Archive for February 15, 2010

As if one Shah Rukh Khan wasnt enough, now we have a doggie version too! Awwwww…wwwwful! Or is this the Aamir’s doggie who was named after King Khan ? Koochi Koochie Hota Hai is the animated (read doggie) version of Karan Johar’s Kuch Kuch Hota hai.

Its directed by Tarun Mansukhani and has voiceovers by Shah Rukh Khan, Kajol, Rani Mukherjee, Sanjay Dutt, Riteish Deshmukh, Simi Agarwal, Anupam Kher, Uday Chopra and Sajid Khan. Guess who is not here ? Salman Khan. Missing In Action. And you dont need to be genius to guess the reason.

And whoever thought about the “Koochie Koochie” title, needs to get into doggie avatar soon. Woof teri ada, woof tera badan, woof woof tera ya title! The trailer looks, sounds and feels terrible! And more so, because in a year when UP makes it to the Oscar nomination in the Best Film category, we are still rewinding back to Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. Spare us. We are not buying the tickets! Feels like its made for Under-5 category! Take a look.


So, she sat down, pushed the rewind button, compared notes with other films and wrote this post for us. Fatema Kagalwala is the girl on the bike. Thats an easy way to spot her. Atleast we dont know any other girl in Mumbai who is happy to give us a bike ride anytime. In between ADing and writing, these days she is bit busy with pati and ghar-grasthi but like many of us her first love remains cinema. Read on. And like us, if you loved Rocket Singh, attack her!

”You know what I feel about these new-age ‘realist’ kinda movies, they put a complete honest effort into developing the whole film and when it comes to the climax its like they have lost all interest and want to just wrap it up hurriedly.”

These words were said to me by my husband introducing Rocket Singh, the salesman of the year, before I watched it. After I watched it, it made me think. Sadly because I tended to agree with them whole-heartedly about our so-called ‘new-age’, ‘multiplex’, ‘slice-of-life’, ‘realist’ cinema.

I finished watching the film with these words in mind. I did not agree with the analysis with respect to this film but still have chosen to open my piece with it as the problem with Rocket Singh, I believe, is not sincerity or honesty but simply a lack of balance.

Balance between dramatic reality and reality, entertainment and truth. In the cinema of some makers these dimensions are polarised. But when it comes to what I term as ‘filmy realism’ the tight-rope walk is do or die. Sadly, in these days it is becoming more die than do.  

At the end of Rocket Singh, I missed Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Basu Chatterjee and his likes with a pain. Generally, I crave that era wistfully but this time I missed it with a bit more vigour. Because, filmy realism began with them and ended with them. And try as we might we are unable to  recreate that world try as we might with whatever talent and money we can muster.  

Why do I compare both the world of Rocket Singh with that of Hrishida is not because of simple idealism or old-world values. I do so from the pov of story-telling, plain and simple.  

The drama of melodrama as a genre is easy to achieve insofar as one knows its boundaries and does not go the ham way or over-emphasize too much. There has been an established formula for melodrama for years which has successfully played out and will continue to do so. No blancing act required there except to keep in check over-emphasis.  

The drama of brutal, raw realism comes from itself. No holds barred, reality gets more real by this token. There is no limit to drama here as long as it is raw, brutal and stark. There are no balancing acts here that put demands on the maker vis-a-vis the value of his film, the choice only determining the nature. 

But filmy realism is a tricky thing. It is ambitious too. It straddles the world of reality and tempers it with a light-hearted note that might or might not be true/real, takes on the baggage of entertainment and even a note of drama to spice up the proceedings. All this within the construct of strict everyday reality yet keepng the fourth wall intact. Reality that is charming yet real yet engaging enough to keep you hooked yet unreal enough to keep you suspended in that ‘story-world’, yet layered enough for you to identify with every motivation, yet interesting enough to keep you rooted and at the end of it all real enough to be believable. Tall order, which Hrishikesh Mukherjee and his likes seemed to do effortlessly. And which our bluest-eyed boys fail at miserably time and again.  

Rocket Singh, according to me failed there. It did not have the correct balance of all ingredients. To spell it out, it relied too much on the truth of the character and sacrificed all the spice to it. The climax was beautiful in its honesty to the film, to reality, to the film’s reality and the world of its characters. But it left us cold. It left me cold and the person who I have quoted in the beginning. And millions of viewers who rejected it, which is painful.

Because it is not a bad film at all. In fact it is a good film. Far better than Chak De. Far braver too. But the idealism of the climax (and I don’t mean Rocket’s idealisim, I mean Jaideep’s idealism as a writer) not to compromise the truth of his character to drama and entertainment, not to pander to our baser and easily-fulfilled sides of our minds that would demand that. Brave decision. And in doing so he has made sure he has maintained the soul of the film. It is one film start to end and does not become something else altogether in the end just because a climax has to be certain way and story-writing conventions say so.

But, and now I will contradict myself. It is still not one film. Because it holds out two promises to us. One of idealism winning by its own gumption, the other of a nice light-hearted but deeper film, like Khosla ka Ghosla. It does not deliver on both accounts. 

Let’s examine the first one – Rocket Singh, the character is one of pure idealism, one who is forced to be honest, almost as though he is congenitally diseased by it. This idealism is doubly fuelled by his confidence in himself, his abilities and then later in his values and  to an extent, revenge. These were the very attributes that made Rocket Singh a hero, a real hero, even though he espoused what would seem today unrealistic values. These very values stood by him to give him strength in all his endeavours and weaknesses. So what happened in the end? What happened in the end, the breaking down of the man, in front of circumstances yet not bending his values yet being destroyed himself by his choice is I think a brilliant characterisation. It’s far more layered and telling that any our cinema has seen in a long-time. But, the promise the writer makes to us right from the beginning is that this man’s values are his strength. And so we expect him to derive strength from those. But that does not happen. What happens is a Gandhian ending where suffering is epitomised and ‘satya’ compels the ‘enemy’ to bend. Very idealistic and touching. But we were not promised a Gandhi’s story and so we felt cheated.

We felt even more cheated because the impact of this Gandhian ending left us miserably shaken out of our light-hearted mode (no it did not do anything to our consciences or anything, nothing RDB type of shaking up) but a rude awakening or say let-down. Like as though DDLJ had ended like  a Tezaab!

Not to say that a writer cannot suit his endings to his ideology. That he cannot subtly make his character do what he wishes him to do if it is within the parameters. Of course he can. But then do not promise a character that is different from that. Or do not scultp the tone of a story such that the legitimate conclusion would not fit in with your aspirations. I think Oye Lucky Lucky Oye did that brilliantly in recent times. Trippy, the film made no misleading promises, just sit back and enjoy the ride, it said. It’s an episode. Rocket Singh promised not only a joy-ride with a meaningful end but also an entertaining 2 and a half hours full of real-world charm and old-world values. But with the tone of the ending changed the complete tone of the film. Something that it was not building upto all this while. That’s why it was not one film. That is why even though it may have been true to its character it still was not true to its film.

Agreed, the questions were serious and choices life-defining even. But throughout the film not only does the tone of the film but the central character also promises me that life will be defined in a breezy way. More or less. And then a Hrishikesh Mukherjee film becomes a Shyam Benegal film. (Don’t take it literally, I am talking about the cinema they represent.)

On a more massy level, I would attribute the lack of drama in the climax to its failure. Maybe there are more such reasons with what was wrong with it. And if there wasn’t much, then lots is wrong with the audience that rejected it so brutally. 

– FK

PS – And to read more of her filmy thoughts, you can visit