This is really just for Namaste England, the trailer is such a big deal I HAVE to talk about it. But so long as I am doing trailers, I thought I might as well throw in AndhaDhun and the new Pataakha song as well.
What an interesting flip on Namaste London! Do you remember Namaste London? SPOILERS FOLLOW Katrina is London born and raised, her parents take her back to the Punjab for a trip where Akshay falls in love with her and her parents arrange their marriage. Katrina goes along with it but asks for Akshay to return to London with her for a visit. And in London, she calmly explains that their marriage has no legal basis and she is ignoring it and continuing her London life. Akshay stays and woos her, eventually winning her over to the marriage and they return together to the Punjab. SPOILERS OVER
Namaste London wasn’t un-progressive. It argued that a woman should not be forced into a marriage, but should come to it when she is willing and happy. But the reasons Katrina was against the marriage were not really clear or logical, fell more into the “spoiled westernized woman” template established by Purab Aur Paschim. She isn’t bad or evil, she just needs to learn more about the value of Indian culture and will eventually realize that it is superior to all over cultures.
(The film also does a very good job of establishing Akshay as a good husband, because he does things like carry her sneakers for when she is tired of wearing heels. Not the usual macho “husband hero” kind of things)
Now this movie, by the same director, it BLOWS. IT. UP. The whole group of ideas. First that marriage magically cures a woman of wanting anything besides her husband. Second that any desire for the west is inherently shallow and superficial. No, let me correct that, any desire for the west IN WOMEN is inherently shallow and superficial. That’s the big thing here, it’s not just about England versus India, it’s about the desires of a wife, what she wants for her life, being worthy of respect.
Based on the trailer, it looks like Arjun and Parineeti meet and fall in love and get married and are happy together. There is nothing unfulfilled in the marriage relationship by itself. But Parineeti is not defined just by her marriage, she wants more for herself and Arjun won’t let her/won’t help her/won’t accept it. So she has to leave him and go to London. If the genders were reversed, this would be a story we have seen many times. The cop whose wife doesn’t understand why he has to keep working, the ambitious hero who drags his traditional wife off to England (or America or where ever) with him, the noble industrialist whose wife stands by and feeds him dinner every night. In that version, the marriage is a subplot. We know the wife will come around eventually because wives always do, so there is no tension there. The rest of the plot is the important part.
This movie says that Parineeti’s desires are as strong as any man’s and cannot be contained just by marriage vows. But it also acknowledges that this is not an accepted thing and makes that conflict the center of the film (unlike all those movies where it is the husband’s desires that cannot be contained and the conflict is off to the side).
Here’s my concern. Will this be too dark? I don’t want another dark romance, and I don’t think the audience in general does either. I am fine with some wacky back and forth in London as Arjun tries to win her over, but I don’t want DRAMA and MISERY to be the underlying message of everything. Especially since the Punjabi section seems so light and happy, a tone shift in the London half would be very odd.
Moving on, just in time for my “item number” post, here is a new song from Pataakha featuring Malaika Arora. It feels very much like “Munni Badnaam Hua”, but slightly less clever. There isn’t an actor making goofy faces while he dances with her, the lyrics aren’t quite as clever, the choreography isn’t quite as good. But it still gives the vibe of a village dancer who is treating this as a job, not as something she really enjoys. And is surrounded by a group of men who are a little bit threatening.
I mostly find it interesting for the kind of film this is. A movie with two female leads who are not sexy or compliant or anything, they are aggressive and complicated and more likely to shout abuses than do a sexy dance. It makes Malaika’s number a complicated contrast, here is the male fantasy of a woman, and there is the reality.
Also, of course, this is a movie with no big name stars and an item number is a cheap easy way to sell the film.
Now, another trailer! AndhaDhun which stars Tabu, Ayushmann Khurrana, and Radhika Apte. I would be excited just based on that cast, but the trailer looks even more interesting.
It’s a simple plot, “what if a man was made an accomplice in a murder and didn’t realize it?” Ayushmann is perfect as the lead, believable as the nice Hitchcockian every man, but also with that hint of intelligence and naughtiness that makes you wonder if you have underestimated him. Tabu, as the older woman who is controlling them all, just right. And Radhike in something a little different, playing a bit niave and sweet instead of the kind of tough wise complicated woman she’s been playing lately.
I like these kinds of movies, the stripped down witty character films. I wouldn’t want a steady diet of them, but they are a nice refreshing break every once in a while. And hopefully it will refresh Ayushmann’s career a little. Not that his career is bad, but there is a definite “Ayushmann Khurrana” type of film, and this is a bit outside of that. It’s smack inside the “Radhike Apte” type of film (although her character feels new to me). And Tabu, of course, encompasses all films always. There is no “type” she can be limited to.