize with women, be involved with an essentially women’s problem, and come out a winner. It was a unique way of letting him go up in Pia’s esteem and create another kind of bonding between them. And also equally importantly, it was a way of winning the gratitude of Virus and winning him over forever., both by saving his daughter and demonstrating his grasp of technology.
All these are subtle strands of script writing that only the masters grasp and can execute.
And the bottom line is using imagination grounded in logic and reality.
That is what the best of melodrama achieve in their scripts, be it Lagaan, Munnabhai, Deewar, Mr India or ET, Avatar , Purple Rose of Cairo, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind or It’s A Wonderful Life.