Monday, April 19, 2010

Wake Up Sid, or, Joint Review Time Again!

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.)


  1. Eeeee! Two very lovely joint reviews on a film I absolutely adore! =) Is there anyone out there who didn't like Wake Up Sid? Seriously.

    I, too, adore Ranbir. I'd only seen him in Saawariya and this, though, so I still have a long way to go. But even with just that, you can see that this guy is going to go places. And he doesn't limit himself to just one area, either-- it's not all romcoms with first Rocket Singh and Raajneeti soon to be on it's way.

    But I also think everyone was fantastic in this film. =) I could really see a lot of myself in Aisha. The writer/magazine part is a bit freaky! LOL.

    I don't mind no picturizations. Song playing in the background, or people singing to it-- it doesn't matter to me, as long as it's done well, and I think it was really done well in this film. I really liked the remix in the credits, too. :P

    What's cool about WUS is that it's like a realistic film and a romcom blended together. It's got so much in it, like you said, that's 'slice-of-life', yet there's the romantic angle, which I love. =)

  2. I'm glad I'm not the only one on board the RANBIR EXPRESS!

  3. Twitter polygamist! Heeheeheee!

  4. Enjoyed the joint review, Ajnabi, and definitely agree with your point about the two talking tirelessly. It's so telling on so many levels, isn't it? Of the theme and the end result of the film, of the screenplay and the performances, and of the slice-of-life nature of it all, which was the most pleasantly surprising bit for me given KJo's association with the project. I can't believe I waited this long to see it, shame on me!

    And isn't this Rahul Khanna's second love triangle role (in a short span; almost similar in Love Aaj Kal?) in almost guest appearances? I hope he picks up a good role in a major film some day, too much talent there to relegate!

  5. "a happy ending that involves the newly-independent, matured protagonist moving back in with his parents is not a typical Western resolution." haha So true! But I think the intention is to contrast that with him sponging on Aisha, and also to show him as grown up enough to stop running away and start appreciating home and family.

    What can I say about my favorite 2009 film, that you, tBF and others havent already said? LOVED it (in case you cant tell! :-D).

    If you are on the Ranbir train, you must watch Rocket Singh - he is even better there.

  6. Love the new layout :)

    Totally agree with the review and your love for Ranbir. Imran was my favorite newcomer, but now it's definitely Ranbir.

  7. rhilex: Ranbir has so far shown himself to have the best acting chops (and made the most interesting choices in roles) of his generation. It's only been a couple of years, though, so others have a chance to catch up for sure. And, I don't mind the absence of picturizations, it's just noteworthy when a Hindi film doesn't contain any.

    Filmi Girl: All aboard the RANBIR EXPRESS! Last stop: Total Fangirldom.

    Beth: Next thing you know, he'll find some sacred scrolls and have an angelic encounter. ;-) Or maybe I mean #RKAngels? Naaaah.

    theBollywoodFan: Thank you! My relationship with my husband was/is marked by that same ease of communication from the beginning, as have most other lasting couples we know, so I really liked the choice to depict that in Sid & Aisha's relationship as well. And yes! Poor Rahul, he's ending up like Salman Khan in special appearances. He needs a heroine to stick with him once!

    Bollyviewer: I agree with your take on the intention of the move home, although to me it's amusing that as soon as he's able to pay rent to Aisha he moves back to the rent-free home. ;-) Was this your favorite of 2009? I can certainly see why! Rocket Singh is close to the top of my queue now.

    Anishok: Thanks! I really enjoyed Imran's debut, and I thought he turned in a good performance in Kidnap, but I'm glad he's going to return to the chocolate boy stuff for a little longer. Plenty of time to branch out later. And for now, Ranbir's put together the most impressive body of work, I agree.

  8. and like video games more than trendy bars.

    Who doesn't? At least me - have same feelings. How great would it be if the child inside us never have to go-leaving us for the bitter world when we get age of being an adult?

    Perfectly said that its a movie for a rainy night. Such a leisurely paced and treated with heart movie, I am always up for re-watch.

  9. I loooooove Sid!!!!!!!

    I can't believe I haven't posted yet on my Ranbir post, it's still in "draft" :)

  10. WUS and Rocket Singh are two of Ranbir's best movies. I liked both the movies very much. Konkona of course is a favourite and I try not to miss any of her movies. Although Ranbir showed some talent in this first movie Saawariya - i did not like the movie - that is more to do with Bhansali rather than Ranbir or Sonam Kapoor. Ranbir and Bipasha did well in Bachna Ae Haseeno too

  11. Awesome joint review. I really really liked this movie, but, unlike you, I didn't get Ranbir right away. However, I think WUS changed that for me. My favorite thing about this movie though, was Konkona. Strong, independant, think she knows what she wants! he he. And all the music for me is just fantastic! I was so excited to finally get it in the mail (itunes Canada is so disappointing sometimes).

    Also, now I want to paint my house all sorts of different colors just because of the painting montage.

  12. I loved your review of this movie. I liked WUS very much. It was my first experience with both of these young actors and they were outstanding. I loved her...adorable. Ranbir is certainly a super star of the future, I think. As always, just love your take on things!!

  13. Oh! i so love Wake Up Sid. Watched it 6 times the day I got the CD. I so love Ranbir Kapoor. Man am so addicted.

    P.S Love the new layout!!!!

  14. Darshit--I certainly prefer our Wii to the barfly scene. :-D I think I'm going to re-watch today; it's such a good movie!

    Nicki: get on it, girl! :-D I can't believe you haven't either. You should re-watch too to regain your inspiration.

    Filmbuff: Saawariya is definitely not a favorite of mine, but Ranbir and Sonam's performances were lovely, weren't they? And, yeah, Bipasha was the other highlight of BAH.

    Shell: I felt the exact same way about painting the walls. Indians (in movies, anyway) love bold-colored rooms and I tend to agree with that tastewise. Too bad I rent so I can't paint everything magenta and saffron. :-D

    krusche: thank you very much! Have you watched any more Konkona films since then? She's really cute in Aaja Nachle.

    Nads: I don't blame you for being addicted; if I didn't have young kids I'd do the exact same thing! And thank you for the compliment on the layout; Blogger's got some pretty cool toys lately.


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