Home / News / Movie Reviews / No Smoking
ABSURD, ABSTRACT AND AVOIDABLE!!!
ABSURD, ABSTRACT AND AVOIDABLE!!!

By Satyajit

Critic's I-view

click for larger view
"Jab Bhi Cigarette Jalti Hain, Main Jalta Hoon…" is the most distressed sounding soundtrack that promises unexplored facade of real life in its depiction clubbed with innovative entertainment for its target viewers. It's again a dark and gory noir cinematic appeal that surmounts the dark theatre room with its peculiar intimidating textures. Spine chilling tremors, daunting background score, finely executed cinematic skills and brilliantly narrated story is what one expects at the end of the day from 'No Smoking'.

The film delivers every element but the storyline is too absurd to digest. It's a noble concept that the film delivers a message that "Smoking is injurious to health" but the treatment is too abstract. It's a different style of cinema that so far has not evaded Indian cinema. The storyline charters the path of dreams, hallucination and nightmares to deliver the message of "No Smoking". The biggest disappointment lies in its narration that is absurd. Isn't it too dark, gory and horrendous that one should have a brave heart to digest its happenings and events.

click for larger view
John Abraham is "K" (one letter character!) in the film. He is a thirty-year-old smart but obstinate and intolerable guy who had bad habit of smoking. K lives life of a passionate chain smoker who thinks he knows the best and does exactly what he wants. This nicotine addict took his first cigarette through his childhood friend Abbas (Ranvir Shorey) as a teenager and got obsessed with this bad habit. His life is torn between his bad smoking and his married life. Nobody in the world can come between him and his cigarette - neither his wife,nor his friends and not even his own life.

click for larger view
Ayesha Takia plays a mysterious and dubious character of Anjali (John's wife) as well as Honey (John's secretary). She fancies all hi-society women's charms but despises his husband's smoking habits. Anjali looks mild like any caring wife but has a mind of her own. She takes a drastic decision and dumps K for his bad smoking habits. On flip side, Honey (Ayesha Takia in double role) is vivacious red color bespectacled secretary who misses no opportunity to get intimate with her boss.

click for larger view
Now, the big jig saw puzzle commences in the form of Paresh Rawal's character of Baba Bengali. Even the most intelligent viewer in the theatre won't be interpreting his character or dialogues as they are the handiwork of some complicated writing. Baba Bengali is a loquaciously bewitching man with deadly intentions and lethal actions. He is autocratic and dictatorial like Hitler and runs a "Prayogyashala" that guarantees mind-blowing results and wants his clients to obey his every order. If they mistrust his therapy or orders then no body can save them from hell that comes in the form of his vengeful wrath.

click for larger view
According to Baba Bengali's commandments, cigarette smoking can be injurious to your health and also to his client's fingers and thereafter he carries forward his wrath to the client's beloved, and to those close to him. If a man is caught smoking then he has to face dire consequences. The gory tale of hell like "Prayogyashala" is terrifying and so does its decorum. It's almost like entering into hell and facing punishment of being a chain-smoker.

click for larger view
John faces the wrath of Baba Bengali as he is introduced to him by his dear friend Abbas. If he touches a cigarette with the intention of lighting up then his car may be blasted into pieces! His first cigarette faces this consequence that he loses his hearing power after a thunderous blast to his car. He lights another cigarette and his asthmatic brother is forced to inhale all the cigarette smoke he has exhaled all these years.He lights up another cigarette then he won't be able to hold it as his fingers will be chopped off. In case, he lights another cigarette and doesn't quit smoking; he may lose the only person (his dear wife) he has loved the most.Finally, he gets a final choice to choose between his own very life and the nicotine stick.

click for larger view
'No Smoking' has a message for all chain smokers that it can lead them to hell but the treatment is outrageously violent, absurd and abstract. The climax where the soul of John interacts with his body is too abstract for an average viewer to digest. The film opens up in a scene where John is trapped in snow of Uzbekistan , craves for cigarette and ends up with similar scene. Unfortunately, the series of events don't interact with each other and the film proves to be an avoidable affair. Second, the man who plays eunuch in front of John's car returns as his watchman, driver and finally friend to his dear friend Abbas. What does this imply?

click for larger view
John complains about Baba Bengali to Police but he isn't heard. Finally, he appears in public where he disappears in the crowd. Thus, the film enters into dungeons of his "Prayogyashala" that discloses the aftermath of being addicted to smoking. It's really disappointing that the director who made 'Black Friday' gives us 'No Smoking'. It's absurd and won't find any acceptance either from critics or masses. It's true that smoking habits are injurious to health but the depiction of its consequences is strikingly sadistic and gruesome. Can director Anurag Kashyap justify the commandments of "Cigarette Shastra"? Is it just to deliver such a dark subject to emotional Indian audiences? Do cinematic gesticulations justify his narrative and directorial acts? No!

click for larger view
John Abraham delivers a sincere performance of an addicted chain-smoker in an author-backed role. His performance poorly matches with absurd screenplay and hackneyed scripting. Ayesha Takia plays an underwritten character by playing John's wife and secretary. She has miniscule part to play but still she excels in an insignificant role. Paresh Rawal remains a reliable commodity and delivers a potential performance of Baba Bengali. Ranvir Shorey plays weird character and there is hardly anything to discuss about it. Cinematography (Rajeev Ravi) is apt for the subject as the "killer" feel of noir cinema can be felt in its sepia tones with some well shot violent scenes.

click for larger view
Overall, 'No Smoking' disappoints and will be called an absurd entertainment from a prolific director. It will enjoy good face value with some raunchy item tracks to its credits. Later, it faces the audience's wrath for not delivering the needful. It will be facing hard competition from its contemporary multiple releases.

RELATED CONTENT

EVENT PICTURES

Move cursor over picture to see description