September 30, 2006

Praan Jaye Par Shaan Naa Jaye - not for Bollywood newbies

Some weeks ago Michael of 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:

maria giovanna

And now Bollywoodbloggers project "Director meets Bloggers" here I come.

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.


Sharon said...

The urban legend about unsuspecting tourists is soooo true.

What happens if their kids grow up to be bollybloggers and watch a movie their parents were in? "Wow, Dad, you were in a Bollywood movie? I LOVE YOU, MAN!" :D

babasko said...

which would be followed by: "but, Dad, you are sooo bad and who the hell is that redhead with the weird accent?"

Anonymous said...

Babasko, I totally agree, who WERE those two???? I guess it's some sort of payback and, what, makes some people feel better to see that we're not all Liz Hurley / Brad Pitt beautiful (if you consider them beautiful).

babasko said...

I really think that I saw those two in Page 3 as well (100% sure about her) attending one of the parties in the earlier part of the movie. And this time he spoke.
One thing though, now after tinking about it I don´t believe that thats her voice. I guess they had her dubbed in the ADR part.

Movie Mazaa said...

Jhaji's film has such a huge starcast, and I can for the life of me believe that I have missed out on this one. How cud I miss a Sushmita starrer?????

Great review; and I especially liked the bit - Par rukh 'chao' - :)))

babasko said...

ts ts Velu. But then if you read the reviews when the movie was released in unfairly and undeserved got shred to pieces by most reviewers back then.

Maja said...

Well, I dunno about Saif because I haven't seen Parineeta yet, but I'm still defending Shahrukh in Mohabbatein. I mean, compared to Hrithik "playing" guitar in Kaho Naa Pyaar Hai, SRK is practically Yehudi Menuhin ;)

I've just been reading all these reviews of Praan Jaye and I really have to watch it, but I think I'll have to see some more movies first, so I don't miss all the filmi references. I can't believe I still haven't managed to get a hold of Lagaan. Grr.

sanjay jha said...

nameste babasko,
greetings from festive india.
thank you very much for reviewing my film.
being my debut film *praan jaye...* will always remain very special to me and this event makes it even better,i have no words to express the warmth i received from blogger friends and its a huge experience in it self to go through the reviews of your own work from people whom you appreciate and learn,i have been a great fan of your reviews,infact all participants are so special and have reviewed so many films earlier,that i have to yet come out of this joyous feeling which cant be expressed in words.
bollywood jindaabad...
i loved *Par rukh chao*.
its true *praan jaye...*
all said by *babasko*.i enjoyed reading the review.
for these two people you wanted to know about is that they are bread earner of their family,and part of the jr.artists who came to me through artist supplier when i wanted *obvious-firang looking faces* for just a shot to represent the international media,was not happy with artist supplier then but had no choice with time constraints,but they somehow got fit in the crazy set up where nothing is 'real'.

PS-babasko i agree with you, back in 2003 the film i feel was shred by critics in india...i think they should start getting fairer to the film rather than finding out to which camp the director belongs to,and more over bloggers are here now to review a film without any biased approach to the film,and i believe the trend will change and people will stop trusting them.we all know that they have already lost the power...*public* have started to find about the film from different sources then just critics,and moreover the new trend is to see film and form the opinion.hope for the best in future.

babasko said...

Servus Jhaji,

I´m glad you liked the review. Well, I liked your movie :-)

concerning the firangis: what you said is totally what i thought. :-)

Movie Mazaa said...

Have u seen Gangster, by the way???

MP said...

Gangster, i've seen. sigh.... it's proving to be quite a task to get hold of a copy of PJPSNJ where i live :-(