Friday Favorites – Wake Up Sid

Well, I promised I would review Wake Up Sid this week, and as it definitely doesn’t fit Stupid Saturday, it’s this week’s Friday Favorite. Although, I am loathe to post about it because in the movie Sid and Aisha are both hired for the jobs they want the very first time they apply, and I just got turned down again today. Ugh! It’s just a movie, it’s just a movie, it’s just a movie. Things work out unrealistically in movies. Things work out especially unrealistically in Bollywood movies.

Excuse me.  :)

Moving past my personal whinings about how hard my poor little life is, Wake Up Sid most definitely fits in Friday Favorites. It would be really hard not to like this movie, and I just loved it. I watched it on a whim– it was on Watch Instantly on Netflix, and I’d been kind of curious to see something with Ranbir Kapoor, so I turned it on, and was quite impressed by what a cool movie it is.

The film was directed by Ayan Mukerji, and produced by Karan Johar‘s Dharma Productions. If you’re trying to remember if you have heard of Karan Johar before (I’ve been there. It’s okay to be new!) he directed Kuch Kuch Hota Hai which I reviewed a couple of weeks ago. He’s also done a lot of other things, but we’ll stick to the basics. Dharma Productions was founded by Karan’s father, Yash Johar, and it has released such hits as Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham, Kal Ho Naa Ho, Dostana and Dostana, Kurbaan, and most recently, My Name Is Khan. Karan Johar and Dharma Productions are names you’ll become more familiar with as you watch more Bollywood movies.

Wake Up Sid stars Ranbir Kapoor and Konkona Sen Sharma. I had never seen either in anything before, but they were not disappointing by any means. Each is a very talented and professional actor.

The supporting cast includes Anupam Kher, Rahul Khanna, Namit Das, Kainaz Motivala, Supriya Pathak, Rahul Pendkalkar, and Kashmira Shah.

Very basic plot summary: Sid (Ranbir Kapoor) is a spoiled rich kid from Mumbai who goofs off in college. Aisha moves to Mumbai from Kolkota (that’s Calcutta, for all you ignorant people. Kidding. I mean, Kolkota is Calcutta, but, oh, never mind) to get a job as a journalist for Mumbai Beat, which is apparently based on the real-life magazine TimeOut Mumbai. (The first time I typed that I wrote “Mumbai Bear” which honestly sounds more exciting than either Beat or TimeOut, but maybe that is just me.)
Surprisingly (not) Sid meets Aisha and she inspires him and makes him a better person.

You can tell that plot summaries are not my thing.

WUS appealed to me for several reasons, but the primary one, the one I think of every time I think of this movie, is the color. It’s easy to talk about color in Bollywood films– all the big dance scenes, the traditional clothing, the huge weddings, etc, etc, etc. But WUS doesn’t rely on any of these (it doesn’t have any of these), yet it is the most colorful Hindi film I’ve seen. The art direction on this one is amazing, and the urge to visit Mumbai became very intense after watching this! When we see the city through Sid’s eyes, it is very clean and orderly. When we see it through Aisha’s eyes, it becomes bigger, messier, more vibrant– something that is living, that you want to live in and become a part of.

There is always a sense of tension throughout the movie– Sid’s relationship with his parents, Sid’s relationship to his school-work, and Sid and Aisha’s relationship. This entire time, Sid tells Aisha about the coming monsoon, and the audience begins to anticipate it as much as she does. As the little tensions build and break, the tension of Sid and Aisha’s relationship and the wait for the monsoon keeps building, until finally, at the very end of the film, it breaks. This was quite powerful to me as a viewer, and I look forward to noticing it more in a rewatch.

Ranbir and Konkona carry this tension really well. In fact, they carry the entire movie very well. I’m eager to see them in more films, as they have an amazing amount of talent.

I make no secret of the fact that I think Anupam Kher is the bees’ knees. He plays the irritated and disappointed dad with skill, and when he would give Sid a disappointed look, my insides would shrivel up with shame. Seriously. Want to see? No? Okay, me neither.

Sid’s mother (Supriya Pathak) just made me sad. Indian cinema has further ingrained in me the idea that sons should respect their mothers and not disappoint them! And Indian mothers in films continue to unconditionally love their lousy sons, and it makes you want to go give these lousy sons a kick in the pants, and say, “Look, do something to give your mother reason to be proud of you, you bum!” except you don’t want to say that, because then they will go all Chup Chup Ke or 3 Idiots on you and try to kill themselves.

Phew. Crazy. पागल (pagal = mad. There’s your Hindi for today!)

Fortunately, that kick in the pants is delivered to Sid, and it comes from Aisha, of course.  She is receiving the attention of her boss, the editor of MumbaiBear MumbaiBeat and she doesn’t want it. Whose attention does she want? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Anyone? (yes, I know I used that joke last week). When Sid finally figures this out, it’s almost too late, but, of course, it works out in the end.

The way I’ve been describing this, the story sounds cliche, old, boring. It’s not. It’s classic. It’s like a good outfit– it never goes out of style, but when it’s updated in a fresh fabric and cut, it looks even better. Wake Up Sid is very fresh, yet it’s not trying to hard. It’s classic coming-of-age, boy-meets-girl, girl-changes-boy– and it knows it, and it just makes it beautiful and bright and charming.

Subhash K Jha said it well:

It takes the protagonist’s predictable but yet kinetic voyage into self-realization to a level where the languorous plot exudes a beam of light that cuts right across the radiant narrative. The colours are bright but never glaring. The film is shot in a warm and sunny speckled ambience filled with fleeting glimpses into hearts that are forever on a run. The moments to retrospect are snatched from the bustle of metropolitan life.

The most obtainable component of young Ayan Mukherjee’s artless narrative is the remarkable rhythms of the ordinary and the unostentatious in the narrative. All the relationships in the plot are potentially predictable and cliched. Ayan takes the age-old dramatic conflicts of our commercial cinema into quiet supremely understated corridors.

So did Mayank Shekhar:

Wake Up Sid belongs to a sweet genre that, without doubt, flows on from Farhan Akhtar’s Dil Chahta Hai: part Hollywood; part Bollywood; mostly coming-of-age; subtly romantic; largely original; authentic in feel; light in weight; English in expression; Hindi in language.

Given the clichéd subject, most importantly, the coolness isn’t fake: something most films pretending to be for or about ‘youth’ don’t quite manage to grasp. You can immediately tell the writer-director (Ayan Mukherjee, a heart-felt debut) has lived though the material…

I think that sums it up pretty well.

As to songs– they’re all good, not surprisingly, as they’re by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy (except for one), with lyrics by Javed Akhtar. They’re not dances– they’re montages, which at first I found disappointing, but I finally reconciled myself to them: it’s just the way this film has to be. The last track, the title song, is played over the closing credits with an accompanying video, with a little dancing.

The songs are….

Wake Up Sid -sung by Shankar Mahadevan
Kya Karoon -sung by Clinton Cerejo
Aaj Kal Zindagi -sung by Shankar again
Iktara -composed by Amit Trivedi, and sung by Kavita Seth and Amitabh Battacharya (don’t confuse him with Amitabh Bachchan. Please, no).
Life is Crazy -sung by Uday Benegal, and Shankar again

and…
Wake Up Sid (Club Remix) -sung by, you guessed it, Shankar!:

Finally, this film is another great one to those new to Hindi cinema. It is very easy for a western audience to understand, and contains more English dialogue than your typical Hindi film. The lack of huge dance scenes may disappoint those who expect that from all Bollywood movies, but if that’s so, this film will help them see that there’s a lot more to Bollywood than great costumes and great dancing. And if they’re scared off by those huge dance scenes, this film will be perfect for them.

If you have Netflix, you can order it or watch it on your computer. If you don’t have Netflix, you can buy the DVD from Amazon, as well as the soundtrack.

PS – Sorry this Friday Favorite turned into a Saturday morning thing. But I was watching Dil Chahta Hai. Ooh, boy. And I did get this posted before midnight, and that counts as Friday, right?

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3 Comments

  1. March 17, 2010 at 9:39 pm

    […] drama, it’s just a coming of age film. (I think it really broke ground for other films, like Wake Up Sid, as well) It gives friendship about as much time as romance, which makes for a nice change, and is […]

  2. March 22, 2010 at 10:39 pm

    […] Wake Up Sid […]

  3. April 19, 2010 at 10:58 pm

    […] The nitty-gritty: Directed by: Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra Produced by: Ronnie Screwvala (remember him from Chup Chup Ke?) and Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra Release date: February 2009 Music: A.R. Rahman is always excellent, and his work here is no exception. Starring: Abhishek Bachchan, Sonam Kapoor, Om Puri, Waheeda Rahman, Rishi Kapoor, Atul Kulkarni, Deepak Dobriyal and Divya Dutta. (Yes I did just cut and paste that from the Wikipedia page. So sue me). And Supriya Pathak! (from Wake Up Sid). […]


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