Friday, October 13, 2006

Yun Hota to Kya Hota

What if Hindi cinema…?

Things really seem to be happening and moving in Hindi cinema. In the post-liberalisation era, after being mired for a while with terrorist-links and horror stories of extortion etc, Hindi cinema has really bounced back, both as an industry and in terms of the quality and diversity of the films being produced.

An array of new talents has entered the field, with the likes of Ram Gopal Varma giving the lead. Hs production company The Factory went all out to realise the dreams of many an upcoming filmmaker. Many newcomers and 'upstarts'have made their mark and their only strength has been their passion and the strength of their scripts and vision. This resurgence has had its ripple effect even on the commercial mainstream, with the mammoth waking up to the new opportunities and talents around. Hence a flurry of films like Munnabhai, the 'Factory' films and those of Priyadarsan. Star presence, exotic locations, and spices are not the only things that matter here.

Nasrudeen Shah's debut film Yun Hota to Kya Hota (What if..?) rides this wave to create a film with a global theme and appeal. It is a film that takes 9/11 as the climactic moment to look into what it actually did to human lives and dreams. Totally non-judgmental in approach, it weaves together the otherwise run-of-the-mill stories of four people from diverse backgrounds and different ambitions, who desperately manage to make it to that 'land of opportunities'.

Tilottama (Konkana Sen) is a runaway bride, who wants to get back to her newly wed husband in US daring her in laws. Salim (Irfan Khan) is also a sort of stockbroker on the run, who accidentally gets involved in a murder, a stock market scam and to top it all an intense love affair with an elderly dancer (Suhasini Mulay). Rahul is a poor but promising student whom destiny forces to the US. What looked impossible to him suddenly turns into reality when his dependent father dies and his girl friend makes a generous 'grant' to send him off. Rajubhai (played by the inimitable Paresh Rawal) is a cultural organizer-cum conduit to take people to the dreamland. But this time, it is not an ordinary journey for him, for he has with him Payal, the daughter of his old flame Tara (Ratna Pathak), whom he wants to present a bright future and life. All these people with diverse dreams and a whole life ahead of them find themselves together in that fateful flight from Boston that crashed into the World Trade Centre on September 11. Interestingly, out of these four 'desperados', only Tilottama the properly married wife, survive. She misses her flight and joins her husband. All the rest, who have 'fuzzy' relationships perish. Salim's affair is marked by her promiscuity and later, betrayal, while for Rajubhai, it is the revival of a love affair, but now, in the form of an extra marital affair. The young Rahul's relationship with Khushboo is a very ambiguous one. Is it yet another accident or coincidence? Randomness and chance being central to the story, is fate and the narrative spinning a different yarn for each?

In the global context of 9/11, the film places the blind and unitary world of terrorism against the explosive diversity of dreams of the ones they killed while executing their macabre plan. It is this stark contrast between the forces of dark closure that looms large over the world (invisible, violent sudden and faceless in the film) and the exuberance and yearning that characterizes the life on the other that animates the film. Is it just a bitter irony that both these forces find themselves in the same 'flight' and are bound for the same destination?

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