Film: Roadside Romeo
Director: Jugal Hansraj
Banner: The Walt Disney Studios, Yash Raj Films
Voice overs: Saif Ali Khan, Kareena Kapoor, Javed Jaffrey, Tanaaz Irani
In every sense one is glad Indian animation has come such a long way. It would be wrong to say that so far we have been doing an inferior job in comparison to our Hollywood counterparts. However the quality hasn’t been at par. With Roadside Romeo, Indian animation films have taken a giant leap forward and kudos to Yash Raj Films and Walt Disney Studios for being the one to raise the bar up by many notches.
Bottom line is the fact that Roadside Romeo is ultimately a movie that has stemmed from the land of masala films, so expecting anything different is sheer blasphemy. The film has lovers, a villain and great humor – the ultimate essentials for a Bollywood caper. But then being animated and convincing is what whisks this film away from clutches of the inane Bollywood film monster.
Romeo (Saif Ali Khan) the quintessential lover dog is thrown onto the streets, where he meets newly found best mutts. Soon enough he bumps into the love of his life, Laila (Kareena) who happens to be a nightclub performer. Besides falling in love, the biggest mistake Romeo commits is having rubbed Charlie Anna (Javed Jaffrey) the wrong way. With a villain to combat and love to win over, the film is all Romeo and tons of heart.
One can’t stop gushing over the fact that Yash Raj Films and Disney have brought to India what can be called India’s first world class animation film. It’s not perfect, but nonetheless still great. Had the movie been made into a live acton one, perhaps it would not have worked. Even story-wise the film is extremely light. But it is exactly these aspects that make Roadside Romeo lovable. The film is entertaining, funny and light. There is little that your mind needs to work on and it’s escapism at its best.
The characters are well chalked out, which is a delight. No character is seen treading on a tangent and the film flows without any hiccups. The voices further enhance each character, barring of course the annoying little cat. Somewhere the film feels like an amalgamation of most adored toons and actions. Having said this, the film is not a rip off of any film and neither is it taken in parts it’s just that the characters are adorable and make you go ‘awww’.
The dialogues are well scripted and the one-liners backed with the character emotions and corresponding voices bring laughter to any face that has borne the brunt of watching all the distressing movies that released in the past few weeks.
While the first half is enjoyable, there are few areas when the pace slackens, but post the interval the film is up and running again. With a film like this everything just seems to have fallen in place to converge into a quality product.
Having said all this, yes there are a few areas where the film could have been worked on. A city with barely any humans (six-seven people make no difference) and hardly any movement, is hard to digest. Shuttling between a two legged walking dog and a dog on all fours again is a hassle. But that’s precisely the point; all these are extremely trivial matters that would have perhaps catapulted the film to being better.
Even the editing cannot be termed as the best. It’s good no doubt but lacks the slickness. The textures on the characters and backgrounds are praiseworthy. The overall work done on the characters and the environment, including movements, coloring and shadows is exemplary. The songs come at right points and help pick the pace of the film, even managing to bring a smile to your face.
Khan as Romeo nails it. It’s what you call a perfect fit, extremely well done. Kareena though brings to Laila a sensual quality; her voice in many points’ sounds restrained, while the animated character’s actions are anything but that. Charlie Anna, the villain, is the character you walk out loving the most, courtesy Jaffrey. Jaffrey has proved yet again that versatility lies not just in his performances but in his tone of voice as well. Irani as the cat (Mini) is OK. For the first time, though animated additional characters add volumes to a film. In this regard it’s Kiku Sharda, Sanjai Mishra, Vrajesh Hirjee and Suresh Mennon who do an outstanding job. Kudos to them!
In a surreal manner, one can only hope that this spirals other filmmakers and production houses to value audiences and give them a well made product. Roadside Romeo deserves a watch, simply because it’s a quality product and should be supported. Do yourself a favour; watch India’s first world class animated film.