That Girl in Yellow Boots (TGIYB) has many things going for it.
For one there is Anurag Kashyap (writer, director for this one), who has created a niche fan base among the movie going audience. Then there is his wife Kalki Koechlin(also cowriter for this script), fleshing out the vastly complex yellow boots-wearing lead character with a natural ease, never once overdoing it and always keeping it very real. It has a Ruskin Bond-esque title which evokes immense curiosity and Anurag Kashyap matches it up with an almost poetic, leisurely-paced movie. I suggest you cajole yourself through the first half, be patient, because like a classic novel this story builds in the first half. Trust me, the movie will grow on you, pick up pace in the second half, suck you in its web of characters and then deliver the sucker punch in the gripping climax.
Kalki is Ruth, a British girl by birth, searching for her Indian father in Mumbai. A letter is all she has from him, reminding her of his love, no photos — her mother tore them all up. She has just a name and her desire to meet her father. She takes the best route to survive in Mumbai — adapt to it. She absorbs everything from the dishonest, ill-mannered government officials to the cheating auto rickshaw drivers.
During the day she works at one of the shady massage parlours in the city. She gives her customers a hand job for an extra buck; her mother wanted her to be a nun in England by the way. By night she is at home, either alone or trying to satisfy her drug junkie boyfriend (Prashant Prakash, assured debut).
Ruth goes through the motions of life but comes alive only in her search of the love she longs from her father. Clearly for her the ends justify all means, from working in the massage parlour to even agreeing to ‘entertain’ corporates to get clues that lead to her father.
But do not let the linear one line story explanation of ‘firang girl in search for her father in a big bad city’ fool you. Anurag and Kalki in their script create characters which stay with you much after the movie ends. They are of varied kinds and keep you hooked starting from the customers of Kalki (led by Naseerudin Shah no less), the always-on-the-mobile phone-owner of the massage parlour (Puja Swaroop, funny and appropriately irritating), the southie gangster (Gulshan Devaiya, KC from Shaitan, super here!) and finally the one scene cameos(by Makarand Deshpande and co).
The cinematography (Rajeev Ravi) is excellent as Mumbai comes alive in different shades and moods. The music and background score are apt bringing out the languid nature of the movie. If anything the editing in the first half could have been better. As the scenes labour on, it starts becoming an effort to sit through and this is the movie’s single biggest weakness.
Eventually though the lifeline of any thriller is the climax and this one manages to pack an Ali-level punch at the very end. After the revelation as the pieces of the story fall into place, you will find yourself going back to different scenes from the movie and connecting the dots in your head. This according to me is one of the signs of intelligent directors/writers making a film for an intelligent audience. What a relief after the recent rubbish at the box office!
The ending has the desired shock-and-awe effect but in a subtle manner which only good writing can bring. There are no overt displays of grisly violence here (unlike RGV’s recent Not a Love Story) but there is enough to disturb you and keep you talking about the film as you leave the mall and beyond.
Go for this one, but be prepared to be patient in the super slow first half. As the tagline goes, ‘Sabr ka phal meetha hota hai’. The end will be worth the wait, surely.