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If The Great Gatsby seems like a Bollywood flick, then it is but fair that we copy themes from Hollywood (and International) movies like we have done for ever.
Bad cops gone worse, land deals gone bad, gangsters double crossing one another, twins swapping places, step brothers, violent lovers, cops killing innocent people, planting evidence, incriminating voice messages, women gangster, loyalty shifting secretaries, Godfather like family celebrations, bags of cash, loads of guns and bullets, attempt to kill a very ill Godfather in the Hospital, Baddies aiming guns at each other in a Mexican standoff, hero pumping all the bullets in two guns to shoot one bad bad guy, bloodbath scene with lots of bullets fired at lots of people, fake war philosophy spouted at regular intervals... It’s all there in the movie. You’ve seen it before in Hollywood B-flicks and International gangster movies, and of course Tarantinoesque bloodbath too.
But that’s not all. It is still a Bollywood movie, so you will have a reference to ‘Daddy said apne sapnon se badhkar hote hain’ (father said family before dreams), a mother who will want her son to respect her gangster husband’s name, ‘Daddy said, apne before sapne’, maa ke haath ka khana, ‘Daddy said apne before sapne’, stepbrothers who hate each other, ‘Daddy said apne before sapne’, a girl who dies because she has made love to two brothers, ‘Daddy said apne before sapne’, a chachaji who has the reverse philosophy from Daddy: Sapne before Apne’...
Arjun Kapoor is a rather hairy but wonderful actor. He plays the dual roles with awesome confidence. Hard to believe that this is only his second film. I wholeheartedly wish the story had not been as convoluted as this. Another victim to a needlessly complicated story is the South actor Prithviraj who raised the temperature of this film with his role as the vulnerable yet strong police officer. Rishi Kapoor is good too, but his bad guy face is now a repetition from the new Agnipath, and you wish this role had indeed offered him something more...
This plot is so convoluted you wish someone had sat down and edited the story before it was shot or sold it as a never ending TV soap called Apne Sapne and Betrayals.
What were these people thinking? Critics are people who watch movie after movie, week after week, hoping to find a gem even in the smallest of releases. But when we see such tripe in the name of ‘showing the problems of the youth’ you want to resort to physical violence and do some lasting harm to the filmmakers.
This movie has four protagonists: college students who look up every skirt and peek blatantly down women’s tee shirts. They spout dialog that objectifies women (‘Mission Taadofy’ they call their expedition on motorbikes where they ogle at girls). They get slapped by women, women take money from them and dump them, but slaps look like mild punishment when you see one of the boys ‘identify’ women by a graphic on the screen that opens up a memory file filled with women’s posteriors and other body parts. And they probably think it is funny or ‘cool’ or both, because it is shown again and again and again.
The young heroine is quite pretty, you see flashes of Emma Watson in her, but that is not enough. Even she is made to dance in a sleazy manner and we see the hero ogling at her. Even when the hero admits to having fallen in love with the heroine, he sings an obscene vituperative filled song (‘Ishq Ki Maa Ki’). The hero, Ruslaan has made another wrong career choice. What a pity.
If you get over the fact that ALL the boys in that ‘prestigious Delhi college’ are shown to be depraved and sex-starved, and ALL the girls in the college are objects meant to be ogled at, you proceed to what is supposed to be the ‘theme’ of this film: ‘The burger generation’ wants everything quickly, and they will pay a price for it. Sounds like the khaap panchayat financed this movie...
The rest of this disgusting movie is about the MMS scandal and how it comes about. The makers gleefully portray TV channels as mindless, lawless TRP chasing freaks. The story is so ridiculous you hope the lad (who has jumped off a building) after listening to a ‘Khuda show me the way’ song actually dies, so we can all go home and forget about the movie. Did nobody bother to find out that using the word ‘khuda’ would mean that Islam condones suicide?
This movie is so wrong in so many ways, you’d rather fall into a well of mousetraps than watch it. And if you have children who are anything like the college students in this movie, then you would not be blamed for filicide.
Maybe it is a coincidence, maybe it is not, but as a fellow critic pointed out, The Great Gatsby is the opening film at Cannes 2013, maybe because the festival is celebrating 100 years of Indian Cinema. The Great Gatsby is practically as Bollywood as a movie can get.
It’s got drama, melodrama, action, emotion, romance, tears, anger, secrets, lies... And it has love. Not just ordinary love, but love of the kind we have seen in Hindi movies down the years. Sangam, Neel Kamal , Mehbooba, Amar Prem , Dhadkan, Devdas, Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jaayenge kind of love.
Is it so bad? No, not at all. Where else would women get to sigh over a man who is first rejected by a girl’s family because he is poor, but comes back with unlimited wealth and polished manners only because he loves her even though she is married...
If Gatsby were Indian, Daisy would keep a diya lit in her window, come rain or shine. And Gatsby whose house is Tere Ghar Ke Saamne (with the sea separating the lovers of course), would stand on the dock reaching out to cup that light in the diya from being blown out in the wind. Poor Baz Luhrman , he has to make do with the green light in the dock, but gets DiCaprio to reach out towards that light.
If Gatsby were Indian, Amitabh Bachchan would be doing Shava Shava in the one scene that he appears in the movie. I wish our Superstars would not fall for the seduction of having an International name on their CV. We all know India is a huge market for movies, but we are also mature audiences and recognise ridiculous casting when we see it. It was with dismay that one saw Gatsby’s butler had a bigger role.
If Gatsby were Indian, he would have died with the Daisy scrapbook in his hand, and at that same moment, Daisy’s bangles would have crashed against a wall breaking symbolically (when Buchanan was dragging her through the house like Ajay Devgn drags Aishwarya in Hum Dil de Chuke Sanam). It would get to audience to sigh in their chairs, the theater littered with as much tissue as popcorn.
Am I giving away spoilers? Apologies for assuming everyone has had to study the Scott Fitzgerald version in high school, or have seen the Robert Redford version (which had the annoying Mia Farrow as Daisy but the amazing Sam Waterston as Nick).
By all means watch this Leonardo Di Caprio version of Gatsby. The setting in 3D is spectacular and rich. The costumes are as bling as Bollywood (you might just see Bollywood adapting the jewel studded head-pieces). The song and dance routine and the excesses are very Indian and when the story gets cloyingly soppy about love, you can always take refuge in hating Tobey Maguire in that wishy washy role and hoping he’d turn into Spiderman to pull you out of all that cloying love...
‘The forest belongs to the darkness’ the evil Mandrake says, as he turns everything he touches into rot. The queen of the forest gently steps on lilypads and makes flowers blossom with her touch. You are horrified at how real this animated evil is. And you cannot get over how beautiful animated tendrils and leaves and dragonflies and flowers and slugs are.
Did I say Slug? Yes. I loved the smart alecky slug whose humor keeps you watching this epic battle between good and evil. It’s the best character to show up on the big screen this year. Don’t take my word for it, go watch this film.
Hollywood has the formula for making engaging animated films from the large lesson of life down to the last cute character. So you cannot find fault with the story. You are drawn into the action from the beginning and though the story sags a bit in the middle, you enjoy each twist and turn the story offers. And of course there is the slug (and the snail) to offer you respite each time you wish they’d get on with the story.
The queen of the forest with her magical powers to bring everything into life gets the most sighs because the animation is simply sigh-inducing. All about the stuff little girls dream about is here. She walks so gently on the lilypads you wish your kids learned to walk about the house that way. This was made for little girls. For the naughty boys there’s plenty too. There are good bugs. The leafmen are warriors and the action is plenty. The bad guys remind you of several neighborhood boys...
This is a movie tailor-made for kids and parents both. The animation is superlative. Far, far superior to what we are forced to watch (Krishna and Chota Bheem) with our kids. I am sure William Joyce’s book ‘The Leaf Men And The Brave Good Bugs’ (the film is based on the book) will find a place in your kiddie bookshelves. Go watch. Be mesmerised.