Five reasons to watch Saawariya:
* Ranbir Kapoor makes a splendid debut. Even as a first-timer, Rishi and Neetu Kapoor's blue-blooded son shows tremendous range, polish and magnetism. Besides being a terrific dancer, his naturally disarming disposition and vulnerable boyishness makes him effortlessly likable. Unlike the conventional launch, wherein the hero parades in trendy designer wear and zooms on a bike with a bunch of babes in tow, our guy is made to wear an outlandish wardrobe and clown around his unrelenting object of affection. And yet, Ranbir as Ranbir makes quite an impression.
* Ditto for Sonam Kapoor. In addition to her classy screen presence, she delivers her lines with mesmerising clarity and consciousness. There is something majestic about Sonam's almond-shaped eyes, which convey intrigue, mischief and depth with astonishing fluency. Although her Sakina is clearly self-seeking and confused, Sonam's goodness makes us not grudge her reel avatar's final decision.
* The duo share an exquisite screen chemistry. And while director Bhansali messes up on a lot of counts, he successfully brings out the romance in rhythm from the debutants. Watch how Ranbir's protective body language finds a fond response in Sonam's playful warmth. They look wonderful together and hopefully we'll see a lot of them as a pair.
* If you want to educate yourself on how even creativity, in excess, can damage a film's prospects, watch Saawariya. The musical looks like a running catalogue for 'Interior decoration for the aesthetically-challenged or wildly eccentric.' Bhansali's blue-green attempt at restoring Moulin Rouge in Film City with wall paintings of Noorjehan and Hindu goddesses, giant-sized Buddha figures, a lotus-infested pond, brightly-lit shops, spire-head buildings and a arc-shaped bridge is, at best, a fascinating farce.
* Or because you have already seen Om Shanti Om and are curious to know what the Shah Rukh Khan-starrer is up against.
Five reasons to skip Saawariya:
* Because Sanjay Leela Bhansali does not have a sense of humour. His characters are sarcastic, cynical, self-centered, brooding or moody. In a nutshell, one-dimensional. The conversations they have are either too obsolete or plain boring. It appears as if the filmmaker is conscious of his solemn image and is catering to just that, leaving no room for much-needed
spontaneity. No wonder everything about Saawariya seems cardboard-like and cosmetic. Also, why does Bhansali risk introducing a new, untried pair with a adaptation of Fyodor M Dostoevsky's White Nights, a ill-fated short story of unrequited love? Somehow seeing Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam (sans all the colour and masti) in reverse strikes a discordant note with the viewer.
* Saawariya witnesses Rani Mukerji at her jarring best. For starters, her character, that of a sex worker, is completed irrelevant to the script. What she does do is dress up in screaming shades of fuchsia and turquoise, sporting garish bouffant and unending layers of make-up, to deliver an over-the-top performance, which includes hamming in one-liners like 'Oh Jesus!' and 'How you?'. Her acting is as substantial as the fake eye-lashes she wears.
* There is slow and there is s-l-o-w. Saawariya is painfully slack. Surely, even a camel moves at a greater pace. In the film's two hours and 17 minutes running time, the script finds an excuse to break into a song every few minutes. The tunes are definitely melodious but there's a limit to watching a lovestruck lad repeatedly singing paeans of love to his elusive sweetheart. Also, the Eid song sequence is particularly unimaginative, wherein all the dancers are made to stand as if they are in a school assembly and do shoulder-jerking movements.
* Saawariya unnecessarily gimmicks on Ranbir's 'Kapoor' status by duplicating iconic images from his grandfather, Raj Kapoor's films. Being his first film, he should have been given the space and scenes to carve his individual niche (which he's perfectly capable of). Instead he's asked to revisit the memories drawn from his supreme lineage. All of RK's classic moments, right from sharing an umbrella with the heroine in the rain (Shree 420), grabbing her passionately by the hair (Awaara), striking a catch-me-if-I fall-strategic-pose (Barsaat) to sporting a Chaplinesque hat, smiling the trademark sheepish grin or doing the mime gestures -- Saawariya sees Kapoor Jr doing it all.
* Character actors get more talk-time than the lead protagonists. Bhansali's idea of recreating a Lalita Pawar-Raj Kapoor 'affection-in-admonishment' scenario from Anari with Zohra Sehgal and Ranbir falls flat on its face. There's nothing cute about Sehgal's Mrs Lillipop yakking non-stop in her made-up firang accent. What should register as poignant and endearing comes across as annoying and pretentious because of its overkill.
Actually, that pretty much sums up Saawariya.