If someone were to render my immediate response after watching ‘That Girl in Yellow Boots’ I would have taken a slight deep breath and nuanced that I liked the way the subject matter was dealt with and the fact it was a great take on the various stories of certain people who somehow get by in life .Some parts were exceptionally touching , and it had a few shots or stills which were so simplistic yet so impressive that they will definitely be imprinted in my heart forever, when I think of Kahsyap’s work.
Was the ending shocking? Sure, it was for most-although I could see where the movie led to however, I think the ending was perfectly fine, because it was infused with a particular theme that has never really been dealt with on screen before-well on screens in India , to be more precise.
The story pulls us into the journey of Ruth (Kalki Koechlin) who battles with the unpredictable paradoxes of life, as she searches for her father who writes to her many years after leaving her mother when she was a child. The film commences with an ordinary day in her haphazard and hard world, where she is introduced to us as a British born, young woman with a very intriguing story. At once we are aware of her circumstances being filled with hardship, as facts of her salacious ‘professional’ life seep through, startlingly conjoined with her inner spiritual beliefs as she displays her interest in ‘Oshoism’ (for reasons which are self explanatory as you watch the movie), foreshadowing the many inner struggles she comes to face as the film progresses.
Without being too critical, as most audiences were-walking out after the “twist” in the plot was divulged before patiently being there for Ruth till the end, watching this film requires a patient understanding akin to that of a lonely bystander, observing life and its people as time passes by.It seemed incredulous to me that certain viewers could be so detached to Ruth, as both the writer and director envelops us into the world of an “outsider” who has had to learn the ways of an “insider” to ensure her survival and peace of mind (or whatever’s left of it).
Thrown into this sombre-tinged chaotic world, are the superlative side characters who (alternate between providing a contrast and aligning their similarities to Ruth’s struggle of attaining unconditional love) are realistically multifaceted, never stopping short of surprising us during the course of the story.
You have the manager/receptionist of the ‘Aspaspa’ massage parlour where Ruth works at- a street smart, self absorbed and incongruous enchantress, who displays shades of benevolence and indifference as she herself struggles to grasp onto a concrete relationship with many of her “lovers”(she also provides comic relief with her interesting phone conversations).
Ruth’s boyfriend ‘Prashant’- a real good for nothing drug dealer/addict, causes the viewer to feel absolute disgust for him, and only a little empathy at one point- the moment in the film where Ruth is finally able to ‘speak’ and openly express her inner turmoil, giving us a glimpse into her history and the humane side of her tough -mechanical persona.
With the much appreciated addition of ‘Divakar’ (played by Naseeruddin Shah) we are entitled to see that he is the single element which grants her a sort of ‘normalcy’ that is lacking in her life. He’s the only one who treats her with due respect and loves her unconditionally (in a very subtle manner).
Other characters, such as ‘Chittiappa’ (Gulshan Devaiya) -a local thug who trespasses Ruth’s odyssey unexpectedly and her landlord, prove to be obstacles in Ruth’s path that bring out her new found abilities to escape difficult situations.
The running theme behind all the other characters is that of ‘inconsistency’, which acts as a catalyst in showing us their ugly natures. Ruth’s character could be prone to be labelled as a ‘struggler’, however, I think she’s more of a fighter incognito , who is abused by the vulturous men in her life who test her wit and efforts to the point where even the horrors of a tormenting reality fail to push her over the edge.
Kashyap and his team have proved to be forever successful in creating that realistic and timeless feel to their sets. There was not an inch of space in any frame that didn’t pertain to the character’s personality. From Ruth’s dingy flat, the parlour, the construction sites, cafes, to the visa and post offices, every object was smudged with a ‘lived in’ feel to it. The handheld camera technique, which Kashyap seems to love, further added to the film’s ‘edginess’, allowing you to follow the mood of Ruth at times of confusion, rage and sudden spurts of tranquility.In addition, the rustic music that travels along with the presence of prominent characters were so apt, invigorating and even hilarious at times.
The mise en scene of the film would be a highly memorable one for its viewers, who may find themselves thinking about certain junctures of Ruth’s story during those blue-dusty evenings in summer.