Friday, October 3, 2014

Bang Bang… initial thoughts on Katrina Kaif.

(And a short aside: the songs from Bang Bang work MUCH better in context of the film than in isolation on youtube.)

As always, I should have known better than to even glance at the titles of the Bang Bang reviews. I mean, a) who put this giant stick up the collective butt of film snobs in the first place and b) why do they insist on keeping it there? Here's the deal. I am having a ridiculously terrible week and went to see Bang Bang hoping to forget my troubles for a few hours. And guess what? I left the theater feeling refreshed and happy. What bigger measure of success can there be for a popcorn masala film like this one?

I do want to write a proper review because I feel like there is a lot of material to talk about but since Katrina is the one getting trashed (AGAIN), I just need to get a few things off my chest.

FIRST OF ALL, Katrina has a come a long way since the days of… Boom. She's worked hard on her Hindi diction, her dancing, and her acting and in Bang Bang she puts in an extremely solid performance as heroine. She isn't arm candy; she isn't a pretty distraction; she is on screen for most of the film and has to sell the audience on a lot of emotional growth in her character. And not only did I think she did a wonderful job, I was really proud of her, actually. I may even have gotten a little misty-eyed thinking about how far she's come. Katrina has a lot of respect for the industry, for her films, and for her job. She works HARD and takes this shit seriously and I love her for that. Whatever else you want to bust her on, nobody can accuse her of coasting and if they do, I know they haven't been paying attention.

Look, at the end of the day, the skill set involved in being a HEROINE is totally different from that of acting in a realistic or serious film or on stage or something. Can Katrina do what Kalki Koechlin does? No. But then Kalki, as wonderful as she is, cannot do what Katrina does either. These two ladies, equally hard working, are in possession of two different skill sets, each a vital part of the industry in her own way.

Katrina's character in Bang Bang is the heroine, yes, but she's also the protagonist, something that doesn't happen as often as it used to. Harleen Sahani is living a quiet life in Shimla, dreaming of something bigger but never acting on it… until one day she does and Hrithik Roshan drops into her lap. What I loved about the character of Harleen--and Katrina's performance--is that she's driven by romance but not romance in the sense of "romantic love" but in it's other meaning (to quote the Google): "a quality or feeling of mystery, excitement, and remoteness from everyday life." Harleen is initially drawn to the adventure, not the dude. She actually doesn't even like him that much, at first. A little later she gets a crush on him but, again, it's not him, it's the ROMANCE she likes. Harleen doesn't really connect with the glib Rajveer until much later in the film.

Harleen was self-reliant and not helpless at all. She stood up for herself and did her best to get herself out of situations using the skills she had. Although Harleen was also naive and prone to day-dreaming, she was never… stupid. Or a dum-dum. If she needed rescuing, well, she rescues Rajveer right back. THESE ARE IMPORTANT NUANCES. Having the heroine rescue the hero is so far from boring, blah-blah, another misogynist masala film territory, and yet, nobody talks about it with a film like this. I thought Katrina did such a good job selling us on all of this. She always does, though. That's one of the things I love about her performances--she's so physical on screen and in all of her roles we see that she can take care of herself, that she is competent.

(And, of course, thanks to the writing, too. The dialogues were sharp--thanks to Abbas Tyrewala, who I rag on from time to time but he can knock it out of the park when it has to--and while Hrithik's character suffered from residual Tom Cruise in a few scenes, Harleen's growth was very organic.)

My short takeaway is: Harleen is initially motivated by a type of romance but she's not motivated by romantic love until she feels herself on an equal footing with Rajveer. THIS is important and what made Bang Bang such a delight, more like a two-hero film than a typical hero-heroine set-up. And I think it's wonderful for a film to show the new generation that the traditional Hindi hero, of the type played by Hrithik in Bang Bang, can co-exist just fine with a strong heroine. It's a lesson we knew in the 1970s, let's learn it again.


odadune said...

Sorry to hear that it's been a bad week, but glad that Katrina and Duggu were able to cheer you up. :)

Filmi Girl said...

Just when I thought I was out of the frying pan… into the fire I went. :(((

But if a popcorn film can make me forget that stuff for a few hours, then isn't it a success? That's my standard, always.

Tanjot Bhatia said...

Wonderful review. Most of people I know who watched it basically said "It's terrible", probably ignoring that it is a masala film. I'll watch it soon if it's playing in New Orleans.

Have got your filmfare!

lolo said...
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Apex said...

brilliant post!!!
i really like kat and u have nailed the reasons so well and with such precision. its so easy to dismiss her as a 'dumb pretty"
been busy and havent seen the film yet but yours sounds the best review of the film ive come across.
3cheers to filmigal

odadune said...

FG: That is a major bummer. :( Good luck.

And helping people escape from their problems long enough to take a breather, maybe get a fresh perspective, is the humanitarian part of popcorn movies, so I think your judgment is a sound one.

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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