After two highly controversial films, although good films, ‘Black Friday’ and ‘Paanch’, Director Anurag Kashyap is back with his next film. ‘No Smoking’ seems to be Anurag’s commercialized attempt at Bollywood. Most people would go to see ‘No Smoking’ especially since it’s made by Anurag Kashyap who is known for his intelligent film making. The director might have made the film to make people aware of the dangers of smoking but the problem is the movie is too abstract to get the message across successfully.
I’ve heard of leave your-brain-behind movies but for ’No Smoking’ no matter what you leave behind, it still is the most bizarre and confusing movie I have seen ever! Movies like Memento, Matrix, Schindler’s List were too, but in a smart and thought provoking way. This movie was ridiculous, laughable, illogical, chaotic, confusing and totally dispensable.
Psuedo-Intelligent crap is what I would call it. It’s a different style of cinema that Hindi cinema has ever done, but that’s not always a good thing. In his bid to be different, to be “artistic”, to break the set parameters, and to rebelliously defy all that is stereotypical, Kashyap goes over the top. He has made a film, which is hard to understand with no logical progression in the story. The plot keeps flitting from one situation to another – some amusing, some ludicrous. Different is NOT always good.
I always watch most hindi movies with an open mind to take as much BS as I can handle but this movie, however much you try to extend your creative and imaginative boundaries, it leaves you confused. No matter how hard you try to understand or even remotely digest it, it just gets confusing and exasperating. First half of movie is slight promising but second half is a complete disaster. Overall, it’s just plain torture.
K (John Abraham) is a chain smoker and an arrogant man who likes to have his way, come what may. Yes the character’s name is just K. No name, just an alphabet. His brother an asthma patient is G. In the first scene he emerges from a dream in his bathtub. It is a dream that haunts him. He is in Siberia dying to smoke a cigarette. But Russian soldiers, keeping him housebound, won’t let him do that. And they don’t mind putting a bullet into K to stop him from smoking.
In his plush apartment, K stands in front of a mirror, lights his cigarette, puts on his goggles and admires himself. He turns a deaf ear to his wife Anjali ( Ayesha Takia ) who is sick of his smoking habit. “No one tells me what to do,” he utters to himself in the mirror with a look of vanity in his eyes.
K is a compulsive smoker. So are his friends. Enter his weirdo friend, Abbas (Ranvir Shorey), a big time smoker turned non smoker who recommends a rehabilitation center to get rid of this bad habit. The place where he sends him to, is run by some strange Guruji Baba(Paresh Rawal) with his group of weirdo followers. K visits Baba’s pryogshala in the squalid interiors of a slum. It is a visit that turns K’s life around.
You slowly begin to realize that everyone associated with this “rehab center” has a hearing aid on, is missing a few fingers and has some family member in a hospital gravely ill and so on…..and from here the vague ride begins. This weirdo friend gets a parcel from the guruji as a thank you gift for referring K to him. And this parcel contains his chopped up fingers which as soon as he places in his hands, magically reattaches itself…nerves, muscles, bones and all. Just makes me proud to see Indian movies still showing such bull-crap.
He is forced to enter into a pact with this place according to which he will turn deaf if he smokes his first cigarette. If he smokes second cigarette, K’s asthmatic brother will be put in a gas chamber filled with smoke. If he smokes the third one, his fingers will be chopped off. If he smokes again, he would lose his wife forever.
How K’s life spirals into an inevitable doom after this pact is what the remaining film is about. By the time the movie ends, it is hard to ascertain what is K’s dream and what is reality.
The movie, for the most part, has a surreal look. Sadly, the story makes no sense. Some of the sequences are truly over your head. It’s a lame attempt at being cool and intelligent.
For instance, K’s wife is killed after he is forced to smoke a cigar. He is arrested by cops and put behind bars only to wake up in his bed with his wife sleeping alongside. Later, while running away from a Russian soldier in Siberia, K dives into snow, enters into water and emerges through a tunnel into the netherworld of Baba’s pryogshala. But there, K sees his own self on the other side of a glass. “That is your body,” K is told by another inmate. Then this “spirit” or antar atma of K takes a smoke bath like the Jews who were put in gas chambers by Hitler in the portions of ‘Schindler’s List’ shown early in ‘No Smoking’. The trouble with ‘No Smoking’ is that it rests on a concept that Anurag has stretched beyond its snapping point. Till the end it is difficult to comprehend what the director actually intended to show.
After many many ‘Memento’ moments, after many ‘I give up trying to follow this movie’ moments, after many’ What the F is going on’ moments, 2 hours have gone by and the movie ends when you think the movie is acually going start to make sense any moment now.
I would be crazy to rate it more than a zero.