‘Sorry Bhai’ - a breezy love triangle (Film Review - Rating: ***)

November 28th, 2008 - 3:47 pm ICT by IANS  

Film: “Sorry Bhai”; Cast: Shabana Azmi, Boman Irani, Sanjay Suri, Sharman Joshi, Chitrangada; Director: Onir; Rating: ***Shot in Mauritius, the film shows Sanjay Suri and Sharman Joshi vying for Chitrangada Singh’s attention with a laid back stay-calm stay-cool kind of urbane chic that often masquerades as a mirror of contemporary mores in today’s cinema.

Happily, “Sorry Bhai” has plenty of genuine moments of emotional ‘ouch’-burst. This isn’t a film about confrontational relationships. The characters prefer to keep it nice and peaceful on the surface, no matter what the turmoil inside, just like the blue oceans and white sands of Mauritius.

Love may or may not mean having to say you’re sorry. But Sharman, who plays the kid-brother who whisks away his brother’s bride-to-be in a tumultuous romance, says ’sorry’ so many times you wonder whom he’s trying to convince, the brother or his conscience.

Or could it be us, watching this pleasant, mild but finally intensity-free romantic comedy set in the mollifying splendour of Mauritius, whom Sharman’s sorry state of ‘affair’ is trying to convince?

In one vital sequence, Sharman makes lingering love to his sister-in-law-to-be in the trial room while trying out a wedding suit. Waiting outside Sanjay chuckles, “I’m sure she’s making him try out something he has never tried before.”

Wicked spurts of humour seem oddly intrusive in this drama of the under-driven. The narration’s mood swings from delicious satire to barbed rhetorics - mother-in-law-to-be Shabana Azmi’s ar-son-ic exchanges with her future daughter-in-law could set the azure Mauritius waters on fire, if only they weren’t so funny.

“Sorry Bhai” is a film that requires a number of mood change. In its two hours of mellow playing time, it packs in a whole criss-crossing kaleidoscope of family ties and accompanying emotions ranging from intense motherly possessiveness to authentic ‘bhaigiri’.

Not all the mood and time transitions are achieved with fluency. Some moments between pairs of characters just don’t go far enough to reach into the inner recesses of the heart. Indeed the best moment in the film is the one where the sobbing sibling rests his head on his brother’s lap to express sorrow for stealing away his fiancĂ©e.

But then there’s a difference between taking your brother’s favourite pen to scribble your limericks and stealing his bride.

“Sorry, Bhai” swims languorously in a terrain that covers the thumb-sucking selfishness of childhood as well as the sexual friction within a family where a beautiful woman appears as a bone of contention.

And what a woman! Chitrangada looking toned and chiselled, playing the spunky woman who wants to break free from a stagnant long-lasting relationship to court life on the fast lane brings in the right flavours of chocolate-and-chutzpah into the tranquil goings-on.

When Onir keeps the family drama sweet and simple, when he focuses on one-on-ones within the family circle, he is in his element. But Onir’s film is as original as it can get.

We won’t have another film for a long time where the mom tells her younger son to live in with her elder son’s fiancee.

Shabana in the mother’s role is a bit of a disappointment. Boman as her husband is far more relaxed.

As for the central performances, Chitrangada makes a likeable comeback except when she’s too busy putting her best profile forward to the camera. And it’s hard for us to believe that Sharman is supposed to play a guy with such irresistible charm that he can sweep the far-from-blushing-bride off her feet and seize her from his brother.

The crew cruises the calm characters and their location with underplayed expertise.

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