Thursday, May 15, 2008

Rain And Sun

Like many people, I think Aishwarya Rai is picture perfect but like many others I am almost always underwhelmed by her acting. Two exceptions to that would be Raincoat and Bride and Prejudice. Love and marriage are the main themes of both but that's the only thing they have in common unless one counts the refreshing Rai performances.

Raincoat is possibly film-noir. The incessant rain makes for a dark and gloomy ambience in which the story unfolds. Two old lovers meet somewhat by chance one afternoon, talk about the past and where they are in life now. Both pretend that they are happy - she in her marriage, he with how well his business is doing. The truth about their lives comes out in the end. The story is told with deliberate slowness and it draws you in. You become a fly on the wall observing the two navigate their perilous way through a maze of half-truths and white lies.

Bride and Prejudice is an unapologetic Bollywood musical with a little bit of Broadway thrown in for good measure. Rai works her way through song, dance, pathos and drama with grace and a light touch - most importantly she seems to be having a good time. The colors are bright, the music loud and everyone and their grandmother breaks into a song and dance routine at the slightest provocation. Night is to Raincoat as day is to Bride.

Except for the name Will Darcy nothing else seemed familiar from Jane Austen's book that provided inspiration for this movie. Maybe it does not really matter. One assumes Chadha wanted the rest of the world to get a taste of mainstream Bollywood fare - a familiar story told in English merely helped her get her audience interested in her offering.

For those of us who dismiss Rai as a perfectly expressionless doll, both of these movies could be a nice surprise.

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