Movie goers and aspiring writers need to be told how really a story takes shape. Many have made an effort to explain the process: interviewers have asked questions, teachers have hosted workshops; but how else can anyone tell it better than in a story! And Vikramjit Singh hits the bull’s eye in his effort, Roy.
Roy is one of my favorite movies because it puts before you a beautiful process of story writing. This article, is an effort of telling how I interpret and what I understood from the film and what I think many may have failed to understand.
If you have not watched it yet, I’d advise you to watch it first and then turn to MyView.
Film opens with an interview of Kabir Grewal (Arjun Rampal). Interviewer questions the director intelligently, “Itihaas gawah hai har artist ka ek tareeka hota hai, process hota hai.” Every artist has his own way, his own process. Love affairs are probably the way of Kabir, media is discussing his 21st breakup. “Yeh kuchh jyada nahi ho gaya?” Interviewer asks and Kabir responds like any artist will; “Kam jyada, sahi galat, inka hisaab main ahi rakhta!” I do not worry about right or wrong, he says.
He comes home and sits down to write his new script, ending up writing nothing. His dad calls him and the dialogues bring forth the first element of any story: Prerna, inspiration. And there’s no other inspiration like Love, the next scene hints. But despite Kabir’s efforts to find an inspiration, he cannot find enough to start a something satisfactory. But he starts something anyway. The Film in the film: Guns 3 in Roy, opens up with a detective briefing his colleagues about the master thief. Now, you are watching 2 films at one time and unless you are attentive or watching the film for a second or third time, you might miss crucial details of the story.
Kabir has just began with the story. He still has not developed the details like what does Roy, or masterthief, steal. He gets the idea of him stealing paintings when he’s brushing his teeth and hears of someone stealing paintings from a famous museum. He returns before his typewriter and puts on his hat. Theatre screen starts showing a road with lights running behind, a faint music piece escalates to a happening one, and enter the Master Thief, Roy (Ranbir Kapoor)!
“Ham insan hamesha kisi aur ki zindagi churaake jeenaa chahte hain. Ye fitrat hai hamari.” Every writer has one such character in his story, often the protagonist, who is his own mirror image. This character, partly or fully, is similar to the writer. In that character the writer tries to live his fantasies, rebel against the world. Roy, here, is the alter-ego of Kabir himself. Both of them smoke cigarettes, have drinks and hit on girls in a similar style. Therefore, whatever Roy speaks, is a belief of Kabir.
Small events around the writer help shape the story in crucial ways. Kabir one day sees Ayesha Amir (Jaquelin Fernandes) and decides that the story needs a Lady. He likes Ayesha so much, that he decides to cast her lookalike for the role. The painting that is to be stolen resembles Ayesha’s heart; and Tia – Ayesha’s counterpart in the Guns 3 – has its possession. No prizes for guessing why Roy is trying to steal it. Other half of the painting, which is in Roy’s possession, is Kabir’s heart. What the writer intends to say from both paintings being a part of each other, is quite clear.
“Tumhe nahi lagta kabhi kabhi ek location hi ek film-maker ko uski kahani de deta hai?” Initially it seems Kabir is just another director who makes films with same name and new numbers next to them. But in his talks with Ayesha, who is the opposite type of director, his reality is disclosed. He makes sarcastic comments like, “Ham script kahan banayen? Log toh aisehi aa jaate hain hamari filmein dekhne, aisehi karodon kamaa leti hain.” He delves into deep talks with Ayesha about how Malaysia still echoes of the British Raj that ended in 1957.
When she asks him if he believes in coincidences, wheels of his thought start turning. He develops another detail of the story. His story is his talks with other people, about himself. “Ham sab chor hai,” Roy repeats. In the dialogues of Tia, Kabir praises and criticizes himself, “Bahot ajeeb ho tum, you know that?”
But however he is, he knows very well how to woo a girl. Ayesha gets to know him more and more, and while she does, starts liking him back. Which means, Roy has spotted the painting in Tia’s mansion.
Roy and Tia, or Kabir and Ayesha, start spending time together. There’s this scene in particular in the song ‘Sooraj Dooba hai’ that I adore. Roy and Tia are out on a drive. Their car enters a tunnel, and in the next shot when the car exits, it is carrying Kabir and Ayesha. It clearly implies that the former couple is actually the latter. The song also shows two sides of Kabir. While he enjoys clubbing and partying in real world, he fantasizes of calm, serene romance on beaches as Roy.
“Pata hai writers ke bare mein kya kehte hai? Unki kahaani padh lo, aadmi samajh me aa jaaega.” Ayesha, now, is a film-maker herself. She knows how a script reflects the writer’s beliefs. She gets her hands on Kabir’s half written script, and asks Kabir what happens with Tia after Roy steals the painting. Kabir says, “Kahaani Roy ki hai, Tia ki nahi.” Ayesha, aware of Kabir’s past affairs and now the script, decides to leave Kabir. Kabir is left behind, alone as if in the middle of the sea, hitting golf balls into air like bullets, out of the frustration.
“Jab main aaya tha mere paas kahaani nahi thi. Use milte hi mujhe kahaani mil gayi. Uske saath bitaayaa hua waqt meri kahaani ke panne banne laga. Wo achanak chali gayi. Meri kahaani ruk gayi. Ab age kya hota hai main nahi jaanata.” Kabir, broken and hopeless, decides to drop the project. He assures his producer to make good all the losses and thus hits the rock bottom of his career. But a writer does not write the story, he only narrates it. The story has not ended yet. He meets up with Ayesha at a film festival, expecting to make things good again, but she puts up her frank thoughts before him. “Ek Kabir tha jise main janti thi, aur ek Kabir hai jise main janna tak nahi chahti. Tum ho kaun? Tum Kabir ho ya Roy? Kya tumhe bhi pata hai?” She asks.
“Roy ki kahaani teri hai, is kahaani ka har sawaal tera hai; har jawaab bhi tera hai. Iske aage kya hoga agar tujhe nahi pataa to kisiko nahi pata.” It is only when Kabir accepts his flaws that he can move on, with his life as well as the story he is writing. Because it is his own story, after all. Ayesha shows him just what he needs to be shown; and his script gets back on track. He realizes the changes he needs to bring about in himself; and Roy. As Kabir grips back at his life, Roy returns to Malaysia and what happens next is pretty easy to understand if you have understood the basics. Like the ‘two halves’ painting, this review only covers half of what I intend to say, because the other half need not be said but understood. I’d suggest you to watch Roy again, and pieces of the puzzle will fall into place.
There are several hints spread throughout the film. Ayesha is Kabir’s 23rd love interest. Yes, it’s the same number that Tia holds at the painting auction. Yes, it is the same number that Kabir bets everything on when he visits a casino. Detective Wadia is a character representing the media that pursues Kabir’s affairs, trying to decode who he is really. When Wadia claims he is going to end the story soon, Roy tells him; rather Kabir tells the media, “Tumne ab tak is kahaani ka ek panna bhi nahi padha.” You do not understand even a bit of me yet. I’ve seen the film twice and yet I do not understand some of the elements in the story. I’d love it if you could tell me what I’ve missed, or how you interpret the same elements differently in the comments below.
Being a writer myself, I feel this film is a very good and successful experiment in story-writing and I don’t care about the box office numbers. But there is one more reason why Roy is my favorite. Like I said, a writer does not write a story, he only narrates it. But then there are some stories that write and shape their author (and many more).