I put up my Spoilers review first, for once, because I wanted a place for people who had already seen the movie to discuss it. But now it’s time for a review for people who haven’t seen the movie yet, and are curious what other people think about it. But NO SPOILERS. Because the plot is very carefully constructed to build point to point, and if you do decide to see the movie, you should try to go in fresh.
Without spoiling anything, I can tell you that this is a very very good movie. And a very fresh movie. In every way, from the performances to the dialogue to the filming style. Although the dialogue and film style is what really makes it soar, for me.
The dialogue is really fantastic. There are a ton of film references, for one thing, which I always like, but they don’t feel forced or “cute”. They feel natural, the way people really talk, throwing in quotes and allusions in the midst of a regular sentence. But it’s also clever and detailed and written differently for each character. Ranbir and Anushka have a certain rhythm when they speak, natural and comfortable right off the bat, finishing each other’s sentences. Ranbir and Aish never quite connect like that. She takes the lead in all their conversations, directing what he is allowed to say and do. And while she is all cool and poetic in how she talks, it kind of forces him onto his back foot, makes him hesitate to talk, and start and stop sentences, and more often just react to what she said rather than adding anything new. And Fawad is intense, speaks only a few words, but makes them count. And then there’s Lisa Haydon’s hilarious character, who has her own very specific dialogue, a mixture of English and weak Hindi, and a babble with no real content to it. I haven’t heard this kind of confident dialogue since, I don’t know, maybe even Dil Chahta Hai? Yeah, it’s that good.
The performances are amazing too. Ranbir, sure, he’s the centerpiece. But he isn’t actually the strongest performance, or the hardest role to play. I am very impressed with him, don’t get me wrong, especially the way he transitions through the years. And his willingness to appear young and foolish in the beginning. But Anushka has a much harder part. She doesn’t get many big speeches or revealing moments. She has to tell us what is going on in the character’s head through little expressions, tiny moments. And she has to make her character complicated and flawed, but still someone we can love just as much as Ranbir does. Fawad does a good job as well, but he just has to be shockingly attractive and bearded, which is well within his abilities.
Aish…..is okay. It’s a perfect role for her. Way way back when this film was first announced and it was rumored to be a remake of Doosra Aadmi, I said that if it is like the original, and Aish’s character is a seemingly sophisticated woman who is above petty emotions, but is actually hiding some deep emotions, it could be great casting. And that’s more or less what she is. A character who uses her surface relationships and clever dialogue to protect herself, to hide her feelings. And all of Aish’s cosmopolitan manner and practiced performance techniques, all of that, ends up just supporting her character as someone who doesn’t like to let people all the way in.
And then there’s the filming. I’m guessing Karan changed cameras, like the actual physical object he was using, for this film versus his others. There is so much more motion and quickness to it. Little glimpses of life and moments that flash by before you can grab them. And then other moments that just last and last. There’s one close-up of Ranbir I remember that felt like it went on forever, I kept waiting for the cut that never came, because I didn’t want to be pulled that much into his pain. It also probably has to do with this cast, especially Ranbir. Ranbir is such an intense actor, so in the moment, so fresh. He shines with these close-ups, and with all the almost improvised character moments that happen earlier.
And yet that fresh camera style is combined with the classic Karan mastery of mise-en-scene. I’ve mentioned before that I think he in inherited more of his uncle Yash’s technique with that, than Yash’s own son did. The costumes, the set design, the color palette, they are all on point! For instance, notice how Ranbir’s look changes from beginning to end of the film, while Anushka’s stays more or less the same. Even to the point of wearing a similar outfit at one point towards the end to exactly what she was wearing in her first scene. Anushka’s character knows herself and who she is all along, Ranbir’s doesn’t. The film is filled with little things like that, stuff you don’t consciously notice as an audience member, but which registers on some level and tells you something you wouldn’t really know otherwise.
So, yeah, see this movie! Really really well-made film. And with a fresh take on an old story.