Sunday 13 April 2008

Jhoom Barabar Jhoom (2007)

The PPCC has now seen approximately 60 Hindi films, and it has never seen anything quite like Jhoom Barabar Jhoom. A frantic, carefree comedy with the stereotypically big, warm Hindi heart, its uniqueness resembles the singularity of films like Dil Se, its style is like Farah Khan if she revelled a bit more in the trashy, and its general funness is matched only by the original Don.

The title song.

It's a film where almost all the characters wear extravagantly tacky outfits, to the point that even the protagonist is compelled to exclaim in one scene, "God, what a cheesy crowd!" The camera angles are frequently 90 degrees of the horizon, or floating above the car. And it features one of the most realistically screwball fantasy sequences in film - at least, the PPCC certainly daydreams about potential mates like that: inventing romantic yet illogical scenarios with narry a straightforward step to be scene, extended daydreams that usually end in marriage, kids and old age.

The plot: NRIs Alvira Khan (Preity Zinta) and Rikki Thukral (Abhishek Bachchan) bump into each other at Waterloo Station in London. Both are waiting for someone on the incoming, delayed train from Birmingham. Out of obvious self-defense against "dodgy" come-ons, both invent elaborate stories of fiancees in the wings: Rikki's multicultural lady love from Paris, Anaida (Lara Dutta), and Alvira's power lawyer slash stud muffin, Steve (Bobby Deol). As the two leads wait for a few hours for their "fiancees" to arrive, a bond forms and soon both are regretting the fake ball and chain. Yet both, of course, are too proud and embarrassed to admit they were lying.

In the meanwhile, Amitabh Bachchan appears during brief intervals, dressed as a pimp straight out of Kojak, crooning, "Heee-eee-eeey!" as the leads' feelings become obvious to everyone but each other. The Big B does little more than appear throughout the film like this: as a sort of wailing, inarticulate Puck or Greek chorus. Interestingly, he is only a spectator and, if anything, serves to embody the film's style: tacky, surreal, and incredibly entertaining.

The screwball fantasy love song. Love it!

Anyway, it takes faux fiancee stand-ins - a foul-mouthed prostitute (also Lara Dutta) for Rikki, and an anal retentive friend-of-a-friend (also Bobby Deol) for Alvira - and a Grease-style dance-a-thon in our beloved Southall to wake everyone up to the comedy of errors.

Actually, now that we bring up Shakespeare, this film could pass for a loose adaptation of A Midsummer Night's Dream - the mixed up couples, the deception, the glitter and rhinestones standing in for Oberon's fairy glitz. Hey, we already said Amitabh was like Puck. He can be Oberon too.

The performances were uniformly charming, all of them falling on the wrong side of the ham scale but since they seemed to be enjoying themselves so much, we as audience members enjoyed it too. Abhishek eerily channelled his father's "paan-chewing voice" (as deemed by BollyBob and as featured prominently in the original Don and Namak Halaal). Preity seemed to have regained all her lost zest and personality which propelled her to stardom after Dil Se but slowly gave way to blandness in things like KANK and Veer-Zaara. Also, Bobby Deol was a revelation. This is our first Bobby Deol film and we absolutely loved his anxious, baby-faced waif who speaks only in his mother's aphorisms but seems to enjoy dancing. Some details were particularly endearing and hilarious: such as when the nervous nail-biting Steve spits out a nail after Rikki threatens him. This is the same type of nerdy charm SRK also usues to excellent effect in things like the first act of Om Shanti Om.

Indeed Jhoom Barabar Jhoom resembles Om Shanti Om in its inspired naach-gaana, sweet and silly comedy, and being self-referential to the point of breaking the fourth wall. For example, when Rikki lists all the Indian wax figures in Madame Tussauds, ending with, "...Amit ji, our good ol' Bachchan." Or when Sholay's Yeh Dosti plays when Abhishek and Bobby Deol ride through London on a motorcycle - much as their fathers did back in Sholay itself. Or when Huffy Bhai (an excellent Piyush Mishra) drives a car with the license plate reading 786 - the number of Allah, and also Amitabh's lucky badge number in another 70s classic, Deewaar.

Along with Farah Khan, the PPCC thinks that this movie is part of that brave, new world of Hindi cinema - this is the direction things should be going in!

(Many apologies for lack of caps, but our computer refused to play the DVD. Perhaps out of jealousy.)


Beth Loves Bollywood said...

TOTALLY. Hear hear, etc. For the first half of this movie, I thought "I'm not sure I get this," and then all of a sudden I went "Ohhhh!" and was delighted beyond sense. Plus Abhishek is so super duper scrummy in it hardly anything else matters. Fortunately, all the elses in this movie are top-notch as well.

And damned if I can get "Kiss of Love" out of my head.

Nirmal Simon said...
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ajnabi said...

I just watched this movie last night for the first time! And oh my gosh, too fun. After I typed up my review I just had to hop over here and see what the PPCC's take on it was. :-)

Anonymous said...

Thank the gods I've found the Bollywood blogging community! Been dabbling for about a year on my own with no recommendations to go on. Netflixed this on your recommendation, and at the end of the movie, my face hurt because I'd been grinning with joy for two hours straight. I think this DVD includes heroine. It some how disengages the logical part of the brain, so that the shiny, pretty, dancing, can shoot directly into pleasure receptors.

Ness said...

Until now I had only read bad reviews of this movie...a fact which pained me greatly since Jhoom Barabar Jhoom is total unadulterated joy, from start to finish. This review is absolutely fantastic.

I am SO GLAD I found this site and like storytellingjen above me, the Bollywood blogging community!