Freeze Frame #124: Life in a… Metro

Irrfan Khan isn’t anybody’s idea of a romantic hero. Not mine, at any rate. He isn’t all that great to look at — it’s easier to imagine him in gloomy character roles. He has a sightly hurried, slightly slurred style of dialogue delivery. And yet, he manages to make it all work. I have no idea why.

Take Life in a… Metro, an ensemble drama about interlocking lives and loves in Mumbai. The cast includes Kay Kay, Sharman Joshi, Shiney Ahuja, Shilpa Shetty, Kangana Ranaut, Dharmendra and Nafisa Ali. And yet, the only story I really loved by the time the movie was over involved him and Konkona Sensharma.

I think a lot has to do with how he is presented. The movie presents him through Konkona’s eyes, and the way her opinion of him evolves over the course of the movie influences how we see him as well.

The first time they meet, his matter-of-fact sexist remarks turn her off completely. When she rejects him as a potential suitor, you can see why. When she runs into him later while applying for a job, he seems helpful, yet almost intrusively so. You share her awkwardness at having to accept help from him. And yet, slowly, you warm up to him as she does. When she is upset and he takes her to the top of the building to scream her heart out, you feel like she’s unloading not just her angst about what’s happening in her sister’s life, but also her previously held opinion of him. As their relationship grows, you can see why she warms up to this man. Right at the end, when she crashes his wedding procession to tell him that she loves him, you completely understand why.

And then he blindsides her with this response: “Lekin petticoat, blouse sab uske naap ka silvaaya hai!” (“But the wedding dress has been made to her (his bride-to-be’s) measurements!”)

He says it in such a straightforward fashion that you realize this is indeed the first thing that occured to him. The use of specifics (petticoat, blouse) is what really distinguishes it. It is so totally in character — while his response is unexpected, it isn’t really surprising.

If there was a contest for the best response to an earnest declaration of love, “You had me at hello” would win hands down. But I’d rank this one as a close second.

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10 thoughts on “Freeze Frame #124: Life in a… Metro

  1. this was rotfl stuff…I watched Metro in a morning show..Every1 in the theatre was bunking either school or college…There was this group of girls right in front of me who used to go ballastic wenever Shiney Ahuja made an appearennce…Fabulous Movie..
    Btw”Blouse-petticoat toh uske naap ka ban gaya” doesnt tranlate into “the wedding dress was made for her measurements”.

  2. Great to see you invoking Jerry Mcguire in this context. IMHO this will be a close contest given the refreshing punch here and the reversal of gender roles from the usual.

  3. This movie ahs been recommneded to me often, but i’ve just not gotten round to it yet. Clearly, I really must see it asap I love Irfan to bits :D, esp since the Namesake.

  4. Spot on with the one of the best responses to a declaration of love. With that dialogue Irfan makes it clear that he is willing but worried about important things like not wasting all the money spent on bridal clothes! lol!! I loved Life… because of these two – the rest of the characters were rather mundane.

  5. I am surprised that you chose to blog on this movie so many months after its release. This movie seemed vey K Balachanderesque to me with its twists and turns involving just a few people. And what I like about Irrfan is his ability to warm your heart in most movies he stars in, from Maqbool to The Namesake to Metro to even the Vodafone ad.

  6. Partho>> I’d still vote for JM, but you’re right, it’s a close run thing.

    Shweta>> The movie isn’t as good as I hoped it would be. But it does have its moments.

    bollyviewer>> True. The remaining characters didn’t really work for me either. They seemed like the stereotypical life-in-a-big-city characters you come across in every other movie on these lines. Even the Irrfan and Konkona thread could be seen as the “straight rom-com track” that these movies usually have. But they infused such life and laughter into that tired old cliche, it was delightful.

    Meera>> It’s a bit Balachanderesque, yes. Although KB is likely to have twisted it a bit more than this (see my earlier post) πŸ™‚

    ~r

  7. I loved this film, all the tracks in it…but the Konkona and Irfan relationship was definitely the best. And I think Irfan IS v. handsome, by the way πŸ™‚

  8. “You had me hello” and “Lekin petticoat….” are at two ends of the spectrum of accepting love declarations. While the former is mushy and totally unwarranted for in a roomful of man-bashers, the latter is from a practical guy who has learnt his ways around Mumbai.

  9. memsaab>> I don’t have the chromosomal makeup to comment on Irrfan’s looks, I guess πŸ™‚

    NM>> I think she said it for their benefit as much as Jerry’s πŸ™‚ Lovely blog, by the way. I first thought it was named for the Bergman movie, until I realized that the name of the movie was Cries and Whispers πŸ˜€

    ~r

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