Rajeev Masand – movies that matter : from bollywood, hollywood and everywhere else

October 26, 2007

Goes up in smoke!

Filed under: Our FIlms — Rajeev @ 11:45 pm

October 26, 2007

Cast: John Abraham, Ayesha Takia, Ranvir Sheorey, Paresh Rawal

Director: Anurag Kashyap

This film is an arrogant piece of work that reeks of over-confidence.

Indulgent to the point of alienating his audience, director Anurag Kashyap steals the premise of No Smoking from a segment in the 1985 film Cat’s Eye, adapted from Stephen King’s anthology of fear stories.

In Kashyap’s film, John Abraham plays a chain-smoking businessman who agrees to quit smoking when his wife Ayesha Takia threatens to leave him. He signs up at a dungeon-like rehabilitation centre run byParesh Rawal whose idea of therapy is a tad unconventional – it involves severe punishments like having one’s fingers chopped off, or one’s family knocked off every time one reaches for a smoke.

The crazy unreality of the situation reminds you of David Lynch’s Twilight Zone series, but don’t forget that’s an acquired taste and not one that appeals to all.

Truth is, despite the absurd premise, No Smoking might still have been an accessible film had Anurag Kashyap wanted to make an accessible film. But what the director gives us is an extremely arrogant piece of work that reeks of over-confidence and self-proclaimed genius. How else do you explain the intentionally incohesive screenplay, the bizarre dialogue, and the blatant disregard for the viewer’s time and patience?

I suspect there’s going to be much debate over No Smoking in the days ahead. And I can understand why. It’s an unconventional film without your usual Hindi film clichés, but my question is – is that enough to celebrate it as a good film?

Despite its spectacular photography and some truly imaginative sequences, No Smoking is in the end a film that fails to entertain because it’s so caught up trying to be an intellectual film, it’s so hell-bent on going way over the audience’s head.

Part black comedy, part thriller, No Smoking works only when the director decides he wants to entertain – like that hilarious flashback scene in which Ranveer Sheorey and John Abraham reminisce about the time they were caught smoking in the toilet by a parent.

Don’t go in expecting drama or a gritty narrative because you won’t find that here, this isn’t anything like the director’s previous film Black Friday. Go in only if you have an appetite for the bizarre. As far as I’m concerned, it’s a colossal disappointment from one of the most promising filmmakers in the country.

So that’s one out of five for Anurag Kashyap’s No Smoking, he’s now a director who’s earned the unique distinction of giving us both, one of the best and one of the worst films of the year.

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)

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