Notes on Kaminey

I have no inclination to do a proper review of Kaminey this late, and, looking at the sheer number of reviews out there, you don’t need another review, and neither do I. These are just notes. Some spoilers ahead.

  • It’s a very good movie, but not a brilliant one. Could’ve been plotted more tightly. I don’t think it should’ve been shorter, but that more things should’ve happened in the same amount of time. Apart from the scripting, I don’t have any major complaints. The music was used well, the camera was used carefully and lovingly, the editing was appropriately intense. (Also, could someone tell me where I could find the song that was used in the climax but wasn’t on the OST? That was nice.)
  • The film crashes into the climax rather than leading up to it. The climax felt dissociated from the rest of the movie. Which brings me to …
  • The plot of the movie did not feel inevitable like a good pulp story should. You should never have to doubt why this happened in this way. With Kaminey, right in the first half hour, I was wondering why some things were happening as they were. If pulp feels arbitrary (which it always is), it makes it too easy for the house of cards to fall. All of which is a roundabout way of saying – lazy plotting. Not very lazy, but I expect better from Bhardwaj.
  • The characters were fine. They made me think about their motivations. Again, not always brilliant (Amole Gupte, for example, does a lot of good work with a character who’s barely sketched out beyond formula), but worth talking about.
  • Shahid Kapoor did a really good job with his dual role. There were moments when his innate Shahidyness showed through (mainly in Guddu), possibly due to his training in the Bollywood star-based cult of personality, but Bhardwaj managed to turn him into the actor whose potential I saw back in Jab We Met.
  • One of the best parts of the movie for me was the homosexual/homoerotic relationship between Charlie and Mikhail (played by Chandan Roy Sanyal as a weird, sensual and rather scary guy). I liked the ambiguity about whether these two were in an actual relationship or had a mutual unrequited love for each other which they couldn’t express due to being Indian manly men. This mirrored the escape route Bhardwaj seems to have left for the insecure straight male who wants plausible deniability and will insist they were ‘just bros’.
  • I admired the directorial choice of leaving Guddu mostly ineffective right to the end. Someone else might have shown him doing something, but, apart from a couple of half-hearted kneejerks, he remains a sap.
  • Sweety (Priyanka Chopra) was the most interesting character in the movie. Shady, playing her cards very close to her chest, fiery to a fault, her brother’s sister to the core. She should’ve been given more screen-time.
  • The choice of interval was odd. It might’ve made more sense a few minutes later, just before the daybreak scene. But I think it was a legitimate experiment on Bhardwaj’s part, just one that didn’t quite work for me.
  • The plot was not a difficult one to understand. As my cousin said to me when we were talking about the movie afterwards, this might be the new Matrix in that it might become fashionable to say that it was a difficult movie but you managed to understand it. It’s not. If you didn’t understand what was happening, you’re a moron. Understanding it doesn’t make you unusually smart. You just had to pay attention.
  • It should be silly to feel good about something that is only right and should be ubiquitous and normal, but I felt happy seeing the words “based on an idea by Cajetan Boy” at the beginning of the movie.
  • I’m going to watch the movie again, sometime. I’m not in a hurry to do so, but I think I should. In spite of what griping I’ve done, it had the unquantifiable ‘It’ factor.

7 responses to “Notes on Kaminey

  1. Good one Aditya, I’m going to see it tonight. Thanks for the review!

  2. Oh yes. That Cajetan Boy snip had me intrigued too. I hope we get to hear the story behind it someday.

  3. The best review of the film I’ve read. Excellent work. Don’t agree with you on every point, but you said stuff I’d never really realized and which I began thinking about after I read what you wrote, and that’s more than most film reviews even try to do. Great work. You really know your medium!

    (PS: I have no clue who you are or what you do, so please excuse me if I seem patronizing, I just followed a link on Twitter – not even sure whose Twitter feed now – and landed up here.)

    Write on!

    • Thanks a lot. This was a very flattering comment.

      I work as a translator. Films are just something I love, and I wrote this because I’m very interested in story structure, and Kaminey‘s structure was something I felt was worth talking about, not just in what it had but in what it lacked.

      So this was a lot of fun to do. Glad you liked it so much!

  4. Hmmm….I think you are giving to much thought to the things on the smaller things and not enjoying the bigger picture.
    My thoughts:
    1) This movie I fell is a parody on itself.
    2) Yes the movie crashes into the climax. But would any other ending be in keeping with the tension that brims through the entire length of the movie?
    3) I did not see the Gay thing as I was busy eyeballing Priyanka.
    4) Yes Shahid has emerged as a director’s delight only to follow up with hadippa and another Yashraj sellout. But kudos to him.
    4) Amol Gupte desrves a mention as he is on the top of my badass list.

    But a good write up though. Very keen observations. Very keen indeed.

  5. ^^ too many typos…excuse me!

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