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Wednesday, December 08, 2021

That Girl In Yellow Boots

Just the fact of having a real girl with real motivations at the heart of a film makes you want to celebrate.

Written by Shubhra Gupta | New Delhi |
September 2, 2011 6:51:51 pm

Director: Anurag Kashyap

Cast: Kalki Koechlin,Gulshan Devaiya,Prashant Prakash,Naseerudin Shah,Pooja Saroop

Indian Express rating: **

Just the fact of having a real girl with real motivations at the heart of a film makes you want to celebrate. Place Ruth (Koechlin) alongside the airheads that are created for most mainstream cinema,and you get a person,not a mannequin. This is a girl in search of her lost father. And of herself. Not by slaloming in Spanish skies and exotic beaches,but by working seedy Mumbai outposts which shoot for respectability by calling themselves spas,because that is all she can do. Where the frustrated,or the plain vanilla pervs,or the lonely show up for massages and ‘happy endings’,which Ruth is willing to provide in return for some much-needed lolly. So far,so good. Where ‘The Girl In Yellow Boots’ stopped being satisfactory is when I started wanting more,and didn’t get it.

Anurag Kashyap’s ability to create this kind of grunge,and characters who live on the margins,is matchless. But by now we’ve got used to it,as well as his skill in laying it out for our delectation. By now we want the next level. There are flashes of it here,in some of the sure-footed cameos Kashyap sketches. The uncouth guy with a permanent burp on his breath who undresses Ruth with his eyes,and drawls : massage,eh? The plump manager (Saroop) of the massage parlour who is constantly on the phone murmuring animatedly to an unseen caller. The elderly man (Shah) who is a regular because he regards Ruth as a daughter,not because he wants a ‘handshake’. The momentary glimpse of an autorickshaw-driver who gets his jollies by getting the gori mem to say a cuss word.

Kashyap sweats the small stuff well,but is not as successful with the bigger parts. Chitappa the goon played by Devaiya loses steam after a while; Ruth’s cokehead boyfriend (Prakash) with a thing for handcuffs never gathers any. And even Koechlin,who plays the fractured,damaged half-Indian,half-British girl with a perfect pitch (she sounds and looks just right),doesn’t reveal as much of the darkness in her soul as the part needs her to. She stops,when her director does.

What’s under all this nicely-shot gunk? I come up with a few sharp specks. No more.

shubhra.gupta@expressindia.com

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