Friday, July 3, 2009

Oye Lucky Lucky Oye

Oye Lucky Lucky Oye
Original: Utpal Datta

When we talk about Bollywood films, a world of fantasy and make belief that predominated for ages, has interestingly seen a downward trend. Firstly a trend of films with new concepts did make an entry and then the foray of films which took over commercial ones and more real to life and represented facets of life in more real terms did gain lot of appreciation from audiences and thus transformed the entire scene of Bollywood of late. It is noteworthy here that the prima facie behind such transformation are the entry of new directors who have made a foray into Bollywood with some very ‘hatke’ themes and concepts of developing a story. One among this brigade is a director called Dibakar Bannerjee.

Through his debut film, ‘Khosla ka Ghosla’ , Dibakar Bannerjee reached out to the audience in a big way by depicting a simple story of a middle class man and his dream of owning a home; the trials and tribunals involved in the search; intermixed with comedy and slapstick humour. The film received the National Award for the best film of the year 2008. His second venture ‘Oye Lucky Lucky Oye’ and its stupendous success further helped Bannerjee in carving a niche for himself in Bollywood and become a household name.

Inspired by a real life incident, the film revolves round a smart thief. The film unfolds with a television show showcasing crime and criminals. The anchor for the show starts the story with the name of a thief called Lucky and speaking about his personal life- that is how the film starts rolling and that is how the film ends too.

A life story of a thief- that itself holds forth for an interesting, dramatic story to unfold before the eyes. Infact, at the very onset, the histrionics of the TV anchor sets the ball rolling for an exciting and dramatic mood altogether. Scene 1: Lucky is arrested by the police, there is the recovery of many stolen items, there is an exhibition of the same by the police department, accompanied by a press conference organized by the police whereby the entire incident of capturing Lucky is to be announced- immediately after that, the film goes back to Lucky’s childhood. Lucky belongs to a lower middle class Punjabi family based in Delhi. His father marries for the second time, there is loss of peace at home, Lucky grows into adolescence like a Bohemian, falls in love with a girl from his neighborhood, dreams of making it rich, learns the art of theft, grows into a young man, makes a name for himself in theft but what marks Lucky’s stealing charming is the use of humour and presence of mind. But the day he gets caught at the hands of the police, then he escapes, the anchor of the television show ends Lucky’s story and begins another story depicting another criminal, the film ends there.

Centering around Lucky, the protagonist, the film does not carry forward a heavy story, neither there is a sequence of problem, conflict-solution of any kinds. Instead the depiction of same kinds of theft and its repetition at times slows down the film’s pace and makes it annoying. Barring these portion, otherwise the film has been very successful in holding the audience’s attention throughout. Lucky is the film’s protagonist, but interestingly, he is not the hero. Neither he is the villain, or depicted as having grey shades to his character. Although he has taken up stealing as a profession, he but represents a simple ordinary man. Family feud, love and romance, dreams, aspirations, all these are integral part of Lucky’s life. He has come across more influential and crafty thieves than him, who have criticized him. His partners in crime have also criticized him. He falls in love with a college girl, which again remains a distant dream like many other dreams in his life. The last scene of the film where Lucky gets exhumed as in flames against the backdrop of a vast stretch of road is significant. This scene speaks for itself the void ness in Lucky’s life and his emotional quotient. This very scene touches upon creating the much desired upon response by the director upon his audiences.

The depiction of Lucky’s simple story, and its dramatic conflict is well crafted in the hands of Dibakar Bannerjee and his directorial techniques. He uses the commercial aspects of a typical masala movie but entwines it with his emotional likings and beliefs, and comes up with something new. As earlier mentioned, the film begins with a television show. To capture the mood of the audience, he uses the same kind of effect on frames throughout the film. Generally, a film is depicted in a chronological manner like in from one shot to another with inter-linkages in between , but the same is absent in this film. Again, when to capture the desired effect, the dialogues are paced according to the storyline, the same can be noticed in this film too. It is like the camera is not capturing a moment, rather, a situation arises whereby the camera gets the job done of capturing that moment. As a result what we get is a real presentation of the story. Again, what adds to the film’s reality is set designing, costume designing, dialogues and most importantly acting. The use of Punjabi mixed Hindi for the dialogues have made the film based against a typical Punjabi locality rather than a Hindi one. This real essence of the film is credit worthy and for which Dibakar Bannerjee gets special mention.

All the actors in the film have carried out the roles with finesse. Not a single artist is the odd man out in the film. The juxtaposition and fine blending of a veteran actor like Paresh Rawal with newcomers have been handled craftly at the hands of the director. Paresh Rawal has played three different roles in the film and each role with great finesse. Abhay Deol does justice to the role of Lucky. He shows a lot of promise. Again, Neetu Chandra who plays Lucky’s love interest is also attractive and appealing.

One striking thing which needs mention when it came to acting are the dialogues of the film. The artists have very well drove home the point via dialogues in the minds and hearts of the audience with the use of a fine rhythm in them. One scene in the film needs special mention. Dolly is Sonal’s elder sister (who plays Lucky’s love interest) and is a professional dancer. Lucky goes to meet Sonal one day but bumps into Dolly all alone in the house. Dolly tries to physically incite him and also relates to him that the other night she had to dance on an empty stomach (a well indicated dialogue of what she hinted at)- but Lucky refused to succumb to Dolly’s whims: an action which infuriated Dolly a lot. A brief encounter between the two characters but Dolly (played by Richa Chadda) stands out in the scene. The use of appropriate dialogues and the finesse on the part of the actor to bring out a real effect from such dialogues is creditworthy. Richa Chadda is worth mentioning in her brief role. The director knew that each dialogue had to be spoken with the desired effect to bring out on the screen. It’s not always difficult to bring out such an effect from established and veteran actors, but with newcomers it’s really a big task, but here the director has been successful.

The film’s camera work has already been mentioned. One more thing which should not be left unmentioned is the use of slow motion in the film. There are some moments in the film where this technique is used, especially when the story tries to depict or bring out to the fore Lucky’s emotional side. Such technique without doubt has been able to create an unforgettable experience on the audience.

There are a few songs in the film too. The songs have undoubtedly enhanced the effect of the scenes. In simple terms, the songs play the role of background music for the film.

In totality, the film is an unconventional one, the presence of a crafted and talented director can be well felt throughout the film. This film and its success have paved the way to look forward with eagerness for the director’s next venture. Just one wish, that the director will not fail to create enough ripples in the hearts of the audience, as he has done with this film. Way to go Oye Lucky Lucky Oye….


Original: Utpal Datta

A film director creates a world of his own, within the frame-work or space of a film’s narrative. It is noteworthy that although the camera frame or the cinematic presence remains intact, it is within such frames only the director displays a world of cinematic brilliance by giving birth to a whole new world of make-belief convincingly. Appropriate camera angles, light and shade’s proper methodology, and the idealistic setup created by a camera’s frame: these getaways at times gives rise to a world as wide as a blue sky and at times a microscopic imagery of a rose petal. Finally as a result what we get an experience of cinema which speaks for itself.

A multistoried building, two characters standing on the balcony bereft of words spoken between them, a world of their heart’s unending trauma, which the camera very judiciously captures the vast sky above the characters which aptly describes the character’s state of mind which aspires peace and tranquility within themselves. Similarly, a shot to be remembered is the one where the hero buys roses from a girl on the roadside: the color which forms basis on the hero’s heart is black (because of the existing turmoil), the roses itself are red, so the frame which comes out as a result is left without any gaps, like a microscopic one, where the color red (of the roses) takes precedence over the hero’s state of mind and heart. Such artistic and cinematic brilliance are achieved by an upcoming director Aniruddha Roychoudhury. His first film, ‘ Anuranan’ spoke for itself when it came to emotional and expressive quotient, his second venture, ‘Antaheen’ which enabled Aniruddha to carve a niche for himself in the field of Indian cinema.

There is not a conventional story in Antaheen; it’s a story of love and the extent of love in its myriad ways and the long wait for love. It’s a journey into love. In order to drive home his point the director gives human life to his characters in this film. Antaheen is a film about a journey into the relationship between man-woman, a journey which takes a peek look into the human emotions which are integral part of this journey. Mention must be made here of the challenging task on the part of the director who took recourse to unconventional methods of narration for this film which itself speaks of a film devoid of a fixed story. The director’s efforts her have paid off really well.

The film starts with the director’s narrative discussing a couple. Then follows the name casting where images of a laptop, high-hand cell phone, revolver etc. (depicting a modern life) are displayed, images which plays pivotal role as the story progresses.

Aveek Choudhury (Rahul Bose), a police officer, unmarried, traumatized with the conventional marital settings, has no link-ups with any girl but has an online friend whose he waits eagerly and stares at the laptop where the star appears, and which star radiates his world of loneliness. It is said that the electronic medium often fails to express emotions. But after watching Antaheen, this myth seems to fade away permanently.
“ Raat Jaaga Taara” is Brinda (Radhika Apte), a television journo. Professionally, she meets Aveek, but no relationship blooms between them, interestingly via the internet both come closer and closer to each other. This relationship between Aveek and Brinda is kept alive curiously till the end by the cimematographer, Shyamal Sengupta. Just when the situation approaches for the two to come face to face, suddenly Brinda loses her life to some unidentified goons. Aveek remained clueless that his night star has extinguished forever. Such intensity of emotion touches the audiences love, for a moment, comes to an endless halt.

The film is not limited to these two characters only. Aveek’s uncle (Kalyan Roy), a financial consultant Ranjan and aunty Parmita (Aparna Sen) play a separated couple, but are still friends, both realizing that too much intimacy between them may diminish the passion and love which they possesed for each other. Parmita is a senior executive in a television channel, Brinda’s friend and colleague. She reminiscences her love for photography when she is alone, and also by cleaning up the lens of the camera. Once on Ranjan’s birthday Parmita drops in, they celebrate together, she gifts him a book of poem, spend the night together, and then they part. Parmita decides to relocate to Mumbai in search of a lucrative job, discusses with Ranjan, who advises her to go ahead with her decision though he wants. Parmita to stay back in Kolkata in his mind. Parmita on the other hand, too thinks that if Ranjan would have asked her to stay back. What we get is unspoken words between the two again a wait for them maybe someday they mite hear what their heart desires.

Aveek’s unmarried paternal aunt Moni (Sharmila Thakur) stays with him, who spends her time mainly in embroidery. She never had any affair with anyone. Except for once, when she got a phone call from a wrong number, a male person on the other end speaking to her for sometime. Since then she keeps her long wait for the same phone call which one fine day did stop coming. Again, a long wait for Moni.

Industrialist Mehra’s (Souvik Kundgrami) daughter’s death occurred in an accident but his wife Shalini (played by Mita Vaishist) opines that Mr. Mehra is responsible for their daughter’s death. Again, is a wait by Mehra to get his wife who has treaded her paths way away from her husband.

With the help of these four characters, the director brings to light a world of love and friendship in its myriad emotions and variations, tried to tell something which none did prior. Clubbed into four relationships, in one a couple stays together but are far apart, in one a couple stay part but are close to each other, in another the male is invisible, what we get to hear only is his baritone voice, and in another both the male-female are residents of a make-belief world.

It is indeed tough and challenging to think such an intellectual story, more challenging to write such a narrative and tell it in a simple manner. But all credit goes to the director who tells a different story in his own creative and innovative way.

Brinda goes out one day to investigate a land construction scam in which industrialist Mehra gets himself into. And that day itself, some unidentified goons kills her in their car. Barely few hours prior to that accident, she spoke to Aveek. During the conversation, she realized that Aveek did possess much similiarities with each other. But they could not keep their word. Again, the long wait which symbolizes the entire filmis made explicit here.

All the characters have an individual life of their own, each story is unique, but each character is entwined into the story in its individual way. But this is just an external union. The real and more engrossed union is displayed by the director in the emotional quotient of the film. Each character speaks of love and the longingness and passion associated with that love: all such intercourse makes the director’s narrative sound like a perfect orchestra and gives it life.

Aveek and Brinda’s relationship presents a dual picture, one which both recognizes and are part of it and interestingly, another which none realizes, but in both the emotional quotient is at its peak. Ranjan-Parmita’s love story speaks of one which has won against all odds yet lost the game, an intimacy which is still intact even after separation and a pain which symbolizes a zeal to win each other back in life. The characters have done a marvelous job to this effect. Moni Aunty found her desired relationship in a voice which remained invisible to her eyes. Cold-blooded industrialist Mehra, though engaged in a heartless business still desires to put an end to the cold and sterile relationship with his wife.

Man-woman relationships, their intricacies, their pros & cons, all such delicate issues are aptly entwined by the director in all the four stories of the film, which are not only expressive but at the same time deeply heart-touching. The characters analysis comes to the fore and the narration moves on like an orchestra. , which reaches its peak during Brinda’s death in the movie. As if for a moment, life comes to a stand still but barring all odds life again starts moving. Some events which are not smooth-sailing gets reflected in the narration, but credit goes to the writer who manages to keep intact the audience’s attention throughout the film. Added to it, the pain of separation had added to the woes. Love and longingness- these two ingredients are used in different means to describe man-woman relationships and its intricacies involved by the director.

Described as the director’s own cut (the story), the screenplay writer, Shyamal Sengupta did not resort to 3 way conventional methods of story telling. The reason why this film doesn’t speak of the intricacies involved in it in the first half. Gradually, the director has aptly and very judiciously made use of all the pre-requisites of narration to give life to the story on celluloid. The use of light and shade according to the scene’s mood, the use of colour, camera’s focus and the movements of the story, judicious use of these make the director’s speech very real. Mention must be made of the background score by Shantanu Moitra which aptly fits at times in between the dialogues and at times in between the scenes.

All the artists in the film have live up to everyone’s expectations and have very well drove home the director’s point home. Costume designing, set designing et all do fit in very appropriately with the director’s narration.

The film does not display one particular story arising out of a theatrical crisis. There is a no direct portrayal of an edge of the seat storyline, no hero to admire, no villain to despise. Neither is there any characteral-situational-narrational arrest in the film. The arrest lies in the character’s individual emotional crisis. The director had indeed proved his prowess over the art of story telling by beautifully strewing a garland with such intricacies in the film. The film sees the coming together of a number of talented artists on screen, though their talent gets reflected through the director’s brilliance. Another significant thing about the director which mesmerizes and stands out in his conviction. A conviction to tell a story by breaking away from the conventional shackles and more importantly in such a successful manner. Aniruddha Choudhury stands out for such conviction in him and has carved a niche for himself.

In every shot the director’s emotional excitement gets displayed and at the same time more seriously during the highly emotional scenes, the director’s portrayal of the human emotions in an unprecedented and epical way, sets the way to term him as an artist in the truest terms of the words.

But inspite of such encouraging and praiseworthy terms, it is to be mentioned here that in between the film, techniques of product endorsement, have to some extent played spoil-sport in such an enriching experience of viewing the film.