Well, this is a bad movie! But keep it in mind for the next time you want a reminder of what whiny little pointless wastes of oxygen some men can be. And how lucky you are not to have one in your life.
Whole Plot in Two Paragraphs:
In the real story, Vijay Devarankonda and Raashi Khanna are in a live in relationship, she supports him and makes the meals and does everything while he lounges around all day and forces her to have sex every night. She finally leaves him (partly because the contraceptive pills are making her bloated? Really?). Depressed, he starts to write, imagining himself as a coal miner married to Aishwarya Rajesh who is considering an affair with the new government adviser at work Catherine Tresa. Aishwarya finds out about the affair and reacts by taking classes to improve herself and getting admission to college. Vijay is shocked when he sees the news in the newspaper that his wife passed at the top of the exam. He goes home and she explains that she was trying to be an educated woman to please him, and he is touched and upset and agrees that all he wants is her, no more Catherine Tresa. In the “real” story, Vijay is excited to have finally written something and shows it to his publisher friend, then rushes to see Raashi at her office and tell her about it. Raashi throws him out and tells the guard not to let him back in. He flashes back to over a year earlier when he was Raashi’s superior at work and learned she was about to be laid off. He offers to quit his job so that she can keep hers. In the present, he waits for her to get off work than chases her car in his car, until he gets into an accident. INTERVAL
Vijay goes to Raashi’s father’s house to try to find her and learns that her father is looking for grooms for her. He flashes back to their romance, they met when he gave her directions to a dance performance where she was appearing, then again when they both took the entrance exam for IIM, and finally ending up in the same IIM class. She was rich and beautiful and everyone was after her, he was a struggling orphan. He wrote his first book in school and wanted to quit and focus on writing, but she convinced him to get a job first. They were going to be married, but her father refused because he thinks Vijay is after her money. Raashi suggests they move in together, so they can still be together but her father won’t be embarrassed by public news of an elopement. In his new story for his book, he imagines what would happen if he had taken the promotion and moved to Paris. He is a cool successful Paris guy who meets a beautiful French woman who lives down the hall from him and coincidentally speaks a little Telugu. They fall in love and are about to have sex when she changes her mind. Instead, he takes her drag racing and they get into an accident. She is blinded and his shoulder is broken. 6 months later, she has her sight back after an eye transplant and is walking around Paris when she discovers Vijay again, of course he is blind because he gave her his eyes. In the real story, Raashi is engaged and comes to Vijay’s house to give him a wedding card. He breaks into her engagement party, her father challenges him to call for Raashi to come to him and she doesn’t. He leaves in misery, only to be confronted by they guy whose car he hit earlier, gets into a fight, it escalates, ends up attacking a guy with a rock and is thrown in jail for 2 years. During that time his book (telling the two fictional stories plus his real life romance) becomes a big hit. He comes out and gives a press conference explaining that he now realizes it is the WOMEN who make all the sacrifices and compromises (shocker!). He leaves the press conference sadly, and then sees Raashi’s Dad. Who explains that Raashi did not get married, and has been forcing herself to live in seclusion in the house for 2 years as though she is in jail as well. Reunion, HAPPY ENDING
This is one of those movies where the pull of two narrative voices is so strong that a review requires digging through and sorting and separating. On the one hand, there is the voice that I will call Kranthi Madhav (director/scriptwriter who has previously written sweet well-balanced romances) that wanted to tell a story about men and women and how men take women for granted. In the Kranthi story, we start with Raashi’s miserable life. She does everything for Vijay and he does nothing for her, doesn’t even attempt to please her in bed, or clean up his dirty dishes, or SHOWER. Just lays around like a disgusting tumor on her life that makes everything worse and nothing better. We are cheering when she leaves.
And then Vijay starts to write his story and he begins by focusing on the coal miner who resents his life, but then it switches to the perspective of his wife who puts up with all his abuse and still loves him, and is tortured by the idea of him wanting another woman, culminating in the reveal that she is actually more educated than he is but has been hiding her accomplishments. Once again, we are cheering on this woman who is stuck with a man so lost in his male perspective he can’t see her.
The Paris story is really silly, but the main point is that our hero literally ends up “seeing” from the woman’s side. And finally, in the real story, Kranthi has his Raashi tell the hero she wants to marry someone else, this is her choice. He goes to jail for 2 years and comes out hoping that she married someone else and moved on, because he now understands he has no right to her and she had given him everything, just as women always end up giving more in relationships.
This is the story I have to think the film was intended to tell. A selfish lazy boyfriend who starts writing a book and, through the process of writing and imagining the perspective of his characters, comes to understand what he was doing wrong in his relationship. He is “punished” by going to jail for 2 years, and then his suffering and personal growth is rewarded in the end by being reunited with his true love.
But then there were some changes, in the script and also in the performances, and the film took a turn for the DUMB!
Mostly it is a disconnect between what is shown and what is said, in a way that makes me think someone rewrote the dialogue but the concept for the scenes wasn’t reshot. Like, we have this agonizing opening sequence from Raashi’s perspective showing just how hopeless and horrible Vijay is as a partner. And then over and over again Vijay says he is better now because he is writing. But, THAT’S NOT WHY SHE LEFT!!!! It wasn’t that he isn’t writing, it’s that he isn’t doing anything, he is treating her like a piece of meat in bed, he is making her do everything for him including cooking all his meals for the day before she goes to work and then dinner after she gets home at night. He doesn’t even put the freakin’ toothpaste on his toothbrush himself, she does it for him and leaves it out ready. And yet the dialogue keeps saying it is because he isn’t writing, and she just doesn’t listen or understand when he says he is writing now. The story the visuals set up is that our unaware hero THINKS it is about his writing and finally comes to understand that it is about all the little every day things he doesn’t do which are killing her. Only, the dialogue never gives us that, it is all dumb dumb thinking of “I will do this thing and that will prove my worth and then she will come back!”
Same with the coal mining story. It goes right up to the line of the revelation that it isn’t about him cheating with another woman, it is about him constantly denigrating her and her letting him. After she sees him feeding her biryani to another woman, she asks him if she can start taking classes at the library and start taking their son to and from school herself. It feels like she is moving towards independence, towards realizing she doesn’t need him. And then it veers suddenly to “I did all this for you so I would be like the kind of woman you like!” Whaaa-aaat? Then, why did she also offer to take their son to school herself? And how does that fit with the other revelation that she finished high school with honors and had a college entry offer which she lied about so he wouldn’t feel bad? This should be the story of a woman who played dumb for her husband deciding that time was up, and she wasn’t going to hide her light any more. And her husband understanding that he was the loser in the relationship, not the other way around. But instead it is all for him, and then he feels so guilty and wrong that he comes back to her.
And the Paris story is just a MESS! I think it is supposed to be about a thrill seeker who fears nothing finally coming to earth when he hurts someone else and realizes he is ready to sacrifice his whole life so she can live hers. But that doesn’t come through At All.
The end of the film has him give a speech about how the book is about the sacrifices of the women, the “world famous lover” of the title is his girlfriend, she’s the better one. So yes, in the final speech, all of what I wanted is explicitly said. But who cares, that’s just the final speech! Everything else in the film forgives him and cheapens the women into empty things that only exist to serve him.
The biggest problem with this movie, conveniently for Sex Week, is with the sex scenes. I honestly have no idea what they are thinking with them. They are very well filmed scenes of terrible sex. We open with Vijay pounding away on Raashi while she turns her head and tries to disassociate. We see that at least twice, to establish the routine, he barely looks at or talks to her, ever, and then they go to bed and he rolls on top of her and does what he wants and then falls asleep and she stares into the distance looking dead inside. BLECH! In the coal miner story, we see the wife coming on to her husband and him shoving her off and shaming her for feeling sexually attracted. And the Paris story is worst of all, after this couple has been dating for a while, they kiss outside her door and she says that she wants him in a suit and bow tie (what?), he changes and rushes back, they kiss, move into her bedroom, he shoves her down on the bed and holds her down, she keeps saying “stop” and asking questions. And then finally says she doesn’t want this. He leaves her and then goes to angrily stare out the window and shake her off when she reaches for him. It’s not rape, or even close to it, but she said “no” and he is angry with her for saying no, and that is really not cool. And this is our Hero?
None of these sex scenes fit with what we see elsewhere in their respective stories. Raashi’s sex is sooooooooooo bad that I assumed she was married and financially dependent on Vijay for some reason, otherwise why would she be putting up with this? But no, she is wealthy and educated and employed. This isn’t normal bad sex, or not-compatible sex, this is every night being made to feel so dirty she cries in the shower afterwards. That’s really REALLY bad. How can there be a film that does such a good job of showing how horrible this is for her, but also expect us to believe in this as a love story?
And then there’s the coal miner who is disgusted by his wife. We establish that she takes his verbal abuse all day every day, that he has her so terrorized her hand shakes while she brings him his morning tea, and yet she is also the sexual aggressor in bed? How does that make sense with the rest of their relationship? And if she is the sexual aggressor in bed, meaning that part of their relationship is satisfying, how does it not move into any other part of their time together?
Finally, Paris! In my No Spoilers review, I talked about how trying to use a ton of English dialogue without being super fluent in English just reveals your ignorance. Same with this attempt at a western style romance. Of course there are women in the west who are going to want to wait for sex after marriage (as the Paris girlfriend ultimately decides she wants). And of course there are women everywhere who think they want sex and then when it gets close, realize they don’t at all. But the way the scene plays out, it has this very “oooo, she is tormented at the thought of sinning” vibe. Like, she feels bad specifically because it is before marriage. That’s not really a mental block that most Western women have. Again, I am sure there are SOME. But she is established as this super cool French woman who drinks and dates and stuff. The norm for her community would be that social guilt over sex before marriage isn’t the kind of last minute chastity belt idea it might be for a woman somewhere else. If a woman of the West wants to have sex with her long term committed boyfriend, she isn’t going to stop at the last minute because she just feels wrong doing it before marriage. That’s WEIRD. I guess that’s the other part of it, that it isn’t played out as a weird thing to do. Like, all women from everywhere have in their DNA an inability to enjoy sex outside of marriage, it’s not external at all, so of course this French woman would have that last minute worry as well. And of course she would also be a virgin (despite being at least in her mid-twenties, and again this super cool French woman) just waiting for the one perfect love story, because that’s a thing all women from everywhere have in their DNA too.
Do you think maybe it is the marriage thing? If a woman is a wife, she is automatically sexually attracted to her husband, but if she isn’t a wife sex is something she does because she feels obligated to in order to please her boyfriend. Another recent post might be relevant here, my “virginity” post. Now that the French woman, and Raashi in the real story, have given their “I love you” virginity to Vijay, he gets to use them like sex dolls and they can’t say no. Or if they do say “no”, he is allowed to be super angry and she has to feel super guilty. And it can only be related specifically to marriage-not marriage, not just because she changed her mind and isn’t feeling it any more.
Anyway, it’s WEIRD. The whole movie is terribly misogynistic in a strange way, but the sex stuff in particular is extreme. You know what it reminds me of? Have you seen The Outlaw? Howard Hughes’ super disturbing movie? He sexualized Jane Russell like crazy in that, the images are famous, but what people don’t talk about is his choice to cast this slight boyish looking actor as the hero. The end result is something that feels like a very particular fetish that the filmmaker thinks is universal. Oh, also there’s lots of bondage scenes. I think someone involved in this movie (maybe Vijay himself?) thinks that it is sexy to see a man look at sex as a one person activity not a two person activity. Just to clarify, it is NOT sexy. Seeing a guy with amazing hair sleepily roll on top of his girlfriend while she looks at the wall and tries not to be there is NOT sexy. Seeing a guy reject his wife’s advances because he doesn’t want her is NOT sexy. And seeing a guy make a woman feel guilty for saying “no” is definitely NOT sexy.
I know this is all Arjun Reddy related, Vijay thinks people love that part of him. Forget all the other arguments we have had about Arjun Reddy, just look at this song. The idealized romance in the film, that part of it, is definitely about two people having sex, not just one. That’s why it was sexy. Vijay, you idiot, you gotta figure that out! Or else you are going to keep making sex scenes that make me want to check my phone instead of watching the screen.