Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Sanjay Leela Bhansali's 'Saawariya': A tribute to Raj Kapoor and Dostoevsky, in that order

'Saawariya' is a tough film to watch for those who have got used to the idea of a script and a screeplay that move on, that never linger. But there are some films where it is quite necessary, and even pleasurable, to linger and hover around the same place and the same people. That is why, many film reviewers criticised 'Saawaria' for not moving forward. This is not a moving-forward film in that sense.
This is a classic love story, where love is the main character apart from other characters. The other characters are trying to solve their relations with this character called Love. Starting from the hero, Ranbir Raj, played by Rishi Kapoor's son Ranbir Raj Kapoor, to Gulabo, the prostitute played by Rani Mukherjee, rhe Anglo-Indian landlady played by Zohra Sehgal and Sakina played by Sonam Kapoor, daughter of Anil Kapoor. Salman Khan who plays Imaan, the man to whom Sakina is committed to through vows of love is the symbol of real life. When Sakina walks away with Imaan at the end, she is accepting real life. That is why, Imaan asks Sakina whether she accepts a life full of difficulties because that is what real life is all about. Sakina agrees to the conditions of real life because that is what religion is all about, submitting yourself to real life.
Ranbir Raj is the tramp who is willing to accept the crumbs of love that come his way. He feels enriched even by that fleeting touch with the riches of love. He is going to miss life because of his love for love. It is the mystic's way in a manner of speaking. Gulabo the prostitute knows about the beauty of love but she knows like a poor person that the riches of love are not for her. It does not mean that she is a hardened woman who does not undesrtand love or does not care for it. She recognises love when she sees it. That is why, she likes Ranbir Raj, the seeker of love. The Anglo-Indian landlady has lost love as her son goes away to war and never returns. She is found struggling with the loss of love.
Yes. The meaning of the film is a bit complicated. It makes you think seriously about love, its depths and its heights. You need to sit back and watch, think and feel. It takes you into the world of blues of true emotions. It can be called escapist fare in its own right.
Bhansali has located his characters beautifully. It is the marginal people of the world who populate this land of love. The Muslim Sakina, the prostitute Gulabo, the lonely Anglo-Indian, the rootless orphan Rabir Raj. Imaan is the only man of the world. That is why, he makes his appeaarance, disappears and then comes back at the end. Sakina walks away from this dark Disneyland of love into the real world. The others are struck in the never-never land of love.This is something that Dostoevsky would have liked in this film. That is why, the artifical sets, the nearly garishg colour schemes do not offend. They were necessary to mark off the land of love from the real world. The sets and the colour schemes are the most imaginative parts of the film. And so is the music, which enhances the atmopshere of the sets.
But there are the obvious things about this film. Bhansali shamelessly pinches lines and sentiments from Raj Kapoor's old films, from 'Barsaat', from 'Awara', from Anari and from 'Shree 420'. Even the name of the hero. Raj, is from the world of Raj Kapoor. The scene where Raj and Sakina are in each other's arms, and Sakina calls him 'loafer', and he says that yes he is 'awara' too is right from the Raj Kapoor-Nargis scene from 'Awara'. The differences is that in 'Awara' Raj Kapoor shows anger and passion at being called 'awara' and Nargis passinataely embraces his anger in love. The mcharacter of Gulabo is a play on the role played by Lalita Pawar in 'Shree 420', the hawker who sells bananas. And the lonely Ango-Indian landlady is that of Mrs D'Souza from 'Anari'. In many, the character of Raj, the hero of 'Saawariya' is that of the man who never gets the woman he loves as in 'Mera Naam Joker'.

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