NO SMOKING – Review

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?

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25 Responses to NO SMOKING – Review

  1. anish October 29, 2007 at 9:26 pm #

    hahaha
    Great! I am so happy that Anurag Kashyap has not made an ‘entertaining’ movie with predictable lines and plots. I will watch it for originality and the spirit of this team. Thank you for this post.

  2. bvn October 30, 2007 at 8:29 am #

    Yeah…you’ll like it 🙂

    maybe you could try second part too..QUIT SMOKING 🙂

  3. anish October 30, 2007 at 5:41 pm #

    i have already quit yaar. doesn’t feel good to smoke anymore. and also growing old 😀

  4. bvn October 31, 2007 at 2:52 am #

    me too…one hour ago 🙂

  5. Bombaydosti October 31, 2007 at 7:30 am #

    your review too seems to suit the film.
    you wont say if its good or bad but that one ‘could’ watch it!
    for one, to anurag’s courage….
    Even with all these bans, I think this is the right time for new age directors in Hindi film industry. quite a number of movies have come this way.
    If not for anything, there are ‘intellectuals’ like you, who recommend these movies 🙂

  6. Bombaydosti October 31, 2007 at 7:37 am #

    hey just read anurag’s blog linked from your post.But as I was reading it, I felt like completing what I wrote in the earlier comment; am glad that there are producers for a honest filmaker and an audience to watch the same. To me, this is hope!

    But then almost everyone seems to have had difficulty in understanding the movie and the ending.

  7. bvn November 1, 2007 at 4:52 am #

    Hey BD, thanks…long time 🙂

    yeah if not us, intellectuals, who’s gonna support good film makers 🙂

    hope good films find their audience in small theatres. On producers side, i know one good producer, his name is Tony 🙂

  8. nikhil November 1, 2007 at 8:50 am #

    When i went to see the movie, i thought it could motivate me to quit smoking. But as soon as i came out of the cinema hall i had 3 cigrattes one after the other. THE MOVIE IS SURELY A MENTAL RAPE. Those who dont smoke will start smoking after seeing this movie. Mr Anurag, please dont make another movie.

  9. bvn November 2, 2007 at 3:48 am #

    Nikhil, hehe…you just echoed what I said after the movie, it is a mental rape man! 🙂

  10. sudesh November 5, 2007 at 10:32 am #

    No Smoking is different, only it’s too different. An obvious “inspiration” from a very good Stephen King short story(I am forgetting the name but read it some 8 years ago), the movie seems to have lost its way. The result is pure confusion. A good try but we expect better from Anurag. at least he should acknowledge the source of the story line (Stephen King).

  11. bvn November 6, 2007 at 6:21 am #

    Sudesh, hey thats news. There is a crime behind every good movie huh 🙂

  12. kuffir November 11, 2007 at 1:44 am #

    you been reading dante, bvn? good, enjoyable review- i’m sure it’s more enjoyable than the movie itself..

  13. bvn November 12, 2007 at 8:52 am #

    Kuffir, thanks 🙂 there are terraces which John’s character descends and you feel the suffocation. Never read Dante, somebody told me the story and I am really afraid 🙂

  14. arup November 13, 2007 at 5:40 am #

    NO SMOKING should b considered 2 b a pride for indian film industry.here smoking is not presented as smoking but it can b any sort of out of the way wish ,thought or view that is considered unhealthy by our society.it says in our so called civilized society u cant hav anythng out of the way and u will hav 2 go by the norms and terms of the society.if not the society will some how or the other make u do what everyone else does.it will first advise u and then force u to do in any possible way.here paresh rawal and his gang represents those forces of nature.and the end u will get rid of ur excited soul ,get it burned away and b at peace with ur lifeless ,normal,safe body .u can also drag ur frnds in the same path 4 ur own betterment in some way or the other.after all in today’s world u will NOT B ALLOWED to be different,revolutionary in any form whatsoever.

  15. Apoorv Khatreja December 7, 2007 at 5:45 am #

    For those who didn’t get the movie. or who called the movie a ‘Mental Rape’, check out my interpretation of the movie. Hope this should clear things up.

    http://apoorvkhatreja.blogspot.com/2007/12/no-smoking-uncovered.html

  16. film maker- roony December 24, 2007 at 2:05 am #

    intellectual,could hv worked over the number of climax,story,verdict,versatile,seems like few scenes were adopted or inspired from schindler’s list,still was a good attempt by kashyap

  17. mellz January 10, 2008 at 12:47 pm #

    Good attept????

    Its not a Good Attempt, ITS ONE OF THE BEST MOVIE AN INDIAN FILMAKER HAS EVER MADE……

    BEST BECAUSE OF WRITING A SCRIPT LIKE THIS AND POTRAYING WHAT ak THINKS ITS THE MOST DARING AND MATURED FILM OF THIS GENERATION…….

  18. tushar April 19, 2008 at 3:15 pm #

    well this movie ends up with nothing. very confusing, i think director should not watse our time for their delight. bad form of story telling. i think mr kyashap should again think about this after reading my comment.

  19. tushar April 19, 2008 at 3:17 pm #

    this movie gave me a shock as i am expecting not this type of work from mr kashyap.

  20. ali June 12, 2008 at 2:36 am #

    a goog move but the end is confusing

  21. anurag prabhakar July 5, 2010 at 10:24 am #

    i love reading this movie’s reviews and welll..that’s the aftereffect of ak’s daring attempt to forward on screen a state of mind………….this one’s the 86th article about the movie i read.and keenly waiting for bombay velvet.

  22. anurag prabhakar July 5, 2010 at 10:31 am #

    a lost soul,a cigarette,smoke,deaths, ignorances etc.are the chiefs in the film thread surpassing impeccability……….first time i saw it,i really did feel pathetic no end,the trauma was a sort of that i had lost my creativity in what i loved the most,for anurag kashyap exists here…………i’m no match for him.

  23. Gerovital August 31, 2010 at 2:20 am #

    You have to drop all those masks and offer salutations to the sheer arrogance of India’s most promising director – Anurag Kashyap.

  24. Naga October 14, 2011 at 12:19 am #

    I saw the movie yesterday. Shared the same feelings about the 2 halves, as you did. Just waiting and hoping that the air would get cleared any moment.

    Left me totally confused at the end and uncomfortable too. Remembered that you has done this blog and logged in to check up.

    I think the best tribute to the movie is Anurag’s blog. Arrogance at its arrogant best!

    Naga.

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