banno, dhanno and teja in bumm-bumm-bhole-land

mausam (2011) – it’s not the season for love

Growing up in Poona, while in school and college, most of us did not have phones at home. A neighbor on our floor had a phone, they were rich. My best friend had a phone, her father had an important job. Another friend had a phone in her family’s shop, we often went there to make calls and stopped to talk to her uncle and cousin and father.

Come evening, we would walk over to a friend’s home, and take our chances with meeting them. When we had something important to say, or when one or the other of us went away, we wrote letters to each other. Sometimes a boyfriend would call at my neighbour’s house, and we would conduct our love chatter under inquisitive eyes. But mostly, we rarely ever called each other, and of course, we did not have the internet.

Yet, I don’t think I have lost a single friend or lover in all these years, because I did not know where they were. People usually fell out of our lives, because we lost interest in them, or we drifted apart mentally, or we could not handle each other’s demands on our emotions. Sometimes we stayed away because that was the only right thing to do.

And then along came the internet and cellphones and Face Book, and here we are surrounded by people, some of whom we are desperate to lose.

How then can one conceive of a romance that thrives on two lovers losing each other because they do not have the sense to find each other? In the criss-crossing of Harry and Ayat’s paths over 10 years, there seems to be a deliberate desire to lose the other, or how else could one misplace the other’s geographical location?

Beneath the wrappings of romance, there is a fatalistic desire for failure, perhaps. The wrapping are all there, mustard fields, noisy Punjabi wedding, the rain, ball room dancing (oh my God!), love letters, but these remain cliches, as detached from the film as is the background of terror, ranging from Kashmir, to Mumbai, to America, to Ahmedabad.

In the early days of video, backgrounds were chroma-ed onto blank green screens, but unless the characters in the foreground were lit up properly, the background and foreground remained forever separated, sometimes etched with lines, to complete the alienation.

In Pankaj Kapur’s ‘Mausam’, there is the same feeling of alienation. He wants to tell us a love story, but does not want us to be involved in it.

And how does one get involved with the romance between two characters who are so monochromatic, so silent?

Shahid Kapur and Sonam Kapoor seem locked up in separate rooms, both with multiple mirrors. In these they see only themselves, and it seems impossible that they can know love. This self-reverie is evident in Shahid Kapur’s strut, in Sonam Kapoor’s simpering. When they look at each other, all you can see in the poses they hold and in their eyes is, ‘look how beautiful, look how handsome I am, don’t you love me?’

I don’t.

Coming out of the theatre, the steps are crowded with couples, huddled close to each other. A few people who are alone, are cooing over the phone, oblivious of the noise levels in the mall. I say, “You could pick out any couple from here, and they would have a more interesting love story to tell.” My young friend, Nam says, “You could pick out the most arranged marriage in the world, and they would have a beautiful love story to tell.”

Like Nam says, “I mean seriously, like, I mean literally.”

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23 comments on “mausam (2011) – it’s not the season for love

  1. dipali
    September 25, 2011

    The mismatch between foreground and background makes the story dysfunctional. Suspending disbelief made a lot of it work for me, by accepting that these dodos did not have e-mail or the internet ! I loved the character of Rajjo, who is an interesting character with her obsessive love for Harry. Also the scenes between Harry and his sister, the Jija, Harry and his father. Supriya Pathak excelled in her role. The first half had a sweetness and innocence to it. The second half was interminable at times, but the riot scenes near the end had me in tears. It made the horrors of recent times come alive. I think Pankaj Kapoor had a wonderful vision of a film in his head, which he couldn’t get across, unfortunately. I loved the streets of Edinburgh.

    • Banno
      September 25, 2011

      Yes, Dipali, in fact, the scenes with Rajjo and Pammo were the ones with real emotion. Both the actors were good too.

      I was willing to believe that these characters did not use the internet. But I couldn’t get my head around the fact that they were writing letters to obviously wrong locations. For instance, Ayat writing to the old house in Mullukot which she knows is locked up, and not to the sister in Switzerland, or to the Airforce Base.

      And even if she went back to Scotland, after her 2 days in Mullukot, could she not call the sister again?

      Sometimes, a director is so carried away by his or her notion of a film, that they do not stop to think.

  2. dipali
    September 25, 2011

    I know, not calling the sister again seemed foolish. I agree with you that “Sometimes, a director is so carried away by his or her notion of a film, that they do not stop to think”.
    I think you get so attached to your own vision that all perspective is lost. It was most unfortunate, because this was a film with potential.

    • Banno
      September 25, 2011

      Yes, it is hard to keep perspective in the middle of making a film. It is the hardest thing to do. That is why it is best if you work, and work, and work again on the script.

  3. Pooja Vir
    September 25, 2011

    This may be the best review of the film I’ve read so far. So sad though… I really did want to fall in love with the film.
    -p

    • Banno
      September 25, 2011

      Pooja, I went to see the film, really ready to be enamoured. I went at a difficult time for me personally, so I was in no mood to be critical. Yet, sadly …

  4. surabhi
    September 25, 2011

    I used to walk up to andheri station when one was stuck at home because of the heavy rain, or if the boyfriend was sick… because he had no phone in his house, only a railway phone in his railway quarters. I would muster up the courage to enter the station master’s office and make up different excuses for why i needed to use his railway phone. And then of course conduct a conversation in codes on platform no 1, andheri station – the entire world of andheri commuters and the railway office privy to my end, his family overhearing his end. Conducting fights and sulks was the most difficult. (and imagine having walked through ten minutes of traffic, fight through commuter traffic only to sulk on the phone, but i can say that i have been there, done that)

    Have not seen the film. The damn fellow for whom i lied through my teeth to the station master all through college will not deign to come for a soppy film.

    • Banno
      September 25, 2011

      Oh Sur, isn’t that a most romantic story? I can just see you, in the rain, through the traffic, sulking on a station master’s phone.

      Well, the damn fellow is right for once, to not want to see this soppy film. :) Only of course, it’s not even soppy.

    • dipali
      September 25, 2011

      Now that is a true romance!

  5. Violet
    September 25, 2011

    Banno, you amaze me with your ability to put into words things that bother us all, but we aren’t sure of what it is.. ‘look how beautiful, look how handsome I am, don’t you love me?’ — I know now what puts me off Sonam Kapoor most of the time. I was looking forward to this movie despite Sonam :(

    • surabhi
      September 26, 2011

      Yes, this line struck me as well. It nails the problem I have with most of the current films. Atleast Salman flirts with himself, and equally mocks himself, that is why Dabang was fun. The rest just gaze at themselves in some somnambulist daze.

      • Banno
        September 26, 2011

        True, Violet, Surabhi, most actors have this problem these days. They make love only to themselves. And Sur, you are right about Salman, which is why you can still enjoy his films. (Sometimes :) )

        Even real-life couples like Kareena and Saif fail to evoke on-screen chemistry. Sigh!

    • Banno
      September 26, 2011

      Violet, I think maybe with someone other than Sonam, this film may still have had a chance to work. A little.

  6. dustedoff
    September 26, 2011

    I had been meaning to see this film, but after reading Ava’s review the other day, and now yours – plus hearing a friend make the rest of us promise – with tears in her eyes, almost – that we wouldn’t see it – no, I won’t.

    • Banno
      September 26, 2011

      It does evoke a ‘tears in the eyes’ response. My friend, Nam posted on FB that anyone who liked the film was not going to be her friend anymore. :)

  7. desi-at-large
    September 26, 2011

    What do I need this picture for, I have your glorious word picture. So Pankaj Kapur can lose perspective and do basic-mein-raada? Wow! He needs to take a vacation – better still, he can admire his own acting in The Blue Umbrella for a change, only if he hasn’t already done that.
    And when you say concentrate on the script, to most other people (probably not Pankaj Kapur), it sounds like real work.
    I think, based on this review, I will only remember Sonam in Masakali (I couldn’t stand her in that abominable Aisha/Ayesha? and Shahid in Kaminey). But since I am working hard at being optimistic, some day, these chillun will rise to their papas’ calibre.
    I miss those days of writing letters, sulking on the phone (local long distance, international long distance, neighbour’s phone and all), trudging through the rains to meet sweetheart at railway stations. Even email was all right, it saved precious postage money and now one must try to save the post office (in the US, it is clear).
    `Yet, I don’t think I have lost a single friend or lover in all these years, because I did not know where they were. People usually fell out of our lives, because we lost interest in them, or we drifted apart mentally, or we could not handle each other’s demands on our emotions. Sometimes we stayed away because that was the only right thing to do.’
    That para is a keeper for my records, at least.
    Keep writing, keep shining.

    • Banno
      September 27, 2011

      Desi-at-large, I am sure a lot of people are disappointed because they went expecting so much more from Pankaj Kapur, based on his credentials as an actor.

      I miss letters, too. Though I have still not got used to phone calls. But I like emails and Skype. :) But you can’t hold on to emails and chat records, like you did with letters.

      • desi-at-large
        September 27, 2011

        Hmmm – my father has a stack of emails printed out (thereby becoming letters) and most of these are chronicles of my girls’ infancy, subsequent progress, life in general, at home, away from home. Haven’t tried chat records (thoda too much hai). Emails from friends I don’t delete and just use the search mail function to access quickly. Precious emails from former and late boss. Thank God for gigabyte storage. So, as long as we have the wherewithal for some sort of an internet connection, we’re set. Now, if only I could limit damage to my precious stack of letters and cards.

  8. Aquatic Static
    September 27, 2011

    Was jumping in my seat reading this post because you articulated the vital missing ingredients of the film so beautifully. Within 20 minutes of the film, I wanted so badly to really like this film. I was on Pankaj Kapur’s side, rooting for him. His script had some nice moments which could’ve become magic. But sadly, he lost his directorial way. “He wants to tell us a love story, but does not want us to be involved in it.” Exactly.

    • Banno
      September 27, 2011

      Aquatic Static, thank you. I was rooting for Pankaj Kapur too, wanted to like the film, wanted to be transported to another world briefly. But it did not happen.

  9. Satish
    September 30, 2011

    Spot on. After coming out, I tweeted “Mausam: Shahid falls for Sonam, loses her. Sonam finds Shahid, loses him. Shahid finds Sonam, horse (I’m serious), baby. The End”
    Seriously, could’ve been so much better. The Rajjo character was the only sub-text which held some interest.

    • Banno
      September 30, 2011

      Rajjo, yes. Even the sister, to some extent. The rest was …dreary.

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This entry was posted on September 25, 2011 by in of family and friends, the movies and tagged , , , , .
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