Wake Up Sid can be described in half-a-dozen words: Rich Spoilt Slacker Dude Grows Up. This much-used theme has been the premise of several multiplex movies starring (the now-aging) Saif Ali Khan, who passes on his mantle to the younger, hunkier Ranbir Kapoor.
Sid (Ranbir) is content with his aimless, carefree life even after he finishes college. His lack of responsibility irks his parents, till one day a showdown with Sid’s dad (Anupam Kher) causes Sid to move out and find his way in the world. He bunks with his new friend Aisha (Konkona Sen Sharma) till he figures out what to do.
The movie is set in Bombay, not Mumbai, and the nomenclature brought the wrath of the Shiv Sena Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (thank you Geeta!) upon the head of producer Karan Johar, who ended up having to apologize. But the decision to keep the old name is completely understandable; cinematographer Anil Mehta creates a vibrant, colorful, happening, city that is as far from the grit and grind of Kaminey and Slumdog as foie gras is from pav bhaji.
In fact, Bombay looks so crisp, clean and beautiful that it almost teeters into Disneyland artificiality. What prevents that from happening is the presence of Konkona as an independent-minded, sensible, career girl bemused by Sid’s slackerdom. She brings a depth and gravitas to the movie that serves it well and makes it difficult for one to dismiss it as fluff. The lead pairing is odd, but credit must go to debutant director and screenplay writer Ayan Mukerjee for making it work.
He is also assisted by a terrific music score. Shankar Ehsaan and Loy deliver yet again, with a contemporary sound that is perfectly in tune with the aesthetics of the movie. Mukherjee makes the most of this gift, teasing out the songs in a stop/start fashion that works because of the quality of the music. The best song, though, is Iktara by composer Amit Trivedi, whose tunes for Dev D won him critical acclaim. One complaint I have is that some songs in Wake Up Sid don’t feature in the CD for the movie, a puzzling omission that I hope a reader will solve for me.
The performances are uniformly good. Ranbir Kapoor is not one of my favorite actors, and his slack-jawed cluelessness can grate after a while, but he suits this role to a T. Anupam Kher brings nuance to his small role and demonstrates why he is one of the finest actors in mainstream Bollywood. Supriya Pathak is wasted as Sid’s sentimental mom, but she brings sweetness to her role. Konkona, of course, is the jewel of the movie. In her simple kurti, jean, dupatta ensembles she is the living heart of the city of Bombay. It is her remarkable talent that has overcome her unconventional looks to propel her into a lead role in a Dharma Productions film; the success is well deserved.
Wake Up Sid is like a big tub of buttered popcorn. It’s not particularly nutritious or fulfilling, but great to have in the dark of the movie theater. I highly recommend a dekko if you’re in the movie for light, uncomplicated fare that will cheer you up.
Wake Up Sid
*ring Ranbir Kapoor, Konkona Sen Sharma, Anupam Kher, Supriya Pathak
Directed by Ayan Mukherjee
My rating – 3 out of 5 stars