Natsamrat and Tamasha

 

When the long loony shadows of evil engulf the earth, where would you find the ravines of darkness to hide your gloomy lying face. You fraud with a thousand faces, it is only apt that you mask your ugly deceitful face with a smile.

PhotoFunia-1465361328

Natsamrat reminded me of Imtiaz Ali’s last film Tamasha, a film which worked for me only in parts. For Bollywood lovers Natsamrat will instantly bring out to the fore memories of Big B’s Baghban. But I don’t think Natsamrat focuses on parent-children relationship. The soul of Natsamrat and Tamasha is same, that we are all actors performing on a stage called World. Nobody can play our part better than ourselves. But there is a catch, we can play our part better only when we understand our roles aka true calling of our life. Our life is a story of self-discovery. Once achieved, we are enlightened and life becomes a true success story. But how one gains the enlightenment??

In both the movies we watch the protagonist fly through their lives without knowing they are trapped in a virtual cage. A cage of responsibility towards family and society. Similarity between Ved of Tamasha and Ganpat Belwalkar of Natsamrat is so subtle that some viewers may not feel it or miss it completely. Ved is happy only when he was playing Don and Mona darling with Tara (Deepika Padukone) in Corsica, whereas Ganpat Belwalkar is happy to play Shakespearean characters. When they have to live their own lives, they fail miserably. Their families want them to change their ways of thinking. Ved’s family wants him to secure a salaried job and do away with his thrust for storytelling. Ganpat Belwalkar’s family is unable to accept his openness and frankness to deal with people and situations. But their path of knowledge is at 180 degrees. How?? Lets find out.

Ved, from childhood, was fascinated to stories of Ramayana, Romeo and Juliet, Heer aur Ranjha. He spent all his pocket-money to hear more such stories. He loved his world of fantasy, but with time it became apparent to him (through his father) that he will have to leave behind all this. According to his family he was ready to join the rat race. A race with two options – survive or lose. Winning is not an option, because this is not about prize money. This is about happiness, which comes only when you run the race of your choice not the default rat race. So Ved became part of the crowd, he knew something was amiss but the effort to know the unknown was also missing. It took love, of a different kind, to make him aware of his true love. He was given a chance, a love in the form of Tara to break through the cage and follow his dreams. He was confused, got disturbed but ultimately found the truth of his life. He was liberated at last.

Ganpat Belwalkar lived his life on his own terms. He loved performing on the stage and played many great characters which earned him not only the love of audience but the distinction of Natsamrat. He enjoyed importance among his friends and family. After years of working in theatre, he went out on his own terms. Now he wanted to spend quality time with his near and dear ones, though the same cannot be said about his family. He was loved for the characters he played on the stage, an audience feels for the character only if it is presented with full honesty and that’s what he did. But his own family never understood Ganpat Belwalkar, his character, his nature and thinking ways. To them he was a trouble, maligning the innocence of his own granddaughter, ruining their reputation among relatives and a thief in his own house. Still he had the love of his wife to get through all these sufferings. Losing his wife and after that his ultimate love, the theatre, he lost everything. But he had the knowledge to differentiate between real and fake people, blood-relations and true friends.

Ved who had little control over his life initially broke through the stereotypes and found his calling. From being jailed in a clockwork routine, he started doing plays on stage and in streets. He started living his life. Ganpat Belwalkar who was in full control of his life during his theatre days, started losing things he loved. His friend Rambhau, his wife Sarkar and his theatre all were gone. From being an influential personality he went into an oblivion. He died thinking of himself as Caesar, betrayed by people whom he trusted but never pled for mercy and accepted his death with joy.

Imtiaz Ali and Mahesh Manjerakar, both the directors chose the same subject and constructed it with different story but Tamasha, in my opinion, is half-baked. Natsamrat is a superior film for its rich dialogues and believable storyline. Natsamrat is exemplary in showing how parents are ignored by their own children. Knowingly or unknowingly how children start picking up small things to ridicule their old parents, is handled to the perfection. Tamasha asks you to suspend logic from time to time, the whole premise of the story is based on an illogical agreement between Ved and Tara that they will not disclose their true identities to each other. If you can take that then Tamasha gives you a thought to think on.

Here are some of the best quotes from Natsamrat ( Translations are from the English subtitles) :

Can someone provide a home…a home? A storm is in need of a home? Without a roof or walls or love or God’s kindness…a storm brews in the mountains, looking for a place to settle down forever. Can someone provide a home? A home…What do you want? Honestly, it has lost its strength after roaring in the forest and mountains and valleys. After riding the waves of the ocean and singeing in the flames of the forest fire, the storm is a spent force now. It is dragging its half burnt wings behind it. Honestly it has become its own nemesis. Can someone provide a home? The storm does not need a mansion nor a set of a palace, neither laurels nor garlands nor costly gifts. Just a tiny house to rest in.

To be or not to be, that is the question. To live or to die that is the question. Is it wise living a useless, shameless and helpless existence in this unbearable situation…Or should I end the suffering of this body and fling it into the abyss of death? Put an end to everybody! Me, you and him too. May death overpower life and reduce it to a state of endless sleep. But what if dreams invade that sleep? That is the crux! I am not brave enough to venture into new and unknown territory. That is why I tolerate this old existence. I tolerate the rape of my self-respect like a lifeless corpse. I tolerate the sacrilege of my existence and finally beg for mercy at the feet of my own killers.

NOTE : The image has been procured through Google images.

Visaaranai

” Praising Vetrimaran’s movie Visaaranai only in Tamil is limiting an International film to parochial borders. A must watch.” When these are the words coming from an actor/filmmaker of Kamal Haasan’s caliber, you cannot doubt it. I googled Visaranai trailer and hit the Youtube link, in that fraction of second, I was mentally prepared to be blown away by the trailer. The words like Masterpiece,Classic,Powerful had aleady clouded my mind but those thunderstorms emanating from lathi’s brought me back to the trailer. And I remain with the trailer throughout just like Pandi and his friends held onto their lives. I loved the trailer but lost a bit of excitement. It looked real but Indian Police exploiting poor people to close a case is not a new thing. Should I accept what the trailer suggests ?? Pandi says NO.
image
Five minutes into the film and I was already captured by the cinematography of S Ramalingam. Every single frame looked unfiltered, as if an eye has been used instead of camera. Streetlights made roads part white and somewhere part yellowish, few human shadows are there and faces are never fully visible. It feels like you are strolling through streets for a morning walk. The way Pandi stutters after bath and while drinking tea, captures the morning coldness perfectly.

Right from the start of the film we are shown the plight of immigrants, how they leave behind their homes and family to earn livelihood among unknowns, their happiness on meeting someone from their native places and how helpless their situations can become if caught in a tight spot. In India, the foremost problem an immigrant faces is the language barrier. Jobs, home, friends, trust and all comes second. Humans have more tendency to hear than understand. Very few people understand the language of humankind, if you want people to listen to you then you must know their language. Still you may get accepted by the people but the System hardly accommodates you. Something goes wrong and you are the first fish to be caught.

Visaaranai is a strong commentary on working ethics of Indian Police Force. How one-third of the cases in India are solved or rather closed to get the paperwork done will make your conscience numb. Police don’t want to catch the real culprits, instead force some poor(literally) innocents to own upto it. Humein police aur court-kacheri ke chakkar mein nahi phasna(We don’t want to get into police and court’s mess), even those who don’t believe in these filmy dialogues will have to update their views after watching Visaaranai. Brutality showered on Pandi and his friends is difficult to watch and superb sound effects terrifies your hearts. How policeman are able to beat innocent people so disdainfully? They don’t have anything personal against Pandi and his friends but orders from higher authority, promotional incentives, working for years in police service makes them insensitive towards such people. They always hit them on legs or shoulders, and keep in mind not to hit them beyond recovery. Police are just part of the System and do what the System wants.

Credit to Vetri Maaran, the change from first plot to second plot is so swift you don’t feel the discontinuation. In second half, we get to see the power game played between different players(ministers,police officials and businessmen) of the System. You may feel like, the System is only harsh to poor people but Visaaranai makes it clear that no one is above the System. In chess, sometimes a pawn is sacrificed to leach an advantage, in same way the System can turn against you to maintain its control. Inspector Muthu had the same fate, he was sacrificed to keep the image of the Police forces intact. Till KK was on the strong square he was treated respectfully but once the advantage associated with him was lost, he too was flushed out of the System. Though Pandi and his friends died, a question was born. How much the System manipulates the public perception?

SYMBOLISM

v1

Early in the movie, we see Pandi shivering after having a bath early in the morning. While on his way to work he had a hot tea to beat the cold weather and start the day afresh. You can also see his watered face.

v2

Next in the Police station, we again get to see the same side-view of Pandi’s face . Here he is shivering from the police thrashing. In place of cold morning, he gets to see the cold nature of police towards his plight. His skin is burning from the beating as if some hot water has been thrown over him. Earlier his face was wet after bathing and here he was sweating due to panic. And this is how his new day started.

v3v4v5v6
Throughout the movie you hardly see the natural light source. Sun is a symbol of hope but inside the Police station it has limited reach. In the first image you can see sun rays entering the Police station through an exhaust fan, signifying the manipulative environment we live in. Pandi and his friends were kept in dark about why they were arrested, this is signified by the dark room they were kept in instead of normal jail cells(see fourth image). In climax scene, the assurance given by Inspector Muthu to Pandi and his friends, which appeared hopeful earlier turned out to be fake just as torch light appears as moon(see third image).

v10v9v8v7v11

You think you are free but the System never lets you go. It always keeps a watch on you and tracks your every movement. This is signified in the first image where you can see Chandran watching Pandi andMurugan from a terrace. Police inspector of GunturPolice Station left all four of them only to catch them back. In fourth image, Inspector is watching them from first floor. In fifth image, when Muthu and his team are arriving at KK’s house we again see the top view. Later S.I Shoban blackmails Muthu by asking him to follow the commands otherwise he will be arrested for KK’s custodial death. This is how the System has a watchful eye over everyone and plays its every move to win the game always.

v15v16

Inspector Muthu is an upright man, who tries as hard as possible to keep his words. He is caught in the dangerous game without his will. He is left torn apart between his duty and moral values. But at last he chooses to follow the higher authority and this is signified as him jumping in the swamp to nab Pandi. Swamp represents the muddy-game the System plays and Pandi, Murugan and Muthu are the innocent people caught in this deadly net.

v12v11v10

We always see the distant shots of Police stations and KK’s house. These are the places which are right in front of our eyes but still what happens inside those buildings are unknown to the public. Climax scene involves a swamp area right in the middle of the civil society and night time which signifies how manipulations are done behind the doors when everyone is sleeping.

FAN

Ever since Gaurav was introduced, FAN was on the top of my list for this year’s must watch movies. I found the concept of a fan’s connection to his star very compelling but after watching the trailer of FAN, all my curiosity has been dumped to dustbin.fan-poster-story_647_102715061947

In India fandom has a different meaning especially for fans of movie and cricket stars. The love, the big stars get in India is unlike anywhere you will find. We have all heard some of the crazy things these die hard fans can do for their own God like bathing their star’s large cutouts with milk, marrying their photos,building temples, keeping fast, naming their kids after the stars and what not. Well, cricketers can also have their effigies burning if India loses a match. Heck, people don’t support their local IPL team too. They don’t celebrate their own birthday with so much enthusiasm as they do for their stars.They can stand all day long outside their house with a placard reading ‘I love u’.

For neutrals like us, these fans are beyond our understanding. They always make us wonder ‘Don’t they have life ??’. You almost feel like calling them mad, but it would be really rude. A connection between a star and his fans is a thing of intrigue for me. Just like planets revolve around a star, the lives of fan revolve around their stars. Anything happening to Sun is a concern for Earth and anything going on with a star’s life affect his fan’s life. No Sachin, No Cricket. A new life starts. Swallowing food becomes difficult, swallowing achievements of younger stars become difficult. When a Star retires, for us its end of an era , for fans life loses meaning.

So when you have Shahrukh Khan and his legion of fans, you have something on your hand. The concept of fandom to be explored. Present us the intricacies of this strong bond. Dive into the minds of a fan, swim in the feelings of their heart and come out with the reasons behind this unconditional love. There is so much to see, think and accept for us neutrals. The prospect of witnessing Shahrukh Khan and his connection with fans was too much for me to miss or even wait. But the just released trailer of Fan proved to be a damp squib. I wanted to see unadulterated obsession(i know ‘obsession’ is itself a negative word) like what Lance Armstrong’s fan had for him even when USADA proved that all his championships were a big farce. Not until he himself admitted, people were not convinced.

f5FAN gives us a story of a loser, like those roadside romeos who cannot accept ‘NO’ from a girl. From being someone who can love them to the world’s end to being their harasser. Gaurav is ready to do anything to meet his idol. He will jump security like thisf6f7He will ask Aryan Khanna for five minutes out of his busy schedule. Well if you knock down someone’s security personnel(or may be friend), that person has got to be angry and at the spur of moment will refuse your proposal. f8

Now what to do ?? All your life, you were concerned with the well being of this person and he treats you like this. You are very hurt and decide to teach him a lesson. You start this by stalking him and disrupting his work.f10f11f9

After all this, that person comes to know your intention and thus confronts you. An altercation takes place and that person leaves you with a warning. This makes you all more determined to drive point your home and now you will do everything in your capacity to bring down his name.

f12
Three legends in one frame Johnny Depp, SRK, Leonardo Dicaprio

Now you are more than a stalker to this person. You are not only dangerous to him but also his friends and family. He cannot take you lightly and decides to beat you at your own game. Since you both look similar, you transform into each other with prosthetic makeupf14f13

f15
He is Aryan Khanna, Gaurav didn’t had dimples

This cat and mouse game goes on and we don’t get anything new. What could have been a masterpiece will now just be a BULLSHIT. A huge opportunity missed.

NOTE : All the images have been procured through Google images.

Masaan

Masaan has been received very well by the critics as well as by its target audience. It won an award for itself at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival, and the hype meant one more movie getting added to my watchlist. I read reviews and had idea about the plot of the movie but Masaan still surprised me.

PhotoFunia-1456247927

There were two parallel running stories, one about Richa Chadda’s Devi and other about Vicky Kaushal’s Deepak. But as the movie progressed, I realised this is just one story. There are not two protagonists but just one. The protagonist is not a person but a place. And the place is Kashi. This movie is about Kashi and the holy river Ganga that flows through it. What is the history of Kashi? How much has it grown up? How it lives its life everyday? We get answers to these questions through two simple and heart touching stories. These two stories are connected to each other through river Ganga (in this movie Ganga has been used as metaphor for life).

In one scene some students visit Devi’s father, who was a retired Sanskrit teacher, to know about the history of Kashi ghat. He begins with ‘ Long time ago, Kashi was just a forest with river Ganga nurturing it. Soon men started to locate themselves near the banks of Ganga and…….’, he receives a phone call and the conversation is cut short. What could have been his next words you question. Later you will find, though the conversation ended abruptly, it stands completed . Kashi is still a forest. We see Tiwari(a police officer) taking advantage of Devi’s predicament, children are diving into river to retrieve coins just to satisfy the gambling urges of elderly people and also people’s future is in dark (like you are lost in a dense forest and you cannot find your way back). Just like animals who protect their own children while others children are food to them, we see Tiwari (police officer) care for his daughter whereas he thinks nothing of Devi’s plight. Though Kashi has become civilized but natives have their outdated culture intact.

All these things make living difficult in Kashi. Devi wants to settle in Allahbad and live her life independently. Deepak and his girlfriend Shaalu are ready to run away from their home so that they can marry and live with each other. But this is not easy to do, Devi has to pay three lakh as extortion money to the corrupt officer whereas Deepak doesn’t have a job to support his relationship. These things have been signified in a conversation where Devi’s colleague asks her ‘ do you know how many trains stop here (Kashi station)……28 and how many don’t stop here ….64…..so that means it is easy to come here but difficult to leave’.

I have mentioned earlier that Ganga is a metaphor for life, now let me explain it. On one bank of the Ganga we see ‘dom’ people cremating dead bodies(signifying death) and on the other bank, poojas and rituals are performed for auspicious occasion(signifying birth). And the two banks, birth and death are connected to each other by Ganga, meaning life. Deepak and Devi live on opposite banks but are connected and this is signified in two scenes – first, where Deepak threw the ring in the river which reached Devi’s father helping him settle his debt and second, the end scene in which Devi and Deepak meet each other.

What do you make of the ending scene where Devi and Deepak take the boat? I think it signifies the start of new life. They have started their new journey in life (Ganga). Remember Deepak telling Devi  ‘Sangam ki sair do baar karni chahiye, ek baar akele aur ek baar kisi ke saath’. It means life with and without your partner. And they both start their second journey without their respective partners.

NOTE : Image has been procured through Google images.

 

 

3 Idiots

 

The fact, 3 Idiots was the first Hindi movie to do 200+ crores, at a time when other movies struggle to did even 100 crores at the boxoffice, never fascinated me. What fascinates me, is the kind of cult 3 Idiots enjoy among the Indian audience today. Whenever the name of this movie pops up, I have these words filling up my ears – best college movie; every parent and teacher should watch this; I don’t know why it was not sent for the Oscars etc. Looking at these kind of reactions one would think of 3 Idiots as some kind of intellectual or thought provoking movie whereas in real, its just a well made masala movie where every ingredient was in perfect proportion.

PhotoFunia-1455811786

The movie was fun while it lasted. It didn’t made me sit up and think about our society and education system. We go through these things on a daily basis. We all know the quality of our  education system, infrastructure of schools and colleges, mentality of our society and how the dynamics of friendship changes as the time passes. We have discussed these things in our school during debates, educational seminars and even among friends. So nothing on the screen surprised me or moved me. What I loved were the situations that Raju Hirani was able to create. He definitely succeeded in tickling my funny bone. Why other people rate it so highly ?? Either our films are mediocre or people are ignorant. No, I think both. But our films have shown marked improvement in last 2-3 years. Films like Queen, Ankhon Dekhi, Piku, Masaan have increased in numbers. Content driven movies are working, so our audience is also evolving. So the perception of 3 Idiots being an intellectual film will fade away ??

I remember the impact of  Taare Zameen Par. I didn’t knew what dyslexia was. How a scissor can appear as two people talking. It changed my perception towards slow learners. That scene in which Ishaan calculated 3*9 gave an interesting insight into a child’s imagination. Film making stands for such moments. To be able to see what is not visible to our eyes. Films are like light, which make things visible. And this is how Taare Zameen Par opened our eyes – CBSE provided extra time to special children (including the visually impaired, physically challenged and dyslexic) during exams, Mumbai’s civic body also opened 12 classrooms for autistic students, in Chandigarh the education administration started a course to educate teachers on how to deal with children with learning disabilities.

3 Idiots merely scraped the surface by talking about issues like peer pressure, family pressure, students committing suicides, rote learning etc but never went into the depths of these sensitive issues. We saw  Aamir Khan giving us some statistics about colleges in India, how there is no instrument to measure the pressure of human brain and all, but what went through Joy’s mind before taking such a drastic step never made it to the film. 3 Idiots makes you laugh but never asks you to think. Beyond those laugh out loud moments, 3 Idiots is just average.

NOTE : The image has been procured through Google images.

 

 

Ankhon Dekhi

February 14th 2016

What do you make of a character driven story ?? Plot driven stories are easyPhotoFunia-1455539802 to follow and in the end you get some kind of conclusion(general in nature). I used the word ‘general’, because more or less everyone arrives at the same conclusion. But in a character driven story, it depends on the viewer how he/she perceives the character. We all have different outlook towards life, which is based on our experiences. We all look at things differently. What could appear to be something said in a jest to some people, can look disrespectful to others. Catching a train which is already in motion appears foolishness to some while others may think of it as just a matter of getting late. To some Ravindra Jadeja is a bowler, to others he is just a fielder. To each his own.

Ankhon Dekhi is one such film where you have to immerse yourself in the character of Bauji and look at things through his eyes. Why ?? Because here is a man who has decided to believe what he sees. He is not going to accept even universal truths like tiger roars, Earth is round, Katrina Kaif cannot act etc. Not only this is hard to practice but also futile to large extent. We have to build on what has already been achieved. If everyone starts to begin their life from scratch, then progress will be very slow. But as I said earlier, in this movie you are going look through eyes of Bauji. Bauji is a man in his late fifties having a daughter which is marriage ready, a son who is good for nothing and indulges in gambling, a wife who is constantly nagging but also takes good care of the family, a younger brother who is drifting away from the family and friends who are ready to follow his footsteps. Do you think it really matters to him whether earth is round or not. No. Even if he decides to ignore these bigger truths, he stands nothing to lose. People may call him mad but we all know he is going to believe only what he sees. So this tells us, from now on he does not care what others say or think about him. He is going to understand and live his life in his own way. Good choice, right ??

What made Bauji to think like this suddenly ?? Bauji’s daughter Rita is in love with a boy named Ajju. Everyone in his family circle assumes Ajju is a jerk just because a certain Panditji’s son Baooa said so. But when Bauji meets Ajju, he realizes  Ajju is a cow. Now this is a small event which triggered a huge transformation in Bauji and the way he looked at things. When you live a routine or monotonous life even an incident as small as this can bring a huge change in you. After realization comes the pursuing part. How much are you ready to pursue the truth ?? To what extent you are ready to go ?? Will you take all the mockings coming your way ?? Will you stand in the middle of a busy market with a placard expressing your thoughts ?? Bauji is ready to do all this. He never played cards(not because its a bad habit) for he didn’t knew how to play it. And once he understood the rules, he became an avid card player. He does not care what society thinks about his new found habit. He played cards because he enjoyed it, money was just an add-on.

People like Bauji can come across sometimes as intellectual, sometimes as spiritual and sometimes stupid. Different people react differently to such character. Either you will ignore or listen intently or make fun of Bauji. But people like Bauji can win you over if something unexplainable happens. Like in this movie, when Bauji’s nephew who developed a mental problem of nonstop talking was cured by him, Bauji’s friend started following his footsteps. This shows us how even fraud babas can manipulate people so easily. How idle sitting people are always in search of someone who can guide them.

We are born in a family, we have friends but still we have to live life on our own. There are paths we have to walk alone. Bauji got his daughter married, settled the debt of his son and took his wife on a vacation. Now free from all his responsibilities, he is ready to live his own dream. His dream of flying. He is going to jump off from a cliff. He is going to die but before his death he will fly for few seconds. He is going to enjoy it even if it is for few seconds. For we all should enjoy and celebrate small things we have in our life. Because our life is sum of small and big moments. Even a miss of small event makes our life incomplete.

Jumping of Bauji from cliff is LIFE in short. Just like a newborn baby cries, Bauji screams initially. The resistance from air is nothing but the struggles we face in our life. When we are old and wise from our experiences ,we are calm just like the smile of Bauji in the end. Watch this movie to understand or spare a thought for such random Bauji kind people who we come across sometimes in train, markets or on road. What could be the backstory of such people.

NOTE : The image has been procured through Google images.