Friday, September 18, 2015

REVIEW 347: KATTI BATTI

Release date:
September 18, 2015
Director:
Nikhil Advani
Cast:

Language:
Imran Khan, Kangna Ranaut, Vivan Bhathena
Hindi


Among the many ways one might react to Katti Batti, there are these two options:

(a) laugh till you cry at the sheer nothingness of it all; or

(b) be bored to tears.

I read a report this morning that Aamir Khan wept after he watched this film starring Kangna Ranaut and his nephew Imran Khan. Now I think I know why.

Katti Batti is director Nikhil Advani’s second fiasco in eight days. He helmed last week’s Hero, which feels National Award-worthy in comparison with this latest disaster. It’s hard to explain the story to you, since the script seems unsure of what it wants to be: a youthful romance about the challenges that the 21st century throws up or a romcom with a tragic twist or a love triangle or (in passing) a he-said-she-said-style relationship saga or all the above. I’m going with all the above = a boring mish-mash of too many things that add up to naught.

One of the film’s ambitions is painfully obvious: it wants to be considered cool. It has no philosophy or ideology via which to achieve that goal, so instead, when the leads – Payal Malhotra (Kangna) and Madhav Kabra a.k.a Maddy (Imran) – start living together, characters repeat the term “live-in relationship” more than once, in case we don’t get how ‘modern’ they are; someone reads 50 Shades of Grey to a woman on her deathbed; Maddy works for an architecture firm with funky illustrations on its bathroom walls; and the said firm is populated with sundry cardboard cut-outs for characters including a raucous south Indian boss called Ramalingam, an elderly Mrs D’silva who says “my child” as Bollywood Christians always do and a Punjabi client called Ahuja who is as loud as Bollywood Punjabis always are.

The biggest claim to coolth is laid when Maddy relates his dukhbhari kahani to his buddy Roger.

At one point, Roger cuts in to say: Chalo (come).

Maddy asks: Kahaan (where)?

Roger replies gravely: Ek aisi jagah jahaan sab tumhari baatein samjhenge (To a place where everyone will understand you).

Ooh.

Cut to a Sufi Music Festival at what seems like a heritage location. Deep. So very deep.


At the fest, Roger performs with his band which he calls (I need you to sit down and hold on to something while you read the next bit) FOSLA = Frustrated One-Sided Lovers Association. Not even an original, I’ve since learnt. But so cool, na?

About that hard-to-explain story… Middle-class, earnest Maddy and wealthy, bohemian Payal meet at architecture school. Pricey Payal watches in amusement as he makes an ass of himself over her before the entire college…because, you know, that’s what Hindi film heroines do. He wants love, she’s wants “timepass” – now there’s a cinematic gender role reversal that should have been explored, but it goes nowhere, lost in a surfeit of pretty frames and gimmicky editing. They fall in love, they shack up for five years, they break up, then he tries to get her back. The non-linear narrative resorts to multiple flashbacks that fail to camouflage the film’s emptiness.

Katti Batti is not merely superficial though. It comes across as being full of itself, clearly convinced that it is emotional, profound and often funny when in truth it is pretentious, pompous, manipulative, stretched beyond endurance and boring.

The trailer created an impression that this is a film about a girl and a boy with Kangna’s meatier, more interesting character stealing the show the way Kareena’s Geet did though she and Shahid Kapoor got equal screen time in Jab We Met. False. Katti Batti is about a boy. It is primarily devoted to Maddy’s effort to get back with Payal. She is missing from much of the action. And the story is told from his point of view, with Imran’s drab Maddy virtually monopolising the screen and Kangna’s Payal – the potentially more exciting character – a supporting player.


Having relegated this fine actress to the sidelines, Katti Batti then rubs chilli in our wounds by giving her more hairstyles than she has lines to speak. Imran is sincere and likeable, but he has his limitations and needs a good director to draw out the best of him. Unfortunately, Nikhil is no Abbas Tyrewala, but he does give us a silly airport chase scene which falls flat in comparison with the silly-yet-hilarious climax of Abbas’ Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na that launched Imran.

Even Shankar Ehsaan Loy’s pleasantly peppy songs Lip to lip and the cheekily titled Jaago Mohan pyaare (cheeky, since it shares its name with the devastatingly melancholy song featuring Raj Kapoor and Nargis in Jaagte Raho) are wasted here. The latter is played at screaming volume for some reason. Perhaps to distract us from the pointlessness of the proceedings?

Doesn’t work. You see, Katti Batti is an irredeemable, unsalvageable mess.

Rating (out of five): ½

CBFC Rating (India):

U/A
Running time:
140 minutes



3 comments:

  1. Hi Anna,

    As always, I enjoyed reading your review and wanna thank you for saving my money :). I have two things to say to you...

    1. Thank you for pointing out the inherent sexism in our movies... someone needs to talk about it and you're doing a great job. It's sad to see the cheap comments you got for the bahubali article... i remember tweeting about my disgust at the so called "romantic scene" and got quiet a few threats myself. So I can imagine what you, being more famous must have faced! But keep the good work going. I'm sure there are as many supporters as there are detractors!

    2. Why don't you review english movies more often? There were quiet a few intresting movies that came and went and you didn't write about them... please do try and find time for them too...

    Good luck

    Abhimanyu

    ReplyDelete
  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  3. i love the way you write review of movie.

    could you suggest how you find topic for your blog.
    .

    ReplyDelete