“Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye”
It is rare when something inspires me to begin a whole new category on this beloved blog of mine. Each subject I add on here is well thought-out in my head and requires a commitment of time and energy. But I figured, since this week is all about re-inventing and re-naming – see how HUEA has magically turned into The Ajnabee, just like that! – change is in the air. Hence, the new “Films 2 See” section is a welcomed and long-due addition. The last time I added a new column was when I started the “Chocolate Corner”, thanks to my lovely friend Driss’ suggestion. Today, a film inspired me and I felt the need to get out the word.
The upcoming Hindi film “Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye” has a timeless, across the board, international message to it. Lucky Singh – played by the dashingly charismatic Abhay Deol as no other actor could have - is Robin Hood, albeit it without any wish to gift his loot to the poor; he is John Robie, from “To Catch a Thief”, without the catsuit and the fancy accent… He is even Romeo, without the poison and those pesky Capulets and Montagues… He is a likable thief with love and a need for acceptance in his heart. What isn’t universal and unlimited about that!
I attended a screening of OLLO – the street version of the title of the film – on Monday evening, organized by UTV Motion Pictures, which is one of the largest film distributors in India. They are the powers behind such great hits as “Tare Zameen Par” – which might just end up being the Indian entry to the Oscars this year – and “Jaane Tu… Ya Jaane Na”, a modern teen drama which was very, very successful, even in the international NRI market. I was disappointed to find the screening room for OLLO half empty – this is a highly anticipated film! – and yours truly as one of only three non-Desis in the audience. Seriously, this was NYU, part of the film school complex and students could have been made aware of this great film! It’s a battle I struggle with daily, even through my column on Chic Today. And I find that it’s not about European and American audiences not being open to Hindi cinema, but about Indian filmmakers – and the distributors behind them – not feeling confident enough to submit their work to non-Desis to view. Or avoiding interviews and standing up journos, only to then complain about how they are getting portrayed in the wrong light by the media.
The film’s director is the wonderful Dibakar Banerjee, who has been writing his own blog about the film on Passion For Cinema. Do check out his piece about Paresh Rawal‘s beard, which is guaranteed to give you a whole different viewing experience when you do catch the film in a theater near you. His previous film “Khosla Ka Ghosla!” was also a big multiplex hit and well received by NRI audiences, and starred one of my favorite actors Boman Irani. I recently had the great honor of interviewing Mr. Irani for his role in another favorite film of mine “Little Zizou”… But that is a whole other story, for a different day… OLLO is wonderfully acted, by Abhay Deol in the title role, but also his teenage counterpart, the turbaned Manjot Singh, as well as the timeless, ageless and without equals Paresh Rawal, in three very different roles. It helps that Mr. Rawal is such a versatile actor, but also that his roles all play on the idea of a father figure whom Lucky endlessly tries to impress. One is never confused by his three very distinct and equally exciting performances.
But anyway, enough of my words about this film. I am hardly a film reviewer and will never claim to be one. Instead, I simply come in as the Stranger I am, to the language, the culture and the stories, and try to spread the word to others who might feel like venturing into new territories themselves. For a real review, try this one by “Manorama – Six Feet Under” director Navdeep Singh on PFC. Truly, it will make you want to see the film even more than my endless rattle. Oh, and it will also inspire you to watch “Manorama” which is a brilliant, brilliant film – a spin on “Chinatown” set in a remote desert town in Rajastan. OLLO opens on Wednesday, November 26th, at a theater near you. Once you see it, I guarantee you will fall in love with Lucky, just like that!