wogma rating: Watch if you have nothing better to do (?)
Some points for effort but almost none for the film itself; Mere Haule Dost, written & directed by Nitin Raghunath, is a film that underlines just how hard it is to make a good film, even if you have unending passion for the movies.Read more
For aspiring filmmakers, particularly for those contemplating the ‘independent cinema’ route to fulfill their aspirations, Mere Haule Dost, directed by Nitin Raghunath, can either be an inspiring film, or an extremely depressing one, depending on how you look at it. Clearly, there is passion at play here. Also, very clearly, the team behind the film had to face a number of difficulties and constraints in the making of the film.
But that’s filmmaking; difficulties and problems are a given, particularly with low budget independent films. Most often, filmmakers set out, ready to face all the travail in the world, hoping that their passion for cinema comes up trumps at the end of the day. Sometimes, it does. Most often, though, you end up with something like Mere Haule Dost.
Set in Hyderabad, Mere Haule Dost is about five zany friends (with nicknames like Bong, Bheja, Paisa and the likes) who are desperate to participate in a Himalayan bike rally. They set out trying to earn their way into it, encountering more than their fair share of problems along the way, relationships and love not being the least of them.
On the surface of it, if you know what it takes to make a film, you want to like Mere Haule Dost, without even watching it. When you watch it, however, nearly every department of the film rankles because of how hugely flawed they are. One of them, quite obviously, is the production value. Making the most out of every rupee is an art, and not one that the people behind Mere Haule Dost seem particularly adept at. Somehow, though, supporters of indie cinema are conditioned to forgive this.
The other is the technique – the cinematography and the editing. The latter, in particular, is shoddy enough for the film to be used as a case study in film schools – length and placement of shots is a major problem here, which ends up giving the film the feel of an amateur short film. The sound is another problem, though one can’t expect much from this, when you consider that capturing clean sound on location is one of the hardest technical aspects of making a film.
However, all of these could have been relegated to the background if the film had a rock-solid script at its core, and had likeable and competent actors enacting the key roles. It is these two aspects of the film that truly let it down, because they were easily the two aspects of the film that had the most potential. When making a coming-of-age, screwball youth comedy, you need the writing to be top-notch. You need to be able to buy the characters, their lines, their quirks and their shortcomings. You need crackling humour and you need the kind of spontaneity that you perhaps see in a sitcom. Sadly, you find none of that here. The long winded, pointless screenplay makes the film seem longer than it is. The narrative technique of cutting to a montage to explain a line or situation clearly doesn’t work either. You also end up feeling bad for the cast, because they seem to be continuously struggling to not be the worst in the scene.
If there is one thing I could take away from the film, it was the delightful Hyderabadi-accented Hindi, which has always been something I’ve loved. But that could be just me. Apart from that, the film doesn’t even really manage to capture a flavour of Hyderabad, which could possibly have worked in the film’s favour.
Indie cinema needs to be encouraged, yes, and the fact that films like Mere Haule Dost even get a release is a huge step in that direction. For the immense effort that clearly went into the film, your heart goes out to the filmmakers. But as a film in itself, it is an ordeal that can easily be avoided.
This review is by guest reviewer Pradeep Menon. Pradeep is a filmmaker and a dreamer. He loves books, rain, winters, tea and his parents. Cinema, however, is the only truth he believes in. He breathes and bleeds film, mostly in hues of saffron, white, green and blue. You can watch his short films at www.youtube.com/cyberpradeep.
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