No Smoking

No Smoking

Yeah. I have a habit of watching movies in catch up mode. Watching this one so long after it was released is nothing. I have Sholay at 21 and Mouna Ragam at 26 to my credit. Atleast I caught this one in the decade of its release! 🙂

Now having watched it, if you ask me to do the story synopsis. Uhmm… I’ll take a shot. K (John Abraham) tries to quit smoking after his wife (Ayesha Takia) threatens to leave him if he does not. On the advice of a friend who has been there, he enrolls in the ‘Prayogshala’ run by Baba Bangali (Paresh Rawal) . The method used by this organisation is a careful schedule of consequences. Cigarette 1 – ‘Blow your eardrums out’. Cigarette 2 – Brother tortured. Cigarette 3 – Cut off a few fingers. Cigarette 4 -Kill your wife. Cigarette 5 – Kill your mother or brother (if he has survived Cigarette 2). K tries them out, figures out they really do mean business, quits smoking and becomes an active member of the pyramid style reference system that Prayogshala has going for its marketing. Now that is the short version.

The long version…. The movie is full of alllegory, silence, dream sequences and much cleverness. That sort of thing works for a Murakami book. But does NOT translate well to the screen in the end. I spent considerable amounts of time trying to figure out why Ayesha Takia was turning up in John’s office in ‘Rakhi Sawant’ type secy outfit and calling him ‘sir’ when she was his wife. An explanation is offered, but its too little, too late.

The horror movie type, you-introduce-a-friend and you get your cut-off finger back, doesn’t go well with the rest of the movie. One can dismiss the ‘screams and gets shot in Siberia while trying to get to a cigarette’ sequences and the ‘soul in gas chamber’ sequences as the dreams of a mind that is being painfully reprogrammed. But the horror movie thing – Nope. Can’t.

The movie is very stylishly shot though. John Abraham is beautifully dressed and I liked the parts that are shot in Bombay. I also spent about 10 minutes after the movie thinking deep things about the nature of addiction and de-addiction and how our addictions can define us. Baudelaire (in the context of his poem Get Drunk) and Coleridge (in the context of look how well Kubla Khan was going till he got off opium) figured. But I’m back to normal now.


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