Friday, September 08, 2006

Lage raho Munnabhai

So, I watched Munnabhai yesterday. I went there because I had liked the first movie (mainly the jokes and the characters) and I thought that they might just continue with the formula that they had created of a lovable bhai.

Warning: Spoilers ahead

The major theme about the movie is its Gandhianism. This can be considered a major attempt to re-create and instill the Gandhian simplistic philosophy in the youth. I do not know whether to call it naive or to call it exceedingly true to Gandhiji...

But one thing I had to compare it with was RDB. RDB ended with a seige in the radio station where the band of "heros" took over a broadcast and talked directly to the people, taking calls and explaining their actions. The reactionary message of RDB was something that I could not accept. The movie almost seemed to say that resorting to violent means to solve a problem would make the problem go away or would get a revolution up and running. It makes a lame attempt to justify the violence and also a more lame attempt at making the "heros" into martyrs!

In a way, LRM looks like a response to RDB's misguided message. It does invoke the memories of RDB by creating a radio show where Munnabhai solves people's problems using "Gandhigiri" aka Gandhian advice. People phone in with their problems and instead of advising them to take the easy way out, he advises them to take the harder path, the more fruitful path in the long run. And if you are faced with a corrupt official, do not shoot him but protest in a way that shames him and gets the work done without the bribe.

Truth and non-violence has always been the hallmarks of the Gandhian philosophy and the movie makes a valiant attempt at highlighting both of them. Some very interesting bits where Munnabhai tells us how to judge people by looking at the way they behave with people whom they consider beneath their social standings and talks about non-violent means to get someone to stop using their door as a spittoon.

With the radio station, there is again the direct correlation with RDB when Munna and Circuit take over the station by force near the end of the movie but "to have a private chat with Jhanvi".

Where RDB was a movie about the youth, its helplessness in the face of bureaucracy and its impatient idea of change, LRM is about wisdom that comes with age.

The humour of the movie is one of its big plus points. I thought Bomman Irani did a great job as Lucky Singh. Circuit was brilliant as usual. Munna was just bareable. I really think he should reconsider playing comic roles. The jokes were mostly clean, no sexist/sexual ones as that seems to the current idea of humour in Bollywood.

There are some really nice song sequences. Particularly the one where Munna tells Circuit about his first date was interesting because it seemed to adopt the strategies of a Hollywood musical (I am thinking primarily of Chicago). Though, the songs are not so great as RDB's were, they have a more earthy and simplistic quality that is hard to ignore.

So, would this movie's message be taken up by the youth? I highly doubt it. Mainly because the youth have gained the cynical quality that was reflected in RDB and I highly suspect such a naive idealism, as depicted by the movie, was aimed at the children rather than the adult youth. But somehow the naive idealistic preachings seems to be characteristic of Gandhi. So, in that sense, it is very true to the Gandhian vision...

But, do I think this is a really a reply to RDB. Yes, I think it is. The parallels are unmistakable and it is way too obviously scripted.

Stars? Maybe three.


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