Director: Sanjay Leela Bhansali
Did I watch this recently? Yes
Based on ‘White Nights’ by Fyodor Dostoevsky, the film tells the story of Raj the lead singer of a club in the Red Light District. He’s an idolistic person or as some call him ‘Angel’. He is coming home from work one day when he sees a girl crying on the bridge – Sakina. There is a mystery to Sakina but soon enough Raj & Sakina become friends and Raj falls head over heels for her. But before he can tell her he finds out Sakina is waiting for her love Imaan to come back, he left a year ago and has promised to return by Eid on that very bridge. The story of the four nights between when they meet and Eid forms the rest of the story.
Last night I went to the premiere night of Saawariya. Being one of the first people in the world to see it i came into the movie with nothing but my own expectations of an Sanjay Leela Bhansali film and how much i was looking forward to it from the promos i’d seen.
Some people don’t like Sanjay Leela Bhansali because they find his movies too over the top in terms of grand opulence and over the top dramatic performances. But i have loved SLB films – Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, Devdas, Khamoshi, Black – i have loved them all. I find them beautifully mesmerising to look at and i get so caught up in the emotion of the film i often find i need a box of tissues next to me and at times a towel.
So of course there was a certain amount of expectation. I was cautious however that it was Ranbir Kapoor & Sonam’s debut film so if they weren’t that good i was prepared for it.
But overall i found myself very disappointed.
Saawariya is based on the short story ‘White Nights’ by russian author Fyodor Dostoevsky. Now imagine taking this beautiful short story and streching it out to a 2.5 hour movie, its just too little spread too far. The screenplay creates these two dimensional characters with not very much interaction between characters or understanding of the characters compulsions – why they do what they do. They are not very ‘real’ characters, quite one dimensional in my opinion. I think when someone skims on setting up multi layers for characters for the viewer, the viewers find themselves less emotionally connected to the characters. Which is exactly what i found.
We are introduced to Raj (Ranbir), a singer with euphoric sense of life and being positive. Sakina (Sonam) is a more mysterious and ambiguous character, which helps to balance the over the top Ranbir character with the more subdued Sonam character. Raj falls madly in love with Sonam but before he can tell her his feelings he finds out she is in love with Imaan (Salman Khan) who has been gone for a year and she is waiting for him to return in 4 days. I think they give Salman Khan a total of 4 lines so its hard to understand the strong love between Sakina and Imaan and why she would wait a year for him among other things.
One thing about this movie is it feels its in another world – its not india, its not europe but its extremely beautiful to look at. Its like a fusion of India, Italy, Austria and Russia all in one. Even when your not getting into the characters you can just look at the cinematography and feel a sense of awe.
Another strength other then the cinematography, is the chemistry between Ranbir & Sonam. Its these few scenes between them when the chemistry is very strong and you start to think you might get more emotionally involved – but its too superficial i found to get too into it. Ranbir & Sonam were good in the film with only more room to grow as actors, there is definetely star quality in them with the looks to match. Jab Se Tere Naina with Ranbir and his bare butt cheek was certainly a suprise to say the least! Sonam had an etheral and more subdued quality to her character then Ranbirs who was very hyper 99% of the time. Quite psycho at times. I blame that on SLB though, not the actor.
Supporting cast I liked was Rani as Gulabji, i really liked her character and her in this. One annoying thing was she seemed to mimic the annoying hinglish Aishwarya’s character had in Dhoom 2. Zohra Segal as Lollipopji actually created quite a few laughs and her end scene was one of the few times i came close to tears.
Music wise i loved all the songs, but there is an insane amount of them. I think there is 9 or 10 in the movie and in the first 20 minutes its like 4 in a row. But they are beautifully shot so definetely worth the watch, it just interjects and disrupts the story at times.
Overall Score: 2.5/5 Hairy Anil Kapoors – So much potential with this film. It could of been a beautifully moving film, but the lack of depth of characters and screenplay prevents viewers from forming a real attachment to the emotion of the movie. Beautiful to look at, but disappoints considering its Sanjay Leela Bhansali.