Saturday, June 4, 2011

Ajab Ranbir's Silly Happy Movie

Now that Kapoor Khazana is in full blast, a quick reminder that this is a wonderful month-long international event, hosted by Totally Filmi's Katherine, so in case you didn't land on my blog through this event, do check out all the other happenings and posts collected by Katherine here. It's already been a blast and we haven't even completed a week!

While on the topic of shameless promotion, I take this opportunity to also pimp out my page of Ranbir Kapoor avatars, because you know, why not?

And now back to business as usual. I'm a little behind of actual reviews, so one was long overdue. Since I have so far talked at length about 2 Ranbir movies on this blog, and briefly touched on another 2, there was no other option but to finally review the wacky Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani ("The extraordinary tale of oddball Prem", as I like to translate it, very inaccurately I'm sure). A simple or not so simple love story between Prem (Ranbir Kapoor), the good for nothing self-elected president of The Happy Club and Jenny (Katrina Kaif), the new girl in town. Essentially it's just another one of those growing up from slacker to hero stories that Ranbir Kapoor excels at, but as usual with him, the theme stays fresh and fun. Katrina Kaif doesn't typically impress me, but this is the role where I found her glorious and perfectly cast. Her best acting yet, even though that may sound inadequate for such a silly film.

Namak: Ewww!!! Converse shoes and a skirt???
Dolce: Oh don't worry, in terms of sartorial choices, there is much worse in this one!

Yes, Ranbir, that IS a satin suit and no amount of staring at it will make it better...

Well then, we're off to a good start! Though I must also congratulate the costume department in this one for the persistence with which they kept repeating the colour yellow (my favourite) in Katrina's outfits. Loved every single one of those yellow dresses and let me tell you there were many!

Namak: Actually, you criticize it for no reason, the clothes were young and fun for the most part.
Dolce: Too yuppy for my tastes, but that's something I have to learn to live with. At least they were colourful!

But one thing that the above poster does nail is the cartoon feel of this movie. One will never make it past the first 20 minutes unless they have understood and embraced that. The comedy in APKGK is very much reminiscent of Tom and Jerry cartoons, and even though it pauses for the serious moments that take the plot forward, ample warning about it is still needed.

I'm usually not the type to go for goofy comedy, but this is one of those films where you have no choice but to laugh out loud. It's not just that the comedy is funny, it's also so self-aware that you feel like a condescending schmuck if you don't go along with it. At least I did.

I mean for crying out loud: they escape on a ski jet and climb onto a train stopped on the bridge on a rope ladder!! That alone should tell you it's an insult to expect any seriousness from this movie! But at the same time I appreciate that unlike many comedies lately this one doesn't rely on causing someone pain or on insulting people in order to be funny. It's all in good heart: people sitting on cakes, exaggerated reactions, over the top acting, Ranbir dancing goofily at the wedding, Katrina making faces, Salman Khan in a very self-referential guest appearance, the kind of stuff that good old-fashioned comedy is made of.

Namak: Trying too hard sometimes maybe?
Dolce: No way! Just right!
Namak: Definitely too much comedy for my taste at times, but I must admit the non-goofy moments do make up for that.

Another reason why Ajab Prem works so well as a cartoon is the set: a very artificial town, reminiscent of Saawariya, where only a fairy tale can take place. This blends nicely with the outlandish feel of the whole story, removing all claims for realism.

Dolce: But you know what I think is this movie's biggest strength?
Namak: D-uh! Ranbir, right?
Dolce: Hah! Very funny, but no. THE SONGS! It's not very often you watch a movie these days where every single song is not only perfectly placed but also impeccably shot! I can't even pick a favourite they're all just so good!
Namak: And of course that has nothing to do with Ranbir?
Dolce: Erm... well, of course they work even better because he's such a great performer, but... Well yeah, I guess that's a big part of it.
Namak: Mm-hm. I knew it.

No really, someone please try and find one thing that is faulty in this one:

Wonderful, just wonderful!

And while on the topic of the songs, I really wish one day I could analyse what makes Tu Jaane Na so exquisitely beautiful, but I'm afraid dozens of rewatches later I still am not able to think straight while watching it. I get the old lump in the throat when it starts and coherent thought is replaced by a storm of emotions until it ends.

I also always forget just how much I love Aa Jao Meri Tamanna until I see it again in the movie. And it's not only the beautiful lyrics and the soulful melody, I blame a lot of it also on Ranbir's natural gift for lip-synching. So many other actors look either uncomfortable or just goofy when doing all those broad gestures and pretending to sing at the top of their broken heart, but not Ranbir. He was born for this, there's no doubt about it!

Oh but enough of the songs, I could be here all day talking about them and I never even mentioned Ranbir's dancing yet!

It's a difficult task this movie took on: to tell a story with the emotional pathos of the olden days, but also to keep it entertaining and funny with goofy moments and situational comedy. I think they nailed it most of the time.

Namak: Except for the stammer stuff. That was unnecessary, no?
Dolce: What? I thought that was cute! 
Namak: It seemed so tacked on, they just couldn't find a better excuse for their first fight so they added it to the script.
Dolce: Not at all. It was a cute little detail that makes both characters even more endearing.
Namak: Hmpf! Suit yourself. I think the movie would have worked just fine without that.
Dolce: That may be so but how would you have had this wonderful umbrella moment without it?

Jenny realizes that she had no reason to be mad at Prem so in a pinch for how to say sorry, she quickly advances to cover him with her umbrella. This is the kind of Bollywood we live for, isn't it?

By the way, for more adorable and romantic umbrella moments in all kinds of Kapoor movies, Totally Filmi has a post dedicated to them here.

What is there left to say about Ajab Prem? Plenty! I haven't talked about the gangsters / men in black...

...haven't mentioned the twist that brings Upen Patel into the tale (not that that's a good thing, just for the record)...

(Sorry, no screencap for this one, I refuse.)

...haven't praised Prem's perfectly cast parents: Darshan Jariwala and Smita Jaykar...

...have also not even touched on Prem's gang of ever so helpful and good-hearted friends...

...and nor did I say a word about the fight in the end that has me rolling on the floor laughing every single time!

But then I always get criticized for writing too much and besides: there must be some surprises in the movie for you too, no?

Wait, is that...? No, it can't be! But it... !?!?!

Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani is like blue cheese. It's strong, stinky and surprising so you have to really know what to expect to not be disappointed. But behind the slightly odd first aftertaste, the hard ripe deliciousness of it will leave your palate with some very sweet memories. And once you get into it, you're hooked for life!


Mette said...

I wasn't very up-to-date when APKGK released, so I haven't heard anything about it before, but it does sound like something I'd watch...
I'm so excited to read all that Kapoor-stuff, I don't know yet, how much I'll post myself...

Beth Loves Bollywood said...

Not my kind of film at all, this one, but I will certainly agree with you about Ranbir :D
Plus: the jalebi hip-swivel!

Lilibel said...

I'm currently capping the movie and creating this giganormous picspam, because I really really adored this movie. I validating pretty much all of your points (I liked the stammer plot twist of sort)

Dolce and Namak said...

Hey Limette, I think you would enjoy it, but I can't stress enough how much silliness you have to be ready to put up with. It requires a particular mood this one and I guess I was in exactly the right mood every time I watched it because it always entertains me. That said, it's not everyone's cup of tea.

Segue into @ Beth: Went over to read your review too :) I do get it why some people just found it too dumb. I get it. But I was thoroughly entertained. In fact for this review I was planning on using the FF button a lot to save time, and instead I ended up watching the whole thing again.
But of course fully on board with the jalebi hip-swirl :) He does make this movie, doesn't he? :)

@ Lilibel: yay!! At least one more person who really liked it! Looking forward to the picspam. I was so tempted to turn this post into a pic spam, it was very hard to keep it under control, so I'm glad you're doing it :)

katherine said...

Re: Ranbir and lip-synching. Yes, totally agree, plus? That's exactly how I feel about his papa Rishi, too.

Thanks for prompting me to dig out my original review of this and plop it on my blog.

Dolce and Namak said...

Hey Katherine,

Papa Rishi doesn't sing as much in the movies I watch with him :) But if he's anything like Ranbir then two thumbs way up! I really *should* get around to watching some oldies...

That was a fun review, and I do agree that the plot is... well... kind of merry-go-roundish (you get to the last hour and you're like: what?? A whole hour left to go? What are they gonna do now?), but somehow in its silliness it totally had me on board the whole time. Ok, except for the statue bits at the beginning and end. That was major WTF... :-/

Shazia said...

Dolce... I loved the movie and your blog post. I wrote about it here
Ranbir is a darling. There are many scenes in which I loved him. But there was one with his mom in kitchen, when she was washing dishes and he is chatting with her and wiping the dishes at the same time. Don't know why but I just fell in love with him that minute. :)

Dolce and Namak said...

Hee hee!!! One more APKGK lover :) And how did I miss that post on your blog? Must remedy that right away!

I know *exactly* what you're saying about the dishes scene! Squee!! I think it's also the fact that he has great chemistry with all his "mothers" in films: remember WUS? That was another delicious one for mamma-son chemistry :)

Off to read your post! :) And thanks for coming by!

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