Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Vivah (A brief movie review)

Note: This is a "re-paste" of a post I had made in my old Comcast website.

Hmmm. This movie is akin to inserting a pretty lil white mouse in a sea of snakes. The latter, of course, refers to the recent spate of Indian movies in which showing an unnecessary amount of skin and spewing double-entendre dialogues seem to be the norm. I am not against glamour in movies when used judiciously. Heck, I frequent Revere beach in my Speedos...with a swagger . But I digress. Anyway, for the most part, I turn to Indian movies to enjoy pieces like Vivah and, say, Mahanadhi.

I have seen Shahid Kapoor in another movie and was not impressed by his performance. But this movie's script allows him to "grow" up. Amrita Rao, naturally, plays the leading lady with the appropriate "docile-ness" required in a movie like this. The lead pair is likeable (once again, I suspect primarily because of the script).

Vivah has a simple story woven with some equally simple characters...or maybe I should say, simple souls. The story seems fresh, of course, in that it spends a lot of time on that juncture between (arranged) engagement and marriage. For me the appeal of the movie was the talkfest between the lead pair. At times (but only at times), I was reminded of the Ethan Hawke-Julie Delpy characterization in Before Sunrise and Before Sunset.

I liked Seema Biswas' character (she plays the jealous stepmother of Amrita) and both she and the girl who played her daughter could have been given a little more screen time. I didn't expect that twist toward the end but what followed was so sweet I gagged at times. So the movie does drag at times but there are a few wonderful scenes (like the one where Shahid and Amrita talk softly in the moonlight) that lingered in my mind well after the movie ended. The songs and music are softer than the aforementioned moonlight. This is a feel good movie and should hold immense appeal to most non-resident Indians (but especially the ones that need to go out and get a life).

Anatomy of a Scene

"It was late afternoon as I pulled into my driveway and climbed out. The sun was warm and making its way toward the horizon. On a whim, I walked across the huge yard toward the rolling fields beyond the property line. I scurried over the freshly painted white fence and, with my hands on my hip, stood there taking in the lazy scene. The sky was a deep blue with wisps of milky white clouds passing by at a snail's pace. They had all the time in the world. A cockchafer went flying past me. I craned my neck to follow his flight path. He was moving fast and soon he was out of sight over a small hill overflowing with dandelions that were swaying gently to the breeze. It was a calm day but then it was always calm out here.

As I sunned, I slowly became acclimatized to the smells and sounds of the field. A slight but angry rustle nearby indicated that my presence had disturbed the slumbers of a small animal, perhaps a field mouse. Two butterflies were in earnest conversation a ways off. They seemed to tumble down a bit. They were in combat. Were they fighting for the love of a lady then? The distant warble of a purple martin seemed to add a layer of melancholy to their battle. One of them was destined to lose. I hoped that they were not brothers.

The sun was sinking lower in the sky and the breeze had picked up. The light had turned to a cooler blue. There was a faint hint of a familiar scent wafting down from a small hill yonder to my right: the fragrance of bur marigolds that I could not see. Maybe that cockchafer had a cousin who made her home amidst those marigolds. Had he been taking tea with her before he said his goodbyes and so ended up flying past me on his way home? Maybe it was time for me to be getting home too. I took one long earnest look around. Everything seemed to indicate that it was time to start settling in for the night. I turned and started waddling my way back home."