do dooni char (2010) – 2 + 2 need not always be 4

Teja and I grew up with very few ‘things’, but it was a different time when everyone around us had few ‘things’. Dhanno grew up with shops around her, the brands of the world available, friends with all the goodies in their homes. We had a few years where the balance between the money we had or were willing to spend, and her wants had to be constantly negotiated to make sure she had the right values and yet did not feel inferior to her peers.

‘Do Dooni Char’ touches a chord because a lot of us identify with those middle-class aspirations, the cut and thrust of a materialistic world, and the constant battle with children and their needs. The middle-class value of honesty comes into question. In a world that seems increasingly dishonest and where money seems to be the measure of success, the Duggal family moves from white lies to downright cheating, but redeem their pride in themselves in the nick of time.

I could forgive the forced climax,

and just swoon over Rishi Kapoor in his faded, shapeless, cheap nylon mix sweaters and his impeccable performance as a Maths teacher in a small private school, permanently hassled by the need to make ends meet, and Neetu Kapoor as the supportive, easy going wife and mother, smoothing the abrasive edges of a middle class family with her affection and the sparkle in her eye, but I am distanced by the voice-over of the teenage discontented daughter who narrates the entire film and a very busy background music track.

For instance, the scene where the family in their struggle to buy a car, finally decide on a cheap model, not really the one their daughter likes. She says in a voice-over while she sulks in the foreground, and her family move around doing various things in the background, “Whenever we get something new in our house, someone is upset about it.” This is because choices are made based on what they can afford and not what they really like. Now instead of telling me about this, why couldn’t there be a scene between the family, with all of them cranky, upset, bringing up past wounds? It would have been funnier and more poignant.

The voice-over seems to have become ubiquitous in Hindi cinema. But usually it is mundane and predictable, and doesn’t tell me anything beyond what I can already see in the film. It also seems to be a convenient way to get away with shabbily shot scenes, poor characterization and do away with any need to develop a scene through dialogue and emotion. Sometimes I wonder if the voice-over is imposed by the marketing guys after the edit, to make sure that no subtlety escapes their clutches. All I know is that voice-overs make me yawn and squirm in my seat and have reservations about the film, even when it has, like in ‘Do Dooni Char’ my favourite stars.

16 comments

  1. it could be for a generation that
    a) needs Cliff Notes or as we would have described it in school `darsi guide`
    and
    b) needs CONSTANT validation yes munna, gudiya what you thought was RIGHT, well done
    one would needs a voice over to confirm that they are on track…and steer them from Pt A to Pt B
    or it could just be a way to keep the cousin twice removed gainfully employed

  2. It’s out already?! I thought I still have a long wait for this film. Irritating voice-overs or no, I am going to watch it for Rishi+Neetu.πŸ˜€ After all, not all directors can be Bimal Roy and not all films can be Parakh – mediocrity deserves it’s place in the sun, too!

    • Oh yes, Bollyviewer, Rishi + Neetu make you feel all sparkly inside. Such a pleasure to see fabulous acting.

      I’m not going to say anything about mediocrity. It’s got more than its place in the sun. It’s got a palace.

  3. I’m yet to watch this movie, but I know where you’re coming from. One of the best examples of a well utilised voiceover was in Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s Bawarchi. Remember Amitabh in his AIR-like voice? It only enhanced the script that was nothing but an introduction to a slew of characters in a household. In recent times, only Lagaan could pass off as a film that justified the presence of a sutradhaar. Again, a voiceover by Amitabh.

    Oh and Rishi Kapoor? Uuuuh! Don’t get me started!

    Superb post!

    Cheers!πŸ™‚

  4. I so so want to see this film. I will have to squeeze it in my crazy schedule. Regarding the voiceover, I guess the directors should trust the audience of reading between the lines (or dialogues and scenes to be precise)πŸ™‚

  5. It was still great fun and very poignant too. Of course we missed the beginning, so had less voice over to deal with. My husband couldn’t remember the times we had to struggle to make ends meet,and I can never forget them. They were fun in their own way, and we were young enough to deal with them, somehow or the other.

  6. Banno -the best part of watching a movie is the interpretation and if you have a voice over , its like telling stories to children with the obvious explained so that none of the nuances are missed out . I guess our “intellects” are so numbed with constant inputs from various sources that filmmakers feel it necessary to explain everything so that nothing is missed out on .Its the age of spoon feeding ,remixes and instant foods .Very little left for the senses to savour

    • True, Eve’s Lungs, there’s no fun if there’s nothing left to your own imagination, even if they are only blank spaces where you drift.

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