Sunday, June 02, 2013

manic pixie dream boys and girls who wear glasses: thoughts on Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewaani

[Written communication and I are not getting along very well this weekend, so I am surrendering and making a list instead of struggling with paragraphs and transitions and proper writerly things like that.]

[Vaguely spoiler-y, but it's a mainstream Hindi romance, so really, you already know.]

  • Is there anything as lovely and wonderful as being told someone values and likes you just the way you are? I think not. It is the best thing. 
  • Related: it is bittersweet as an audience member to witness what feels like a real-ish, if brief and fleeting, conversation that acknowledges that loving each other may not be enough for a successful relationship if you want different things out of life or are in different stages or versions of maturity or self-awareness. 
  • Recognition that someone can be quiet and reserved but still brave and silly is very refreshing. Similarly, while we see it more often than we do the former, I think, it is very nice to give the smooth and flitty person some intellectual and emotional depth.  
  • Film philosophy breakthrough: you can be an academically talented woman who wears glasses and keep both them and your career through the whole movie while still getting a romantically happy ending! It does help to look like Deepika Padukone, to have worn short skirts with bare legs from the get-go, and to have your glasses off in key scenes, but still.
  • Seriously what is with the way these people packed for a Himalayan trek? There must have been a Tardis on that donkey to fit all the zillions of coats and booty shorts. 
  • Deepika is growing on me as an actor. This might be the best thing I've seen her do? 
  • The character of Lara—hot, dumb, and infantile—feels like an exploitation trick (or gambit, to be generous) of including something mockable in order to get the double payoff of both titillating by showing it and earning brownie points for critiquing it. Maybe she's there as a signifier of the not-fully-matured mind of the hero in his 20s, but she did not sit well in a film that I otherwise found to be more thoughtful and subtle than I was expecting.
  • Beware the Beard of NRI Discontent: Ranbir's Parisian facial hair is seriously awful, but it suits  the sense of "something is not quite right" when he is most disconnected from heart and metaphorical home. 
  • Just as I was tiring of 20something silliness, Ranbir's character showed some depth. And just as I was tiring of 20something everything, the movie leapt forward to 30somethingness. 
  • Immediately expressing selfish, sort-sighted, and ignorant opinions about your friend's good news makes you a bad friend. It's not your fault you didn't know he wanted to go to journalism school, but the thing to do if you're surprised is express just that, not criticize him and imply he's the new poster boy for the death of good times. (And if Northwestern University sends official paperwork in colored envelopes, those envelopes would surely be purple, not blue.)
  • What a pleasure it is to have seen Farooq Shaikh triumph in three different roles within a year (Shanghai, Listen Amaya). I spent the last 15 minutes of the movie quietly crying under the combined effect of Ranbir's regretful face, Farooq's paternal love, and Tanvi Azmi's bridge to what had not been understood. 
  • What is going to happen to this couple long-term? One of them says something to the effect of "Marriage isn't trying. Once you're in it, you're in it," which runs exactly contrary to everything every happily married couple I've ever met says. There will have to be compromise for these two to last, and I didn't get any sense they were going to know how to address that need. He begins it by turning down a travel job in order to stay in India for an undisclosed amount of time and says he wants to include her in his dream—and, I think more significantly, his way of life—but I didn't hear her say she was game to join him. I raise this as a critique not because it's unique to this film but because the characters themselves are so cognizant of how different some of their priorities and preferences in life are. They are both introspective and self-aware and don't seem nearly as likely to be able to fool themselves as other romantic pairs might. Maybe their smarts, building off of their affection, will see them through. I hope so. 
  • The subtitles translated Kalki yelling at the two boys to stop fighting with "Hey Karan! Arjun!" as "Hey Beavis! Butthead!" Heh. Heh heh.