28 October 2007 | m_shankar20
No smoking is a maze
Anurag Kashyap is the wannabe maverick genius of Bollywood. (I say wannabe because the official maverick genius is Ram Gopal Varma :-). His films either do not finish, or do not get released or release years later. After the solid 'Black Friday', it was difficult to ignore his next release and so I went to watch 'No Smoking'.
No Smoking is a puzzle. It is a maze through the uncharted territories in Hindi cinema. Kashyap has donned a David Lynch hat this time. He unpacks a bag of questions on the screen for you which you have to find answers for yourself. And that, he backs up with excellent technical support from all other departments, so that you are not distracted in your search for answers.
I'll be honest. I did not really understand the film but I guess that is the way Kashyap wants it to be. He wants me to unravel the layers of the film as and when I have time. In that process, when I'd have soaked myself thoroughly in 'No Smoking', I'll let it go, not caring to be bothered by it anymore. Just like K (John Abraham's character) does to his cigarette.
a) Is cigarette a metaphor for all the things we lust for which only destroy us at the end? (I'm reminded of the line from 'Pulp Fiction' where Bruce Willis' girl friend tells him how things that are good to touch are not good to look at, referring to a pot belly) b) Is Paresh Rawal's character actually God? Is he the villain because he does not let us pursue our lust and plays by his rules - rules which cannot be bent or broken? c) In the end, does someone always have to really loose his soul and conscience? Can this world no go round if everyone owns his soul till the end?
I don't know if these are the questions that No Smoking asks. But it did force me to think of these.
The film is a technical accomplishment. The camera work, the set designs and graphics are all top notch. Tin cans were stacked up to create amazing visuals (you don't always need Switzerland :-). Music is in tune with the film and Gulzar, as always, has written lyrics that are sign-posts in this maze. Kudos also to Kumar Mangat and Vishal Bharadwaj for having the guts to produce such a film.
John Abraham is good. He always manages to do well in caught-on-all-sides characters. Paresh Rawal shines in his role. It was a relief to see him at some place other than a mindless Priyadarshan muddle.
No Smoking, no doubt, is at par technically with the best in the world but sadly enough, it has very little conventional entertainment value. It may be one of the milestones that Kashyap had to cross in his path to higher glories.