Subhash K Jha speaks about Bachna Ae Haseeno!


By Subhash K. Jha, Bollywood Hungama News Network

Let's get real. Commitment phobia is epidemic among 20-something urban yuppies and yummies especially in the metros. Siddharth Anand, a pastmaster at depicting urban mores (Salaam Namaste, Ta Ra Rum Pum) this time pulls out all stops to expose the suave urbane heel who cannot feel above the waist.

Raj (must Ranbir be called that every time?) is a man on a redemptive path. That of course comes later, much later in this elaborate but tightly-edited and constantly- searching savvy and engaging comment on the prowling dude's demoniacal insensitivity towards girls who give him the chance to dance into their lives.

There's a 'salvage' grace in Ranbir's redemptive journey from cad to closet-saint who wants to set it right in the lives of the women he has wronged. One of these scorned women makes him her glorified slave in scenic Capri. And boy, does Bipasha pull out all stops. The other hurt lady just makes him dance to a tortuous Bhangra tune in Amritsar. All's well that mends well. Oh ,well.

Playing the jerk with knee-jerk responses to love and sex can't come easily to any actor. Ranbir Kapoor inadvertently turns the whole concept of romantic love as propagated by Shah Rukh Khan in Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge (DDLJ) and its zillion spin-offs , on its head. Love now can easily be taken to bed. Though no one is thinking of sleep. Not the characters, not the audience.

The first episode with the starry-eyed Mahi (Minissha Lamba, suitably starry-eyed) is a rather diverting homage to Aditya Chopra's DDLJ. That's a pretty auto-erotic thing to do considering Chopra is this film's producer. But then, you win some when you try to be winsome. Ghar ka khana served up with affection is not unacceptable.

Ranbir Kapoor and Minissha are pretty much taken through the same Swiss terrain as Shah Rukh and Kajol in the earlier film. Even the circumstances created to bring them together can't be told apart. Except that this boy-man is out to have a "good" time with the girl who lives in a bubble. Koi gham nahin.

There's a bit of Ken Ghosh's Ishq Vishq combined with a dash of Sajid Khan's Hey Babyy here. You know the hero who gives the innocent naïve romantic girl a hard kick in her aas (I mean the Urdu word for hopes and dreams) will find his comeuppance. She shows up an hour later.

Some of the sassiest sauciest and smartest lines come in the second overture of this anti-romantic comedy when Ranbir, now 20-something and suitably hormone-driven courts and mates Bipasha Basu with ferocious intensity,

Ranbir has been there, done 'em all. He lives the characters to the 'jilt', swathes the character in the cruelly- cool quirks that make utter self-centeredness a fashion statement in contemporary societies.

One of the film's most stirring moments shows Bipasha sitting on steps of her marriage venue in her bridal finery waiting for her bridegroom to turn up , her mehndi getting washed in the rain. Sarah Jessica Parker in Sex & The City has been there. A very Raj Kapoor thing to do in a film that's all about being cool and finally falling flat on one's face when Raj/ Ranbir meets his match. In more ways than 'won'.

Deepika Padukone as the statuesque but spunky cabbie in Sydney has the shortest feminine presence in this made-to-order Ranbir vehicle. She gets to mouth the best throwaway lines and to hit the philandering commitment-phobic hormone-driven hero where it hurts the most. And we don't mean below the belt.

Director Siddharth Anand has the balls to show his hero as a man thoroughly exposed in his self-seeking egocentricity. Ranbir doesn't spare the character. He penetrates Raj's nerve centre and portrays him as a smooth talking charlatan who's looking for trouble in shapely places.

Ranbir plays the Casanova with just the right dollops of dips and curves. The fact that he has already done it all in an abundant flourish in Saawariya doesn't take away from the sincerity of the performance. Most of time Ranbir seems to get to the very heart of his character to emerge with the kind of exteriorized gumption that we rarely see in an actor his age.

Watch his surprise when he sees himself cry after Deepika rejects him. No one has done this before. The four principal characters are etched with a care conveying a contemporary air without making them overly illustrative. Bipasha's turn as a wannabe super-model ready to chuck it all for marriage only to be jilted at the altar is notably powerful.

What the script says about a career women is that sometimes male insensitivity forces their true métier of out of a woman. An interesting thought, and one that the narrative holds in place with grace on Bipasha's expressive face. But the most interesting female character is Deepika's. A welf-willed no-string-attached humorous sassy and gritty cabbie she drives the Casanova around the bend, and beyond, Deepika exudes a reined-in grace. She's the future of Bollywood.

Hiten Paintal playing that age-old thankless part of the hero's friend (earlier they were given the politically-incorrect name of side-kicks) joins the ranks of the natural-born scene-stealing supporters like Ninad Kamath, Kabeer Sadnah and Vishal Singh. The film brings forward lived-in emotions given that ultra-chic treatment that makes the bitter truth about the layers of self-gratification and the lack of commitment in today's generation palatable funny and sometimes, touching.

The film has been beautifully shot. The azure -blue oceans of Italy form a telling contrast to the bronzed tanned and probably tattooed actors who clutter the Swiss , Italian and desi locales without making a nuisance of themselves.

Cleverly crafted, and structured to contour and circle the glamorous element the severely-flawed characters, Bachna... is not meant to be a mammoth social comment on love and marriage. But in its own tongue-in-cheek manner it manages to say plenty about life in the fast, lane.