Sunday, March 15, 2015

Sharat Katariya's Dum Laga Ke Haisha: Bonding in squabbling families not amounting to fatality

The most impressive factor in commercial Hindi cinema is that new talent comes in quietly as new heroes and new heroines do. Sharat Katariya, the director of Dum Laga Ke Haisha, is one such example. He makes an impressive debut with a film with no arty-arty fanfare. It tells the simple story from a small town, with a few of those tiny theatrics like that chortling van or that gleaming brownish pink Ambassador car or the cassette shop of the 1990s. But the oddities get ironed out because the stuff of the tale is convincing. When a film like "Queen"of Kangana Ranaut made a lot of noise about the rebellious and liberated woman who still remains within the four corners of orthodoxy, Katariya tackles a wee bit more complex story of an arranged marriage and the mismatch between the boy and the girl is turned on its head. Here the boy is good looking and the girl is not. The boy is a nincompoop of sorts and the girl is clever. How do they come to terms with each other's apparent handicaps is what the film is about.
Katariya manages without the song-and-dance sequence and the end song-and-dance sequence is gratuitous to say the least.
There is the intervention of the feminist-activist-lawyer and she is neither idolised or demonised. The families do not question her ideology but accept her role at face value. But they resolve the problem within their own value framework. There is no preachiness either about traditional family values or about the gender polemics. Individuals in small towns are not willing to abandon either family or society for the sake of their new values. They work out their happiness within the blinkered and narrow social spaces.
After Basu Chatterjee's "Sara Akash"made in 1970, this is the first film that handles family scenes with warmth. Katariya's "Dum Laga Ke Haisha" follows another simple family tale told in "Vicky Donor".
Ayushman Khurana gives another brilliant performance. But Bhumi Pednekar deserves special mention because she carries off her role with aplomb.
Namrata Rao's editing shows itself through its unobtrusiveness.

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