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I'll try my level best to portray a "NO SPOILER" review of this movie, although its hard to do so. THE REACTION : After watching this movie, one can easily differentiate two categories of viewers of current Hindi films. There would be the people who get into the theater to relax, eat pop corns and then watch performers in some colourful bands which, like all other pieces of modern art, fail to convey any meaning. Sadly this movie is not for them and if you fall under this category, abstain yourself from watching this movie, for this movie is made for the people who love to use their brains and senses while watching movies. THE "PLAYERS" : Both Ajay and Aishwarya did a very good job in their respective roles. The way that they added a touch of glory to the non-glamorous roles is worthy of praise. But the real "player" was the director who added so much significance to the two characters of the landlord(Annu Kapoor) and The Friend's Wife(Mouli Ganguli) who share a small fraction of screen time each. The short conversation with the landlord and the last dialogue of the male protagonist with his friend's wife is worth a thousand praises. THE TITLE : The rain, the darkness, the mystery all set the tone of the movie. And through the darkness the viewer can actually see the invisible raincoat both of them are wearing to protect themselves from each other discovering what they both want to hide. THE SUBTLENESS : Nothing in this movie has been explained by the director, nor is there an attempt to do so. The boasting dialogues between the two protagonists has loads of softer emotions packed underneath. The viewer has to actually pay attention to the details in order to appreciate the work of the director. Also, the viewer's expectation of a climax is gradually ruled out which eventually turns out to be a very positive thing about this movie, thus giving it what is called a "Repeat Value". THE DRAWBACKS : Apparently there is none. It is not a movie, but a piece of art and the director made it his way - No crappy songs, no running around the trees, no hypothetical and imaginary situations. I'll give this movie 9/10 for the sheer brilliance of the director.
The Gift Of Ghosh
William Sydney Porter aka O Henry, a master of surprise endings, is arguably the best short-story writer that has ever lived. But strangely, unlike the Kings and Grishams, his stories haven't been much accessible to the cinema-going audience. It probably takes a genius to recognize a genius. So enter Rituparno Ghosh- a nonconformist young director sans any apprehensions of clinging to established traditions. Mix this hot bundle of talent with the best work of the former, and what you get is a delectable piece of cinematic magic called 'Raincoat'.
'Raincoat' is a poignant story about the pretensions that we put on while affected with occasions that we prefer not to confront but want to. Manoj(Ajay Devgan) is in Calcutta in a desperate attempt to accumulate some funds from friends whose faces he doesn't remember- "It doesn't matter", says one of his close pal, "Even they must have forgotten what you look like". Manoj calmly replies that it does matter when he is the one asking for financial aid and they are the ones providing it! Such practical and nonchalant conversation between the characters is what separates this movie from the regular fare of Bollywood. Ghosh is a master at story-telling, and this movie is a similar exercise. The narrative thus smoothly takes Manoj to a visit at his childhood love and now married Neerja(Aishwarya Rai). On a rain-soaked afternoon of Calcutta, a meeting between two estranged lovers is the crux of this movie. Stagy? Yes. Tedious? Maybe, depending on your taste(don't come to see this after having watched 'Dhoom'). Uneventful? Definitely not! 'Raincoat' is anything but run-of-the-mill. Never in the history of Bollywood cinema(and it's a long one) has there been a story told with such serene meditation. The encounter between the two principal characters is a study in human nature. Both Manoj and Neerja are in a state of derelict. But both make attempts at concealing this from each other. Their façade is not so much a show of pomposity as much a sacrifice that they are willing to make just to ensure that the other person isn't bothered with their own condition of ruins. So while Manoj plays as a successful TV serial producer, Neerja makes stories of her grand lifestyle with servants, chauffeurs, an ever-touring husband et al. Ghosh succeeds at making their dialogues at once, both comedic and dramatic. The thin line between humour and pathos slowly begins to vanish until they absorb into one.
Credit goes to Ghosh for his ingenuous style and attention to detail. In my review of Swades, I had written that Gowariker managed to create a picture of India because of his attention to detail. Well, Ghosh does pretty much the same thing, albeit at a micro level. Whether it is Manoj's ignorance to using a cell-phone, Neerja's biting on her chain or the casual way in which her bra-strap shows- Ghosh splendidly achieves capturing mannerisms. Also note the credit titles which rechristen cinematography as image and editing as montage. Novel and a masterful stroke! 'Raincoat' is furthermore about wonderful performances. Ajay Devgan in the past three years has portrayed memorable characters(Company, Gangaajal and Raincoat) and with 'Raincoat' he emphasizes once more just how comfortable he has become with the camera. Here is an actor who essays roles without ever allowing the camera to catch him unawares. Aishwarya Rai has always been a director's actress. Like Bhansali, Ghosh manages to extract from her a perfect balance of poise and restlessness. The fact that her character basically plays out her part also helps. And finally this movie review will be incomplete without the mention of one Mr. Annu Kapoor. Kapoor plays his part of a landlord with such effortless ease that he reminds us of what a great talent he is and how we have wasted him. There was another Kapur this year that made us do the same thing- Pankaj Kapur in Maqbool. Due mention must be given to Bishwadeep Chatterjee's work on the sound and Shubha Mudgal's vocals in the background. One can argue that she could have been used with more discretion, but that will tantamount to nitpicking! 'Raincoat' is an elegiac tale told with earnestness- Ghosh's gift to an intelligent audience. Watch it and be overwhelmed.
* Poor ** Average *** Good **** Very Good ***** Excellent
Raincoat was the opening gala movie at Filmfest DC (Wash. DC)last
night. Filmfest DC is entirely foreign (non-US)movies--it goes on about
12 days. The theatre was almost filled, even at $40 a ticket, and the
great majority of the audience were non-Indians (including me). The
director, Ghosh, was there for a short introduction and a few questions
at the end. I was able to ask him a question privately at the reception
afterwards, but unfortunately nothing profound occurred to me at the
If you have read any of my posts on the Aishwarya section, you know I am enraptured by her. I am working my way through her movies, so of course I went to see this one. I read through all the previous posts here, and I think they're generally on the mark, but I have some additions.
Art as ambiguity--I think some of the comments about the movie being "art" or not are misleading. All movies are "art." But some art is better than others; great art needs several elements--one is that it's ambiguous enough so that each person feels it's directed to him/her personally, and each person sees something a little bit different in it, or interprets it in a slightly different way--and each way is backed up by evidence. Nor do the director/actors have to consciously intend each interpretation. You can see from previous posts that Raincoat certainly succeeds in this. Is Meena in love with her husband or not? Happy or not? Will Manu collect the money from his friends or not? Will the landlord keep his word or not? What is the significance of the rickshaw in the final scene? etc. The symbols in the movie (the raincoat, the rain, the shutters, the jewellery, the train, the wallet, etc.) all have various levels of meaning. And the themes--love, loss, truth, despair, failure--the movie has something to say about all of these. And even more, it makes you realize what YOU have to say about each. Say it together: It makes you think! Is the story consistent? One of the audience asked the question: "When Neeru went out to get lunch, why didn't she think Manu would look around her house?" Ghosh answered, correctly, that she expected Manu to act in character--he is reserved, not pushy, etc. Manu and Neeru spend the visit lying to each other--but that's what they did in their earlier lives, too, but in a different way. And, as we see Manu interact with his friend and his wife, he lies to them too. Everything is consistent.
Foreshadowing--actions, especially significant ones, shouldn't just pop out of nowhere. They need to be set up, so when you see them you think back and say, "Of course!" (back to consistency!) (Letter, doorbell, necklace, wallet, cell phone, sari....) Nothing extraneous--There shouldn't be anything stuck in that's not necessary. I think this is perhaps the chief virtue of the movie--I can't think of any item, any visual effect, any action, any piece of dialog, that could be taken out without detracting from the movie. Another post wanted more back story--longer flashbacks--No! We don't need to know more. Knowing more eliminates some of the ambiguity.
Atmosphere--everything very coherent. It reminded me of a first novel by an Indian woman who had just graduated from Princeton--I can't remember her name, but it came out in c. 1995, and I think the title was "Rain." It was about an Indian woman who married an Englishman, had a baby, and then decided to leave him--it was set in London. Different story than the movie, but the atmosphere was almost identical--same feeling of loss, regret, inevitability, etc.
Aishwarya--I have been comparing her other movies to my friends by saying they are like the Drew Barrymore/Meg Ryan movies. All these women are really playing versions of themselves--which is great! I like them all! But Aishwarya doesn't play Aishwarya here. Neeru is not Aishwarya at all. And the "flashback Neeru" is totally different than the Neeru in Calcutta--different look, different expressions, different voice, etc. I'll give the director all the credit he wants for this, but you know what? Aishwarya had to actually pull it off, and she did. Are there other actresses who could do this? Sure--Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman, Charlize Theron...hmmm, not too many others. If you can be grouped with people at the top of your profession, I'd say you were doing OK. Let's have no more talk about how she can't act--she can! Aishwarya #2--In the Aishwarya section of IMDb is a string of posts discussing plastic surgery, etc. Raincoat should have put an end to that nonsense--look at all the profile shots of her nose! This movie makes her look (I think) more "Indian." Fine with me. And she presents herself in scene after scene as less than attractive--whiny, superficial, too talkative, etc.--all part of the character, and certainly not the Aishwarya I've seen in other movies. A brave performance to put yourself out there like that--especially if your claim to fame is your beauty.
Faulkner was once asked what one of his novels was about, and he said "Christ." The questioner thought he was swearing, but he was answering the question. Star Wars, ET, and Lord of the Rings are about Christ too. It's hard NOT to reflect your own culture. To what extent does Raincoat reflect Hinduism? I think I can see some elements, but I'm not a Hindu. Resignation? Fatalism? A cycle of existence? The unreality of reality? Being trapped in life itself? Any thoughts?
Note: Review out of 4 Stars
Oh, what a wonderful wonderful film! This is why I love movies. Raincoat is undoubtedly the best film of 2004. Along with three brilliant performances by Aishwarya Rai, Ajay Devgan and Annu Kapoor this film excels in many other departments as well. Aishwarya looks divine. She has acted with magnificence, her best performance yet. Rituparno Ghosh directs this gem of a movie and also writes an excellent screenplay with intricacies and subtleties seldom found in Indian cinema. He is probably one of the best working directors in our country today who surely knows how to adapt a novel or a short story. He creates a dark and eerie world for the two characters a perfect setting for the both of them to TALK.
Actually that is what happens in almost the entire movie which is its strong point, if nothing more. It's a story of forbidden love of Neeru (Aishwarya Rai) and Mannu (Ajay Devgan). Not a love story with all the mush-mush and bollywood style ridiculousness. They were in love but couldn't marry due to some reasons which are not told directly and that's where your brain has to do the working. Watch the film with patience and full attention and you'll notice everything.
So what does a Raincoat have to do with two people who couldn't marry and meet again after a few years? Well, I'm not gonna tell you that. Watch this film and be amazed. I was befuddled when it started, I couldn't believe it was happening. This was movie magic!
The cinematography is beautiful and the sets and the costumes are fabulous. The editing is fast paced and carefully handled. And I haven't gotten to the music yet. So wait. The music is fan-frickin-tastic. Shubha Mudgal lends her voice to create some very beautiful Radha-Krishna renditions which complement the film and further add to the greatness of the movie. 'Akele Hum Nadiya Kinare' 'Mathura Nagrapati' 'Raha Dekhe' and 'Piya Tora Kaisa Abhiman' (also sung by Hariharan) are all awesome. The ending is perfect. Spot on!
But I don't call this an ART FILM. In fact, I don't believe any movie can be categorized as an art film. Call it a sensible film and ill give you a pat on the back. There is either a good film or a bad film (plus the superlatives). And this is an excellent film. As I said, this is why I love movies.
Rating: **** (A modern cinematic masterpiece) (It would be criminal if I didn't add that)
P.S. Those who prefer to watch only mindless comedy or romantic flicks, ill just tell you this STAY AWAY! (Cause you think that movies are only made to make you laugh which shows what an awful person you are, no offense)
I bought the soundtrack in India last month and fell in love with the
music. And I finally saw the movie today........wow. I can't believe
this is an Indian movie! Don't get me wrong, I love many Bollywood
films, but let's face it, there's a formula. There's no formula in
Raincoat. To explain in more detail: There's no dancing. Ashwarya looks
pale and sullen not her usual drop-dead gorgeous. Most of the movie
takes place in one room, so if feels like it was written as a play. And
lastly, the pace and style seems very French in that the plot is deep
and is revealed slowly.
Because an Indian film managed to do all this, I have to give it a 10. It's definitely in a league with great European films. But it's not better than great European films. The only weak point is Ajay Devgan's lack of expression in certain scenes. His dialogue reveals a man who is at times innocent and gullible, yet at other times he's an adroit liar. His facial expression only fit the latter. Annu Kapoor almost steals the movie away from him.
Ashwarya proves she can act in this film, and I applaud the director for giving her this role. Could any other young star have done any better? No. (But wouldn't Shabana Azmi have been magnificent?) See this movie if you love great films. Don't see it if you want to see a typical Bollywood film.
The movie is inspired by O. Henry's (William Sidney Porter) "The Gift
Of Magi" which Rituparno Ghosh duly acknowledges as the credits roll.
No giving away too much of the storyline, the movie picks up a day from the diary of Manoj (Ajay Devgan), lost and failed in life, now in Kolkatta to seek financial assistance from friends in order to start a business. Admist this, he decides to visit his lost-love Neerja (Aishwarya Rai). Ironically, its a rainy day and hence the Raincoat.
In terms of acting, its Annu Kapoor who stands tall, pity that his acting talent is confined to Antakshari. As a compassionate yet frustrated land-lord he gets into the skin of the character in terms of the accent and mannerism.
Ajay Devgan has matured to a dependable actor and once again proves that he can portray any role with ease.
Aishwarya Rai, not to mention director's favourite, "had" immense scope in this tailor-made role, sadly does meet the mark. Somehow it appears that she lacked conviction (or was she busy paying greater attention to Bride & Prejudice - a step to International fame?). On and off she used to mutter a few Hinglish words to convince the audience that Neerja hailed from a village. A bit of homework to watch Smita Patil, Shabana Azmi and Tabu would have been definite help. Or for that matter watching a newcomer Konkana Sen Sharma in Mrs & Mr. Iyer would have given an insight to the amount of conviction and hard-work needed to pull off a fantastic feat.
Surekha Sikri (Ajay Devgan's Mother) did not have enough screen-time.
Mouli Ganguli (Meena) played a modern yet sensitive and understanding friends wife. It is how-ever not explained the reason she was was over-hospitable?
Debajyoti Mishra's music is aptly used to compliment the richness of the visuals. Shuba Mudgal's song "Piya Tora Kaisa Abhimaan" lingers throughout the movie in the background and Gulzar's recital of the poetry give an additional depth to the dimension.
Having read so much about Rituparno Ghosh, I was curious myself to watch Raincoat. And boy, he does have substance. The essential emotion "covert" used by two lead protagonists forming the baseline of the story is portrayed effectively with utmost sensitivity. The control over portraying relationships, the finer nuances taken care of, speak for itself to deliver a product that is nothing short of perfection.
The movie sans commercial ingredients and hence sadly, would be confined to appreciation from a limited audience. And for those limited audience - a must watch.
Well, Now, I've heard about this film before, but, I didn't rent the
movie all these days thinking that it would be a melodrama booh booh
kinda stuff. But, really speaking, after I've finished up this film, I
really can't help thinking about the movie for a long time, without
sleeping. Easily, I can say this is one of the best ever romantic
dramas I've ever seen.
Speaking about romance, this is not the kinda stuff we see in movies from Yash, Aditya chopra and karan johar. These movies have an artificial type of romance, unseen normally in real life (unless u r a millionaire or a business man and u have all Ur life to go to states and fall in love). But, the kinda romance shown in 'Raincoat' belongs to the other type. Just imagine, U had a love during college days, and it gets broken. She (or for that matter, he) gets married to someone else, and, after many years, u just happen to visit the house of your love on a rainy afternoon. What will you do? That is Raincoat. The romance here belongs to a more matured type. The respect and passion both lovers have towards each other, even after many long years, has been excellently portrayed here.
Also, there is a sudden twist to the story almost half way through the film. It is this twist that makes the film more interesting and passion-filled. From this moment on, the film takes a new form and fills the heart of the viewer with emotion.
Almost entirely, the film features only Devgan and Aishwarya. The background score supports the film very well and has been superbly composed.
If u find time for a good movie and if u want to see some good performance, take this film and see it. U won't regret . . .
The plot unfolds like that of a master story teller. At any minute you feel that the plot will blossom into a climax, but that is not to be. The tenderness between characters before they married is also played out wonderfully between Ashwariya and Ajay. The cameo of the guy who rings the bell is excellent.I can't reveal his ID can I. The background, not much to see though has been very well made up. What I did not swallow was the cleanliness and the complete lack of it in the two different parts of the same house. It is Ashwariya at ONE of her best roles. She is like putty in the hands of her director. In today's world it would help if the lead character are shown to keeps away from cigarettes and other worse tobacco products as movies influence kids for sure. The ending of the movie is a masterpiece and brought a lump into my throat.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
RAINCOAT is a very different kind of cinema. Although it is loosely
based upon O'Henry's The Gift of the Magi, the dissimilarities are more
striking than the similarities. I would like to call it an original
idea, and not a screenplay adapted from an existing text.
Before I saw Raincoat I had seen only two of Rituparno Ghosh's movies. One was UTSAB and the second CHOKHER BALI. The problem with Ghosh is that he was under a very heavy influence of Satyajit Ray; I guess it is very difficult not to be influenced by HIM. Utsab was stylized by SHAKHA PROSHAKHA, and Chokher Bali By GHARE BAIRE. Both the Ray movies are among his great works, although nowhere near the Apu trilogy and the earlier B&W work. I have not seen UNISHE APRIL, which, I believe, is very good. But then, I think, the credit probably will go to Aparna Sen for that, as I understand she is outstanding in the film. As a matter of fact, Aparna Sen is one Bengali film maker who understood Ray the most, and consciously avoided falling into a mimetic trap. Her films have no Ray stamp on them and yet they are as artistic and humane as any Ray film. Among the contemporary film makers, Aparna Sen is probably the only one who can be counted as an original with her solid body of work.
Coming to RAINCOAT, Ghosh has made a conscious departure from Ray and created a film totally his own. In this he has been aided by a wonderful script, and two outstanding performances by the lead pair. His cameraman has captured the bleakness of a monsoon day in Rai's apartment, and you can almost feel and smell the musty dampness of the room. The lighting is amazing, and like Ashoka Mehta's camera-work in 36, Chowranghee Lane, explores the dark corners of Rai's home, thereby laying bare her soul. Yet the movie is not all gloom. Through dialog, you are kept involved in the pathetic make-believe world of the two protagonists (I will not call them lovers). Manoj may have a feeble right to be called a jilted lover, but Neerja never really loved him. She was always looking for a meal ticket and settled for the first eligible candidate without even a cursory glance backwards. Her pride does not permit her to accept that she had made a bad choice and the game of one-oneupmanship is still very much on with her. It is only when she says that her name consists of six letters and could have been used for naming his company, that she allows you to glimpse a sense of remorse. The fact that Rajnee is an anagram of Neerja, enhances this sense of loss and pathos. Yet, you do not feel sorry for her. She made a very deliberate choice and no amount of sacrifice on her part will endear her to the audience. Manoj's sacrifice, therefore, is more laudable, considering that his future is absolutely hopeless, and that he will have to start from all over again. He has also undertaken to find a solution to her problem after three months.. His ordeal seems to have just begun, and we don't know how it is going to end.
The other aspects of the film are flawless. The cameo performances of Annu Kapoor and Mouli Ganguly are brilliant. The title song by Shubha Mudgal is perfect in theme and rendition. Gulzar's verses exploring the dark corners of Rai's room are almost Ghalibian and beautifully appropriate. There is not a single superfluous scene or dialog in the film. No footage is wasted and not one word is meaningless. The undercurrent of the story is one of loss and pathos, yet one can appreciate the irony of the situation, and it becomes almost comic as the two play their game of one-oneupmanship. This is cinema at its best and like a Greek tragedy it has a sense of catharsis through the lines spoken by Mouli Ganguly.
The Raincoat eventually becomes a symbol for the masks we wear in order to hide our insecurities, our disappointments, and our egotistical selves. The raincoat worn by a domestic help has to be perfumed before it can be loaned to a middle-class out-of-work friend. The same raincoat carries in its pocket the letter revealing the true state of Manoj's affairs, and finally, the jewelery that Neerja thinks will help Manoj in his endeavor.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Somebody is lying to keep up appearances, and the director has left it up to you to try and figure who it is. This is the sort of film that you sit down and cut, paste and analyze for hours. Aishwarya Rai showcases some real grit here that is rarely seen in most of her films, as many directors just prefer for her to show up and look pretty. She is pretty here too, but the scenario is dark, she plays this character dark and seductive, and heartless as she she does it innocent. She is deceptive as she is truthful, it's up to you to decide what she is really and Rai gives you a run for your money trying to figure her out. Ajay Devgan brings it as well, as a man who hasn't gotten over his love for this woman, even after her marriage to another man. One rainy afternoon, he tracks her down for a visit and the game of who is who begins. This is not you typical Bollywood flick. This one actually requires you to scratch you head and think. A++++++++++++ all the way! Aishwarya Rai is especially awe-inspiring!
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