Shameless Pleasures Week 2012
Here's what I wrote back in 2010 when we did the first Shameless Pleasures Week (it was called “Shameful Pleasures” then, the name has since been changed to reflect the fact that none of us really feel much shame surrounding our choices). It sums up things pretty well: I still feel the same way.
IT'S MY FAVOURITE WEEK OF THE YEAR, YOU GUYS!
Life Partner (Rumi Jaffery, 2009)
I really have no excuse for liking this film as much as I do. THAT'S HOW SHAMEFUL PLEASURES WORK. In fact, here are some of the reasons I probably should really NOT like it:
- Life Partner really is more likely to be described as “decidedly average” than anywhere NEAR approaching amazing. The plot is basically an exploration of contrasting modern (Indian) attitudes to relationships, told through the stories of Karan (Fardeen Khan) and Sanjana (Genelia D'Souza) who are married through a love match; Bhavesh (Tusshar Kapoor) and Prachi (Prachi Desai) who have an arranged marriage; and with their friend Jeet (Govinda) a divorce lawyer who thinks ANY marriage is a mistake, in the middle of things. Each couple runs into hurdles threatening the state of their “life partnership” - can the hurdles be overcome and Jeet proved wrong about marriage? is basically the thrust of the film.Or the whole thing can be summed up like this:
Oh lawyer Chi Chi, so smug.
- You can forget justifying my insane love of the film with the fact that my all time favourite Hindi actor Govinda is in it. A) That's obviously not an argument in itself for a good film (need I even mention Naughty @ 40?) and B) Life Partner is one of a string of late period Chi Chi films where he abandons the star persona that worked so well for him so many years in so many films: the simple, rustic, slightly naïve and more likely to be devoutly religious guy, to basically play a sleazebag. It's pretty icky – Chi Chi's character is an extremely cynical divorce lawyer who is so good at his job, he can talk newlyweds into dissolving their marriages. His M.O. Is targeting the neglected or harrassed wives, and then “consoling” them when the divorce is finalised.Yeah. I told you it was icky.
- Speaking of icky, this is the film in which Chi Chi's character hooks up with Amrita Rao, who is LITERALLY young enough to be his daughter.
- Genelia D'Souza, an actress I place on a par with Zooey Deschanel in terms of her ability to drive me to want to stick a fork in my eye by playing the same character type OVER AND OVER AGAIN, in Life Partner plays a character SO INCREDIBLY IRRITATING AND AWFUL it makes every other Manic Pixie Dream Girl look like a nuanced, subtle, award worthy performance.
BUT. The character – Sanjana - is SO AWFUL, SO SO INCREDIBLY AWFUL it becomes just...super fun to hate her. In no other film do I actually look forward to Genelia's awful screeching onscreen. You know how there are characters you just LOVE to LOATHE? Sanjana is one of them, because, and this should explain it:SHE IS SO LOATHSOME YOU FEEL ACTUAL PALPABLE SYMPATHY FOR FARDEEN KHAN. Who is actually quite a sweet guy in this.
- Oh yeah, aside from Govinda, the lead characters are played by Fardeen Khan and Tusshar (Kapoor). (I don't know why he goes for the one name credit, he's always gonna be Tusshar Kapoor, never just Tusshar - and the film even has an in-joke about his filmi family).
For the uninformed - that would be Tusshar Kapoor's real life sister, Ekta Kapoor, well-known for producing soapy TV serials; and their dad is of course the glorious 60s/70s hero, Jeetendra.Now, I will get to this point again in a bit but objectively speaking: these names are not exactly known for filling theatres or inspiring confidence.
- In terms of awful characters there's also THIS GUY – Bhavesh's papa.
Again, it's another case of having a character be just so awful it's actually kind of enjoyable to hate them, but you know, I totally understand how your mileage may vary on this one.
But the thing is, I REALLY like this film. Like, I enjoy this film an embarrassing amount. It's one of those films I can happily watch from start to finish ENDLESS TIMES. If it is on TV, I WILL SIT DOWN AND WATCH TO THE END. Sometimes, out of the blue, I will get a yearning, a need to watch this one particular film. It's FULL of shameless pleasures.
- I REALLY REALLY REALLY ADORE TUSSHAR IN THIS MOVIE. I have a mega soft spot for Tussh anyway, and think the guy gets treated a bit rough sometimes (um, hello, just watch Shor In The City, okay? He OWNS in that film) but his character Bhavesh in Life Partner is SCHO SCHWEET (well, up until the second half when he's not being a pathetic coward).
My favourite part: when he starts CRYING when he finds out his marriage proposal has been accepted. IT'S SO CUTE.
- You get to see The Most Annoying Manic Pixie Dream Girl Character IN HISTORY get yelled at by Saintly Fardeen Khan (who is justifiably mad, because in the course of the film, he gets up at 6am, does all the housework, goes to work to earn a living, comes home and has to cook for Sanjana, do more housework, is kept up partying all night by her and her friends, nearly crashes the car falling asleep at the wheel because when he put music on to keep his exhausted self awake Sanjana screamed at him “I'm SLEEPING”, AND THEN SANJANA – who doesn't have a job, do anything around the house except complain that her husband is not at her beck and call enough – BURNS DOWN THE HOUSE because she doesn't know how to turn the washing machine off). (Also, that's not even HALF of it).
- And also, there's a WHOLE SONG dedicated to making fun of her.
I love this film. Not even ashamed.