Let me begin with a statutory warning, like on cigarette packs, “No Smoking can kill and you’ll be happy to die”.
What a stunner of a movie! I am ready to give it a straight 3.5 out of 5. This is a movie laden with imagery and metaphor. And is definitely not for the weak minded. If you prefer your movies brainless and consider a visit to the cinema hall as someplace where the mind can be excused, then STAY AWAY from No Smoking. However, if you like to be challenged, think and get into the director’s mind, then DON’T MISS this movie.
This is all and all a director’s movie. None of the actors give a sterling performance. They are somewhere between OK and good. But that simply does not matter. There is class written all over. Surprises, treasures, riddles and layers to everything. The movie begins with this line “Everyday thousands of people quit smoking, by dying”. And I knew this will be fun to watch.
Nothing is direct. No message is given on a plate. You have to figure out what’s with the bathtub, the Siberian settings, losing fingers, brother trying hard to kill himself, the bathing scene at the end, Paresh Rawal and his subterranean organisation, and the police interrogation. The director makes no excuses and does not make it easy. I never caught up with him. By the time I made some sense of a scene, he had already moved to another. I came out of the hall panting and ready for another watch. Remember the Hollywood movie “Memento”?
Nothing like this has ever been attempted in Indian cinema. And most people will come out scowling and cursing. Can’t blame them. This is new cuisine. And they have no idea how to eat the dish.
If you have the appetite for a movie which you simply cannot figure out fully in one screening, go see “No Smoking”. Otherwise there is always a movie like Partner to watch.
Read Anurag Kashyap’s take here.