After having lurked in the reckoning for many years, a new wave of Hindi Cinema seems to have arrived at the door. We haven’t yet embraced it, but the windows that were left open did allow the smell in. Oye Lucky… is the latest and most decisive blow the new independents have managed yet.
The film marks the most amazing presentation of the changing infrastructure of ambitions coupled with landscapes of greed, but more heartening is that finally, the reconciliation with our cultural roots has also begun. After all these years, the arrogant denial of our own identity may be about to end. Through Oye Lucky… cinema is finally engaging with its surroundings and not merely trying to create a super-reality (a more entertaining reality though) of its own. It still possesses its own language and style but now, it is willing to talk to us in our language. Not just that, it has also begun to acknowledge our geography and history.
Not completely, of course. But what is truly thrilling is that it is being done without much fuss. The loud mouthing that some, like Anurag Kashyap, have been indulging in does not represent the bunch. The likes of Rajat Kapoor, Nishikant Kamath and Dibankar Bannerjee have been instrumental in an original, incisive cinema that is not trying to prove anything.
Sure it is not about our villages, not yet. Though the camera is still roaming the streets of Mumbai and Delhi where it is easy to shoot on a small budget, we must all hope that soon Luckys shall be traced down to their villages in Punjab, the canvas shall be painted with the yellow of the mustard fields, the journey of Neetu Chandra’s innocence – whether it made way for a mini-skirt she hated or covered itself in a dark room after Lucky was jailed – shall also be told.
That must happen. However, till then, we must enjoy the fact that the language Lucky and Bengali are speaking is real. It may not be pretty otherwise but the very fact that they are unashamed of speaking it on the screen is heartening. And that is precisely what works with Oye Lucky…: that it does not try to look pretty. The aesthetics are finally being challenged. Classical is finally making way for the folk, or at least it is not overshadowing the folk.
Honestly, what can be more wonderful than not having to listen to a metallic voiced Sonu Nigam and to get to hear a certain Master Mahaveer Chopra who sings his heart out in ‘Tu Raja ki Rajdulari…’, one of the most touching renditions I’ve listened to in many many years? And in a similar vein, an adorable Abhay Deol not trying to do another superstar-ish SRK act?
Yet, if I must put my finger on one aspect that makes Oye Lucky… a must-watch, it’d have to be its linguistic texture. Frankly, it feels like after all these years of eating a cherry-cake with its wrapper on, someone unwrapped it and put in your mouth. Imagine the first time you bit into it and that’s as much as you could relish the film if you understood its language well.
For many years now, Hindi Cinema has been in a rut. Bigger the promises worse were the results! Finally, it is trying to come out, without making much noise. It is time we took notice and welcomed it.