Years ago, Karan Johar made a film with a tag-line that went: “It’s all about loving your parents,” a line that went on to be made fun of in popular culture (Remember Ram Gopal Varma’s dig in Company: “It’s all about loving your lovings”) given the sheer corniness of it all.
Finally, Karan Johar comes of age and seems to have made that film (even if he only produced it) that’s more honest to that tag-line. The love story that really works and gives Wake Up Sid its emotional integrity is not the one involving the hero and the leading lady, but the one involving him and his parents.
“Shut up, Mom,” slacker Sid (Ranbir Kapoor) blasts his Mom (Supriya Pathak), remains unapologetic about it when confronted by his Dad (Anupam Kher) and storms out of his house halfway into the film.
That’s the scene when the central conflict plays out and yet it never even remotely feels like Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham. Not even when he meets them later with remorse. No trace of melodrama.
Yes, Johar did show progress by producing the delightfully subversive homosexual-embracing Kal Ho Na Ho and Dostana reducing the drama quotient in his films gradually but let’s face it, those were still larger-than-life yuppy comedies cloaked in designer-wear.
We have to admit there’s still a tinge of that exaggeration in Wake Up Sid when director Ayan Mukerji magically transforms a cobweb-infested flat into a stylishly-furnished studio apartment over a musical montage but the rest of this light-hearted coming-of-age romance drama is decidedly more Farhan Akhtar than Karan Johar.
The drama part of it is largely muted and yet super-effective, without the manipulative techniques associated with Johar’s brand of storytelling. And a lot of credit goes to Ranbir “Solid” Kapoor who breathes life into a character that could’ve easily become a stereotypical rich kid. He knows Sid in and out. He is Sid, Sid is him.
Aisha (Konkana Sen) is the older, polar opposite of Sid, a Monica-ish (from Friends, of course) control-freak and Konkana is at home playing this character, dangerously close to being type-cast, Aisha reminding of similar roles she’s done in the past. But the girl is good, no doubt. And no big deal made out of the young boy-older girl romance born more out of emotional dependency than chemistry. Nice.
Thankfully, Sid’s journey of self-discovery does not take him to the heights of Leh or throw him in the middle of a war zone. It just leads him to an internship and his first paycheck in a little over two hours. What’s also fresh is that coming-of-age here does not mean being boringly grown-up, taking yourself so seriously that you forget what it is like to laugh.
Sid is at first aimless in a Beavis and Butthead tee-shirt, but in the course of the film, he learns to break an egg and do his chores, still comfortable in those pop-culture tees.
Ayan Mukerji shows plenty of promise, demonstrating a flair for etched out memorable characters — the little boy who has to jump up to reach his door bell, the Mom next door who makes her son pose for photos, the hot neighbour who for once is not into seducing the hero, the weight-conscious obese friend, the love-sick buddy who gets dumped, the jazz-loving, snooty, workaholic boss — providing solid support.
Everything about the film is so fresh (Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy contribute a lot to this) that when the climax finally kicks in with a stock ending borrowed from Hollywood romantic comedies, it leaves you a little disappointed. But then, as you look back at Sid’s journey, you smile and forgive the trappings of the genre. And, Wake Up Sid feels like a fresh morning breeze that wakes you up to a brand new day.
Wake Up Sid
Director: Ayan Mukerji
Cast: Ranbir Kapoor, Konkana Sen, Anupam Kher, Supriya Pathak
Storyline: Slacker meets Miss Independent and before you know it, they wake up together
Bottomline: Stays fresh all through. Almost.