Break ke Baad: Dear John

30 Nov
<i>Break ke Baad</i>: Dear John

Dear Movie, we have got to break up. Wake up Sid, Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na, Anjaana Anjaani, I Hate Luv Storys, Bachna Ae Haseeno… and now Break ke Baad, directed by Danish Aslam. The title of which made me laugh because we’ve essentially been watching the same movie starring Ranbir Kapoor and Imran Khan in turn, over and over and over again.

If I see one more middling movie about a likable pair of youngsters (the male confused yet ultimately correct; the female focused yet ultimately proven wrong) who stumble around in the dark before finding each other without too much fuss… well, I guess I will be well-rested because I’ll just turn over and go back to sleep. It’s not like I’ll lose my temper because that would be an actual reaction which is more than these things aim for.

[Digression 1: That’s not strictly true. The first couple of times I saw this plot, viz. Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na and Wake Up Sid as well as parts of Bachna Ae Haseeno, I was interested. With each subsequent installment, I quickly got over it.]

I’ve been wondering why this is, this utter lack of any response other than a shrug and a meh. Was it the careful result of much planning on the filmmakers’ part – did they deliver the innocuous movie they set out to make? Or was it inadvertent – an attempt to speak Gen Now gone terribly boring?

It finally struck me as I was watching Break ke Baad that (as a member of Gen 10 Minutes Past) the problem appears to be the romance. On their own, as angsty young people, all these movies feature interesting characters.

In Break ke Baad, for example, Abhay Gulati (Imran Khan) is that guy from college who kind of coasted along, uninterested in reaching for anything because he knew his (extremely unvillainous, terribly nice and supportive) father had an office all ready for him at home. And then once he got into that office, it began to pinch because he was like a balloon filled to bursting with all these half-formulated ideas and desires that had never been expressed because he hadn’t even tried to put them into words before. And yet, nothing short of a life-changing event can knock him out of his stupor and into experimenting a little with his idea of self.

Aaliya Khan (Deepika Padukone) is that girl you’re friends with because life is always so much more entertaining when she’s around to fuck things up. Your boyfriend hates her and thinks she’s a terrible influence on you, your other friends wonder what you see in her, and you shrug them off because your friendship is inexplicably based on giggly minutes spent fixing your makeup after throwing up in the restroom of a club or convincing a bartender to slip you free drinks. Everyone else got you really nice, safe, thoughtful gifts of books and knickknacks for your birthday but hers is the one you’ll always treasure – she made it herself, it serves absolutely no purpose (not even decorative because it’s fucking hideous), and is absolutely perfect to remember her by because you know and she knows that once these brief, few years are over, you’ll probably never meet her again although you’ll never forget her.

The difference between these two characters is that when they get to the big screen, Abhay is still sympathetic enough to be portrayed as he is while Aaliya turns into this monstrous vampire that feeds off the emotional energy of other people. In other words, you’ll see those exact scenes in Abhay’s portions of the movie, while the Aaliya I described above is crammed into a few scenes of pottery in a sunny courtyard and drunken revelry in inappropriate places. Even so, there’s a sense of drama lurking under the surface in her interactions with her mother, her frequent references to her adulterous absentee father, her determination to hack her own path and give no quarter.

[Digression 2: Aslam joins his long line of fellow debutant directors in making a movie in which the parent-child relationship comes off as much more genuine and heartfelt. A trend that first came to my attention in Wake Up Sid.]

Drama. Which brings us back to my big problem with movies like Break ke Baad – these are the most comatose romances I’ve ever seen in my life. I appreciate that they’re trying to set a tone that isn’t as hysterical as your classic Bollywood romance can be, with cruel parents and promises to die with sweeping background music. But as much as things have changed, falling in love is same old hysterical business, I’m afraid. Lovers are still fighting over trifles, irritating and boring their friends in turn by assuring them that none of them know the true meaning of love, bursting into storms of tears and accusations and other sappy stuff.

Compare that to movies like Anjaana Anjaani, which turned even the concept of suicide for love’s sake into a drawn out yawn. I know a real life version of that story and it is so much more entertaining. Meanwhile, people in these movies are so articulate, so soft-spoken, so polite I imagine their sex life consists of strenuous cuddling. In Break ke Baad, when Aaliya flips out at Abhay in the midst of the most uneventful beach rave Australia has ever hosted, the best she can do is grit out that she’s on a break in a half-raised growl before throwing the phone on the soft sand of the beach. I mean, she doesn’t even destroy her phone! What kind of tantrum is that for a capricious, self-obsessed creative? And yet, not a single character in the movie misses an opportunity to inform us that Aaliya is indeed all those things.

[Digression 3: Apart from Dev D, which is really a beast of a different sort, and perhaps a bit of Jaane Tu… how come all these cool, hip young folk go to the most boring parties where nothing ever happens? No brawls, no skeevy middle-aged men scoping out the latest batch of teenage girls, no catfight in the restroom, no puddles of vomit in random corners, no idiot adolescent tripping out for the first time and nearly killing him/herself, no cops who’ve totally been paid off, no sleazy waiters who know all the shady gossip about all the patrons, no drug peddling kingpins recruiting fresh customers… Aaliya would have found much better parties in her hometown of Delhi instead of going all the way to Australia to play with a surfboard.]

I sat there, one part of my brain watching Break ke Baad while the other ran through all the lovelife drama I’ve witnessed over the past year alone and no contest – every one of my friends had a more eventful, drama-filled story to tell. And this includes the ones that aren’t even in a relationship! Hmmm. Maybe I need new friends! 😛

Having said all that, if there are young kids out there who’re watching these movies and coming away with the lesson that it pays to treat each other with respect (which, to give these movies their due, is a statement they eventually deliver) in a relationship, I couldn’t be happier. I’d rather watch a million versions of Break Ke Baad than a single Kambakkht Ishq.


Posted by on November 30, 2010 in Celebrity, Entertainment, Movies, Review, Video


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20 responses to “Break ke Baad: Dear John

  1. bitsofchocolate

    November 30, 2010 at 4:14 pm

    Based on Digression 3, are you getting into the Bollywood scriptwriting business ?

    • Amrita

      November 30, 2010 at 4:16 pm

      Haha, no fear! Howls of dismay will be heard around the world if I suddenly decide to adapt my college days onto film 😀

  2. Empowerment Engineer

    November 30, 2010 at 4:18 pm

    It sounds just like Love Aaj Kal

  3. bollyviewer

    November 30, 2010 at 5:09 pm

    every one of my friends had a more eventful, drama-filled story to tell” Why do you think the drama is so toned down onscreen these days? Because reality is already so dramatic that we need to see the opposite onscreen – something that will rejuvenate our hope that life can be peaceful and uneventful, sometimes! At least the movie gets over in 2hrs, friends’ romantic dramas tend to drag for weeks/months and don’t always end in happily-ever-after (more agony for the confidante!).

  4. Beth

    November 30, 2010 at 8:12 pm

    Respect=good. Women who vision and plans as wrong while men-children who bumble as right=bad. HMMMM.

    I love Bollyviewer’s idea that nowadays we need calm romances because the rest of life is such a stressball. A boring relationship is one thing but being a boring person is another altogether – do you think that this film actually promoted the latter? And I’m so curious about your question about whether this is what the filmmakers wanted to make – and, if so, why and for whom – especially in light of the KWK director episode, where we learned quite clearly that doing anything that asks an audience to think a little bit should be flung overboard post haste.

    Please to not be dumping your boring friends! Waaaah! 😥

  5. Gradwolf

    December 1, 2010 at 12:10 am

    “Meanwhile, people in these movies are so articulate, so soft-spoken, so polite I imagine their sex life consists of strenuous cuddling.”


    You know, a good friend keeps telling me how nobody makes films about simple people a la Hrishikesh Mukherjee anymore. Though I tell her that there is a high probability that the definition of simple people has changed over the years, when I see these characters with hardly any real problem(that thing about dad’s office being ready etc.) it is mildly cringe worthy.

    As much as I liked Karthik Calling Karthik, it kept me wondering how it would have been if they had taken that Karthik character and remade Choti Si Baat or something out of it.

  6. CheeC

    December 1, 2010 at 1:02 am

    Hey, am I the only one here getting breezy-but-brief echoes of Salaam Namaste from the trailer? Interesting that you mention the two Siddharth Anand flicks by way of comparison but not this one (and of course we all know Ta Ra Rum Pum is not to be touched with a barge pole — an advice I’ve till date followed, lucky me).

    BTW, like Beth (and I guess G-wolf), I too loved Deepika in Karthik Calling Karthik…especially her hurling that (invisible) lasso at Farhaan and “yanking” him to the dance floor!

  7. sachita

    December 1, 2010 at 1:55 am

    1. i relegate these movies as DVD movies and watch it on netflix or in a frnds house!
    2. it also irritates me when ppl smugly promote these movies as different and superior to the older movies of 90s and 2000s apparently. one cant even tell these apart from one another(though wake up sid is slightly diff. me thinks and kck isnt in this league itself)

  8. Veena

    December 1, 2010 at 2:06 am

    You are right, it does seem like we are watching the same movie over and over. All of them seem to be about youngsters creating problems for themselves since there are no external problems, e.g., over-the-top villains lusting after the girl, or over-the-top rich parents trying to “buy-out” the poorer guy/girl. And since all of them end the same way, you really just want to fast forward to the end. These are true brainless entertainers, in spite of what the directors claim about representing a different sensibility and all that.

  9. dipali

    December 2, 2010 at 5:59 am

    ‘I’d rather watch a million versions of Break Ke Baad than a single Kambakkht Ishq.’

    So true- K.I. was one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen, if not the worst!!! In BkB, though, the protagonists’ best buddy-ness didn’t translate into romance. The romance, such as it was, seemed lukewarm and anaemic, despite Aaliya’s volatile personality. I did get rather bored in places. What I found significant was the fact that a prospective Khan/Gulati alliance didn’t raise any hackles in their respective families, which was good to see on the big screen! I did like Pammi Bua:)

    • Banno

      December 2, 2010 at 11:03 am

      Ah, we lack villains, and vamps, me thinks! Where is the drama to come from?

  10. M

    December 2, 2010 at 11:19 am

    Oh thank you! Someone finally said it – I caught a few of these new-age movies recently (JTYJN, WuS, portions of IHLS – which was so horrible, I couldn’t watch more than about 30%) and less than a week later, all of them have run together into one boring snooze-fest in my mind! Everything looks and sounds alike – the clothes, the settings, the people, the dialogues…..

    • CheeC

      December 2, 2010 at 12:25 pm

      M: Oh yeah, “Seen one? You’ve seen ’em all!” seems about right when it comes to these new-(garb)age movies.

      Probably for the way they sound when read out loud, but my mind translated your acronyms into these oxymorons (if you compare them against original meanings of the titles, that is) and I had me a good laugh, thank you so much:

      JusTYouJohN, Wus(s), Aisles!! 😀

  11. Indian Homemaker

    December 5, 2010 at 12:25 pm

    //I’d rather watch a million versions of Break Ke Baad than a single Kambakkht Ishq. //

    This makes me glad they are making such movies.

    Add realistic parent child relationships, mutual respect, girls open to thinking that their first love may not be their last love, men with respect for their mothers even though the said mothers are not running after them with a freshly cooked gajar ka halwa, girls not being adarsh bhartiya naari, men without egoes, girls who want careers, men cooking, men caring… This is not such a bad change.

  12. Amrita

    December 5, 2010 at 3:11 pm

    @EE – except that was written better.

    @BV – hhahahaha! Well, then I’ll just hang out with my friends then!

    @Beth – fear not! You are not my boring friend! I think they did make the movie they wanted but the just have such a negotiated, carefully navigated relationship, it ends up boring.

    @Adithya – I think Dibakar banerjee’s movies are set in that milieu but they’re not very “simple” the way they were. So yes, we have new simple folk.

    @CheeC – funny thing about the director: he was the assistant director in every single romcom you can think of the past 10 years. including Salaam namaste! 😀

    @Sachita – yeah, they don’t really have a must-watch feel to them anymore. I actually deleted a whole section of the post about old movies which I plan to use as a post.

    @Veena – I wouldn’t mind so much if they took an interesting path to the same resolution but that’s never the case!

    @Dipali – The older actors were all the best part of this movie, I thought. Lillete Dubey especially!

    @Banno – they need to find some fix around that!

    @M – right? LOL at IHLS being so awful you couldnt even bear it! But havent you heard? This is the future!

    @IndianH – Definitely, I’d rather this than some of the trash they could come up with. Boredom is preferable to some of the other stuff they could come up with.

    • CheeC

      December 5, 2010 at 6:53 pm

      “LOL at IHLS being so awful you couldn’t even bear it!” — you probably meant to respond to M, with this? Coz I haven’t even caught IHLS yet (though I’m not exactly averse to the idea of declaring it unbearable even without watching). 😀

      • Amrita

        December 6, 2010 at 12:07 am

        Oh phooey! 😀 Fixt!

        • CheeC

          December 7, 2010 at 3:45 pm

          Oh one more thing: “…about the director: he was the assistant director in every single romcom you can think of the past 10 years. including Salaam namaste!” — but hey, the Wiki page for Salaam Namaste credits SA with being its director. Yet another instance of Wiki coming out as an unreliable source of info?

          • Amrita

            December 8, 2010 at 2:39 pm

            He was the *assistant* director. Siddharth Anand directed it.


            • CheeC

              December 8, 2010 at 4:08 pm

              Hey, my bad. 😀 I totally spaced out on the fact that by “director” you meant the director of Break Ke Baad, Danish Aslam. Guess I was still fixated on the director (Siddharth Anand) that I was commenting on…the one who directed (the couple of films) you were comparing BkB against, in your digressions.

              Glad to know Wiki doesn’t deserve all of the bad rap its been getting lately.

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