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Raj, a free spirited artist, idealist and dreamer, is convinced that he has found his ultimate fantasy when he arrives in a quaint picturesque town. Surrounded by mountains, shrouded in mist and enveloped in beauty, it is mythical enough to be a painter's vision or a poet's memory. One bright, starry night, he spots a mysterious girl draped in black, standing alone at a bridge. This chance encounter brings his first meeting with the intriguing Sakina, a shy, melancholic and enigmatic young woman. What begins as a friendship soon becomes a passionate quest as Raj pours all his youthful spirit and charm into an attempt to win Sakina's heart. But Raj is haunted by her troubled past and their friendship gradually pulls him into a romantic whirlwind of madness and desire.
For more about Saawariya and the Saawariya Blu-ray release, see Saawariya Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on April 29, 2008 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Ranbir Kapoor, Sonam Kapoor, Rani Mukherjee, Salman Khan, Zohra Segal
Director: Sanjay Leela Bhansali
» See full cast & crew
Saawariya Blu-ray Review
Perhaps the finest looking Blu-ray yet deserves a spot in your collection.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, April 29, 2008
Don't ever love someone so much that you begin to hate yourself someday.
While I certainly appreciate when a movie steps out on a limb and proves itself to be different and worthwhile, coming completely out of the blue and surprising me with unexpected originality and brilliance (Memento comes to mind), I still find that my tastes don't tend to stray very far from good action, science fiction, horror, or old-school comedy (this last genre, in my opinion, died with the late and very great John Candy, with films such as Uncle Buck and Delirious). Rarely will I venture into the Criterion Collection side of film, or to the foreign rack at the local store (though I do have an affinity for German filmmaking). It came with a bit of incredulity, followed by some apprehension, and then a world of hope, when I received and began to review a copy of a film I'd never heard of before -- Saawariya. Viewing this film was my first experience with the genre commonly referred to as "Bollywood." It's certainly difficult to escape from your comfort zone but nevertheless always healthy to do so. Saawariya represents the cinematic equivalent of a leap of faith, maybe skydiving for the first time. You hope (and know) the parachute will open, but you still have that lingering doubt in the back of your mind just before and just after the jump. So, did screening Saawariya leave me exhilarated and ready for more, or am I typing this whilst splattered all over the metaphorical concrete, the unopened parachute still on my back?
Imagine your basic love story: boy moves to new town, boy meets girl, girl likes boy, boy loves girl, girl announces she is waiting for someone else, boy tries to win her heart anyway, girl must eventually choose between the two men in her life. That's the story presented to us in Saawariya, the 2007 Indian film directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali (Black). Raj (Ranbir Kapoor) has recently arrived in town and lands a job at a night club as a singer and guitarist. One night, he meets Sakina (Sonam Kapoor), a shy, beautiful girl alone on a small bridge. The two become friends, Raj falling in love with her almost immediately, struggling with his emotions and building up the courage to tell her how he feels. Just as he is prepared to do so, Sakina reveals that she has been waiting a year for the love-of-her-life -- Imaan (Salman Khan) -- to return , a man with whom she fell in love when he rented a room in her house for only several days. He vowed to return in one year, and Sakina (less than) patiently awaits his arrival. Heartbroken, Raj sets out to convince her of his love anyway and do all he can to prove Imaan really isn't coming back, that he's the only one who will be there for Sakina today and forevermore.
During the opening moments of Saawariya, I felt that I was in for a treat. My parachute-leap from the metaphoric airplane was a fantastic one, breathtaking, fun, adventurous, and novel. Then something happened. I pulled the cord, and nothing. Fear didn't creep in, it came over me in a sudden and frenetic wave, dread and despair ruling the moment, the movie having lost the sheen and sheer brilliance of its opening act. The middle of the movie definitely seems to drag, and that's a shame. The entire story is commonplace and trite, but the movie's visual appeal and catchy tunes holds it together and makes it fresh, the only problem being that there's an obvious disconnect in the second act as the movie becomes repetitious and tedious, even the astonishing look beginning to wear a bit long in the tooth. I can only watch the same actor sing in basically the same location under the same lighting for so long before my patience starts to wear thin. Saawariya often plays like a stage play, but with cinematic elements, and it works, save for this second act where an admittedly crucial element of the story is told, but nevertheless comes across as overly long, repetitive at times, and somewhat dull. Thankfully, as the third act rolled around, the movie subliminally reminded me of the secondary parachute and I pulled the cord just in time to have a harrowing yet completely safe landing. The film's finale definitely improves on the middle act and is equal to the first in quality and fascination, and the ending that left me blindsided definitely helped make the jump into the "Bollywood" genre a mostly pleasant experience as the film concluded.
Saawariya Blu-ray, Video Quality
Saawariya dances onto Blu-ray and boldly proclaims itself as one of the finest video presentations available on the format. Presented in 1080p high definition and framed at 2.40:1, the image is positively breathtaking; from the first frames you'll be mesmerized at the sheer brilliance of the transfer, from the wide array of colors to the natural flesh tones to the incredible black levels -- it all adds up to a transfer rivaled only by I, Robot, in my opinion, in terms of level of perfection. So, what makes this image so good? Everything. The movie is almost always bathed in a blue glow, but that doesn't stop colors from being rich and lush, or blacks from being inky and pure. Said blacks hold steadfast and retain a masterful level of brilliance seen only in a handful of discs (see I, Robot or I Am Legend), and this one might even beat those. Colors are fantastically rich and stunningly beautiful, bright, vivid, and dynamic without being too hot or blown out of proportion, like those seen in High School Musical 2. Here, colors are absolutely natural and pristine, vibrant without appearing phony. Detail is breathtaking, perhaps the finest yet. Take simple things like a stone paved bridge. A close-up shot reveals every single line, crack, chip, and texture to be seen on it, and it makes you believe you could touch it; the image so pristine and thoroughly detailed that you instantly know how each stone would feel to the touch. Detail on humans is incredible as well; the viewer can easily make out the individual grains of facial hair on Raj's face. Really, there is no point in going on; the longer I rave about the disc, the longer it'll take you to go see it. Nothing but your own eyes and a properly calibrated display can adequately convey how rich and lifelike this transfer is. Simply put, this disc is as good or better than any other Blu-ray I've seen, bar none. If you are looking for a strictly reference quality disc, this one is it (so far).
Saawariya Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Remember the scene in Back to the Future where the judge tells Marty that he and his band are "just too darn loud?" That's the only problem on this otherwise impressive Dolby TrueHD 5.1 lossless surround sound mix. It is so loud at reference volume that I had to turn it down quite a bit so as to safeguard my hearing. Once properly adjusted, this soundtrack simply provides over two hours of sonic wonderment. Even basic dialogue has a wonderfully natural reverberation. Bass is deep and true in every scene that calls for it; very powerful and rumbling, but never so much as to cause the viewer to become overly aware of its presence, just adding the right amount of power and realistic atmosphere to the film. The soundstage is used to perfection, as every single sound seems impeccably placed in every channel; nothing sounds artificial or forced, again the only drawback being that this seems awfully loud in comparison to every other Blu-ray I've reviewed. If I had to choose one disc that perhaps bests simulates real life, this one would be it. Sure, it's not really "real life" to have people singing and dancing about their love life, sometimes alone and sometimes with full accompaniment in bright, beautiful costume, but if they did, I am convinced it would sound just like this. Saawariya's Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix, despite the score of 4.5 for being perhaps to aggressively loud, is definitely a reference-quality track.
Saawariya Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Sony has chosen to leave Saawariya singing and dancing pretty much on its own, foregoing an extensive supplemental package on this disc. Making the Music (480p, 19:58) is the first featurette. It features some behind-the-scenes looks and discussions about the music of the film, as well as its premiere. Next is Premiere Night (480p, 21:59). If you watched the last featurette, skip this one. It features plenty of recycled material (not to mention some badly reproduced music), but there is some new material here, so depending on your inclination (music or premiere), only watching one of these featurettes really makes sense. Finally, a 1080p trailer for The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep and 480p commercials for transferring money to India through Citibank (I'm as confused as you are) conclude the extra materials. For as excellent as the A/V quality is, the supplements are on the completely other end of the spectrum. What a shame.
Saawariya Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Certainly unique, oftentimes mesmerizing, at times a bit dull, but always intriguing and also wonderful to look at and listen to, Saawariya is undeniably one of the most interesting titles to arrive on Blu-ray yet. This movie definitely won't be everyone's cup of tea. It wasn't necessarily mine, but I found myself entertained, for the most part, nevertheless. Filled with wonderful music, exciting visuals, and an updated telling of a classic tale with a twist ending, Saawariya is a film well worth watching regardless of your normal movie watching habits. Visually, this disc is beautiful, arguably the finest to hit Blu-ray yet. Sonically, the disc is a standout amongst its peers, one of the finest available. The extras are sparse and repetitive, the only major downside of the disc. Whether Indian musicals are your thing are not, every Blu-ray fan owes it to themselves to at least rent this film to take in its amazing visuals, and it looks and sounds so good I am confident many fans will want to add this disc to their collections for demo purposes, not to mention the fairly good movie contained thereon. Recommended.
Saawariya Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Saawariya Gets Re-Announced for Blu-ray - February 25, 2008
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has re-announced the Blu-ray release of the hit Indian film 'Saawariya', now expected to arrive on store shelves May 6th, day-and-date with the DVD release. Originally announced for a March 15th release, video will be presented ...
• Saawariya Announced for Blu-ray - December 31, 2007
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has announced that they will bring 'Saawariya' to Blu-ray on March 11th, day-and-date with the DVD release. It will be presented in 2.40 1080p and in its original Hindi soundtrack. The only extra announced for the release so far ...
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