I was born and brought up in West Delhi. Despite being in the capital of the nation, this area has a very particular local vibe to it. The vibe is freer in its origin than any other. I don’t have much to describe it by, because that is particularly the point. Its freedom leads to its unpredictability. Oye Lucky Lucky Oye! lives and thrives here. I, a fellow resident, knew it from the moment go. For you, I will simplify the evidence. It is that moment when Lucky (Manjot Singh) while describing his date, says “Fir kya? Le gaya use Tilak Nagar se Rajouri.”
A story of the making of a thief would have been Bollywood had it come out of poverty. But because it didn’t, and because it had reasons we could all relate to, Oye Lucky Lucky Oye remains a theory on the Indian dream.
I like to think of the film as something with three parts or chapters. From a sequence from the first of the three chapters, Lucky and his father (Paresh Rawal, again) are seen fighting over what looks like a petty topic from the outside but what was of importance in the Singh household we have just been introduced to. While he ends the argument flaunting the little money he has and handing over a note to his father just to prove a point, he also finds a way to his room and ultimately his pants where his father keeps his money whilst ignoring the subsequent shouting that had taken place. A clear case of adapt and execute – it is almost as if the tactic was put on a plate. He knew that people have forgotten to expect the obvious. No one could possibly think of him getting the money back from his father by the mind-boggling technique of – going and getting it. This is what he does the rest of his elite career. Fashionable, expansive house in a posh New Delhi colony and all he does is say “Koi nahi jhayiji, main Lucky haan” (It’s okay, grandma. It’s Lucky here.) to an old Punjabi woman present. Its cinematic and the theatre is laughing, sure, but then it isn’t all that impractical anyway.
What’s striking and is passively influential is that the intent of the story is to never reach its conclusion but to delay it through the lens that is Lucky itself. In a scene somewhere in the second chapter of Dibakar Banerjee’s study of the Indian dream, Gogi Bhai (Paresh Rawal) asks our protagonist (now Abhay Deol) “Kahan rehte ho?” to which he replies in a very subversive yet assertive tone “Jiska pata nahi hota, uska pata nahi chalta”. This sentence pretty much summed up what this story of passive learnings and subtle executions had led us to this point. To be a product of your environment is the obvious, it’s when your conscience reacts to these courses of action in nature, that is when you get lucky.
‘Oye Lucky’ was never about creating a biographical self-referential tale of a morally challenged man – the ones we have been accustomed to watch in movies based around a male character where we see the rise, the peak, and the demise. Rather, it looked at these movies with the same look that Lucky had the entire duration of the film – confident and cheeky. The film was a very specific case study of causers and violators of impressionism. It was almost as if it was the case of Lucky v/s the World and although he had learned the ways of his now familiar foe, he was ready to be outwitted, inevitably.
Somewhere around his walk, talk, silence, and stares – Lucky was portrayed as a character study of the form where all his vulnerabilities belonged to a world which he left early on. In his quest to run away from where he came, he moved steps closer to what he didn’t have in his childhood. It’s the portrayal of this division of class, which sets up the world of the movie so convincingly, that I get reminded of Lee Chang Dong‘s Korean drama Burning’s protagonist Lee Jong Su (Yoo Ah In). While Lucky’s looks were that of jealousy, yes, but had that tone of revenge. As if he knew his time would come and that his entire point was to prove that money – as a concept – is more accessible for him than it is for the rest of the world. Lee meanwhile, in his almost zoned-out look, was tired and yet intrigued. He looked on asking the simple question “How do some people get so rich this young?”. He, like Lucky, never wanted the answer. The difference, however, was that the latter didn’t care.
When the three chapters of Oye Lucky Lucky Oye fold, I get reminded of the symmetry in life. Three Paresh Rawal roles – all which impacted Lucky’s life heavily – dwelled and soothed out of the primary track as easily as each of the other elements. He finished just like he started – with charisma – despite having been otherwise in the middle. Its this process of gaining satisfaction in the due course which sets us apart, even our chapters collide and compete. That happiness is a constant objective – no one really gets lucky.
- Mayank Malik