There was this film Praan Jaye Par Shaan Na Jaye today on TV (Zee cinema, 12:30pm).
I remember it was released about four years back (I was in Mumbai then). The film did not have anyone with much star value (except may be Vijay Raaz -- and the posters did not have his face). Whatever little newspaper ads we got to see had a group of ladies (Raveena, Dia Mirza, Rinkie Khanna, Namrata Shirodkar, Divya Dutta..) and the film was gone in a week flat. One review said why people like Shivaji Satam are doing such useless films. A friend who saw it recently told me it is interesting, so I decided to check it out for some time.
I was hooked in about ten minutes. It has a parody/satire set up, the satire works most of the time. It also has scenes that appear forced and sequences that stretch. But what stood out was the presentation of women characters. The ladies (mind you, including Dia Mirza!) put in great performances and make sure it does not end up looking like an amateur drama. There were quite a few scenes where I could not resist whistling. ("Seetee", in desi language).
It was also refreshing to see the term "middle class" used in a better sense in a time when the word is often used to refer to the elite class just below the Ambanis and SRKs.
This one belongs to the ranks of Jane Bhi Do Yaaro. The guts quotient is even higher, as it dares to delve into areas that films (including JBDY) generally shy away from.
Taran Adarsh says the Sati track looks forced, but to me it did not seem so. That one also has a striking link to our times. When we are all going back in time -- and the rich and the powerful and the media are all helping it in every way they can -- glorifying anything done in the name of "beliefs", "religion" and "culture". (If the film was made today, I'm sure there would have been a reference to a certain "Manglik").
Even after all these interesting developments I was almost sure the ending would undo it all. It happens often with otherwise good comedy films. (I believe a funny Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani was undone in the last fifteen minutes). But surprise, surprise, the ending is too good -- The common man cameo and then an "irrelevant" song to top it! I am all happy tears by then.
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The 2003 film is directed by Sanjay Jha (he pays for his guts -- this is the only film he has directed) and produced by Asoo Nihalani, Sagoon Wagh and Raj Lalchandani (cheers to all three of them).
DVD cover looks like this, in case you want to look for it.
[Links on the film:
Sanjay Jha comments at a review by filmiholic;
Review on Indiafm by Taran Adarsh]
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Tailpiece: Saddest attempt at "feminism" I can remember in Bollywood is "Aamdani Atthanni Kharcha Rupaiya". "Astitva" and "Chandni Bar" were technically better but still sad in content. PJPSNJ is way ahead. (Interestingly, the former three had Tabu common).