Dedicated to all those who think Bollywood is just about elaborate songs and dancing around trees.
Khosla Ka Ghosla (2006)
Dibakar Banerjee’s Khosla Ka Ghosla has no eye-catchingly pretty leading ladies, no gorgeous landscapes and no catchy melodies. This Anupam Kher, Boman Irani, Vinay Pathak, Ranvir Shorey starrer attempts to do what only a handful of Bollywood movies have ever dared to do – celebrate the ordinary.
Set in the ever colourful city of New Delhi, Khosla Ka Ghosla is about Mr Kamal Kishore Khosla (Anupam Kher), his wife Sudha Khosla (Kiran Juneja), his two sons, Cherry (Parvin Dabas) and Bunty (Ranvir Shorey) and a daughter, Nikki (Rupam Bajwa). The Khosla family embodies all the typical characteristics of a middle-class Indian family dealing with the travails of a yawning generation gap and oft-unfriendly elements of the capital city. The story flags off with Mr Khosla on his to way to nervously investing all his life’s savings in a real estate property. His plight is made worse by his visibly indifferent family. Cherry is the high flying IIT graduate whose plans to fly off to the States are being stalled only by the antics of his cheeky visa agent Asif Iqbal (Vinay Pathak) and his love for his theatre artist girlfriend Meghna (Tara Sharma). Elder son, Bunty, is the goatee-sporting Haryani hulk wannabe while the wife and daughter are too caught up in their own lives to plan the family’s dream home. In fact, it is only in the patient and sagacious Mr. Sawhney (Vinod Nagpal) that K.K.Khosla confides in and looks to for life lessons as he ventures to make “New Khosla Kunj” a reality. The script comes to a head when the Khoslas discover that they have fallen victims to a land grab orchestrated by the deviously conniving Kishen Khurana (Boman Irani) and his aides, Vijendar (Rajendri Sethi) and Munjal (Rajesh Sharma). The Khoslas, along with Asif Iqbal, Meghna and her theatre group led by Bapu (Navin Nischol), proceed, in the remainder of the film, to pull off a most endearing scheme to win back their land and teach Khurana a lesson.
This simple tit-for-tat storyline is primarily brought to life and how by Jaideep Sahni’s brilliant screenplay and dialogues. Gems like Mr. Sawhney’s assuring “haan, I know!” and Bapu a.k.a Sethi Sahab’s subtly powerful “aap party hain ya broker?” repeatedly resurface in your sub conscience for weeks after having watched the movie. Anupam Kher is the standout star with his inch perfect portrayal of the simple husband and father who loves his family and is wary of all things illegitimate. Boman Irani lives up to his calibre in his resplendent embodiment of the old, menacing anti-social. Vinod Nagpal deserves a special mention for immortalizing Sawhney Sahab’s role in the mind of viewers. Khosla Ka Ghosla is one of those rare offerings from Bollywood that tug at your heartstrings even on the umpteenth re-run. It puts forth a crudely painted picture of urban India and its fascinating underbelly and is a must watch for all those who appreciate a simple story simply told.
Being Cyrus (2007)
Homi Adajania’s directorial debut is one of those rare dark comedies from Bollywood which almost seamlessly transports you from the world of the ordinary to that of the absolute bizarre. Starring Saif Ali Khan, Naseeruddin Shah, Dimple Kapadia and Boman Irani, Being Cyrus is a short and blazingly fast-paced story brought to life by artful cinematography and some standout performances.
Cyrus Mistry (Saif Ali Khan) is the chief protagonist and narrator of the story which begins with his journey to Panchgani to be an apprentice under the reclusive painter Dinshaw Sethna (Naseeruddin Shah). Cyrus quickly gets entangled in the messy equation between Dinshaw and his conniving wife Katy (Dimple Kapadia). His performance of daily household chores as part of his apprenticeship finds him becoming an object of Katy’s sexual advances and subsequently an accomplice in her devious plans to lay hands on riches belonging to her ailing father-in-law Fardounjee Sethna (Honey Chhaya), who stays with his diabolic son Farrokh (Boman Irani) and his docile wife Tina (Simone Singh) in Mumbai. Even as our painter-in-training learns about Farrokh and Katy’s clandestine romantic relationship and their brewing conspiracy, he hatches his own little scheme to work the situation in his favour and take off with the elusive booty. The plot thickens when a double murder warrants the entry of Inspector Lovely (Manoj Pahwa) taking the film to a dramatic climax.
With a running time of 83 minutes and the English language as medium of choice, it goes without saying that Being Cyrus belongs to that list of highly unconventional Indian movies. What works about the film is its edgy, rustic screenplay and its incredibly layered characters backed up by some marvellous performances. At the top, leading man Saif Ali Khan digs deep into the skin of his character and delivers a sterling performance and one that can inarguably be called the actor’s best silver screen effort ever. Naseeruddin Shah’s largely silent performance making the impact that it does says volumes about the veteran’s talent. Dimple Kapadia shines in her scheming, promiscuous wife avatar while Boman Irani once again effortlessly essays a complicated role. Being Cyrus is not without its faults. But even with a flimsy plot and some unnecessary hysteria, the movie has more positives than negatives and deserves at least one attentive watch.
Love, Sex aur Dhokha (2010)
At the very outset, the one accusation that can be levelled against Dibakar Banerjee in context of this ground-breaking movie is of giving it a title that is far from reflective of the gravity of its content. The acronym ‘LSD’ splashed in giant font across the face of the movie’s posters is apparently an attempt at subliminally introducing the idea of the well-known narcotic into the mind of the viewer – a not so convincing excuse. However, it is indeed ‘Love’, ‘Sex’ and ‘Dhoka’ that form the skeleton of this “found footage” (à la Paranormal Activity) style narrative which has a bunch of unheard of names in its cast.
LSD is an amalgamation of three different stories which somehow cross paths with each other at different stages. The first story (love) introduces us to Rahul (Anshuman Jha), an aspiring movie maker who eats, sleeps and drinks Bollywood. It is no surprise when he falls in love in typical ‘filmy’ style to Shruti (Nushrat Bharucha). Rahul’s camera, which he carries around to record his directorial efforts, acts as the viewers’ medium to this story which predictably involves hostile parents, song sequences and a loving couple who elope when all else fails. It reaches its high point, however, when this endearing joy-ride is crudely cut short by a gruesome honour killing. The second story (sex) has Shruti’s friend Rashmi (Neha Chauhan) as the female protagonist who works as a night shift salesperson in a supermarket. The in-store security cameras tell us this story which sees the store supervisor Adarsh (Raj Kumar Yadav) trying to woo Rashmi with the regular tricks. However, it is when his desperate need for money overcomes his humanity that he exploits Rashmi’s vulnerability to make a damning MMS that destroys her life forever. The third story (dhoka) begins with investigative journalist Prabhat (Amit Sial) saving a drowing Naina (Arya Banerjee) who attempts to commit suicide after being unable to bear her music director Loki (Herry Tangdi)’s attempts at forcing her to trade sex for a chance in a music video. The two hatch a plot and Prabhat’s camera documents an act of revenge in the form of a sting operation against the music director.
While the acting performances of the inexperienced actors ensemble is mediocre, it is the predominant themes in the three stories that leave an impression on the viewer. Honour killings, MMS (hidden camera) internet sex scandals and casting couches are a reality in the country and Love, Sex aur Dhoka unapologetically throws these respective issues in your face. If this movie leaves you feeling a little disturbed, it would have served its purpose.
Disclaimer: Bollywood is still mostly about elaborate songs and dancing around trees. Mostly.