Tuesday, November 6, 2007

No Smoking - a Psychological Thriller

Before I start writing this post, lemme tell you that this is one Brilliant f*@#ing hell of a movie. For everyone who wanna watch it, here are few important things to keep in mind -

  • Its not a very easy movie to be thought of, to be made, and finally to be interpreted.
  • You can't take your family and kids to watch this movie.
  • You can't take your loved ones to this movie to have nice time escaping the hectic schedule and constant vigilance of parents.
  • Its not a movie which belongs to any Bollywood Genre of movies released so far.
  • Its not candy floss entertainment
  • There's neither Uday Chopra nor Arshad Warsi to do comedy sequences.
  • Its not a movie which will make you quit smoking after you watch it
  • Its not a movie that will either entertain or educate
  • Its not a movie for old fags like Khalid Mohammed.
  • Its not a movie for front benchers who ill treat their wives and then later drool over item numbers.
  • Its not for masses, neither it is for the so called Multiplex classes.
  • It does not have Himesh Reshammiya crooning Noooooooooooooooo in his usual nasal tone
  • And finally...Its not a movie for everyone.
So having said all this, one obvious question would be...who is this movie made for and why is it brilliant ???

Its for all who loved classic movies like Eternal Sunshine of Spotless mind, Fight Club, Memento, Vanilla Sky, Constantine, David Lynch movies and last but not the least..the Brilliant Matrix.

Its for all who like to analyze about a movie long after it has ended, to decipher meanings out of various incidents that took place.

Its for everyone who loves movies which let you interpret the movie in your own way thereby giving you more freedom to run wild with your imagination.

Its for everyone who cannot believe in their wildest dreams that movies such as Partner, No Entry, Dhoom2 are superhits.

Coming to Matrix, I know many of you love that movie, mostly for its amazing original trend setting special effects, in some ways for cool looking Keane Reeves, sexy glasses and jackets, and some mindblowing action sequences. For me that was the case when I first watched it. I had lot of "Wow" moments in the movie. But I had lot of questions when the movie ended which made me watch it again and again. And that led me to further discovery of the movie's hidden message, "The Revolution against Corruption prevailing in today's World".

And that was the exact feeling I had after the movie No Smoking ended. Many who watched with me felt let down. The reactions ranged from " Arey kya bakwaas movie banaya re", " Whats wrong with Anurag", "What the fuck was this movie about ??". But that was the best part. The "What ??" led to discussions, which further led to understanding more and more about the plot. When we thought some scenes weren't clear, we tried watching it again. And this time it made more clear sense. Only after watching it the second time did I understand that most of the movie takes place in K's mind (K = John Abraham's name in the movie or might possibly be Kashyap, the director himself).

No Smoking is a brave film with a dark hidden message which is engulfed in another open message that Smoking is Injurious to health. Throughout the movie we don’t know what's real and what's imaginary. It is for us to figure out or to interpret. Anurag leaves the film open ended and ambiguous, which gives people something to think about. And that’s what a good film does. Now let me jump straight to the story. Actually not so straight as I would be meandering between my interpretations and the actual sequences of the movie.

No Smoking is a movie about K, an over confident, arrogant 30 yr old man who has his own principles, who doesn't like others telling him what to do, and finally a big time chain smoker. Smoking is a symbolic representation of his arrogance and resistance to the world around him. He constantly wavers from real world to imaginative world whenever he takes time out having a smoke in his bath tub. He fears one day he'd be in a position where getting a smoke is going to be close to impossible, which is what his wife ( Ayesha ) and his friend (Ranvir) try to achieve out of him. To change him for good, to make him a part of the conformist society, headed by the demi god Baba Bengali (Paresh Rawal). K's wife decides to leave him for his smoking behavior which forces K to seek cure from Baba Bengali. From here the movie takes a dreamy absurd route where K enters the hidden world a.k.a. rehab center run by Baba Bengali, signs a contract and surrenders himself to the system, eventually by quitting smoking. For the most part of the movie, which takes place in K's mind, he's revolting against the therapy, the "Society", but slowly he gets transformed and the society pulls him towards them. In the end, which is shown beautifully, we get to see his dirty soul ( Smoking habit ) being trapped and evaporated, thereby implying he's quit smoking, or rather become part of the conformist society. K finally wakes up from his bed, to see his wife is still besides him, walks towards the mirror to see his changed and cleaned self. In short, the movie has nothing to do with smoking or how one quits smoking, rather its about how a person loses his freedom, wishes, desires and gets converted to a body who complies with the world's rules does what everyone is doing.

Every scene of the movie is a visual delight. The texture of the film belongs to the noir genre along with other visual formats including slapstick comedy from the 1930s and characters speaking their mind like in comic strips. The dreamy and nightmarish underworld he created leaves one spellbound. Several times throughout the course of the film the distinction between the real and the imaginary blurs; it may confuse in the beginning, but by the end the discerning can always put the bits together and get what the director wants to say. No Smoking is the visualization of an idea - a formidable challenge for any director and Anurag Kashyap has pulled it off like a brilliant masterstroke. The background music by Vishal Bharadwaj also compliments the movie pretty well, the song "Ash tray" is still lingering in my mind...dhuan lipat tha hai dhuaan....For more on the music, check out my Music Review.

Box office might speak a different story altogether, but that shouldn't change Anurag's way of making movies, or so I hope. In my opinion, these kind of movies should be made more often. It should be enacted by big stars and not every time by Rahul Bose or Konkona Sen. Look at Hollywood, where we get to see big stars like George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise act in non commercial projects thereby making many people to watch it. We've had enough of this huge sets, high budget meaningless love stories filled with 2 hrs of songs and fights and 30 mins of story. The failure of this movie is actually a failure of our Indian Cinema which has confined itself to mediocre, spoon-feeding of wafer thin plots, predictable outcomes, over the top histrionics for a long time and is finding it hard to come out of its own web. Just when they realized they've run out of stories, they've now started to recreate 80s and 70s movies, as a mere excuse to the lack of their creativity and imagination.

I think in the future if these kind of movies get worldwide online release along with theater release, then may be they would probably make more money. I know many might hesitate to watch this movie in a big screen, but nobody would mind paying $5 to watch it online. And imagine even if 70,000 people watch it online, the producers would recover their cost. That would encourage more producers to allow directors like Anurag, Sriram Raghavan and many others to make many such movies.