When I think of Bollywood I think of elaborate dance scenes with dozens of vividly dressed women and men. “Wake up Sid” an Indian romantic film doesn’t fit this image. There are only 3-4 song in it and nobody is dancing during them. Instead at these times we see mood setting sequences that tells the natural evolution of a relationship. This practice is very much aligned with Western cinematic conventions.
The movie is unconventional in other ways. The real hero of the movie is not its title character but the “new girl in the city” who moved from Calcutta to Mumbai. She is motivated by striving for independence and self-actualization. She is successful in both and what’s the real treat is that it happens not at the expense of her charm, or suppressing her emotions. Konkona Sen Sharma forms a really sympathetic and believable Aisha as a role model for all women.
Sid, played by Ranbir Kapoor, whose name is short for Siddarth follows a more straightforward path than his namesake from Hermann Hesse‘s book. He starts off a spoiled brat of rich, self-made parents, who is finishing off college and doesn’t wish to enter “real life.” When he finally realizes halfway through the movie that his interests are superficial at best, and non-existent at a deeper look he shouts out: “I don’t have an identity.” The viewers have no doubts, as the filmmakers made sure to drop plenty of hints what the three aspects of his identity will be that he will discover: his respect for his parents, passion and talent for photography and his budding love for his friend.
The third main character in the film is the city of Mumbai itself. The other two end up working for a paper called “Mumbai Beat” that covers the life of the city. We see plenty of glimpses of this vibrant places, although I would have loved to see much more. I liked the tagline the movie attached to the city, although I am not sure thy came up with it: “The sea is the constant at the city where everything changes.”
The movie’s messages are spelled out by Aisha towards the end, “Put your heart into everything you do”; “The joys of achieving goals is only meaningful if shared with someone.” Once Sid does this all is well. I appreciated this easygoing movie on many levels and support its message too.
IMDB’s summary: In Mumbai, Sid Mehra is, in the words of his father, an arrogant, spoiled brat. He lives with a doting mother and a father who pays his expenses and credit card bills. Sid takes his college finals then starts work at his father’s business; he lasts less than a week before walking out. At a graduation party, he’s met Aisha, newly arrived from Calcutta, set on becoming a writer. He shows her the city and helps her refurbish a rented flat. He asks if she’d like to progress from friend to something more; she says no – he lacks ambition and isn’t her type. Will her words, his exam results, a confrontation with his parents, and a break with his friends be enough to wake Sid up?