I wasn't in the rain on my wedding day, thank Helen, but someone (a 20-something someone from Delhi who worked for a large entertainment company, just like in the movie, in fact) did bail out of our relationship by simply leaving without a single word. No email, no text, no call, not even a post-it. I was just going along thinking everything was totally fine, and then for months I slid into a slow, horrible, aching despair wondering what I had done, what was wrong with me, that someone I thought was a decent human being at his core - let alone one that I actually fell for because he
But you don't have to have been dumped the way Radhika and I were to love love LOVE Radhika's smackdown. God, that was good.
She got all the right points across, including the ones that have always felt key to me: what you did made me feel so, so worthless. Your inability to communicate and participate left no place for my sadness to go but inward, preying on myself. And what you left me with was a swarm of painful, confused emotions that continued to tie me to you even though you made it perfectly clear that you are not worth being connected to in any way. There's that old saying about living well being the best revenge, and despite her outer success Radhika, by filmi standards, was not living well at all because her heart was frozen. I say, who can blame her? I admire the way her character was written, tyring to navigate the emotional complexities of her situation and demonstrating how challenging it can be to be to actually get confronted in a new way by something/someone you drag around with you all the time.
I almost wish the film had only been about her story. Where I think Bachna Ae Haseeno faltered most seriously was in its ultimate rewarding of Raj with exactly what he wanted from all three of his life's haseeno. He got to use Mahi to boast to his friends, he got away from Radhika with stunning ease, and after his big revelation about how to treat people, he got the woman who seemed ungettable. (More on that in a minute.) Even more problematic, he was rewarded for a second round of thoughtlessness imposed on Mahi and Radhika! He used them for his own ambitions twice! It's one thing to want to apologize, to need to apologize, and it is another to be aware and thoughtful enough of your "victims" that you don't barge into their lives with a big splash and drop your mission on top of their wants and needs. You might mean well, but it's still a dangerous thing to do without real knowledge, which he clearly lacked. Apologizing can be an incredibly selfish thing to do, depending on the situation. Raj did show personal growth, but not enough. He's a long way from done.
So not only does man-child Raj get to clear up his past, he gets his future all shiny and tidy too, in a crashingly disappointing u-turn by Gayatri, the one who said she wanted to live life on her own terms, to do things on her own merit, that marriage wasn't for her, who suddenly can't live without him. She hasn't even seen evidence of his maturing! She doesn't know where he is or why he hasn't spoken to her for so long! For all she knows, he's off sleeping with women across the globe, yet still she writes him those longing letters. VOMIT. Where did this come from? I get that Raj needed to end up with someone, I really do, but how about a new someone who can get to know new and improved-ish Raj, someone for whom loving him does not mean a reversal of her principles.
One of the good about this story is how universal it is. Who among us hasn't been wronged in love? The drama in life may come from those moments (and their exposition, hence my opening paragraph), but most of the real substance happens after. Though sketched to the extreme, I appreciated how Bachna Ae Haseeno let us - and Raj - see the results of his behavior and to understand a little more about the other sides of his past. It's a little hard to believe that self-satisfied Mahi would be so rattled by her Swiss overnight with Raj that her heart shut down for twelve years (and, à la KANK, how can you be frozen in the presence of that partner?!?),
but it was more than just her fantasy about love that he shattered. He broke her entire ability to be happy, and Raj was understandably surprised to learn his impact had been so serious. When her big idea tumbled, she was left with nothing - and it was brought down in such a humiliating way! Imagine finding out you were someone's joke. And imagine being so heartless that you would let someone think that.
Again, not very realistic, but who cares? It was very satisfying to see him have to begin to wrestle with his own cruelty - and it made for such an awwwww thawing scene later. If the movie had stuck to this line, it would have been so much more satisfying. As let down as I was that it didn't, I have to give it points for an interesting and cathartic approach.
I've been mulling over what to say in this post for a week and have lost track of all but the major points of the film, so I hope the makers of BAH will forgive me for not having more to say about the smaller details and pleasures. The dominant one I do remember is Ranbir dancing. I loved watching those long legs fly around in "Jogi Mahi" and especially in the comic movies of "Small Town Girl." Isn't it nicer to see the Hrithik Wriggle in the safety of broad daylight and normal clothes than in "Club Indiana" in pleather and mesh?
And he's better at "Kajra Re" than either Bachchan.
I do have to say, however, that "Khuda Jaane" made me howl with laughter. Having the actors pose while the camera whooshes around them is not the same thing as dancing. If you want them to hold still to show us how transfixed they are by each other and by their new love, fine, but stop with the whooshing. Also, please do not have Deepika snake her arms around like an owl sorceress (e.g. at 4:05 here). And what was with the arm flings movie-wide? Here a fling, there a fling, everywhere an effing fling!
Two more little joys: I'm always happy to see a thermos for Bollybob,
and this has got to be the best image/subtitle pairing of 2008.
Good thing Raj is here to make sure you won't have to figure out how to do anything on your own terms or merits anymore.
Ugh. I'm putting a fork in this and calling it done. Really interesting routine, Bachna Ae Haseeno, but you blew the dismount and broke both your ankles on the landing. And now I'll be off - I have a date with The Source of Ranbir and Other Far More Incredible Joys and Wonders, a.k.a. Neetu and Rishi, in Rafoo Chakkar.