I am a fan of Sudhir Mishra‘s film making. Someone who wrote the story for Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron (1983) is certainly someone I would take seriously. I consider that as among the top five comedy films of Bollywood. Then he did the screenplay for Chameli in 2003. The very year when he did the amazingly stylish film Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi (A Thousand Such Desires). But the film that was really tightly scripted and shot and one of my favorites to showcase Sudhir Mishra’s work was Is Raat Ki Subah Nahin (The Night Without End).
This year we see Sudhir Mishra’s brilliant piece called Yeh Saali Zindagi (Life is a B****) starring Irrfan Khan, the smoldering hot Chitrangada Singh, the glamorous Aditi Rao Hydari and recovering from the disaster of Aisha – Arunoday Singh.
I am told that director Sudhir Mishra ran fowl of the Censor Board just because he used the word “Saali” in the title of the film. Why do we need a Censor Board any more? This last relic of the license and permit Raj needs to be dismantled and a stronger criteria of rating the content and impact of any film have to be evolved through dialogue with the film fraternity and the intelligentsia. Anyway, that’s a different rant for another day.
The slow serenade of the song Meri Jaan sung by Sunidhi Chauhan, Kunal Ganjawalla and Shilpa Rao will remind you of the opening bars of Hotel California as do the guitar licks in the song. But the lyrics by Swanand Kirkire capture the essence of this film.
Meri jaan meri jaan, meri jaan tu yeh bataa
Tujhse karoon wafa, ya khud se karoon
Meri jaan meri jaan, meri jaan tu ye bata
Sang tere maroon, ya jiyoon apna junoon
You have to see this movie just to experience the style of narrating a story. Sudhir Mishra cuts up the plot into small strips and keeps tossing them towards you with the same measured casualness and supersonic speed of cards being dealt in a casino. He does not wait to check if you have followed the story. He knows you will experience the thrill of piecing it together in our own mind. That’s what is the best part of the film. You come back feeling like you too played a role in the movie.
What is the movie about? It is a love story. It is a story of foul-mouthed gangsters. It is a story of kidnapping, embezzlement and desires.
Irrfan Khan’s performance is just superb. He plays a man who is puzzled as to why a rational man like him is smitten (and I don’t blame him) by the charms of Chitrangada Singh, a two-timing part time crooner and full time gold digger . He stakes his life to fulfill the wish of this woman who appeals to him to save the life of her rich lover boy. While Aditi Rao Hydari (remember Rajjo of Delhi 6) cannot figure out why she loves her good for nothing gangster husband Arunoday Singh who spends half his life in prison and the other half running from the cops to run his rackets. Tujhse karoon wafa ya khud se karooN. It is the story of two men caught on the edges of love.
Sachin Krishna’s camera captures the beauty of Old Delhi just as well as it does the crude underbelly of the capital. The scenes shot in narrow by lanes of Chandni Chowk navigating on a cycle rickshaw are memorable. The characters are real. The conversations are real. If you get offended by someone swearing, this movie will give you loads to be offended about. But if you like to be reassured that good films are being made in Bollywood, watch this film.
Overall rating: A