I’m tired of al…

I’m tired of all this nonsense about beauty being skin deep. That’s deep enough. What do you want, an adorable pancreas? – Jean Kerr

Like anybody else I have a healthy interest in appearance but how to start talking about it? And not have people say you’re self-obsessed? But then I think the above quote says it all!Thank you Jean Kerr!

Aiyyaa (2012) #SherylPuthur


Directed By: Sachin Kudalkar

Written By: Sachin Kudalkar


Rani Mukerji – Meenakshi

Prithviraj – Surya

Subodh Bhave – Maadhav

Nirmiti Sawant – Mother

Language: Hindi                                                         Genre: Romantic-Comedy

So I did it. I finally watched Aiyyaa. I had two friends bulldozing me into watching it, for entirely different reasons. One had been pleasantly surprised with the film, developed a new actor crush (Prithviraj) and felt the film was badly marketed and was actually a good film. The other, couldn’t even finish watching the film and wanted me to see it to prove her point that it was utterly crappy.

So I watched it, forget without expectations, instead a certain amount of reluctance to put myself through it. But before I get into how much I did agree with my friends (and which one) I should say that though I thought I was going to expire on the spot with all that melodrama, my attention was piqued and I wanted to know what the film was about and what could prompt two respected Indian actors to do a film written definitely under the influence of some highly illegal substance (incidentally there are frequent references to illegal substances).

While the 80s-90s melodrama within the film took a toll on my sensibilities and I felt most parts of the movie could be divided into hoot-worthy and cringe-worthy, there was something about the film that got me through it and set me thinking.

Then it hit me. It’s about living in a world of dreams and finding fulfilment in it. And how real life is so different and people are not what we assume them to be. Love is as much a product of imagination as it is of emotions. It also reminded me of the Norwegian film Turn Me On, Dammit! While that was the story of a teenage girl’s sexual awakening and hence was far open in expressions of sexuality, Aiyyaa was peppered with sexual innuendoes (one that stands very vividly in my mind is the petrol bunk sequence). Meenakshi (Rani Mukerji) is an inexperienced girl who’s only recourse to fulfilment (read: sexual, psychological, emotional…) is through films and playing out her favourite actors, in that perfect world she finds an escape from her drab life. Surya (Prithviraj) balances out the drama by playing the understated intense artist who is unapproachable, and very masculine.

The feminine and masculine is in fact played out variously within the film through all the couples and make for an interesting reading into gender roles. Each couple is an exercise into understanding romance through different lenses. The understated Chasme Budoor romance, the Mills and Boon storyline, an S&M relationship….

It’s definitely a badly marketed film. The hilarious and cheesy Dreamum Wakeuppam song coupled with dialogue promo – Mujhe gore log nahi kale log pasand hai (I don’t like white-skinned people but prefer dark-skinned people) made the film out to be a south bashing exercise and left many trailer viewers disgruntled. It resulted in a lot of flak for Prithviraj, a south star who according to them dared do such an insulting film. I rather see it as a sign of his self-deprecating humour. And the film isn’t really anti-south and I actually liked the song – eye-popping costumes, sexplicit lyrics and all. And kudos to Rani Mukerji for picking up Tamil lines for her role.

So the film can be a satire on the marriage market, on gender roles, on deceptive appearances, and in it’s over the top melodrama, a satire on films. It is most of all a film that doesn’t take itself seriously and seems to play on the ‘is this reality or a dream’ logic (there is in fact a dialogue about that – very Brechtian).  A onetime watch (maybe), funny innuendo filled songs, catchy tunes, good choreography (Aga Bai) and yes, I loved the background music that plays when she’s thinking/in pursuit/dreaming of him. All in all, a garish and interesting surprise.

Why I watch films or rather why do I Act?

Well I decided to talk about the dream machine here but then thought well before I rip apart films, critique them, shamelessly promote them and basically make vulnerable thespians and film folk I should bare all.

Making myself vulnerable about acting is going to be a scary experience but it’s a plunge I need to take before I decide to write my views out.

I actually like being a hedgehog, hiding in the undergrowth, keeping my spines as a ready defence and going about my life in an as unassuming way as possible. But hedgehogs have the loveliest eyes and expressive selves, so it’s hard to hide. And in my case, much as I want to stifle my views, I frequently stumble on my own feet and end up with one in my mouth *exasperated*!

So, why do I watch films? Easy answer, my parents are absolute film buffs though they have their own preferences. My mum is not that into English films though she’s watched her fair share of them; she nevertheless prefers Indian films. Dad, an ex-NDA student, where when the day freed up and you had nothing to do so you watched a film or four; has watched soo many movies that he can afford to be fastidious about the kind of films he wants to watch. So in the family it is a highly recommended film if dad sits through a film fully since he has a knack of walking off 15 minutes into a film (though on many occasions we have bulldozed & emotionally blackmailed him into watching many a crappy movie and haven’t heard the end of it).

Now, why do I Act? That’s a ringer.

I don’t know really…by the time I knew it, I was acting. I used to accompany my dad for his play rehearsals. I don’t remember much of what he did or his dialogues (though yes one does stand out in my memory – his line was “you saucy lil baggage” instead he kept calling his co-actor “you baggy lil sausage” pfft!) and I recall he used to let me keep his script. I haven’t watched my dad on stage because at 5 I was too young to go for the plays.

However, the singular most over-powering emotional memory for me was the aura of the stage space and the auditorium. It was something so magical that even now when I step into an auditorium for a performance I’m just overwhelmed and tingling all over. Another experience for me is till I step on stage, my body is shaking, my skin is burning and I feel queasy in the pit of my stomach but when my foot steps onto the stage, I’m suddenly in possession of my faculties. There is a sense of history that emanates from the floor of the stage and the wings. The nervousness I felt before doesn’t vanish but it’s shared by something akin to joyous excitement.

While I’m no stage veteran, despite the many times I’ve been on stage, the experience doesn’t change. So if I am critical of films & plays it is because I feel invested in them. That play or film is incomplete till I have viewed it, understood it and imbibed it because an actor’s craft requires that involvement. Though I know, and I’m speaking for myself here but I suppose it’s true for others, even when I don’t have an audience I am constantly acting since I need to express all the built in emotion. So I suppose a better way to put it would be that the actor’s craft spells involvement – audience or not (though most actors are schizophrenic enough to create their own audience; I do).

Therefore the penning down of my views is actually a way to understand how I read a film or play (after all, they are texts as well). It is then a biased and an objective exercise – acting is also a bit of both; you become and are coldly aware what this person inhabiting your body ought to do.

Writing is a soul-searching exercise but so is acting. And the writer has words at his disposal while the director has camera angles and stage directions. Actors speak out with their bodies and it is every actors hope that what they’re speaking out, others are hearing it. I struggle with this need to break out of the inner world of emotions and thoughts and push it out – it is here that vulnerability is strength.


PS: All the views in the following posts are mine and hence don’t judge me harshly even though I’m doing my all to be harsh 😛

PPS: The play/film posters used belong to the owners of the respective creative products and have been used only for illustration purposes and intend no copyright infringement.