Mumbai, 01 Nov 2018 10:00 IST
Updated: 22 Dec 2018 13:57 IST
Director Aadish Keluskar and cinematographer Ameya Chavan, choose unflattering angles and extreme close-ups to make you uneasy.
Jaoon Kahan Bata Ae Dil is a relationship drama that lures you in with a few light moments and then takes you into the dark, ugly alleys of real relationships that are a far cry from the beautiful romances we are used to seeing in mainstream cinema.
The film opens with a hand-held camera following two lovers in conversation on an after-work date on Mumbai's Marine Drive. The camera moves with them into a cab, to an Iranian cafe, a movie theatre, a hotel room and, finally, their house.
Unlike the romantic depiction of the Queen's necklace that Hindi cinema has often resorted to, director Aadish Keluskar's characters walk in the scorching heat of Mumbai amidst traffic sounds, and their interaction is far from romantic.
Keluskar shoots the first scene of this conversational film in one long take and artistes Khushboo Upadhyay and Rohit Kokate are simply brilliant. They don't miss a beat as they candidly traverse subjects ranging from their opposing views on romance and marriage to politics and societal norms. A comparison of Narendra Modi, Rahul Gandhi and Arvind Kejriwal also plays out at one point. The dialogues are laced with expletives and misogyny in the garb of Kokate's seemingly liberal views.
The conversation also veers towards the unrealistic depiction of romance in Hindi films, a reference to the film's anti-romantic core. And all this while using old Hindi film songs at regular intervals!
In the movie theatre, Kokate's character, totally uninterested in what is happening on screen, rants about the Hindi film version of reality and demands a blow job from his girlfriend. The director steadily unveils one layer at a time to expose the core of the characters and their opposing mindsets — romantic and cynical.
Keluskar and cinematographer Ameya Chavan choose unflattering angles and extreme close-ups to make you uneasy. And the proceedings get more and more uncomfortable as we go along, with Kokate's nihilistic and sociopathic behaviour coming to the fore.
It is only a matter of time before this emotional violence turns physical. And what started as a funny and witty chat between two lovers steadily degenerates into an eerie, uncomfortable experience.
The sex sequence during the film's climax is one of the most unappetizing ones you will watch on screen. The two lovers flirt with the thin line between passion and violence for a long time before things come to a head. Extreme close-ups, weird angles exposing the bare bodies of the two, and butt shots will make you squirm.
At several points in the screenplay, you hope the woman takes a hint from her boyfriend's eccentric behaviour and walks out on him before she gets hurt, but she stays on, as often happens in real life, in the vain hope that things will eventually work out.
Their volatile relationship is also reflective of the very anti-establishment conversation they were indulging in — a political system that screws the naive common man who continues to live in the hope of a better, more secure life.
Keluskar is clear that he is not here to please but to displease you, and to make you so uncomfortable that you want to hide your face even in the darkness of that cinema hall.
This film is an emotional nightmare of an experience. As Kokate says, "This is real life, not a film." But is real life always as dark as Upadhyay and Kokate's ugly love? Is there no place for idealistic romance? Jaoon kahan bata ae dil?
Each person may find his or her answer. Upadhyay finds hers as she dances to Eena Meena Deeka (Asha, 1957) in the final scene.
Related topicsMAMI Mumbai Film Festival Oxfam Gender Equality Award
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