Raat Gayi Baat Gayi – and that’s one of the things that none of the characters in the movie are able to do. All of them have memories of the small little incidents that happened at the party that they attended last night. A gala party hosted by the big-hearted Jolly, played superbly by Navnit Nishan and her book-writer hubby ‘Jags’ played by Dalip Tahil. While some of the attendees just can’t forget what happened in the party, Rahul [Rajat Kapoor] just can’t recall what happened after he gulped down 8 drinks.
The first promos of the movie sounded interesting and the movie even picked up the Best Film Award at SAIFF. The starcast was nice with proven performers like Rajat Kapoor, Vinay Pathak, Ranvir Shorey, Dalip Tahil etc and the movie being directed by Saurabh Shukla; I had already made up my mind that I would definitely watch this movie. With great enthusiasm I booked the tickets online for 1st Jan in Innovative Multiplex. But as soon as I stepped into Gold Class of Innovative Multiplex, I was in for a shock. The movie was about to start in 5 mins, and there were just 4 of us in the auditorium. First day, second show at 7.45pm and just 4 people. Why? I was unable to understand. Was it bad publicity/promotion? Didn’t people know of the movie being released on 1st Jan? Who was to blame, PNC or the distributors or the film-crew who did not go tom-toming about the movie.
On one hand you had ‘3 Idiots’ hogging all the limelight on big-screen as well as the news channels of small-screen all through the weekend and on the other hand people were skipping a movie like this one. ‘3 Idiots’ made 9 crores on paid-previews [100 crores in a week] and here you had no takers for this one. All shows of ‘3 Idiots’ were sold-out although each ticket was priced at Rs.350/- in most multiplexes in Bangalore, and here the movie was devoid of audience although ticket prices started at Rs.150/- for Silver Class and Rs.180/- for Gold Class. I was left wondering when movie makers will realize the need for publicity and promotions. When will they learn how to create a buzz about certain movie releasing on so-and-so date? Movies cannot be sold hoping audience will come and watch it. They have to be more aggressive, pull in the crowd. All these thoughts were running in my mind, when few more people entered the auditorium. Finally we were 15 people in a gallery that can seat 200. Rather disappointing!
Anyways, I opened my eyes to reality, as did Rajat. After a drunken stupor, waking up with a hang-over and with his wife storming out of the house with the child, Rajat is left feeling guilty. He does remember going into the room with Neha Dhupia, sharing a drink; and then there is a memory fade-out. He can’t even recall the hot-bod’s name and he desperately wants to find out if anything happened between them. He rushes to Vinay Pathak who is busy handling a crisis himself as his wife Anu Menon throws him out of the house for surfing porn. So, now its upto the old couple Dalip and Navnit to try to unknot the various strands, and try to bring about a compromise/resolution. Can Dalip and Navnit help? Who was Neha Dhupia, from where did she come, when did she leave the party and with whom? How the pieces come together to solve the jigsaw and the various comical situations that the characters go through is very well done.
Dalip’s guiding principles on marital bliss, Iravati’s frustration of being an under-achiever, Rajat’s desperation of reclaiming lost moral grounds and Jolly’s good nature are some of the highlights of the movie. Especially funny, yet silly, is Vinay’s fight for righteousness when he knows he is wrong; Jolly’s tarot card reading and belief in vastu and the interaction in the club, the confusion at Neha’s apartment were just hilarious.
Saurabh Shukla has done a great job with the direction. He has captured the essence of the urban class well, which includes things like “arrangements” as Dalip calls it, the daft book-writing abilities of his, and gyaan session from this pseudo-intellectual, Rajat’s escapist fantasy of one-night-stand and final understanding that family support is what matters, and Vinay’s understanding of what “hurt” means. Saurabh has extracted good performances from everyone.
Among the performances, apart from Navnit Nishan, Neha Dhupia was very well cast. She played the role of a silent seductress very well. After her initial failure in the industry, she is making all the correct moves to be counted as a good performer. Her brief cameos and small but significant roles in movies like Dasvidaniya, SiK, 1:40 Last Local etc is really building a nice body of work. Vinay Pathak was under-utilised. Although he was there in lot of scenes, he was just not able to leave a mark because of some mediocre writing and lack of a meaty role. I was pleasantly surprised to see Anu Menon [Lola Kutty of Channel V] as Vinay Pathak’s wife. Theirs was the weakest sub-plot in the movie, humorous nevertheless. Iravati Harshe, the last time I recall seeing her was in daily soap Shanti, was a revelation. She played the complex character very well. No words for Dalip Tahil and Rajat, they were excellent.
I felt that the script had a lot of scope for some great comedy, but somehow the writers failed to capitalize on it. Some of the moments were very under-stated and the humor was wry and under-played. I think that worked against the movie since in Bheja Fry we had seen the same combo of Rajat-Vinay deliver a punch in every scene. Also, while previous movies in this genre had the middle-class as the center-piece; here the portrayal is of the urban and upper middle-class. Trying to make a comedy based on marital complications, fidelity issues and declining moral values may not appeal to the viewers. I wish there were more funny lines and the pace had been a little faster. Anyways, it was a nice watch. Let me get it out of my head now, raat gayi baat gayi !
This post was first published on PFC