Sometimes, we feel that some makers should indeed belong to the old school. Not bothering so much about aesthetic sense, parameters and focusing on the inconsequential indulgences that stamp their identity. Spending time with each of their characters, as if our longtime neighbours have kept their issues with us behind and coming on-screen. We feel like having a cup of coffee with the David, Ashok Kumar and Rahim Chachas, their genuinely old-wise words amidst a lazy evening backdrop after a relieving siesta.
Hirani, being the torch-bearer of the goodwill cinema that Hrishikesh Mukherjee in his early 70’s propagated, thinks similarly. He looks at cinema in a common man’s terms. Something within our reach,but equally cinematic. Like the Jadoo Ki Jhappi, a Bhai gives to a floor-cleaner in a hospital. We too empathise for them, but hugging them is out of our equation. The hero does what we can’t and wins our hearts.
Regardless of the plot, treatment, casting or whatever parameters we come up with, to downplay or positively evaluate a movie, these storytellers need to be celebrated. They have such a vast outlet of happiness to be spread around. Most of them are implicitly preachy messengers to be better humans after all. Bawarchi, Guddi, the Munna Bhai series and 3 Idiots. The choices here explain how early these directors decided the ‘brand’ of their films. It’s like Yash Chopra deciding his extravagant days of Chandni and Lamhe while making Dhool Ka Phool.
The consistency in these decisions for a viewer is that, the happy ever after moment isn’t forced. It’s happy, but not exactly to come up with an ending. It’s a situation that’s positive and we’re hopeful that such times shall continue, even if it isn’t the case. These cases do have a shelf-life.
We don’t want overtly optimistic souls, trying to spread the goodwill. In a sequence in Happy Ending, Govinda tells Saif, a first time screenwriter in the film, not to teach life for 300 rupees. He speaks for us here. Do how much you can within the little possibilities, but don’t dare stretch it and make it obvious. These are anyway, the gaps that need to be filled between every masala outing and the multiplex/art house droppings. Amidst every need to serve business purposes and make an engaging film, the undermined social responsibilities deserve a chance within the medium.
How about someone like Sekhar Kammula ? He is good at it, but overdoes it with the sugar-coating, that his films tend to look like patients waiting to catch up with diabetes. Yes, I’m hinting here at the voice-overs and the coochi-coochi-cute hints he threw at us in Life is Beautiful. Even in a supposedly political film like Leader, he didn’t give up on his list of ideals to be ticked off. Opposed to this, he struggled for creating double-edged parts in Anamika, which should have taught him a lesson or two about his strengths.
Back to the goodwill, how direct should the essence be ? Doesn’t the obviousness in coveying something make such films totally manipulative ? The treatment will have a better answer. Anjali Menon got away making small statements about feminism, independence and emphasising cultural fondness in a single film like Bangalore Days that’s more slice-of-life. The beauty of such efforts is probably enjoying them and not knowing the mystery of it all. Savour the ‘goodies’ and leave it to the writer we say !