Sigmund Freud found it extremely difficult analyzing women. Today, analysts from across the world find it nerve-racking to predict the stock market. Both elements have the disruptive hormones of sentiment running in them. If one out of the hundred analyses fails on target, the entire chain crumbles. And that’s exactly what happened to the markets around the world on September 15th 2008 and incisively four days later with Warner Brother’s first foray in India, Saas Bahu Aur Sensex.
The films begins with Binita Sen (Kirron Kher) moving from Kolkata to Mumbai (due to her divorce) along with her daughter, Nitya Sen (Tansuhree Dutta). She has no money, but lives in a posh-apartment with kitty-party aunties, a clichéd and stereotypical bunch. Although a few jokes and elements of realism are present in the dialogues to make the whole façade of the film seem ‘real’, they come across only through the subtle and controlled performances from Kitron Kher and her broker (Farooque Sheikh), both of these remarkable actors allowing the film to become watachable at least. Had the film been entirely on them and the sensex, it could have been a different ball game, but…
The film 'wants' to offer a glimpse into the world of soap-opera pathos, the fate of the stock market and female bonding. Instead in its final form, the film remains stuck in the age-old tradition of Bollywood films using text-book Bollywood clichés: the Punjabi aunty, the Parsee uncle, the South-Indian couple and the Bong connections. To top it all, the plot development is about a guy in love with the wrong girl and who does not realize his folly until the very end even when the girl seems to scream out her infidelity. In the age of mechanical reproduction he is unable to differentiate between love, friendship, flirtation, sex and lies.
The film starts with a wedding and ends with one, but everything between this divide is rubbish. The entire movie is actually one long-boring-advertisement, where the hero could easily have been Udayan Mukherjee who is seen on the television channel (CNBC) expressing his delight with the soaring stock-prices and rising bull runs. Furthermore, there are packaged scenes written down only to promote products. Ritesh takes his girlfriend out on a date where he gifts her expensive Hamilton watch, instead of concentrating on exploring the layers and dimension of love and relationships, the film explores various advertising possibilities. Ever since Shubhash Ghai and Yash Chopra began the revolution of tailor-made films, Bollywood has abridged the line between cinema and advertising, and Saas Bahu aur Sensex tries to bring us one step closer into believing what we watching is important plot development, but is actually nothing but in your face brand endorsement.
Films like Saas Bhau or Sensex may look good on paper, but never achieves any form of truism on screen. The only elements which achieve its purpose and goals are: the trailers, the opening-credit, the film posters, and media coverage. Since they achieve the basic function of duping people into believing something which doesn’t exist, it’s like how the luxury market works; in selling, something which we really don’t need. Saas Bahu Aur Sensex is one such product. It’s not a film. It’s a mass-manufactured product. It has a label, packaging, properties (clichés and stereotypes), workers (not creators), and it has a tailor- made customer base, hence, every such film is just the emperor in new clothes. No different from the new flavors and packaging which Pepsi and Coca-Cola come up with- along with their stars to promote the product. This is precisely what happens in this film too.
Cinema is a sensory experience where not everything can be canned into words. Its precise purpose could be lost. But sadly, today, all our experiences are laid out in a A4 size, Courier New font, 12 point size format. As long as this continues, films like Saas, Bahu aur Sensex will continue give us experiences we would want to forget.
Cross-Published from my review at Upperstall