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Who would have thought if you ask Karan Johar, Dibakar Banerjee, Zoya Akhtar and Anurag Kashyap to make four short films, Karan Johar would come out on top?
I wouldn't like to give out the plot of Karan Johar's film but I must appreciate how it is not just his most dramatically mature film but also incredibly daring. That's right. A Karan Johar film that could probably be bolder and more path breaking than any other film that any of the directors listed above have made. Not in terms of style but content. The make up and the gloss comes off and what we get is a truly honest film. Saqib Saleem and Randeep Hooda are splendid. Although it is Rani Mukerji who steals the show. There is a scene in which she cries. She doesn't sob uncontrollably (You'd expect melodrama from his film), instead we see her eyes conveying it all. When she does breakdown, we don't see her face. Take that for subtlety, Karan Johar haters! It may be equally sentimental as the rest of the films but at least it is coherent and works as a standalone film. Suffice to say, it is the best one out of the lot. This is also a curse in disguise as none of the successive films match up to or top it.
Dibakar Banerjee's film is the weakest one. I've never been a fan of his work. His films have always bored me to death or annoyed me out of sheer pretentiousness. There is a hallucination scene here, which is so bad I wish I could fast forward to the next segment. Worse, there is an emu. Yes, the bird. While I was bored and displeased for 25 minutes, I was surprised when the scene at the end touched me. Nawazuddin Siddiqui knocks it out of the park.
Zoya Akhtar's short film made me smile with the modestly heartwarming moments it creates, thanks to a wonderful Naman Jain. But then it would do something that came off to me in incredibly bad taste. Not giving much away but I would like to sit Miss Akhtar down and have a long chat, which would begin with us watching Billy Elliott (2000) together.
Anurag Kashyap's short is lighthearted and fluffy with a dash of sentimentality. Whoever thought he could do that? The potential this film had was enormous; Anurag Kashyap builds it up well and makes a pertinent comment about hero worship. The end result is sweet but not amazingly memorable or moving.
There is something these four films don't realize. None of them actually exhibit or reflect the might of Indian cinema. They are average films (barring one which is damn good) trying to reach for something, which has nothing to do with what Indian cinema stands for. How people are enamored by it, yes. What it truly means to them? No. A rosy picture is built but nostalgia is entirely missing. The only nostalgic moments are due to two songs: Ajeeb Dastan Hai Yeh and Lag Ja Gale, and a montage stacked at the end. (No, not the horrible song but the footage from actual films)
If I have to sum it up, Karan Johar's film is a four star film. Dibakar Banerjee's is two and half (at best). Zoya Akhtar's is a solid three and Anurag Kashyap's is a three and a half. I'm going to round it off to three and a half. It's actually a three star film but I'm adding another half for the tribute at the end. You see, I can be a bit sentimental too.