Boy, this party just lasts FOREVER, doesn’t it? Oh well, it is a Punjabi wedding party, I guess that is realistic. At least the scene right after is kind of interesting. Maybe the reason I have been putting off getting back to DDLJ is because this is kind of a dull section. Likes get to Karwa Chauth when things get interesting again! (full index of DDLJ posts here)
Boy, I am getting SICK of this party! Is this what it is like at the big family gathering before a wedding? You start out all excited to meet the bride and see all the family drama, and then after a couple of hours you are bored out of your mind and just want to go home?
Oh well, let’s get through this so we can get back to the good bits! First, quick exchange, Amrish’s mother calls him over. Notice that Amrish, who never listens to his wife or daughter even about the most important issues of their life, will immediately come running when his mother calls.
What is happening with that guy’s hat in the background?
Remember like 10 sections back, Amrish’s mother noticed that Kajol was sad and Amrish denied it? But it was a sign that even his mother, who had never met Kajol until just now, was more tuned into her emotions than her own father. And this is still true. She notices that Kajol is happy before Amrish does.
Oo oo! FRAMING!!!! See how Kajol and Pooja Ruperal are kind of trapped in a frame here? But, at the same time, more in tune with nature and all that, surrounded by plants and so on. And outside in the moonlight, see how the lighting chances slightly as we get closer to them?
The colors are perfect here, the moonlight bringing out the green and velvet and all that.
Finally, as come closer, with the camera centered on Shahrukh’s toy bell, the frame begins to disappear.
Until they are surrounded by greenery and moonlight, no frame keeping them in at all.
Or, as Amrish summarizes the whole thing, she looks very cheerful.
Another little interaction between Shahrukh and Mandira Bedi. Poor Mandira!!! I am so glad I gave her a happy ending here. This is such a cute moment, he remembers that they had a hard time figuring out who was stepping aside the last time they ran into each other, so he makes a big deal of stopping.
And then of stepping aside for her. So, it’s like they have a little in joke, and he is giving her extra respect. The perfect guy! Or just a guy who treats her like a normal human person who he can joke with. In a strange way, his ease with Mandira reflects back on his early interactions with Kajol. Those same little jokey moves, not even flirting just being charming, didn’t work with her. Because he was thrown off, he tried to joke and he tore her dress, made her cry, generally was just either too much or not enough.
Final moment! This party is almost over! Although it was a very useful scene. Did you notice what the main point was? Not the engagement or anything like that, it was the way Shahrukh came into the room and set off ripples all through it. And now it is coming full circle, the first person he met and affected (who was also the first person he met connecting him to Kajol) is now the last person he is speaking with. Amrish Puri.
I am sure we all remember this interaction, he offers Amrish Lassi, but miss-speaks and says “beer” instead, then corrects himself, then corrects himself again, while Amrish just stares at him, puzzled.
What makes the moment land is how out of synch they are. Shahrukh is desperate to impress this guy, and terrified he will get angry, and all of that. And Amrish just doesn’t care, he has no idea who this guy is and is only mildly curious.
The moment I forgot was what happens right after. Shahrukh has a moment of almost giving up, suggesting maybe he should just pack his bags and leave. Kind of surprising! This whole second half is about Shahrukh’s blind faith in himself to win over Kajol’s family. But where is that faith now?
It’s part of a slow build that Adi is giving us. We start with Shahrukh the cheeky charmer type. But a cheeky charmer who isn’t taking all of this that seriously. He is enjoying his easy victories and little tricks. But when the going gets hard, when he runs into serious Amrish Puri, he has a moment of thinking of leaving. Or joking about thinking about leaving. We need this light opening so the later heavier moments will land, the times when we see all that charm and lightness was hiding a total determination.
At this point, in theory, the audience couldn’t be sure. Is he really going to just give up? Or elope? And we go straight from that moment, him thinking about giving up, to the wide open fields with no Shahrukh in sight. Is he gone?
Check out Amrish! In a rhyming image with Kajol running to Shahrukh. Kajol was in white running through a shadowed lane of trees into a wide open field. Amrish is also in white, but walking down a an open path between two fields. Kajol was looking for an opening, an escape, a wide open future and promise. Amrish, he has all that, and he knows where he is going.
But, surprise! Just like for Kajol, Shahrukh is waiting for him at the other end! And also, SURPRISE. For the audience. Shahrukh didn’t leave, he is still trying.
Shahrukh turns to reveal a new persona, the good boy with the Namaskar and the “Sir” in the formal outfit. Which, I have been told many times, is when all the aunties in India fell in love with him. Such a nice boy!
But, see, this isn’t just the actor’s persona, this is the character’s. Shahrukh last night was trying on slightly different persona’s with each person, most noticeably his heavy accent when talking with Himani Shivpuri. We didn’t really see most of them, because we knew they were all variations on his real self. His charm with Mandira Bedi, his sincerity with Pooja Ruperal, his respect with Farida Jalal, all familiar to us from what we had seen before in the film.
This is something totally different, and feels “fake” to us, the traditional clothes and the obsequiousness. And yet it just makes us love him more, because we know he is doing all this fakeness for real feelings, we had that second when he considered giving up the night before, now he is trying even harder. Even if he has to change himself, to try something totally unnatural to his personality, he will do it.
And he will just keep going, even when it doesn’t work right away. See the little cute frowny face he makes when Amrish doesn’t react? It’s a perfect “darn it!” frustrated face, this isn’t just fun for him. But it’s also not “I am miserable and angry!”, it’s just a “well, that didn’t work, but I’m going to keep going” level of frustration. And, as aforesaid, it’s also cute!
And here’s the little exchange we all remember and love! Shahrukh is saying “Phurr” to the birds. Amrish comes over, calmly says “Aao Aao”.
Take a second to look at their posture here, and how it matches their attitudes. Amrish is stiff and straight and facing forward. Shahrukh is all bendy and looking towards him. He is trying to be ingratiating, to mold himself to something Amrish will like, while Amrish doesn’t care, he is himself and has no interest in becoming someone else.
Even when Amrish finally notices Shahrukh, see how only his head turns? Not his body? He will look at him, but not change his behavior in anyway in response.
Okay, this is why I love Shahrukh! He started out saying “Phurr”, then switched to “Aao” in an effort to please Amrish, Amrish didn’t even seem to notice. In fact, he has now turned slightly the other way. And Shahrukh keeps obediently saying “Aao Aao”. But, first, he has a slightly different/wrong emphasis from how Amrish is saying it. He may be doing the same thing Amrish is, but he is always going to do it in his slightly Shahrukh style, not just like him. He doesn’t have an “Amrish” inside of him, this isn’t a story of Shahrukh turning into Amrish, this is a story of him showing that he can do the Amrish “thing”, but it’s always going to be a little different.
But the best part is his expression! He is all serious and humble while Amrish is turned towards him, but as soon as Amrish turns fully away, he goes a bit too large, like “can you believe I am doing this ridiculous thing just because this silly old man wants me to?” He doesn’t ACTUALLY believe in it, in any of it, the whole patriarchy-feeding birds-up early concept. He is just going along with it because he wants this particular person to like him, but once that person is turned away, he is back to making fun of the whole bird-man-woman-elder-youth power/social structure thing which is ultimately just funny to him.
Oh, and then he finally gets Amrish’s attention when after the “Aao Aao” doesn’t get him to turn, he throws in a “Phurr?”, as in, “will you be happy if I go back to doing the other thing I was doing?” It’s hilarious for us in the audience, watching Shahrukh tap dance around trying to win Amrish over, but even more so watching Amrish being vaguely confused and disturbed by way this young man is trying so hard to please him. Also, the way Shahrukh says “Phurr?” is just funny on it’s own.
Speaking of Shahrukh’s perfection, petty moment here, but can we talk about how GOSH DARN GOOD Shahrukh looks in this outfit? The white really brings out his clear young skin, the hair is just right brushed over his brow, and the outfit is excellent for making him look young and athletic, but not too young or too thin or too chubby or too anything. Just Shahrukh-y in a way that makes you wish you had a little Shahrukh doll dressed like this that you could hug every night.
This was mostly a silly post, because this was mostly a silly scene, but I want to jump ahead a bit to explain why it had to be silly like that. We need to start with Amrish seemingly unbendable, and Shahrukh seemingly unserious. Because we have to get to the later moment, much much later, when Shahrukh takes care of the fallen bird. See, he may think the whole getting up early and feeding the birds thing is ridiculous, especially with actually caring about the intonation of “Aao”, like that makes a difference. But that’s just because Amrish is ridiculous, that is, Amrish is looking at this surface things and Shahrukh is trying to follow along in order to get noticed but finds that surface silly.
But ultimately, the feeding the birds sequence is just to show that Shahrukh cares enough to try, he sincerely wants Amrish to like him, even if he doesn’t like doing the things Amrish likes. And, of course, in the end there will be the twist that if Amrish looks past the surface, he will see that at his heart Shahrukh is serious and cares about the same things he does. He just has to be willing to see it.
Oh, and then we get a shot that is so hilariously bad/good in contrast to what we just watched, I can’t resist it! Shahrukh, dhoti and all in the field with birds being childish and funny, followed by Kuljit with a MASSIVE PHALLIC GUN striding around inside his house. I mean really, this can’t even be safe, right? Who carries a gun with their hand on the trigger while walking through a hallway?
(also, all that “Phurr” means I can’t resist throwing in this)