Chaa Gayi Barfi- Panti

•September 18, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Disclaimer- If you are looking out for an out and out laugh riot ( ala golmaal, bol bachchan and their like), kindly avoid this piece of cinema. Your appetite for guffaws won’t be satisfied here.

But, on the other hand, If you’re looking for a cinematic experience, then, read on.

Barfi is one of the very rare bollywood films that’s devoid of a genre. It’s not a laugh riot. Neither is it a melodrama. It’s not a musical either. It’s a simple, yet beautifully under stated film that emphasizes on nuances and hence, stands tall above all it’s peers. It’s gives you the feeling that every frame, every gesture, every subtle emotion was created by the director- especially for the protagonists.

The most intriguing of all, is our protagonist, Barfi. Unlike most of the other flicks, where deaf and dumb characters get away with the sympathy of the audience ( Koshish( 1972), Khamoshi( 1996), Barfi is a multi faceted mischief monger.

To the local police, he’s Dennis the menace. To his lady love, he’s peter pan- with dreamy eyes that promise her happiness forever. To his other lady love, Jhilmil, he’s the provider and the guardian angel. And, to his father, he’s the doting yet mischievous son, who doesn’t shy away from showing affection to his father. Here, Director Basu succeeds in creating a memorable character, who touches every chord in your heart, in his unique way.

Barfi’s first love is Shruti, who leaves him the lurch and walks away into a seemingly blissful marriage. He is left alone and heartbroken. But, the optimist in him never gives up. Even as his lady love walks away from him, he is there to wish her the best.

Enter the autistic girl, Jhilmil Chatterjee. The initial relationship between Barfi and Jhilmil is that of mutual dependency. Grudgingly, Barfi accepts her responsibility and as the story progresses, Barfi realizes that no matter what, Jhilmil will always be by his side. It’s this part of the story that really takes your breath away because Director Basu, handles the emotional underplay with unparalleled dexterity.

The music by Pritam, takes you back to a bygone era- when melody was king. The songs have been placed at the perfect moments which make them a part of the film itself.

Another unique element that you will find in this film is the background score. Here, the music says what Barfi cannot express. Every piece of music, is unique and expressive and touches you heart, at just the right places.

The lighting and camera work are brilliant. As you watch this film, you will feel that every frame was hand crafted just for that moment. Watch out for the tender moments between Barfi and Jhilmil. The simplicity and innocence will leave you speechless.

The performances by Ranbeer kapoor( Barfi), Shruti (Illena D cruz) and Jhilmil ( Priyanka Chopra) are credible and filled with subtlety. Of the three, Ranbeer shines as Barfi. His eyes emote. His body language is spot on. Priyanka Chopra, carves a niche for herself as the autistic girl, who has no understanding of the matters of the heart, but still feels that tug in heart when Barfi is close to her. Illena gives a restrained performance that goes with her character.

What drags the film down are the shoddy visual effects work and the glaring loop holes in the plot line. Picture this- There’s this really beautiful moment between Barfi and Jhilmil that gets screwed just because of some dirty effects work. Also, there are places where one can see fake hoardings ( Avon Cycles, Murphy radio etc) that have been slapped onto their real life counterparts.

But, to you, all of this won’t matter. Because you will be too busy enjoying Barfi’s ride through this great adventure called life. You will be smiling, laughing, and shedding a silent tear or two as you watch the antics of this adorable character. And you’ll feel the magic of “barfi panti” envelope you from head to toe.

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The Rise to Glory

•July 23, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Disclaimer- This is not a review of the “ The Dark Knight Rises”. Such a brilliant piece of cinema can never be reviewed. It can only be revered. The following is my homage to the genius- Chris Nolan.

The Rise to Glory

Batman Begins- Exciting. The Dark Knight-Brilliant.

What can be better than brilliant?

A film that’s huge in terms of scale, performance and gadgets. A masterpiece called as ““ The Dark Knight Rises”.

Before I begin, let’s understand one thing. “The joker” is the only enigmatic villain in the Batman franchisee. Bane is nowhere close to him. Heath Ledger, as the Joker, has set a benchmark, which only a few can live up to. And Tom Hardy isn’t one of them. Long story short, comparing the Dark Knight rises to it’s prequel, is a waste.

Coming to the The Dark Knight Rises. It puts you on the edge of your seat. You let out whoops of joy when Batman fights Bane with his cool gadgets. You feel Batman’s victory when he rises from the ashes. And, you don’t see the twist in the plot till it’s revealed to you. That’s the visual spectacle director Chris Nolan creates for you.

The plot is simple. Bane, is a terrorist, who is determined to destroy Gotham city. Batman, comes out of a self imposed exile to save his city. He fails. Miserably. And as it seems all is lost, Batman rises. For the last time.

The Dark Knight Rises is not as layered as it’s prequel. But, the details in each character are still beautifully etched. Every emotion is conveyed in the most subtle way. The performances are brilliant. The action sequences – brilliantly executed. The Visual effects- mind-blowing.

All in all, it does for you what most Hollywood flicks are not able to do- convince you to relive the experience- again.

The BadAss Spidey

•July 1, 2012 • Leave a Comment

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Movie- The Amazing Spiderman
Rating- 4/5

When I saw the initial teasers of this flick, I was a little skeptical. How can the spidey story be any better than the one helm ed by Sam Raimi?Who can be a better spidey than Tobey Mcguire?And what can be better than the spidey cam swinging over the city ?Tobey Mcguire epitomized Peter Parker- a whiny, nerdy character who is used to being bullied around, who could never ask the girl of his dreams out for a date and who became a force to reckon with as the friendly neighborhood you-know-who.

These were the apprehensions I had, as I sat and waited for the revelations in the Amazing  Spiderman.

Within the first 15 min of the flick, my apprehensions were shattered.

The plot line is similar to the 1st spidey flick- teenage boy gets bitten by a spider, boy gets powers, boy becomes a vigilante/ crusader. It’s here that the similarities end. Peter Parker( Andrew Garfield) is no more a whiny, nerdy character- but, a scientific genius with an attitude. When bullied, Peter doesn’t wallow in self pity, but he fights back- even if he gets beaten for it. Uncle Ben( Martin Sheen) does not philosophize Peter about power and responsibility and Aunt May(Sally Field ) is not a white haired old lady with a benign smile pasted on her face. Mary Jane has been replaced by Gwen Stacy(Emma stone) . The chemistry between Gwen and Peter, sparkles, to say the least.

Andrew Garfiled adds a new dimension to Peter’s character by giving him a never seen before attitude. Here, Peter likes Gwen, and doesn’t hesitate in using his spidey skills to kiss her. This time on, when Spidey swings around in the city, he doesn’t just jump from one building to another- he does it in style. And it’s all of this, that adds the much needed zing to the dying Spiderman franchisee.

The spidey jumps are brilliant to say the least and deserve to be watched in 3D and the effects have been brilliantly executed.

The only snag is the absence of a plot.

All in all, a brilliantly executed flick with lots of panache that will be enjoyed by kids and adults. If you are a die hard spidey loyalist, go for this flick without any apprehensions, and, you just might like it.

Unit, Core, Country, God

•September 6, 2011 • Leave a Comment

31st August 2011

Today is just another lazy holiday in my life. I get up at my own time, do my morning ablutions at my own pace and get my dose of the daily newspaper by reading every insignificant news item in it. When I picked up the paper today, little did I know that a particular news piece would set my thoughts racing.

The news piece that I am referring to, is a story about Lt. Navdeep Singh- a 26 yr old gentleman, who died serving his nation. 26. Is that an age to die? What motivates brave men like him to sacrifice themselves in the name of the country?

I had read in a book a few days ago, that the driving desire in every man is that of self preservation. How do men like him conquer this desire?
Major Sandeep Unnikrishan and Havaldar Ganjendra Singh are two such brave men. They died in valor, in a hail of bullets as they battled terrorists. Apart from the medals that are conferred upon these men, is there any other way in which their sacrifices can be made worthwhile? I, for one, feel that the sacrifices of such great men are being taken for granted.

I tried to understand what these gentlemen have died for. Have they died for an over populated nation; filled with corrupt bureaucrats and politicians; a nation that has so much potential and yet remains a third world nation; a nation where the common man feels the burden of every economic phenomenon and the high and mighty get away scot-free.

This is surely what they didn’t die for. They died for selfless love for their nation, a sense of duty and responsibility towards their nation and the pride that they felt for being Indian. They died in the hope that our coming generations will surely see a country that’s economically stable, has less corruption, more transparency and is governed by young leaders who have the ability to look beyond their personal gains and petty politics and are governed by a strong sense of civic responsibility.

Everyday, such brave men die serving our nation in the most selfless way and today, I close my eyes and say a silent prayer for their souls and pray to the almighty that may the sacrifices of these men motivate us common folk to build a better nation and to keep our hopes afloat in the most testing times. Amen.

Popcorn Patriotism

•August 16, 2011 • 1 Comment

Ever since my school days, I’ve always wondered about patriotism in today’s scenario. The flag hoisting, the speeches about love for the country, the march pasts, the slogan shouting, the loud playback of patriotic songs of the 60’s, the showcasing of films such as Gandhi thrice a year ( 26th January, 15th august and 2nd October ) and so many other sundry activities that are supposedly patriotic. My question is – Does one become a patriot just by doing all of this thrice a year?

As a teenager, I was a part of the NCC (Air force wing). The uniforms, the shiny shoes, the flag hoisting- they meant something to me. Every time I saw our national flag flying high, there was a sense of pride, a sense of belonging.

When I used to read stories of revolutionaries such as Bhagat Singh, Chandrashekhar Azad,Khudiram Bose, Mahatma Gandhi, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose and other great men and women, I wondered at the power of self sacrifice they had been blessed with. Putting your families, friends, and life aside and dying in the name of the country is not an easy thing to do.

In today’s age of crass consumerism, I truly wonder how many of us youngsters would sacrifice their careers, relationships and lives for the country. More importantly, how many parents would allow their children to do the same?

As I browse through the paper today, I see myriad forms of neo patriotism – Independence Day discounts at a certain gym, shopping malls, furniture stores, electronic goods stores etc. What kind of patriotism are we talking about here?

On the occasion of our 65th year of independence, I wonder – where are we going wrong? Why have our celebrations become so routine and mundane? Why doesn’t the fire of patriotism burn with the same passion as it used to burn back then?

It is these questions that prompted me to think that the entire concept of “Independence day” needs a revision. Its sounds a little radical, but yes it’s still the most practical thing to do. It is a heritage that we are passing on to the generations to come and it’s on the verge of oblivion.

Think about it. Normal is always boring to anyone. To add to it, the “now” generation has an attention span of a just a few seconds. To them, the traditional method of celebrations is “passé. The patriotic songs from the Manoj kumar films, even though well meant, hold no meaning to them. Hence, the lack of fervor for the country.

For them, new songs by upcoming writers, with contemporary themes need to written and composed.

In schools, the stories of the freedom fighters need to be told using the latest technology and by making the screenplay more interesting.

Moreover, the absurd amount of money that’s spent on Independence day political rallies, needs to be stopped. Such money can be utilized for the betterment and up keep of the forces that keep us independent and free- the army, navy, air force and the police forces. The forces are replete with such stories of self sacrifice and true patriotism. They are the true revolutionaries of today. Their stories of bravado and patriotism need to be told and retold in the most beautiful way.

Last, but not the least, the government needs to clamp down on the crass consumerism that’s rampant in the name of Independence Day. Doesn’t anyone realize that they are sending the wrong message to the coming generation?

I am proud to be an Indian and am humbled to be a tiny part of this huge cultural phenomenon. Even today, when I see our tri color fluttering in the air, and I hear the words “Vande Mataram”, I still feel selfless love for my country. All I ask for, is for the meaning and semblance of this day to be preserved in the most sacred way. Let the priorities for the coming years be- Indians, India .God.

Here’s wishing my fellow Indians a Very happy Independence Day and quick relief from Popcorn Patriotism.

Push, Pull, Push

•August 12, 2011 • Leave a Comment

 

Push- Pull- Push. These are the three magic words that allow “Mumbai kars” to travel safely in the super efficient local trains.

It’s quite amazing how the trains run by the clock, as if some genius controls their precise movements.

What is even more fun to watch, are the variety of techniques that travelers apply to make their traveling comfortable and joyous. That includes playing cards, singing songs and hymns, performing poojas for their gods or just idle chit chat about the nine-to-five of their lives.

The people traveling in the train are great subjects for the observant. They come in all shapes and sizes and can be categorized as follows-

1. The Rookie- He is the beginner/ tyro/ freshman- whatever name you call him; “confusion” is still his middle name. He gets in the wrong trains, stands at the wrong places, alights at the wrong stations, asks directions from the wrong people and gets pushed, pulled, cussed and sometimes beaten for the wrong reasons. He is over awed by the awesomeness of this place and is generally still uncomfortable with his environs.
2. Mr. Impeccable – These gentlemen are the upper crest. They are immaculately dressed, hair (if any) is precisely parted, shoes are shined and re shined, clothes have sharp creases and they prefer others to be at least 5 inches away from them. This distance is so sacred to them that they get very livid if its’ breached.
3. The Bullies- These are the gentlemen who think of their lives as nothing less than a blockbuster “masala” flick. They are dressed like their favorite bollywood stars, swear in the latest and choicest abuses, are frequent tobacco chewers and are always seen in packs. The seats where they sit are not to be touched by the common man. Their specific standing places too, are reserved for them.
4. The Veterans- These gentlemen are the “reverend” ones. They have been traveling in trains for a good 20 years now, from the same place to the same place. They are extremely well versed in the skills of traveling. They know the precise trains to catch, the specific places to stand at and the specific acrobatic skills to be performed to be the first ones to grab a seat. Ask them to spell the train time table backwards, they would do that too in a a few seconds.
5. The Inseparables- An extremely popular species in Mumbai, they are glued to each other. They will get inside the trains holding hands( in the most crowded trains) and will still hold hands while they alight from it. They will not spare an opportunity to flirt with their partners and might be a little embarrassing to the prudish. They can be seen hugging, kissing, and cuddling each other in public view and are least bothered about what’s going on around them
6. The Loud Speakers- Another popular species, the train is their personal space. Be it a haggling wife, an incompetent employee, a co worker or their lovers, their conversations with each of the above are “loud and clear” and for everyone to hear.
7. The Primates- This species is on the verge of extinction now, thanks to the strict rules and regulations nowadays. They still have their ancestral skills and can cling, jump, sit on roof tops, snatch things from people’s hands, and perform other acrobatics that are identifiable with the primates of the world.
8. The Observant- These are a rare species in Mumbai. Their sole purpose of traveling is to reach their destination at the earliest. They rarely interact with anyone and have their loud music playing into their head phones. They enjoy the “pulls pushes and pulls”, the abuses hurled at them ( at times) as this gives them more “meat” to write on. Once the “meat’ is cooked and ready, it finds itself served on their personal blogs.

The local trains have certainly a long way to go before they provide comfortable rides to the common man. But for me, a student of human nature, they provide me with excellent education. To see interactions among these myriad characters and the consequences of such communication is a learning experience in itself.

Epiphany

•August 8, 2011 • 2 Comments

I am quite amazed how the visual medium can transcend into an epiphany. There have been so many movies that have left a profound impact on my life and have forced me to change the way I look at life and it’s surroundings.

 

The Shawshank  Redemption made me awestruck as I watched a man in the worst environs, sustain the hope for a new and better life and then finally achieve it. It set me thinking- Do I really know what optimism is or am I a cynic disguised as an optimist?

 

Cinderella man and the Rocky Series( Yup. I know it’s corny- but I still love it. )  has made me forge my firm belief in the fighting spirit. In the words of Mr. Balboa- It ain’t over – till it’s over”. I second that. This became my personal mantra for all those times when I feel like giving it all up and walking away.

 

Back home, there is “ Zindagi na Milegi Dobara ( translated as- This is your only chance to live life- live it ) How true. I confess. I have sinned. I have procrastinated, chosen the wrong priorities in my life, silently seethed over the hurt that I have got from near and dear ones, thought that I am going to live forever. The list is endless.

 

Today I ask myself- Was all of it worth it? The laziness, priority shifts, simmering hatred and hurt. Back then, I hoped for a better tomorrow. Little did I know that, what is there is just today. If this moment goes, I will miss some of the most beautiful experiences in my life. These gems, will be lost forever, in the sands of time.

 

Today I realize, all that I can control is, this moment- now. All that I can let go of ,is ,the hurt and the pain. It’s time to let it all go.

 

I truly am a changed man. And the change is so profound that I am at loss to explain how I truly feel right now.

 

To quote the  poet-

Dilon me tum apni betabiyan leke chal rahe ho,to zinda ho tum
Nazar me khwaabon ki bijliyan leke chal rahe ho,to zinda ho tum
Hwa ke jhokon ke jaise aazad rehno sekho
Tum ek dariya ke jaise lehron mein behna sekho
Hr ek lamhe se tum milo khole apni baahein
Hr ek pal ek nya sama dekhe nigahein
Jo apni ankhon mein hairanian leke chal rahe ho,to zinda ho tum
Dilon mein tum apni betabian leke chal rahe ho,to zinda ho tum

 

Truly,today, I am Alive.