Film: That Girl in Yellow Boots (A)
Director: Anurag Kashyap
Cast: Kalki Koechlin, Prashant Prakash, Gulshan Devaiah and Naseeruddin Shah
The setup is fascinating: A 20-year-old expat in search of her Indian father in Mumbai. The place is alien to her, she has to work at a massage parlour where ‘handshakes’ are a way to make ends meet, and has a druggie boyfriend to deal with. There’s little info on the father – who left home when she was 5 – except for a name and profession. Throw a gangster in the mix and you have something interesting going.
Sadly, That Girl in Yellow Boots (TGIYB) – co-written by director Anurag Kashyap and the film’s lead actor, Kalki – fails to engage you through its runtime, short as that may be. The film has an explosive, extremely disturbing finale that seems to pull off what it sets out to do – unsettle the audience and bring to surface some hard-to-fathom truths. But if as a viewer, the journey is as/more important to you as where a film eventually goes, then TGIYB is probably not for you.
That’s not to say the film does not have its moments of brilliance. Ruth (Kalki) seems to be in a desperate need of being looked after, but is happy playing mother to a boyfriend (Prashant Prakash, fantastic) trying to get rid of a drug addiction. After an outburst where he accuses her of being selfish, she bares her emotions naked. Having forgotten his pain, he’s shown consoling her shortly after. It’s very real, their bond.
Some interesting actors portraying periphery characters bring the film alive every now and then: the talkative receptionist (Puja Sarup, superbly natural), and the Kannadiga gangster (Gulshan Devaiah, displaying amazing versatility in his third film after Shaitan and Dum Maaro Dum), for example.
A regular customer of Ruth’s (popular theatre actor Kumud Mishra) has been intelligently cast too. Kalki herself delivers a measured performance, letting the film rest on her dainty but able shoulders. Naseeruddin Shah is lovable in a cameo. But all of it – the boyfriend, the gangster, the greasy visa officer (Kartik Krishnan) – seems far removed from the central plot; a distraction so you’re caught off-guard in the end.
Among the things that stay with you is the cinematography by Rajeev Ravi – a regular with Kashyap – who captures TGIYB beautifully, not letting budgetary constraints show, and some great art design. To Kashyap’s credit, he breaks the mould once again, giving us a film drastically dissimilar to his earlier outings. Along with an able bunch of technicians, he translates what is really a lackluster script into an edgy, slick fare. But as a storyteller, he fails to engage consistently, let down by clumsy writing.
TGIYB, in the end, is a middling effort that has its share of highs, but leaves you unmoved and slightly disappointed.