There was a city where all traffic lights were female. Instead of green, yellow and red, they signalled emerald, ochre and magenta.

Do you read espresso stories? sample this.

Have you read Quitters Inc?

Now the problem with stories tailor made for our fast world is that they end up tasting like alkali, some ambivalent sticky sensation. Intellectuals like me have to pretend and nod and say “hey cool” while “wtf” reels at the tip of the tongue. Then espresso is ok ’cause it takes less than a minute to read a story. NO Smoking – the movie, lasts two good hours and makes little sense.(if you are one of those who need clean shaves). You have to drop all those masks and offer salutations to the sheer arrogance of India’s most promising director – Anurag Kashyap.

Sitting in the city’s reputed bar all through Saturday, smoking Goldflake Kings, we got frantic calls after the matinee and first show from friends who were moving from psychosis to neurosis (unable to find their way to the next whiskey bar) after trying to analyze the movie. As a preparatory measure for second show, we solved three Shakuntala Devi and two George Summers puzzles (swear! we really did) across beef and beer.

The first half of No Smoking is brilliant. It surpasses hollywood standards in the way the story is told. The settings are impeccable. We were about call it for No Smoking as the best hindi movie ever made when the second half began. In the second half there are scenes, dialogues and a few songs. You wait scene after scene hoping that the next one will explain everything, then the credits roll. High and dry and taste of alkali.

Story line: K (John Abraham) is a chain smoker with an attitude problem. His wife Anjali (Ayesha Takia) threatens to leave him if he does not change his habits. His mysterious friend Abbas Tyrewala (Ranvir Sheorey) recommends him to a rehabilitation centre. When K arrives there he finds out that the place is no ordinary centre which uses standard methods of making you quit smoking. It’s run by Baba Bengali (Paresh Rawal) who forcefully makes K sign on an agreement where the former will abide by Baba’s conditions in order to quit smoking or else will have to face dire consequences.

“Chutiye tu retire ho ja , tera time khatam” – Anurag Kashyap

The reviews have been very harsh,

So that’s one out of five for Anurag Kashyap’s No Smoking, he’s now a director who’s earned the unique distinction of giving us both, one of the best and one of the worst films of the year.

Rajeev Masand (the Last Word in Bollywood – the last word in mallu films is Seema – After she said “Kalapani” was better than “Kazhakam”, I still think “Avalude Raavukal” is better than “Kinnarathumbikal”)

And Anurag Kashyap reacted (and hell! what a reaction it is)

“Khalid reviewed me and not the film and from his review all i can say is neither has he read “Quitter’s inc” nor has he seen “cat’s eye”.. he just read the comments on PFC.. and i will say to him is , “Chutiye tu retire ho ja , tera time khatam.””

But then he explained the movie a bit, and it makes a little more sense now,

the film is about my struggle against the system to have the freedom to (smoke)make films..

GIVE ME THE LIBERTY TO KNOW , TO UTTER , TO ARGUE FREELY ACCORDING TO MY CONSCIENCE ABOVE ALL LIBERTIES

since i do not have the liberty, and i get banned everytime i am directly stating my opinions(we started shooting much before Black friday got the clearence), one has to wage a guerilla war.. no smoking is my guerrilla war.. and in the end the man loses to the system and the only way he can survive is after having lost his soul(freedom)..

Verdict : Hit or Flop, No Smoking is a very important movie. You could call it pseudo-intellectual, but that would be trivialising the effort, thought and courage that went into this movie. It may not be same as “Black Friday”, but if anyone wants “Black Friday” there is no choice but to watch the movie again.

There isn’t a scene in the movie that can be called bad, in that way it is one of the best shot movies in bollywood. It is subtle (a little extra) and intelligent. This movie will not be a hit, it doesn’t deserve to be and the director did not want this to be, but someday it will find its audience(who’ll have to watch it over and over).

The director has taken liberties at will and the movie is entertaining. Paresh Rawal and his dungeon are masterpieces to be preserved. There is a scene where John Abraham’s character tries to escape from the dungeon, nobody knows what hell is, but the depiction comes pretty close to Dante’s.

I wouldn’t say “go watch it”, you can miss it at your own risk. The movie was confusing for me, but still enjoyable. I would rather that Anurag stick a warning in the promos saying “NO SMOKING – Lightly injurious to mental health if you try to analyze, watch at your own risk, the director has made the movie for himself and not for you

What was Howard Roark’s problem?