Friday, March 20, 2015
When the film was released last Friday, the reviews were 50/50. The critics praised Sharma but were not sure about the screenplay, and so on. They basically had an unhappy experience. I was not sure how the film turned up.
Now, Jai Arjun Singh writes a wonderful comment piece on his blog about the film, which makes me hopeful. I trust this guy’s judgment.
Singh’s long-overdue second film – which lived up to the expectations I had after his wonderful debut Manorama Six Feet Under nearly eight years ago – is, first and foremost, a tightly constructed genre movie, an exercise in suspense. The immediacy of the experience – being glued to the screen, holding your breath, forgetting to pick up your cold coffee, wondering if it was a good or a bad idea for this film to have an Intermission (the break provides a needed breather, but it also has the effect of toning down the intensity) – precedes everything else.
And only then, after exiting the hall and collecting one’s thoughts, does one reflect on the deeper issues being dealt with here: about the many faces and inner contradictions of a society heaving between old and new ways of life. Where a woman may have a high-paying job in a posh, gated office complex, but may still be encouraged to carry a weapon for her safety, and to anticipate and be “responsible” for other people’s criminal impulses (“Gurgaon badhta bachcha hai, toh gun mujhe hee lena hoga,” Meera says drily) – because the police can do only so much to help, and they would rather she didn’t travel alone anyway, it makes their job more difficult. (Besides, the idea of a woman driving by herself late at night discomfits them at a more primal level. Cops don’t emerge from thin air, as someone points out, they come from society and are very much part of it.) It's a world where elegantly dressed, well-spoken male colleagues may listen attentively to her presentation, but later rib her about the boss making special concessions for a woman.