Tuesday, February 08, 2011

It catches up in the end (Yeh Saali Zindagi)

Director: Sudhir Mishra
Starcast: Irrfan Khan, Chitrangada, Saurabh Shukla, Arunoday Singh

Who is this lucky bastard, Arunoday Singh? He got to passionately kiss six gorgeous women, among the best in the business, in just a span of three movies. Each movie claimed to 'introduce' him for the first time, but like Mamata said, may be he needs reintroduction each movie with such limited talents!


Is Arunoday this decade's Emran Hashmi?
'Yeh Saali Zindagi' closes up well. When I walked out of the theatre I had a warm feeling. The good guy, who actually is just a common crook, sorta got better of the baddies (not really, the baddies themselves get out of the way) and got the girl finally. But that was only towards the end. For most part of the first half and some into the second, the director lost me quite often. Parallel plotlines merging in the end with overlaps in between is a concept better handled by Quentin Tarantino or Guy Ritchie.

Sudhir Mishra is pretty good at human drama and tried his hand at a crime caper of sorts. The closure is commendable though. And what makes this movie immensely watchable was the amazing acting put in by Irrfan khan

Yeh Saali Zindagi is about Arun (Irrfan Khan), a Chartered Accountant laundering money for the rich and powerful through MM Finance owned by Mehta (Saurabh Shukla). During one of his recoveries, he falls in love with Priti (Chitrangada), who later falls for a rich brat, Singhania. In a parallel plot, a betrayed gangster Bade and his crony Kuldeep (Arunoday) try to keep up with the machinations of a Minister Verma, a patron-turned-enemy and Bade's younger brother Chhote. Kuldeep wants to give up crime on account of his lovely wife but keeps getting dragged into the gang by Bade and Satbeer, a corrupt jailor.

Chhote is a sleazy fashion designer in Tbilisi, Georgia and that's where the first hiccup hits. Sudhir Mishra's Georgia is actually some silly looking dark studio with a random shot of snow falling and Colaba tourists loudly sashaying as models. The Georgia set is a metaphor for the first half of Yeh Saali Zindagi: both are inferior imitations. In pursuit of a slick multi-plot thriller, the movie strays into incoherence very often. The director cannot avoid bringing sensitive emotions and diversity into his characterisation. A single mom's travails and a prolonged one sided love story have no place in a movie like this. Chitrangada compounds the agony by hamming her role as a singer. She is an overrated actress, who looked good and pretended to be natural in a well directed movie earlier. Both illusions fall through in this movie. She does have a few moments towards the end, but that is too little too late.

Singhania is engaged to Anjali, daughter of Minister Verma, bringing in the necessary link to the two plots. To get Bade out of Tihar jail, Kuldeep kidnaps Singhania and Priti, whom he mistakes for Anjali. Priti perusades Kuldeep to let her be the negotiator to save her love, Singhania. After a few failed attempts at convincing the Minister to help Bade escape, Priti seeks Arun's help. Arun obliges, threatening to expose the black money of the Minister's son. The plots merge here, with Arun desperately trying to help Priti and in the process, Singhania's false love for Priti gets exposed. Bade manages to get out with Kuldeep and Minister's help, but Chhote is out to get him for some stashed away blood money. The movie briskly moves towards the climax, bringing most of the characters together in one frame in true Guy Ritchie style. The relatively good guys prevail over the relatively bad. Relatively, because they are all crooks anyway.

Irrfan portrays the role of Arun brilliantly, playing a man torn between the underside of his dark profession and his unrequited love for Priti. Arunoday has an immense screen presence and little talent to make it last. Saurabh Shukla has an insignificant role. Sushant Singh does well, and so does Aditi Rao Hydari, who plays Kuldeep's pretty wife. I couldn't decide if she is pretty in real life too, and if she isn't, she must be a brilliant actress. The rest of the cast was mostly unnoticeable, and some of them like Chhote and his bandaged assistant were unnecessary.

If Sudhir Mishra hadn't made the brilliant decision of casting Irrfan Khan or hadn't managed to clean up his act in the climax, he would have gone the Nagesh Kukunoor way - a gujju cook trying his hand at idli upma.

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