Saturday, August 30, 2014

Life Lessons from Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania

At one point in the absolutely delightful Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania, Kavya's (Alia Bhatt's) grandmother says to her son (Ashutosh Rana), "Aaj kal rab ka apne bando pe control nahi raha, tu kisi ki kismat kya control karega." The grandmother is trying to explain to her obdurate son that he can control his children's life but he cannot control if his children will get happiness in life. He replies by saying that he did not control his elder daughter's life but they saw the consequences in that case when she was abused by her husband, and then again, his mother imparts some wisdom when she says, "Tu stamp paper pe sign kar ke de sakta hai ki Kavya kabhi nahi royegi?" It is a scene that imparts an obligatory lesson for all of us in our lives. The thought of ceding control is scary but the thing is that it is inevitable as we really cannot control our lives the way we want. If only it was actually possible. We can do whatever we want but we cannot guarantee that our actions will give us the intended consequences.

At an earlier point in the film, Angad (Sidharth Shukla) says to Humpty (Varun Dhawan) that he does not like to drink because he believes "peene ke baad insaan out of control ho jata hai, dimaag ke badle dil se sochne lagta hai. I like to be in control." Humpty, in his inimitable style, replies that they are Punjabis and that they think from the heart, not from the brain. It is another interesting reference on control that the film talks about. The fact that both Humpty and Kavya drink merrily in some ways points that both of them think from the heart and perhaps, are more suited for each other. Later, we actually see that in the film. When a bunch of shady men try to pass some objectionable comments on Kavya when she and Angad are on a date, she tells Angad to do something, and she also messages to Humpty that some men are harassing her. Humpty comes, and immediately, starts beating the goons. In contrast, Angad had silently called the police. So, Humpty thinks from his impulsive heart, and Angad thinks from his cautious brain, and we all know who almost always triumphs in this classic battle? Of course, the heart. 

There is another fabulous scene in the film that made me think a lot. One day, Angad does not turn up for jogging. Humpty, seeing an opportunity to take a potshot at Angad, asks about him from Kavya's father. Kavya's father replies that Angad does not jog to show-off. Humpty replies that he also does not run to show-off but he runs for Kavya as he wants to learn from the good habits of Angad to become a better person. Then, Kavya's father asks if he wants to be a good person, then, why does he smoke cigarettes. Humpty says that he smokes cigarettes only for himself and not for Kavya, and says, "Kavya ke liye main better insaan ban sakta hun, lekin badal nahi sakta hai." It is, again, an important message that the film, subliminally, tries to impart. Why should a person change himself because he is in love? Isn't love accepting the person's perfections and, more importantly, imperfections? One can always try to be a better person, but as Humpty says, that he cannot fundamentally change himself from what he is, just because his lover's father wants him to? That is why I had some serious doubts if Naina (Deepika Padukone) and Bunny (Ranbir Kapoor) would ever be happy in Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani. Bunny was trying to become who he was not, because of love. He wants to travel, but Naina cannot. I, really, want to know what happened to their lives five years later. Did Bunny become even more restless? Did Naina get happiness?   

In my favorite scene from the film, Humpty stands up to Kavya's father and he gives a convincing monologue on his suitability for Kavya. He says that the so-good-to-be-true Angad might be a big tree, and he admits he is a small plant, chhota sa, phuddu sa but is there any guarantee that Angad will keep Kavya happy? He might have imperfections, but the thing that he can guarantee is that he loves Kavya immensely. If there is one bread in the house, he will give half of it to Kavya and half of it to his own father, but he will not let her go sleep hungry. He might have a small brain, but he has a bigger heart. And, that bandey perfect nahi hote, rishtey perfect hote hain. Again, such wise words that Humpty speaks. One of the best things I liked about the film that it taught us to accept our own imperfections. Humpty is supposed to be the hero of the film, but rather, Angad is more suited to be one. Angad is a superman, and Humpty, as he says, is a Mowgli, but the film never tries to make Humpty as the hero, and it never tries to demean Angad's goodness. Angad is, genuinely, a good person. He cooks Italian food that will make him the head chef of a Michelin-starred restaurant. He is even sensitive to gay rights, perhaps, more than Humpty himself, and that is unlike our masculine heroes in films, for whom any mention of the word gay invokes instant homophobia. Contrast this with Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge from where the film takes the maximum inspiration. Kuljeet (Parmeet Sethi) was such a jerk that from the first scene itself where he comes back from hunting, we knew how he is going to treat Simran (Kajol) if, at all, they get married. Like the bird that Kuljeet shoots with his gun, Simran is going to be another shikaar for him. And, we root for Raj (Shah Rukh) even more. Raj was a superhero in that film. Recall the first few moments in that film, where he excels at every sport. While watching Humpty Shrama Ki Dulhania, I was, actually, thinking of Barfi. Remember that gut-wrenching scene where Barfi (Ranbir Kapoor) realizes that Shruti (Ileana D'Cruz) will be much more happy with the person she is engaged to. That is why I, really, applauded Humpty's ability to accept his shortcomings, and that the only thing that mattered to him was that he loved Kavya. And as they said about Jhilmil (Priyanka Chopra) in Barfi, "Jhilmil ne soch samajh kar pyaar nahi kiya aur na usne pyaar ho jaane ke baad kuch socha samjha, usne sukh aur aaram ki zindagi beetane ke liye pyaar nahi kiya, usne bas pyaar kiya aur zindagi apne aap, sukh aur aaram se beetati gayi." Like Humpty says, "bandey perfect nahi hote, rishtey perfect hote hain." 

In another lovely scene, when being asked as to why she is wearing a local lehenga, Kavya replies, "Designer lehenga suit nahi kiya, mere liye local hi best hai, jab pyaar ki samajh nahi thi, to designer lehenga bahut important tha, aur jab pyaar ho gaya hai to uska koi mol nahi," and she wishes if she could replace the designer dulha with the local dhula. Beautiful thoughts again, and that all that matters are perfect relationships, howsoever, perfect or imperfect be the person. 

I also liked the portrayal of the women characters in the film. Like always, the women characters are much more smarter than the male characters. Though some serious questions have been raised over the docility of Kavya of not being able to stand up before her father, which is, actually, quite true, but otherwise, I felt the women characters were far more nuanced. In the song, Main Tenu Samjhawa Ki, we see Kavya's sister, Swati, driving a jeep dressed in a salwar-kameez. The fact that it is rural Ambala, a woman driving a jeep, is worth appreciating. After having a failed marriage, Kavya's sister opens an internet cafe. At one point, Kavya's mom says to Swati, "Kuch rishton ki umar hi choti hoti hai." It is not the end of the world if something like that happened to her, and even after what happened to her, Swati still has faith in love. That is why she asks Kavya if she loves Humpty. Swati does get sad, sometimes, but she never stopped living. She is an independent woman. Another women character, Kavya's mom, is not afraid to speak her mind to her husband. Recall Lajjo (Farida Jalal) in Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge. She knows the intransigence of her husband, and she knows that she cannot make any decision without him. When Simran wants to go to Europe, she cannot even give permission for that. In that deeply moving scene near the window, she says to Simran, "Jab tu paida hui, to maine apne aap se ek vaada kar liya tha ki jo mere saath hua, vo meri beti ke saath nahi hoga, lekin main to bhool hi gayi thi aurat ko vaada karne ka bhi koi haq hai." She calls Raj and Simran to her room, and gives them the only thing she owns—her jewelry—and tells them to run away. In contrast, here, Kavya's mom knows her husband is the decision maker of the family, but she still speaks her mind in front of him. She is not afraid to say to her husband about Humpty, "Aap hi jaisa hai vo, uski aankhen sachi hai." And, Kavya, too, is a strong woman. She is manipulative in some ways, like the way she knows how to extract a good bargain from her father. (Critics say that if she could do that, why not also convince her father to marry the groom of her choice. That is no doubt true, but again, I go back into the realistic versus regressive debate. Maybe she knows her father's power well, that if she rebels, he might harm Humpty.) She is a small-time fraudster. She sells diesel after stealing it from her father's trucks. She has great business ideas when she says utli khopdi hun, bahut idea hai mere paas. She knows how to make a quick buck when she asks money from Humpty for making him pass his examination (though she needs to increase her price, even Humpty laughed it off when she agreed for Rs.10,000 when he said anyone would have paid Rs. 50,000 at least). She hatches a plan to con a man and woman, but when the plan is successful, she returns the conned woman's wedding jewelry, writing even a sorry note for her, because she is not that heartless. She drinks more and even beats Humpty in a drinking competition. Tu bottle sunghda rahega, aur meri khatam bhi ho jayegi. She is not afraid to spend the night alone with three guys in a shop. Recall how Simran got scared when she got drunk when she thought that she and Raj slept with each other. Here, she says, "Pi hui thi, memory loss nahi hua tha." Later, Humpty and Kavya sleep together, but it is not a pivotal scene in the film. It is something normal, and the next day, Kavya just moves on. We have seen in so many films where the post-coital scene changes women characters. In Band Baaja Baaraat, a strong women like Shruti (Anushkha Sharma) assumes automatically that Bittoo (Ranveer Singh) is in love with her. Kavya and Humpty are in love, but they just sleep together, and would move on. If Humpty had not come to Ambala, Kavya would have got married. The sex is something as mundane as a hug. Hindi films are finally growing up. 

There is also an underlying message of true friendship in the film, too. Humpty and his two friends—Shonty and Poplu—are, truly, brothers from another mothers. I was completely charmed by the friendship the trio had among themselves. These friends never judged each other and the choices their friends made, howsoever, inappropriate those might be. Only true friends would contribute money for something as silly as a lehenga so that their friend can fulfill the promise he made to a girl, who is not even his girlfriend in the first place. Shonty and Poplu would go to Ambala with him, and would get beaten up by goons, but still they will again go back with him and will always be there for him. I was, at times, irritated by Humpty that why does he not stand up and protect his friends, and why does he treat them like that, but there was some redemption in the last scene when he, actually, threatened Kavya's father that if he hit his friends any more, he would pay back. That is what true friends are. And, Poplu's T-shirts and his one liners were killer. At one point, he says, "Bina touch kar ke feel kaise aati hai, main samjha nahi aaj tak." Such wise words, even I want to know that.

Everyone who has seen the film is talking of the inspiration from Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge. There are also references to many Dharma Productions and Yashraj films, such as Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani, Veer Zaara, Dostana, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, and Main Hoon Na (in a scene in the title song reminded me of Percy). But these references are quite pronounced. But there are two more films where the film takes it inspiration from. They are Maine Pyar Kiya and Pyaar Kiya To Darna Kya. There are some scenes which were exactly like those films. In Maine Pyar Kiya, Suman's (Bhagyashree's) father is a mechanic. Here also, Kavya's father is a mechanic. In that film, Suman's father had set some conditions, here also the same. At one point, even the song Dil Deewana Bin Sajna Ke Maane Na plays confirming which film is it alluding to. The film is a lovely tribute to these films, but it never every copies these films, but gives its own interpretation to them. Like the scene, when Humpty and his friends say, "Jab hero fail hota hai na, toh uska bapu Oh Pochi, Oh Goga karke, bhej deta hai use holiday in London, main fail ho gaya na, to mera bapu pichwade laat dharega aur bolega dukaan pe baith." Or another scene, where Raj and Simran's father bonded over feeding the pigeons, here, Humpty and Kavya's father bond over having a smoke together. In one blink and miss scene, Humpty even tries to copy how Kavya's father smokes, like Raj copied the way Simran's father fed pigeons. 

I have really started to love both Varun Dhawan and Alia Bhatt. Their chemistry is so good. They both are terrific in the film, which made me like the film even more. Alia is on a roll. She is a star. At one point in the film, she is cutting the picture of Kareena Kapoor from a magazine (again, as I have written before whether film stars are playing themselves in films?). Alia has said many times in interviews that she considers Kareena as her idol. Kareena is a great actress, but her choice of films is so bad that it perplexes me as to why she is always doing Rs.100 crore films. I hope Alia does not follow that path. That is why I cannot wait for Ayan Mukerji's next film with Ranbir Kapoor, and Alia Bhatt—all my favorite people. But, I love, like really, love Varun and Alia's scenes in the movie. In the end, it made me even shed a tear. The things that love forces the people to do. I guess love might be a very beautiful feeling, and those who experience it are truly blessed.

Dialogue(s) of the day:
"100% original fake hai ji."
— Shopkeeper, Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhaniya

"Friend request bheju to despo, nahi bheju to attitude. Bhai, bhola ladka kare to kya kare."

— Humpty, Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhaniya

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