Vantage point

Saturday, June 19, 2004

Lakshya - Worth a Million Bucks

Yesterday I saw the movie I had been waiting for since two years. And the wait was worth it.

Lakshya is the story of a guy trying to find himself, as the promos suggest. There just happens to be a war going on in the background.

Like Dil Chahta hai, this movie captures the realities in the life of a rich upper class urban Indian youth. The insecurities, the uncertainties and the consequences of a decision as major as choosing your career. It is also the first movie that explores the layers of an estranged relationship between a busy father and his son.

Lakshya shows you a hero who is not a hero. He is not perfect by a long shot. This could also be the first time that a Hindi film hero is shown crying for reasons other than his mother's demise. The script of the first half is particularly brilliant for this bold incisiveness in story-telling. I get the sneaking suspicion that the first half of the movie had more involvement by Farhan the writer, than the second half. In the second half, he sat back and let his experienced dad, Javed Akhtar, take over.

This was inevitable I guess, since the first part was about a young man, while the second part was about war. And even in terms of depicting war, this movie is path-breaking in terms of using minimal jingoism. Javed Akhtar seems to have consciously avoided the JP-Dutta-Sunny-Deol path of bashing Pakistan to make us feel good. This is evident from the following -

- The war is not depicted as one between superhuman Indians and puny Pakistanis. There is a lot of realism wherein it is shown that the Pakistani army is not foolish. They are shown as good soldiers with good tactical brains. Parmeet Sethi, playing a Pakistani, is not shown unnecessarily spewing anti-India hatred, like the characters in Gadar. He is shown to have a firm grip on reality, and even in the climax, he guesses the gambit that the Indians play, albeit a bit late.

- There are very few speeches, and even they are short.

- While the Akhtars could not resist playing the Muslim-in-the-indian-army angle, it is handled in a comparitively sophisticated manner.

All in all, my humble opinion is that even a Pakistani can watch this movie without feeling insulted, which is pretty remarkable for a movie set against the Kargil backdrop.

Now I am sure many people will say that cartain actors were "wasted". Particularly Amitabh and Om Puri.

I don't quite get this concept of "wasted". According to me the best movies are those in which a script is written, characters are plotted, and then actors are cast in them. People who say a certain actor is wasted probably expect that a film maker should decide the star cast and then write the movie. I don't agree.

Rajkumar Santoshi made this mistake in Khakee. Till the interval, the script was in charge. In the second half, he suddenly started writing with Amitabh in mind, making the movie drag. Farhan Akhtar does not make that mistake. He has focussed on Sunil Damle, the character, instead of Amitabh, the superstar.

Amitabh performs superbly in the relatively short role. He even gets to say a marathi proverb. Yayy!! :)

Speaking of performances, this is surely Hrithik's best yet. He portrays the transition froma happy-go-lucky youngster to a determined young man very well. The joy on his face when he stands at the LOC for the first time (before the war starts) and says "I never realised this strongly that I am an Indian" seems so genuine. The angst he has portrayed when the first assault fails is also amazing. One minor area of complaint. The portrayal of the happy-go-lucky dude seemed to border on "retarded" at times. Maybe there was a Koi Mil gaya hangover. :) But otherwise, a superb performance, and he should start making space in his shelves for half a dozen more awards.

Boman Irani's portrayal of a high-society Dad is good too, and he shows that his repertoire is not limited to just comedy. The scene where Hrithik calls him up from the front is one of the highlights of the film. Preity Zinta is good too, but gets overshadowed inspite of having a good role.

The camerawork is amazing, and the final scene of rock climbing (this part of the story inspired from the Sinhagad-Tanaji story, methinks :)) is one of the best ever shot in Hindi film history.

Overall Lakshya is a good movie. Go watch it.