Some weeks ago Michael of bollywoodblog.de came up with a great idea for bollywoodbloggers. Why not simultaniously publish reviews of our very own Sanjay Jhas first feature film "Praan Jaye Par Shaan Naa Jaye". Well today´s the day. Here the links to my fellow participants:
Meet Laxmi, Mona, Suman, Dulari, Sheela, Babban, Sukhvindar, Ramnik, Sawant, Pandhari, Sayaji, Saundarya, Iqbal, Sukhwinder, Mahendra and Aman. And a big bunch of other people living in or having a versted interest in the happenings at Popatlal Chunnilal Garodia Chawl in Mumbai.
Woah. Too much info. Head hurts.
Well at least until you get to know the main characters and fall in step with the movies pace. Par rukh chao. Before you get the wrong picture. I liked PJPSNJ. And I had a great time watching it. But its a movie that needs your full attention. Especially in the beginning.
I feel as if Sanjay wants a little much with his first film. On one hand he intruduces us to the problems the chawl community has to cope with like water, hygiene, lack of privacy and greedy owners. On another level there is the hardship lower middle class people in mumbai have to deal with in their own private lives and then not to forget the most dominating layer of being a satire with all its uncountable filmi innuendoes. All this packaged into one big, loud, messy masala film. He´s got a lot of strings in his hands to play with that need to taken care of. And he almost succeeds, but they are also a lot of plots and subplots for one poor unprepeared viewer to digest.
For me the movie has two big distinctly different parts. The first one with the huge amounts of info introduces us to the individual characters and their lifes and then right after the intermisson when the going gets tough the chawlwallas and -wallis have to move together and we move away from the individual stories to one main storyline.
It is my belief that a satiric view on a topic is only justified if you keep a certain amount of respect and deference to the subject. And Sanjay did that. Thats why you feel for the blackmarket-ticketwala, the Sadar-Iqbal bickering, the wifes with the good-for-nothing husbands and even deceptive Aman. Even when the tennants act stupid, or small, he gives them dignity. And I liked that.
Yes, there are some weaker points in the story, like the Saundarya story. No. glasses and braids don´t make a girl ugly and a miniskirt, contacts and new hairdo won´t change her that much that her parents don´t recognize her. And its also highly unlikely that the boy who never had any interest in her, treated her like a freak and does a 180 degree turn after seeing the improved version will have any chances with her now. And why should he?. Though I love first the slow-motion running at each other. I also feel that the second half is a weaker, especially because of some lengths in the Sati story.
But I also loved quite a lot. Sushmita being rather insane. The song references. Like the Lagaan song. That Sanjay included so strong women. Not only the Mona bit. Actually all of them. Like Divya Dutta and Shweta Menon playing great characters that reminded me of Mitryudand, which I saw last week.
Ganpat, played by Vijay Raaz, who apart from some very cool lines and the direct to camera narrator parts, has a great emotional moment. And the ticketwala, he has some great filmi lines. And I love it that when he looks for investors to stock up tickets for a new film that is supposed to be a Super-Hit and then turns out a desaster it is called "Kabhi Chikki Kabhi Chewing Gum". The bits around the interval. In fact every time the story stops you get some crazy stuff.
The movie is like a huge, cram-full hippie patch-work bag. It wants to be a bit much, but if you take it as a loving satire with some social-criticism undertones. And you´re wide awake. You´ll have a fun evening watching it.
One question remains:
These two firangi. I think I saw them at least also in Page 3. They are absolutly not able to act much less to speak proper English. Is the cliche true? Do you cast unsuspecting white tourists right from the street?
PS: Small note to indian film directors at large: If you need a character to play an instrument, then make it look real. And no, SRK in Mohabbatein playing violin and Saif in Parineeta playing the piano do not look real at all...
PPS: Sorry, I wanted to go online way earlier, but our main recording console in our A studio broke during this nights recording session and kept me away from blogger up until now. Lekhin aab fikar mat karo, we succeded.