I have a love-hate relationship with Bhansali, because I hate the stories and the morality of his films and love his aesthetics and how campy he is. Depending on the balance between each, I end up loving some of his stuff and hating the rest. He only produced this and didn’t direct it, which is probably why I loved it. Thanks to Angie for telling me about it.
Malaal is a remake of a Tamil film I have not seen, but more obvious to me is the influence of Titanic, a film I like in theory and hate in practice. It’s set in the year Titanic came out, but there is really no attempt at any kind of period setting except a few film posters, a few men’s vintage shirts, and the lack of computers and mobile phones. The lack of phones really is the reason for the period setting, I think, because it makes the plot make more sense.
If I tell you it’s like Titanic you will know what this story is. Shiva (Meezaan Jaffery) is a manchild goon who falls in love with Ashta (Sharmin Segal), a girl from a rich family which has fallen on bad times. He works on becoming less of a manchild to win her and kind of succeeds. Her family have engaged her to a boy from a family they know so Shiva and Ashta can’t be together, cue tragic ending.
I loved this movie a lot. In its themes and the way the story is paced and set, it’s old fashioned melodrama heavy on the tears and meaningful staring. It even has a sheltering from the rain sex scene! Heaven.
It’s not as stylised as Bhansali usually is, which makes it more realistic, but it still has the detailed aesthetics he is known for. The songs are plentiful and good, the story is predictable, and just when I was wondering when it was finally going to get campy, the ending arrived in a way that made me laugh AND cry. With more depth to the story and better side characters, this could have been an actually great movie, but for me I didn’t need anything more than what I got.
The leads are debutants, green but decent and charming nonetheless. Sharmin Segal caught flack for nepotism because she’s Bhansali’s niece, but I thought she was cute and I loved her voice. Meezaan Jaffery reminded me of both of the Bachchans when they were young, a rangy lion of a man with a decent amount of body urge (a quality mostly lacking in the current generation of Bollywood actors, however much I might like some of them).
I hope they both get cast more, and that more films like this get made, but film industries in general hate me and always make the opposite of what I want, so probably I will have to make do with this.