Thursday, September 29, 2005

The Mystery Of Paheli

I am really surprised. I really am.

My prophecies were blown to smithereens early this week when Paheli was announced as India’s entry to the Oscars. Well, I was pole-axed, to say the least.

I had first (and last) watched this movie in the summer. If the heroine’s flirtations with a ghost are well, a bit digestible, her getting pregnant simply blows away your mind. Wonder what if a rapist or a sex maniac turns into a ghost and comes back to haunt you….. Sounds interesting, indeed! So there you are, Paheli, which is mostly ‘Ghost’, with a dash of ‘The Entity’, and a little bit of ‘Hawa-Sexual Violence’ thrown in. The film loses its steam when the ghost reveals that he is a ghost. The story meanders off, and it turns into another song and dance routine.

You simply refuse to accept that something of this sort came from an accomplished director like Amol Palekar. Maybe Shah Rukh’s big bucks bought him over.

Paheli is a perfect example of the conflict of creativity between the director and the producer. It would have been radically different had Amol Palekar been the producer too.

The film loses its soul and it remains neither mainstream cinema, nor art cinema. It is too boring to be mainstream and too unrealistic to be art cinema.

Paheli’s story was fresh. The innocence and simplicity of the characters should have been an integral part of the feel of the movie. Yet that was conspicuously missing. I do not blame Rani or Shah Rukh for this. They are very good actors, mind you. But something was missing. To find out, what was that something, watch Amol Palekar and Zarina Wahab in ‘Chitchor’. The film had a very simple storyline. But there was this freshness and innocence, a straight-from-the-heart feel that made this film succeed at the box-office. And yes, it also had songs (soulful ones, by Yesudas- ‘Gori tera gaon bada pyaara’; ‘Jab deep jale aana’, and more).

But then, now, Paheli is our entry to the Oscars. It is not a question of portrayal of India through its films. Westerners expect song, dance, colourful costumes and elephants from Indians as much as they expect Kung-fu from China. Remember the past nominees from India? Almost all of them show India as impoverished, be it Mother India or Salaam Bombay or Lagaan. But they were marvelous in other aspects. Paheli fails here. It maintains the stereotype of India, but falls flat on other counts. Paheli’s only hope for an Oscar is SRK himself, whose presence in the film gives it an outside chance, considering that SRK has a big fan following amongst Indians in the US, and the jury recognizes this.

So what are our chances of winning an Oscar this year? Equivalent to us winning 50 golds at the Beijing Olympics in 2008!


Aditya Pethe said...

Paheli was a surprising selection for sure. Yea highly unlikely that , it will be shortlisted..

Pratik said...

i dont agree wid u on several points. firstly the movie is a remake of a old hindi flim (don't remember which), and secondly the movie is a mythical story set in ancient india, to explain the 'paheli', or riddle poesed to the character played by rani mukherjee and what she has to go thru, when she has to choose between a bhoot who loves her and a husband who left her the day after her marriage and she doesn't know when he is gonna return, (her brother in law hasnt returned yet).
But the songs do make it boring,(well they do in most hindi flims)

check my blog too,

regards pratik.

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