ROY Review

                   

       Does art imitate life, or vice versa? Do writers break when their hearts break, or do they get inspired? Do filmmakers let fleeting memories and forgotten faces subconsciously shape their stories? Such classic film-within-a-film devices are somewhat addressed, and narrowly dealt with, in debutant director Vikramjit Singh’s intriguing ‘Roy’.

       The possibilities are endless when  filmmakers tend to employ  Charlie Kauffman’s Adaptation template where enigmatic artists dramatize their work based on happenings in their haphazard lives. That this genre has rarely been explored in Indian films amounts to criminal negligence, because if anything, our writers deserve to explore their own self-referential struggle on paper. Though Mr. Singh navigates these meta waters with surprising assurance, his is still a tiny stride longer than Happy Ending’s baby step that titillates endlessly, and appears far deeper than it is.

             The idea takes flight through superstar director Kabir Grewal (Rampal; suitably brooding), who, like many writers, borrows from real life in his case, 22 girl friends to create a popular film franchise named ‘Guns’. Unlike many writers, he dresses like a jazz legend, writes on an antique typewriter, surrounded by a cigarette case and expensive scotch. In an ode to himself, his protagonist is an actual thief (Ranbir; suave enough), who executes art heists across the globe. Grewal conforms to the age-old Bollywood practice of writing as he shoots, and finds his inspiration for Guns in London filmmaker Ayesha Amir (Fernandez; sincere), coincidentally at the same plush Malaysian hotel.How his film and head unfolds at the mercy of their muddled romance defines Roy, and Mr. Singh thankfully stops short of pointing out where fiction ends and reality begins.


      Throughout, it is impossible to shake off the feeling that there is a twist just around the corner. This lingering anticipation of drama, of a defining moment, is subject to our interpretation of the traditional 3-act structure and its rules. That the graph remains unhurried, almost meditative in its approach to storytelling, is down to the director’s striking sense of imagery and framing (supported by stylish camerawork), his atmospheric and well-planned use of string-heavy background themes, and his extensive treatment of their chatty chemistry. The songs, which ironically that have generated maximum buzz, are the only signs of a mainstream heart in what is largely an art house body.

      I could think of ten different variations to make the interval point seem relevant—what if this filmmaker purposely breaks up repeatedly to make great material? What if he is actually in someone else’s story? What if the two universes collide?

         However, Mr. Singh refuses to indulge in sleight-of-hand tricks, and lets us absorb the enormity of a womanizer falling in love and losing motivation. The shallowness of the art heists in Roy’s story only spoils the overall novelty, culminating in a tacky green-screen Louvre backdrop. Just a take on relationships, two complicated love stories eating off one another, would have made for a kinetic and, I dare say, more engaging watch. Furthermore, Singh’s interpretation of a character’s dormant state while the creator suffers leaves a lot to be desired, perhaps owing to Ranbir’s brief shooting schedule.

                      If anything, Roy absolutely merits an ambiguous ending, but again, maybe the time has not come to over-decorate a risky concept. The presentation is fine and for now, an idea, in Don Cobb’s words, is the most resilient parasite.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s