I saw a movie! In theaters! And stayed awake the whole time even though I was up way too late last night and it got kind of dull there in the middle and I really wanted to go to sleep.
Whole Plot in Two Paragraphs:
At some point in the past, a little boy lives with his pregnant mother and abusive stepfather. His mother dies giving birth and the little boy takes care of the baby girl because his stepfather won’t. Years later, the baby girl is now a little girl and her brother still takes care of her while her father drinks. And then the father offers her to his disgusting elderly friend as a gift, and the brother kills his father and the friend to save her. Flashback ends, now we are in the present and it is all very cheerful and funny. Prithviraj is a caterer and lives and helps out at a guest house for tourists. He meets Madonna Sebastian at a wedding and they hit it off and become friends. As a favor for his guest house friend/landlord he goes to pick up a guest, a friendly middle-aged man who likes to get drunk. He becomes friends with him too. And the one hint of darkness in his life is his sister who is in a nursing home with an unspecified “illness”. For no apparent reason in the middle of all of this we keep cutting to Prasanna who is a creepy evil blackmailer. And he seems to have some kind of connection to Aishwarya.
And then Aishwarya goes with Prithviraj to visit his sister and recognizes her. Aishwarya tells Prithviraj her story. She was the little girl from the opening. She went to an orphanage after the murders and didn’t see her brother again. At the orphanage, she was adopted by a really nice man who had lost his daughter and wife in an accident. Over the years, she adjusted to this new life and learned to be happy again, and started to forget everything from before. And then she noticed Prasanna following her around and being creepy. He finally talked to her and told her he was her brother. She immediately felt obligated to do whatever he wanted because she loved him so much. Soon after he asked her to let a couple he knew spend the night with her. That was Prithviraj’s sister and her husband on their honeymoon. The next day they were found in the jungle, he was dead and she was gravely injured. Prasanna leaned on Aishwarya not to say anything about her involvement, implying he would blackmail her and also leaning on her affection for him. She got deeper and deeper in with him and didn’t know how to get out. Prithviraj lets her go, but goes to talk to her father the next day. And learns that her brother died, was hit by a car right after the murders while running away. Prasanna is conning her and playing on her sisterly love. Meanwhile Aishwarya is now trapped with Prasanna after trying to give him one final pay out. Prithviraj and her father rush to rescue her, Prithviraj ends up fighting everyone and killing Prasanna. It ends with Prithviraj’s sister finally leaving the nursing home, and Madonna getting in the car with Prithviraj implying she might be open to starting a relationship with him.
There’s a really good theme to this movie, the way that men can be “good” and “bad” brothers to women. There are loads of movies that deal with good and bad male romantic partners, but this is something different. A man can look at a woman in a vulnerable position and feel an urge to protect her, to defend her. Or he can look at her and think about how to take advantage of her. It’s not about romance, or sex, or even power. It’s about whether you want to sacrifice and help, or take what you can get and move on.
So we have our brother at the opening who rushed in to save his sister over and over again. And we have Prithviraj lovingly caring for his damaged sister. And we have the way Prithviraj and leaps in to take care of Aishwarya. The way Prithviraj’s friends are sympathetic and kind to Madonna when she talks about her unloving mother that made her stop believing in love (notably, Prithviraj is not present for the conversation. This isn’t about a guy falling in love and being nice to a woman, this is about guys with no romantic interest being nice to a woman because they are nice). And in contrast, we have Prasanna. Who is just a really bad “brother”. He doesn’t want to use these women for sex necessarily, he just wants to use them. They can be scared, they can be sad, they can be hurt, and he doesn’t care. The whole loose structure of the film is around showing us different kinds of brotherly behavior, and it builds to the confrontation between Prithviraj the “good” brother and Prasanna the “bad” brother with damaged sister Aishwarya trapped between them.
The general concept is really decent. We start by seeing Aishwarya as an example of a girl who really really needs a brother. When your parents are useless, when girls are seen as a burden in the world or else as a sex object, having someone there for you who will always have your back is a necessity. And then the movie leaps forward and we see other woman who need “brothers” and the way that decent good men become their brothers. Madonna is tough and unpleasant at first glance, but really honest and kind and funny and fun. And she explains that she is this way because her mother was an alcoholic who was incapable of loving her and walked out. She had a father, but she never really had someone else to rely on in her life. We get to see her start to blossom by having this cheerful group of male friends who sincerely like her and support her and don’t question her. Of course there’s also Prithviraj’s little sister, who is confident and cheerful and a little immature in flashback, and broken and sad in the present, and in both time periods really needs her cheerful brother to make her feel secure.
One thing that is done subtly and well is that Prithviraj immediately reacts to Aishwarya as a “brother”, not as a romantic interest. Something about her says that this is a woman that needs a brother. And Prithviraj is innately a brother, when he looks at a woman who seems fragile somehow, he locks on to her and wants to take care of her. On the other hand, his first interaction with Madonna is confrontational, he thinks she is stealing food from a wedding reception, she talks back to him, and then he learns she is the groom’s daughter. There is no protective urge with her, not for Prithviraj, although his other friends who meet her when she is more fragile see her differently. Just like once you become a mother, you see a little bit of your child in every child, if you are a good brother you see a little bit of your sister in all women. Prithviraj is a very good brother.
The problem with this movie is that it just isn’t put together well. The opening section, the little boy taking care of this baby on his own, then bringing himself to commit murder to protect her, that is very powerful and real. And then we drop right into wacky hijinks at a wedding, That’s weird. Also weird, we cut from the wacky hijinks of the guest house and catering over to Prasanna framing a man with a photo of him embracing a woman not his wife, driving him to suicide, than further blackmailing his daughter to protect his good name. A better movie would make this a little seamless, even something simple like showing Prithviraj exiting a building at the same time Prasanna enters it. Or cutting from the innocent little girl in the flashback to an innocent little girl wedding guest. Just anything that will make these sections flow instead of feeling like someone through a bunch of film reels in the air and then stitched them together randomly.
The other thing is that I felt like we were going to get one more twist that would really have pulled it all together. It actually would have been really tidy to have the reveal that Prithviraj was the little boy from the opening. Sure, we would lose the thematic message of all these people being good brothers, but that’s worth it to tie the flashback better into the present day. I even worked out how you could make it happen. Prithviraj is the little boy who runs away after killing two men to protect his little sister. We saw that the neighbor lady who had a baby the same age was helping them out. He could have run to her. That other baby could be his sister in the present. The neighbor lady is the “grandma” who helps them now. Prithviraj’s moment of shock when he first meets Aishwarya is because he recognizes her on some level. Heck, even Prasanna’s ability to trick Aish and his attack on Prithviraj’s sister and brother-in-law could be connected, maybe while stalking Aish he figured out who Prithviraj was and targeted his family.
But instead, no twist! Prasanna is a jerk who paid off Aishwarya’s uncle to learn her story so he could blackmail this rich girl. Prithviraj is an unrelated nice guy. None of this every really ties up in the plot. And it doesn’t really tie up in how the film is made either. So yeah, it’s just a mess.
But oh man, Prithviraj looks good! In every way, the nice guy who is just a good brother to woman is a really good look for him. As it is for all men.