Sunday, June 14, 2015

Why Hamari Adhuri Kahani is not for everyone…

For those who know me, I do not do film reviews, I believe that everyone has their own opinion. I dragged my parents to watch this movie with me, partly because I wanted to spend time with them but also because I was afraid that we were getting a little too domestic.

Lets get the basic storyline out of the way.
A woman (Vidya Balan) develops a budding romance with a hotel magnate (Emraan Hashmi), until her past comes back to haunt her.

My dad had an extremely important question when he came out of the movie; he asked me, “What was this movie about? What subject did it talk about?”
Now here is the thing. Our life, as it is, as we are living it isn’t about one subject, it doesn’t have a moral, it doesn’t end here and now. Our life has us battling many different things, sometimes at the same time. This movie depicted that to perfection. One person can have a million problems and still find a way to be happy, maybe for the sake of another human being. Our parents have done it; they do it all the time. The complexities of life cannot be about one thing, also, everybody does not live in the same society, and everybody has their set of issues that they are all dealing with.

Vasudha was from a conservative family, she was educated but her family was as orthodox as could be. Cinematic liberty is not just about doing away with logic but it is also about over-playing an emotion just so that it gets through. That was what the conversation in between Vasudha and her father was about. Probably, in the real world nobody would cuss like that or refuse to utter the word love, but the director was trying to show how backward that community was, and maybe even is.  Vasudha was married off to a misogynist who thought he owned her, that happens, that happens and lot in this world.  Then he left, for years on end. She lived her life, as normally as she could, for her child and that is what parents do. This was about normal people, she kept clutching her mangalsutra every time her husband was mentioned not because it would remind her of her values, sanskar, parampara and all that, but because that was the only physical thing left with her that could remind her of her husband. Something to hold on to while she went on with her life, everyone has these nervous habits some with their hair and others with their nails and what not. A mangalsutra is a symbol of the marriage or whatever it is that she was in.

Vasudha works in a hotel as a florist, a 5 star hotel. The hotel industry is all about serving people before you serve yourself, which was a dialogue in this movie as well. While she was doing up the presidential suite of the hotel, she runs into Aarav who is also the person she is doing up the room for. Now if she has been working in the hotel for 5 years she knows she shouldn’t be fumbling or stuttering. So she did not, she apologizes and then answers the questions that Aarav has about flowers and other things. Simple, a common passion and a common connect.

Please note here that when she addresses Aarav with his last name, he does not immediately ask her to come on a first name basis. Which is what anyone who is partially polite would do if you found staff in your room when you checked in. He likes flowers and is weirdly passionate about it, and he sees a new flower and gets excited about it, what is so weird about that? Don’t we all have obsessions and idiosyncrasies? But maybe he is not allowed to have one because he is a billionaire and more importantly in a movie!

He offers her a job in another hotel, but mind you he doesn’t suddenly make her the manager or something, he hires her as a florist. Also by now we know he fancies her, but he does not suddenly give her a home or a luxury apartment to live in. He just likes her, feels connected to her and that happens to so many of us all the time. Sometimes, it is strong and we act on it. Simple things, they were both grown ups, they both understood that they liked each other. So when he suddenly does confess his love to her, it doesn’t shock her beyond belief, it was just a confirmation of something she already knew. It did not need a huge gesture or a grand proposal or a long time of chasing yes or no, it just had to be said, just put out there.

Now about the dialogues, how many of us out there have been called hoity-toity either because of our pronunciation or vocabulary? Or sometimes made fun of because we use a song or a quote or some sort of philosophy to answer a question? The dialogues in this film reminded me of these things. They were articulate, well formed yet understandable. It was Hindi at its best in some places and why would it be so hard to believe that a police officer would use a romantic verse to refer to someone’s love saga? They were spoken softly, but I do not think everything needs to be out there, out loud.

Now the acting, like I said yes it was ‘slow’. But that gave me time to understand each and every emotion; it gave me time to feel it. There is this one scene where Vasudha tells Aarav that she needs to fight her own battles and that she loves him but she cannot be with him and walks away. That one minute was the most beautiful thing Emraan Hashmi has ever done on celluloid, he stands there and wants to breakdown crying but doesn’t. He holds his tears back and sits in his car. I wouldn’t have felt that, or even seen that brilliance unfold if the movie wasn’t slow. Vasudha was a sort of down on luck woman, her husband had gone away, her values tied her up to him even though he had gone, she was taking care of her mother who was still living in the poisonous community that she had left, she had her son who she had to lie to. If I were there, I would forget to smile too. Probably become a quiet loner moving on with life just for my son. Vidya’s portrayal of this woman was exactly like that, she was low, but not when her son was around her. But she did not laugh and act like a 20-year-old girl, because she wasn’t.

Yes, people were crying but that was for a reason. There wasn’t any melodrama as people would put it, melodrama would be when Aarav chased Vasudha and then they fought about her values and how her life wasn’t the way he thought it was. Melodrama would be if her husband would go and beat Aarav up. Melodrama would be if when the husband was convicted and Vasudha saw Aarav’s car, he would jump out and embrace her and she would then fall back into his arms. Melodrama would be pointless dance numbers and dream sequences. We cry, we all cry and I am sure when faced with problems to an impossible level, we would probably be worse. 

So now to answer my dad’s question,

This was a grown up movie, with everyone understanding and feeling emotions the way they were supposed to be felt. Where when a man was asked to let go of a woman, he did let go. Where a man changed his arrogant self because he finally understood the magic that forgiveness can do. It was a movie where friendship did not mean being bros and drinking together but actually jumping into a well with your friend because it would help him somehow. It was about love, and loyalty and values and how they bind people. It was not a movie about terrorism or politics because there was barely any focus on those things at all. It wasn’t about woman empowerment because we do not even know what it was about. It was to show us how being selfish can eat up the core of your being, how love can happen at any point in your life, how that love will still not stop you from being loyal to your values. How a moment of happiness can last you a lifetime. Romantic as it sounds, if you think from your heart you will feel everything I did in this movie.

PS. The end of this movie was one of the most powerful endings I have seen in the longest time.

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