I like the songs of frogs and whisper of crickets, especially in films. Raat Akeli Hai is full of these sounds. My ears were sharper than the poke of a single stray hair hanging by the shoulder.
In DC, where we stayed at Georgetown University, the cicadas kept me smiling. I walked around the campus, fighting a mild slew of loneliness but the crickets kept me independent and helped me gaze outside instead of inside. It’s why I like watching films too.
It’s a delight to watch Nawaz on screen. He brings the sort of sharp deliberation to every pause so that you are forced to never leave his face. His face is a moment.
Here are some scenes that made me giggle:
- (Nawaz and friend at a restaurant ordering food) Nawaz says no to chowmein and orders fried rice because chowmein reminds him of worms. This offends his friend and they have a tiff. Despite his refusal, chowmein has somehow landed on their table which Nawaz, like the grumpy husband that he is, refuses to eat. I seem to not just tolerate but also like men on screen only when they perform such coupledom.
- Nawaz has an even funnier relationship with his mother who is looking for a wife for him. She doesn’t seem to mind the women he minds because he is a man baby she knows mostly ignores.
- My favourite anecdote was Nawaz complaining about his name (Jatil Yadav) which was apparently the result of a spelling mistake his mother made when she was trying to spell Jatin.
- How he hides flattened tubes of fair & lovely behind the mirror.
There are ample Uttar Pradesh shots in the film. Lots of Kanpur and Jajmau. And this is more reason to watch any film – roads, gallis, rain, and sky.
My one serious grouse with the film is its glaring absence of the notorious police-boots sounds. The only good thing about the Bollywood-cop films were the sexy kitchkitch sounds those boots made. It’s also why I still enjoy watching 90’s Kannada kalla-police films.
But that was forgiven and forgotten when I had a Jhilmil moment with a scene showing Babasaheb’s portrait in the police station. It was strategically and predictably placed next to Gandhi’s (barf) and Modi’s (double barf) portraits.
There were various references to caste, some flung around carelessly – others making an attempt to go somewhere but holding back noticeably. I will come back to it when I know what to do with it. For now, all I wanted to say is this is how a film gathered around my evening yesterday.