Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye! has to be one of the finest films I’ve seen this year. I hate sounding smug, but right from the time Abhay Deol made his appearance in Socha Na Tha, he’s struck me as the kinds who could break out of his family’s muscled territory and go into something more subtle. I thought Manorama was an absolutely brilliant film, but then film noir is hard to come by in Bollywood.
You know how films that have Sikhs in them lapse into the standard “cute small sardarji” and “lion-hearted kind big sardarji” types? This film just dashes that. It gives you insight into the sheer “kameenapan” that Delhi is so famous for. In fact the word “kameena” is so hard to translate. The one wonderful thing about the film is the sheer pragmatism of all characters involved. An older aunty wants sex. A young man wants cheap thrills.
The way the film looks at Delhi is just so wonderful. The winters, and how steaming hot cups of tea are often the only subtle thing in the city. The hanging telephone wires from electric poles. How the entire city leches and gawks constantly. The mothers are scheming, the friends are creeps, the love stories are erratic. The accents are just right, Hindi twisted into a Jat-kissed accent and the familiar Punjabi irreverence.
It hits Delhi where it hurts most. It’s not the romantic environs of the University, or the cushioned loveliness of Central Delhi. Instead, it’s West Delhi. The city has this annoying habit of making relatives out of everyone. And Archana Puran Singh (who is clearly been wasted in so many films and roles) is so fantastic as a woman who makes a “brother” out of a conman. She’s so convincing that you almost cringe. You see, there’s no underbelly in Delhi. It’s a massive potbelly. And you can hide it all you like, but it’ll still show. In Delhi, you basically buy respectability. Or you are born into it.
At some point you realize that this conman isn’t afterall different from everyone else in the film. Everybody is fooling someone, cheating someone, or just stealing. Our conman does it slightly better. And there’s no prejudice. No morality. No concept of an urban Robin Hood. He steals and hoards. He’s a magpie with a punjabi accent.
The music is brilliant. It provides the perfect pace to the film. It doesn’t overwhelm the film or stand out like sore points. There are no choreographed dances. Sample this
And the women? They aren’t romantic fools. They make advances. And much like the rest of Delhi, they’d sell you to the next party in a heartbeat. Fantastic! If you watch one film this month, make it this one.