Friday, September 10, 2004

julie: ek banaphuul ... i mean wild orchid

At one point in Julie (one of the new entrants in Bollywood's attempt at bold cinema -- a sham that attempts to wrap B-lascivious goodies in a mainstream plastic bag), Tara Ag(g)arwal (Achint Kaur, remember Banegi Apni Baat and Saaya)the host (hostess?) of the TV Show is mo.D pe aate hai.n is shooting more socially conscious promos of the next episode which will feature Julie in a bare-all mode (no pun intended). Her superior arrives and forces a pack-up insisting that the original titillating-and-loaded-with-shock-value promos will stay, despite Tara's arguments that their show has a responsibility for being socially aware and conscious. The same could be said, unfortunately, about the events that transpire later and bring up the if_I_didn't_own_this_TV_set_I'd_smash_it denouement. And it holds even truer to this film as a whole. I don't have very strong memories of B R Ishaara's Chetna (most of us will remember it as one of those "late Friday night" DD movies), but that might have been a lot better than this one. This film is exploitative, bland, badly scripted, badly acted, badly ... you get the point. But let's proceed with distilling the memorable good and bad.

The Good: The film opens with a nicely paced set of dissolves. As with most ephemerally satisfying fragments like this, the sequence has little or no bearing to or portent of the insipid tripe that is about to unfold. The opening credits appear in reverse order (and horrifyingly, the directorial credit appears on the last frame of Julie's flashback!): if I were to even wager the possibility of directorial intent, it would fit (marginally) the reversed structure of the film (begins in the present, relies on a flashback for its meat (no pun intended), and then returns to the present for a traditional yawn-inducing conclusion). A fragment of the background music features the sound sample that opens Khakee's excellent aisaa jaaduu Daalaa re (aurally, mind you; visually, that dance in the film only underscores the mawkish obscenity of Lara Dutta). An excerpt from the birds-on-a-wire sequence that precedes Finding Nemo in a movie theatre. The cool colourful shirt that Kiran Kumar gets to sport in the film.

The Bad: Aside from the inevitable hindi/english (and I thought the person subtitling this film was actually more qualified than the usual twerps!) mix [e.g. agar KudaKushii ##full stop## hai to Kud Kushii ##comma## hai, alpaviraam], the dialogues, credited to a certain Sanjay Pawar, rock the joint for inspired outrageousness. Take yaado.n kaa ##chloroform##, ##A/C effective(?)## nahii.n hai, aap kaa ##sleeveless## kuchh zyaadaa hii ##less## hai (I must say the combination of puns in that last one deserves an award), a comparison of someone's mother to a jellyfish(!), barf jaisaa Tha.nDaa ##helplessness##, mai.n ek aurat hone ke bajaay ek aam inasaan kii tarah pesh aa_ii (another plaudit please, ladies and gentleman), aag mere badan me.n lagii hai aur biskuT tum khaa rahe ho?, ham buraa_iyo.n ko miThaa_iyo.n kii tarah nigal lete hai.n, ##goldfish## ke ##colour## kii jalaparii. And then there's the shocking description of some cheap "poetic" tukke\-baazii that is described as a Gazal (subtitled: couplet!!), and then later as a nazm! Grief. Oh yes, must we note the TV soap reference in the phrase ##Julie## jaisii ko_ii nahii.n?

The Shameful: What's with the digital pixellation of hotel names? And what's with employing clichéd Goan accents and mannerisms? Grow up guys.

The Incongruous: mihiir shaa.nDilya (a dig at Chameli composer sa.ndesh shaa.nDilya? -- naah!) (another terrible turn by Priyangshu) has a vision of the time he spent with Julie (Neha Dhupia -- this quota system of getting models into movies must stop!! My eyes hurt. My ears ache. My bowels churn), except that the vision is all from a third-party camera POV. And then at one point Julie (metaphorically, it must be!) uses the phrase na.ngaa badan to describe her lingerie-clad body.

The Verdict: Keep such movies coming guys. Just don't claim that these are pushing the envelope (or whatever the etymologically more accurate version is) or raising the bar for Indian cinema. I remember a "social awareness" movie that had Aruna Irani living a second life of prostitution to support a family that didn't care to appreciate her sacrifices (also includes an Aastha-esque intimate scene featuring Aruna Irani, Amrish Puri and questionable sounds). And that one seemed more effective than this one. So convince yourself that you aren't capable of art, except the B-kind. And you'll be fine.

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