Friday, November 16, 2007

No Smoking revisited

I had a different experience watching Anurag Kashyap's film No Smoking a second time. There was no rush of excitement, just calm admiration. I picked up on little details that I missed the first time around and came close to confirming my theory about the film's meaning. As the final credits rolled, I mused about the clues. But then something happened which I didn't expect. There was an additional scene after the credits. Damn! This scene didn't exactly shatter my theory but simply made it very clear what the movie was about. But why was this scene there? Why? And then after that scene, there was one final song with Bipasha Basu. And at the song's conclusion, an un-necessary finale (can be a surprize depending on one's viewpoint).

I was also able to correct an earlier observation where I believed one scene reveled the film's true reality. There is no one such scene but a series of scenes which reveal what is going on. However a lot of elements in the film appear to be simply thrown in for a wow factor (memory flash back with canned laughter, side story about Cuba and the display of the character's inner thoughts) and add no value to the movie. Unless that one scene after the credits is removed, then these other cool scenes have some purpose.

Still an interesting and worthy effort!

Notes: Some elements in the movie that I loved. These won't make sense unless one has seen the movie.
-- The call centre for troubled souls
-- The Rs.1 coin needed for a soul to call its body for help: inner voice
-- The pyramid chain scheme where friends sold out their friends only to save themselves: every man for himself, society today.
-- Calcutta Carpets set-up: hell in an earthly form, complete with receipts.
-- The bath-tub: each troubled soul in the film has a safe spot to hide in; a vessel from which they go to their happy place. K heads to the bathtub whenever life is getting too much for him whereas other characters either hide under the bed or in a closet.
-- The police interrogation room: voice of reason/logic?
-- The film's visuals & sound -- dark when they have to be.

Additional comment:
A lot of the reviews about this movie mention how the story idea is similar to Stephen King's short story Quitters, Inc. Not having read the short story, I can only go on the rough story outline that I have found. From those outlines, it does appear that the idea of using torture to make someone quit smoking has been inspired from King's story. But the additional layers of Kafka and the soul vs body struggle appears to be Kashyap's.

Still, the lack of a tag which acknowledges that the film was "inspired" by King's story does dampen my feelings about the movie a bit. Why? Because such an act follows the trend of other Bollywood film-makers who choose not to credit their sources.

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