Sunday, April 14, 2013

Nautanki Saala

Life serves many ironies. Your occupation could be one if you are an actor. You need to take up any role on stage or screen irrespective of what you really are. Like Raj Kapoor of Mera Naam Joker, one has to smile for audience's entertainment no matter with what pain he is performing. Nautanki Saala is about such ironies.

One character in this film puts up, "One who can't do anything can be an actor. And the one who can't even act can direct." Ram Parmar is both. And he's living both the ironies. His play is running successfully with over 1500 shows already at an Apollo theater in South Bombay (beautifully captured). Add more to the irony, the title of his play is "Raavanleela". 

Ram Parmar (effortless Ayushmaan Khurrana) loves himself to be called by his initials -RP. The film opens up with him in a consulting session with a psychologist, where he translates a Chinese proverb that means "If you save someone's life, his responsibility is then yours."
And the film goes into a flashback...

The story that follows has very less to do with the proverb. It's only to prove how kind-hearted Ram actually is that he took the guy (Mandar played by Kunal Roy Kapoor) whom he saved from committing suicide to his home and literally nursed him. What actually follows is a muddling Ramayan.

Hopeless Mandar wants to end up his life after he had a break-up with Nandini.
Ram, just like Ajay Devgn of Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, takes up the responsibility to find her and reconnect this lost love. There's not only a tongue-in-cheek that the female of this story is also named Nandini but also a reference to that film with a song being played in a scene.

The opening credits generously pay dues to the writers, director and also the producers of the 2003 French film Apres Vous from which this film is inspired. Though I haven't seen the original, it's not difficult to tell that only the basic plot would be really borrowed as the makers of this one have immaculately shifted the base to India's metropolis finding parallels with the story that of an Indian epic. This is what you call a re-make!

In one of its artistic detailing, a cutout of 10 headed Raavan can be seen on the steering of RP's car when he tries to revive Mandar by meeting his grandmother but actually worsens the situation. It is a reminder of how in the legend Ram tries to kill Raavan by decapitating each of his head but the demon never dies. The subtext of characters takes the dramatic closure in an improvised on-stage play, though messing up your mind.

With many scenes dragged and plotted predictably, you'll find yourself amused with subtle referential jokes in those newspapers, magazines and movie posters, and one-liners such as when the producer who takes up the role of Surpanakha in his flopping play says "Tune meri naak katva di.", or when RP says, "Yeh theater hain, yahaan drama nahi chalega!", and in a stand-out scene when RP find his next Ram for the play in Mandar just as he comes out from a steamy bathroom appearing as a halo behind him, standing in a God-like pose only to kill a mosquito, with "Jai Shri Ram" playing in the background in the voice of Suresh Wadkar, catching you nostalgic of the Ramayan TV serial.

Sippy takes permission of being melodramatic and Bollywood-ish in the title of the film itself for you not to complain about the dreamy song sequences. So, yes, it's a drama after all!

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