Varun Dhawan Shines This Month
Shoojit Sircar has managed to turn a singing, dancing,
goofball called Varun Dhawan and shown us that the lad
can get the audience to cry and laugh and be on his side.
October is an unlikely film for Bollywood so used to boy
meets girl and falls in love narrative, that a story about
human empathy is rare. The film falters because it takes it
own time and feels like it is stuck in a loop, but if you are
patient, the reward is wonderful.
This film is all about Varun Dhawan. Yes, the same lad who
danced his way in Judwa 2, Student Of The Year and Badrinath
Ki Dulhania. Not to forget he showed us that he could play grown
up in Badlapur (though most people were not convinced of his
long planned revenge story and appreciated the bad guy
Nawazuddin Siddiqui instead).
So Varun Dhawan plays Dan, a socially awkward lad who is a
hotel management student interning at a five star hotel, hating the
menial tasks assigned to him when all he wants to do is be
learning in the kitchen. He’s shown constantly challenging
authority by breaking rules and ‘talking back’. The other interns
are also harassed, but remind him that he will be out of the
program and his parents will have to pay three lakhs if he
continues to show his bad attitude. He needs to put his nose to
the grindstone and put up with the tasks assigned them. The
girls and the boys have been studying together and are a close
knit group, not snitching on this socially awkward lad.
At the new year party when the interns have sneaked out on to
the terrace and are partying without the knowledge of the horrible
boss (wonderfully played!) there is a tragedy. Banita Sandhu
who plays an intern (named ‘Shiuli’ after the night flowering
jasmine) is injured. Everyone is caught out but the boss and the
interns all get to the hospital to visit the girl. Dan has of course,
escaped duties. When he comes to the little tea shop near the
hospital, he is almost reluctant to go see Shiuli in Intensive care.
But his empathetic, curious mind is stuck on ‘why did she ask for
me before she fell?’
He begins to visit her at the hospital and becomes a part of her
recovery process. He may be led by that question but we see
that he is not just a disruptive 21 year old. There is more to him
than just his wildness. You fall in love with this lad who cares
for a girl who is just someone he was studying with, and not even
good friends. As the nurse and all his intern mates ask him, ‘If
she’s not your girlfriend, why do you care?’
But he does. And we begin to care for him and smile at all his
odd, rough ways of being in the hospital. The girl’s mother
Geetanjali Rao is a marvelous foil to Dan, never asking him why
he shows up night and day at the hospital, at the cost of his
internship and career.
And dammit! Shoojit Sircar needs to know better than to allow
a big hole in the screenplay with a lame explanation of why
the heroine’s name is Shiuli – a Bengali name for a South Indian
girl. The gorgeous mother explains that little Shiuli would collect
the night jasmine flowers with her grandfather (the fragrant
flowers fall off the tree in the morning) and that’s why she was
named after that flower. Erm…Don’t you name babies even before
they are old enough to pick flowers from the garden?
The screenplay takes its own sweet time to establish Dan’s
dogged determination and yet keep him sympathetic. But it’s a
risk the director takes and will lose a whole bunch of people who
want ‘something to happen’ in the movie. The film simply crawls at
some points. But if you fall in love with the good, bad boy then you
will be willing to watch. It is not a boy falls in love with a girl story.
It could be, but it’s more about empathy and how the rough lad
becomes awesome because of his capacity to empathy.
The lump in your throat will not let you eat popcorn in the film,
and many scenes will dilute your coffee with tears.
(this review appears on nowrunning dot com)