Film: Milan Talkies; Starring Ali Faizal, Shraddha Srinath, Ashutosh Rana, Tigmanshu Dhulia, Sanjai Mishra; Director: Tigmanshu Dhulia
"I've heard," says the inexperienced lover-boy, that at the beginning of a romance there is a lot of sex. And then it wears down to just once in a while on Karwa Chauth or whatever.
Milan Talkies a spiffily written expertly enacted small town hormonal romance with the juices trickling down its frames. It conveys just the right ingredients of smothered passion and unabashed swagger to make the proceedings pungent and real.
In fact, the writing (Dhulia and Kamal Pandey) is much cleverer and wittier than what it seems.
It's a fascinating study of how Hindi cinema impacts and influences smalltown lives, done with dollops of brusque humor and tongue-in-cheek drama. Till midpoint, Dhulia builds the budding romance between Ali Fazal and debutant Shraddha Srinath (both charming, together and apart though neither is as exceptional as the supporting cast) like scenes borrowed from the collective consciousness of a film-obsessed society.
But beneath the vigorous filminess, there is the underbelly of societal maladies represented in the clash between the heroine's conservative father and loutish husband. The two roles are brilliantly maneuvered by Ashutosh Rana and Sikandar Kher into areas of darkness and then steered expertly back into the orbit of light.
Milan Talkies is a delightful watch, much of its joy derived from packing in tropes and cliches Afrom Hindi films and re-packaging them with renewed vivacity. No assessment of this tender tale told in loops of hectic reconnaissance can be complete without a mention of Sanjai Mishra's role as Usman the film projectionist at the eponymous Milan Talkies where a very crucial part of the romantic reunion unfolds.
Mishra plays a kind of reluctant sutradhaarA who becomes a pivotal character in a romance played out with spectacular ebullience in Allahabad where goons masquerade as moral police, castrating Romeos to protect the Juliets and provincial filmmakers dream of making it big in Bollywood.
Just like Tigmanshu Dhulia himself the boy from Allahabad who made it big in Bollywood. Milan Talkies tells us it is okay to dream of creating your own Mughal-e-Azam in real and real life. Because you never know who is watching.