Monday, August 27, 2007

Life In A..Metro

Watched Life In A..Metro . My expectations were set high as it came recommended by an assortment of people as "not your typical Bollywood flick". With that said, I was quite unprepared for the on-screen Jatra as this turned out to be. What's up with the shaggy haired dudes that break into song willy-nilly and completely drown the dialog with their noise ?

I had to turn on the subtitles so I could follow the story-line. Not a big loss really when I think about it being that the essence of the story is "In metro India, people are sleeping around in daisy chain formations" The sleep deprived call center workers are in the thick of this action and family units around them are collapsing like so many packs of cards. Up until this point, you bear with Anurag Basu, even with that cacophonic band that breaks into "song" whenever. You hope he will have something useful to say by closing credit time.

That expectation turns out to be somewhat misplaced. The sub-plots are riddled in cliché. Shipa Shetty is love-lessly married to a cheating husband. She comes that close to succumbing to temptation but goes back home to be the ideal desi wife who forgives and forgets all. The husband however does not hesitate to walk out on her as soon as she tells him about her fling and returns home only when his mistress dumps him. That's just the kind of role model, young Indian women need to feel equal and empowered in marriage.

Irfan Khan decides to bolt out his arranged marriage in full wedding regalia to follow the true love of his life. What about the hapless bride and commitments previously made to her ? Just a minor detail I am sure but that must be exactly the kind of man that would make a terrific husband. Basu even throws in a live-in older couple for good measure to drive home the message of death and decay of the institution of marriage in India. As a pantomime of modern life in India, this is a reasonable fare. But to be called serious or good cinema would really be pushing it.

Not sure if it was Basu's intent, but a lot of desis seem to believe that the story is an accurate portrayal of society in urban India today and not merely a lift of the 1960 Hollywood movie "The Apartment". We may be the third world but surely we are not 50 years behind the west.

Some have decided to divorce their wives because they worked in call centers before marriage making the matter of their morals a foregone conclusion as this movie depicts. In fact, Life In A...Metro gets cited in their rationale to end the marriage. Now that is an achievement for any movie to become the Kinsey Reports of its times, even if its audience is the Bollywood-crazed desis.

2 comments:

ggop said...

When people specify* they want a wife like "Tulsi in Kyunki Saas..." in matrimonial ads, I'm not surprised they are jumping to conclusions based on this movie's portrayal of call center workers.

I did hear its not uncommon for men and women to have live in relationships in call centers but haven't heard of the rampant affairs or infidelity.

* http://jaiarjun.blogspot.com/2007/08/but-serially.html

Heartcrossings said...

ggop - Thanks for the link, it made for hilarious reading ! Bollywood has always been given to exaggeration and hyperbole but thing get complicated when they pretend to be a serious movie and still don't depict reality