And I thought New Moon was annoying! (Saathiya reviewed and lots of Shahrukh gushing - you’ve been warned ;))


Saathiya (2002, India)

Seen: Tuesday, 5th January 2010 (DVD)
Runtime: 138′
Director: Shaad Ali
Cast: Vivek Oberoi, Rani Mukherjee, Shahrukh Khan, Tabu
Production House: Kaleidoscope Entertainment Pvt. Ltd.
Plot: (from imdb)

The tale of a young couple in love who elope and marry, but soon find that that marriage is not the bed of roses it is made out to be.


Impressions In Short
This was absolutely awful! As I was watching it, I figured I’d be disposing of the DVD cause I couldn’t imagine ever wanting to see it again… and then the last 15min. changed everything!

More About the Film
The most annoying thing about New Moon is that I think it’s absolutely horrible, but I know I will be rewatching it again and again because Taylor Lautner really pulled off something special. Well, exchange the name Taylor Lautner for Shahrukh Khan and Saathiya is a much much worse case of this *grin*
I’m surprised I hated this so much cause it had a lot going for it. Rani Mukherji is one of my favourite actresses. Vivek Oberoi I find interesting - he’s a very capable actor and he tends to choose good projects. Shaad Ali directed two other films which I enjoyed. Mani Ratnam, who wrote the story for this, is my favourite Bollywood director (and he usually writes the stories for his own scripts). And finally, A.R. Rahman did the music. If all this isn’t enough, Shahrukh Khan and Tabu (who is one of Bollywood’s finest actresses) have cameos.
Somehow, despite it all, the film is an absolutely awful and generic Bollywood romance. The one thing out of the ordinary is that once they elope, it’s not all marital bliss. But as the moral of the story is that you can’t have a happy marriage if it means breaking off with the rest of your family, even that becomes generic :]
I felt both of the lead characters were idiots and could not empathize with them at all. Rani Mukherji put in probably the worst performance I’ve seen her do (I normally love her, I don’t think there’s another actor or actress who has made me cry as many times as she has - in fact when SRK and Rani are in a film together, I usually feel she outplays him, it’s the first time when I feel it was the other way round :]) and Vivek was pretty bad also. The production values and general style of the film was sloppy too.
So what on Earth happened in the last 15min. that drastically changed my feelings? Shahrukh finally appeared to do his cameo ;) And the problem is, he was great (as was Tabu, who appeared with him *grin*). He only has about 4 scenes, but this was just vintage Shahrukh. Everything I most love about him as an actor was there at its best.

The bit where I pretend I’m being all analytical about acting, while what I’m really doing is gushing over Shahrukh ;)
My problem with Shahrukh has always been that he’s so uneven. He’s my favourite actor because there are moments when he excites me like no other performer - sometimes I’m literally holding my breath during a scene. The trouble is that just because he has a moment or scene that amazes me doesn’t mean I won’t be cringing at how awful he is a couple of seconds later ;) I’ve sort of resigned myself to this. He has this weird style of acting where he really, really goes for it. Sometimes it gets too much and it becomes fake and hammy - that’s when I cringe ;) It’s a bit like he’s not quite in control of what he’s doing, which is probably part of the thrill for me. I find it difficult to explain my feelings coherently, but it’s sort of like he doesn’t have a border line where other actors would have one.
The exciting thing about this part is that he’s spot on all the time! I’m willing to bet that the size of the part has something to do with this ;) Maybe if it was longer I would have found myself cringing at some point. Nonetheless, as it is, it’s my favourite ever Shahrukh Khan role by far *grin* And it’s not because of his sex appeal or whatever (there are many other parts I’d choose over this on that factor), this is just really exciting acting :)
It’s hard to explain what’s so great about him and Tabu in the film without spoiling the end, but I’m going to try *grin*
They were working with a really terrible script and very corny dialogue. The way it was written, both of their parts had no context at all. Naturally, actors can only do so much to save bad writing, but occasionally it happens that when good actors do bad scripts they end up playing something that just wasn’t there on paper. Kind of like Johnny Depp did with Jack Sparrow in the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie - most of Jack Sparrow was completely his own invention (he totally freaked out the producers at Disney, who didn’t know how to react to his performance ;)). SRK and Tabu do something very similar here. They created a context that was not in the script at all. The tense conversation that introduces the characters to the story is played as if Tabu is not quite sane. As if she’s done stupid things like this before. She doesn’t go into some sort of exaggerated Bollywood idea of insanity, but there’s just this weird vibe in how they relate to each other. There’s also a strange intimacy about it - you know she’s his wife even though they never say it in that scene, nor are they in any way romantic with each other. For all the script tells us at that point, she could have been his sister. And yet, the way they play it you cannot mistake them for anything other than husband and wife. Every time they’re together on screen you can feel there’s loads of history between them.
As the plot (or the semblance of it ;-P) unravels, all of SRK’s strongest tools get utilized.
He’s always been awesome with subtext and double meanings and here he really plays into that. Everything has a double edge - until the very end I wasn’t sure whether he intended to save a life or kill someone. What was clear was that he was scared shitless and you didn’t know which way that would swing him and what exactly he was planning. I also loved the way he delivered this one line, which was disgustingly corny and sentimental… Instead of meaning it literally, it’s said as if to manipulate somebody into feeling sorry for him and his wife. As he says it, you can see him looking up to check what kind of reaction his listener has to the line, making sure it brought the desired effect.
Another of my favourite aspects of SRK as an actor is how he avoids concentrating on just one feeling or thought. That’s something he believes in quite strongly (I’ve even heard him speak of it) and in this case he was really going whole hog with that. While the most intense emotion of his character was fear, there were so many feelings and thoughts running parallel to that. In fact that’s probably one of the reasons why I was holding my breath about what he was going to do - depending which thoughts or feelings would win and in what way, the character could have made a very different decision (the script, on the other hand, was pretty straightforward about it - no suspense :]).
Then there’s the screen presence… I’ve always loved his intensity. The trouble is, it usually comes at the price of being on that border line where he inevitably crosses into “too much”. In quiet parts like Swades and Chak De! India, which I generally enjoy (less hamming = less cringing ;)), I often feel he loses some of his intensity. Here he’s definitely doing something more on the understated side of things, but his screen presence is in full force *grin*
I also have an odd belief about Shahrukh, which I think few people share - IMO he’s a naturalistic actor at heart. I know that sounds like nonsense considering he’s more popularly known as the king of hamming, but bare with me ;) He has these bizarre instincts, where he’ll do something that I don’t even register consciously sometimes, but it’s such a real, human way to react in. Something that he does in this performance is a sort of hyper-awareness. When you’re in a moment of huge tension, you’re often more aware of what’s going on around you. He’s like that in this - you can see him taking in every person that passes, every person that looks at him, every word that’s said. It’s not a common way to play tension, but it’s very real.
But I suppose what impresses me the most is that the script was mercilessly tempting SRK to ham all the time and yet he was containing himself ;) It was the kind of script that would normally push SRK into being over-sentimental and generally over the top and yet there wasn’t a hint of it here *grin*

Nope, stay away ;-P
It is sort of worth it for SRK and Tabu… although I suppose not everyone will feel the way I do about it. I suppose many people would say SRK is just “playing himself” (whatever that means) as usual. It’s not ground-breaking in that sense, but then characterization has never been what I most appreciate SRK for (although I do feel people exaggerate - he’s certainly done parts where he has gone for some characterization ;-P).

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