Anybody who knows me will subscribe to the fact that I’m the quintessential Bollywood fan. I’ve grown up watching Dharma movies, I’ve hummed songs from the 2000’s, where Shah Rukh opens his arms at a 75 degree angle, and movies that Preity Zinta immortalised with her ‘bubbly’ antics. I can quote ‘Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham’ to the T, I’m at the receiving end of goosebumps every time I hear a Sonu Nigam melody, courtesy my 90’s kid nostalgia, I know the steps to every Honey Singh song. I swear, don’t exit the window, do not press ‘x’ there’s a point I’m trying to make… somewhere in this article.
I think I’ve made myself clear, I love literal, raw, entertaining Bollywood movies. Those are the movies I go for, those are the ones I like to talk about, those are the ones I write about. But there are moments when we tend to step out of our comfort zones, to challenge ourself. Or because we don’t get tickets to ‘Fan’. I was at PVR a couple days ago, with my mum, and we thought we’d catch a late
Show. Our only two choices were ‘Fan’ and ‘Nil Battey Sannata’. Nah, it ain’t rocket science to guess which one we wanted to go. But on unavailability of tickets (which in hindsight, was a blessing in disguise), we decided to go for the latter. Who knew a last minute half-hearted decision would change my perspective of my much-adored Hindi movie industry.
Nil Battey is a cinematic experience. One that doesn’t come your way too often. It’s overshadowed by the ‘Dabangg’s and the Dharma’s. They’re not considered competition enough and they’re like that third Jonas brother, no one cares they came by. To my admitted surprise (and borderline shock), the occupancy of the theatre was stronger than I expected it to be. I was pleasantly surprised that today, when we’re talking about how Bollywood is cashing in on irrelevant item songs and unnecessary intimate scenes, there are cinema-goers that are appreciating simplistic, rustic work. With no frills and no window dressing. No caked up (or coked up) Barbies who magically crawl out of bed with winged eyeliner and straightened hair. No hunk ascending from the pool with steroid infused abdominal muscles like he’s going to hop onto the cover of ‘Men’s Health’ any moment. No. Realistic protagonists, fathomable situations, comprehensible climaxes.
The film is about a domestic servant, Chanda Sahay and her daughter who is a lag at academics, particularly mathematics. Chanda, afraid that her daughter will not successfully clear her Grade 10 exams, decides to enroll herself in her daughter, Apeksha’s school to serve as inspiration and motivation to ‘Appu’ to study. A rivalry ensues between the mother-daughter duo with both aiming for supremacy in the Mathematics final exam. A delectable climax which could be predicted by sniffer dogs from miles away may be forgiven, taking into consideration the smooth writing and quick pace of the cinematography.
I shan’t talk about the film any more, lest my pumpkin sized mouth drop any spoilers. But what made me ecstatic was seeing people accept the movie, they being involved, there were laughs in cohesion at gags, there were snickers at uncomfortable moments and furthermost, I dare anyone at the theatre to deny having shed a tear or engage themselves in what was unravelling in front of them, by the end of the 104 minute resplendence. We are growing as a country, and with that accompanies a dynamic change in the way we tell stories. Our movies have always been a mirror of what we, a cumulative 100 crores force stands for, and it only makes sense that finally, we’re expanding our base and there is not only supply of strong, meaningful narratives but also a healthy demand for it. This isn’t just Bollywood version 2.0, this is Bollywood version 2.016.
If you liked that, go ahead and share it amongst your friends and fam and on facebook. You’ll be helping me a lot. Let’s get this to 50k reads which I know is double the usual but I feel brave. Or maybe it’s the excessive liqueur chocolates I’ve gorged over the weekend. We’ll never find out.