Friday, July 01, 2005

Tales From Middle Earth 7: Delhi Part 2

The harem looks glum. So do I. It has been a week in Paradise and hard reality faces us. We have decided to transit in Delhi for a day. The visa saga plays itself out again, but this time the immigration officers know us all by name. I am offered a chair and a cup of sarkari (official) tea. Delhi is still boiling. I tell the harem that I am willing to accompany them anywhere as long as it is airconditioned. They agree reluctantly. We find ourselves at the MG Centre which boasts most of Delhi's designer labels. I saunter into the Rohit Bahl shop. The attendants smile, when they discover I am from Pakistan. They giggle when I tell them that RB dragged me to dance floor the last time I was in Delhi. ("You're from Pakistan? Dance with me. Now.") I leave with bags of merchandise.

Jewel and I have tickets to see Parineeta, the new Bollywood blockbuster. I am thrilled as it has been years since I have been to a cinema. There is a security check and my matchbox and Orbit gum are confiscated. "Err. What's wrong with my gum?"I ask the guard. "Well you may chew it and stick it onto the seat in front." "Hmmm. Do I look like the kind of guy who would?" Well you never know. A stranger in the queue tells her friend "There are hardly any men in the audience. That should tell you how good the film is going to be." They look up at me, discover they have been overheard and giggle nervously. Jewel with her X Ray vision spots one of the delegates from the Bhutan conference among the few hundred people in the audience and runs over to kiss and hug them all. I take my seat.

Parineeta is delightful. It is based on a Bengali novel set in Kolkota in the early twentieth century. The director has set it in the 1960's. Shekhar (played by the new, improved Saif Ali Khan) is an Angry Young Man in the Devdas mould. Lolita (played by the strikingly attractive newcomer Vidya Balan) is the love interest in his life. Indian cinema has a number of set motifs and this one, to put it crudely, falls into the rich-boy-poor-girl category. What sets Parineeta apart is director Pradeep Sarkar's ability to convey the financial disparity (and the ensuing power play) between the protagonists with remarkable subtlety. As with all good Hindi films there is a triangle. Enter the truly awful Sanjay Dutt (he should be consigned to cameo appearances) who plays the crude London-returned Girish. The triangle works its way through a number of beautifully produced sequences. Saif Ali Khan has finally proven his ability to act plus his recent rise on the cuteness quotient (CQ) has done nothing to harm his popularity. His English public school accent creeps into the dialogue once in a while, jarring his credibility as the scion of a Bengali family. The boat scene is reminiscent of his mother's acting in Amar Prem - another Bengal based blockbuster of many decades ago. It all ends happily in good Hindi film style Jewel and I are transfixed to the screen for three hours.

We reunite with the rest of the Harem and make our way to Olives, a Mediterranean restaurant. The girl at the entrance asks where we are from. Pakistan ? Give them the best table in the house. The manager arrives shortly to make sure we are comfortable. "It is an honour for us to have guests from Pakistan." It is an honour to be there. The food is good. The Californian white goes well with our orders. We crawl back to our rooms a little later. Our sojourn in Middle Earth is now truly over. There is a quick pit stop at Haldiram's to pick up some sweetmeats. And then it is time to go home.


Blogger Sin said...

Saif Ali Khan really is QUITE hot these days. His CQ has skyrocketed; tell me, is it true that he's largely shirtless in this movie?

1:55 pm  
Blogger s said...

Actually, i thought the film was okay - the cinematography was brilliant, the acting and story were good but there were way too many songs.

Saif is definitely a hottie though.

3:28 pm  
Blogger Uber Homme said...

sin: no shirtless scenes. Still not a bad film.

s: you can never be too rich or too thin or have too many songs in a bollywood flick!

3:20 pm  

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