I did it! I watched the first digital premiere major movie! And I really wish I had seen it in theaters so Dina and I could have whispered to each other jokes about how bad it was the whole time. Not a movie that really makes you happy and entertained and happy when watched by yourself streaming. More one that makes you keep checking the clock and waiting for something to HAPPEN.
This movie has a great script, and great performances. But no momentum! I am beginning to think that Shoojit is no good at crafting films that have a natural rise and then fall. Piku was great, love Piku, but I think the special ingredient there was the chemistry between Irrfan and Deepika. The narrative went nowhere, nothing really happened or changed that much, but the Irrfan-Dips chemistry kept us interested and the indication that they were together at the end was enough of a resolution. In this movie, there is nothing like that, nothing that gives any sense of a resolution. Which means the plotholes and missed opportunities and just sort of strange treading water feeling to it all is highlighted even more.
The cast really is great, and the performances alone go a long way to saving the film. Ayushmann and Amitabh fully inhabit their characters to the point that I forgot they were acting. Vijay Raaz is as entertaining and perfect as always. And they are surrounded by excellent lessor known actors, in particular Srishti Shrivastava who almost steals the movie as Ayushmann’s smart sister.
The script is good too, I was watching it thinking that all the ingredients were there for a solid narrative. The dialogue is great, the way the character’s backstory is woven in and out is brilliant, the central conflict is a perfect balance of original and familiar (original in the particular take on it, familiar in that it clearly calls back to Sahib Biwi Aur Ghulam). Juhi Chaturvedi did the script, as she has done almost all of Shoojit’s scripts, and her voice is as much part of what we think of as a “Shoojit Sircar movie” as his directing. Only in this case, I think his directing let down her voice. The most interesting conflicts of the script were thrown in without particular notice in the directing, and then the resolution scenes were rushed. We got so many silent moments of watching Ayushmann or Amitabh’s face as they made a decision, observing them going through their days, and then Srishti was almost ignored, her life and emotions and decisions shown only through her dialogue, and then her resolution dropped.
The more I think about it, the more it fails like a failure of direction. Juhi’s scripts are always kind of slice of life things, nothing really “happens”, but the characters grow and change as time passes. It is up to her director to give that weight to the story, and the sense of resolution to the ending. Put in a song to express unspoken emotions, or a beautiful shot to give us a sense of a relationship progression, ANYTHING. Instead it feels like Shoojit got so lost in his two favorite actors, Ayushmann and Amitabh, that he just let the camera follow them around with no idea of a point to it all.
Maybe it’s that there both is and isn’t a point? The narrative is so loose that I didn’t feel a clear resolution to it. And yet built into the script are a series of careful builds on the situation. The film was shot as though it was just about following these characters day by day, but the script had a point to it which was lost somewhere. At the end of it, I was left feeling let down somehow, “is that all there is?” which is not how a film should leave me.