Monday, November 7, 2011

Mujhse Fraaandship Karoge: A Breath of Fresh Air!

All hail our Google overlords for getting into the business of streaming current Indian films!

Needing an antidote to the overly-hyped, overly-picked apart, and now swiftly deflating Diwali film season of 2011, I decided to see if there was anything tempting available in Youtube’s new rental storefront. There was - Mujhse Fraaandship Karoge, a small budget, small scale, under-publicized college rom-com that released to moderately positive reviews in October. Mujhse Fraaandship Karoge is the second release from Yash Raj Films’ new Y-Films division, whose tagline “Rock the Youth” spells out both their target demographic and their stylistic sensibilities.

[We can define “rock” as meaning “not filmi” and “youth” meaning “our college-going characters are played by actors who could actually be college students, not by 40+ year old Heroes.”]

Mujhse Fraaandship Karoge is the story of two classmates - Vishal (the delightful Saqib Saleem) and Preity (the equally delightful Saba Azad) - who are assigned to work together on a project to commemorate their college’s 25th anniversary. The big problem here is that Vishal and Preity don’t get along - like, at all. Vishal is the class clown, whose boisterous exterior belies a bit of an inferiority complex. Preity is the prickly idealist, who takes every joke as a personal attack on her entire state of being. Clearly (but satisfyingly) by the rules defined by the romantic-comedy genre, love will blossom by the end of the film but not before some wonderful rom-com shennanigans!

You see, Vishal and Preity each have a more glamorous friend - Rahul, the university rock star (Nishant Dahiya) and Malvika, an aspiring fashion designer/model (Tara D’Souza), respectively. After spotting the gorgeous Malvika at Rahul’s concert, Vishal sends her a friend request on Facebook... from Rahul’s account. And the one who accepts it? Preity... from Malvika’s account. Vishal and Preity get to chatting, as Rahul and Malvika, and the love, it doth flow! But what happens when Vishal and Preity figure it out? That the person they hate is actually the very person they love?! Well, you’ll just have to watch MFK to find out!

I have long been a fan of teenage romantic-comedies, even though I have not been a teenager in many years. I still watch and enjoy films like Ten Things I Hate About You and Pretty In Pink. Mujhse Fraaandship Karoge fits exactly in this genre. Despite the Yash Raj association, the film felt much more like a Disney “musical” like Prom (which, yes, I saw in theaters... and enjoyed) than a Bollywood film - which isn’t a bad thing or a good thing, just an observation.

There was a lot to like about Mujhse Fraaandship Karoge, especially the young cast. Saqib Saleem as Vishal was a lot of fun and his enthusiastic performances makes me wish that the leading producers of Bollywood weren’t always so keen to cast their own lackluster sons as heroes. A single naughty grin from Saqib had more charisma than Jackky Bhagnani, Harman Baweja, Neil Nitin Mukesh, Zayed Khan, Uday Chopra, Luv Sinha, Adhyayan Suman, and (I’ll get slapped for this one) Imran Khan put together.

Saba Azad is also a charmer, though she arguably had the more difficult task of making prickly Preity believably unappealing at the beginning of the film. And prickly Preity is quite the character! I really, really liked her. Her prickliness comes from defensive walls ten feet thick and it was really sweet to see her slowly bring them down. Importantly, Preity never compromises her identity, her ideals, or her dress sense. It was a rare treat to see a not-so-girly female character who doesn’t need to undergo a glossy makeover before the hero falls in love with her.*

And Vishal and Preity’s relationship was really fun to see unfold. Saqib and Saba have a nice chemistry and do a great job at showing how the two enemies become friends.

The supporting cast was also lots of fun and full credit to the screenwriters for giving Vishal and Preity a group of friends who were friends and not just there to moon over/obsess over the hero and heroine. (In fact, full credit to the screenwriters for having the film pass the Bechdel Test; these things matter.) Rahul and Malvika, as the aspirational crushes, were both studies in nice but bland - a combination found in real life but rarely in film, where glossy beauty is used to sell romantic love. The characters were well cast as Tara D’Souza and Nishant Dahiya were certainly very good looking and believably good people, even if missing some of the zest of Saqib and Saba. I quite enjoyed Vishal’s friend Hacky (Prabal Panjabi) and his hilariously sarcastic twin sister (Mansi Rach), not to mention the fearless “Machoman” (Chitrak Bandyopadhyay), who gets a starmaking turn at the very beginning of the film.

Story and dialogues were well-crafted; the direction was very capable with a handful of interesting shots sprinkled in; the songs were nice (especially “Dheaon Dheaon” and the nonsense English lyrics), even if the picturizations were more High School Musical than classically filmi. (I mean, hey, I enjoyed HSM, too!)

At the heart of Mujhse Fraaandship Karoge is a message that we can all use in this age of Internet feuds and friendships - real, human people matter. It’s easy to build up a fantasy ideal of a person online but it’s what you do in real life that counts. After all, to paraphase Vishal, nobody has ever really fallen in love with a pithy Facebook quote.

In short, Mujhse Fraaandship Karoge is not going to change anybody’s life but it certainly put a smile on my face (aur dil bhi
) and sometimes that is more than enough.

(And it's available to you right now on youtube. Completely worth the $3.99 I paid to see it.)

* In fact, there is one scene where Preity is put into a slinky dress and taken out to a club by Malvika. Preity is clearly uncomfortable and Vishal in no way finds her ‘glammed up’ avatar thrilling.


Ness said...

i'm totally gonna watch this one, sometime. somehow, probs not on youtube though. LOVE the soundtrack and it seems like a cute fun feelgood film :) YAY!

maxqnz said...

This was one of the standouts of the year for me. REALLY, REALLY excellent. Having a demanding palate, it was a real delight to find a VERY modern film that was so simpàtico with my tastes. I look forward to seeing more of the cast, besides the LOVELY Tara, who of course was positively droolworthy in Do Dhaari Talwar

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
.article .article-content { word-break: normal !important; }