Thursday, January 22, 2004

chameli: victory to the ghaaTs [related: music review]

This is the last(?) in the legacy of projects left to the burgeoning crossover mainstream section of Bollywood by the late Anant Balani (see also: Joggers' Park, Mumbai Matinee, 1 Din 24 Ghante). Sudhir Mishra took on the project after Balani's untimely demise, and gets a chance to revisit Is Raat Ki Subah Nahin territory, minus a lot of the chaff that riddled that effort: bad acting, good songs hopelessly staggering the pace of the film, overdramatic moments, minimal realism. Mishra continues the sheeny trend of Balani's flicks and with a strong technical department, he gives us an engaging narrative covering the events of one night as an investment consultant meets a hooker. I had very strong reactions to the choice of Kareena Kapoor in the lead role (and her starry comments in the wake of the film didn't help matters much either). To her credit, she tries hard. Her horrifying looks augment the tawdry aspects of the character. Where she fails is in getting decent complex expressions on her face: most of her contortions are Ramsay nominees. Bose strikes gold (again!), followed closely by the reliable and more-commonly-seen-nowadays Yashpal Sharma, and Pankaj Jha. The flash dissolves do get a bit irritating, but the narrative (except for the rain song, which although aurally appealing, seems to add a speed bumper in the flow, and in itself, does not convey enough release, despite all the guest populace appearing to join Chameli). My favourite moment (of several) comes close to the end when K P Singh (Sharma) drops a mention of the "Kurla case" to the corrupt corporator Naik over the cellphone. As Singh goes into the details of his knowledge, thunder strikes dominate the soundtrack, leaving it all to our imagination. Excellent. And the film ends well too (so no SSH problems). Minor quibble: Rinke Khanna's character is named Neha (verified by the end credits and references in the movie), yet one scene has Rahul Bose's dialogue track refer to her as Sudha!

Our censor board is full of morons. Proof: all the bleeps on the dialogue track where (a) Chameli refers to her age when she was brought into prostitution {if you watch carefully, you can read her lips!} (b) when Chameli refers to the relationship between Haseena (Balani camp favourite Kabir Sadanand) and Raja (if you've seen everything you already know what's going on, so why bleep the frigging dialogue??) (c) a couple of obscenities. I was watching a VHS taped off a DVD with the subtitles turned on and all I had to do was read them. Great going censor board!

And now for the byline in the post title. I'm sure no one on our censor board knows Marathi. Why else would the Marathi obscenities stay on the dialogue track unbleeped? Sent me rolling on the carpet to hear them. Clearly, to paraphrase the inspector, censorchyaa du.NgaNaath mirchyaa.

trivia note: Fans of Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron (and other films made by that talented clique of people fragmented by mainstream nightmares) will note the brief appearance by Deepak Kazir (credited thus; alternate spelling = Qazir) as Raja's father (as Commissioner Shrivastava is JDBY he got to deliver the infamous gutter speech).

elsewhere: Gaurav's review

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