Namak: I don't know why the reviews for it are so bad, I quite enjoyed it.
Dolce: YOU liked it? You don't even like rom-coms!!
Namak: And nor do you, so that's a moot point. Sure it's no Dil Chahta Hai or Jab We Met, or even an Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani, but of everything we've seen this year in the genre, this was the best one. Think about it: for sure it's better than I Hate Luv Storys...
Dolce: Which we own and saw twice in the theatre.
Namak: It was infinitely better than Anjaana Anjaani...
Dolce: Which we own and saw twice in the theatre.
Namak: And let's not even mention Aisha or Kites!
Dolce: Which we both hated but will still buy when they're cheap enough.
Namak: Lookit, just because I overindulge in your silly crushes on Ranbir, Imran, Abhay and Priyanka doesn't mean any of them were good films.
Dolce: Ouch. Burn. But it's not all me, you're the one who wanted to see Kites! You wanted to laugh at it.
Namak: Fine, that one was my doing. Either way. Just saying that of everything we've seen this year, this one stands out.
Not that it means much to stand out compared to garbage movies, but I figured with all the bad reviews, it was perhaps a good idea to put aside my Wake Up Sid post for another day and make a case for Imran Khan and Deepika Padukone starrer Break Ke Baad (link to trailer).
This is your typical rom-com set-up, of the "we love each other but have different expectations from life" variety. Abhay and Aliya have known each other since they were kids, were together for 10 years, now they're adults and he wants to settle down, while she wants to pursue her dream of becoming an actress. Away from him. I know they say the movie is supposed to be about needing space in a relationship, but I didn't see that angle at all, this wasn't about space, it was about being selfish and spoiled. On Aliya's side. And about being a clingy doormat on Abhay's side. I suppose you can look at it as one of them needing space and the other not being used to giving it, but it didn't look to me like she needed a break, it looked like she was trying to get the hell away from him.
Anyways, back to the plot ---- wait, what plot? Oh right, it's a rom-com, the plot doesn't really matter. No really, there's nothing earth shattering there, and I didn't particularly care for the ending either, but then again, what rom-com doesn't have a cheesy ending? Even a classic like Dil Chahta Hai is guilty of that.
No, this genre doesn't make a living off coming up with innovative ways to fall in love and break up, so there's no point in even talking about the plot. You know what type of movie you're going in for, complaining about the plot would be like complaining about snow in Canada (and of course, we do that almost every day for 6 months of the year, and sometimes even in the summer when we remember). This genre's bread and butter are performances, chemistries and situations. And in these departments I found it to be quite rewarding.
First of all Imran. He's not as devilishly adorable as he was in I Hate Luv Storys, in fact his character is a bit of a bore, but he manages to make it fun nonetheless. He seems to have an endless supply of facial expressions and eyebrow movements (I swear his eyebrows do yoga: he could even make them stand on his head if he wanted to!).
There's a scene in the beginning where he is practicing proposing to Aliya so he is imagining her reaction and her lines and ends up playing both roles in the mirror, I just about died laughing. His line delivery is another one of his best features: it's sharp and punchy in the fun scenes, and gracefully lyrical in the dramatic ones. Mercifully they didn't make him do the two things that he makes me cringe with: dancing and crying. So all in all, he could do no wrong with this role.
Deepika Padukone is not one of my favourite girls, but she keeps up quite well. It's not her fault the script made her character a little too zingy for its own good. But she pulls it off. And she definitely rocks some very skimpy desiwear, which is always a plus in my book.
Even in the bits where Aliya is clearly trying way too hard to be a rebel, Deepika manages to make her reasonably believable. Plus she does a pretty good drunk!
Namak: On a separate note, is it just me or are all the characters in Indian rom-coms these days completely asexual? In a movie like Wake Up Sid it doesn't bother me, because the movie focuses more on friendship than love, but Break Ke Baad could have done with a little bit of sizzle.
Dolce: But they keep breaking up, they're hardly ever together.
Namak: I get it that they're breaking up, but I find it hard to believe that there's no sexual tension at any point in this process. It's like these days movies either go the scandalous route, or they completely shy away from even hinting that a couple would actually be attracted to each other that way.
Dolce: There are a couple of scenes where it's implied. Sort of...
Namak: It's implied that what, they kiss??
Dolce: Uh... That he... sleeps over sometimes...Namak: Hm... a pretty feeble attempt if you ask me.
But back to the rest of their chemistry. The chemistry is what I am usually afraid of in a movie like this. However, happy to report that worked well for me. The scene where they get drunk on the rooftop and Aliya calls herself Shah Rukh Khan and Abhay calls himself Sunita is one of the best in the film. As are some of their fights.
Which brings me to why I liked this movie above the other ones in recent memory: the script. I liked the long distance relationship angle. I found it particularly funny (and very real) how they would start a conversation on the phone and turn it into a fight for some mindblowingly ridiculous reason. Whoever wrote those dialogues must have been in this situation or if not, hats off, because they captured it brilliantly. And speaking of brilliant scenes, their fight in the men's washroom is another highlight for me. Not in terms of characters, because that's the scene that proves beyond doubt that Aliya is a selfish brat and that Abhay is essentially a wimp, but because their circular arguments once again reminded me of so many real life situations where both parties are asking each other to just listen but neither of them is willing to actually do that, so they keep throwing the ball aimlessly from one end of the court to the other without really resolving anything. Ah... Good stuff!
Other scripting gems are to be found everywhere in the film, starting with Abhay's aunt rubbishing Devdas with something along the lines of "There is nothing sexy about that man", and ending with all of Nadia and Cy's banter, there wasn't a dull moment in the entire 2 hours.
And speaking of Nadia and Cy, the other main reason for liking Break Ke Baad was that it's been so damn long since we've seen some good supporting characters. Aliya and Abhay's friends in Australia were the best sidekicks I've seen since Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na. Nadia is one hot tamale, and her no nonsense, cynical attitude complemented her brother Cyrus' uselessness like two peas in a pod. Plus they're not only there for comic relief (though Cyrus had me laughing in almost every scene), they actually help develop the plot and we get to see them plenty (maybe not so much in the stills and trailers though).
And since this was meant to be a positive response to all the negative reviews, I guess I'll leave on a good note, without talking about all the things that were silly, inane and ridiculous (because there is quite a number of those as well), but not before mentioning Vishal - Shekhar's excellent songs Adhoore and Ajab Leher which were my favourites before the film and I love them even more after the picturizations. I didn't notice when they played Main Jiyoonga or its English counterpart Don't Worry About Me, but maybe I missed it? At any rate, pleasant soundtrack and fitting lyrics. Again, a cut above everything else I've seen this year. As if my massive Vishal Dadlani crush needed any more fuel!
Break Ke Baad is like... a grilled cheese sandwich. There's nothing innovative about it and you've had it a million times before, and the cheese in your fridge is getting stale which is why you're making it in the first place, but there's something very right about it when you have it and it leaves a satisfied smile on your face when you finish it.