Saturday, 17 November 2007

Saawariya (2007)

If ever there were to be a cinematic ode to poetry and the fine lines of a painter’s canvas, then Saawariya is surely the epitome of timeless beauty that exudes from the artists mind. Set over four nights, Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s romantic escapade tells the tale of two individuals, intoxicated with amour and faerie-like dreams.

Returning after the critically acclaimed Black and the magnum opus Devdas, in what was touted as one of 2007’s most anticipated films, Bhansali launches Ranbir Kapoor and Sonam Kapoor, both children of major Hindi film actors. Although, the film has not lived up to the hype and has been heavily critiqued for its dissident style, Saawariya comes as a breath of fresh air when categorized with the usual melodramatic love stories that many fresh faces are launched with.

An unknown kingdom where winding alleyways and tropical waters merge together to create a surrealistic marriage of reality and fantasy brings Raj Ranbir (Ranbir Kapoor) a wandering musician to it’s doorstep. With only the musical notes of his fingertips as his pennies, he manages to find shelter with an unorthodox elderly lady Lillian (Zohra Segal) who finds solace in his enthralling kinesics. Simultaneously, he befriends Gulabjee (Rani Mukherji) a brazen prostitute who sees Ranbir as man who is able to touch her soul rather than her body.

Whilst strumming the strings of his musical aptitude, Ranbir encounters a weeping figure, clad in a black shawl upon a bridge, reluctant to reveal even her name, let alone her face. However, just like the magic he weaves with his guitar, Ranbir strikes a chord with the mystical figure, Sakina (Sonam Kapoor) and over a course of four nights he becomes besotted with her.

Mysteries are not necessarily miracles, and Ranbir soon learns this when Sakina reveals her past, leaving the two on a path which is strewn with more thorns than rose petals…

Bhansali, the maestro that he is, surely knows how to transport the viewer into the vision inside his mind and with Saawariya, he is sure to keep our gaze fixated on the two most important people of this story, Ranbir and Sonam, packing them into every frame thus compelling the audience into their world. Whilst many have written off the film for its slow pace and unexplainable ambience, those who are willing to let their imagination fill in the gaps will surely lap up the ambiguous approach of Bhansali’s storytelling.

Ranbir Kapoor is a complete revelation and makes his debut at a time when a fresh male face is desperately needed upon the Hindi screen. At times, his mannerisms are reminiscent of Shammi Kapoor and one wonders whether this was purposely modeled for the character of the story or whether it purely is a natural inheritance. Looking suave is just one aspect of being upon the big screen but Kapoor manages to radiate an extreme raw talent which can only gleam brighter the more it is polished. Note the scene where Sonam refuses to speak to Zohra Segal on the telephone and the manner in which he flits easily from happy-go-lucky charmer to confused confidant; it surely raises mammoth expectations for his future performances.

Sonam Kapoor as the mysterious childlike girl, intoxicated in love illuminates the screen with her timeless beauty and delivers a competent performance. However, seen as her role is at times not clearly defined and the character itself is engulfed in mystery for most of the story, there is a lack of a definite impact when it comes down to her acting abilities resulting in Ranbir walking away with most of the accolades.

Rani Mukherji as the tart with a heart is extremely vibrant and exotic in her spattered appearances during the film. She captures the nuances of the character perfectly and pulls off the brash image with an underlying vulnerability, a performance which will surely slot itself amongst more of her reputable work.

To add relief to the intense proceedings, Zohra Segal comes as a waft of sweet air and is immensely likeable.

Monty Sharma, who had previously provided a spine tingling background score for Black, this time laces Saawariya with mellifluous ballads, their depth only augmented by regal sets and infectious choreography. Whilst, “Jab Se Tere Naina” provides enough reason for the female audience to salivate whilst ogling at a towel clad Ranbir, “Chabeela” brings out the seductress in Mukherji who makes full usage of the moment to glimmer and packs in enough thumkas to send a thumri into spiraling frenzy. Criminally, the soulful “Jaan-e-Jaan” is edited to only its chorus line, disappointing those who wish to see the lyrical content of this gem transcended upon screen.

Visually, the film views just like an oil painting, swamped in blues and greens throughout and it is the director’s artistic ability to speak volumes through the look of the film which makes for essential viewing. Whilst the color blue traditionally connotes a feeling of despondency, it also works in Saawariya to promote the serenity and infinity of the progressing love story, much like the sky and the sea. Green is dabbled throughout the story and is more prominent in those scenes where the character of Gulabjee appears; hence representing her jealousy for the love that Ranbir nurtures for Sakina, yet green also signifies growth, the growth of the relationships between the principal characters which grow just like the greens of a meadow. Ironically, Bhansali is able to speak so much just with the look of his film which adds an artistic dimension to an otherwise simple story.

Although it can be deemed as presenting itself in a Marchen manner, Saawariya actually hides dark undertones under its glistening exterior, with destitute prostitutes and traduced mothers all simmering under the froth of the fairy tale concoction. Just like the traditional pass the parcel party game, when each layer is peeled away, Saawariya becomes more exciting and appears just as intricate as a Persian carpet.

Saawariya is a romantic epic, transcending time allowing the director to engulf the viewer in a Boulevard of broken dreams. A must for those who wish to view art nouveau in its grandest form upon celluloid.


Anonymous said...

Hye nice sight

Loved the movie was a beautiful love story.

Sunny said...

Thank u

And yes I agree, one of my favourites of this year.