Category Archives: Film Review

Tumbbad, ho jao barbaad!

When you meet your dearest girl after a long time, how do you celebrate, what we usually do is to catch up on a movie , with some pop corns and other celebratory items for the feel of it and so we sat down to watch Tumbbad and I told my daughter, it feels so good to have you back and to be able to do this’. We smile as we crunch popcorns.

Well, Tumbbad is what Indian cinema never had so far. A horror flick with a sound story line , not a moment of drudgery and gripping till the last scene.

What makes the film interesting is its very Indian concept. the setting, the social milieu as reflected in the film.

A treasure hunt is not alien to no Indian. We have all grown up on stories of treasures hidden in palaces, temples, homes, under ground and what not. In fact, even to this day, the greed for the boon of treasure is what drives a whole lot of us to our all-knowing babas.

I can’t help recall the urge of one such to meet babas who will answer all his existential queries and how it destroys what he had altogether. Sounds too familiar right!

The casting in Tumbbad is so perfect that the actors live their roles and the effect on the viewer is stupendous. This makes it difficult to pick up a favorite actor from the movie. It is definitely movie that is class apart and worth more than one watch.

I was reminded of how achan had taken me and my younger brother to Palakkad to watch My dear kuttichathan. We were staying in Ottapalam and movies were not so much our thing, but achan is an avid lover of arts and used to watch movies regularly and even attend all musical concerts, especially when we stayed in Vijayawada.

I remember the awe with which we watched huge bowls of ice cream, magically manifested apart from various adventures of kuttichatan and his friends in the movie.

Definitely, My dear kuttichatan was a path breaker in Indian cinema, the first 3D film in the country.

A good film is a story well told, let’s hope for more well made films from India.

But I should not miss mentioning Rangi Tharanga, a Kannada film which attempted something similar and perhaps equally successful.

Thank god for movies and those who know to tell a story well, how poor our lives would be without them!

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Bariwali – The Landlady

Loneliness is apparently an epidemic, so I read. World over there are millions and millions of people who count themselves as being lonely and yet there is no way most of them are going to find company or companionship, rather ironic, isn’t it?

Tinder or no Tinder, some among us are going to hit the bucket alone.

Well, Rituparno Ghosh’s award winning film Bariwali or The Landlady deals with this rather delicate subject with a tenderness that makes the movie quite the classic it is.

The land lady of a large aristocratic looking mansion was widowed in her youth. She has led a lonely life and is a nervous woman who does not entertain connections with the outside world. Her slow uneventful life is thrown out of its mundane routines when a film director approaches her with a request to shoot his film at her home.

Though initially hesitant, Bonolatha is taken in by the charismatic ways of the director and agrees. Bonolatha’s maid servant is a flutter of excitement as is her manager, an old man.

While Bonolatha is drawn to the charming ways of the director, the shooting proceeds and the director even casts her in a small role. This life changing moment brings back music to Bonolatha’s soul and she is delighted.

However, after the unit packs off, Bonolatha receives a letter from Debashish a young member of the unit informing her that her role was cut off the film.

With no financial compensation paid to her for the use of her property, Bonolatha realizes that she was exploited by the director who she took to be a gentleman. Her pride is hurt and her life returns to its old drudgery of load shedding and her struggle to meet the ends.

Kiron Kher effectively essays the role of the tragic heroine, Bonolatha.

Emotional weakness often lends man to become a victim of exploitation and Bonolatha’s character well depicts this awful truth of life.

Control Tower : A Japanese Film on growing up

Takahiro Miki’s ‘Control Tower’ is an interesting film on the angst of growing up.

Set in the icy town called Wakkanai, Kakeru is a lonely adolescent who doesn’t get along well with others. In fact, he positively shuns company and has his ear phones on to shut off any possible contact. His mom admonishes him for sleeping cramped up in the closet. His life takes a positive turn when a new girl from the city, Mizhuho or Mimi joins the school. Mimi befriends him with great difficulty and sticks with him. She does not like others and slowly Kakeru is drawn to her infectious vivaciousness.

I almost thought this could have been a slow Bengali, or Malayalam movie which sort of lumbers through long silences.

A refreshing take on blossoming of young love, the fierce protection of self, and various others issues related family and growing up, the movie is worth more than a watch.

Especially endearing is the song that Kakeru composes inspired by his friendship with Mimi. Mimi’s struggles reminded me of the young Jenny Curan who never wanted to go to her home in Forrest Gump.

Worth a watch, surely!

Get Out – The Thriller

I catch up with most movies late, does that make me sound lazy…perhaps I really am.

But watching ‘Get Out’ did get on to my nerves. Literally!

The last time I had sleepless nights after watching a movie was after ‘The Great Debators’. It did strike a few chords and ask a few uncomfortable questions.

I mean everything about the movie, the premise, the casting, the setting and slow but eerie surprises the story line you tossing and turning in the bed, unable to catch a wink.

I liked how Daniel Kaluuya walked into a death trap in a different twist to honey trapping. It is amazing how Alison Williams plays her character and her mother played by Catherine Keener. Goodness! I am suddenly suspicious of anyone who stirs a tea spoon too long and too slow here after.

Get Out

Somehow it eerily reminds me of the numerous instances of child kidnapping we read about in the newspapers and in the social media. Is it really impossible to do any thing about it?

Are our children to grow up fearing for their lives constantly? Is it possible that continuous updates on social media of families boasting of their pretty, handsome, smart children is somehow driving a demand for such kids?

I don’t know maybe, I am just getting a bit lost!

The inimitable appeal of Lootera

There is some thing truly poetical about the Hindi film ‘Lootera’. Whether it is the ethereal beauty of Sonakshi Sinha as Pakhi or the appeal of a savvy scoundrel in the form of Varun Shrivastava essayed by Ranveer Singh, you will find yourself drawn again and again to the Hindi adaptation of the famous short story ‘The Last Leaf’ by O. Henry.

Set in an aristocratic mansion in the bye lanes of erst while Calcutta, the movie moves around the doting father and his adoration of his sick daughter, Pakhi.

The music, the setting, the subtle play of light, the transformation in the character of Pakhi, post the betrayal of Varun Shrivastava and the end, everything about this movie makes it a master piece in cinema.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eJs_vW-TJAE

For the experience of great music, unbelievable singing, brilliant acting, great story line, ‘Lootera’ definitely is worth more than a watch.

Invictus – The Film

I had picked up A Lone walk to Freedom but it is a huge volume and I gave up soon.

I did however watch  the movie Invictus  thrice in a row. I was mimicking my daughter to whom I had recommended ‘The Agony and the Ecstasy’, based on the life of Michelangelo. She smartly watched BBC videos  and came back to quiz me on the topic. It goes with out saying that I scored poorly.

I cannot but be amazed at my own ignorance of the people who lived in our times, their greatness, their deeds and their legacy. Was I not curious enough? How could I not know enough about the movers and shakers of our world,of at least these recent times? For that ignorance I know I have no one to blame but myself.

But here I am redeeming my pride by watching the best in the cinema, or at least consciously trying to and listening to the best in the music and hoping to visit the best of the places while munching up on great food… now that’s a beautiful dream…isn’t it?

The beauty of a well made film is  that it goes straight to your heart and leaves you changed. That is what ‘Invictus’ did to me. With some great acting by Morgan Freeman who impersonated,Nelson Mandela and Matt Damon as Francois Peinaar, Adoja Andoh as Brenda, Mandela’s assistant make the film memorable. I particularly loved Brenda’s swaying her hips as she waltzed in and out of the presidential office, some times a friend, sometimes a confidant and even a strict governess to the man.  She stood out as the most graceful woman in the entire film. The best acting of course is by Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon. The maid at Peinaar’s home also deserves a special mention.mandela1980x1100_l82b9c5h_pec6xvug

I must also say something about the poem Invictus by W.E Henley of whom I had first read about in Maxbeerbhom’s essay ‘Speed’. That was long time ago, but the poem is something I go back to for the rugged feel of mastery over life, especially when you read out the lines,’I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul’.

So it turns out that the poem was Nelson Mandela’s corner stone in his 27 years of imprisonment. 27 years of imprisonment in a narrow cell where you are humiliated and ill treated can turn any one insane, but Madiba as Nelson Mandela was called by his clan, emerged strong enough to put an end to apartheid in South Africa and also set the country on a course of progress and togetherness.

While he did so, he stood alone, his family was estranged from him for what they perceived to be his bowing down to those who perpetrated unimaginable crimes and violence upon the black people for years together.

Yet, this man, Nelson Mandela stood strong and with conviction in his vision for a rainbow country steered the course, amidst violence, distrust from the blacks as well as the whites and used a game, rugby, to bridge the gap.

Call it strategy or mere accident, by striking a friendship with the Rugby captain, Peinaar and egging him on to connect to the black people, Mandela created a momentum that eventually catapulted the South African team to win the Rugby world cup in their homeland.

What makes such men? Where does such conviction come from?

Most of us lose the courage on receiving a bank notice or losing a job or failing in love, yet men such as this rare as they are stick to their goal and are relentless in pursuing what they set out to achieve.

Mandela goes on to become Peinaar’s first son’s god father. In an interview, Francois Peinaar recalls how his second son at the age of five had walked up to Mandela to ask’ Will you please be my godfather too?’.

The film makes a case for sports and its phenomenal ability to create connect against deeply set apathy among people.

India should take a leaf from the South African example. We should free our children from the burden of heavy books to the freedom of the play ground so that they emerge stronger, with a better discipline and a clearer vision of life itself.

We should play more to connect on the field and off the field because the bonds are stronger and lasting in nature.

About the film, need I say more, it is a winner and needs to be watched again and again.

Arth (1982) – A Mahesh Bhat Film

Arth,_1982_film

One cannot but think of how ‘woman’ , ‘relationships’, ‘love’ are treated with authenticity in a Mahesh Bhat film. Or is it the case with all the films of yesterday?

Arth explores values, relationships, expectations, feminism, glamour, greed and every possible aspect of human existence with an unparalleled intensity.

Pooja, a girl who grew up in an orphanage desires a stable home after her marriage. It is her dream. Pooja argues with her husband when he quits jobs and presses him for the realization of her dream, her own home.

While her husband played by Kulbhushan Kharbanda buys her a dream home and lavishes her with enough money to adorn it the way she wants, there is a catch to it.

The money he gave his wife was a price for his ensuing absence from her life, paid by his mistress, the famous actress, Kavitha essayed by Smitha Patil.

With the most acclaimed Indian actresses of the times, Shabana Azmi and Smitha Patil pitted against each other as the wife and the love interest of the man, Kulbushan Kharbanda, the story is set to intrigue and entice, with exceptional acting and great onscreen chemistry. Shabana’s waif like slim and slender appearance with clear skin and bright eyes is a treat to watch. In fact, it is her eyes that speak,emote and act in the movie.

When Pooja comes to know of the truth behind her husband’s actions, she vacates the house and moves into a hostel with just Rs. 2000 which she initially had with her. Pooja is comforted by the pleasant company of a Ghazal singer, Raj, who proposes to her.

Pooja’s maid whom she had often counselled and comforted is jailed for the murder of her husband. Pooja adopts the young girl and decides to bring her up as her own.

Pooja signs divorce papers for her husband Inder and even goes to Kavitha’s home to assure her that she was not going to topple their love life.

Inder, Pooja’s husband in the meanwhile has difficulty in his relationship with Kavitha who is insecure about Inder and Pooja.

Kavitha requests Inder to return to his wife.

When Inder returns Pooja expresses her unwillingness to accept him.

Pooja also declines Raj’s proposal to marry her.

She decides to spend the rest of her life with her maid’s daughter, now adopted by her.

I have always wondered at the As-You-Like-It-ness of love and life. You love someone, that someone loves another someone and it goes on….

The inability of one human being to find happiness in what he/she has can lead to endless confusions and trials in the lives of so many others.

But, it is one life, as they say, it is up to each one to decide what is that he/she wants from life.

In matters of love and living, nothing there is no absolutes in terms of right or wrong.

The movie has some excellent ghazals sung by Jagjeet Singh and Chithra Singh, my personal favourite being ..tum itna jo muskara rahe ho…kya gum hai jo chupa rahe ho…

Was it Shelley who said, our sweetest songs are those that sing of our saddest thoughts?!