Sunday ReRun: Befikre, A Light Happy French Romance With an Indian Accent

No big massive full summary coming for Befikre!  Partly because Dear Zindagi exhausted me, partly because my sense is that my commentators aren’t as interested in a massive discussion of this movie, as they are of other movies.  But mostly because I don’t think it is analyzable, to take it apart would be to destroy it.

When I was watching it with my friend last night (alone in the theater, which is the dream!  So we got to see it on the big screen and comment to each other the whole time), she described it as “A traditional story in alarming wrapping.”  Which is true!  The actual story, when written out, is exactly the same story you would have found in any Indian film ever.  Straight up love triangle, with some modern gloss.  So, you ready for the whole light plot in a few sentences?

We start with a break-up.  Ranveer and Vaani are living together, big fight over him coming home late and her waking him up early and so on, until finally he says the unforgivable and throws in her face that before they got together she was a slut sleeping with every man in Paris. And she walks out.  We flash back and forth between their present day and when they fell in love, for the rest of the first half of the film.  The day he arrived in Paris, they spent a wild day together and then he tracked her down at her job and convinced her to date him, they quickly fell into lust, spending every minute together going on crazy adventures, and finally moved in together because they wanted more time together.  6 months after the break-up, they bump into each other at the grocery store and are minimally decent to each other.  A few months later, she sees him on a date and tells him they can at least be civil. Some time after that, he calls her for help because he needs bail and she is the only person he can call on in Paris.  And finally, he calls her on the one year anniversary of their break up and they swear never to fall in love again but to be friends.  After a year of friendship, he helps her decide to marry the perfect and perfectly nice guy she started dating, and he impulsively proposes to his own sexy blonde girlfriend.  And her nice guy fiance suggests a double wedding.  But the two of them have had another big fight, when she disapproves of his engagement because he isn’t ready, and he throws in her face that she isn’t over him yet.  And finally, on the day of the wedding, during the ceremony, Ranveer makes a big scene, giving a speech about how Vaani is slutty and wild and loose and she doesn’t belong with her groom, she belongs with him!  It turns into a massive hilarious fight between the two brides and their bridesmaids and the two grooms and everyone else.  Ranveer and Vaani run off in the confusion, and he proposes to her and she says yes.

You know how I know this movie is perfectly put together?  I missed the first 4 minutes and the whole thing fell apart.  See, my friend and I were trying a “new” movie theater, and we spent 20 minutes trying to figure out the parking garage (how to get in, how to park, how to get out again without being run over).  So we walked in just late enough to miss that opening fight scene.  And the whole movie doesn’t work without it.  Or at least doesn’t work as well.

(Getting out of the parking garage was like this, but with huge suburban SUVs trying to run you over)

We kept waiting for it to get melodramatic, wondering if they would really get back together, wondering if they ever felt anything real for each other, wondering if Vaani Kapoor can act.  And all of those questions are answered in the first 4 minutes!

The fight is handled so lightly, so suddenly, and after it is over, you see both of their faces immediately regretting it.  It sets a tone for the rest of the film that this is a couple that break-up in anger and is repenting in leisure.  We are just seeing the intermission in between their break-up and their getting back together.  Plus, we get to see both the actors and the characters show some real depth in the little regret moments.  Vaani in particular, her reaction after Ranveer calls her out as a slut, it tells us that this actress can really act.  And that this character has depth, we can relax about all the shallow superficial stuff she is doing in the flashbacks, because she will grow on us.

See, every moment in this movie is like that!  It all has to be there, or it doesn’t work as a whole.  There is nothing extra.  Although there are a few things missing.  For instance, we jumped awfully fast from them agreeing to share a good-bye drink on the anniversary of their break-up, to them being best friends.  We also didn’t get enough scenes with Ranveer’s one friend in Paris.  They brought him in when Ranveer needed a sounding board, but that wasn’t until the end, which means we saw him once at the beginning, and then not again until post-interval.  And we also jump awfully fast into Ranveer deciding to marry the blonde woman.  I wish she had gotten a little more of a personality (or maybe I’m just taking it personally because I am also a blonde woman).

If I had to cut anything, it would be the big sangeet dance number.  Ranveer and Vaani are on the outs, but for the sangeet they are challenged to do one more dance off.  And their dance goes through their happy athletic challenging first meeting and passionate relationship, to their friendship, to finally now, when there is a kind of wistful love.  Ending with an embrace in which their lips are trembling with the desire to meet.

I can see how this sounded good on paper, but in execution, it is TERRIBLE!  The choreography is just odd looking.  And, more than that, unbelievable!  It starts off with a kind of “okay, they have always been in synch like this, I guess they could improvise a routine together on the spot” feeling.  But then it quickly moves into “oh there is NO WAY they could do that without a ton of practice!”

The whole point was to get them to that moment at the end when they almost kiss.  But it would have been so much better to do that with a simpler dance routine, not this epic set piece.  Just have them do a modified version of their earlier dances, and then a simple waltz or something, something tender and sweet.

Maybe this is an Aditya thing?  Look back over his whole filmography, all 3 films, he does tend towards these western style athletic-y dances.  There was that little bit at the end of “Ruk Ja” in DDLJ.

And “Rhythms of Mohabbatein”

And of course all of Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi was just building up to that climax:

It worked okay in DDLJ and Mohabbatein, and it worked so well in Rab Ne that I start to cry every time I watch it, but here…I don’t know.  It feels like he is forcing it.

But that is the only scene I would change!  Everything else fits together like clockwork.  Even the songs.  Especially the songs.  They all work much better in context than they did as trailers.  All those selfish young people in love songs are a lot less disgusting when they are seen after we already know that they will break-up and grow up and become good friends.

But the song that really blew me away on all levels was the “Je T’Aime” song.  First, just technically speaking, it did something I don’t think I have seen quite like that before.  Ranveer is sad and walking through the streets.  And dancing around him are younger versions of himself and Vaani, singing about how they will never be in love.  I don’t know how they integrated the two visuals, but it is seamless!

And then there’s the integration of the French and Indian aesthetics.  In terms of the choreography, and just the style of song, dancing around a fountain, a lamp post, in a park, it is very much in the tradition of western musicals.  Like An American in Paris and the “Our Love is Here to Stay” song.

Or The Bandwagon’s “Dancing in the Dark” number.

Those are two of the most famous and there are dozens, if not hundreds, of others.  A boy, a girl, a simple dance duet in a public space at night.  Heck, I haven’t seen it yet, but based on the posters it looks like the new release La La Land will have another one of these!

Image result for la la land

It’s an image that works, because it is so, I don’t know, evocative of how love changes everything?  It’s a cheap date, two people in a park, and yet when you are with the right person, it turns into a fabulous magical dance moment.  Just the two of you, alone in a starlit world.  Adi takes that image here and slight tweaks it, giving us the two of them in love and happy, dancing around Ranveer, showing how he has lost touch with that magic, is remembering it but can no longer be part of it.

Adi is using a western tradition, but not in a “hey, look at me!  I’m WESTERN!” way.  He is using it because it is the best way to evoke this feeling in this moment.  And the reason it is the best way to evoke this feeling in this moment is because the entire film is built on Western emotions.  And also Indian emotions.

My friend who I saw it with and I were having a fight on the way home (we always fight about movies, it’s our favorite thing).  She was saying that it didn’t matter at all that they were both Indian, the movie is stating that they are French and that is it.  I was saying that it did matter, it was a part of their special connection.  And finally she suggested that what she meant was for once the “Indian” was just one of multiple identities that they could choose to take on or off.  And that’s it exactly!  Not just with the characters, but with the film as a whole.

The central love triangle plot, old friends with a special connection, new people get engaged to them, conversation right before the wedding, followed by a huge scene at the actual ceremony, and then an elopement, that was in Mujshe Dosti Karoge, Socha Na Tha, Neal n’ Nikki, and dozens and dozens of others.  Including Love Aaj Kal, which is almost the exact same movie as this, down to the poor blonde rebound woman who never gets a personality beyond “blonde and easy”.

But this is just one of multiple identities the film can choose from.  It is also a French farce, with whimsical images and slamming door moments.  And it is an American kind of rom-com too, with the misunderstandings and confusion and one-liners.  It’s everything!  All at once!

But at the heart (and this is where my friend and I differ), I still think it is more Indian than anything else.  “Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani” and all that.  Because that’s what the characters are to start with, although they may have some French gloss on the surface.  Vaani is constantly teasing Ranveer about being a “Delhiwalla”.  And he is!  He is big and loud and emotional.  And he also touches her parents’ feet whenever he meets them and makes sure there are Indian snacks hidden away for them at her wedding reception.  Things go wrong when he tries to reject that, when he acts mature and tells her she should marry the other man so she doesn’t know how he feels, when he tries to be mature and impulsively proposes to his own girlfriend.  He needs to embrace his inner Delhi boy.

Although he also fits well in France.  And we get a few quick outlines of how that works.  He mentions that his father “was” in the army, implying another Punjabi soldier martyr, and his mother is back in Delhi.  I’m getting a feeling of a guy who was always a little spoiled and allowed to run wild by his mother, and has no real roots to hold him at home.  But now he is in Paris and he can grow new roots.  Which might be why he is the one who clings to Vaani more than the other way around.  He is pursues her until she gives in, he only half-jokingly suggests that they get back together 6 months after their break-up.  And taking a date to her parents’ restaurant, is that really an accident?

And Vaani needs this because she needs to embrace her inner Desi.  There is a scene that is a bit on the nose late in the film.  Vaani is nervous the night before her wedding, and we see her struggling to make something in the outdoor kitchen.  Her Mom (her parents are both chefs, presumably that’s why they ended up in Paris) finds her and pushes her aside to cook for her, noticing that she is making a Paratha.  And Vaani explains that she stopped eating her Mom’s parathas because they smelled funny and no one would sit next to her at school.  So she switched to peanut butter sandwiches and started making friends.  But when she was sad, she would crave a paratha and sneak into the kitchen to make one for herself.

That, alone, is a lovely description of the second generation immigrant experience.  Your ethnic identity becomes something that is special, kind of a “secret”, something that evokes love and home and family.  But not something that is part of your day to day life or talked about in public, or even apparent in public.  And then the film has to kind of ruin it by having some lines directly underlining it about how she is French, but also Indian.

That’s Vaani’s struggle, she is too French at the start, to quick to reject the idea of love and romance and all that old-fashioned stuff from Hindi films.  And then by the end she has become to Indian, thinking she needs to marry the nice Indian boy and dedicate her life to him.  But, she doesn’t have to!  She can have both, the support and love she craves, in a “carefree” and frivolous and illogical way.

That’s not the biggest statement of the film on ethnic identity though.  That comes much earlier.  On Vaani’s first date with her “perfect” boyfriend, he invites Ranveer to join them and they spend the night at a Bollywood karaoke bar (there is one near me, but I have never been, because I can’t sing. And I’m white and it would be weird).  They sang all kinds of songs that I can’t remember now.  And then we see the three of them arm in arm striding down the Paris streets shout-singing out “Lekar Hum….Deewane DIL!”

See, THIS is the immigrant experience.  Trying to force a little bit of your home, of your culture, into the alien land where you are.  Singing as loud as you can so people will see you and recognize you and acknowledge you.

And that’s what the end song of the film is about.  This is one of the few films to be shot entirely overseas, by the way.  No fantasy songs that take them back to India, no opening scene of Ranveer leaving India, it’s all in Paris.  But it’s a Paris story with an Indian heart beating at the center of it.  (also, I totally called this song as being over the end credits)

(Oh, and it opens with the Labon Ke song that was the first one released, only for theatrical release they cut all the same-sex kisses.  Interesting!)

 

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21 thoughts on “Sunday ReRun: Befikre, A Light Happy French Romance With an Indian Accent

  1. Ok, I only watched this film for you Margaret, and for the discussion which I hope follows. Normally I would have turned it off the minute R hits a human being on a dare so he can have sex with V. Basically, I never understood why on earth we’re meant to care about either one of these people. Also–so many teeth between these two human beings! Their children would be terrifying teeth people!

    So, I’ll tell you about the things I did like in this movie, and what I’d love to hear from you and other commenters about.

    I loved V’s parents. I loved the interaction among R, V, and V’s parents, and with each other. I loved Mehra (Mayank!) and really would like to see him in a more fleshed out role. I have the sense he could be a really good fat guy comic actor who can bring true drama, as in John Belushi or John Candy. But it’s hard to say when he doesn’t get much to work with. More in JHMS than here though.

    I really loved the songs. Even the over the top dance number was ok because it was like a little fantasy break from the film when we could just enjoy their chemistry and partnership. They’re both really selfish people, but they do have good chemistry. Both iterations of “Never say I love you” (older R and older V) were really innovative as you say. I also liked the clothes, especially some of Vaani’s working or casual outfits. Comfortable and practical but still nice.

    And the message is ok, that even when on the surface it’s all casual fun, casual sex, no strings, ultimately–falling in love is a risk and it will happen to you. Will you meet the risk or run away?

    So, from you I’d love to hear what you felt were the Adi trademarks here. I know you can’t do a scene by scene as you’ve done with DDLJ, but were there scenes where the colors, framing, and movement really struck you as being quintessential Adi? How do you think he did with the “rich NRI” crowd type shots that I’m (as a film neophyte) more used to seeing in KJo movies? If he did all right with the club scenes, and the dancing as a metaphor of R and V’s relationship, how much of that is down to Vaibhavi Merchant, do you think?

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    • Thank you for watching!

      It’s an interesting film, because I don’t actually like the characters that much. But it is so well made that it is still worth watching. That’s what feels the most distinctly Aditya Chopra to me, the pure craftsmanship of how it all comes together. Especially with this tricky flashback structure, everything is still in exactly the right place, scene by scene flows perfectly and gives us just as much information as we need and no more.

      At some point shortly after I watched this movie, someone posted a link in a comment to a youtube video that broke down how repetitive the Indian film song sequences are getting, they are all flashing lights and quick edits and you can’t tell one from the other. Which was a reminder to me to appreciate how very different the songs in this film were, and how brave it was to take a chance on a new kind of look and sound for the songs.

      Ditto the look of the actors, Vaani’s simple clothes and simple make-up and so on was so different from the usual hyper made-up and jewelry and everything look. Adi really sat down and thought through how he wanted this film to look and feel. And, based on the ending (did you make it that far?) I am sure he also intended for the characters to be unlikable. Or at least un-aspirational. they are two selfish immature people who didn’t know how to make love work when they had it, and they grow up only to discover they were happier being immature together than they are being adult with other people.

      Adi did some interesting stuff with the NRI community in this. We have Vaani’s parents, who are nice hardworking decent people that understand their daughter is more French than Indian, but are still more Indian than French themselves. We have Ranveer who is ready to embrace this culture and sometimes surprised to discover the old-fashioned part at the core of him (he will fall into bed with Vaani, but then a year later suddenly find a regressive judgemental Indian guy rising up within him in the middle of an argument). And we have Vaani’s fiance, who is super rich and kind of the international wealth community person rather than French or Indian or any of the rest of it. It’s not the simple NRI fantasy that we are sold in other films, there are layers to this community.

      And I think Adi works closely with his choreographers. He has a vision for how he wants the song to be and then it is up to them to make that vision happen. I am sure he came up with the idea of a simple song dancing through a park and then Vaibhavi just made it play out.

      On Sun, Sep 16, 2018 at 2:07 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • This might be the video you are referring to. It’s extremely educational and eye opening. Basically, to me, it’s the MTV-ification of song and dance sequences in Indian film. The shift also corresponds to the turn of this century, when story writing and production values started rivaling song and dance as the primary attraction of Indian film.

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        • Yep! And I watched it and thought “He’s right” and then I also thought “but that means we should spend more time appreciating the imaginative interesting songs that are still being made”. You know? If we are going to pick song sequences as “bad” out of the setting of the movie they are in, we should also be able to do that with good ones. Chaiyya Chaiyyya was such a big deal (I have heard, I wasn’t paying attention back then) and the movie wasn’t popular at all. But I didn’t see nearly as much praise for “Radha” from JHMS as I would have expected. Are there less outlets that highlight songs? Fewer music video channels or something?

          On Sun, Sep 16, 2018 at 6:27 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • He made good points but comparing it to La La Land didn’t strengthen his argument because Emma Stone CANNOT dance! (Or sing either for that matter). The dance sequences were beautifully staged and the cinematography was incredible but it actually matters to have people who can move. He also left out the dance sequence in Gallan Goodiyaan which is pretty spectacular.

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          • Yep, exactly my two big problems. He’s right about everything he says about the repetativeness of Hindi songs. But he is also overly praising American films instead of acknowledging that they also have flaws, and that there is only one or two song sequences in all of American film per year versus hundreds in Hindi, so obviously they will be less repetitive. And second he is ignoring the many many songs that were enormously imaginative and come out every year in Hindi film. You can say “most songs are boring and unoriginal” without needing to throw in the “America is so much better” part of it, and without deciding that means ALL songs are boring and unoriginal.

            On Sun, Sep 16, 2018 at 10:03 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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    • Haha “terrifying teeth people” made me laugh at my phone in the middle of a crowded train platform. 🙂

      And yes! Mayank! I was happy to see him too.

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  2. I haven’t seen this film but I watched the Je T’Aime scene and it’s the best example of special effects I’ve ever seen in an Indian movie. My husband works for Technicolor and he said it was really well done. You’re right that it evokes the same mood as the two Hollywood examples. I may have to watch this tonight and catch up on the conversation.

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    • Be warned, the hero and heroine are just terribly unlikable. But the rest of the film is great, and we aren’t asked to admire them particularly or anything.

      And yes, I love the Je T’Aime song!!!!! It’s so clever and simple, it isn’t special effects for the sake of special effects.

      On Sun, Sep 16, 2018 at 4:43 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  3. One way in which this movie is actually a throwback to “retro” Indian films (roughly 1965-2000, I.e. after India’s black and white era but before DCH and modern 21st century film) is what people used to say about retro films contemporaneously during the VCR era: you should fast forward through the movie to watch all the song and dance sequences, you don’t need to actually watch the movie itself. Because the Befikre plot doesn’t have enough going on to actually care about it. And like the movie that you referenced, LaLaLand, the song and dance numbers are well choreographed, well performed, really put the dancing on display so that you can appreciate the artistry, craft, athleticism, and really a celebration of , and an evolution of, song and dance in movies.

    Unlike a Bollywood rom com, the conflict is created btwn the lovers themselves – misunderstandings & assumptions & preconditioning – rather than societal or parental or religious or political forces. OTOH most Western romcoms have more story, plot, or humor to hold your interest – they either have enough or too many twists and turns, whereas Befikre doesn’t have enough. Befikre is often compared with Neal & Nikki – Neal& Nikki feels more B-grade than Befikre, but N&N gets the need for more story and plot twists and humor in a western rom com right.

    But if you are interested in the story, it’s really the themes covered, rather than the story itself, which are of interest. Nice juxtaposition of immigrant Indian vs second-gen Indian diaspora sensibilities. Even subtle differences that might be possible because it’s set in France vs USA or a Commonwealth locale (esp re comfort around sexuality, and relationship btwn parent and adult child).

    While Vaani was a complete revelation here, I think she was also the Achilles heel, especially in the trailer. She’s about 5 years ahead of Indian sensibilities – very western looking, very western sensibilities about how she (or her character) carries herself, more sexy than beautiful or pretty. In modern Bollywood film, the heroine is either impossibly beautiful or cute as a button, and she may or may not be sexy, but if she is sexy, then it’s in a sex kitten sort of way. Vaani is extremely sexy without being vampy at all, and not conventionally beautiful or pretty, the complete opposite of a Jessica rabbit. It’s the last step to a sex positive society, is to treat sexuality like it’s so normal that you don’t have to be good looking to have it, nor do you need to employ it for any gains, you can just be it intrinsically and go about your life as normal. All the Indians I know were turned off by the trailer, and I think this is part of why, because they couldn’t relate to how western vaani looked and acted in the trailer.

    Finally this might have been the start of the general shift away from BW movies set abroad, followed by Gentleman, Simran, BBD, JHMS. I think Southern industry films still have some movies set outside of India (in part or in full) that did well. BW can only do this with its biggest stars now, and even then not always. Sanju, PK, Bang Bang, Dhoom 3, DDD, ADHM, and Salman Khans various films did well, JHMS not so much.

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    • You are right about the songs. I have started to long for movies that do actual separate song sequences. Marziyaan, which I just watched, has a wonderful soundtrack. But the songs are chopped up and mixed in with the action, you can see in the song videos released, they had to re-edit to get to a full 2-3 minutes of song, instead of the 40 seconds-dialogue-40 seconds way it is in the film. The songs were amazing in JHMS, multiple full separate cohesive sequences. And yet they were placed in the middle of this very untraditional plot. Same with this, excellent song sequences that stand out separate from the film, not all mixed in and chopped up, but very untraditional plot.

      Another thing that occurs to me with the French setting, is that it is a place with a decent sized desi population, but not over-whelming. If that makes sense? There would be less of a pull between French and Indian identities, or perhaps a different kind of pull, because the French side would have so much more gravity pull you towards it.

      On Sun, Sep 16, 2018 at 6:18 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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    • We have had very fashionably dresses heroines earlier too(YRF, Dharma heroines are in urban settings look as if they are straight from the ramp) in Hindi films & just from the trailer we can’t make enough about Vani’s character’s liberal sensibilities or how her character is even going to be for people to take an instant dislike to her. I can’t talk for all Indians,but from the discussions that happened back then, the chief complaint about Vani in the trailers was her very noticeably altered face from her more natural Shudh Desi Romance face.In comparison with her earlier face, her face looked visibly more manly & very out of sorts that may have put off people of instead of seeing her in a new light.

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  4. I liked Vani in Shudh Desi Romance. Then I watched her in the Tamil remake of Band Baaja Baraat(made by YRF itself)with Naani & I realised how good Anushka Sharma was in the original. She hasn’t acted in another movie since Befikre rt?

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    • She was supposed to be in the Shahid movie coming out this week, and then there was a last minute switch to Shraddha Kapoor instead. I don’t really know what is happening with her, she hasn’t had a big hit movie but it seemed like YRF was interested in her, and now she suddenly just doesn’t have anything going on.

      On Sun, Sep 16, 2018 at 11:22 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • I was really surprised that after SDR her career stalled. Right around then, lots of actresses were being launched, like alia and shraddha, do I thought she was going to be in the mix.

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        • I wasn’t expecting much after SDR, but I was really expecting things after this movie. Both because she did such a good job in it, and because it was such a clear sign of Adi’s preference for her. Batti Gul seemed like a reasonable follow up, not a major movie yet but something that would get her known, and then that fell apart and nothing else really came up.

          On Mon, Sep 17, 2018 at 10:13 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  5. One of these days I will arrive early enough to be part of the conversation. I watched the movie last night and it was entertaining but didn’t leave me with a lot to say. This was the first movie I’ve seen of Ranveer’s. He was hyper, like all the young guys seem to be when they’re early in their romantic leading man careers. Hot, yes, but please calm down just a bit. I liked Vaani more and her dancing is beautiful, more accomplished than your average movie star (including Ranveer, though he brought good energy). I was enjoying the big dance number at the end too much for it to bother me with its unrealistic perfection, it felt of a piece with the rest of the movie that way. All the songs were fun.

    The part that most made me roll my eyes was not the characters but rather Paris. Paris is apparently a place with a lot of kissing, where apartments are huge and well lit and come with beautiful lesbian roommates who appear just long enough to pop up in your fantasy, where of course it is supremely easy to have sex, where there are outdoor parties filled with beautiful people who also indulge in chicken wing-eating contests, and where you will inevitably be proposed to at the top of the Eiffel Tower. I’m not personally that attached to Paris, but there are so many more interesting stories to be told there, that might bear some passing resemblance to actual life in the city. (I know all movie industries do this, I felt the same about Woody Allen’s Vicky Christina Barcelona.)

    Vaani’s character and her role as bridge between new arrival Ranveer and Paris made me think of Lisa Haydon in Queen – another character who has left behind her Indian identity in her daily life, and who leads a lifestyle that is fully westernized, but who reconnects through helping Kangana navigate the city. Traditional Kangana is a more challenging foil for the Lisa character than Ranveer with his periodic outbursts of paternalism is for Vaani, and I think the way the script in Queen draws both the city and the second generation character are a touch more true and interesting. Agreed that Vaani’s parents are great, though. Indian films are so good at parents.

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    • I hadn’t thought about how it treated Paris. Which shows my own parochialism, Paris to me is just tourist spots and stuff, I don’t think of it as a place where real people live. But you are right, the city was treated very superficially, as just kind of a playground for this young couple without anything thought of the real people.

      Ranveer is almost terrifyingly energetic! But if you haven’t seen anything else with him, check out Dil Dhadakne Do and/or Band Baaja Baarat. They aren’t really “Ranveer” movies, they are just really good interesting movies that he happens to be in which I assume you haven’t seen.

      On Mon, Sep 17, 2018 at 10:48 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  6. I finally watched this end to end last night. I’m probably a bigger fan of this movie than most people are – I first saw it in the theaters, and since then have continued to watch the dance sequences and the first half of the movie on YouTube now and again while doing chores. But I haven’t watched it end to end again till now.

    Wow what a meticulously created movie. As you said the repeated flashbacks interwoven was almost an engineering feat. Subtle touches in set design and art direction and costuming. Even small details like the moms hair and makeup – Indian moms don’t usually wear bobs, and when they do, they don’t take the time to round-brush blow-dry them on a daily basis, they just air dry. And they don’t usually wear makeup, especially not foundation and mascara. But a middle aged Indian mom in a major European city, running an Indian restaurant that caters to nonIndians? She would style her hair and makeup exactly like this. And the dance sequences are all marvelous to exemplary.

    I think I might have mentioned this in your original befikre review post, but imo the universally memorable rom-coms have the characters wooing the audience as much as they woo each other, either through their personalities, the funny way the deal with situations, or their one liners. Think of Pretty Woman, Richard Gere and Julia Roberts individually and together charm the pants off the audience. 30 years later and I can’t help but smile when I think of those characters. It’s that slightly BGrade, saccharine “feel good” feeling that makes rom coms so endearing and such a favorite genre, even when they fall short on film craft or even story.
    So i think that’s what Adi got wrong here. The characters woo’d each other but not me. I felt like I watched a meticulously well made film, even one that other film makers might reference when making their own films, but not one where the characters have made a home in my subconscious or my heart. In fact, if anyone was endearing in this movie, it was the parents, and perhaps even the groom.
    And it’s a crying shame because a movie this well made, well danced, such good music and lyrics, and even good enough acting from everyone, deserves to memorable and loved. Instead, I think what we got is the left-brain person’s approach to making a rom com.
    You’ve suggested that it’s because the characters weren’t likable, but just thinking aloud, I wonder if it’s more because the actors weren’t charismatic enough in their roles. Leave aside the dancing skills for a minute – because it’s quite possible the Vaani is the best female actress/dancer in BW since Madhuri – would an actress who exudes more obvious rom com charm, like Preity in Salaam Namaste or Rani in Hum Tum, or even Deepika or Parineeti, have turned this into a better liked/loved movie?

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    • Really interesting idea! I almost feel like that was Adi’s point, that this is not an easy woman, or man, to love. And it was a miracle they had found each other, the right person who could appreciate them. But then, there should be a way to do that which would let the audience in on it, let us see what they saw in each other. Qarrib Qarrib Singlle did it, two very odd lead characters but we wanted them to be happy together.

      Maybe that was his challenge? Adi went into this with an announcement saying “I am going to make a film and you are all going to hate it”. And then of course we did hate it. Maybe he wanted to see if he could make a film with two leads that the audience just wouldn’t like and still build a perfect film around them?

      And then there’s the sex part of it. Their early relationship is about sexual attraction more than anything. Which of course the film audience doesn’t get to experience. It was a brave idea to be upfront about it, that it was sex and dares and nothing else. But it doesn’t leave much for the audience to get invested in, we don’t see what is appealing about this couple until much later in the film when they are friends and actually do things besides have sex. And maybe that was on purpose too? To let us experience the “just sex, no connection” part and then feel that connection later, just like the characters? But if so, it didn’t work.

      And the final thing, part of the construction was giving us everything we expected to the point that it became unexpected. The engagements to other people, the double wedding, it was so filmi, I kept waiting for the film to pull back, to give us a twist. And then the lack of twist itself became a twist. It’s almost like the film is laughing at us, laughing at our expectations for it.

      It’s French, is what it is! It’s not going to make itself easy or charming or any of that. It is what it is, take it or leave it.

      On Tue, Sep 18, 2018 at 10:45 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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