Satire in the Age of Letters and Technology- more than just a pinch of it.
As sheepishly as we may admit it, nothing’s truer than the fact that we all, in some way or another, love the idea of romance and mush. Even as a nation, we are sticklers for love stories. Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayange would arguably rank high in the all time favourites of more than half our population.
As much as the heart shaped red coloured cards, key chains, soft toys and those outrageously expensive chocolate boxes that do the rounds this time of the year get to me, I make no qualms about the fact that I love romance in Indian cinema. And fortunately, this year’s Valentine flick Ek Main Aur Ek Tu more than just takes the legacy forward. Sincere and heartfelt, it did its bit to make the idea of romance believable and in many ways, more lovable, at least for me.
Debutant director Shakun Batra seems to have his priorities clear. His is an intelligent film, he makes the right moves, you have the songs, dances, laughs and punches but he knows exactly where he needs to touch his audience, form the connect and keep it. As banal as the idea of two strangers who have nothing in common meeting and falling drunk in another country is by now (and just for the record, we’ve all grown up on Friends, so do not try and trick us into believing getting married in Vegas on a drunken night and then filing for annulment is your idea of originality), he knows exactly when it’s time to bid adieu to the formula. The film comes into its own in the second half with some truly heart warming moments. Batra, who’s also co-written the film along with Ayesha DeVitre allows his characters to grow on you. As simplistic as he may be in his writing, his idea of chemistry between his protagonists is definitely unique. The sequences in India, especially the ones with Kareena’s screen family are superbly written. Like some of producer Karan Johar’s own earlier outings such as Wake Up Sid or My Name is Khan, for that matter, his lead pair share genuine warmth and camaraderie.
Kareena, especially is a pleasant surprise after the lackadaisical turns in Bodyguard and Ra.One. It’s nice to see her give it her all. It’s time someone as exceptionally gifted as her realizes that even today, she is one of our few true stars. But one would still like her to get over the Jab We Met hangover, we expect variety and she, for one, has more than just the potential to deliver. It’s a pity most of our recent directors (including Batra) seem to be fixated with the vivacious livewire she once played to perfection.
Imran, as an actor is definitely growing. But again, we want more of him. And different sides of him. From Jaane Tu Ya Jane Na and through the Break ke Baads and Mere Brother Ki Dulhans of the world, we’ve known him as the proper, good boy we all want to take home to our mothers. And arguably, he plays that better than anyone else. But one hopes to see him break out of the cocoon soon. It’s never too late to be a daredevil, trust your co-star on that.
What also works for the talented debutant director is that he has some of the best actors in the country for his supporting cast. Trust Ratna Pathak Shah, Boman Irani and Ram Kapoor to bring the house down without even trying.
The music (Amit Trivedi) is cleverly used. It’s not your best album of the season, but Auntyji does make you want to get up and dance. Batra fills the spaces well, credit of course would also go to the taut editing (Asif Ali Shaikh). EMAET is an extremely good looking film. More importantly, it’s believably so. Some really interesting work by David Mc Donald (cinematography) and Jason Cronberg(art direction). On a personal note, I loved the sequences in Mumbai, I thought they were beautiful.
For all its eccentricities, I think the best thing about new age cinema and directors is that they experiment without abandoning the formula. We, as a nation, love certain things about our movies and as part of a generation that has grown up thriving on the magic that we call our movies, they know exactly what works. With it, they do not hesitate to add a part of themselves and their passionate imagination. Which is why, it’s an exciting time for us at the movies. Take a bow, Shakun Batra, it’s people like you who make that happen. A special word for Karan Johar who has, in many ways, engineered the revolution. Two completely disparate films within two weeks, you truly believe it’s all about loving your audience.
For all my cynicism, I repeat I’m part of the million plus crowd that thrives on love stories. And while I wouldn’t trade my DVD of DDLJ for a second viewing of EMAET, I have no qualms admitting I walked out of the theatre smiling.It may have drawn its inspiration from a Hollywood production by the name of ‘What happens in Vegas‘ but this one definitely goes home with you. Really, try toeing the line sometimes, might just be magical.