Sunday, February 25, 2007

Honeymoon Travels Pvt. Ltd.

Reema Kagti's Honeymoon Travels Pvt. Ltd. is just the kind of film that can be a professional movie reviewer's nightmare. How does one write a review of a film that has neither any exceptional high-points nor any downright bad elements? One that doesn't rock, but doesn't suck either? No praise, no curse. Thank God, I'm not a professional reviewer.

We all know what Honeymoon Travels Pvt. Ltd. is all about - six newly married couples going on their honeymoon together. Though it has elements of mutual discovery one would expect in a theme like this, the director's intention is not to explore that aspect of the couples' honeymoon. The end result is a film where you get some nice, funny moments sprinkled in an uneven fashion across the 108 minute duration of the film, but that's just about it. Sometime you do long for some further insight into a few aspects, but you don't let that bother you, because a few minutes into the film, the director has made clear what she wants you to expect.

It is a cute film - reasonably short in duration, populated with a plethora of characters who in their own sweet way show you (even though intermittently) something that makes you go, "yeah, that happened to someone I know", but largely stop short of making you care for them. You know that each track would not get more than a few minutes, so why bother?

It seems that while writing the script, Reema Kagti had to struggle hard to introduce some 'conflict' in each of the tracks. There was no need actually. We would have been satisfied even if the film was only about the fun-filled interaction between the couples. But the writer/director was probably not satisfied. While these conflicts work in some of the tracks, in others they appear very contrived. The cutest couple (Abhay Deol-Minissha Lamba) gets saddled with a 'conflict' that borders on the ridiculous, but which is nevertheless funny in a mindless way.

I thought that the Amisha Patel-Karran Khanna track and its connection with the Sandhya Mridul-Vikram Chatwal track was the most interesting, if only it was fleshed out a bit more and given a more complete resolution. And the resolution to the Sadhya Mridul-Vikram Chatwal track is quite unconvincing. It also makes me wonder if Indian cinema would ever reach the level of maturity and boldness required to produce a full-fledged film based on these tracks - a kind of Brokeback Mountain meets Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna.

Even though it is the typical enjoy-while-it-lasts kind of flick, there are a few images that still linger on in my mind. The brilliantly choreographed and performed tango by Abhay Deol and Minissha Lamba, the unstructured choreography of Sajna Ji Vari Vari, the impromptu fantastical tale narrated by Bomman Irani and Shabana Azmi while describing the way they met, Raima Sen's thrilling adventure in the sky - these sequences provide a brief glimpse into what a great film this could've been, if only the writer/director had a bit more clarity on what she wanted to achieve. And pray, what was the need to resort to such horrendous clich├ęs like a wayward daughter returning to her dad and stepmom after being jilted or the fight sequence with the goondas! And why that speech by Shabana Azmi at that end? Why?