That Girl in Yellow Boots: Too bad it's not that good!

That Girl in Yellow Boots: Too bad it's not that good!

Source: General

By: Sonia Chopra

Critic's Rating: 3/5

Wednesday 31 August 2011

Movie Title

That Girl in Yellow Boots: Too bad it's not that good!


Anurag Kashyap

Star Cast

Kalki Koechlin, Naseruddin Shah, Prashant Prakash, Shiv Subramaniyam, Divya Jagdale

The central character has an expression that's as vacant as it is intense. Kalki Koechlin owns that look. You can't turn your eyes away from the screen. The actress, with her powerhouse screen presence, commands that attention.

It also reminds you of the character from the Swedish film The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, that's now being adapted in Hollywood. This is a tad disappointing.

Not only does That Girl in Yellow Boots (TGIYB) have a similar-sounding title, it's also faintly reminiscent of the film's heroine. Both these films have heroines who are stoic yet vulnerable, who suffer the worst atrocities at the hands of men.

Ruth (Kalki Koechlin), a British citizen, flies down to Mumbai in search of her father she hasn't met in 15 years. Not content with her mother asking her to stay away, Ruth stubbornly leaves home. She's seen enough misfortune already - her sister recently passed away. A letter from her father saying he wants to reconnect fills her with hope.

In her miserable life as a masseur giving "handshakes" for extra money, the letter becomes a source of hope - for better times, for "unconditional love".

Her quest for the father continues, as she deals with her boyfriend's drug addiction, simultaneously juggling sleazy men who want "payment in kind" for any help. You need a strong stomach to sit through this character's wretched life where we are brazenly put face-to-face with the worst in humans.

So you sit through characters suffering prostitution, incest, corruption, addiction, and violence. The macabre misery is suffocating, really.

Why should a viewer sit through this? To be moved by the onscreen character's misery, yes, but that requires an intimate connect with the character. Sadly, the viewer is not introduced to Ruth in entirety.

For example, you're not given a concrete background of Ruth's life back in England. Was she poor or rich, educated or a drop-out, working or studying? Did she have friends? (There's no evidence of her being in touch with anyone back in England except her mother.) We get to know her in a sort of vacuum and yearn to know more.

Producer-co-writer-director Anurag Kashyap insists on showing us repetitive shots, perhaps to reiterate her suffering. So you have shots of middle-aged men getting pleasured (reiterating her suffering), a lady talking continuously over the phone (the film's on-going joke), the cartoonish South Indian baddie making you crack-up with his cartoonish act.

Then you witness Ruth doing the endless rounds of government offices - having cleverly learnt to bribe - taking the local train back home, finding her boyfriend in yet another soup.

Like Kashyap's Dev.D where a seemingly bright and educated girl (also played by Koechlin) chooses to become a prostitute to make a living, here too we are baffled at the heroine's choice of profession. Again, that goes back to us not knowing enough about her.

But Kalki Koechlin's disarmingly honest and stunning performance elevates the film. Prashant Prakash as her boyfriend is electric, too. The supporting cast is impressive. The performances are so moving, it's too bad the film isn't as good.

Like most of Kashyap's films, the frames are moodily lit (shot digitally on Canon 7D), the background score arresting (enough to distract at times). TGIYB is a rough watch. And it's not even worth the bumpy ride, as you can smell the disappointing finale a mile away.

Like its wearer, the yellows boots in the film are striking. The film, not so much.

Rating: 2.5 stars

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