Well, no-one’s going to believe me now. Not after the way the film has been shredded in the papers. But, what the heck – I really liked Dus Kahaniyan. If anything, I liked it so much I didn’t even get up during the interval. I didn’t need a break – I wanted a start-to-finish steady continuum.
Now, as a writer, I know that it is more difficult to be succinct than it is to be wordy. It is a challenge to crunch and distill ideas so that only the core remains. Perhaps that’s why I admired the episodic format of the film. Somewhat based on Jeffrey Archer’s ‘A twist in the Tale’ (in intent, not content – though the story of ‘Rice Plate’ and ‘Sex on the beach’ seemed vaguely familiar), the movie is made up of 10 episodic films. They don’t really have a common theme running through them, other than a quirk at the end.
My vote goes to the film of Mahesh Manjrekar and Neha Dhupia. It is a fabulous example of a story that makes you sit up. And not because of its message (there’s ‘Puranmashi’ by Meghana Gulzar that will probably don the mantle for that, or ‘The Highway’ with Jimmy Shergill, or even ‘Rise and Fall’ with Sunjay Dutt and Suniel Shetty), but because of an extraordinary slice of acting – by the guy Neha Dhupia is seen to get intimate with. I mean, a couple of scenes in this segment has more prowess than a lot of full-fledged films I have seen in a long time.
Of course, many of these films are redeemed simply by virtue of the actors doing their parts. Naseer and Nana – now, they are not actors you would watch a film for; they are the ones you would make a film for. And though I don’t really think much of Arbaaz Khan or Mandira Bedi, they handled their simple yet predictable story remarkably well. Their story was a very good choice to begin the movie with.
Some of these films seemed ambitious in scope and for some reason, I didn’t think much of them when I watched them – but they have been on my mind ever since. Jimmy Shergill and Masumi’s story for one, and Rise and Fall is the other. (Sanjay Gupta should just stop directing Dutt now…the highschool adolescent hero-worship is getting real old. But Gupta has named the characters Baba and Nawab – a nod to his erstwhile blockbuster ‘Aatish’. Very smooth. Now, see, everyone wouldn’t get the nuance – I did because that movie changed forever the way I would conjure up any person called ‘Baba’. Sigh!)
The very worst of the lot has to be Dino Morea’s story called ‘Sex on the Beach’. For some odd reason, bits of it looked like a Dockers advert to me. Understandably, it was directed by Apoorva Lakhia.
If this were a book of short stories, I’d say, go read all of them, but zerox the one with Neha Dhupia and Mahesh Manjrekar. It’s well worth flipping through the entire collection for.