No Smoking – Review

When Matrix released in 1999, it became a rage in India. On the first day of release, we bought the tickets in black and watched the movie. Came out, everyone was blank, hardly talked to anyone else. We asked each other if anyone understood the movie. A friend commented “Its not the movie, its the matrix” and laughed out loud. That was our definition of the movie. I saw the movie again 2 times in the theatre and innumerable times on DVD/Cable TV to get a sense of what the whole mess was all about.

Today, Matrix is hailed as a cult movie. A movie that was much much ahead of its time. The Wachowski brothers entered their names in the history of cinema.

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The same has happened with Anurag Kashyap’s “No Smoking”. If you have seen and appreciated bizzare movies like “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind“, “Old Boy“, “Irreversible” etc, then you might appreciate No Smoking. Its a tale of a smoker who wants to quit smoking to save his marriage. He enrols for a program that promises to help him quit his smoking. The penalties for lighting up again are quite severe, he rebels, and things turn for the worse when his family is attacked, fingers chopped off and he starts hallucinating. The movie actually originated from a short story by Stephen King “Cat’s eye“.

Going by the proceedings, it looks like the director has based the movie on his life. Anurag Kashyap is known to be a rebel and refuses to conform to the standards set by the film industry. He has tried to break path and follow his own heart. He has openly spoken out about the camps and favouritism in the film industry. Similarly, in the movie, the main protagonist “K”, played by John Abraham is someone who is sort of an anti-social and doesnt follow the crowd. How his soul finally loses the battle of individuality and how he becomes a part of the system is what the movie is all about.

Contrary to what people say, John Abraham is brilliant. No matter what happens henceforth, John Abraham has done what an SRK or a Salman or hundreds of his contemporaries couldnt do in their decades of existence in the industry. Yup, when the history of Hindi Cinema will be written, this movie will be up there along with the other cult movies. Ayesha Takia as his wife/secretary is Ok. Ranvir Shorey and Paresh Rawal are good. Special mention about the brooding cinematography. Its not a feel good cinema. Its sure to keep you thinking for a long time after you have left the cinema. What also stays with you is the rocking soundtrack of the movie. Vishal Bharadwaj, take a bow.

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No Smoking has been panned by most of the movie critics, Most of them, as everyone knows are on the payrolls of the biggies in the Hindi film industry whom Anurag Kashyap has taken on many times. So, its only natural that they wrote reviews to keep their paying masters happy. Not that anyone would classify people like Khalid Mohammad, Taran Adarsh, Subhash K Jha etc as “intelligent people”.

To expect the Indian public to pay money to watch this movie is simply expecting a bit too much. Even when i saw the promos, i was sure that this movie is not for the masses. C’mon, what do you expect of a population where a balant ripoff of a Hollywood movie “Hitch” is passed off as original (Partner) by its makers and it happens to be the biggest hit of the year. Or for that matter, a perenially constipated look ‘Salman Khan’ survives in the industry for 15 odd years. Or for that matter Yash Chopra/Karan Johar who believe that India is Punjab, Punjab is India, everyone speaks Punjabi and eats Makki di roti?

I had pointed out earlier, that even though am a big fan of people’s choice, i have nothing but contempt for the common man on the street who eats and breathes crap all his life; and then wonders how come our movies do not measure up to world cinema.

My rating **** (4/5) Must Watch.

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