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Saawariya November 11, 2007

Posted by Sai in Hindi, Movies, Reviews.
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I fell in love with the theatrical trailer of this film the first time I saw it. The trailer seemed to be a small piece out of director Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s canvas for Saawariya and I was waiting with bated breath for the completed painting. Though the master paints a great picture and transforms the audience into a dream world envisioned in his mind, he falters with the content.

First, the positives. The visual style of this film is striking. Bhansali (Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, Devdas, Black) has always made visually pleasing, dramatic films. The former aspect is always the one that sticks the most in my mind. This film is no different. He creates a world of his own for this film. A city that doesn’t exist anywhere. One which borrows from many locations. A place where the weather follows Bhansali’s imagination. The film is completely shot on opulent sets that are wonderfully designed to exact specifications (the lighting choices are not the best at times) and even the sky isn’t real (visual effects are quite good). To bring this predominantly blue-green world to life, Bhansali collaborates with production designer Omung Kumar (and Vanita Omung Kumar) and cinematographer Ravi K Chandran (who were also a part of Black). The costumes (Rajesh Pratap Singh, Reza Shariffi, Anuradha Vakil) are beautiful, the choreography (Shiamak Davar, Ganesh Hegde, Mallu, Pappu) is superb and even the movements of the actors in the individual scenes seem to be choreographed by Bhansali. And the result is some brilliantly imagined and executed visuals. This film provides enough enchantment for the eyes to warrant a watch (for those that are interested in that sort of thing). My favorite scene in this film is the one where the main protagonists are jumping over puddles of water (that are also specially created).

The film is a musical in the Hollywood sense of the term (with a song popping up every few minutes and poetry replacing the spoken word) and the soundtrack is remarkable. Monty Sharma (Pyarelal’s nephew and Mithoon’s cousin) makes a commendable debut. It is hard to pick one favorite from among the two versions of Saawariya, Masha Allah, Yoon Shabnami and Thode Badmash (whose tune was composed by Bhansali himself). The quality of the lyrics (Sameer, Sandeep Nath, Nusrat Badr) is great and the singers do a superb job too. Debutants Shail Hada, Parthiv Gohil together with Kunal Ganjawala and Shreya Ghoshal do their best in rendering the painstakingly created numbers as they add their bit in creating some unforgettable songs.

Bhansali extracts good performances from the star kids in their launch vehicle. Ranbir Kapoor (Rishi Kapoor’s offspring) makes an impressive debut and the film revolves around his character. He is a charming young fellow that seems set for bigger things. Bhansali pays tribute to Raj Kapoor in numerous ways including a visual recreation of the RK banner’s logo. Even Rishi Kapoor is invoked a couple of times. Sonam Kapoor (Anil Kapoor’s daughter) is a beautiful girl and her smile is captivating. She emotes well and shows potential. Though Rani Mukherjee, who isn’t specially impressive, gets a character that is an important part of the script, I am not convinced about the necessity of its presence in the film. Salman Khan has very little to do in his special appearance. Zohra Sehgal gets a neat supporting part and she is charming as usual.

Now, the negatives. The problem with this film that it remains a short story (based on “White Nights” by Fyodor Dostoyevsky), one that can actually be described in a few lines (Boy falls in love with girl. Girl is waiting for her lover, who may never show up. Boy tries his best too woo the girl. And I’ll leave the rest to your imagination). The screenplay (Bhansali and Prakash Kapadia) does little to add meat to the story. Interestingly enough, the underlying theme is sort of like Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam revisited, shortened and reversed to an extent. The characters are clearly from the Bhansali world but they stop short of being memorable. The film does have its share of fascinating moments but not enough to make it a very good one.

This film is most definitely not one that is looking to entertain like a Bollywood potboiler. The film unfolds at its own pace but provides an experience that is firmly entrenched in my mind. I am not sure that this film will be a crowd pleaser (its business prospects might be hampered by Farah Khan’s Shah Rukh Khan starrer Om Shanti Om, which is only looking to entertain) but there will be a select few who will enjoy this greatly.


1. Vikrant - November 13, 2007

you’ve got to be kidding me….Is this review for real? How can you term Kapoor’s debut as “impressive”. This has got to be one of the worst debut’s ever. He’s trying to imbibe characteristics of Kapoor’s of previous generations and fails miserably. The one great thing about the kapoor’s was their individual identities. They had their own styles. The bubbliness this chap has tried to display is pathetic. His dancing skills need a thorough makeover. I simply can’t understand what are you reviewers’ standards for critiquing somebody. The sets were wonderful, agreed. From a pure photographic point of view, the movie scores, but story and acting was plain and tardy to say the least. Salman Khan plays the same age old roles he’s been playing. Tough guy who doesn’t talk much. His romance with the girl was sooooo not romance.
I never expected such a review about this new kid. Is he paying you?

2. Sai - November 13, 2007

Well, its just my opinion! I wasn’t really comparing him with the previous generations of Kapoors and I didn’t really expect him to perform like an established actor. For a debutant, he does quite well.

As far as aping his ancestors goes, I think Bhansali has tried to include such characteristics in his character and therefore, he has no other option. I agree that he seemed raw in a few scenes but I liked his performance overall, considering that he is on screen for almost the entire 142 minutes. As far as his dancing skills go, I really liked the few steps that he had in the Saawariya song (I believe they were meant to look exactly as they did) though it isn’t enough to say he is a good dancer.

I only had a couple of sentences about Ranbir Kapoor in my long review. So, he is most definitely not paying me 🙂

As I re-read my review, I believe I have made it clear that this film will appeal to a few people only.

3. vallabh - November 17, 2007

@ Vikrant’s comment “I never expected such a review about this new kid. Is he paying you?”

Well, let’s say Sai was paid to write two good lines about Ranbir Kapoor. Do you think he is gonna reply you saying “Wow dude!!! How did you find that out? I was paid 5000 bucks to write good about him.”? Well, I guess you are intelligent enough to know that no one says so. So, keep off such unwanted questions and please comment the movie and/or the review but not the reviewer. :p

If you browse through just a few of more than 200 movie reviews by Sai in this blog, you will definitely understand his standards. Please help yourself. I also recommend you to read the “About” page to know about these guys (if you haven’t already).

Happy browsing. 🙂

4. Shujath - November 26, 2007

Since I watched this after all the damning critical and popular verdict, I might have unconciously lowered my expectations prior to watching this but this definitely is not the reason I loved this.

After watching the promos and coming to know about the plot I think I knew what to expect and I got more than that. Agreed the plot (based on a short story) was wafer thin, but I don’t a better way than this to bring this alive on the big screen. I’ve seen some critics complaining about the authenticity of the setting and picking loopholes in the plot. I’d want to ask them if they would do the same to let’s say… Baz Luhhrman’s films. Saawariya was supposed to be a poetic fairy tale and it manages to be just that. But I must say I was a little bored during the initial parts of the second half. Especially the song “Chail Chabeela” was totally unnecessary…it was a mediocre song (compared to the rest of the wonderful soundtrack) and kind of spoilt the ethereal setting.

Coming to the debutants, Ranbir has that natural screen presence which gives you the feeling that you are watching a potential superstar. He can add me in his list of fans for now. You don’t get to notice much of Sonam except her giggle but she’s done quite well for her part.

Bhansali’s previous two film were impressive with their visual opulence but had failed to strike a chord with me. In my opinion, with Saawariya he redeems himself and now I am really looking forward to his next. Even though I loved this flick, I’d be wary about actually recommending this to the general audience given the way they’ve reacted to it till now.

PS: Neither SLB nor Ranbir paid me for this 🙂

5. Sai - November 26, 2007

I totally agree with your comments on the Chabeela song. It did not belong in the soundtrack or the film.

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