Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Katrina Kaif Week Day #4: Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani

I know many of you may be questioning my decision to celebrate an entire week of Katrina Kaif films. While she is one of the most bankable actresses in Bollywood, Katrina has surprisingly few champions among the critics and on the blogosphere.

While I fully admit that there are better working actresses in Bombay, I don’t think anybody else brings to the table what Katrina does. Her reel life charisma reminds me a bit of Marilyn Monroe – womanly yet somehow still vulnerable, a combination that I’m sure is responsible for much of her box office appeal for the masses.

On top of that, a look at Katrina’s films is also a look at a good cross-section of contemporary Bollywood and, so, even if you don’t find her as charming as I do, I think you might still find something of value in looking over her filmography.

Day #1 can be read here and Day #2 is here and Day #3 is here.

(You can read my original take on the film
here. It has plenty of Ranbir in it.)

Since it was released in 2009,
Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani has become one of my go-to films when I need to be cheered up. Directed by Rajkumar Santoshi, the film is essentially an old-fashioned screwball comedy with a modern aesthetic. Although Ranbir and Katrina have had their jodi sullied will all sorts of dirty talks from the likes of Deepika Padukone and Sonam Kapoor (jealously, thy name is rival starlet), after numerous re-watchings, the pairing still seems warm and fresh to me here.

The plot is fairly simple. Prem (Ranbir Kapoor) is a happy-go-lucky guy but he has no direction in life, which annoys his father. Prem falls for the sweet Jenny (Katrina Kaif), who seems him as just a friend. Jenny’s awful family tries to marry her off to some douche but Prem helps her run off only… (*spoiler*) she’s actually in love with some other douche (Upen Patel). And then, well… let’s just say it’s a happy ending.

What I love about
Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani is just how eager and uncool it is. There is no slow motion strutting or painfully self-consciously “cool” dialogues, instead you get good natured gags and a very sweet romance. I understand (kind of) why it didn’t really catch on with some folks (i.e. Beth who subtitled her review ‘Just Another Day At The Bubble Factory’) - Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani is silly but it’s exactly the kind of silly I like. The feel of the film is very old-fashioned, think of Kishore Kumar in Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi or Half Ticket and you get the idea. Broad humor, bright colors, gags you can see coming a mile away but still laugh at, and a lot of heart… that’s Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani.

Along with the Prem-Jenny romance,
Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani has some other nice plot threads. Prem’s relationship with his father develops as Prem goes from a boy to a man. And the addition of douchey rich boy Upen Patel gives us a nice dose of my favorite theme: Money isn’t everything. Plus, since Jenny is a Christian, we get a cameo from my favorite celebrity... Sallu. I mean: Jesus-ji.

And Ranbir Kapoor is a joy to watch. He really is. Compared to him, the other young heroes out there are like specks of dust. It’s no contest. Ranbir just is.

The film belongs to Ranbir Kapoor but Katrina holds her own against him. He is manic and she is calm. It works – like Kishore Kumar and Madhubala. He’ll mug for the camera and she gives that beatific smile that lets you know she’s in on the joke. They make such a good reel life couple that it will be a shame if Deepika and Sonam’s tattle-taleing stops them from working together again.

Since this is Katrina week, I’ll say that what really impressed me watching this again was that Katrina actually does de-glam very well. I never bought Priyanka as an average girl in
Kaminey because she still troweled on the make-up and had that plastic face but Kat does ‘average’ quite well. It’s a shock when she puts on her “glam” look later in the film and we see just how different she can be.

(The film is so good that
this feels like the play-acting that it is.)

Prem and Jenny meet cute when he mistakes her for the girl he is supposed to kidnap.

(Don't worry, it's all legit.)

Poor Jenny is treated horribly by her family...

But Prem cheers her up with flowers!

And notice how she doesn't have make-up troweled on... we call that being a 'regular girl.' Something Anushka Sharma did in
Band Baaja Baaraat but Sonam and Deepika and Priyanka have yet to figure out.

Possibly, I'm slightly biased since I work in a library, wear glasses, and (at work) a bun. Do you know how much I love that Jenny works in a library? Also, admire that figure! VAH! Christina Hendricks, eat your heart out!

Oh, the classic smile-look away-smoulder combination... she does it so well...

Let's not forget a cameo from SALLU!

Oh you crazy kids! Don't you know you're crazy about each other?

Ranbir putting in a day's work at the Bubble Factory.

Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani is far from a serious or ground-breaking film but it has a good-natured appeal to it that I find irresistible. Sometimes, all you need is a laugh, a dash of romance... and a trip to the bubble factory.


batulm said...

Yes, 'Ajab...' is a film you can keep going back to, watching on those days, when you need some bubbles in your life. :) I think this is why I like Katrina too. Though I do think she's not a great actress and still has a long way to go with her diction, she just comes across as so real, so sweet.

pripplepropple said...

First of all, great review of APGK. I think Ranbir was the highlight of this film, and being a great fan of his, I can be a bit biased. But truely, Ranbir was just charming in this film. But one think I didn't agree with you on was what you said about Priyanka. To me, Katrina and Priyanka shouldn't be compared. I love Katrina, she's so graceful and lovely, but Priyanka is just as awesome. I don't think anyone should judge her after her performance in Fashion, which no one but her could have done. *Stands up and claps.* The way she carries herself is just incredibly inspiring. A "plastic face" is something she just doesn't have. I do think Katrina is beautiful, she is so pretty and natural. But Priyanka has already proved herself and shouldn't be compared to Katrina. They are at different levels. I guess once we get a phenomenal acting performance from Katrina, like we have had from Priyanka, it will be fair enough to compare them.

Filmi Girl said...

@batulm Yes, I completely agree. She isn't a great actress but I think she has the potential to be. She really reminds me of Aishwarya in her younger days... You know, I've been thinking that maybe her accent (and diction) doesn't bother me because I am American and her accent is very American sounding so, it's actually easier for me to understand.

Something for me to think about I guess...

@pripplepropple Hello and welcome! Thank you for reading my review. I think we will have to disagree about Priyanka but I appreciate your comment. :)

But if everybody agreed about everything the world would be a boring place! :)

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.

If you don't like my sense of humor, please just move on by - Trolls are not appreciated and nasty comments will be deleted.

xoxo Filmi Girl
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