Raabta, Behen Hogi Teri, Dobaara: A lot of 2017 films fall prey to the 'curse of the second half'
The friendly banter between Sushant Singh Rajput and Kriti Sanon in this week’s release Raabta, coupled with scenic locales of Budapest in the first half keeps you hooked. Post-interval, we are transported to an era that has no references but abounds in designer costumes, and it’s all down hill from there.
Something similar ails Behen Hogi Teri too, another release this week. The efforts involved to woo the girl next door, the perfect milieu of Lucknow and dollops of situational laughter, all contribute to a joy ride till the time goons from Haryana and Rajkummar Rao occupy a major portion of the second half. It’s a catastrophe.
Both the films suffer from the same syndrome, which is a common phenomenon within Hindi films – the curse of the second half.
‘Curse of the second half’ is a very popular jargon, which critics often use at screenings. The origin of the term itself lies in the American political system where it is perceived that the second term of American presidents is often plagued by some problem or the other. But in a cinematic context, the second half, to a large extent, determines the fate of a film because what you carry in the end is also what you carry in your review or opinion piece.
Call it the writer’s block or the screenplay trauma, most flicks these days often ruin their second half after having begun on a promising note.
When Raabta enters its second half and takes us back to an unknown era, we know exactly the things that will happen after the interval gong strikes.
Similarly, after an entertaining and breezy first half of Behen Hogi Teri, when Haryanvi goons make their way into the plot, it’s all a nosedive from there. Prawaal Raman’s Dobara, a remake of the hit horror film Oculus, hammered the same idea.
If the story is narrated in a non-linear format, right from the moment the events start to happen one gets a sense of what the conclusion will be. A lot about the plot was revealed by the beginning credit itself. Similarly, while the post interval sequences look stretched in Phillauri, Raees and Kaabil – the two big tickets of this year, lose their plot completely in the second half.
Few recent films that come to mind, which took a downward spiral post-interval, are Kahaani 2, Naam Shabana, Dear Zindagi and Fan.
Naam Shabana looked so bizarre that both the halves were completely disconnected from each other and looked like two different films. While the first half of all the films mentioned was breezy, the second half looked compromised and contrived at the same time. When you see these films, it's evident that commercial considerations forced the makers to tamper with the plot.
Now that most screenplay writers are exposed to the foreign way of writing, it becomes all the more important to work a plot around the ‘interval’.
It’s strange but true that India is the only country in the world where the film-going experience is divided into pre interval and post interval sessions. The practice has been there since the fossil age and thus writers too follow a similar format. That also means that writers keep in mind the ‘interval’ theme and thus a ‘forced break’ to the plot automatically seeps into their mindset.
The interval system largely plays a spoiler when the film in question is a thriller or a horror. Seamless viewing is the reason why Hindi films attain the tag of a successful film when screened abroad. Seamless viewing abroad, without any obstruction, helps viewers sees the film in a panoramic perspective and that surely is no rocket science.
It’s difficult to do away with a system where samosa and cold drinks sometime earn much more than regular ticket costs. Till then happy viewing.