Part 4! I am just zipping along! Sort of! Not really! But to be fair, I am also doing really short posts. I could probably have knocked this whole thing out in 4, if I did longer lengths. But then I would get all tired and resentful and wouldn’t have the energy to post about anything else. So, part 4, still not up to Interval! (part 1 here, part 2 here, part 3 here)
Part 3 left off with Ranbir sobbing on the sidewalk, after he and Anushka had opened the door on Lisa (Ranbir’s girlfriend) and Imran (Anushka’s boyfriend) making out in a bathroom. Anushka just found the whole thing amusing.
Anushka at first is tempted to leave Ranbir alone to sob to himself, but eventually gives in and agrees to take him home with her, since he claims he can’t be alone. She loads him into a cab, let’s him sob on her shoulder, drags him into her apartment (very cozy, piles of things everywhere, filled with personality, not the white counters and glass and minimal furniture look of Ranbir’s place at all). But when Ranbir gives a big speech about how his heart has now burst into pieces, and they are flying around the room like flies, waiting to be smashed, Anushka has had enough of his self-pity!
She orders him to lie down on the floor. Ranbir clumsily crawls down. Anushka grabs a spice grinding bowl off the counter, one of those heavy stone things with a little stone pummel in it, and sets it on his chest. Ranbir gasps in pain, and Anushka says “That’s heartbreak! That’s real heartbreak!” Then she removes the bowl and says “That’s Lisa!” She puts it back “Heartbreak!” Removes it, “Lisa!” She does it a few times until finally Ranbir announces “I get it! I get it!”
And then there is a bit of an awkward cut. This might be the first time we cut back to Ranbir in the present day at the interview. Just his face, looking, and kind of smiling at the memory. But then when we come back to the past, Anushka has changed into sleep clothes, a t-shirt and shorts, and is going down stairs? It’s just confusing in terms of the lay out of the apartment. They were in the kitchen downstairs, now Anushka is going back downstairs, but it looks like a slightly different room? And we cut to Ranbir waking up next to Anushka? So I guess she went upstairs to change, and came back down to find him already in her bed, in a bedroom that I guess was on the same floor as the kitchen? I’m just so confused by space and time!
(Also confusing in time and space! Maybe it is just something about homes in London? Maybe I’m not European enough to understand them?)
I’m also confused by this sleep posture. I’ve seen it in a few movies, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen it in life. Knees curled up, hands together and slid between the legs. Is this a common thing? In India/the world? I always thought the standard sleep posture was hands under cheek?
Anyway, Ranbir wakes up, sees her next to him, and rolls over and gives her a big sweet hug, the same kind he gave her in their initial make-out session which made her laugh at him. Not sexy, but more like the hug you would give your sister or your mother or your daughter. But also more than what you would give just a friend, much more loving and intense then just a casual “hey dude!” kind of hug. And Anushka responds by laughing and smiling a little. She’s kind of confused, but accepting.
Maybe this is where we have the Ranbir present-day interview insert? Anyway, another strange cut, straight to Anushka and Ranbir sitting in his apartment now, at his fancy kitchen counter, Anushka wearing a super bright yellow top that I covet. And behind them, awesome Lisa Haydon gifting us with one more scene! Of course, she is impeccably dressed in black, mourning the end of her relationship. Including a huge black hat. She gives it one more try, giving Ranbir sappy eyes and asking for his forgiveness, but Anushka responds by going into huge dramatic formal filmi language, calling her a witch and a shrew and telling her to begone!!! Lisa has been established as having conversational Hindi, but nothing more, so she keeps asking Ranbir to translate, and then gasping when he tells her what Anushka said. Oh, and it all starts when Anushka does a great 3 repeat head spin before her speech, just like in a film when they show us significant moments multiple times over! Only it’s not the film being rerun, it’s Anushka actually spinning her head back and forth 3 times.
Lisa finally leaves, after a last super dramatic “Bless You!” with a perfectly lazy gesture towards making the sign of the cross. And then Anushka and Ranbir laugh and jump around, and she declares that she has always wanted to play a scene like that! And then moves on to declare that it is time for a break-up vacation! She already cried to her Dad about it, and he agreed for her to go to Paris for a week. Ranbir starts to pretend he is very busy “appointments, classes, etc. etc.” And Anushka says, again, “Shut up! You’re free!” And then she sits down and pulls out her phone to start organizing the hotel, and he sits next to her and gives her another big hug, which she puts up with, before pulling out his own phone to start organizing the private jet.
And yet again, Anushka is the one who makes the move to keep them connected! She came over that morning to make sure Lisa got out of his life, and then she suggests they go off together for a week. Anushka wants him and needs him more than he needs her, even though his behavior in the moment may trick you into thinking he is the needy one. Yes, he is “clingy” (as she calls him out on in this scene), but she just met this guy a couple of days ago and wants him to go to Paris with her!
But let’s also look at how she described the Paris trip. She said that it is a broken heart getaway, because her father feels bad. Going back to realism about money, which I mentioned already as one of my favorite parts of this movie, this is another part of that explanation most films don’t give us. Anushka says at the beginning that her father is rich, she is wealthy. We’ve seen her large but shabby apartment (not sparkling new furniture or expensive antiques, no cleaning woman picking up after her, etc.). We know she spends her days taking classes, but continuing education classes, not college or grad school. And now she is only getting the trip to Paris because her father feels bad. We are getting a picture of someone with enough money to live comfortably without working (whether it is through an inheritance or a trust fund). But she doesn’t want to ask her family for anything extra. She draws a line, her father is rich, she is wealthy. Which means she doesn’t see her father’s money as hers. Only when he offers, only in this special situation, does she get a “treat”.
I mean, sure, she could always get a job and buy her own treats. But again, from the little bit we learn as the film goes on, I am getting a picture of a woman who truly isn’t able to work. If she fell in love with Fawad as a teenager, before leaving school, and built her whole life around him, she would have no skills to fall back on. No sense of identity or community to support her. Sure, plenty of women are in that situation after a relationship ends, and they still have to work to support themselves. But it would probably be healthier if they were able to focus on healing first. So I can’t really fault Anushka for the path she is on at this moment when we first meet her. She went through a devastating break-up where she lost everything in her life (friends, purpose, home). She moved to a new city to try to recover, built up a home, started taking self-improvement classes instead of just sitting around the house, built tentative bridges back to her family (agreeing to date the boy they picked out) while still keeping a healthy distance (not fully committing to that boy), and now she has her first real friend and support in this new life. Give her a few more weeks to find her footing, and I could easily see her deciding to go back to school for real, or getting a job she loves, and 5 years down the line being fully self-supporting and productive and happy. But not yet. Right now, her fragile sense of independence is reliant on the money that is in her own name and occasional “treats” from her father.
(Really, I’m picturing something similar to Kareena’s arch in Jab We Met)
And, of course, all of this is also built in with the reason she keeps coming back around to Ranbir. I don’t think she wants to spend so much time with him and is acting so close already because she is desperate for a human connection. But I do think that it is remarkable she was able to allow him in, that he was the first person she could allow in, and it says something about their instant bond. And that she is being a little more aggressive and unembarrassed that she might be otherwise, just because she needs that friendship connection so much. Ranbir needs it too, but in a different way we will find out later. He has his MBA classes that he is sort of drifting through, he has Lisa Haydon, he already has stuff in his life. He needs Anushka in particular, because he was missing the particular magic she brings to him.
Oh, and he also already has a private jet! He and Anushka swing up on the tarmac and elegantly step out of their car, clearly play acting wealth and sophistication, and then delightedly hand out together on the fancy jet. Clearly Ranbir has been on it before, and Anushka has probably experienced something similar (if her family is as rich as it seems), but they are both enjoying it through new eyes because they are together.
The same is true when they arrive at their hotel. By the way, I was really irritated with a couple of reviewers who called it out as “unrealistic” that a couple who just flew in on a private jet would be worried about hotel rooms. But they SO MISSED THE POINT!!!
First, the point that Anushka and Ranbir are enjoying play-acting at being poor, just as much as they enjoyed playacting at being rich. It’s almost a meta-statement, about how these two Hindi film obsessed young people are filtering their vision of the perfect vacation through the illogical films, they want the glamorous wealthy experience, but also the poor-but-happy experience.
But second, the money thing! So important as a way of tracking their relationship! That first night, Karan made sure we saw a glimpse of Ranbir trying to pay for their drinks and Anushka taking charge. Now, Anushka is happily riding his private jet on the vacation she suggested. But she is taking charge of choosing and paying for the hotel (which is why they can only afford a funky hotel and one room). In a little bit, we are going to see them back at a club, and this time Anushka places the order and then casually walks away, gesturing for him to pay.
This isn’t random, Karan sat down and figured out as part of their character dynamic, how they would slowly get past money as an issue. Just like friends in real life! Going from “I have to stay in charge and pay for us both” to “okay, we can split it” to “whatever, you have more money right now, you are paying.” Really, this is exactly what happened last night when my closest friend bought pizza. I didn’t even pretend I was going to pay her, because we have so many favors going back and forth that in the grand scheme of things pizza is meaningless. And her other friend insisted on handing over money right away, because they are still getting to know each other and it’s important to keep the scales balanced. I just can’t believe reviewers missed that. Have they never had a friendship progress beyond “whoever invites pays for everything” to a higher level of “money isn’t even a thing between us any more” and all the steps in between?
Oh, and on the way to the hotel room, which they have to share because Anushka couldn’t afford two (and also probably because it is more fun to share), Ranbir sings a bit of “Hum-Tum” and jokes about her taking advantage of him. Isn’t it nice how far we have come? From a romance in 1974 in which two young people could not be alone together for a few hours without sexual tension, to a movie in 2016 where they can share the same bed every night for a week and just laugh about it.
In the hotel room, they both run around excitedly pointing out the free shampoo! The minibar! ROOM SERVICE!!! Again, stupid people could see this as inconsistent characterization. But they are putting on an act/taking off an act. However you want to say it, their childish delight here is either because they are enjoying pretending to be poor and innocent, or because at heart they really are two lonely little kids who can be happy about something as small as room service and for once they don’t feel like they have to act like they aren’t.
Ranbir finally sits down on the bed and announces that he feels like right after you eat [something in Hindi I didn’t catch], all warm and happy inside, and he never wants it to end. Like he is the hero of his own movie. Like he is running down the street of a foreign city singing a song. Which leads to the missing song!
We get the intro, at least. They walk into a cool looking Parisian club/bar. Ranbir is wearing a cool jacket and he gets on stage with the band, and starts singing I think part of the intro for “Ruk Ja”. And then transitions to “An Evening in Paris”. Anushka jumps up to sing with him, it is a kind of new remixed version I think. And in the movie we go right from this short bar performance to them dancing back into their hotel room and collapsing onto the bed laughing.
But in the original cut, this is clearly where we were supposed to get the version of them running through the streets together, just as they said they would in their conversation just now. Also, what an interesting song to choose for their anthem! It’s super light and fun and happy and the kind of thing that makes sad lonely people love watching Hindi films.
But it’s also a song that, in it’s original version, is all about the hero seeing women as objects that he wanders through alone . And here it is being re-purposed as a friendship anthem.
Not to mention “Ruk Ja” (if I did recognize it correctly) being changed from a battle of the sexes number to a joyful sharing of the sexes number. Look how far we have come! Really, all of the old songs they are referencing are going back to an outdated view of men and women as enemies, or as romantic possibilities and nothing more. But now the men and women are sharing as equals in these songs, both of them running through the streets and feeling heroic.
Do you read Pankaj Sachdeva’s blog, Dichotomy of Irony, because if you don’t you should definitely check it out. His posts are super detailed and interesting to read. I think you might like his post about Ae Dil Hai Mushkil (http://dichotomy-of-irony.blogspot.com/2016/11/ae-dil-hai-mushkilof-unrequited-love.html).
That was a really interesting analysis! Thank goodness, he caught a lot of the lines of dialogue that I missed. And identifying “Lag Ja Gale” for me! That has been driving me crazy, I love that song, and it felt so familiar, but I could not figure out how I know it. I think it’s from Bombay Talkies, where there is just a lovely version of it.
He’s very good at observing details! I really liked his post on Humpty Sharma and his posts on KANK too 🙂
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I had no idea about the missing song. Maybe they should have kept it in to make the Mohammad Rafi fans happy. This very peppy song definitely makes up for the “insult” of Anushka’s character saying that he always sounds like he is crying.
I can see why they cut it, it’s a very fun sequence but it’s not really necessary to the plot, we get the idea of “friends forever doing silly things together” from the rest of the Paris sequence.
On Tue, Dec 4, 2018 at 3:52 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote: