Film: Nanhe Jaisalmer
Produced by: Top Angle Productions, Dharam Motion Pictures and K Sera Sera.
Directed by: Samir Karnik
Cast: Bobby Deol, Dwij Yadav, Vatsal Seth
Sameer Karnikâ€™s latest film is a long short film, which is embarrassing in its juvenility and tiresome in its preaching. With a message of a thousand implications, the film is not only directly didactic but also uncomfortably so. Besides which, no two elements of the film come together to aid it in weaving a tapestry of human emotions, relationships into a live struggle of hopes, dreams and obstacles culminating in exemplary personal victories that it is.
The story is about a little boy in Rajasthan who is crazy about Bollywood star Bobby Deol and considers him his best friend. He pieces together every bit of Bobbyâ€™s memories to make his â€˜dostâ€™ come alive through the power of his imagination and belief. How the learning that comes out of that transforms his life, forms the rest of the movie. The premise is interesting in its novelty but fails to sustain itself beyond the prologue due to lack of a vision. The lack of which makes the supposedly inspiring lines and inspired moments simply seem insipid and lackluster.
A large fault of the film lies in its powerless screenplay and loose, common dialogues both of which are lost on the audience due to their sheer inanity. Verbosity, the bane of bad movie-making afflicts this film in all its persistence. Emotions, moments, inspirations, everything is told rather than shown. Upto a point where the screenplay completely loses its connection with the dialogue making it even seem ridiculous.
A shallow script will more often then not have shallow characters and this does great disservice to the film since the film is about growth and learning. Graphs are sharp, motivations simplistic, transformations happen like ready-to-eat food and characters without graphs too are colourless. Interestingly, the cast does not let down the film as much as the maker does. The frisky little boy Dwij Yadav, who plays â€˜Nanheâ€™ is endearing in those pockets when he is not trying too hard to be so. His mother played superbly by Prateeksha Lonkar is as a treat to watch with her control and sensitivity. Bobby Deol, playing himself is surprisingly not too bad either but then maybe thatâ€™s because he was playing himself. That is not acting as far as we have learnt.
What lends the entire film charmless is the directorâ€™s seeming step-fatherly attitude in his treatment of it. The culture, sensibility, language, tones, colour, landscapes, architecture, everything have been left un-explored to the point of creating utterly inauthentic characters, be it the Rajasthani men or children or even tourists. Music is an unharmonious mixture of Rajathani folk on Reshammiya-type beats. Add some absolutely meaningless lyrics to most of the songs except the title song and one has an album unworthy of review. Cinematography is extremely limited and conventional in its scope, something that steals away not only from the visual appeal but also the narrative. Shots, in their framing, do not exploit the medium to heighten the engagement of the audience with the story. This leaves the film at a sub-average level.
Most importantly, a soul is missing in the film and for a film which takes itself as seriously as this one, it is hara-kiri. Maybe, if Samir Karnik had let Nikhil Saini (whose idea it was originally and who was paid Rs 5 lakhs by the former after being charged for lifting his story) make the film a far truer version would have emerged.
It remains entirely unclear who the target audience of the film is. Evidently, it is not a childrenâ€™s film but most of the film is geared towards shaping a tender and formative mind making one wonder. Bollywood tends to insult itâ€™s audiences intelligence a little too often and â€˜Nanhe Jaisalmerâ€™ gallantly paves the way in continuing the tradition.
Individually disastrous, the film provides a glimmer of hope to the feeble-yet-gaining-strength trend of story-oriented films. No female lead, no romance angle, no item numbers and no fights signify that the age of films that tell stories, and not try to engage audiences with formulae, is almost here. One hopes that mistakes of this kind, are just a necessary cog in the wheel of Bollywoodâ€™s necessary growth out of itâ€™s formula hunger and that the bigger picture is going to get far better.