Oh, Golden Star Ganesh! His chubby cheeks and casually cool style have totally won me over – so much so that I actually watched Circus (2009) on VCD this afternoon without subtitles. Yes. If unsubtitled VCD is the only way I can get my fix, then that is what I’ll do!
Circus is a perfectly satisfying masala thriller, which means that the entire first hour was devoted to both a) setting up how great a guy the hero is b) establishing the romantic subplot and c) making sure all the plot elements were in place to set up the climax in as convoluted and thrilling a manner as possible.
In this case, Ganesh plays Dhanush, a good guy who happens to think that love is for suckers. This was helpfully laid out for even non-Kannada speaking me by a lot of visual gags involving the awful lives of his various male acquaintances with wives. Instead of being the pawn of some woman, Dhanush prefers living it up with his boys – a ragtag group of guys who all share the trait of being neither as handsome nor as charismatic as Golden Star Ganesh. There was Glasses (who was a bit of a wet blanket and responsible for a lot of the plot mishaps that happen later), Shorty, Weird Dye Job, and the Normal One.
You can check out their bromance song “Baaro Geleya Baaro Geleya” here:
So, anyways, these guys love playing pranks on the local train station by doing things like telling them that a VIP is coming, so they’ll kick all the bums out and wash the floors! Hilarious! (Maybe.) This will be important later.
Anyways, romance comes into play when Priya (Archana Gupta, whom I read doesn’t speak Kannada which might explain why she did a lot of her dialogues in one-shots) returns to town after an (extended?) absence. Priya has a huge crush on Dhanush, helpfully shown for those of us who are language impaired by the giant poker chip with a “D” – for Dhanush! – on it that she carried around so lovingly.
Priya and the boys had been friends in the past and now that they’re reunited, they do things like go to see Titanic in the movie theatre and then go have a song sequence where they dance like in Titanic and throw boomerangs (like in Titanic? I haven’t seen it, so somebody fill me in on this). The song “Sajnaare”, which doesn’t seem to be on youtube, is beautifully picturized and was where I fully gave myself over to Circus. Archana may not speak Kannada but she can emote with her eyes very well and through the group activities set to the song, we see what a romantic Priya is and how head-over-heels she is for Dhanush.
At the end of the song, Priya is left with her sketch book drawing a picture of… Dhanush! Some guys come up and try to eve-tease her but Dhanush arrives to stop them before they can ruin her honor. Relieved and having thoroughly misread the situation, Priya races up to Dhanush and gives him a hug of thanks.
(Aw!!!! How cute are they?!)
Dhanush is not having any of it and in a conversation that even I understood – thanks to the frequent cuts to a little boy fishing – Dhanush explains that he is not going to be hooked by love and refuses to take Priya’s declaration (in English!!) of her feelings seriously.
So, now, everything is set up an hour in for us to put the THRILLER part of Circus into play. Remember what pranksters Dhanush’s boys are? Well, Shorty, Weird Dye Job, and the Normal One think it will be hilarious to write a prank letter to the train station telling them that there is a bomb on a train. They give it to Glasses to mail and he manages to put Dhanush’s address on it as a return address before putting it in the mail slot!
GLASSES! *shakes fist*
When the boys find out what an idiot Glasses has been, they race to the post office to get the letter, only to find that it’s been put on the train already! They race to catch the train – only, guess what? Priya is on that train – and when she sees Dhanush, she assumes he’s racing to catch her!
Will Dhanush ever give into Priya’s love? Will the boys catch up to their prank letter? Who are those menacing guys in the black sunglasses who look like real terrorists? Will the boomerang skills that we saw in the second song picturization come back into play?
You’ll just have to watch Circus to find out!
While I may not have understood any of the dialogues, and would certainly appreciate a subtitled DVD should one ever become available, I really did enjoy Circus. It was surprisingly breezy at just over 2 hours and with only a handful of songs – two of them picturized very prettily in Germany/Austria. Archana Gupta is breathtakingly beautiful with her high cheekbones and fair skin. Ganesh is superb, as always. Only Ganesh could make me love an arrogant prankster who thinks all women are out to string men up like fish on a fishing wire…
If I see this again with subtitles, I’ll revisit my review and fill you in on some of the more intricate jokes. There were some tantalizingly un-understandable threads of narrative involving lines of communication – Bluetooth, postal service, phone – that I just couldn’t understand without speaking the language. I also wish I could have understood the reasons behind Dhanush’s woman hate. We didn’t get a flashback to fill it in visually, so I was left with just imagining him like Jughead Jones – naturally suspicious of womenfolk.
I’ll leave you with one of Priya’s fantasy sequences showing her and Dhanush romping through some familiar looking German train stations with baffled Germans looking on…