Film: “CRD”; Director: Kranti Kanade; Cast: Saurabh Saraswat, Mrinmayee Godbole, Vinay Sharma and Geetika Tyagi; Rating: ***
Sometimes, on that rare occasion when we are not watching, Indian cinema pushes the envelope right up out collective posteriors.
“CRD”, which it took me a while to figure out, is the initials of the hero’s name, is one such absolutely irreverent, sometimes beguiling, at other times exasperating, iconoclastic experiment with truth that has so much balls, it defines the testament of the testicles with a heretic delight.
The disregard of convention in form and content is taken to extreme limits in this film where the characters are all part of a renegade theatre group which insidiously implants elements from street theatre and tropes from commercial Hindi cinema into the range of its own intellectual self regard.
The setting, I came to know, is Pune which triggers off a stream of speculation on whether this motley group of rabblerousing rebels are meant to be from the Film and Television Institute of India. There is every indication that the ragged bunch of thoroughly self-obsessed misanthropes in “CRD” represent a section of the art world which hovers precariously between the underground and the mainstream.
Too deep to be mainstream and yet not deep enough to be considered avant garde, the theatre-on-film format of “CRD” exudes the air of one of those coffee house gupshups where out-of-work strugglers pretending to be contemptuous of Salman Khan and Varun Dhawan, talk on any topic from Brecht (Bertolt Brecht) to “Deewaar” just to start off a discussion on art and liberty.
Intentionally or not, the boisterous bachchas born out of Becht’s intellectualism come across with more bedlam than relevance.
There is a “Deewaar” moment where our cocky smalltown virgin-hero Chetan (Saurabh Saraswat, interesting face) wonders what happened to the “unknown” character named Mr Aggarwal who had just one sequence with Amitabh Bachchan. Firstly, the actor playing Mr Aggarwal is now unknown but a distinguished character actor named Sapru. Secondly, the penchant to pick on trivia to show how deeply connected a character is to the world of specific art, is the oldest trick in the book to impress the beau monde.
A lot of the time the characters seem to be posturing on stage even when they areawell, not posturing on stage. The attempt to shock us by showing the world of Indian theatre as “liberated” is not quite the stuff that would jolt us unless it was done in a more sensitized language than what’s spoken here. Abhishek Bachchan is unnecessarily picked on to show how art can be insulted when conjoined to nepotism.
The bullying acting coach Mayank (Vinay Sharma) takes on the novice Chetan trying to break through the boy’s defences by staging an impromptu stage-play in a sports compound making his mother an object of theatrical lust. The sequence and the Mayank-Chetan equation seem like a subverted variation on the Amadeus-Mozart rivalry, and a jarring one at that.
In another sequence, the same bully gropes the film’s female protagonist Persis (Mrinmayee Godbole) during a workshop saying it’s nothing but flesh.
Gropers of the world, please unite.
This is the world of Guru Dutt’s “Pyaasa” subverted beyond recognition. Without any wheel on the zeal, the characters just roll around in the juices of their intellectual masturbation not aware of or bothered about how ridiculous they appear to the outside world.
Flashers are known to be uncaring of what the world thinks. This is a world that has forsaken convention at a young age and doesn’t quite know what to do with the freedom that stretches like a long highway in front of them.
At the end, Chetan tells his girlfriend that everything he had propagated, including his identity, was a lie. We are not shocked. This is what the Chetans of the world expect us to believe. They want to shock us. We oblige.
The innovative language of expression embraced by director Kranti Kanade will rock and shock you, as it is meant to. But it will also leave you sickened and shaken. It’s like a teenager given too much liberty to watch unlimited porn.