Friday, February 6, 2009

Saathiya, or, QUIT Playing With Your Hair, Vivek!


I'm not sure what it says about Saathiya ("Beloved") that I ended my viewing experience more irritated with Vivek Oberoi's tendency to run his hand through his hair than I did happy about the movie itself. The movie's inoffensive and sometimes even cute; however, Vivek does NOT stop playing with his hair the entire time. The ENTIRE time.

The movie starts pretty traditionally: with a song (the soundtrack's written by A.R. Rahman with lyrics by Gulzar and I loved it with one single exception). However, the song accompanies Aditya's (Vivek's) ride through Mumbai on his motorcycle. (Note to Indian film-makers: I know, motorcycle helmets spoil the shot--along with destroying the opportunity to see Vivek run his hand through his hair and smile smugly about half a million times, but please. Save some lives and make it cool to be, you know, responsible with your BRAIN.) He navigates the sunny streets! He almost drives through the scene of an accident because in addition to not wearing a helmet he is wearing headphones and listening to "O Humdum Soniyo Re!" He flirts with some girls at a railway station who apparently know him and Suhani, to whom he is apparently married. Kaun Suhani?

This is Suhani! Rani--yaaaaay! But we're not supposed to know that yet because they haven't gotten to the twirling-in-the-yellow-flowers-while-wearing-matching-colors bit. Instead, we watch an increasingly worried Aditya wait as more and more trains flow by his platform, giving him additional opportunities to run his fingers through that pelt and make frantic phonecalls to a hospital where Suhani works. Flashback!

Suhani is dancing, singing about tears overflowing. Oh, it's her friend's wedding, of course we're singing about weeping. The bride looks appropriately downcast because GOD FORBID any Bollywood maiden be happy to leave her home, be it ever so dysfunctional (or not). It just would be wrong. Indecent, even. So Rani dances around acting happy for her moping friend. She then sassily rebukes Vivek when he shows up with the groom's party and jokes about sticking heads into nooses. Of course, he is instantly smitten (who wouldn't be? she's Rani!) and makes all sorts of efforts to woo her. These efforts include: asking others what her name is, telling her he expected a "simple" girl from the boondocks, staring at her longingly from a train moving in the opposite direction from hers (she goes into the city to study medicine), and finally, that tried-and-true filmi technique for wooing the object of your desire: stalking. But it's all done in a very sweet and non-creepy way, and Suhani could have told her father any time she wanted to get rid of Aditya, so it's okay with me if it's okay with her.

Finally, Suhani begins to soften toward Aditya. He starts singing "Saathiya!" to her in Sonu Nigam's voice (!) and that's when the twirling-in-the-yellow-flowers-while-wearing-matching-colors bit happens.

Suhani nuzzles lambs shortly after dancing with a bunch of tea-harvesters who apparently operate a dance troupe in their non-tea-leaf-picking hours. She and Aditya travel to very cold places and dance in be-sequined and tie-dyed garments. Very pretty! At one point the Trenchcoat Mafia twirls by, holding some BDSM models hostage, but Aditya and Suhani are too wrapped up in their censor-board-approved nuzzling to call the police. That's okay, though, because given Suhani's next outfit I'm pretty sure she crossed over to their way of thinking.

Yeah. Um, in case it isn't abundantly clear, by this point in the film I started seriously wondering if it was working for me. Especially when I was more worried about Rani's back roasting on those shale cliffs than I was entranced by the image of her reclining with Vivek in the wilderness of lurve.

However, then the movie kinda veers. It becomes simultaneously more filmi (socio-economic gaps! angry parents! forced separation! secret relationship continuance!) (that is totally a word when you're in my blog) and less. By less I mean that it portrays the fall-out from a not-deeply-thought-out commitment quite realistically, as Aditya's and Suhani's relationship slowly begins to crumble under the strain of isolation and economic pressures, along with a certain level of immaturity on both their parts. I liked it from that point forward, very much. In fact, I felt so invested in their relationship that when the ending freeze-frame abruptly shrank to credits, I hollered, "WHAT!" and threw a pillow at the TV for not giving me a proper resolution. (Then I remembered that it was actually Mani Ratnam's fault and apologized to the TV. It still isn't speaking to me though.)

Rani does her usual good work as Suhani, portraying a determined yet idealistic woman who isn't really prepared when love comes her way. Vivek is sweet as Aditya, a slightly callow guy who has yet to find his identity (although his on-screen anger is less than convincing--I wanted to burst into giggles and pat him on the head while he was ranting) and clearly enjoys his hair a great deal. The two smoke together--you could easily believe that a strong physical attraction was the strongest thing Aditya and Suhani had going for them at times, especially in "Aye Udi Udi Udi."

The supporting cast is good, especially Aditya's "gang," which includes Not Kal Penn from Main Hoon Na and the "Aaaaaakaaaash!" girl from Dil Chahta Hai. Sandhya Mridul also makes a good impression as Suhani's loving and supportive older sister, but the rest of both their families could go hang as far as I was concerned. Jerks. There's a couple of guest appearances by SRK and Tabu, playing a married couple--and they were very good together. I'd like to see them together in a full-length situation but given the differing focuses of their usual projects I'd be surprised if that happened. Oh, and right before that some Shetty sibling does an item number in the one song I detested, the gratingly hyperactive "Chori Pe Chori." I didn't even know that much about her till I looked it up on Wikipedia and kept on trying to figure out if she was Rakhi Sawant while I was watching the movie.

Saathiya is a decent watch and I don't regret doing so; still, there's nothing much about it besides the soundtrack that makes it rise above "decent." I liked it, and I know from reading its thread at BollyWHAT that some love it, so it's definitely worth at least a viewing. And Vivek wants you to know that his hair should have received top billing.

24 comments:

  1. I'm sorry you're still arguing with your TV. =(

    I can't make myself be interested in Saathiya, because for all of my love for stereotpyical masala-ness, this movie doesn't seem to have any of the infectious charm I love. And I really don't like Vivek.

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  2. I luv luv luv luv this movie. Rani looks so lovely.
    Was that, Aakaaash girl? I dont think so.

    Music was great and videos do just equal justice to them. btw this was not Mani's film, its an adaptation of Mani's movie by Shaad Ali.

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  3. I really like Saathiya. Did you know it's a remake of the Tamil film, Alaipayuthey with Maddy? I haven't watched it yet but heard it's a frame-by-frame copy.

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  4. Nae: I'm hoping Valentine's Day will bring a reconciliation, or at least detente. You know, I really don't like Vivek either, which is weird because this is the first film I saw him in and I know nothing of his personal life. Usually I'm not so judgmental.

    Darshit: It is the Aaaaakash girl, actually! Her name's Samantha Tremayne and she was also in Shobhayatra as Barbie according to IMDB. Rani did look gorgeous--she still had a babyface then and was sooo cute. And I blame Mani for writing the screenplay, not for the direction. ;-)

    Nicki: No, I had no idea! I want to see it now and see if it's a frame-by-frame or not.

    M'Ellen: Thank you, I'm glad! :-D

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  5. The original tamil film was good - typical middle class hard working tamil family - ie our heroine. The tamil actress also did a very good job ie acting wise - much better than Rani (I do like Rani and think she is a good actress but not in this one). The songs by AR Rahman were really good in the original tamil. The hindi ones are a just a re-badge of the original tamil tunes. This was also Madhavan's first movie in tamil and he did a good job too.

    As they say, originals are much better than poor imitations.

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  6. I liked Saathiya. Vivek was quite good in it according to me and so was Rani. But yeah, the hair bit was in excess :D

    Soundtrack was awesome though as you have mentioned and Sandhya Mridul is a damn brilliant actress! Want to see her in more films!

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  7. I have the Tamil version but haven't watched it yet. Plus I want to re-watch Saathiya and do a comparison.

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  8. lol at Vivek's hair. I wonder if he disappeared from the scene because his hair refused to co-operate till it got its requested top billing. Of the two Rani+marriage breakdown movies I saw around the same time, I remember Chalte Chalte more - guess Vivek's hair just didnt make a big impression on me!

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  9. Good review. Although, I loved the music in this film. I think this is one of ARRs best albums.

    'Not Kal Penn', LOL! That is hilarious. I think I will steal this term for Anoop Desai, the desi American Idol contender this season.

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  10. There's this 'bad play call brick' (okay, it's really a sponge with a Miami Dolphins logo on it :) that I find very useful on Sundays during football season, so I can certainly relate to the pillow incident and your frustration with Saathiya.

    I didn't like the movie much (didn't dislike it much either), but love most of the songs. Particularly like 'Chhalka Re' and especially 'O Humdum Suniyo Re'. Who needs helmets on wet roadways? =) Okay, so maybe it was Marine Drive he was on which is why I can overlook that in a film. I think Vivek Oberoi's strengths lie in more action/gangster films like Company or Shootout At Lokhandwala. If he only did more of those...

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  11. Anonymous: I think I'll look up the Tamil version if possible and see if I like it better. There were several times I felt myself teetering on the edge of really liking Saathiya, but then something always happened to make me change my mind.

    Bhargav--wasn't the soundtrack awesome? I've watched the songs several times while skipping the narrative. LOL And agree with you on the didi actress--I'll have to check IMDB to see if I can find more from her.

    Nicki--I love your comparison posts! I hope you get a chance to do it soon.

    bollyviewer: His hair didn't make such an impression but his obsession with it certainly did. He had Mission Istaanbul come out last year with Zayed Khan but it was pretty universally panned.

    Anonymous: I agree, this is up in my top ten ARR collections. And I can't take credit for the "Not Kal Penn" term; if you click on the link there it takes you to the absolutely side-splitting "Hooray for Bollywood" blog, the author of which invented Not Kal Penn to describe that actor.

    TBF: LOL about the "bad play call brick." Those songs seem to have made the best impression on most viewers; I wish it hadn't been wasted on a movie that's merely okay. Did you see Mission Istaanbul by any chance? I might check it out just for trainwreck value.

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  12. I have not seen Mission Istanbul, but should...I'd forgotten it's directed by Apoorva Lakhia (AD for Lagaan!). As you say, it's been rejected by most if not all, but I've never let that come between me and Shreya Saran ;) Thanks for the reminder!

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  13. Sounds like it'll be hit or miss for me, too. I've actually seen "Chalte Chalte"(before I had a blog, so need to probably rewatch before reviewing), and this one sounds eerily similar to that. Though that's not a bad thing, its not a great thing, either.

    LOL. This is yet another film I own and haven't gotten to yet. :)Thanks for the entertaining (ROTFLOL on Vivek's hair) review!

    P.S. Another irritating Vivek moment? That song in Omkara where Bipasha looks amazing and he looks ridiculous due to his painful facial expressions!

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  14. You mistook Shetty Jr. for Rakhi Sawant? Go watch Mohabbatein...

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  15. TBF--be sure and post about it if you do end up watching MI!

    Nida: Yeah, hit or miss seems to be the word for Saathiya--and Chalte Chalte, too, now that I think about it. If you watch it I hope you'll do a review! And, so totally true about Vivek in Omkara. Dude.

    Amey: Er, more that I was trying to figure out if the one modern-day item number girl I knew of (whom I've also only seen in Main Hoon Na) was in this movie. If you'll look at my profile you'll see I gladly advertise my ignorance. Can't say I'll be rushing to see Mohabbatein since it's been almost universally panned by the Bolly-blogosphere, but if it makes its way up my queue eventually I'll give it a go.

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  16. I never saw this one, being convinced it wouldn't live up to the greatness of the Tamil version.. This review makes me think, perhaps I got that one right. Plus it's weird to hear the songs in Hindi when I've loved the soundtrack in Tamil for years and years (okay, 4 years).

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  17. I am sooo behind in movies!

    Here's the title song from the original Tamil version

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  18. Yeah, awesome soundtrack! Which is your favourite song?

    Gulzar's poetry is so sublime in this movie..Chupke Se is amaaaaazing!

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  19. veracious: okay, that decides it, I'm definitely looking up the Tamil version.

    Nicki: Thanks! I'm going to watch it as soon as I finish posting!

    Bhargav: Without a doubt, the slow version of "O Humdum Soniyo Re" that plays during the temple scene was my favorite, but they're all beautiful except Chori Pe Chori. Agree with you about Gulzar; I LOVED the line in "Saathiya:" "terii baalii hil ga'ii hai/kabhii shab chamak uTHii hai/kabhii shaam khil ga'ii hai" Gorgeous!

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  20. Man, you're making me rethink myself! I actually stopped watching this movie after the wedding somewhere (can't even remember where, I was so bored), as I thought the movie very boring and unrealistic so far (esp. thought Suhani and Aditya's sudden 'love' for each other was completely unrealistic-- mostly on Suhani's side). The music was also a big turn-off for me. But now you're making me want to watch this again and try to make some sense of it. Hmmm.

    (and yes, I'm randomly going through your reviews and commenting)

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  21. I think the "unrealistic" part about their love was in there on purpose--in other words, the author takes a standard filmi tale of two people falling in love on the basis of not much and marrying and then shows the inevitable fallout from making a lifetime commitment on a pretty flimsy foundation. But the ending was SO DUMB although "happy" that it made me very angry.

    And I'm glad you're randomly going through my reviews! Every author wants to be read! :-D

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  22. You know, though the fil was pretty predictable, this, Yuva and Company are the only films in which Vivek (poor unlucky bugger)shone :) Company, another good one, no?

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  23. Supriya: He did do an overall good job here. I think he was excellent in Company (I really need to re-watch and review that film). Now that he's enjoying a bit of a comeback with Prince, I'll be interested to see what project he focuses on next.

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