Indian cinema and Bollywood touch a century and as with any anniversary, we can look back and see both the highs and lows. I went into the movie expecting to be treated to four stories that recall big Bollywood moments. But what I got instead was a pleasant bouquet of four shorts which showcase how integral a part of Indian life Bollywood is. Directed by four of the star directors in Bollywood, the experience is at times moving, and at times introspective. The shorts all raise pertinent questions for today’s generation and fortunately does not sermonize.
Karan Johan directs the first short and in terms of fitting the occasion, this is the only one that falls short – why am I not surprised? Randeep Hooda and Rani Mukherjee play a couple trapped in a loveless marriage. Their world is turned upside down by the entrance of Avinash, played brilliantly by newcomer Saqib Saleem. Avinash is young, confident, Rani’s colleague and gay. When she discovers he is gay, she does not even bat an eyelid. Then the young man realizes her husband is gay and pursues him. When she discovers her husband is gay, she throws a tantrum and ends their marriage. In typical K Jo style, the short has nothing to do with the concept at hand, so he uses old Hindi songs to tenuously tie the story to the experience. Fortunately, the story is good enough for us to forgive K Jo his transgression.
Dibakar Banerjee directs the second short. This one is probably the highlight of the experience. The short tells the story of a lower-middle class man who gets to play a small part in a movie. Nawazuddin Siddiqui continues to impress with his acting. The next decade or two should see this fantastic actor take center-stage as Bollywood enters the second century.
Zoya Akhtar gets the third short. This one is a fairy tale that traces a young boy trying to live his dream – to dance like Katrina Kaif, against his father’s wishes. Ranbir Shorey plays the role of the father with usual panache. The most impressive part of this short is the way the relationship between the boy and his older sister is developed. I found myself thinking, “Thank God for sisters” on more than one occasion.
Anurag Kashyap get the final short. This traces a young man’s attempts to meet The Big B. The story is simple, but Kashyap is able to bring home the craze that The Phenomenon inspires in India.
It is a nice experience and you won’t feel cheated at the end of it. So go ahead and watch it.
Reviewed by Vinay Antony Payyapilly