What a sweet sweet movie! That’s the “twist” they don’t show you in the trailer, it is much sweeter than it sounds. Very barfi like (the sweet, not the other movie of the same name).
I still haven’t seen Nil Battay Sannata. I know, it was touching and sweet and small and struck a cord in the audience. But I know that it exists, and it was a story about a mother and a daughter and nothing else fancy around it. No romance, no big songs, no stars.
This movie is just a step up from that. A romance that is more about characters than fantasy, some fun songs that are cut a little short, and for stars, well, Ayushmann and Rajkummar Rao and Kriti aren’t really the biggest things going. But at least I know how to spell their names (I think, Rajkummar and his ms perplex me). But it keeps a sort of different feel to it, grounded and centered on the characters and the setting instead of commercial value, which I suspect lingers from Tiwari’s last film.
What’s really interesting is that this film had a sold out theater. On the one side, it benefited from the sort of odd tone of a director coming from a combination of advertising and art films. And on the other side, it benefited from the failure of the major releases coming out around it. I mean, Toilet is still doing okay, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it dropped off this weekend. And of course Jab Harry Met Sejal (despite my massively popular posts on it) is terrible. There’s space for a small sweet film like this to flourish, to find an audience who might enjoy it and give it a chance.
And thank goodness! Because we need more films like this. With interesting strong heroines, and complicated love triangles, and great character parts. The real outstanding entertaining part of this film is Rajkummar Rao. Who isn’t the hero and doesn’t even show up until well into the movie. But like Dharmendra in Guddi or Amitabh in Chupke Chupke or Pran in anything, he ends up being the most entertaining part. The thing that makes this film stand out, be a little different and a little better than it could be.
Rajkummar is the sprinkle on top, but Ayushmann and Kriti are the strong backbone of it. We have to care about their characters before we care about anything else in the film. And we do, they are real earnest people who just want to do the best they can and not hurt anyone. That’s what keeps us watching, and that’s what makes the ending touching. It’s a small low stakes story, and yet there were people tearing up all over the theater, because we cared about this characters so much, so much more than those smoothed out perfect type characters in other bigger budget films.
I don’t think this film is something everyone will like. It’s definitely a romance, if you aren’t interested in that, you won’t like it. And it is very grounded in its particular setting, I don’t know if it will travel well outside of north India. The songs are fun, but short and not quite as good as they could be. The actors are good, but not huge stars and so on. The script is good, but there were a few minutes that fell a little flat.
But for those who like it, it is exactly the sort of movie you have been waiting for.