Wake Up Sid is a simple, enduring sketch on a cliched canvas - the story of a laid- back rich guy forced to grapple with the deeper issues of his life has been a commmon theme in cinema. In that context, the first few frames of this movie remind one of Farhan Akthar's Lakshya (so does Ranbir of Hrithik) but the film has enough substance to claim its own place in the annals of cinema.
But given the familiar backdrop, director Ayan Mukherji tells an unusual love story of an equally unusual pair: the seasoned Konkona Sen Sharma and the promising Ranbir Kapoor striking a charming celluloid chemistry.
He's the pampered kid of a rich dad, she's the new girl in the big city - she's amused by his earthy charm and zest for life, he's enamoured by her resolve and clarity of purpose. The mutual respect unknowingly binds them in a relationship that grows beyond friendship but falls short of love. Both are baked in the reality of this elusive bond until one fine day, the pressure cooker whistles the triumph of true love.
Mukherjee employs the same popular motifs from the Bollywood factory - prime among them being a hardly-at-home dad with his mandatory rags-to-riches accomplishments, a caring-doting-forgiving mom showering 24/7 love and a man friday serving-with-a-smile 7 days a week.
But he is dexterous in portraying the subtle journey of the protagonists - how their larger commonalities condone the apparent contrasts finally to merge into a common goal. In reality, such love stories may be highly unlikely but the film leaves you yearning for them. The story floats aimelessly in the middle but the director shows great command over his medium in rearranging disparate pieces that make a complete frame in the end.
Ranbir is superlative as Sid - his confidence is striking, so is his emotive ability. He's one of the very few star-actors around who believe in underplay and are good at it too. Even his seemingly inconsequential gestures and interactions tell volumes about Sid's beliefs and idiosyncrasies.
Konkona, as always, is excellent - both of them unfold the chaos and confusion of their respective characters with aplomb and authority. There are umpteen moments when their eyes speak a thousand words in the film.
Rahul Khanna makes for a refreshing guest appreance, playing a part that he was naturally cut out for. Anupam Kher as the dad does full justice to the limited screen moments that come his way, Supriya Pathak as the mother is passable - her humour clearly falling short of the intended effect.
Kashmira Shah (remember her?) emerges from a long exile - her sex siren is a forced visual distraction. She does make an honest attempt but her character seems truly out of place - even in the locality she is shown to reside. In contrast, the folks playing Sid's friends (Rishi and Lakhsmi in particular) and other colleagues at office seem real and tailored for the cause.
The music, coming from the inventive trio of Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, is soulful. Ek tara does for this film what Sapno se bhare Naina did for Luck by Chance - the lead singer Kavita Seth is simply outstanding - note her stress the words "boond boond" "moond moond" in Ek Tara: simply beyond words.
Well done Sid! Keep it up!
And a big thanks to Karan Johar for being such a sensitive producer in recent times - a job he's naturally and genetically cut out for...and needs no direction (no pun intended)