Watched in: Golden Village Paya Lebar
Watch Date: 2019-02-02
- I was telling my wife while the movie was on that it seemed extremely Wodehousean, and when the credits rolled, I saw “Inspired by ‘A Damsel in Distress’ by P G Wodehouse”. Aha!
- But to be truthful, I didn’t pick up on the A Damsel in Distress connection while watching. Instead, it was more:
- The part with Rajkummar Rao bribing Anil Kapoor to pass on a letter to Sonam was a joke directly lifted from Full Moon
- Moving from a city to the countryside, pretending to be somebody else, and then sneaking in even more impostors is pretty much the Blandings template
- Anil Kapoor getting smitten with Juhi Chawla had shades of Lord Emsworth falling for Maudie in Pigs Have Wings
- Plus the servants’ betting pool on who would be the one to marry Sonak K Ahuja – though that has popped up in Saki as well
- At two points, it also seemed like the writers had decided that they wanted to take the piss out of Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayengein. That is, “What if SRK landed up at the haveli and Kajol told him ‘You fucking idiot, I’m gay.’?”; and “What if DDLJ ended with Kajol not leaping on to the train?”
- Rajkummar Rao’s character seems to exist in this exasperating zone between entitlement and being a genuinely good person. First, he laughs hysterically at Sonam Kapoor being gay, then he apologises and is genuinely pleased at finding a new friend as opposed to whining about friendzoning. Then he cooks up a harebrained scheme of using a play to get Sonam K Ahuja and Regina Cassandra together and accepted, but just steamrollers ahead without ever bothering to ask them about the ways in which it might get wrong. The last but one phone call with his mother, where she tells him that she’s proud of him for living independently and on his own terms sort of points to this – he does attempt to give up on his privileged background, but can’t quite give it up.
- Speaking of the phone call with his mother, the one irritating thing I found about the script was the way it went down the track of ‘Writing is only good if it’s true.’ Aargh no please please please allow the possibility of great, non-autobiographical fiction. If Rajkummar Rao can only write well if he’s writing true things, isn’t he going to run out of things to write after his Moga play? His father is going to wind up with another flop movie.
- I thought there was also a mild influence of Romeo in Love, or going even further back in sources, of Hamlet. ‘The play’s the thing.’
- Moga seems to be increasingly the Punjabi small town everybody picks up on because it’s an intrinsically funny name. It was in the Saturday Saturday lyrics as well. I mildly want to outrage because people just pick up on the name, while not realising that Moga is the Nestle and Pepsico centre. All Kurkure come from Moga. So does Nestle Milkmaid, if I remember right.
- Since I’ve been writing and thinking about how Hindi movies traditionally don’t do changing minds with words well (or at all), but acknowledging that persuasion cuts down on the dramatic possibilities, I have to say that ELKDTAL did it very well; thanks to the device of Sonam K Ahuja’s diary. (On a continuity note, Anil Kapoor must be a speed reading demon if he inhaled seven years worth of diaries, possibly more, in less than a week’s worth of nights). Rajkummar’s harebrained play trickery didn’t work as much as Sonam K Ahuja’s own, real words did.
- That, I suppose, is a reinforcement of the earlier point / phone call about writing out real stuff. But also must have been a tiny moment of celebration for the writers in that it made writing the true heroic activity.
- Sonam K Ahuja was awful as an actress, especially compared to the rest of the cast; particularly Rajkummar Rao. I thought Juhi Chawla was hamming a bit, though it still worked very well as comedy.
- The last few minutes were a dignity culture vs honour culture riff.
- Minor exasperations:
- Brawling in the Gurgaon metro and getting arrested by the Delhi police
- Rajkummar Rao uses an Android which has the iPhone ringtone
- Sonam K Ahuja grows up in small town Punjab, but writes her diary in Devanagari instead of Gurmukhi.
- Speaking of the metro, when they were headed for the metro station in the early opening, I was wondering if we would get a tribute to the Dilli-6 bit where Sonam Kapoor ditches her chunni as she goes down the gate steps. Alas, no. That makes me remember, though, I’ve witnessed the sudden vanishing of veils myself when I flew from Teheran to Muscat. It was wild.
- But as tributes go, I think the map Juhi Chawala hands Rajkummar Rao was full of them – I didn’t get enough time to spot it clearly, but I think one of the points marked on it is Newton Road.