Poulami D

Jan 112018

If you’ve been spending most of your days procrastinating on the internet (like most of us do) these last few days, chances are that you’ve ended up hearing about ‘Lady Bird’. It’s that same film that has been making headlines for breaking a Rotten Tomatoes record by having a 100% rating. So, how did Greta Gerwig’s indie low-budget film that boasts of no A-list Hollywood stars suddenly become the talk of the town with two Golden Globe wins, and the honour of being the best reviewed film ever?

What Makes 'Lady Bird' A Must-Watch© IAC Films

The answer is frustratingly simple: It’s because ‘Lady Bird’ is quite simply the most beautiful love-letter to the complexities that come along with teenage life, making it the best coming-of-age films you’ll ever have the pleasure of watching.

‘Lady Bird’ is a film that understands the curse of youth and the gift of adulthood in a way that will make you relate to it like never before. It’s basically an outpouring of all the thoughts, dreams and doubts that each one of us have had while growing up into an adult with responsibilities. Watching ‘Lady Bird’ almost feels like being finally able to confide in someone.

What Makes 'Lady Bird' A Must-Watch© IAC Films

Remember that time in your life, when you were at the cusp of adulthood and had a checklist ready of how you wanted your life to be, except that the reality turned out to be much duller than how you’d imagined it in your head? ‘Lady Bird’ then essentially chronicles that phase in our lives where we were in between wanting to be someone and becoming someone. It’s a film that shows the journey of figuring our lives.

In the film, Christine, a senior student at Catholic (played sublimely by Saoirse Ronan) wants to be called “Lady Bird” because it’s a name she’s had the free will to give herself, instead of “Christine”, which is a name her parents have afforded to her, without her approval. It’s a trivial demand—one that may have elicited numerous eye rolls and judgment—but one, that almost all of us have wanted at some point of time; having the free rein to choose our own name instead of going with the one on our birth-certificate.

Our ‘Lady Bird’ dreams of being an actress in the future, although in the present, all that comes her way is small, nameless roles in plays. She aspires to be someone who boasts of studying at a college like Yale; but in reality her grades aren’t good enough for it.

The unbridled excitement, aspirations and passions sometimes lead her into confrontations with her parents, especially her mother. At that point in the movie, she throws herself out of a moving car only to rebel against her mother’s incessant nagging. All that Lady Bird wants is to get as far away from home and free her from the shackles of her parent’s watchful eyes. Only then, she thinks, will she be able to live her own life. Except Gerwig ensures that she peppers the film with generous humour while highlighting the complex bond a daughter shares with her mother when she’s a teen.

What Makes 'Lady Bird' A Must-Watch© IAC Films

Most importantly, at that stage in her life, even though she is gloriously aware of all the things she wants to achieve and become in the future, what her youthfulness is yet to realise or comprehend is the fact that it’s probably going to take her a few years and committing a lot of mistakes to finally get her life on track; exactly the way she envisions it in her head.

It’s a fact that she will come to understand probably later in her life—like most of us have come to terms with things always not going our way when we were young—but at that point, Christine’s youthfulness doesn’t allow her to come to terms with it.

Christine also has this uncontrollable urge to just move out of her home and go to a school “where writers live in the woods” in the hope of giving the life that she will have as an adult, some adventure. After all, isn’t that exactly what we presume growing up will look like- a life-altering phase that will make us into a completely new person, magically erasing the baggage from before.

In being a searing portrait of a confused teenage girl figuring out all the pitfalls that come with figuring out your identity, Lady Bird ultimately becomes a film about all of us. Watching the film feels like revisiting our past, laughing at our youthful foolishness and beaming with pride at our passionate exuberance.

What Makes 'Lady Bird' A Must-Watch© IAC Films

Now, aged by the cruelty of the world, we may still be trudging along the path to fulfilling our aspirations in between being stuck with responsibilities, but Lady Bird reminds us of the person we used to be when we were young by painting each of us in Christine. It’s an ode to the restlessness we used to possess and the determination we boasted when it came to wanting to pave our own ways, instead of listening to our parents give us archaic advice. ‘Lady Bird’ is as personal as it is universal. In doing that, the film ensures that while continuing to assert our identities, we don’t give up being proud of our rebellious younger selves.  For, once upon a time, all of us were Lady Birds. There’s only pride in accepting that.

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Dec 082017

Seven years ago, Maneesh Sharma’s debut film ‘Band Bajaa Baraat’ gave us the best onscreen kiss in the history of modern Hindi cinema. It also gave us two powerhouse actors in Anushka Sharma and Ranveer Singh. But, most importantly, the film unknowingly ended up serving us a flavourful reminder of the Dilli that resides in the smog-filled Delhi of today.

‘Band Baaja Baraat’ wasn’t the first Hindi film to be set in Delhi, nor would it be the last. But, there was something oddly refreshing about the way the film brought alive the narrow gallis of Delhi, the city’s obsession with grand weddings, even fancier wedding planners, and every Dilliwala’s love for bread-pakodas. It was something that most films failed to capture, essentially making ‘Band Baaja Baraat’ one of the best love letters to Dilli and the people who make up the city. The one with dreams, and the grit to see it turn to reality.

'Band Baaja Baraat' Redefined Delhi's Love Affair With Weddings© Yash Raj Films

In the film, which was also the eclectic Ranveer Singh’s debut, the actor played Bittoo, a street-smart and impulsive Delhite, who is desperate to do anything needed to ensure he is not yanked out from his idyllic world in Delhi, and forced to go back to his village and work in sugarcane fields under the hawkish gaze of his strict father. Anushka Sharma’s Shruti on the other hand, is starkly different. She’s ambitious, a go-getter, headstrong and knows how to achieve what she dreams of. Together, they not only make a dream pair, but also effective business partners, running the city’s successful wedding business. Shaadi mubarak indeed!

All is well until that damn kiss. Until she falls in love with him, despite instructing him not to do the same. “Mere paas nahin hai love-shove ke liye time,” she had warned him initially, but a night of alcohol-fuelled celebrations undid the significance of her own instruction. There’s a moment in between their kiss, where Shruti pulls back, and looks at Bittoo. It’s not like they’re looking at each other for the first time, but it still feels like they are seeing each other for the first time; for being people other than their business partners. Their kiss is laced with urgency, with hesitation, and essentially becomes a decision that alters the rest of their lives, and the future of their company.

'Band Baaja Baraat' Redefined Delhi's Love Affair With Weddings© Yash Raj Films

The morning after is significant. There is awkwardness in the air, as much as there is realisation. While dropping Shruti home in his scooter, all Bittoo wants to do is leave the scene as quickly as possible in the hope that if they’re far away from each other, maybe their night together– which he classifies as a bad decision– will be promptly forgotten. Shruti, on the other hand, is coming to terms with the realisation that maybe she’d like to go against her better judgement and mix business with pleasure. Maybe, she can fall for Bittoo after all.

Shruti is not the only one holding that specific belief about Bittoo. Ranveer Singh’s endearing performance as the boy who is yet to realise what he wants, ensures that even the audience falls in love with Bittoo, hook line, and sinker. We love him for his childish ways, for how he looks out for Shruti, and how he negotiates the middle-men. But, most of all we fall in love with the man he becomes when he doesn’t have Shruti around. It then dawns on him how much she means to him, and how much she loves him. But, he’s not your usual Yashraj hero, so he obviously can’t spread his arms and mutter an “I love you” in the hope to win her love. Because, his rugged Dilliness hasn’t allowed for him to be coached in the subtle art of romance. He then expresses his emotions to Shruti the only way he can. “Tere bina koi bhi cheez mein mauj nahin hai,” he tells her simply.

'Band Baaja Baraat' Redefined Delhi's Love Affair With Weddings© Yash Raj Films

His frank, disarming confession is one of the things that’s so great about ‘Band Baaja Baarat’. The film never tries to ape the templates or clichés of the yesteryear romantic films. Instead, it finds the extraordinary in the ordinary. Take Shruti, for instance. She could be any girl from Delhi; a girl who has dreams that may seem beyond her capabilities, and who is being forced to think about marriage over it. As Shruti, Anushka Sharma brought to the table a kind of poise and maturity that not just elevates the movie, but makes Shruti a unique independent woman, who instead of feeling sorry for herself for not being loved back, decides to move on with her life, in the only way she can. 

Neither does she beg Bittoo to fall in love with her, nor does she demand an explanation. Because, she is well aware that sometimes life doesn’t work out the way we want it to. Even when they get back together despite their difference to plan that one big wedding, she behaves like an adult, and keeps her personal differences away. The unusually sparkling chemistry that both the leads share further elevates the viewing experience of Band Baaja Baarat to such an extent that every time they are in the same frame, we’re forced to remember why it feels so great to watch two people in love onscreen.

In a way, ‘Band Baaja Baarat’ is also early evidence; a sort of a making of the hugely popular stars and acting powerhouses that Ranveer Singh and Anushka Sharma have become today. Whether it is playing Alauddin Khilji in the yet to be released ‘Padmavati’, a confused rich son of a dysfunctional family in ‘Dil Dhadakne Do’, or a charming thief in ‘Lootera’, Ranveer Singh has knocked it out with every single performance, even melting the heart of the dreaded taskmaster that is Sanjay Leela Bhansali who has cast him in three films. Equally talented is Anushka Sharma; who has displayed more versatility than most heroines her age, even spearheading a production company with her brother and giving a break to newcomers with out of the box stories to tell.

Both Anushka Sharma, and Ranveer Singh have now become actors of repute, but back in 2007, they were just newcomers giving their best, just like Shruti and Bittoo in the film, who must become as successful as the actors essaying them. There’s no better proof than that about Ranveer and Anushka being the perfect choices for the film. They just took our hearts away ‘ainvayi ainvayi ainvayi’.

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