Shahrukh Birthday Countdown, Baazigar! Part 5!

Woot, moving right along! Because I already wrote them and am reposting, it took a lot longer the first time around.

Funeral time!  Everyone is standing around in the sparsely furnished living room of Kajol and Shilpa’s mansion, wearing white.  This is not the same room that Kajol danced around before “Baazigar” started (the song, not this whole movie, I have no idea what Kajol was doing right before the movie started).  So, either they are so wealthy that Kajol has her own private living room, or Abbas-Mustan has no interest in visual continuity because they are so caught up in making sure all the plot points fit together.

So, Kajol is in white too, which is not one her best colors, and so is Shahrukh.  And some guy arrives in uniform and they all call him “Police Commisioner”, so I guess he is the police commissioner.  Always picking up the subtle clues, that’s me!  Anyway, he draws Kajol’s Dad aside and says he has bad news.  The post office just found a letter from Shilpa, saying she planned to kill herself, so it was a suicide and a police case.  Well, now a closed police case.  Kajol looks angry and shaken by this, and says she doesn’t believe it.  Shilpa was happy!  Her Dad and the police commissioner look at her like “ah, women!  with their hormones and their intuitions and trying to get involved in things that don’t concern them!”  Shahrukh looks at her with genuine concern.  He actually plays this scene really nicely.  He’s brown-eyed Shahrukh now, so confident and in control, but he is also sort of hanging back since this is a family matter.  He’s standing right behind Kajol, and looks at her through the whole scene, occasionally putting out a hand to support her.  It’s sweet.  If I didn’t know he also beats people with belts, I would say he was the perfect boyfriend.

Speaking of boyfriends, would it be worse if green-eyed Shahrukh had actually tried to get her to write a suicide note as a “test” or is it worse that it was all a trick so he could cover up her murder?  I feel like the “test” option makes him a worse boyfriend, but being a cold-hearted murderer makes him a worse person.

Kajol might have been willing to let it go, but as she is going upstairs, she is stopped by a guy who just wandered in and wants payment for a Mangalsutra that was purchased at his store a few days ago.  A bit tactless to bring this up at a funeral!  Kajol ignores him at first, but then realizes it was purchased by Shilpa!  This does not add up at all (she thinks).  Actually, I think it kind of still makes sense.  I mean, I know because I saw Shahrukh kill her that Shilpa didn’t kill herself.  But if she bought a Mangalsutra and then her boyfriend dumped her, that would line up with suicide perfectly well.

But Kajol is, as a little girl I used to know would say, “detewmined!”  She confronts her Dad with this evidence, and he doesn’t care.  Which we learn through a monologue to the camera.  I think this is the first, but will not be the last, time that a character turns and speaks directly to the audience explaining their motivations.  At least this time he is technically supposed to be explaining it to Kajol.  Who is standing behind him and can’t see his face.  Anyway, Daddy’s evil, he only cares about appearances, even if his daughter was murdered, he doesn’t want to find out, he just wants it all buried.  Kajol, as someone with an actual heart, feels differently.

Remember her police office old friend from college who has a crush on her?  Well, if you don’t, Kajol does!  Who better to rope in on this wacky investigation?  She has him meet her on the roof, right where her sister died.  A bit morbid, but okay.  Also, nice practical re-use of filming locations.  Kajol lays out her arguments, that her sister was happy, that she bought a Mangalsutra, that there is a marriage bureau in this very building, and that her sister was afraid of heights.  Okay, I’m not really seeing most of these as evidence.  If she bought a Mangalsutra, met her boyfriend at the marriage bureau, and he dumped her, then why wouldn’t she jump off the convenient roof?  The fear of heights, maybe, okay, I’ll take that one.

But Police office old friend is convinced.  Because he is in love with her and will go along with anything.  He isn’t convinced enough to get the case re-opened, but he offers to help her in his off hours, and suggests that she start by talking with Shilpa’s friends from college, trying to track down this secret boyfriend.

Kajol goes to talk to Shilpa’s friend who sends her over to “Ravi”, the poor loser Shilpa used to take her notes.  He is, as is the wont of losers, in the library.  She talks with him, and he says that he sometimes thought of himself as Shilpa’s boyfriend, because they were friends (oh, dude!  Just, no), but then he saw her with someone else (flashback to him creepily hiding behind a tree and watching the first love song with Shahrukh.  So this guy is no prize as a boyfriend either) and realized he wasn’t for her.  He says that he thinks he might have a photo of the guy, but it is back in his room.

Kajol, being an independent girl who is apparently not at all worried about being murdered, even though her sister just was, immediately offers to go back with him.  Well, it is Ravi.  Hard to take him seriously both as a threat and a romantic prospect.  And sure enough, when they get back to his hostel, he says that it is boys only so he won’t let her come in.  Oh Ravi!  You are never going to get a girl if you can’t even break a little rule!

Ravi goes into his dark room, digs through a desk, and pulls out a photo of Shahrukh!  He is about to run back to the car to show it to Kajol, when suddenly green-eyed Shahrukh pops out of the shadows and grabs him!  He threatens him and forces him to sign a blank piece of paper.  It is legitimately scary and suspenseful, in the dark room with Kajol waiting in the car below and about to come in at any time.  Ravi manages to break free, and the fight scene that follows is legitimately good.  I gave Shahrukh a bit of a hard time in the Karan-Arjun finale for not being as good as Salman with fight choreography.  But this isn’t a clean and tidy fight, it is just a down and dirty struggle for life.  Shahrukh finally gets a phone cord wrapped around Ravi’s neck, and slowly and difficultly strangles him.  He lets him slide to the floor and grabs the paper, fits it into the typewriter, and starts typing.

(so, not like this fight scene)

Meanwhile, Kajol has finally gotten tired of waiting, leaves the car, and sneaks past the guard to get into the room.  And the audience is feeling more and more stressed.  The funny thing is, you aren’t stressed because Kajol could be killed.  You are stressed because she could catch Shahrukh, which would mess with their romance.  Which I think Abbas-Mustan realized during filming, because there is a notable shift coming up in the last third as to where the focus of the conflict lies, and I think it is because they understood that the audience is going to be more interested in the romance than the murders.

But she doesn’t catch him!  Thank goodness!  Instead, she opens the door and finds Ravi hanging from the ceiling fan, a suicide note/confession on his desk, explaining that he was the secret boyfriend, he didn’t want to get married, he killed Shilpa, and now himself out of guilt.

Oh!  I forgot the creepiest part of the scene!  After Ravi is dead, before Shahrukh starts typing, he finds the photo of himself.  He tears it into small pieces, then shoves it into his mouth, slowly chews, and swallows it!  All while staring straight at the camera with cold psycho green-eyes.  And yet, you just want him and Kajol to be happy.  Well, at least brown-eyed Shahrukh and Kajol.

Speaking of Shahrukh, we see him in the twilight walking into a beat up shack.  Is this where he lives?  How has it never occurred to me until now to wonder that?  And also what he is living on?  Does he have a job, besides killing people?  Anyway, in his shack, he opens up a sad sad closet, which is just a wire with some hangers on it, on which are hanging identical good boy blazers that green-eyed Shahrukh always wears.  I know it could just be that they didn’t have much money for set design, but somehow that closet looks exactly like what someone who is just pretending to be human but is actually a monster killer would have.  He takes off his current good boy blazer, and hangs it up.  Then goes into the bathroom, looks in the mirror, and he has ONE GREEN AND ONE BROWN EYE!!!!  WHAT IS HAPPENING!!!  Is there a third twin?  Well, a triplet?

No!  Contacts!  He pulls out a contact case, fits another contact into his eye, and goes back to two brown.  It’s like magic!  You’re wondering what this means, right?  Not to worry, he’s gonna explain it directly to the camera/bathroom mirror.  I don’t know about you, but I never monologue like this to mirrors.  It’s always more about “Did I remember to pack a lunch today?  Oh look, my favorite sweater is clean!  Wait, what’s the weather today?”  Not usually about my murderous plots.

But Shahrukh is different than us (although I argued in my post yesterday that he thinks we can become like him), so he does do bathroom motivation speeches.  This is a pretty short one, he just says something about how now “Ajay [green-eyed Shahrukh] is dead, only Vicky [brown-eyed Shahrukh] is alive.”  And you know what my primary reaction to this is?  “Thank goodness, that means he doesn’t love Shilpa any more, only Kajol!”  I am a sick sick person.

And apparently, I am the expected audience for the film!  Because the next scene is 6 months later (one of the first lines establishes that), and Kajol and Shahrukh are driving along in the car again, so apparently they are still together!  Thank goodness!  But, there may be trouble on the horizon, because her father is calling them into his office for unknown reasons.  Kajol is all fine about it, but Shahrukh does a great job of playing “carefree playboy” for her, but “worried psycho” for the camera.

He gets an even better chance to tread that fine line once they are in the office.  “Daddy” is talking to him, saying “I’ve been thinking about this since Shilpa died, and something has become clear to me about [Shahrukh].  It is time to stop that from happening again!  I have found out your secret!”  And there is this great moment where Shahrukh looks stressed by is keeping an open and listening expression on his face, and the camera shows him reaching out and grabbing hold of a big rock paperweight on his desk and squeezing.  And just by cutting from his face to the way he is holding the rock, to “Daddy” talking, we know that Shahrukh is priming himself to bludgeon the guy to death if he has to.  It’s really great acting and directing and editing all working on concert.

But, it’s fine!  “Daddy” was actually just leading up to announcing that he knows Shahrukh loves Kajol, and he doesn’t want another embarressing suicide, so rather than forbid it, he is going to give Shahrukh a job and accept him into the family!  We’re all good here!  Hugs all round!

And then they leave him the office, to play with the little model of the new factory and wonder why the heck there is a huge picture of a question mark and a check mark on the wall.

His face changes, to big sneery Don-like Shahrukh as soon as they leave.  He spins the chair around and around, and then sits in it, and puts his feet up.  He might be monologuing again at this point, but I don’t remember, because the visuals are so well done.  He has his feet up on the desk, and he looks through them at the factory model with Daddy’s name on it.  The camera looks from his perspective, then flips so we are looking at the soles of his feet as he snaps them apart and together and apart and together, with his face sneering between them.

Now, if you don’t know Indian culture, the most insulting thing you can do is show someone the soles of your feet.  It’s the flip of the most respectful thing you can do being touching their feet.  Because feet are gross.  So saying “you only deserve my feet” is a huge huge insult.  But saying “even your feet are awesome” is a huge huge compliment.  So this really neat shot of the feet opening and closing is Shahrukh, over and over again, insulting Daddy to the nth degree.  And this leads us into the flashback.

Where I will break off.  But I got really far!  Like, 2 thousand words and a good 20 to 30 minutes!  I am proud of myself.  And this movie is really long.

9 thoughts on “Shahrukh Birthday Countdown, Baazigar! Part 5!

  1. I’m reading along and trying to figure out the story from the clues. Maybe also trying to figure out whether this might be one of the early SRK movies I want to track down. So I’m going to answer your boyfriend question just based on the state of affairs covered in this post:

    I’d say the murderer is also the worse boyfriend than the tester. I mean, duh, the relationship literally killed her. Granted, if he can kill her like that, he probably never really considered himself her boyfriend. But she didn’t know that, so from her perspective that only makes things worse. Only advantage is probably how quickly the relationship is over.

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    • Oh you should definitely track it down! It is great fun.

      I think I would say not killing her, revealing he didn’t love her and was tricking her the whole time, and also had started tricking her sister and then fallen in love for real, would make him Worst Boyfriend. But killing her without giving her all that painful knowledge is almost kind.

      On Wed, Sep 16, 2020 at 2:14 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  2. Just agreeing that the details made the craft of the film stand out, which surprised me. The moment in the car race where eases his foot off the gas pedal. The side eye in the first car ride with Kajol. The hand clutching the rock. This foot moment. It shows a fluency in visual vocabulary and how to use editing to build dramatic tension.

    And it’s not your fault you sympathize him, the whole script sets him up this way to the audience. Poor little orphan boy avenging his dead father and sister. Somewhere around here I went all the way back to the beginning and rewatched the first scene because I thought I must have missed something. But no, they’re withholding the details of what happened to his family too, to add even more to the narrative suspense. It’s all unexpectedly sophisticated.

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    • This is why Abbas-Mustan is so good! They are the kings of the twisted thriller, but they make it look easy. That’s what happened with Race 3, Race 1 and Race 2 were Abbas-Mustan movies, ridiculous sexy over the top complicated plots that seem like total trash. And then some new writer/director came in for Race 3 and suddenly the big cast and backstories and reveals that Abbas-Mustan make seem clear and easy are just a mess.

      On Wed, Sep 16, 2020 at 11:57 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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