One evening in December, three Bollywood-loving and -writing friends sat down for a virtual chat about Wake Up Sid. Ayan Mukherjee’s 2009 film is one of about 75 Indian films available as “watch instantly” on Netflix at the time of this writing. Thanks to Twitter, what started as a simple afternoon’s viewing by blogger and BollySpice gossip queen Kara (Filmigirl.blogspot.com) turned into an almost synchronous watch-along as BollySpice Editor Stacey and blogger Beth (bethlovesbollywood.blogspot.com) read what she was viewing and each decided to follow suit — hey, they know a good idea when they read one! Join their discussion of this charming movie, taken directly from their chat transcript.
Kara: So, first of all – Netflix has streaming Bollywood films!
Beth: Quite exciting.
Stacey: Three girls watching Wake Up Sid! So EXCITED!
Kara: And Wake Up Sid is one of the top watched in Vienna, Virginia, where I live! My sister says it’s because our neighborhood is filled with Sids.
Stacey: With good subtitles even.
Beth: Yes, quite good subtitles! Except did you notice the one that said “in turn” instead of “intern”?
Kara: YES! I saw that. I enjoyed that they subtitled the English bits for those of us who don’t speak Hinglish.
Beth: Oh yes, that’s always classic – and so varied! Who needs direct transcription!
Stacey: Cracks me up! I remember Ayan was talking about how hard it was to do the subtitles.
Beth: Kara, your neighborhood full of Sids…I think that’s a really good point – his character seems so common and ubiquitous.
Stacey: And you can relate Indian or anywhere in the world.
Beth: Right – any place with offices and rich kids.
Kara: Exactly, Beth! Offices, well to do parents, and young people trying to find a place that is their own.
Beth: Kara, didn’t you say you went to work every day with those guys in Sid’s dad’s elevator? Heehee. Such a nice universal plot. I also like the idea that his female friend is MUCH more mature – not to be man-hate-y, but….
Stacey: The boy who doesn’t want to grow up is pretty universal too.
Kara: I liked his friend Laxmi! She was adorable! It was nice to see their platonic relationship – and she wasn’t obsessed or in love with him or anything.
Stacey: Me too! She was fab!
Beth: She was! And he was so kind to her. I also liked that he realized he was unaware of his friend’s problems.
Stacey: So sweet – loved that part of it. He played that so well.
Beth: It was another good movie with good friend scenes in it. BUT SO MUCH BETTER THAN Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na!!! This film is what JTYJN dreams it could be, in my opinion.
Kara: Unlike in Janne Tu, I felt like Sid actually cared about Laxmi and Rishi.
Beth: Plus no women got beaten up.
Stacey: Yep Agree!! I loved JTYJN but loved this much much more — I could relate to this more.
Kara: And the stuff with Sid’s mother was resolved much more nicely than in JTYJN.
Beth: Also no dad-dramatics. And wasn’t Anupam good? He could have been shrieking and giggling but wasn’t.
Stacey: So good!!
Kara: Anupam was very understated – perfect dad. I loved that Sid didn’t have to renounce his parents – he just had to find himself.
Stacey: I love the nuances
Beth: The only problem I have with this film, and it is slight, is that it is maybe not hard enough on the man-children (the general character type, I mean). I was satisfied that is wasn’t “boys will be boys,” though!
Kara: Well… I don’t know. I mean, Sid does learn to clean up after himself. And he learns to cook.
Beth: That’s a huge improvement..
Stacey: He doesn’t get bailed out by daddy.
Beth: But he doesn’t really suffer much, does he? I mean, his life is NOT HARD. “I took photos for a few years! And was an intern for a month! So now I am a professional photographer!”
Kara: I just assumed they compressed the “in turn”ship plot to fit in with the timeline.
Stacey: He does make his way, but you are right, it isn’t hard either.
Beth: They didn’t baby him. But it wasn’t quite realistic in that way. But that’s fine. It just seemed a little too easy given how real the rest of the film felt to me.
Kara: You know the one thing I didn’t like – the song montages.
Beth: Yeah, those were not too super-great.
Kara: Either cut the songs or make them real picturizations. I hate this half-half bull.
Stacey: I agree too…it took away. I wanted to see more of the actual relationships.
Beth: I hardly even remember them, to be honest. And that was YESTERDAY.
Kara: Exactly!!! We should remember the songs!
Stacey: I could not name one song picturization.
Beth: I will say this for songs: the remix of the title song, which I saw/heard a lot before it came out, gave me the wrong idea of the tone of the story. I thought it would be very indulgent of the man-child: watch him party, see him at the bar, etc., but then the movie wasn’t like that.
Kara: I do like the WUS remix. I guess the remix was designed to play while man-children party.
Beth: I liked the song, but it didn’t tell me what was coming. But maybe that’s okay. The remix SO reminded me of “The Pleather Parade,” as I call it, from Dil Chahta Hai , “Koi Kahe Kehta Rahe.”
Kara: KOI KAHE!! Love it! Aamir and Saif and Akshaye bouncing around! Sid was kind of like the Aamir’s character from DCH , yes?
Kara: How about Aisha?
Stacey: I just love Koko.
Beth: Oh, she is SO good.
Kara: She reminded me of me.
Beth:: She also reminded me of her Luck by Chance character. Determined. And the footage of her walking the streets with her GIANT HANDBAGS…
Stacey: Yes, but more sure of herself, na?
Beth: Oh yes. And less taxed, let’s be honest – Aisha has it much easier than Sona.
Kara: I actually really hated her LBC character. She was so wishy-washy. She wanted success but then she didn’t.
Beth: I liked that Sona learned her lesson but didn’t wail on and on about it – she picked herself up and kept going.
Kara: I don’t know… I guess I just hated that the love story was so integral to Sona. But it wasn’t really in WUS.
Beth: Yeah, I can see that, Kara – it was a bit limiting. WUS character is more balanced
Stacey: Me too. Aisha was her own girl. I love the nuances she does and the looks – you never feel like she is acting.
Kara: Yeah – it’s like Koko was defined by Farhan in LBC but she is her own person in WUS.
Beth: And maddeningly in LBC SHE WAS THERE FIRST – like, she was trying first! And her success did NOT come by sleeping around – she tried, but it didn’t work that way.
Kara: Yes!! I KNOW!
Beth: Buzz off, stupid Vikram!
Stacey: Hehehe. He annoyed me.
Kara: I really, really hated Farhan’s character in LBC.
Beth: He was VILE. Talk about man-children.
Kara: YES! Sid is the anti-Vikram.
Stacey: Yes! Because even if he was still a boy he had a good heart.
Beth: He got his foot in the door through normal channels – he knew someone. Sid is also trying really hard to learn and improve, which Farhan was not.
Kara: And Sid had a passion for art – Farhan wanted success.
Stacey: And did not care who he hurt
Kara: I love that Sid had a goal – him finding his goal felt really natural.
Beth: That line when Sid is so confused by Aisha’s outburst and just stands there with the egg. So cute – and SO TYPICAL. “I did a nice thing for you. You can’t be mad at me”
Stacey: And the sad mope when he had not eaten all day. Could he be any cuterrrrrrrr!
Beth: It’s cute as a viewer – it’d be super annoying as a roommate.
Kara: Ranbir is adorable! He made me like Raj in Bachna Ae Haseeno.
Beth: Ugh, that movie. But yes, he’s pretty good in it
Stacey: God Ranbir is cuteeeeeeeee!
Beth: He had BETTER be cute! How could you not be given that lineage!!!
Stacey: I think in this he really made a big step as an actor. His other films still felt like he was playing a part, but this he was Sid.
Kara: I don’t think it was that big a step – but I like that he is clearly trying to mix it up.
Beth: I hope he chooses more interesting things like this. Surely he’ll get offered them?
Kara: Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani was fantastic and I can’t wait for Rajneeti!
Beth: What do we think of Rahul Khanna in WUS? ‘Cause over here at Beth Loves Bollywood we are TEAM RAHUL KHANNA. We are team Khanna hands-down. Doesn’t matter which one.
Stacey: SO CUTE
Kara: I loved his character – he reminded me of the jazz guys I know. He was so condescending to Koko about jazz!
Stacey: They both act so well with their eyes.
Beth: That character was so pitch-perfect.
Kara: And made fun of her for liking film songs! But I liked that he didn’t turn down her article when she wouldn’t date him. He was a good guy – just pompous.
Beth: Just wrapped in his own world and set.
Stacey: I liked that they showed a relationship that did not work but on paper should have.
Beth: Well, except that she didn’t actually know him….
Kara: But it was what she said she wanted.
Stacey: The idea of him. Successful…stable…blah blah blah, the opposite of Sid.
Kara: Where she did have a good relationship with Sid, even if she didn’t recognize it as such. She had this idea of what “romance” and “love” were.
Beth: Yes, because, delightfully, they were FRIENDS first. I always like that. I’m so old-school.
Kara: I love where the romance is based on friendship – I really hate fated love. I mean – really hate.
Beth: Ditto! It’s so boring and not based on ANYTHING.
Stacey: Me too!
Kara: Agreed! That’s why I love the falling in love after marriage stories, which this could have almost been. Substitute roommates for marriage! I almost never buy the romances in fated love stories. I love stuff like Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam.
Stacey: I like they both had flaws too.
Beth: Yes, that was refreshing.
Kara: Ranbir is a good dancer, too!! Although Sid probably isn’t. I wish they had made Ranbir dance in WUS. Sid probably does the Pappu.
Beth: You’re right, it wouldn’t really suit his character. Hence the remix during the end credits, I guess
Stacey: Or that weird dance he does in Rocket Singh.
Beth: “We gotta let this boy dance! BUT WHERE?”
Kara: End credits! Like the Hrithik/Aish duet in Dhoom 2!
Kara: So… I think Ranbir is going to be the next big thing – if he isn’t already. He’s already a million miles ahead of anyone else – Imran, etc. And his reputation is only being built by the odd selection of films he picks. Plus, I think he enjoys being a capital-S Star rather than just an actor.
Stacey: So agreee! He has that “it factor,” I think.
Beth: He also seems to have fun doing films, which is key, I think.
Kara: Going back to WUS, can I just say that I loved how they made the apartment feel so empty when Sid was gone. You really felt how Koko would have felt.
Stacey: Yeah – and how sad he was at home without her.
Kara: And just wanted him to back!
Beth: Oh! Loved the neighbors! And I LOVED that Koko and the other single woman had a TOTALLY NORMAL CONVO about sex. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that in a Hindi film before.
Kara: The neighbors were great! Sid got to bond with the common man without being all pretentious about it.
Stacey: That so surprised me.
Beth: And the kid was cute but not mawkish. And the kid didn’t manipulate anyone – he was just your cute neighbor kid. And the neighbor mom was not EXCESSIVELY mom – just doin’ her thing.
Kara: Yes! And the neighbor was clearly open with her sex life without being demonized. She didn’t get AIDS and die at the end or anything.
Beth: That was awesome. She lives!
Kara: Nobody learned that sex was evil.
Beth: Well, not VERY demonized, anyway – the other neighbor did call her a whore, right? Not typically Bolly demonized for sure.
Kara: Yeah, but the neighbor came off as a prude at first. They were both stereotyped at first when we saw them through Sid’s eyes. He was also all worried that her apartment was “unsafe.” Remember when he couldn’t pay! So very middle class!
Beth: What do we think of the city as a character in the film?
Stacey: The city did not play as big as I thought.
Kara: Ooo!! The city was more an idea than a place. It was all interiors.
Beth: They set it up to with that disclaimer in the beginning, but then it was not as strong a presence as I thought it would be. It felt kind of rosey-fied – but nice. Like all the DRIVING and NO TRAFFIC
Stacey: All we see on Twitter is complaints about Mumbai traffic!
Kara: LOL! Traffic Tweets!
Beth: Gul and Abhishek are all about the traffic.
Stacey: what did you think of Ayan Mukherjee’s direction? It was present but not overbearing
Kara: The direction was good! Except the choice to go with montages. I can’t back the montages.
Stacey: I would have rather had all those scenes with dialogue.
Kara: But the film overall had a nice cozy vibe to it.
Stacey: Overall star rating?
Kara: I think a four for me.
Beth: 4 of 5 at least, I’d say. I’d give it 4.5 if we’re doing those
Stacey: me too!
Kara: Not a typical Bollywood film at all.
Beth: There is nothing un-good about it.
Stacey: Yeah….and not too American-ified either. Just a damn good movie.
Kara: True! It’s not a Hollywood copy of anything. Or even Hollywood-influenced.
Stacey: yea and better than any of them.
Kara: The parents were very present.
Beth: See, I felt it was very much like American stuff, but I can’t give you any specific examples. It just felt so familiar to me.
Beth: But I can’t tell you why really. Just a feeling.
Stacey: I think that is why it was so good for me – because it was still Indian but I did not feel they tried to make it American. It was just a good movie… no, a great movie.
Kara: It didn’t remind me of American stuff at all… maybe English? Like a Bend It Like Beckham. JTYJN felt American. I just thought it felt cozy and domestic.
Beth: I think they tried to make it Global Youth, you know? Wealthy Global Youth. I don’t mean that I thought it was Americanized or westernized or whatever. It just…felt familiar.
Stacey: Anything that felt really off? Besides montages?
Beth: no, I have no issues with this film. It was very sweet to everyone in it. It was gentle. I like that.
Stacey: Everything was so good.
Beth: I’m watching the remix again as we write and I do not like the Sid of the remix, really.
Kara: The “before” Sid is mercifully gone before the film gets too far along…. Did y’all see Love Aaj Kal? How did Sid compare with Saifu in that?
Beth: Oh! Interesting question. They’re kind of similar, aren’t they. Sid’s just younger. They’re both so CHILL. I loved it.
Stacey: I liked it, but Sid is much better.
Beth: Well, Sid doesn’t have DEEPIKA
Stacey: That’s why I only LIKED it.
Beth: But WUS doesn’t have Rishi!
Stacey: Love Rishi!
Beth: LOVE NEETU! But yeah, I’d say those characters are similar-ish.
Kara: I would have loved to see Rishi as Sid’s dad. Do you think those photos were really little Ranbir?
Beth: YES – at least some of them.
Stacey: Sooo cuteeeeee!
Beth: There was one that just HAD to be.
Kara: He is soooooooo cute!!!!
Stacey: I want a Ranbir. Can I have one? Sorry, hubby.
Beth: Yes we’ll order you one from the shop, where they also have vintage 1971 Shashis for me. Kapoors R Us.
Beth: Cleaning up the egg! Hugging Koko after he gets the internship – the way he hugs her BEFORE the big romance at the end, engulfing her.
Kara:: Highlights for me… the water fight!
Stacey: Tea on the roof. The first walk. The END!
Beth: the end embrace was CHEEZOID to me.
Kara: Ranbir is like a foot taller than her, which was hilarious.
Stacey: Awwww I loved it.
Beth: I thought they really bungled their lines there — stilted – but the rest of it was very natural feeling to me.
Kara: Ranbir sitting at his window at the end….
Stacey: YES. One of my faves. The whole dang thing.
Kara: Sid and his mom and the photos…
Beth: I liked him imagining his friends’ reactions during the exam at the beginning too.
Kara: Koko at the jazz club…
Beth: Koko with her diary at the party, scribbling away. When Sid dances on top of the office cubicle dividers (in his imagination).
Kara: I was just typing that Beth! Ohh! One more thing I loved was when Sid tells Laxmi that he doesn’t think she’s a whale.
Beth: Aw yeah, Kara, that was nice
Kara: And I loved Sid taking photos of the neighbor kid and his mom. So much to love!
Beth: When Sid puts the pumpkin on his head at the market and puts his hat on top of it. I don’t know why, but I thought that was HILARIOUS
Stacey: When he goes to see his dad. Aisha getting mad about the mess and it slowly building. Him worrying about her all night. Though he should have yelled at her for making him worry.
Kara: Sid and Aisha eating dinner made me feel really happy.
Beth: Their roommate dynamic was cute. You DO worry about your roommates, even if you’re not “supposed” to by some definition of your relationship
Beth: It had tons of those little moments that made it cute, which is how life really is. That’s how we build friendships, through little things.
In addition to finding a new favorite film, these writers also discovered a way to turn the sometimes-solitary experience of watching and thinking about film into a truly social occasion! Never let a few hundred measly miles separate you from good films and good conversation!