The Way To A Man’s Heart Is Through Cannes

Once every few years, there comes along a film that hits home with simplicity and elegance, and more importantly, makes you feel like a talentless chump. I’m talking, of course, about Phata Poster Nikla Hero and its sublime Dhating Dhating Dhating Naach, the current anthem for Linking Road Dudes In Net Baniyans.

There’s also Ritesh Batra’s Lunchbox, which I’m sure you know about, seeing as how it has received smashing reviews across the board, despite its appalling lack of item numbers. Critics have described the film as “Soul-stirring”, “A new hope” and “I’ve regained the brain function I lost after Zanjeer”.

Even if you haven’t read the reviews, you can tell that the film is important, because the trailer shows all the festival accolades placed within olive branches, which is usually code for ‘This will be watched by a total of six people, mostly Bengali’. Also, no matter what the text is, it looks impressive as long as it’s placed within those olive branches. Those branches are the visual equivalent of Morgan Freeman’s voice. For example, you’re probably aware that I wrote this column after eight beers, but it’s so much better if I put it like this:

I’m always wary of the hype storm that follows such films, because it leads to unreal expectations, followed by disappointment in what is an otherwise good film. It reminds me of the hype around a certain Prime Ministerial candidate, who is seen as some sort of magician, mostly because his opponents exhibit the work ethic of locusts. (Hint: His name begins with ‘M’ and ends with ‘Look, I built roads, which is amazing because it’s not like I’m supposed to or anything’.)

But thankfully, Lunchbox lives up to the hype, and beautifully so. I caught a screening last week, which was followed by a Q & A session with Irrfan, Nimrat Kaur and Ritesh Batra. These sessions are always interesting because they’re full of film geeks, i.e. people who spend their free time watching world cinema that is not Borat, and regular people, who suddenly feel the need to sound smart.

So it’s no longer okay to just say, “I really liked the film.” A baboon could do that. No, you’re supposed to say something like, “I was mesmerised by the pathos that the maker had infused into the protagonist and the way he brought it out in a heart-wrenching move so typical of the auteur’s oeuvre.” To which others will say, “Calm down. That’s just the fefda video.”

When clueless people want to sound smart about film, they’ll always talk about its cinematography, only because it’s a nice, heavy word and sounds way better than saying, “Scenery mast thha.” (I kept my mouth shut during the Q & A session, because I had nothing of import to say to the cast, and also because it would’ve been un-gentlemanly to yell out, “NIMRAT KAUR WILL YOU MARRY ME?”)

Lunchbox lost out on a shot at the Oscars this week, but then again, I haven’t cared about the Oscars ever since they ignored Jeans. Another Oscar contender was Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, although I’m not sure Americans would have reacted positively to a film about an Arab dude training in the mountains. There was also a film from Karnataka called Lucia, which I haven’t watched because I don’t speak Telugu.

Whenever a good film comes our way, we end up wondering why our regular Bollywood directors don’t make something like it. Honestly, I’m glad they don’t, because do you really want to see Indra Kumar direct Lunchbox? I can already see it unfold:

Indra Kumar presents… LUNCHMASTI 

Vivek plays Irrfan’s character, Aftab steps in for Nawaz and Ila is played by Ritesh in drag. Now I haven’t seen Grand Masti, but I remember reading dirty SMS jokes as a kid, so I have all the expertise I need to write the following Lunchmasti scenes:

INT. OFFICE CANTEEN

Aftab: Sir, aaj khaane mein kya hai?

Vivek: Kela. Khaayega?

<INDIAN AUDIENCES ROAR WITH LAUGHTER>

Vivek: (finishes meal) Wah. Aaj maine kya daba ke khaaya.

Aftab: Kiska daba ke?

<INSERT TOING SOUND, SO YOU KNOW IT’S TIME TO WEEP FOR HUMANITY>

At this point, I’ll wait for you to go wash your brain with soap. When you’re done, do yourself a favour and watch Lunchbox. I really liked it. Scenery mast thha.

(Note: This is my HT column dated 22nd Sep 2013.)

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46 thoughts on “The Way To A Man’s Heart Is Through Cannes

  1. “There was also a film from Karnataka called Lucia, which I haven’t watched because I don’t speak Telugu.”

    #BaitAlert

  2. “There was also a film from Karnataka called Lucia, which I haven’t watched because I don’t speak Telugu.”…?

    Lucia is a Kannada movie which is the official language of Karnataka(not Telugu). Btw Lucia has the English subtitles.

  3. “Even if you haven’t read the reviews, you can tell that the film is important, because the trailer shows all the festival accolades placed within olive branches, which is usually code for ‘This will be watched by a total of six people, mostly Bengali’.
    “Another Oscar contender was Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, although I’m not sure Americans would have reacted positively to a film about an Arab dude training in the mountains. There was also a film from Karnataka called Lucia, which I haven’t watched because I don’t speak Telugu.”

    If you continue writing in such a manner, I’ll be found dead, because of laughing too much, in a not-too-distant future. 😀
    Brilliant, Ashish, brilliant. Are you doing stand-up acts in Pune anytime soon?

  4. Totally loved the ‘lunch masti’ bit 😀 But what I didn’t get is why you decided to miss out on lucia just because you don’t speak telugu :/ Lucia is kinda like the lunch box of kannada film industry; a delicious surprise that was long overdue 🙂

  5. Good one!! That you had to resort to things other than the movie itself for humor speaks volumes of how good the movie must be.. Ab to dekhna padega!!!!
    Also, Linking road dudes in net baniyans, regained brain function after Zanjeer, fefda video and Lunchmasti – hilarious!!!!

  6. ‘Ila is played by Ritesh in drag’ – died laughing at this point. They’re showing Lunchbox in a grand total of 2 cinemas in the Britainz so not going to be able to catch it.

  7. A fun read as always 🙂 Enjoyed it. Only, the line – ‘There was also a film from Karnataka called Lucia, which I haven’t watched because I don’t speak Telugu.’ – was that a joke of some sort that I happened to have missed out (with Telgu and Kannada)?

  8. The language you need to know to watch Lucia is Kannada …Not Telegu. I am not saying this because I watched the movie….I am just surprised how ignorant people are of the fact that there are 4 states(Now 5) down south and there are four different languages(mainly 4 ,there are many many dialects also).I think if a question on the southern states of India and the languages spoken there features as a question in all ‘ALL INDIA’ exams,there will be so many who fail miserably.
    It would have been different if you had just said ‘ There was also a film called Lucia, which I haven’t watched because I don’t speak Telugu’ but then you go on to say ‘from Karnataka’ and then say you don’t know Telegu.
    My comment might make least difference to you as I see you have way too many followers but for my satisfaction, I had to put this.
    You and so many of you (though I hate to discriminate , you force me) need to get your geography right !

    1. Hi Ashish i am saying with reference to what u have written in the quoted line “There was also a film from Karnataka called Lucia, which I haven’t watched because I don’t speak Telugu.”

  9. i know its just a small correction which 99% of the people reading it wouldn’t bother but Lucia was in Kannada not Telugu. I am not at all ethnocentric types but just couldn’t see you mess up facts like a biopic on screen! excellent article otherwise! the first I read

  10. A good and intelligent piece by Ashish, though I do not call this a film review. Because it does not say anything about the film itself. But continue with your writings because it is really amusing. However, as many readers have already pointed out, please update your knowledge about geography and language!

  11. Lol…how many people here have to pick on the Karnataka – Telugu – Lucia bait without seeing the humour in it! Dude Ashish, you need to explain these jokes or stop these people from reading your posts by inducing hallucinations through your title page!

  12. To everyone who keeps asking about the Kannada film and the “don’t speak Telugu’ bit…read the sentences before that particular line, and I believe he’s referring to the recent Miss America incident…the girl was from AP but they kept saying that she was an Arab.

  13. Incredible to see the number of readers trying to correct you on the Lucia and Telegu bit. Humour and sarcasm is lost on most Indians Ashish! You need to add a Writer’s commentary for people like Indupriya (like directors do in the dvd version of movies to justify the steep cost over watching the movie for free on a pirated site).

  14. Sorry about the mix-up on the Telugu reference. My mistake, I should have known that they don’t speak Telugu in Karnataka. The correct language is Malayalese. Hope this clears things up. Jiya jale, jaan jale.

    1. Bwahahaha!! XD 😛 😀
      Brilliant, like those cracking straight drives Sachin hits after being tormented by the bowler for five deliveries..
      On a serious note, echoing an earlier comment, sarcasm is lost on most Indians. That’s what happens when you think of onion prices too much..

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