I love Lokhandwala. It has the bizarre joie-de-vivre of a circus. It’s bustling, chaotic, and so filmi. It’s got an amazing ambience where everything looks like props. And everyone looks like extras. But happy extras, because there are no lead actors. There are guys wearing netted kurtas, giving side-long glances to imaginary cameras. I see ladies in short, pink skirts and lilac nails tapping away on chocolate coloured lap-tops. I see huge film posters and malls and wide, crowded, dug up roads. I see food stalls and clothes stalls and stalls that sell huge, gaudy belts. If ever Lokhandwala gets its own emblem, it will be a shiny see-through top.
I was meeting a friend at Ginger Marie – a little tea joint near Fame Adlabs. It’s not particularly noteworthy, but I like it because it’s small and usually empty. The staff smiles when you enter…and that seems to be happening less in most eateries as time goes by.
My friend, U, came by and we ordered strawberry Margaritas. I love, absolutely love, that drink. I practically forced it on my friend, who I’m sure, went along with my suggestion because it had something to do with strawberries. And although the drinks were served with perfectly salted rims and all, they were a tad syrupy. Most mocktails are made sweet and syrupy. I wonder why. A colleague once mentioned that restaurants feel compelled to give a customer a sugar rush to compensate for the superior high that comes from intoxication. That may be thoughtful, but I think my colleague was being sarcastic.
Now, the idea was to simply shoot the breeze a little bit, desultorily stare into the lovely ruby glaze of my glass while U told me about her gym workouts, etc. etc. Instead, while we were sipping the Marges, we kept looking at the huge purple building to our left. Happy, excited people chatting on the phone. Happy, excited people milling around pani puri stalls. Happy, excited people standing in line for tickets. Happy, excited people going in for movies. We just had to be there. So we slurped the last of our drinks and left. All happy and excited.
I don’t know if anyone else has noticed it, but the Fame in Lokhandwala has a distinct tug. I can’t ignore it. Even if I’m going for a meal in the vicinity, I just have to stop by and check movie listings.
We got tickets to Michael Clayton. I think the film was exceptionally narrated. That envelope inside an envelope inside an envelope approach was meticulous. I found the beginning particularly riveting, when the lawyer is almost babbling about the details of his discovery in the background while we see shots of empty offices, dark streets, and lonely buildings. There are several parts where you feel as if you’re inside someone’s head. So, you sort of get involved in little mental clicks and snaps when clues start piecing together.
And George Clooney is just so right. He’s this suited, precise fixer who lives in throes of personal disarray. Yet there’s something so kind and generous in those vagabond eyes. He’s a really beautiful man. Not just Hollywood sexy. That’s in fact, the least of his appeals. There’s a strong eternal generosity in his smile. Like a beautiful sunrise.
The woman who plays the ‘villienne’, so to speak, definitely looks the part. And she has a voice that makes everything sound sinister. I’m sure if she just went in to a bistro and ordered for cheese sandwich, she’d make it sound like doom. That’s a gift, in some parts of the world. My friend said she looked menacing because you could see the shape of her skull. Her hair or ‘externalities’ didn’t camouflage enough. (See, this is why I don’t want to go to a gym. It makes one weird.)
The climax is so hushed and sad. It’s like you wait for a million years for an important letter and that comes – inside an envelope inside an envelope inside an envelope. And when the final envelope is opened, there’s no letter. Just a really old photograph of when you were young. It’s that simple, and that sad. That scene when George Clooney says his final words to the lady and walks away – that scene is just painted in cadence. And because a moment of triumph is treated with quietude instead of clamour, you still find yourself glued to your seat in the end, when Clooney is driving around New York in a cab.
It’s that simple…and that sad.