Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Review: Raincoat

Last night, M and I caught Raincoat on DVD. I know that this movie came out aeons ago to some acclaim but we missed it due to a variety of reasons. Loosely based on O’Henry’s short story, The Gift of the Magi (incidentally, a story that will warm your spirit on a cold winter day), the movie is directed with sensitivity by Rituparno Ghosh and stars Ajay Devgan and Aishwarya Rai. There's not much of anyone else in it though (M is already groaning, oh no, one of those artsy fartsy movies. I am hooked the minute the folksy background music seeps in).

Raincoat speaks of old loves, broken promises and missed chances. Calcutta (should I say Kolkatta?), shrouded in smoky rain, brings the old lovers, Manoj and Neeru, together. Manoj’s life of misfortune drags him to the bowels of the city. Hovering in the fringes of chilling reality is Neeru.

Ajay Devgan’s simpering Manoj lurches into the movie right from the first scene. The interminable rain fills the mind, unleashing imprisoned memories and eviscerating inner decay. Then, Aishwarya’s Neeru emerges from the darkness. Manoj takes in her darting, wounded eyes and aged face. The place is her crumbling home. It is musty and cluttered – a nest of cobwebbed dreams. He is a broken man, no job, no money and no immediate future. She is someone else’s wife. Meeting again after many years stirs memories and cloistered skeletons. Pride, and a convoluted sense of dignity, snakes its way. Amidst all that is left unsaid. After all, how many of us are going to be truthful about our mundane present lives when meeting an old lover? You lick your wounds, glaze your eyes and say, almost shrilly, how perfect it all is now.

Perhaps, Manoj and Neeru can never not love each other. The rain is a pivotal character in the movie, not just a landscape or metaphor. It unleashes old wounds and pries open the mistakes and regrets. Of the old love you left behind. For the deep feelings that once consumed your spirit. It is the rain that washes away both Manoj and Neeru’s rusted emotions. Rituparno Ghosh weaves a lovely study of human nature. We are selfish, stubborn and resentful of criticism. Yet, above all this, we love and are loved back. This is our gift. And tragedy.

The haunting background music lingers in the mind. It wells up within, building a crescendo of sadness and finally, releases an aching void. Utterly beautiful. Ajay Devgan has improved his craft and Manoj is the result of an actor at his prime. Manoj merges into the crowd and has no distinguishing features. The heritage of sadness weighs on him, both emotionally and physically. As he breaks down and cries in the dark bathroom, the downtrodden Manoj is shifting and pathetic.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of Aishwarya. She should stick to the regular masala fair. Stop deluding herself that she can carry a heavy movie like this. It would have been a much better movie if Neeru was played by a better actress.
Rani Mukherjee perhaps. After having watched her in Veer Zaraa and Black (which I will try to review soon, at least to gush about Amitabh Bachan), I think Rani can do no wrong.


At 8/13/2005 06:18:00 pm, Blogger Kak Teh said...

Did someone say Amitabh Bachan? Aaaah! Pls review soon and I will gush along with you!


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