The film I watched was ‘Rocky Handsome’, and now that a bit of time has passed, I can recall almost nothing about this film. It starred a man, who shot other men, for the sake of a little girl. It also had 3 or so dance numbers, which really worked against the tone of the film. So as an auto-ethnographic study of how I perceive different cultures, this movie may not have been a great choice. What it works extremely well as, is an auto-ethnographic study on how I solve, or sometimes don’t solve, movies via their context, through mise-en-scene.
I choose the film ‘Rocky Handsome’ as it was available to me on Netflix, and it seemed like an interesting film. And in a sense, it definitely was. This blog post itself will be part of the auto-ethnographic experience, forcing me to think and write on the film, and as this happens, I am remembering more and more of the film, and also remembering more and more of how I felt during.
A major confusion I had for the first hourish or so of the film, was determining who ‘Rocky Handsome’ was. I had believed it was a certain guy, who had looked after a little girl from his pawn shop. He was charming, skilled and polite. He had the trimmings of a hero, and showed himself capable. He worked alone, and was yet to interact with many people. He even had an opening music video, where he was with a women all in white, as they laid together while she sung. A ‘Rocky Handsome’ if there ever was one!
I was also introduced to another man, who headed a team of other men, in a seemingly official undercover police group, determined to me by the official nature of the powerpoint. They seemed really cool, and were having laughs, but in a controlled ‘cool guy’ way. They entered a strip club (where a song played and some women danced, that I had no relation to as a viewer), then he beat the crap out of some guys who were clearly tougher and fighting dirtier. A ‘Rocky Handsome’ if there ever was one!
Now I had two ‘Rocky Handsome’s to deal with, and my notes quickly became confusing. What I reflected from this, in the larger context of the whole film and on all films, is that the premise of a main character, who is aided unknowingly by side characters, can become confusing if you, the viewer, are not aided in one way or another. I had come to believe the character I first thought was ‘Rocky Handsome’, was maybe the villain, in the same way you see Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz) first in ‘Inglorious Basterds’. Turned out this was wrong, and my contextualising this film into something I was more familiar with.
My confusion was put to an immediate halt at about an hour in, in something that I have never really seen in a film before. ‘Rocky Handsome’ #1 was confirmed to be Rocky Handsome, and the latter was just a guy who was also in the film. And how did this film decide to play this out to me? In a way that really is only ever seen at the beginning of a comedy-action film, with a montage of shooting murder and then an FX explosion of ‘Rocky Handsome’ onto the screen right in front of him. I was gobsmacked, as this was not really a sequence that I had seen in the middle of a film before. In particular, it was not expected in a film where a little girls mother was a drugged prostitute who died in a bloody death.
Maybe this unease at the sequence came from an understanding of tonal settings in a film, or because maybe through-out the film, the dialogue was humorous, and that I had totally missed that from my view-point. Regardless, it was a sequence of the film that stood out to me, due to how ill-fitting it felt.
A point I mentioned, but haven’t quite elaborated on, was the use of dance songs and numbers in this film. This is something that is fitted into only really one type of film in Hollywood cinema, and the films genre is then generally based on the presence of song and dance, hence the ‘Musical’ genre. This was very much not the case for this film, or the other Bollywood and Nollywood films I have seen. The use of song, dance and beautiful women who are unrelated to the plot happened several times in this film. It may have been the same woman, but the songs were not memorable and cut in-between the film itself, making it pretty hard to recall, even moments after. For myself, the felt they added nothing to the film, as they never interacted with any of the characters at any point nor did it shape the events of the film. They also seemed to disappear the second the song was over, magically abandoning the scene.
These were some of the things I learnt about cinema and about Indian cinema whilst watching the ‘Rocky Handsome’. The movie was pretty unmemorable for me, except for some cool action sequences and a man humming the ‘Pink Panther’ theme.