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Review: Saawariya

Though Bhansali does extract high quality performances from Ranbir Kapoor and Sonam Kapoor, he fails to do justice with the content, writes Khalid Mohamed.

movie reviews Updated: Nov 10, 2007 12:23 IST
Khalid Mohamed

Saawariya
Cast: Ranbir Kapoor, Sonam Kapoor, Gondolas
Direction: Sanjay Leela Bhansali
Rating: **

Welcome to Bhansalipur. Here you can find the Arc de Triomphe of Paris, the gondolas of Venice, the haveli-like homes of Lucknow or Badlucknow, the carpet-dust alleys of Morocco, a bridge from Lucino Visconti’s Safed Raatein, a bordello from Baz Luhrman’s Moulin Rouge, and last but not the least, R K studio of Chembur.

Now being a Raj Kapoor fan No.1, yours sincerely is certain that the great showman, in annoyance, must have just switched off all the lights in the heavens. After all, Sanjay Leela Bhansali wastes so much electricity, man power and fiscal resources that even R K saab could have made at least five masterpieces with the same budget. <b1>

Saawariya, sad to say, is worthy of being sent off to the snowy scapes of Siberia where No Smoking was shot lately. Astonishingly, Saawariya is as incomprehensible and meaningless as that serious study on cigarettes, nicotine, existence, you get the drift.

Frankly, you went to this Blue-and-Lizard-tinted movie with great expectations after Black. You sat, inert, hand clasped to your heart, as Bhansali began with Rani Mukherji talking in Hinglish to the camera about boy R K (Ranbir Kapoor).

R K came to this Chaupat Studio Nagri, bringing with him fresh air, sincerity, honesty, song, dance..in sum, every value that is as nostalgia-inspiring but as out-of-date as bell-botts, Hazeline snow, Polson butter, tramcars and Bharat Bhooshan. The lord bless ‘em.

Oh well, you watch impressed for three to 13 minutes. The sets are wondrous (sooo painting-types if you’re fond of blushing lotuses, Mona Lisa in black-‘n’-white, and of course Ajanta-Ellora frescoes). Mr Bhansali has taste. If a studio train chugged away in Pakeeza, some Greydhani Express is glimpsed here. Maai baaps cinematographer Ravi Chandran and set designer Omung Kumar, have truly toiled on the visuals.<b2>

Snafu: if you want beauty, you can get it for free watching a sunset, visiting an art gallery or seeing an old Madhubala poster. In cinema, like it or not, style (form!) has to be allied with content. Here, it’s conspicuous by its absence.

Dada Dostoevsky’s work is reduced to this: nice boy (Ranbir Kapoor) flips for mysterious girl (Sonam Kapoor). She’s waiting for her love (Salman Khan with sleepy, kaajal sleepy) to return from some work assigned for his ‘desh’. What? Who? Where? When? Why?

So the boy’s sad, upset and troubled. Ditto his adorable landlady (Zohra Segal, superb). This is narrated from the point of view of the lady of the night, Rani Mukherji doing too many Laaga Daaga-sort of roles nowadays. Nothing happens, you feel as if you’re been waiting for Godot yourself. And please, what was the idea of those Muslims breaking into a disco dhamaka after sighting the Id ka chand? Funny?

Truly, it’s impossible to get into the heart and mind of Bhansali. He does extract high quality performances though, going pretty much gaga over his cast. Indeed, the only positive result of Saawariya is an outstanding debut by Ranbir Kapoor. Vulnerable and yet possessed of an inner strength, a superstar is born. That would have been the case even if he had debuted in a documentary on agronomics.

Sonam Kapoor is marvellous too – gamine and self-possessed. The kids are top class but their first premiere out isn’t. Considering the fact that you dozed off a few times, Saawariya should have been titled Jagte Raho!

Astonishingly,

Saawariya

is as incomprehensible and meaningless as that serious study on cigarettes, nicotine, existence, you get the drift.