Monday, August 29, 2011

#188: TGIYB

TGIYB, a story co-written by Kalki and Anurag Kashyap traverses the journey of a girl in search of her father. The girl is in her early 20s, a Britisher by origin and goes by the name of Ruth (Kalki). Her guiding compass in this journey happens to be a letter she received from her father recently that speaks of the pain of separation that he has endured ever since he left home, and Ruth, to her mother. The letter gives Ruth hope of meeting him sometime soon, a hope that acquires significance considering the strained relationship she shares with her mother. Ruth painstakingly saves up money by working as a masseuse, her work allowing her the flexibility to earn some extra dough by giving an option of a 'happy ending' to her customers. These customers range from regular strangers to fatherly figures like Diwakar (Naseeruddin Shah) and rookies who can't even comprehend what a handshake in a massage parlour could possibly mean.

The other characters in Ruth's life are her boyfriend Prashant (debutant Prashant) and a Kannadiga don Chittiyappa (Gushan Devaiah) that she ends up meeting because of her dopey boyfriend. Ruth's days revolve around chasing clues that her father has left in the letter about his address and what later turns out to be a nom de plume. She goes about making enquiries at the local post office, photographers with that last name and when all else fails even gives good old Google a shot. The movie takes time to set the premise and the simplicity of the plot posed the need to add characters like Prashant and Chittiyappa who as such do not have a direct impact on Ruth's exploration. Devaiah's Chittiyappa though leaves a memorable imprint with his Kannadiga act and comes across as a refreshing relief from the grim nature of the storyline.

After a meandering first act, TGIYB comes together in the latter half of the movie when the plot singularly starts moving in the direction of the protagonist's conquest. Kalki's Ruth is a very driven girl who derives her energy from within herself. There is a smoking intensity in her body language that tells you of her innate need to connect with her father. In a way, it is her recourse to amend what must have been a troubled childhood. With a strong and a heartfelt performance, Kalki completes her journey with you as an audience by her side. And it is only then that you stumble upon the jewel in the crown of Kashyap's latest offering. All that was making you fidget during the movie's duration is forgotten as you're stunned with a jaw-dropping denouement. By then Kashyap has left his touch as one of the finest proponents of Indian cinema around with a few strokes of brilliance. That the story took long to arrive at its climax doesn't bother you now as the end credits roll in an atmosphere of pin-drop silence in the theater.

There is no doubt though that TGIYB could've been 10-15 minutes shorter. Given the ease of accessibility to people on the internet these days, it is also surprising that Kashyap didn't set the movie in a 1990s kind of Bombay. Maybe, he was too tired of the Bombay of Black Friday and Paanch. Irrespective of how TGIYB fares in India, one thing is certain, very seldom has Hindi cinema tried to explore a plot that is as dark and bring it within the mainstream fare. It is indeed commendable that there is an uncompromising director out there who is only making movies that appeal to him turning a blind eye to all the nonsense that passes off for a 'Friday release' every week. Because the one thing TGIYB does not do is pander to any established norms as far as the story is concerned. With his stark and unflinching storytelling, Kashyap, once again shows, why he is a shining beacon for independent filmmakers in India.

Rating: 6.8/10

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