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HindustanTimes Sat,02 Aug 2014

Mayank Shekhar's review: That Girl in Yellow Boots

Mayank Shekhar, Hindustan Times   September 02, 2011
First Published: 23:11 IST(2/9/2011) | Last Updated: 12:11 IST(31/1/2012)
That Girl In Yellow Boots
Director: Anurag Kashyap
Actors: Kalki Koechlin, Prashant Prakash
Rating: **

"Don't look. Only do," the goon instructs the girl. He's come to one of those massage shops that promise a quick story, for a 'happy ending'. Or "handshakes", as the masseur calls it.  Alone, behind the parlour's closed curtains, the man feels vulnerable, embarrassed. Naked, as it were.

The act of a handshake is probably just as shaming for the male customer as humiliating it must be for the female masseur. This is possibly true for prostitution as well. Though for the girl, it's merely a job. If anything, she has the upper hand. The scene, and there are quite a few such in this film, is quite insightful.

Ch***iyapa Gowda is the given goon's name. He's a gun-totting badass, who imagines himself as some sort of a Kannada hero. The masseur is that girl in yellow boots (Kalki Koechlin, a strikingly unusual talent, the director's obvious muse).

We're at one of those massage parlours that, you may have noticed, dominate classified advertising in most metropolitan newspapers. You've probably wondered what goes on beyond those curtains, among girls of various nationalities who've suddenly begun to call shining India their home, and its penis their day job.

The heroine is half British, been in India for over a year. Being a young white girl, she says, is tough, "They ask a lotta dirty questions." She also happens to be surrounded by "wrinkled, repressed pricks in a shit-hole in Bombay." The lead character is intriguing. The movie's setting is smartly inspired, contemporary. The writing occasionally delights in the mundane, brought to life by some stunning camerawork (Rajiv Ravi). Sadly, the lame, severely short story doesn't match all the effort.

The female masseur offers the said goon customer, free service. She owes him money. Or actually her boyfriend does, who's a jobless junkie. Who's locked himself up to a house window, so he probably can't score more coke. Who's he again? No clue. How did he meet her? No idea. Why does he owe the Kannada don money? Not sure. At some point you stop asking questions altogether.

Here's the only thing that's crystal clear: The girl in the film is looking for her lost Indian father. While on that search, she's being following around as well. This mystery, for one, does get solved. Thankfully. And that's when you eventually learn how much better the movie is from its bald material. Which is unfortunate.

Kashyap, as filmmaker, has seemed in fine form lately. His films as producer include Aamir, Shaitan, Udaan. His last two movies as director read Dev.D, Gulaal. This one, in comparison, is so much lower on logistics and ambition. It is, what they call, a quickie: As true for the movie's subject, as for its unsatisfying outcome.

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