Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Sunsilk Real FM By Anurag Basu--Movie Review

When I was invited for the special screening of this movie, I had very scant hopes for a Friday that changes shape with a new release has never been my "cup of tea". It is difficult to spot a 'stereotype breaker' in Bollywood which is my kind of entertainment, considering the masala movies it has been famous for. But, this one didn't let me down, and infact startled me with the surprise elements it had.

The movie is about Ria, a young college goer who has a loving family and two best friends. One of them is a go-getter like her while the other one is a lady whose wings have been clipped by her father and always struggles precariously to keep up with the times. Ria's brother is a student in a foreign country and her dad is the owner of a popular radio station. The movie encourages the idea of 'electronic cigarettes' which is a new invention designed to help a smoker kick the butt. Ria's brother recommends it to his father who is an avid smoker and Ria makes sure she hands it out to him on the breakfast table. While at the radio station, the employees are seen pressing for a salary hike and protesting against Ria's father. He tries to buy more time, but they don't budge and refuse to host the Independence day shows, slated to happen on the very next day. Due to all the tensions he experiences while trying to save his sinking ship, and an infamous history of smoking, Ria's father falls prey to a heart attack. 

What follows is Ria's ambitious attempts to host the Independence day radio show to save her father's face and the radio channel. She charts a rare and creative plan to host the show which is rid with difficulties. To begin with, Ria and her friends struggle to dish out original content for the radio show. Social media and Google, the popular looking glass that has made life a bed of roses for each one of us, comes to their rescue. Meanwhile, the old employees of the radio station come over to create chaos and discourage Ria, along with Ria's ex-boyfriend who doesn't help, but harm, only to get baptized of his sins later in the movie.

The story gets told around this battle to get things done with two love angles thrown in.  The artists did a wonderful job by offering a bits and pieces of their homeland to us on a platter, with me enjoying the music from God's own country. It did bring back nostalgia of a land washed by backwaters and filled with coconut grooves. Ria's shy friend also gets a platform to recognize the gift of singing she had been bestowed with, which was a beautiful moment in the film.
Anurag Basu is not your typical commercial movie maker and deep inside me I was sure of this fact.

The movie scores a point for not being your typical commercial pot-boiler. The movie maker tries to dispel the myths about the gender stereotypes that exist in our country, in this case the three girls taking the onus on themselves to save a radio station expresses the sentiments and ideologies of progressive ambitious young women of India. And the ignorant sentiments we exhibit for our brethren from the North-East exposes the racial underbelly of modern India, bits and pieces of which were there in the movie. The problems north Indians face in Mumbai is also voiced which reminded me of the Marathi-fication campaign that some political parties in Maharashtra had retorted to a few years ago. The "No Smoking" crusade got a strong push with the concept of electronic cigarettes that was perhaps for the first time, introduced in a Bollywood movie. Very thoughtful, to say the least. 
A shout out for freedom of opinion is also another highlight of the movie, that tugs at your soul with Ria and her friends Saloni and Natasha deciding to connect with the people on the streets for an Independence day show.The rebellious alter ego of young India also finds its place in the movie amidst traditionalism and hypocritical hubris, that sometimes suppresses humanity and human values. The dialogues were simple and one could easily cheer for them, with confidence since they weren't laden with double meaning or didn't have a vulgar stench emanating out of them. Without the backdrop of foreign locations or any big stars adding to the moolah, the director has done a wonderful job by telling a simple story, that could be yours or mine with characters from everyday life like the CA who finds his calling in "stand up comedy" or a young college goer who has to meet the deadly time deadlines imposed by a dominant father everyday, or the police officer who can't go home on a festival night. Or the bhaiyas who go on to protect Ria when dangers stands at their doors or to the peon who pays a homage to honesty by not being a part of the "salary hike" movement. These could be anyone, these could be me or you.
The only minor flaw that I couldn't digest was the large turn out of people who come over to help Ria and her friends. How can so many people be contacted in such a short span of time? And how did Ria's brother who lives in another time zone co-ordinate with his friends to send help? Also, how on earth can a group of goons who come to harm Ria befriend her, in the blink of an eye and protect her during difficult times?

I give the movie 4/5, four points for the entertaining stereotype breaker the movie was. I take away one point for the few facts I stated above, that were hard to digest.
Of the few movies I did bother to catch in the theatres, this one will linger in my memory for a long time. For uniting India and vocalizing the sentiments of a young India that doesn't understand Racism or sexism.

A teaser of the movie which was screened for the first time on MTV on the 23rd March, Sunday at 7 pm.

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