Despite the really bad reviews Ghanchakkar had got, I was eagerly waiting for it. It became available on Netflix last week and I could not wait to watch it. The thing that I have learnt is that the critics are probably so bored of watching new films that they are always focusing on the negative parts. I have always maintained that a review is just once person's opinion. How can you make your decision of not watching a film based on what someone else is saying? (Though pardon my momentary lack of judgement while I am supporting The Lunchbox without even watching The Good Road!) Just go watch yourself and see whether you liked it or not. I had absolutely loved Raj Kumar Gupta's terrific debut film Aamir as well as I had really liked No One Killed Jessica, that also starred Mohammad Zeeshan Ayyub (Murari in Raanjhaana) as Manu Gupta. And with delivering-superb-performance-in-every-film Vidya Balan and Emraan Hashmi, whom I have started to like of late, and with music by Amit Trivedi - what else was not there to make one excited for Ghanchakkar? I loved it, honestly. Though the ending just flummoxes you, but still I think it offered me a lot to think about. Ghanchakkar is essentially the story of a con man - Sanju. He robs a bank with two other con men - Pandit and Idris. After an accident, Sanju suffers from retrograde amnesia - somewhat different from the anterograde amnesia that Sanjay (Aamir Khan) suffered in Ghajini - and he forgets where had he kept the money that he had looted from the bank. Now, the two other con men are hounding him to get the money back. What follows is a narrative that keeps you engaged till the end in which Sanju is not able to trust anyone - his best friend, his wife and at times, himself. The movie shifts tones periodically. Sometimes, it becomes very funny, sometimes it behaves as a thriller, at times it is a heist-gone-wrong, and the end is a surprising poetic justice with shades of black comedy. With excellent performances by Vidya Balan as an over the top Punjabi wife obsessed with fashion magazines, Rajesh Sharma (who was simply outstanding as the cop in No One Killed Jessica and as Titu Mama in Luv Shuv Tey Chicken Khurana) as Pandit, and Namit Das (who had played Sid's friend in Wake Up Sid!) as Idris, Ghanchakkar worked for me and gave me much to think about.
The movie begins by showing us a black cat. Just like Talaash in which there was a dog barking in the beginning, this scene made me think that there might be a super natural element associated with the story but this was perhaps only a trick or too much analysis by me.
At one point in the film, Idris is eating a raw brinjal.
In the immediate next scene, Sanju is also eating a raw baingan. I did not quite understand what is its significance though but I am very sure it means something. Idris had already made a statement regarding baigan ka bartha. Could this be related to bartha that could mean the utter mess that they have landed themselves into? I also thought of that famous Hindi idiom - thali ka baigan for a person whose loyalties constantly shift. Was baigan referring to Sanju's constant change of his state of mind in which he could not decide where to find the money? I do not know.
In fact, there were so many references to fruits and vegetables in the film that I just could not understand what they meant. Surely, it cannot be a co-incidence. During the climax, a character says to Sanju, "aapko pata hai kele ki sabse acchi baat kya hai? Isse khane se pehle dhona nahi padta." To which Sanju replies, "santra..santre ko bhi dhona nahi padta." At one other point in the film, Idris enters Sanju's house and remarks after seeing apples being kept on the table, "lagta hai seb ka bageecha khareed dala apun logon ke paison se." Also, there is a hilarious running gag in which a traveler who always brings vegetable on the train and gives it to Idris - baigan, gajar, and tamatar. That is why I think there were elements of a black comedy in Ghanchakkar. Even the song Lazy Lad has one line referring to a karela: Nasal hai karele, ke neem pe chadha.
Seb ka bageecha
And this was perhaps my favorite scene of the film. When they robbed a bank, they actually wore masks of Utpal Dutt, Amitabh Bachchan, and Dharmender. One reviewer remarked that the best thing in the film is the expression on Utpal Dutt's mask which after years can still give anyone a run for their money. It was a terrific scene and brilliantly executed. In fact, again I felt there were elements of some black comedy which I did not get completely perhaps. So, besides these three famous character masks, the film refers to a number of old actors. When the property dealer tells Sanju about the new house, he says Hema Malini ke flat ke upar hai. At another point, Sanju decides that he wants to meet the others at Rajesh Khanna park. In another scene, Sanju makes a fool of Idris and Pandit saying that he remembered that he kept the money at Dilip Kumar's house. Even the names of characters - Sanju (Sanjay Dutt?), Neetu (Neetu Singh?), and Uttam (Uttam Kumar?) had some references to old actors.
Utpal Dutt: Priceless
Another of my favorite line in the film was about Ghajini and the Khans. So, Idris out of frustration calls Sanju as Ghajini ka Salman Khan. Then Pandit says, Ghajini me Shah Rukh Khan tha, Salman nahi. Then, Sanju who hears them says "in bandaron ko itna bhi nahi pata, Ghajini me Saif Ali Khan tha." It was hilarious.
Best Dialogue :)
And there were some very interesting character quirks. Neetu was all the time reading Vogue, Femina or Cosmopolitan. The costumes she wore were similar to the way she decorated her house.
Always reading Vogue, Femina or Cosmopolitan
There are butterflies on the wall
Her earrings also are like a butterfly
The apron says Whip Me and her mobile cover is like a rabbit
Her earrings are pretty cool - in the shape of the dress she is wearing
There were some other quirks of her - the curtains and bed sheets had flowers and so did the night dresses she wore.
While Neetu was fascinated by the latest fashions, Sanju was addicted to watching films on Zee Cinema. He decides to rob the bank thinking that he will be able to buy the largest available LCD from his loot. So, at one point, he is watching Kimi Katkar frolicking in Tarzan. I think this was perhaps referring to the wilderness of the relationship of Neetu and Sanju.
At one point, Sanju is watching a film starring Saif Ali Khan and Kader Khan in which they talk about some frauds. I could not find what exactly the film is. Google says it could be Aashiq Awara. Not confirmed.
Which film is this?
At one point, Dil Chahta Hai song plays in the background and naturally I will write about it even though it did not mean anything in the context of the film :)
Dil Chahta Hai reference which I have to add.
Also, found some great books in movies titles. While searching for something, Sanju opens his drawer and we see two books. Flower by some author's name starting with D and The Thorn Birds by Richard Chamberlain.
The Thorn Birds by Richard Chamberlain
When Pandit and Idris open the suitcase, it has many books. The three books that are visible: The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler, The Witch of Portobello by Paulo Coelho and a textbook on Computer, Internet and E-Commerce. Some books have P.D. written on them. I think they belong to Parvin Dabas who was also in the film.
P.D. as in Parvid Dabas?
In one scene, Pandit and Idris are watching this horoscope - Astro Akal. I have heard Idris as a name for the very first time. Wikipedia says Idris means an ancient prophet who is mentioned in the Quran. Pandit and Idris have formed a team and incidentally, their name means the same - someone who is very knowledgeable. Such tiny details fascinate me.
It is no surprise that Pandit and Idris believe in the powers of a roadside baba who says, "baba dila sakta hai, mila sakta hai, hila bi sakta hai." ;-) In fact, there were many double entendres in the movie - kaat diya, bajana, hilana :)
Baba dila sakta hai, mila sakta hai, hila bi sakta hai..
I did not understand why Rupa Frontline was shown prominently in the film :)
Rupa in the field
Rupa in the train as well
What is with directors doing a Subhash Ghai these days? I mean Subhash Ghai has this unique thing that he makes a special apperance in each of his film. Anurag Kashyap has also done that in many of his films. This year, Ayan Mukherji appeared in Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani. Raj Kumar Gupta also makes a special appearance in one scene.
Raj Kumar Gupta
I also remember now that he had made a special appearance in No One Killed Jessica too.
No One Killed Jessica
Finally, some words about the music. When I first heard it, I did not like it much. But I realized I was humming its songs even today, especially Lazy Lad and Allah Meherbaan. After all it is Amit Trivedi and Amitabh Bhattachrya duo giving the music and the lyrics. The lyrics of Allah Meherbaan are just brilliant. I loved this scene when Sanju stands beneath the light in a way asking for light on how to deal with his problems, with the song Allah Meherbaan playing the background.
Do din ki chandni ke chaand bhi jhoothe
Kaali kartooton ke daag na chhoote..
There was also a really charming moment in the film when Sanju does not take salt when offered by Idris, even though Neetu just could not get the amount of salt right. There were some other things that cracked me up like Dr. Gulati who suffers from amnesia himself and he also treats amnesia. That bartha, Neetu wearing dresses similar to her house decorations, Sanju's memory rewinding and forgetting - all point to some sort of meta relationships. I think that was the entire them of the movie itself - meta referencing - that is why it is called Ghanchakkar.
Love this scene :)
Lootera is releasing this Friday on Eros. Super super excited :)
Dialogue of the Day:
Jaisa aaghaz waisa anjaam hai..
Harkat maili to maila hi naam hai..
- Allah Meherbaan, Ghanchakkar