It's not hard to reason this one but you migh...
Karan Anshuman (Filmmaker/movie critic),
Karan Anshuman is a film critic for Mumbai Mirror. He's worked on a bunch of movie projects, none of which you've ever seen...yet! He's a history, photography, squash, web 2.0, food, and gaming enthusiast who would trade his soul to travel the world.
BITTOO BOSS: Weddings, Beddings, and Videotape
Director: Supavitra Babul; Cast: Pulkit Samrat, Amrita Pathak, Mohan Kapoor, Rajendra Sethi
Indian weddings, as you are well aware, loves Bollywood and Bollywood loves weddings. So a Bollywood film about a videographer who shoots weddings seems quite the perfect match. Question is, can a story of the life and times of a small-town man armed with a camera, a charming smile, and a pronounced head of hair make for interesting cinema?
The first half of Bittoo Boss, almost literally speaking, seems like one big montage that establishes what a cool guy Bittoo is and his falling in love with the uptown Mrinalini (whose name he can’t pronounce and who believes wealth above all else earns respect). There is almost nothing here you haven’t see before: he’s dancing at the weddings he’s supposed to be shooting, he’s chasing the girl on his scooter, he gets insulted by an MBA who calls him a “do kaudi ka tuchcha cameraman”, he and his buddies have a drinking session (chakna and all) at his rundown office after he’s been jilted (“Kama ke dikha,” she demands of him at interval point.) Nothing new here save for a couple of comic moments like when in a bid to impress his girl he gifts her a stepney cover for her scooter promoting his services.
But now, driven by an impulse to earn money and prove himself to his pesky girlfriend, he takes up an offer he’s never considered before: shooting hidden camera real porn in the hotel rooms of Simla. This is quite the unexpected turn that promises foray into dark territory and take the narrative to the next level.
But because he is a nice guy and is unable to change who he is – and this is the problem with the writing: Bittoo is ever-consistent, invariably opting for the righteous path – he can’t quite get himself to hit the record button. On the contrary, he “saves” a girl and also makes a marriage. The hotel room scenes are long-winded, verbose, and sloppily executed. For most part as the audience, we are watching Bittoo and his sidekick watching others. And just when you think the film’s ended you realize that the climax is yet to come (and it does, with great leaps of logic.) If Bittoo went beyond making a decision and actually got himself into inextricable situations with little hope of redemption, instead of the copouts we’re presented with, we’d have a significantly more compelling film.
Make sure you better brush up on your Punjabindi if you’re planning on watching this film. Authentic dialects in a fanciful milieu are almost always cumbersome (unlike, say, in a Paan Singh Tomar). I suspect only true Punjabi speakers will understand all of the dialogue.
As Bittoo, Pulkit Samrat, is quite the find. He doesn’t quite manage to rise above the script but eclipses all other actors. With his lazy ease in front of the camera, he is to look out for. Unfortunately for him, the filmmakers don’t manage to deliver on the premise Bittoo Boss promises.
CHHODO KAL KI BAATEIN: Rinse Repeat Redeem
Director: Pramod Joshi; Cast: Anupam Kher, Sachin Khedekar, Mrinal Kulkarni, Atul Parchure
In 1993, when Groundhog Day starring Bill Murray released, it was acclaimed as an instant classic. The essential idea – of a person stuck in a time loop till he understands and improves his spiritual self – has inspired many take offs internationally, the most recent being an indie sci-fi version Shuffle that releases this summer. Closer home, director Pramod Joshi sticks to the original plot, gives it a desi flavor and – with a concept so hard to go wrong with – serves up a dish that is ultimately enjoyable.
Time resets every 24 hours on a Sunday for Aditya (Sachin Khedekar), a workaholic obsessed with success and apathetic to his family, neighbors, and the world at large, as he wakes up every day to the exact same events unfold repeatedly. He cycles through a range of emotion and behavior – from exasperation and anger to self-indulgence and self-pity – when an unknown, unnamed man of wisdom (Anupam Kher) helps him understand the meaning of life. If the plot sounds wearisome, you won’t be entirely off the mark to judge the film on it. The humor in the first half works (though it is exaggerated and I’d blame the poor choice of support cast here who’re way over the top, not Khedekar or the writing), but the sanctimonious balderdash that creeps in with Kher’s character in the second half is a little harder to keep your eyes open through.
Still, there is a certain unapologetic tone in the movie and if the director maybe blamed for over-moralizing he should also be lauded for his fearlessness in showing his protagonist’s grey shades as he lambasts his wife (“Is this your fault?” he asks her) before helping himself to a bevy of high-heeled escorts. This in a ‘U’ rated movie. But it is the way the film ends that catches you off guard even though you’ve seen it coming all the way. One of the more satisfying culminations in recent times. When redemption comes, it’ll give you a lump in the throat. And for this reason alone, I can recommend CKKB.
Sachin Khedekar in the lead role is a fine choice. The selection is unconventional – especially since he doesn’t have to look a certain way and can build his character from scratch – and you can see him giving it all he has. Arguably his best work since Bose.
Chhodo Kal Ki Baatein also releases in Marathi as Kashala Udyachi Baat. Marathi cinema continues to hold its edge over Bollywood in terms of content. Despite it not being original – on the merit of choice of inspiration – this is the film to opt for this weekend, especially if you’ve not seen Groundhog Day.
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