Saturday, August 27, 2016

Talaash—Of Drowning in the Sea of Grief

Reema Kagti's Talaash is a delicious thriller that feels even better on watching it again. Every few months, I keep revisiting it because of its fascinating storytelling. Even though the ending is known, it has that quality that when one watches it again, there is a thrill to catch all the hints. The film hints at the ending in the first few moments of the film itself. Aisa lagta hai saare jawaab mere samne hai, lekin mujhe nazar nahi aa rahe hai. But when one does see all the answers, there is a satisfying joy due to the realization of everything making sense.
Talaash is the story of inspector Surjan Singh Shekhawat (Aamir Khan), and his wife Roshni (Rani Mukerji), who are going through a difficult time in their relationship after the death of their son. One night, a mysterious accident of a film star occurs where his car swerves into the sea. The film deals with the investigation of the accident. In this quest, Surjan meets the mysterious prostitute Rosie (Kareena Kapoor) who can help him solve not only the case, but also the crisis in his personal life. More than the talaash for the killer, it is more about the talaash for inner peace as the title says the answer lies within. Rosie, Roshni, and Suri are all searching for peace from within to come to terms with life, or rather death. Pata nahi kya dhoond raha hun. Har suraag mujhe aur andhere ki aur le jata hai. There is a supernatural element to the film, something similar to M. Night Shyamalan's The Sixth Sense
Talaash is a spectacular story on the theory of grief. Elisabeth K├╝bler-Ross had famously postulated the five stages of grief—denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. The stages are not a linear and predictable progression but only a collation of five common experiences for the bereaved that can occur in any order, if at all. There is a little bit of these emotions in Suri, with depression being the most prevalent one in his case. I remember Jab Tak Hai Jaan released at the same time as Talaash, and though it was much derided, in some ways, it dealt with the bargaining aspect of grief. Losing a loved one, especially one's own child, is devastating. We try to avoid reality by imagining alternate scenarios, like Suri does where he imagines he could have stopped Karan from going to play, or he could have gone with him. Many a time, we need to blame someone for the cause of grief, and it makes us question as to why only it had to happen to us. Some people blame God, and some people blame themselves, like Suri does. But life is inherently unfair, and death is inevitable. All we can do is slowly learn to heal ourselves. Generally, time heals everything, but sometimes, people need more than the instrument of time to heal. Each of us have our own way of overcoming grief. Some people speak to psychologists, some people believe in the supernatural, some people just need to talk to someone. All the while, Roshni had not been taking any medicines but she got healed. She says if Suri can go out all night to be with someone, why can't she do something that gives her peace and happiness, even it might not be considered a rational belief. It is these aspects of grief that Talaash touches.
Often, it is said that bereavement is like someone drowning in the sea of grief. Talaash shows drowning as symbolic of Suri being submerged in grief. The sea plays an important role in the film. Both Armaan and Karan died by drowning. When Suri jumped into the lake to save his son, he never really got out of it. He remained immersed in grief. At one point, Rosie tells Suri, "Koi kab tak dooba rahega, Sahab. Kabhi na kabhi toh tair ke upar aana hi padega." In the end, she actually helps him swim to the top after his accident. He had reached the depth of the sea, but now, he has finally come out of it. Rosie takes him out of his grief. A grieving father has seen the sea shore, and accepted the inevitability of death. 
When Rosie meets Suri, she says to him that she can help him. They are a lot like each other. Rosie could not find peace after her death, and she came back as a spirit, roaming around the streets of Mumbai, standing in the middle of the roads, going to restaurants, listening to conversations, and following the people she knew. Suri also could not find peace after the death of his son, and became a ghost of his previous self. He cannot sleep at night, playing with his son's green light saber (trivia alert: In Star Wars series, the green light saber used by Luke Skywalker is said to portray peace and harmony). Like Rosie, he is roaming the streets of Mumbai all the night. They both are ghosts, bhatakti aatmas, one dead, and the other living. Frenny, actually, later says that spirits get attracted to the people who are like them. Both Suri and Rosie help each other in letting go. 
There is the concept of the soul in Hinduism. Hindus believe that the soul is indestructible. Death symbolizes not only the end of the existence of a person's physical being, but also the start of a new journey for the soul. This soul, then, reincarnates in some other life form, and passes through the same cycle of taking birth, growing and eventually meeting death, only to begin the cycle afresh. Cremation of a person's dead body is, therefore, supposed to rid the departed soul of any attachments to the body it previously resided in. After Suri discovers the last skeletal remains of Rosie, he cremates her body. By cremating her, he helped Rosie to crossover from this world to afterlife as she had been suffering in the world. After he does that, he is even shown taking a bath like Hindus usually do after a cremation. An alternative reading is if Rosie crossed over to afterlife through his help, he gets a new birth himself, and gets baptized in the water.  
Reincarnation and karma form the principal beliefs of HinduismKarma describes the principle of cause and effect, which says that past deeds will come back later in the life. It is like action and reaction. The third law of motion given by Isaac Newton states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Similarly, in metaphysics, karma is the belief that states that every act, no matter how insignificant, eventually returns to the individual with equal impact. In Talaash, there is this subtext of karma. Everyone who did a bad deed is eventually punished in some way or the other. The three friends, Armaan, Sanjay, and Nikhil, are punished for the way they treated Rosie. Nikhil is left paralyzed and cannot speak a word after he tried to kiss Rosie in the car. Armaan Kapoor is killed in an accident. Sanjay Kejriwal is arrested, and also killed, in the end. Shashi is killed by a hit man. Taimur is shot, and then, falls off to his death from the building. The hit man who killed Taimur is eventually caught. The old receptionist of Hotel Lido gets AIDS. Good actions are awarded. Mallika is rescued after she tells the truth. Nirmala who trusts Taimur escapes with the cash. There is the principal of reciprocity. Rosie talks about not leaving the world before paying her debts; udhaar chukana baki hai. Surjan, literally, means a good man, and he does good deeds. Rosie tells him that this is not his place, as he is a good man, and he does not take advantage of anyone. There is karma in many aspects of the film.
There is another religious subtext where the films talks about the concept of swarg (heaven) and narak (hell). When Rosie meets Suri for the first time, he tells her that she is already in hell. Tum pehle se hi narak me ho. She replies that she might be in hell, but she knows the way to heaven. Narak me hun par swarg ka raastha jaanti hun. All these suggest an implicit religiosity in the film, or perhaps, a belief in the existence of a supernatural entity that is looking at everything. 
Rosie is a magical character. Kareena Kapoor had earlier played a prostitute in Sudhir Mishra and Anant Balani's Chameli. There is a hat tip to her old role in Chameli. When Suri takes Mallika to a women's rehabilitation center, he tells her that she should thank Rosie as she told him to rescue her. Mallika replies that she does not know any Rosie. She says, "Hamare dhande me toh aise hi hai. Aaj Rosie, toh kal Chameli." Both the names are named after flowers, Rosie being the one in Talaash, and Chameli in Chameli. In some ways, the premise of grief is present in both the films. Aman (Rahul Bose) is left depressed after the death of his wife. He helps rescue Chameli from the clutches of Usman. In turn, Chameli helps bring a change in him, where he finally goes to meet his wife's father-in-law whom he had been avoiding since his wife's death. Aman's life has parallels with Suri in many ways, where, like Aman and Chameli, Suri and Rosie help each other in letting go, and bring a new perspective to life. While the portrayal of Chameli was a bit garish, Rosie is much more mellowed but has a lot of mystery, and thoughtfulness. Who would not fall in love with her?
There was a supernatural element in Reema Kagti's delightful Honeymoon Travels Pvt. Ltd. Aspi (Abhay Deol) and Zara (Minissha Lamba) were both superhumans. Reema Kagti shares a great friendship with Zoya Akhtar. Though both of them wrote their first films independently, at times, Talaash refers some trivia snippets from Zoya Akhtar's Luck By Chance. Zoya is also the co-writer of Talaash. At one point in Luck By Chance, Zafar Khan (Hrithik Roshan) gets a call from Karan Johar who offers him his film Koi Aane Wala Hai with Shah Rukh because Armaan (a hint for Salman, perhaps) broke his leg. In Talaash, the big film star is also named Armaan Kapoor. Coincidentally, Honey Irani's first film (Zoya Akhtar's mother) as a director was also titled Armaan. Then, there is the character of Pinki in Luck By Chance, and Nirmala in Talaash. Both of them played by Sheeba Chaddha. Pinki is mocked at by her sister's friends because of her simplicity, and her lack of power as compared to others. She is not appreciated by her husband, who is secretly having a relationship with Sona. Nirmala is an ageing prostitute, who is slowly moving towards the point where she is being replaced by younger girls. Shashi ridicules her, and calls her an old hag. In both the characters, she gets the sympathy of the audience, and she is mocked for something that is not under her control. But the films treat her humanely. Pinki is the one who brings Vikram's picture to Romi Rolly Productions, changing the fortunes of everyone, and Nirmala escapes with the money and a silent acnowledgment of Taimur's trust and love. And, finally, the motif of flowers. Each scene in Luck By Chance had some kind of association with a flower. There were flowers literally everywhere in the film. The significance of them is not explained though. In Talaash, too, there is the motif of flowers, relating to the presence of Rosie everywhere. Be it her floral print dresses, her ring, the neon light signs saying Rose, the flowers strewn at Rosie's jagah, the cushions; all these flowers point to the presence of Rosie. She is not there, but still she is there. Perhaps, like the fragrance of a flower, and her name Rosie (belonging to that of a rose). Her real name was Simran, but it is only after her death, she takes the name of Rosie. 
The women characters in the film are shown to be stronger despite their circumstances. Roshni deals with grief much better than Suri. She talks, she shares, and she understands. She is more open to accepting ideas. Suri keeps everything bottled up, never shares anything, and blames himself. Statistics show that more men suffer from depression than the women. Rosie helps Suri to come out of his depression. They have an emotional affair. Roshni knows that he is spending time with someone. Would Suri be all right if he got to know Roshni was having an emotional affair? Rani Mukherji's Paheli explored this aspect where her character has an affair with a shapeshifting ghost. The other women in the film demonstrate a strength of character, while the men are weaker, and untrustworthy. Taimur does not trust anyone except Nirmala. Shashi tells everything to Mallika. Frenny helps Roshni communicate with her dead son. Roshni's friend listens to her. Roshni's psychologist is also a woman. When Suri takes Mallika to a rehabilitation center, he tells her the in charge is a good lady. Even Madam, who runs a brothel, exerts power in front of the policeman till they threaten her. The men on the other hand can't be trusted. Suri had to confiscate the mobile phones of his subordinates as they were leaking the information of the murder to the media. 
At times, there are many similarities between Badlapur and Talaash. Both films are based on the theme of grief of a parent losing a child. In Talaash, Taimur had a special relationship with a prostitute Nirmala, like his relationship with Jhimli in Badlapur. There is a theme of revenge, where Rosie wanted to avenge her death, like the theme of revenge where Raghu can't come to terms with Liak killing his family in Badlapur. There are also similar instances of using dogs as well in both the films. 
Talaash is a treasure trove of movie references. At one point, when Suri goes to rescue Mallika from the goons of Madam, there is a poster of the film School Spirit. The film is a 1985 comedy film about a college student who is killed in a car accident and returns as a ghost to haunt his school. Perhaps, Rosie had also seen School Spirit where she is killed in a car accident, and she comes back as a spirit.
Apart from School Spirit, there is another meta trivia associated with Talaash. Frenny's full name is Frenny Mistry, alluding to the mystery of her activities. When Suri, Roshni, and Frenny attend a function in their society, the children are dancing to the song Jhalak Dikhla Ja from another thriller Aksar, as if there is connect of the song to some supernatural element in the film. Suri and Roshni go to watch Rohit Shetty’s Golmaal 3, if only to forget for some time the immense grief of their son’s death. No greater way to escape than Hindi films. There is a whole set of films and songs of the '90s in the film used at different parts. When Taimur goes to Madam's place, the song Nighahen Kyon Churaati Hai from Dulhe Raja plays in the background. When Tamiur meets Suri for the first time, Aande Aande from Angaaray plays. The theater outside Madam's plays Hathkadi and Amanat. Nirmala and Shashi listen to Aankhon Ki Gustaakhiyaan from Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam. The pub in Hotel Lido plays Mar Jawa from Fashion. I don't think there is some obvious meaning of these songs, but it is worth noting that places associated with the lower classes are shown songs and films associated with the '90s, as if that world has not moved for them, while the places of the upper classes (housing society, cinemas) are associated with more contemporary songs and films. In addition, Arman Kapoor's room has posters of Eraserhead, Fargo, Run Lola Run, The Deer Hunter, and Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. 
Hathkadi
Amanat
There is just so much to admire in the movie. The background score is wonderfully soothing, and so are the songs. Rani Mukerji is stunning, and she is a treat to watch. There is a particular scene during the song Jee Le Zara where Suri and Roshni look at each other, but their spirits embrace each other. It conveys so much on how we hesitate to act when a gap comes betwen relationships. The conversations between Rosie and Suri are splendid. Sitting by the sea side, talking about life, with lingering silences and inviting gaze towards each other, it is as if they are in some kind of a utopian land, where nothing else matters. It is this calmness that brought the haunted Suri sleep for the first time, and he is finally able to forget his inner turmoil. In these busy times of jhooti muskaanein, we are undertaking a talaash for the same calmness that can bring us a peaceful sleep. Until then, loneliness is our companion. Phir bhi hai tanhaayi.

Other Reading:
1. On Flowers in Luck By ChanceLink
2. On BadlapurLink

Dialogue of the Day:
"Hum jaise log toh ginti me hi nahi aate, aur jo hai hi nahin, vo gayab kaise ho sakte hain?"
—Rosie, Talaash

P.S.—Kareena Kapoor has starred in another film called Talaash—The Hunt Begins that was released in 2003, and starred Akshay Kumar along with her.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Smell of Solitude

Getting sick for three days gives some time to ponder over things. The mind continuously moves from one thing to other. At one minute, I am thinking of the issue at work that is giving me a little stress, and the next minute, my mind wanders to the lingering silence of the conversation between Rosie and Suri by the sea side in Talaash that is wonderfully calming. I met a friend from college after nearly seven years recently. All the while, I kept thinking that she thinks that I am the same person that I was in college. I found that a little funny, and a little frustrating. Years go by, things change, and people change. A lot changes in a few days, and seven years is a long time. It is not any one's fault because the idea of a person is associated with the memories one has about him or her, especially when one has not been in touch at all. At times, I felt there was not much to say, and I was looking at my watch, waiting to come back. I don't know why I am writing something so obvious. The thing is I was really upset at something, actually at someone, whom I considered a friend. I felt hurt, and I can't stop thinking about it, so, I decided to write a post. I know it is kind of lame, and I have nothing else to write on. In Love Aaj Kal, Meera tells Jai that he needs to go away because she wants someone to replace him, and if he is in front of her all the time, she can never replace him. It is so true. And, then, I started thinking about The Lunchbox. There is so much underlying sadness in that movie. There is a particular scene where Fernandes realizes that he is old, and says his smell reminded him of his grandfather, and now his smell is that of an old man. The immense disappointment at the realization that hits you that time has been lost, and that opportunity will never come back again. Solitude is one of my favorite themes and I never fail to get astonished by the pain and the love that people carry in their hearts. There is a lot to learn from these people. I wish I had the capacity to be at peace with myself.  


Dialogue of the Day:
"I think we forget things if we have no one to tell them to."
—Saajan, The Lunchbox

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Movies In Movies—Yeh (Film Ke) Andar Ki Baat Hai

There is a treasure trove of references from which Hindi films take their inspiration. Real-life stories, ancient texts, personal anecdotes and imagination, books, people, and other movies provide material for filmmakers to create their own vision on the big screen. As a student of cinema with an academic bent of mind, it is utterly fascinating to observe and dissect these inspirations to better understand the film and its maker. These also provide a vast collection to trivia lovers. After collecting a whole lot of references on books in movies, the intention of the post is to recollect another particular type of this treasure—movies in movies. 

Often, films show us characters where they are seen watching another film. Hindi cinema is considered to be one of the powerful sources of influence on the population that watches it. It is then only natural that movie characters also get influenced by other movie characters. This meta relation helps understand the motivations of the characters, and provides a substantial evidence of their state of mind and their thought process. Many a time, movie characters are able to see themselves and portions of their life in other movie characters. The other important purpose that this serves is that it provides a wonderful opportunity to the film's directors and its script writers to pay a tribute to the films and the makers who inspired them. The films in films point to a biographical narrative of the filmmaker itself. And, sometimes, characters watch movies where the context is to just fill time as it happens in real life. After all, in a country with limited entertainment options, films fulfill that need. The following are some instances where this meta relation of movies in movies was observed with a possible explanation of its purpose.  
In Sriram Raghavan's noir drama Johnny Gaddaar, the James Hadley Chase-reading Vikram hatches a plan to rob his friends by taking inspiration from Amitabh Bachchan-starrer Parwana, that he watches on the television. Vikram (or Johnny) uses the same technique that was used in Parwana where to have an alibi, Amitabh Bachchan's character Kumar takes a train, gets down at some station before the final station, gets the work done, and flies to another place to catch the same train that was boarded earlier. Johny uses the same method to fool his friends in the film. This utterly fascinating way paid a tribute to a film that few people remember now, and was released before Amitabh Bachchan became a big star. In an another film of Sriram Raghavan Badlapur, Raghu goes to a lodge in Pune and says to the manager, he wants to stay there for twenty years. In the next scene, the criminal Liak (who had killed Raghu's wife and son) and the other prisoners are watching Sholay in the jail, where Thakur is discussing with Gabbar Singh that he will be in prison for twenty years. Raghu is a mental prisoner, like Thakur, who plotted the revenge for killing his family, while Liak, like Gabbar, never seems to stay in prison for long. Besides this, there is some dark humor in showing a bunch of prisoners the film Sholay, after all it is a film that also showcases the incompetence of the police. 
Inspector Ashwin and his wife Reema are going through a process of separation in Meghna Gulzar's Talvar. At one point, Reema returns Ashwin’s things to him, which includes their wedding pictures. Ashwin takes them back and asks her if she has seen Ijaazat. At a later point, Reema is seen watching Ijaazat. There is a famous song in Ijaazat called Mera Kuch Saaman where Maya asks Mahendra to return not her physical things but the memories of the times they spent together. Ashwin and Reema’s relationship takes a cue from that song where Ashwin gives a hint to Reema about their own time spent together. Also, director of Talvar Meghna Gulzar pays a tribute by referring Ijaazat that was directed by her father Gulzar.
In Anurag Kashyap's DevD, Leni is often seen watching Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Devdas. She is fascinated by the dances of Chandramukhi, who becomes her inspiration. Leni takes the name of Chanda, and she becomes the prostitute with a golden heart in the neon-lit alleys of Paharganj. Anurag Kashyap, in fact, often refers others films in his films. In the surreal No Smoking, K's wife Anjali is seen watching Steven Spielberg's Schindler's List. The climax of the film by Anurag Kashyap in the gas chambers referenced the same scene that Anjali was watching earlier. This technique of giving a premonition of the film's climax was again used by Anurag Kashyap in Bombay Velvet. At one point, Johnny is watching James Cagney's classic gangster drama The Roaring Twenties. The film inspires him to become a 'big shot'. In a particular scene, Johnny is watching the film in a theater at the sequence when James Cagney is being shot, after which he dies. This is exactly what happens to Johnny, too, in the climax of Bombay Velvet.
Karan decides that he will join the Indian Army after he watches Arnold Schwarzenneger’s Commando in Farhan Akhtar's Lakshya. At an earlier point, he had asked his US-based brother to send him the Jurassic Park DVD. In Farhan Akhtar's first film Dil Chahta Hai, after he gets punched by Rohit, Akash is seen watching Speed on his giant television, completely in line with his character, and later, he is seen having a racing competition trying to overtake the train running parallel to the road while on the road trip to Goa. 
  
In Saawariya, director Sanjay Leela Bhansali pays a tribute to his favorite film Mughal-E-Azam. Imaan, Sakina and Badi Ammi go on a movie night to watch Mughal-E-Azam and Badi Ammi remembers all the lines from that film. Sanjay Leela Bhansali has often said that Mughal-E-Azam is his favorite film, and he has seen it countless number of times, since his childhood. 

In Ashutosh Gowariker's Swades, the people in Charanpur gather around to watch Yaadon Ki Baaraat, as if the trip was Mohan's own procession of his memories of his old days. The plot of that movie is based on brothers separated by fate like Mohan is separated from his land of birth, and now that he has finally come home.

Shashi goes on a trip to New York and enrolls in an English-learning class in Gauri Shinde's English Vinglish. She makes a bunch of friends including one called Laurent, a French chef. She goes to watch Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's The Last Time I Saw Paris. The story of the film where at some point, Helen flirts with Paul, even though she is married to Charles could be Shashi's own story, and it is also the case that Shashi's suitor Laurent is also from France. New York will be the last time where she sees her Laurent. 
There is a running gag on Salman Khan in Vishal Bharadwaj's Haider. At one point, the camp inside the empty Finaz theater where people were tortured by the police, plays the song Main Hoon Deewana Tere Pyar Kya from Salman-starrer Sangdil Sanam. In the end, the violent and the brutal end of the two Salmans was as if it is some statement on the cinema that the real Salman Khan does.

In the story by Zoya Akhtar in Bombay Talkies, Vicky struggles to get even the smallest basics of football correct. His family goes to watch Tees Maar Khan in a nearby multiplex and when the song Sheila Ki Jawaani comes, Vicky is thrilled. It was as if he finally found his dream, and Sheila will help him reach that dream.

Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania, directed by Shashank Khaitan, is a modern day retelling of Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge. Humpty is often seen crying while watching the film, and the story of his own romance with Kavya mirrors that of Raj and Simran in many ways. Twenty years later, Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge continues to inspire a generation of film makers. 
 
In Ayan Mukerji's Wake Up Sid, Ayesha believed that Sid is a kid and he is not mature like her. At some point, her boss Kabir laughs at her, and tells her that there is maturity in her writing, but deep down she is like a kid, like the same way she keeps telling Sid. It suddenly hits Ayesha that he is saying the truth. When the iktara in her heart echoes, she sees Sid enjoying and laughing while watching Mr. India with the next door kid Sanju, and there is a child in her that she is reluctant to accept and embrace. In Rajshree Ojha's Aisha, a movie inspired by Jane Austen’s Emma, Aisha is seen eating ice-cream and crying while watching the college fight scene of Rahul and Anjali in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. This comes during the song Lehrein, as a reminder after Aisha had fought with her own best friend Arjun who questioned her habit of interfering in other people’s lives. 
In Maneesh Sharma's Shuddh Desi Romance, Raghu starts dating Tara, the girl whom he ditched at his first wedding. During the gorgeous song Gulabi, they go to watch Jab Tak Hai Jaan, not from inside the theater but from its projection room. In Jab Tak Hai Jaan, the lovers discussed about the right time for love, 'har ishq ka ek waqt hota hai'. Fear of God, and lack of memory stopped the lovers in Jab Tak Hai Jaan, while it is the lack of commitment in Shuddh Desi Romance. But a particular thing to note is that more often than not Yashraj Films typically carry references from their own films. Not a rule, but often references are from their banner only. In Habib Faisal's Daawat-E-Ishq, Gullu and her first suitor Amjad go on date to watch Band Baajaa Baaraat

Meera and Zeenat form an unlikely friendship in Nagesh Kukunoor's heartwarming Dor. They both go to watch Meenakshi Seshadri and Jackie Shroff-starrer Hero, and Meera remembers all the dialogues of the film by heart. In Kunal Kohli's Hum Tum, Rhea's mom, Bobby Aunty watches Shammi Kapoor's dance moves in the thriller Teesri Manzil. In Shakun Batra's Kapoor & Sons, Since 1921, Dadu is thrilled that he can see Mandakini in the white saree in her iconic song from Ram Teri Ganga Maili. In Yash Chopra's Lamhe, a grieving Viren sees himself and Pallavi in Raj Kapoor and Nargis from Shree 420

At many times, characters actually go and watch a film inside cinema halls. In coming of age drama Udaan, directed by Vikramaditya Motwane, Rohan and his friends are expelled from school while watching C-grade sex film Kanti Shah Ke Angoor, giving a tribute to the cult film director Kanti Shah. Suri and Roshni go to watch Rohit Shetty’s Golmaal in the psychological thriller Talaash, if only to forget for some time the immense grief of their son’s death. No greater way to escape than Hindi films. In Zoya Akhtar’s fascinating meta drama Luck By Chance, Sona and Vikram merrily enjoy Singh Is King. An out and out commercial film is being watched by characters of a film, belonging more to a genre similar to parallel cinema; even this simple watching makes a statement. 

In Sanjay Gadhvi's Dhoom 2, Sunehri is shown to be complicit with Jai in catching A when they meet a theater that is playing the animated film Cars. In Anand L. Rai's Raanjhana, Kundan realizes that it is the time to tell Zoya that he loves her after he and his best friend Murari are watching a screening of Saajan. In Sachin Kundalkar's wacky Aiyyaa, Meenaxi tries to impress the mysterious Surya by learning Tamil language and its culture. She watches Midnight Masala on the television, and learns her crazy dance moves in Dreamum Wakeupum from Chiranjeevi and Silk Smitha in O Gundelu Teesina from Goonda.

In additional to real films, there is another set of movies in movies that are fictional, and exist only in those movies. In Dil Chahta Hai, Sameer and Pooja fall in love while watching Woh Ladki Hai Kahan, a film that was written, produced, directed, and edited by Ritesh Sidhwani, who is also the producer of Dil Chahta Hai. In Ram Gopal Verma's Mast, Kittu is in love with the film star Malika, and he goes to watch her film Pehli Nazar Mein Pyaar Ho Gaya that also stars Shah Rukh Khan. In Farah Khan's Om Shanti Om, Om and his friend Pappu go to the premiere of their favorite star Shanti Priya's film Dreamy Girl. Zoya Akhtar's Luck By Chance has a whole set of ficitonal films, with the prominent one being Pyaar Hua Tumse starring Rani Mukerji and Akshaye Khanna (a cracker of a film it would be). Of course, it also has Romy Rolly's Dil Ki Aag starring Vikram and Niki. In Punit Malhotra's I Hate Luv Storys, art director Simran falls in love with assistant director Jay while they make Pyar Pyar Pyar.  
The above instances are not in any way an exhaustive source for movies in movies. There are, perhaps, another hundreds and hundreds of movies in movies references. The ones above are limited to those where characters are actually seen watching a film. There is another set of movies in movies references, based on the presence of a song of another film, a poster of another film, and an act that is reminiscent of another film. As a lover of film research, Hindi films never cease to give ideas, to understand their vast and magical universe.  

Other Reading:
On Books In Movies—Link

Dialogue of the Day:
"Pehli baa, ek hi baar aata hai, aur pehla anubhav bahut hi special hota hai."
—English Vinglish

P.S.—In another news, last week's post on Raman Raghav 2.0 got read by the great man Anurag Kashyap himself. He sent a direct message on Twitter, and I thanked him, and he replied again. I was a little surprised by his response. It seems he felt hurt that people don't understand the intentions. Honestly, I could have written it much better and with better language, had I know he will read it. But we should always try (though I get it wrong often) to observe the repeating motifs and symbols because there is always some meaning that director wants to say, else why will he put those. I had a half a mind to jokingly send him a reply if he can give me the role of an extra in one of his forthcoming films. I will happily play one of the countless persons who get shot. Of course, I won't ask him. Anyway, here is the message of him. I was so happy :)