{Of all lies, art is the least untrue - Flaubert}

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye!

I missed first 15-20 mins of Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye!. It all started with the trouble to reach the theatre. The listing that I checked showed 66th and 3rd Ave but it was actually 11th and 3rd (it is another story how I figured out that, in short it was not easy). When I reached panting, it was already 3:15 pm for a 2:50 pm show (I hope in the beginning they showed trailers of usual Bollywood crap like Dostana which was playing next door). All the trouble was worth it. I was just sad that I was the only one in the theatre, when the Dostana screen had so many people. No Kidding, it was sad.

Lets start with a customary one liner plotline. Lucky, the charming, (an astonishing Abhay Deol) is a superchor, who along with his childhood friend, Bangali (Manu Rishi), works for Gogi Bhai (Paresh Rawal), but owing to his oversized charm and intelligence, he outsizes Gogi bhai and along the way he finds fame and notoriety, falls in love ["Jugnu rehndi sheeshe paar"] and hopes for a happy family life ["jugni hasdi ve hasdi, ke dil vich basdi"]. In this standard storyline, the first and foremost thing that director Dibakar Banerjee does is to literally add Delhi(same as he did in Khosla ka Ghosla, remember quick rajma recipe ["main kenni rajma chawal chadha de, ke do di vajai chaar citeeyaan vaja de, vich thoda soda paade, kal kenda ni si khada khazana waala"] in the opening scene). So a standard scene of seduction translates to that marvellous scene where the girl says "by god, main touch ho gayi" and a dinning table conversation translates to something even more marvellous [ "yeh show piece hai aur yeh khana"]. What is more amazing is that it all happens without a single stereotype, if I can say so (and I mean it as appeciation), they are all humane caricatures written with lots of sympathy for them. One way to explain this is through one of the song in the film soundtrack "Tu Raja ki Raj Dulari", a soulful Haryanavi Ballad (raagni). With raw traditional voice and lyrics, the song is true its spirit but the techno beat (which never tempers with voice and lyrics) is the indication of the milieu where it is used. Our hero is not someone who will write and sing that song, but the one who feels the same emotion (and may be in the same language) just because of the fact that he has grown listening to such sound and music. It is an excellent way for a film to connect to roots of its characters and fly, never giving an impression that such music is "used" for just creating the impression of Delhi like shots of Chandni Chowk to India Gate are cheaply used as "establishing shots" for Delhi in much of Yashraj-Brand Filmmaking.

Not to put the film in any disadvantage of over-expectation, I think Oye Lucky, Lucky Oye! is even better than Khosla ka Ghosla (although I have see Oye Lucky! at least one more time to say anything concrete), and one aspect where the film clearly exceeds is performances (I think for the kind of films Dibakar Banerjee is making, he knows how important the performances are). I did not find any of the performance weak (I only wish that the triple role of Paresh Rawal can be distributed among more actors just in the hope of finding more of Richa Chaddas and Manu Rishis, also I did not find any reason (logical or illogical, something like Ayeshia Takia playing both wife and secretary to K in No Smoking) why they are played by same actor. May be something happened in first few mins that I missed). Oye Lucky, Lucky Oye ! is a treasure trove of performances. A performance like Richa Chadda's Dolly is great by any standards. It is not a central role but its pivotal in a way any character role can be. It is not by chance that when I gave two examples before of how similar situations are translated to Delhi lingo, I quoted both lines said by Dolly, it is because she gets it perfectly right all the time, little here or there would have made those scenes little funnier but much more dispassionate. If Neetu Chandra's Sonal (excellent by the way) is girl next door, Dolly is definitely girl few doors away, a more cinematic entity, a more vibrant character.

The romance between Sonal and Lucky starts with Lucky's usual charm but the director plays with it for Lucky's need to have a family and with the excellent glass door motif, without overemphasizing, he conveys the fragility of this love, and also the emotional distance between lovers. Every visit and every opening of the glass door is a new beginning for the lovers. In few beautiful shots we see Neetu Chandra standing in front of the glass door, both fearful and waiting to open the door. It looked as if the director touched the cornerstone of romantic love.

I should not forget to note the first rate and large-hearted humor of the film which makes it such an entertaining fare. I was time and again amazed by the clever use of Hindi/Punjabi/Haryanavi (remember the first meeting of Special branch cop with Gogi Bhai and his flip to Haryanavi). And do you remember why Bangali is called Bangali? And how can one forget the "Lady Doggy" sequence - the funniest celebration of canine love. It is so heartening to see that even if director is dealing with something dark at the core, but he never raises "its serious cinema" flag. It is heartening to see someone trust his audience that they will understand the void in Lucky's life amidst the flourishes of his adventures and his zest for life.

A word about music, although I have touched it before. I am a minority of the people whom I know who think that Punjabi language and music has an unparalleled emotional power and much of it is wasted in similar-sounding bhangra beat numbers. I still remember the days when I first heard real Punjabi music in a Spic-macay concert at my college, it was amazed how soul-stirring it was. This film gets its music and the tone right and how songs are used without interrupting the narrative and how the mix of folk and funk is just suited for it.

One way to show the life of Lucky Singh is to realistically portray every twist and turns of his adventures and the other way to mythologize (not idolize) it. I personally like the later approach especially when it is used for something where it should not be used in popular culture, partly because its deviant, risky and interesting, but more so because it rescues the film from the typical struggle between good and evil, inspiration and rebuke but puts its in the realms of storytelling and about the passion of the protagonist. I felt that Lucky does not have passion for stealing (although to his credit he never differentiated between big and small, stealing everything with equal love) but a skill for it. His passion was his aspirations (if he were good at anything else, he will use it to pursue his aspirations) which the director beautifully uses to reveal different aspects of society which he interacts with. To the distant, he is a notorious celebrity of India's Most wanted list, and for the near, he is much more complex, evoking awe, love, hate and envy at equal measure, to us film goers he is sort of a middle class myth and director does something in the last shot of the film [a pixelled black and white close-up of Lucky] which comes close to mythologizing him.

To tell the truth, I was little scared before I saw the film. It is usual scare a cinephile experiences when he goes to see the second film of a director whose first film was really good. It was the similar scare which I had when I saw No Smoking, and it will be the same when I will see the next film by Navdeep Singh. It is more than the feeling that the director may screw it (he has all the freedom to screw) but it is a feeling that what ever you so dearly liked about the film was something of a byproduct (may be a fluke) not director's main concern, he does not think the way you thought he does. A second good film reassures all that. Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye! does that.


joylynford said...

the motto of the film ‘Kamaao to zero, churaao to hero" itself is so interesting. and with paresh rawal and nitu chandra there is a hell lot of comedy. this movie is awesome. i like it.

Anonymous said...

Yah its a great movie... i have also added its review and its torrent on my blog http://entertainmentx4u.wordpress.com/.
You can download it from there if you want to.

apperceptivebackground said...

Hey Anurag

Thank you for the appreciation.
Dibaker is not the sort of director who will try and explain his devises. He leaves that to the audience to figure out. The way I see it, Paresh Rawal as Lucky's father, Gogi bhai and Handa is cast as such because of the similarity of their characters. All three are father figures, who betray hom one way or the other.There are constant references even in the dialogue to push the point.

"Tune nai mana, par hamne to tujhe beta mana hai"
Gogi to Lucky

"I want my son to meet you." and
"Pehle Skoda mein ride... phir chori. aise hi sab shuru hota hai" Handa to Lucky.

The first Paresh Rawal of course, WAS the father.


apperceptivebackground said...

by the way,Richa here.

B said...

Pretty good review.

OLLO sounds to be quite a delightful watch like K2G

The director is here to stay and I also love the fact that Abhay Deol manages to find these quirky roles that he does full justice to

anurag said...

Thanks Richa for coming here and commenting.

What you are saying makes lot of sense. Paresh plays the father figure and in all three cases betrays him too. He, in each case, is the motivating factor (sort of) for Lucky to get out and do more interesting things.

My point was more from acting perspective. No doubt, Paresh Rawal acted good in all three roles, but the Delhi flavor is missing in at least two of them (Father and Gogi Bhai), and it is something which you and Manu Rishi get dead on, that flavor is something very key to the film.

I am also not saying that it is a publicity stunt but I think that someone like Vinod Nagpal (Sahni sa'ab of Khosla ka Ghosla) or any regional actor would have been better. Its just my opinion.

Anonymous said...

ok..u liked this movie...eventhough u were the only one in the theatre...but dostana was not stupid...if you skip the last 10 minutes...its good...

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Viagra said...

It's a bummer you missed the first twenty five minutes of the show!