Monday, April 19, 2010
This is a joint review with The Bollywood Fan. Be sure to check out his thoughtful-as-ever post on the movie! (If you're the sort of person who has any doubt about how a movie like this should end, you should know that I give away the resolution in the first paragraph.)
Wake Up Sid might just be the Hindi film with which I've most identified, from a life experience standpoint. Not that I'd consider myself to be all that much like the title character, but it's a pretty common Western story: aimless son of successful father must sink or swim when push comes to shove. (Happy Gilmore, sadly, is the first of this type to spring to my mind, which shows how elitist my viewing tastes are.) And while I'm sure it has echoes of familiarity for many Indians--and perhaps more NRIs even--not that I'd know--it seems to be a pretty targeted-audience sort of film. That's not to say it's not an Indian tale--a happy ending that involves the newly-independent, matured protagonist moving back in with his parents is not a typical Western resolution. It just means that its arc was a familiar one, and I'm fine with that.
Sid (Ranbir Kapoor, and can I just say I love him? I've been on the lurve train since Saawariya, and he just keeps proving me right) is kind of a jerk. He's alternately flippant, resentful, or presumptuous with his father, and he's downright dismissive and rude to his mother. He spends his father's money without thought. He doesn't pay much attention to his friends' lives, except as accompaniments to his own. I would also add a non-expert diagnosis of ADHD, based on the early shots of Sid trying, and failing utterly, to focus on studying for his big final exams, plus his daydreaming during the actual tests. The movie, I would hasten to add, does not see it my way, choosing instead to portray his inattentiveness as a symptom of his general disaffection for life and, well, overall worthlessness. He's without direction and doesn't care.
And then Sid fails.
The only other movie I've seen wherein the hero fails college is Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, and Anupam Kher's Ram Mehra dad does not react at all like Anupam Kher's Dharamvir Malhotra papa-ji. He's furious, and anxious, but of course doesn't know how to show it. When Sid ends up flaking out of even a pity job at his father's shower parts company--with a luxury sports car as the carrot for his perserverance--Dad's had it. Finding Sid whining at his mother, rebuking her for her poor English, Mr. Mehra subjects his son to the sort of verbal lashing that stings its recipient into desperate flailing action--and off Sid goes to stay with his friend Aisha (Konkona Sen Sharma).
She's a new girl in Mumbai, working as an administrative assistant to dreamy magazine editor Kabir (dreamy Twitter polygamist Rahul Khanna) while trying to get a break as a writer. She's a little older than Sid, and a lot more grounded, but they have a great deal in common as far as interests go. These two talk... and talk... and talk, without effort. And because they're not involved romantically, Aisha can be a great deal more straightforward with her roommate than she would be otherwise--and she is. She alternately cajoles and rebukes him into more responsible behavior, from cleaning up after himself to finding an internship as a photographer.
In fact, as others have said before me, Sid learns to be a man when he's hemmed in by women: his best female friend calls him on his self-centeredness. His across-the-hall sexy neighbor teaches him some basic cooking when asked. His next-door neighbor reveals the love a mother bears for her son. His roommate, and Sid's fundamental good nature, do the rest.
Along the way, there's a bunch of other little slice-of-life detours: a falling-out, and reconciliation, with a childhood friend, a misguided office romance, the promise, and fulfillment, of the rains, and the urge to impress those who've been most disappointed in one. There's a brief affirmation of the fact that it's perfectly okay to prefer popular entertainment (old film songs) to more "cultured" stuff--and I'm with Aisha, jazz is an acquired taste I don't have the patience to acquire--and like video games more than trendy bars.
Ranbir gives a great performance, probably very difficult to nail but he makes it look effortless. Same goes for Konkona and Anupam-ji. The soundtrack is good, but there are no picturizations besides the laughably tacked-on final credits number. It's a great movie for a rainy night, not overly demanding or taxing of its viewers but very, very enjoyable--worth every penny, in fact.
(I apologize for the lack of screencaps--Netflix Instant Viewing was being temperamental last night so the quality was bad.)