Saawariya Review

This work of art doesn't have the in-your-face flamboyance of "Devdas" or "Black" where almost every shot reached a crescendo, every passion peaked like a mid-summer sun, and every movement denoted drama. But "Saawariya" is Sanjay Leela Bhansali's most tender ode to love yet. Taking Fyodor Dostoevsky's minuscule play "White Nights", Bhansali has built huge but unimposing emotions classified by dollops of awe-inspiring studio-erected architecture that represents feelings rather than physical forms. This is the director's most subtle and mellow creation. Prakash Kapadia's dialogues let Ranbir's character of Ranbir Raj speak in a language that is modern and yet timelessly lovelorn.The plot, if one may call it that, is a story of unrequited love told in shades of blue. Bhansali's narrative spins its sensuous web around chance encounters in and around a square set in a timeless land where clocks chime to the rhythm of a besotted heart and neon signs straight out of a bright Broadway pay cheeky homage to Bollywood's past, including Raj Kapoor, of course. Ranbir Raj sings and performs at a club called Raj's Bar when he isn't chasing the enigmatic Sakina (Sonam Kapoor) across an arched bridge that symbolises the end of hope and the beginning of love.

Sakina, if you must know, is on an eternal wait. A stranger (Salman Khan) walked into her home and life, walked out and promised to return. The lacuna between longing and fulfilment is filled by a young man who dances, sings, makes faces, writes love letters, protects Sakina from the rain, but alas, cannot protect himself from the heartbreak that awaits him under the bridge. You can see reflections of Raj Kapoor's persona from "Sri 420" and "Chhalia" in Ranbir's acting in "Saawariya". And his relationship with his outwardly harsh landlady -- played by the gloriously spirited Zohra Sehgal -- is a wonderful recreation of the bond between Raj Kapoor and Lalita Pawar in "Anari".

Ranbir's acting is a dangerously extravagant and bravura performance that could've toppled over under the weight of the character's inherent exhibitionism. But with his director's help, Ranbir succeeds. The emotions that run across the gossamer frames of this fragilely structured play-on-celluloid are woven with the delicacy that one associates with Kashmiri carpets. Ironically, though requiring more attention than all his earlier works, "Saawariya" is Bhansali's simplest story to date. The age-old boy-meets-girl format has been taken to the plane of purest expressionism. The enchanting encounters shown in the film furnish the slim but haunting plot with the feeling of a play where the characters forget they are on stage.

The film's consciously created staginess is its biggest virtue. It lends an otherworldly quality to the frames. The wispy characters may or may not exist outside the prostitute-narrator Rani Mukerji's playful mind. Maybe she's making up this beautiful tale of one-sided love and perhaps the boy-man she took under her wings is just a figment of her imagination. The disarming delicacy with which art directors Omang and Vinita Kumar and cinematographer Ravi Chandran have built the blue foundations of the film's ravishingly romantic imagination lifts Dostoevsky's play to the sphere of poetry. Monty Sharma's soul-stirring music adds an entirely new dimension to the story of waiting and suffering. As expected from a Bhansali creation, the film is bathed in visuals that overpower the senses. The sequence where Sonam runs across a gauntlet of perpendicularly hung carpets beating a dust storm out of their beautiful fabric is a moment of sensual eruption.

In "Saawariya", Sonam does not know what or whom she is running from or what she will run into. She is Nutan in "Bandini", Aishwarya in "Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam" and Waheeda Rehman in "Pyasa". "Saawariya" is like a dream where the characters themselves live in a dream world. Escape from this world is akin to death. No one dies in Bhansali's majestic make-belief world and nothing wilts. Not even love when it is taken away from the boy who loves to entertain the unhappy girl in distress.

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  1. John Says:

    Whatever other say I liked the film every much.........
    I could call it a visual poetry how can anyone in a right a sense take your see of the sets.....the blue and green are awesome....
    but to say the performances are so-so.........
    But have to say Ranbir has gr8 potential.........
    In other hand Sonam good but I feel had she's holding back and not giving it a 100%.

  2. Anonymous Says:

    With negative reviews and low stars given to the movie I though I was going to see a bad film but to my surprise I liked it. So did my American friend.

    Yes it was stretched in parts but overall it was very aesthetic.

    So guys go with an open mind you might end up liking it.

  3. Pranali Says:

    I watched Sawariya and found the film to be excellent. If you have not understood the film say you did not , dont say the film is bad. It was beautiful to watch, great sets, the acting by both the newcomers was good, Rani Mukherji did a fabulous job, Salman had a small but apt role. The music was awesome. It was as if a poem was being recited on screen, reminded me of a beautiful dreamy English peom.

    SLB movies are brilliant and a piece of art, definitely not for masses who take interest in crap/meaningless movies like OSO

    Keep an open mind, all movies need not be the same with a hero and his silly heroine dancing away to senseless songs, this movie is different and may not appeal to all but it is definitely not a bad film......kudos to SLB ...he is a genius.

  4. Anonymous Says:

    I did not go see the movie because I heard from like 5 different people that it was worthless! The reviews atleast on this blog are pointing in the other direction...that in fact it may be worth watching!

  5. Anonymous Says:

    Pranali...just because u understand english poetry or are into poems doesn't mean everyone else is...I would actually say 90% of audience is not. People come to see movie to relax, enjoy, and just become part of emotional roller coster, that the director has to offer. And not to figure out symbolisms/metaphores/ironies or wat not..of course it's a stupid moviee...the reason being...Director's should NOT come out with these type of poetic movies in mainstream cinema..if they do want to recite it...make it as an ART movie or something and not waste ppl's money that go to theater to have fun...and not to remember poems/poetry that they had to punish through in high school or university...MOVIE SUXXX MAN...I love SLB (My fav. Director) But every director makes a mistake..and this counts as a HUGE one on SLB's part.

  6. Anonymous Says:

    You are absolutely right..................... most of the people are
    not interested in poetry or for that matter even
    reading...........what I wanted to say is don't judge the movie as bad
    or flop if you have understood it or if it is not of your type. Your
    comment may effect other people's judgment.There have been so many
    flop movies, what really bothers me is that why is Saawariya -which is
    indeed a good attempt being treated so harshly, dont you think the
    media and crowd have been unreasonably malicious......don't you think
    it is a bit of mob mentality and media effect which contributed
    immensely to effecting the movie's credibility is the cinema hall. I
    heard a radio jockey's review in which he said -there are so many
    songs, its like chayageet, when I saw the movie i found it to be a
    musical, wasn't the comment the RJ made irresponsible and stupid.
    This reminded me of my school days, when people fared badly in a paper
    they said the paper was tough or the paper was bad, no one says- I did
    not prepare well or I did not understand the questions well enough,
    the verdict is that the paper was bad..................just mentality
    man....same with Sawaariya.

    People also need to understand that Indian cinema is
    changing,,,,,,,,,cinema may not just be you know in
    many parts of the world it is considered as an art form.........I
    know people who never understood or appreciated Satyajit Ray's film or
    GuruDutt's films as they were not always entertainment-they were an
    expression of the film maker.
    You may not like that expression or may not even understand it, but
    others are interested.

  7. Anonymous Says:

    Hey I just saw Saawariya. What are people writing about the movie being bad and all, on the contrary its an excellent movie. Sanjay Leela Bhansali has a beautiful mind and a fabulous heart and he shows that in this movie. This movie shows what a kind person he is...

  8. EternalCynic Says:

    After reading all the negative reviews, I almost didn't watch Saawariya. But now that I have, am so glad I did. Loved every bit of it.

  9. Anonymous Says:

    I watched both Om Shanti Om and Saawariya. I liked OSO coz its a light and entertaining movie. Saawariya on the other hand will confuse a lot of people coz it creates such feelings for Ranbir and then the climax lets you down. Though I am very unhappy about the negative publicity the movie is getting. I'll advise that everybody should make their own decision and not go with the media.

  10. ritwika Says:

    The movie is very different from the usual stuff that Bollywood comes up with and the movie is brilliant.
    It is unfortunate that it had to undergo such negative publicity.
    I would also mention that OSO is no match to Saawariya, as the former was nothing to offer, other than forced comedy.

  11. John Says:

    Hey guys..........
    all of u wanna not waste their money.......
    There's a paper 'FILM STREET' A 1Re.........
    It comes out on Wed or thur before release.........
    it has the entire story and how's the camera work and sound and every damma thing.

  12. Anonymous Says:

    Pranali, you say "If you have not understood the film say you did not , dont say the film is bad."

    But in the same post you make a unreasonable comment about masses who like "crap films like OSO"??!!

    Going by your logic, if you don't like OSO you should say you didn't like it, don't say it is crap!

  13. Pranali Says:

    this is not a personal argument why r u takin my comments sooooooo personaaly?? u poor thing.....i feel sorry for u................take a chill pill man............i wrote what I felt and I am not going to argue with anyone again and again givin why dont u write ur views on ur choice of movies and put up and shut up with it.........why do u get a stomach ache with my comments??? and dont bother 2 reply to this bcuz I am not interested in takin this conversation ahead with take a acidity pill and chilllllll sweet heart :)

  14. Anonymous Says:

    I didnt watch the movie till yesterday seeing all the bad reviews. But now iam glad i watched it . Its a superb movie and excellent work by SLB.Hats off!!!

  15. Anonymous Says:

    This movie made me leave the reality of this earth for 2 hours. The music and dancing was fabulous. As a pragmatic lawyer so disgusted with the sleeze, sex, drugs, and violence manure that flows from Hollywood, I found such much beauty and real entertainment for a change.
    What a pleasant atypical surprise.
    DE Tulsa

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