Monday, June 13, 2005

welcome to the jaT age [june 12, 2005] {notes on the soundtrack}

Rahul Rawail, the man responsible for much better (not in retrospect, but in general) flicks like Arjun and Dacait (does anyone remember other movies like Jurrat, which ripped off The Untouchables) joins forces with Sunny Deol, the star he introduced to Bollywood via Betaab to bring us Jo Bole So Nihaal, yet another paean to jaT-land and the North Indian belt responsible for the success of such mind-numbing entertainers[sic] as Gadar. This time Sunny bhaiyaa is Nihaal Singh, a cop from a village near Amritsar, who ends up being the only one to know what Romeo (Kamaal Khan making an inauspicious acting[sic] début) looks like. Now, Romeo is this dreaded terrorist, whose deeds have affected Europe, the USA and some parts of South Asia. He has one quirk though: he needs to confess. And after his confession, he ends up kicking the priest's bucket as it were. Of course he seems to experience inarticulate remorse on that front: Rosie ... if only I ... but I would .... You would think that people might have a record for the dude. But as he says meraa ek hii ##record## hai, ki meraa kahii.n ko_ii ##record## nahii.n hai. Good for him. Of course, after one such expedition in our land Punjab, he runs into grass-roots cop Nihaal Singh (played by our very own Sunny paajii). Playing a jaT is a cakewalk for Sunny, and he plays it to the hilt for the gallery. Romeo manages to use the good old emotional heartstring-tugging approach to give Nihaal the slip (not literally, of course!), and Nihaal ends up being punished for negligence and such. Now, of course, some people from the FBI (##america## kii khuufiyaa pulis or as Sunny masterfully describes them later on in the context of 9/11 as ##fully## bewakuuf inasaan) arrive at the village. They need to find Romeo (what happened to all that "no record exists" nonsense?) and Nihaal's the only guy who has seen him. Nihaal manages to use this to get himself flown to NYC, where a howlarious hunt begins. Shilpi Sharma exudes max-dumb-factor as Satinder "Suzanne" Kaur, the FBI official who is assigned to guide Nihaal, and Nupur Mehta goes through the motions of skin and asset display as Romeo's girl Li(s/z)a.
what Nihaal might really want

Aside from the obligatory Sholay reference (chakkii ##and##, we have dialogue that makes your jaw decide to stick with the "dropped" position: kyaa dekh rahii ho? (nihaal) / tumhaarii aa.Nkho.n me.n jo dil hai vo dekh rahii huu.N (suzanne), teraa vishwaas dekhakar mujhe puuraa aatma\-vishwaas hai, the good old ##whore##/hor kii haal hai?, and stupid conclusions like tumhaare piichhe pa.Daa hai, mere saale ke piichhe pa.Daa hai; mujhe lagataa hai vo ##terrorist## nahii.n ##homosexual## hai. There are enough outrageous scenes to whet the appetite of B-mongers: Nihaal Singh's numerous excursions in English (e.g. mai.n ##middle class pass## huu.N); the bad comedy involving Nihaal's cousin who says 'S' for 'F' married to a doctor who says 'F' for 'S' (which means you get lines like amriikaa me.n ko_ii kaam karane se pahale ##sex (fax)## karanaa zaruurii hai); Rahul Rawail's cheesy cameo as the Bahamas ganglord, Nihaal's mother getting the fits every time Nihaal passes out; The wonderful double delivery of the line meraa ##romeo## terrorist (the first as a surprised question, the second as a surprised exclamation); the strange scene where Lisa dresses up as a dominatrix and whips Romeo for his atonement (when he can't make it to a church on Sunday); the cold logic of anonymity-by-denial described by Nihaal Singh (if Nihaal Singh denies that he is Nihaal Singh, how can anyone claim otherwise?).

We also have two important technical developments in this film. The first is a restating of a classic axiom by Romeo:jis la.Dakii kii shaadii nahii.n hotii vo yaa to KudaKushii karatii hai yaa koThe par jaatii hai. The second is evidence of one of the oldest challenge-response protocols practised in India. If you are a true jaT, you will respond to the challenge "jo bole so nihaal" with an emphatic "sat srii akaal". In object-oriented terms, this would be like implementing the JoBoleSoNihaal interface. And this is how Nihaal manages to crack Romeo's disguise as Tony Singh.

Disappointingly, both mai.n yaar pa.njaabii jaT [more here] and raat kuchh aur thii get shoddy treatment on-screen. Relish the aural goodies, and try and forget what you saw.

In conclusion, may I paraphrase Nihaal Singh: oy! ##No if, no but, only## jaT.

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