Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Saawariya (2007) is about loneliness and longing, based on Fyodor Dostoevsky’s short story “White Nights”. It’s an epic ballad about anticipation and participation in love, making an artistically compelling visual treat. Ravi K. Chandran‘s meticulous masterstroke in creating picturesque frames remain unappreciated.
In the opening sequence itself, Bhansali makes clear that it’s about an angel – hence, Saawariya is a fairytale depending upon how one subjectively undertakes the tossed elements. “Realism is an illusion”, said Bhansali somewhere near the release, it befits to the film which stands as a symbolism to the illusion of selfless love and longing. While characters are seen longing for their dear ones, Sakina for Imaan, Sakina’s Mother for Husband, Prostitutes for an Angel and Ranbir Raj for Sakina – the colour blue coordinates faith and heaven of love to create a soothing effect out of the heart aching longings.
In between, we witness hue of green over Ranbir Raj’s sequences which denote the ambitious love as well as jealousy towards Imaan (which also means faith). Tragically, his faith towards love is hanging over a bridge with the anticipation of Imaan’s arrival. When Sakina beats the dust out of the rugs when she falls into love with Imaan, the golden light is the only rightful bliss moment in the gloomy film. Sanjay Leela Bhansali knows the importance of the colours to the core, hence, the colours meticulously symbolise love, longing and loneliness.
What takes down Saawariya is the excessive duration and screenplay in terms of dialogues which don’t essentially work due to its old-charm. While the poetic soundtrack soothes the narrative, “White Nights” transformed into an extravagant Indian Musical in a simple manner. With all its colours and dramatic weather (rainstorms and snow), it just ends up being an enchanting visual treat and never thunders the viewing.
Saawariya is an illusion, unfortunately it stands close to Dostoevsky’s story and doesn’t cater to the commercial elements and commerce (in Bollywood style) which seems to be one of the reason, the film didn’t crawl up apart from its clash with Shahrukh Khan’s Om Shanti Om.
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