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Review: Yatra

Though Ghose is a wonderful technician, nothing is subtle or credible in Yatra, says Khalid Mohamed

movie reviews Updated: May 10, 2007 13:46 IST
Khalid Mohamed

Yatra

Cast: Nana Patekar, Rekha, Deepti Naval
Direction: Goutam Ghose
Rating: **

Willy-nilly, mujra queen Lajwanti has become Lily the cabaret floozy. Woozy boozy men chuck money at her while she swirls-`n’-twirls to a remix of 'Kabhi aar kabhi paar'. Meanwhile her old flame looks on, spectacles shattered, from a door ajar. Sad, you long to rush out to drown your own sorrows in the closest Bhandarkar bar.

Now if the intention of writer-editor-cinematographer-music composer (phew!) Goutam Ghose was to go on a Yatra to discover what happens when a woman is exploited, he obviously bought the wrong train ticket. Indeed, there’s so much travelling going on here that you wish you’d carried a bed roll to spread out in the two-tier, second-class experience.

Undoubtedly, Ghose is a wonderful technician. He also has oodles to say.. and in this case, wants to explore the relationship between a literary writer and his muse. How? By blowing his fuse. Nothing is subtle or credible here. For instance, to attack the shopping mall culture, he rigs up an elaborate scene about an 80 per cent discount sale being offered to grandmums. Granny Award anyone?

Next, writer Dashrath Joglekar (Nana Patekar) looks as much of a writer as yours sincerely looks like Brad Pitt. More often than not, he has these manic fits, giggles to himself and writes the pages of his next novel Bazaar. He drinks, thinks and blinks while talking about “leeet-e-rechar.” Could this be literature? Maybe.

Anyway, his family comprises a Tarla Dalal-like cooking expert (Deepti Naval, underutilised), a daughter who often climbs up tables and chairs, a son who plays drums as if he were on a couple of rums, not to forget a mum who reclines in a bed to recite poetry. What a bunch.

No wonder Manic Fit Lit returns to his grand amour tawaif Lajwanti-Lily (Rekha). They reminisce about the bad old days when he had given her shelter after a terrible rape scene. Now, she bedecks herself in fabulous golden weaves and jazzy jhumkas..but alas jhumka gira re.

Tsk, Writerji looks more troubled than Sachin Khedekar does usually. Hmm, reels have elapsed.. and you congratulate yourself for having lasted through the pseudo-babble about literature, marriage, media, politicians who gape at cleavages (now, who could this be?) and even a young film-maker who wishes to direct the Rekha-Nana story for a multi-perplex audience.. duh!

Most horribly, the nasty old Thakur type who makes the tawaif’s life miserable is a nightmare. How could Rekha even share the same frame as this eye-rolling, tummy-patting, lip smacker? Oh well, Ghose even gets lewd, what with a gang of inebriated madcaps staring up a dancer’s ghaghra!

Of the cast, Nana Patekar is likeable when he improvises quirky asides (note his dig at a TV reporter). As for Rekha, she demonstrates that no one can quite equal her when it comes to those mujrajhatkas.. she is excellent in several scenes.. but what was that big breakdown scene all about? It goes way over the top.

Going by Rekha’s flair for striking the right sur when it comes to the emotionally wrenching (Muqaddar ka Sikandar and Umrao Jaan, for instance), it does seem as if she needed a more compatible director.. and a better film. Alas.