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Isi Life Mein - 2010

Jack Palance: “Do you know what the secret of life is? One thing. Just one thing. You stick to that and everything else don’t mean shit.”
Billy Crystal: “Yeah, but what’s that one thing?”
Jack Palance: “That’s what you’ve got to figure out.”

~ From the movie City Slickers

The above so fittingly illustrates the premise of the motion picture Isi Life Mein. To elaborate on it a bit more, I would have to furnish you a quick preview into the present circumstances surrounding the picture. For starters, it is so true that in fiction one discovers the truth that more often than not reality obscures. And to follow that up, I am but appalled at the disinterest of the press to have dealt harshly with a sensitive film that deals with several complex issues, and that too at a calm and collected, but most definitely effective pace. This is where I feel what a weird lot the media is indeed – they embrace rubbish packaged smartly by those who know how to hoodwink people and willingly aid in filling up their coffers while when something worthy comes along they knock it down throwing the public off course.

I don’t care about what others think of it and I also don’t care about what they think of me, but on the whole I quite enjoyed the movie. Certainly, it’s not earth shattering but it’s not a disappointment either. To begin with I wouldn’t oppose the fact that the first half of the film, despite the usage of certain imperative elements that appealed to me such as mention of Shakespeare (The Taming of the Shrew) upon which the play in the movie is based. The mention of The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand was also welcoming considering that youngsters of that age are rather infatuated by the characters in that book. Yet despite all that there was still something vague, weak and loud about the first half. The bunch of boys and girls as Akshay’s friends were tolerable but their issues were sketchy. It is as if they were put there without any reason, especially the matter concerning the slightly overweight chap. Just because somebody thinks of us in a certain way must not make us alter ourselves unless we want to transform from within. Besides, I was not sure what the French-speaking character was put in for since she made no contribution to the film and was utterly annoying. That said the scenes lacked memorable humour as they moved on. The writer should have put in a little more effort since the highlight was the youth. If not anything it would have given her a wide platform to tap into the humorous side and the given the audience some moments to relish. I seriously felt that Akshay as Vivaan had been made to appear a bit too over-enthusiastic – so very unlike his character, unless it had been done deliberately to show how the lad so full of life could express more without the support of words post intermission. Sandeepa Dhar as Rajnandani aka RJ is boring in the first half though she gets a chance to exhibit her onscreen proficiency more evidently in the second and this is where I felt that the second half of the film was actually far deeper than the former.

It would be unfair if I didn’t admit that the double standards we see so rampant in the society, the oppression the women face in the hands of a patriarchal system at home and the misconception that the urban people are hardly as sensitive as the rural folk depicted is laudable. The paradox of how some of us lay blame on the western culture in spoiling us has been beautifully symbolised by the splendid behaviour of some of the characters. I feel no matter how modern in our approach we might become, we are yet very much Indian at heart and you cannot take away our traditions and manners from us irrespective of our outer garb. It’s a marvellous movie about giving shape to your ideas. About working hard to make them a reality. Of not succumbing to peer pressure but making them seeing your point of view backed by substantial proof. Several pertinent and prevailing subjects have been embarked upon and tackled sensitively without making them appear like ‘in your face messages’. For instance the character of RJ’s mother is short, pivotal and very well-defined. I liked the precise manner in which her dialogues have been penned. Her tone is firm without being imposing and how instrumental she is in bringing around her husband without the assistance of cliché or histrionics is noteworthy. Hailing from an intrinsic traditional background the decision of RJ’s father to put the wedding off is a first step to progress cinematically at least. If it changes even a single person, then I think the work of the film is done, not forgetting that it is a welcome break indeed from the melodrama we are so used to watching on screen. I say this because one can take something simple and make a melodrama out of it and then like life, which is but simple, move us with its simplicity, which is what Isi Life Mein does without a murmur. I cherished the scenes where RJ is probing whether Akshay and his former girlfriend had made love. How Akshay deals with the situation was handled competently. The other adorable scenes are how RJ makes her friend wash her mouth for swearing absurdities at a drop of a hat. The scene where Akshay attempts to show RJ the silver lining about pursuing her career as a choreographer but seeks clarity himself is also something I quite appreciated. We’ve all been there before, haven’t we? Where we are the rock for those who mean the world to us and yet depend on them to guide us. 

I am sure that some people would think Akshay’s character is a loser to stand and watch the woman he loves being married away before him and does not even bat an eyelid to express his bleeding heart. While each one is entitled to individual opinions, I think him a true hero. You don’t go about seizing what you think is yours against the displeasure of the family. I found his character respectable, who after knowing that the woman he loved was agreeable for the wedding and stayed with the decisions her family had taken, stuck to himself rather than creating a ruckus which is customarily shown for shock value in movies but is hardly so in real life. He knows that selfishness and defiance only leads to destruction and that love is not about snatching what you want but that its essence lies in seeing the one you love happy. Owing to his age in the film I thought that it was a very smart but subtle reflection of human nature. Cheers to the writer and director for taking that stand rather than trivialising it.

To preserve a man alive in the midst of so many chances and hostilities, is as great a miracle as to create him and that’s exactly what I feel of Akshay Oberoi. He has the aptitude to play this charming chap with immense flair and yet you can see that regardless of his Casanova like manner, he is someone who can stir you with a mature performance as well. What is much needed to survive in the industry is ability and stability and on both those grounds I found Akshay efficient and alluring. He puts his facial vocabulary to correct use and it doesn’t take any rocket science to figure that in time he will be a star that will shine in the streetlights of eternity if he keeps his head on his shoulders. Another reason I most admire him for is that unlike the many influential youth of today with firm film backgrounds he could have chosen something really fancy for his debut film and yet he selected to do Isi Life Mein, a simple and sweet movie and we must give him his due for this decision.

Sandeepa Dhar is not great, but an actor you can watch in the role that has been essayed out for her. I felt she is a bit too conscious and tends to add this element of exaggeration to some of the scenes. Looking at it realistically one knows that she is not going to be a Kareena or Katrina but going forward I thought her conventional looks might land her some befitting roles and also result in slightly limiting in the range of roles offered to her. Then again one cannot simply underestimate the audience today and they might simply lap her up much against my opinion on her.

Music by Meet Bros is average although the song Isi Umar Mein by Mohit Chauhan is ridiculously infectious and stayed with me.

What Isi Life Mein has taught me is that living a life is merely not enough and that one must have freedom, sunshine and a little flower to keep us going. What a pity that the bad reviews have robbed the masses of time well spent in the company of people who while having fun themselves also end up teaching you a valuable thing or two about survival. So much for the pathetic press who knows not how to discern between processed garbage and real substance. And I want to tell the public that when we cannot support those whom we really ought to be supporting then why should we pay money to see bad films when we can stay home and see bad television for nothing instead?

PS: After all that, what actually went wrong with the film some would ask? Honestly, a sloppy first half that appeared as if it had been written in a hurry. And an overall poor packaging as well. A tad bit of care could have added that missing zing to the entire film I suppose. Isi Life Mein is a classic case of when most unfortunately bad things happen to good people. However, there is no limiting true talent and once the moonlight lifts, the sun shall soon shine.