Sunday, January 31, 2010

Wake Up Sid – A Movie Review

Coming of age is a unique genre in cinema, in that, even though from movie to movie, the story remains mostly the same, depending on the treatment, you may make either a forgettable disaster, or the next ‘Garden State’. No film better exemplifies this in recent memory than ‘Wake Up Sid’. Telling the oft-told story of a boy finding his way into manhood, the movie has all the regular devices one would expect in such a film (punch-lines, driven female stimulus, familial disagreement etc.), but finds a way to rise above the mediocre because of an infusion of soul and life into every single character.

Headlining the proceedings is Siddharth Mehra, a twenty something almost graduate who goes from Mr. Popular to the “one who flunked out” in a commerce college in Bombay. As is typical with such stories, Sid, the titular protagonist is affluent, spoiled and sleepwalking through life hanging on to the coat-tails of his father’s wealth. Again, typically, he may be flawed, embarrassed at associating himself with “flower showers”, his father’s legacy that he so easily uses for his material needs, but at the core, has a good heart. He is detached and unwilling to commit though, either to relationships (as is evident in both his dealings with his parents and his advice to his about-to-propose friend) or to work, and, in his own words, “just want(s) to have fun”.
wake up sid
In stark contrast to Sid is the pivotal character of Aisha. She’s the “new girl in the city”, she’s driven, already lined up a job interview, and bold and brazen enough to go on a late night walk in a strange city with a guy she just met at a party. She is traditional though, and immediately clarifies that she “doesn’t want to sleep with (Sid)”. This highlights the relationship between the two throughout the film, with Aisha motivating Sid to be all he can, without ever telling him he must.
The beauty of Wake Up Sid truly comes from the well crafted characters and the natural, fluid dialogue between them. They say that life is made up of millions of small moments. The same is true of cinema, and every film comes together as a series of interchanges between characters. Unfortunately, most films seem to miss this point, and get lost in translation. Ayan Mukherjee and Niranjan Iyengar do a surprisingly good job of writing the screenplay and especially dialogues, especially a standout angry exchange between Ranbir Kapoor, Anupam Kher and Supriya Pathak. Every teenager who at some time found themselves drifting and couldn’t bring themselves to care will relate with Sid, his frustration, his unspeakable regret and his wrathful outburst.
In terms of performances, everyone is at the top of their games, with Konkona Sen being an obvious best. Supriya Pathak and Anupam Kher are also brilliant, in roles so well played out, that you often forget that it’s a scripted drama. The music by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, and more specifically the background score and the track Iktara, both composed by Amit Trivedi, are enjoyable and help greatly with the flow of the film.
The movie is not without faults of course. Ranbir Kapoor, in perhaps the most well suited role of his career, for the most part, does a fantastic job of being the very likable vagabond. In some scenes however, especially of a more serious tone, he does tend to be a little too earnest. In addition, Mukherjee tends to resort to plot clichés to further the story more often than necessary. Finally, the biggest letdown came in the form of the only article written by Aisha that we get to hear. Not only is it impertinent to her column name, but following the build up, it is very disheartening to be given only a crushing RJ’s sermon when we expect a writer’s epiphany. If God is in the details, Mukherjee loses several opportunities to make the movie a beacon, satisfied instead with standard cinematic cop-outs.
In a climate of unoriginal plots and recycled characters however, Wake Up Sid is worth watching, maybe even renting for a second viewing. Full of hope, optimism, and a sheer feel good feeling, it makes you want to be young again. It makes you want to walk in the rain, click photographs in Chor Bazaar, trade your mundane job for a day at Mumbai Beat, but most importantly, it makes you want to, especially for Bombay natives, find a moment to enjoy just being.

1 comment:

  1. Oh yes, what made this film memorable for me were the little details - the decorating of her home, the excitement he feels at frying an egg, the pictures he takes of the neighbours etc etc. I love how beautifully crafted the characters were and we gotta give a huge deal of credit to the art directors and costume and make-up guys for making them so - them, y´know? I also liked the lack of unnecessary melodrama, it was altogether real and relatable.

    ´m with you on the final article thing - here I was anticipating something spectacular, something fresh, something that made her aspirations credible. What we got was humdrum, not terrible, but not relevant either. I would´ve taken that opportunity, perhaps put in a few more days work, pooled in some creative ideas and then gone to work on something wholly unique. It´s like being given the stage to read poetry and then reading the foreword to an anthology instead, isn´t it?

    On the whole, good review - as always? :)