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~An almost worthy adaptation~
Aug 06, 2010 01:35 PM 4248 Views
(Updated Aug 07, 2010 11:41 AM)





I’ve never minded chic flicks. They have a certain mindless charm to them that remains peculiar to that genre. May a time you may find me in a theatre, watching a chic flick or two, while also lending my shoulder to females who become increasingly reliant on tissues as the movie goes on. It is not that I relish being surrounded by the fairer sex (sincerely, I’d never thought of it that way), nor do I want to jeopardize my ‘masculine’ image. It is just that I can watch almost anything, if mood allows. Perhaps I was more curious because of the tag ‘Jane Austen’ was attached to this film. Kids played with G.I. Joe toys and what not, whilst I indulged in ‘Hamlet’ figurines, David Copperfield action figures and ‘Emma’ dinosaurs, to name a few! As soon as I heard that this was a supposed Emma adaptation, I knew I had to watch it.


People who have read Emma will be familiar with the plot. The film doesn’t deviate much from the actual book, which I consider a plus point for any adaptation. The essence of the plot remains the same, even though England has been replaced by saddi Dilli. I do not consider following the original book a rip-off, as there are many other aspects to look into whilst making an adaptation. For those not familiar with Emma, the jist is as follows. Aisha (Sonam Kapoor) is a girl with an endless bank balance hailing from South Delhi (book reference – title character Emma). She likes everything that a rich, spoilt brat can, but her ‘specialty’ she claims, is matchmaking. She wants to practice her hobby on her small town friend Shefali (book reference – Harriet). Aisha wants Shefali to marry Randhir (played by Cyrus Sahukar) (book reference – Phillip Elton). However, he has eyes only for Aisha. We know where this is going! Aisha’s critic is his childhood friend Arjun (Abhay Deol) (book reference – George Knightley). However, Aisha doesn’t care much about his opinion. What follows is the usual hoopla of mistaken matchmaking until everyone is sent off with their right partner. There is a ‘videshi’ element added to the mix in the form of New Yorker Arti (played by Lisa Hayden), but that doesn’t fulfill any purpose. In essence, any deviations from the original narrative failed to create an impact.

What is happening?

For the people who have not read Emma, the film may be hard to follow, mainly stemming from the fact that the characters are so hard to relate to. Aisha spends money like politicians drink liquor – not knowing when to stop.Also, the character itself doesn’t evoke much sympathy. Aisha is so unconcerned with the state of affairs that do not affect her. For an average viewer, this might be startling – to have the main character which incites the audiences’ disliking, rather than liking. I believe Aisha will not do well apart from multiplexes. After reading/referring to Emma, things become much clearer about what the director is trying to achieve. I am not sure how many amongst the masses are fond of Jane Austen though! Emma’s snobbishness and her apparent lack of concern have been captured with much ado. This is one area where the film actually scores via characterisation. Emma, in the beginning, is meant to invoke a dispassionate response.

Where the film scores

The transition from England to Delhi is spot on. It feels like Jane Austen is narrating Emma in Delhi – a very, very big compliment! The dresses are vibrant, the dialogues punchy and the presence of ‘social class’ ethics are always there. It is through social interaction that Jane Austen keeps her audience enthralled, pointing out the shortcomings in people and the hypocrisy of social etiquette. The same can be said of Aisha. We believe the girl with the endless bank balance, a fact which we normally would not. The music of the film is effervescent, light and peppy, almost floating in the background like a breeze. For a while, the film makes you forget everything – that money doesn’t grow on trees, that if you actually met a person as snobbish as Aisha in real life, you’d actually punch her in the face, that you feel jealous by seeing what Aisha possesses even though you know it is only a movie and Aisha is purely fictional. For a while, you are lost in the beauty of the film…

Where the film fails

Aisha only seems to get the first part right. You only see the snobbish girl. You don’t get to see Aisha’s multifaceted character, a major factor which worked for Emma. For even though Emma is snobbish, she is equally intelligent and witty, and at times, vulnerable even. This provides the emotional depth that makes you care for the character. Aisha’s transformation falls flat. You never see beneath the snobbish girl. The film fails to portray the multifaceted character of Emma in Aisha. Sonam Kapoor remains an extremely beautiful, albeit uncaring personality throughout the film. So much so, that by the end, you do not care for the character. Also, other characters apart from Aisha lack depth. They in turn, become too stereotypical. The wit, subtlety and intelligence of Emma get lost on the desi screen.


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