Friday, September 4, 2009

Excuse Me! Love Triangle, Ahoy!


Excuse Me (2003) was like a Korean drama in Sandalwood form – overwrought and full of ridiculous plot contrivances – and I enjoyed every second. Excuse Me also managed to push all buttons regarding the secondary male lead. Those of you familiar with the Korean drama trope of the “love square” know what I’m talking about.

In Korean dramas, often the lead couple is kept apart through machinations of the secondary male lead chasing after the heroine and the secondary female lead chasing after the hero. Usually, the secondary male lead and hero will be best friends, as they were in Excuse Me, which only leads to more angsting. Nine times out of ten in this situation, I end up rooting for the secondary male lead – I love Yuul in Goong; Jung Woo in My Girl; and the Emo Prince in Hong Gil Dong. I know fully well that they won’t end up with the Heroine but that bittersweet story just appeals so much to me.

“Poor Other Guy!” is my favorite refrain and I used it a lot in Excuse Me.

The story follows best friends Sunil (Sunil Rao) and Ajay (Ajay, yes, really) as they both fall in love with the same girl, played by Ramya.

The narrative, like any good masala film, starts with the two friends in childhood. Ajay is a goody-two-shoes and does everything his mother tells him to. Sunil is a scamp and determined to win at all costs. After an incident where Sunil gets so mad at Ajay that he tosses his bunny in the well forcing Ajay to jump after him (or something), Sunil is shipped off to the city to live with his aunt and uncle. Ajay follows later to go to music school.

The character’s personalities set in stone, we fast forward to the future where Ajay’s musical skills have caused Ramya to fall in love with him – despite having never seen his face! She just loves the music and Ajay falls in love with his mysterious fan, whom he never sees. Sunil, on the other hand, is smitten with Ramya from the first moment he lays eyes on her and a series of coincidences lead Ramya to believe that SUNIL is the one who plays the music, so she starts dating him.

Now, there are so many great near-misses and elaborate plot devices that get Ramya thinking Sunil is Ajay but the important thing to note is that it’s not until near the end that Sunil figures out that Ramya is under the impression that he is Ajay. Until that flash, Sunil thinks that Ramya really likes him – which makes him seem like less of a scumbag later on.

Events spiral further and further out of control as Sunil tries desperately to keep Ramya from figuring out that he can’t play the violin and that he has no idea about music. Including going as far as to lead Ajay on a wild goose chase back to their home village to keep him from coming into contact with Ramya. While it seems cruel on the face of it, I felt really bad for Sunil, who obviously was trying every trick in the book to keep Ramya by his side.

I’ll let you watch Excuse Me - available from Netflix! – yourself to see the final, giddy sequence of events that unfurl all of Sunil’s schemes but I will say that there is a rain-soaked confession, public humiliation by violin, and some other awesomely dramatic events!

The appeal of Excuse Me, for me, was Sunil Rao as Sunil. Not only did I think he was extremely sympathetic as the lovelorn man who must try to fight off the invisible – but fated – hero of his beloved’s heart, I think the director thought so, too, because Sunil gets way more screentime than Ajay. Sunil has more songs, more time with the heroine, and way more personality than Ajay. This was Sunil’s film from start to finish.

(How was I NOT supposed to want the two of them to end up together!?!)

I don’t really like the theme of fated romance. It seems silly to me that Ramya is fated to end up with a guy she never meets, while the real guy – who is doing all the song picturizations with her – is doomed to be the secondary hero in the story. Yet, I can’t resist a bittersweet love story – they are so true to life, where most romance ends bittersweetly.

1 comment:

eliza bennet said...

Ok I can at least understand Jung Woo but Yul??? No way.

I'm a total OTP supporter and usually want to secondary guy and secondary girl to end up together (but oddly enough they almost never do, do they?)

I think this is one of those films that I'll be mad at Sunil (but not really DIAF mad since he didn't know he was mistaken as the hero)

Note from Filmi Girl:

I love Bollywood - and all the ridiculous things that happen in Bollywood - but it doesn't mean that I can't occasionally make fun of various celebrities and films.

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