It’s been 20 long years since the movie released, and the trio made a trip to Goa. But the characters are etched in our minds forever. And I was just thinking about everyone, especially the character Sameer.
There is a certain energy to a megapolis like Bombay. A city, teeming with stories, millions of them, just waiting to be told. And at night, when the streetlights burn brightest, the darkest tales come to life. Akshat Verma, who burst on to the scene with Delhi Belly back in 2011, travels southwards for his debut directorial about 3 stories set on a single rainy night. But the question is, does Kaalakaandi possess the same fizz that made Delhi Belly a massive hit back then?Continue reading “Kaalakaandi Movie Review: Nightcrawlers”
Vishal Bhardwaj is probably one of the best directors we have in the Hindi Film Industry. His latest, Rangoon, just hit the theaters this past weekend, but on Monday morning, all we could talk about was the Oscars. Fairly so, because Rangoon had a dismal weekend at the Box Office collecting under 15 Crores across three days. The underwhelming response to the film is quite disappointing, especially to someone like me, who is an ardent (read almost blind) admirer of Bhardwaj. With the Oscars, our perennial obsession with Hollywood takes over and no matter how many awards they get wrong every year, our media and we, the people, crazily follow the ceremony with social media timelines getting spammed with every miniscule event occurring at the Kodak Theater. Incidentally, we don’t see such madness for any of our award shows, under the pretext that our award shows are shit because they always get them wrong and eventually the trophies are handed out to people who did not deserve it but lobbied enough to get one. But then Oscars are no different. If it isn’t lobbying, it could be something else but the end result is that the trophy does go to the non-deserving nominee quite often. If that were not the case, Spotlight would never win Best Picture over Mad Max:Fury Road in 2016 and Di Caprio would have gotten an Oscar much before his far-from-best performance in The Revenant.Continue reading “The Case of Rangoon”
Vishal Bhardwaj! 2 words that are enough to grab the attention of anybody who possesses a deep, undying love for Bollywood, for he’s a film-maker whose brand of cinema may be rooted in a filmi duniya, but when he narrates a tale, it breaks almost every rule that Bollywood throws at it, right from the narrative, to the characters, to the music and almost everything else that he throws into his filmmaking process. After hitting a high note in his last outing, his adaptation of the Bard’s Hamlet, set in 90s Kashmir, the announcement of his next project being a period drama, set during the last days of the freedom struggle did create some buzz, and with him casting Saif and Shahid, 2 actors whose best performances have come under his direction, and the mercurial Kangna Ranaut, one might look forward to a spectacular cinematic experience. But is Rangoon the VB magnum opus that we’ve all been waiting for?Continue reading “Rangoon Movie Review: Bloody Hell of a Show”
I have lived in Bombay for more than 25 years of my life. I have witnessed more than dozen terrorist attacks on my hometown, with two of the attacks, the 93 Bombay Blasts and 26/11 attacks being the worst terrorist attacks ever seen in mankind’s history in my opinion. Unfortunately, there have not been many films on these attacks, or on the after effects of the attack. I still remember 26/11 vividly, the reason being I was supposed to go to Cafe Leopold on the same day but I was not keen to travel to South Bombay. Not a day goes by thinking, what if I was there on that day at that place. For those who grew up in Bombay, it was like seeing a part of our identity being destroyed.Continue reading “Phantom (2015) Movie Review: Bollywood’s Poetic Justice”
As the year comes to an end, movie buffs every year are tempted to come out with their different best movie lists and we are no different. Every year we publish a couple of such posts written by individual authors which talk about some of the best films from India and globally, leading to several intense and passionate debates, discussions and arguments among fellow movie buffs.
But this year we decided to do something different. We asked some of our authors to individually list down English films they enjoyed watching this year.
While Boyhood and Gone Girl seem to be the universal favourites with Nightcrawler coming a close second, there are quite a few interesting recommendations by our authors that deserve to be seen by all and warrant a debate.
So which are the English films our authors enjoyed watching this year the most? Scroll down to know more.Continue reading “Best English Films Of 2014”
Directors: Krishna DK, Raj Nidimoru
I am saddened to see the quality of movies directed by the Raj-DK duo fall steadily after the highs achieved with 99. Shor in the City was good, Go Goa Gone inconsistent but funny and now Happy Ending that misses it’s mark despite having a broad target to shoot at. “A Comedy about Romantic Comedies” says its tagline. A more appropriate one would have been “A Romantic Comedy about Romantic Comedies”. Raj-DK eschew the formula that made 99 work and settle for a sappy romance with jokes thrown in between as lubrication.Continue reading “Happy Ending (2014) Movie Review: Funny-ish”
Cast: Saif Ali Khan, Illeana DCruz, Ranvir Shorey, Kalki Koechlin, Preity Zinta and above all, Govinda
Directed by Krishna DK, Raj Nidimoru
Music by Sachin-Jigar
Image is a terrible ‘cheez’ in the life of a Bollywood movie actor. The same thing that once brought you the limelight ends up contributing to your downfall. What was once considered fresh is now classified cheesy and you find yourself out-of-sync with the audience and current market demands. Stars like Govinda have seen it all and now unsurprisingly Saif finds himself being the latest victim of it all. For how long do we have to endure him in the same commitment phobic kameena-playboy roles that we have been used to since his Ole Ole days? And to make things worse, age certainly isn’t helping his cause, is it? Continue reading “Happy Ending (2014) Movie Review: At Wit’s End!”
In early 2000s, when a music director, known mostly for his work in niche Hindi films, began travelling to festivals for his exposure to international cinema, he chanced upon his nephew reading a “children’s version” of Shakespeare’s works. Little did he know that what began as a leisurely reading exercise, would, almost a decade and a half later, culminate into one of the most accomplished trilogies on Shakespearean literature ever.
What is interesting to note here is that what the world saw as a master stroke, with the Kingdom of Scotland being replaced by Mumbai’s underworld and the witches by corrupt policemen, to contemporarize Macbeth, was born largely out of ignorance. Had the creator felt intimidated by Shakespeare’s standing in world literature then perhaps we wouldn’t have witnessed this ‘chutzpah’ in his adaptations.
Today when we see Vishal Bhardwaj’s Maqbool, Omkara & Haider, unless told otherwise, we might not even think of them as adaptations of Macbeth, Othelo and Hamlet respectively. As his frequent collaborator, Gulzaar, points out “Vishal simply uses the name of Shakespeare for marketing gimmick. They are all but original works” This remark garbed with sarcasm is perhaps the best compliment one can give to his trilogy.
“Shakti ka santulan”
Like most trilogies, it is very easy to notice a similarity in the screen-writing pattern in all the 3 movies. We are already familiar with the names of his characters sounding similar to the ones in the play (Gertrude becomes Ghazala, Iago becomes Ishwar ‘Langda’ Tyagi). The supernatural elements get conveniently replaced with their contemporary avatars (King Hamlet’s “ghost” becomes a man carrying Ghost IDs – aptly named Roohdaar). The major plot points in the play always make way into the final adaptation (Desdemona’s handkerchief makes way for Dolly Mishra’s Kamarbandh but nevertheless remains pivotal to the final doom)
However, the similarity does extend to minor character peculiarities as well. The central character always gets a closely cropped haircut (while Irrfan & Saif got a Caesar cut, we saw Shahid’s head getting a complete shave-off). There is slight touch of an english song or a phrase to add the quirk to a narrative rolling out mostly in local dialect (much before the wordplay between Chutzpah & AFSPA we saw Kareena’s hindi medium educated Dolly learning to sing ‘I just called to say’ for Omkara always addressed as ‘My dear O’ in her love-letters).
And if you thought we had exhausted all the points, take note of how every romantic ballad, between the lead pair, paves way for the first in the series of events that would finally culminate into the tragic climax. (Nimmi lays the germ of killing Abbaji in Maqbool’s mind after ‘Rone Do’ | Indu steals the cummerbund towards the end of ‘O Saathi Re’ | Haider discloses his plan of avenging his father’s death to Arshia after ‘Khul Kabhi To’)
There might be many more similarities. We just need to keep looking!
“Ya to tu bahut badi lool hai. Ya bahut badi chudail.”
When Haider looks at his mother’s reflection on a broken mirror, split into two, he rightly points out her two-faced nature. The classic Shakespearean lady, whose desires and ambitions always leads to the crime. And it is her guilt of the same that consumes everyone at the end.
Does she really love her husband’s godson or is she simply looking for a means of escape from her sexless and hapless life? Why does she steal the cummerbund at the slightest prodding of her husband, without questioning him about it? How can she, still a half-widow, sit and smile beside her new lover, basking in the glory of his electoral win; or are those dark glasses concealing her guilt-ridden eyes?
She is also the innocent victim, torn between her loved ones. She might scream out to push away her enemy. But mostly she weeps and surrenders – taking away her own life or letting her loved one take it away from her.
“Bewakoof aur ch***ye mein dhaage bhar ka fark hota hai”
Vishal really indulges himself in fleshing out the minor characters in Shakespeare’s play. The witches, the spies, the courtiers are not just mere sidekicks in larger scheme of things. They are instrumental in influencing the protagonists, taking the story forward and also providing the much needed comic relief in what everyone knows is going to end up in a tragedy.
Naseer & Om’s Pandit & Purohit in Maqbool, Deepak Dobriyal’s Rajju in Omkara and, the latest addition, Salman & Salman, played by Sumit Kaul & Rajat Bhagat, in Haider have some of the best written scenes in the film for them.
If it has been a while since you watched Omkara, we can recap one such scene for you.
And to all those raving on the performance of the two Salmans in Haider here is a small scene from the film for you.
“Hummara ishq to paak tha naa miyaan”
What is it in the forbidden love, that attracts us so strongly towards it? The very boundaries of relationship that one is expected to safeguard, end up getting violated first. It inebriates us with such a toxic strength that the lines of right and wrong get blurred.
Why else would Maqbool end up putting bullets into his Godfather when he has risked his entire life saving him from those very bullets? What came over Dolly to defy her father and elope from her own marriage for a hard-core criminal, lower to her in both caste and status? Was Ghazala actually in love with her brother-in-law or was just running away from her son lest she starts reciprocating his Oedipus complex?
The forbidden love doesn’t expect the world to understand it. It is continuously judged and condemned, but it continues to be giving till its last breath. Sometimes it is in form of a last peck to her son to salvage his years of desire before blowing oneself up to quench his thirst for vengeance. Other times it is just abject surrender to one’s beloved only to be smothered by him on your wedding night. As mentioned, it continues to be giving till its last breath.
“Hum hain ki hum nahin”
Last, but not the least, Vishal’s films are also about existential crisis. A half-brahmin continuously jostles with those who have been ridiculing his caste to gain power over them. His second-in-command forgets years of friendship when what rightfully belongs to him is usurped away by a greenhorn only because of differences in their social standing. His insecurities are not very different from a Mumbai gangster who continuously feels threatened by a lad much younger to him simply because he is soon going to qualify as his Godfather’s son-in-law. And in a world much more complex than theirs, millions of Kashmiris take sides in a war for reasons that are anything but ideological. Some are avenging the death of their closed ones. Others are following their lines of duty. Most of them are confused and are willing to sideline with anyone who can promise them safety and purpose in lives.
While love, greed, lust and redemption remain integral to the plot, it is the continuous struggle towards protecting one’s own existence that forms the core of all of Vishal’s stories. It propels them to do the unthinkable only to realize the truth when it’s too late. The truth that recurs in all the 3 movies. Whether it is by showing Maqbool giving up arms at the sight of his son being adopted by his enemy or by having Haider forgive his uncle to honor his mother’s last wishes. The truth- that has been articulated with great simplicity in Haider – “Jab tak hum Inteqam se aazaad nahi ho jaate… koi Aazaadi humein aazaad nahi kar sakti”.
Here is leaving you all with the Faiz Ahmed Faiz song that is played through the movie. Set to music by Mehdi Hasan, it is the first instance of Vishal using someone else’s composition for his films. “Chale bhi aao ki gulshan ka karobaar chale……”