Like the first soft drops of the monsoon, Sid's quiet tears on Aisha's doorstep and the gentle development of the love between them, Wake Up Sid crept gently into that part of my heart reserved for films that become part of my psyche, happy places that I visit when I need to smile.
I won't go into too much plot detail with spoilers because I don't wish to deprive anyone of the experience of falling in love with this perfect, simple film. Like Aisha's article, this movie is a love letter to Mumbai, to independence and to the journey from childhood to adulthood. If you're a bit older than the characters in the movie, as I am, it can be about waking up to the fact that life is just passing you by if you're not doing something you love. There are still things to be learned about yourself even 10 years down the road.
Konkona Sen Sharma as Aisha is wonderful as usual. I like her so much as an actress. She doesn't have the kinetic vibrancy of Kajol, my other favorite actress, but she has a soulfulness, intelligence and quiet strength that she brings to her characters that I adore. She is nurturing without losing herself which I heartily applaud. So often, women nurture by sacrificing parts of themselves, but her characters never seem to lose their identities while steering the men in their lives to self actualization.
Ranbir Kapoor surprised me and I think I have a small crush on him now. He portrays Sid's youthful arrogance and sense of entitlement with just enough sweetness to make sure the audience cares for him and is invested in his journey. As Sid grows as a person, Ranbir brings a new vulnerability to the character that makes you believe that Sid is learning and maturing. You really care about this spoiled brat and root for him.
Sid's friends Rishi and Laxmi don't get nearly enough screen time if you ask me but they do tremendous jobs with what they are given. Played by Namit Das and Shikha Talsania respectively, Sid's friends are endearing and real and you'll wish you had a Rishi and Laxmi in your life. They are so likeable as characters that they help greatly in winning the audience over to Sid because if he has such great friends, then he must not be just a spoiled brat but a good person with a good heart as well. I look forward to seeing both of them in future films.
What can I say about Anupam Kher as Sid's dad? Anupam is my favorite film dad of all time. When he's at his best playing a father (and he's at his best here), I always believe that his kid(s) are the most important thing in his life and that he loves them unconditionally. His performances are so warm and realistic that, no matter how small or ancillary the role, I enjoy them thoroughly.
Supriya Pathak is lovely too as Sid's mother. There are times when she looks at Sid with such love and hope in her eyes, pleading with him to acknowledge that he understands what she does for him and how much she loves him, that it almost breaks your heart.
Finally, we have Rahul Khanna as Aisha's boss. He's handsome, sexy, intelligent and, ultimately, a good guy. Rahul Khanna pulls off this small role beautifully. He flawlessly embodies every woman's fantasy about the sophisticated, gorgeous, older man we dream of sweeping us off our feet.
The screenplay and direction by Ayan Mukherji are terrific, especially considering this is his debut film. It feels as though the screenplay was fully realized before filming began which doesn't often seem to be the case with Hindi films. As a screenwriter he has written a story about relationships and becoming who you're meant to be that really makes sense. As a director , he has made the interaction between the characters and each of their journeys feel authentic and logical but, at the same time, very heartfelt and loving. He has also made Mumbai feel like a magical, beautiful place and one of the most vital characters in the movie. If I hadn't wanted to travel there before, I certainly do now.
So, as the first rains of the monsoon transform Mumbai, do those first tears of Sid's begin the transformation of an irresponsible young man to loving, successful adult? You have to watch the movie! Where will you end up? If you're like me, you'll end up wishing you lived in Aisha's flat, had friends like Sid's and were standing on the shore in Mumbai as the first monsoon rains fall on you.
But, even if you don't have those things, you might just be inspired to rethink what it is you really want to do with your life and, at the very least, Wake Up Sid will be a happy little place that you can always go to when you need a smile.