Tuesday, October 28, 2008


1984: The Big Brother is watching you

2007: Did any watch Big Brother?

(not the TV series)

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Welcome to Sajjanpur

In the world of crappy movies with double entendre and slap stick humor comes a breezy delight by the master craftsman Shyam Benegal. The ease at which he embeds the social message without messing with the story is awesome. Take for example when Kamla Kumharin informs Mahadev of her father's superstitious belief about getting epilepsy fits because of going to school you can clearly see the message but there is no protagonist here who metaphorically comes out of the screen and raises an important issue for other actors as well as audience to answer. To exemplify we have numerous examples of heroes giving lectures on kanoon, insaaf, samaaj, police etc, in court, in a crowd, police station where the movie veers from a narrative, a story towards a Charkha Dutt types one sided debate. The characters and there world strictly remain inside the screen in a world of there own. (I have this grouse with many of the movies that I liked e.g. RDB, Munnabhai series and ). To me it seems like breaking the fourth wall in a figurative way of speaking which has been used quite often in Hindi cinema. Other plagues like caste based politics, arm twisting of the law and goonda raj are also shown in a not so heavy manner.

The moment you feel there is nothing new happening in the world, the director zooms you out of the frame and you find you where embedded in a narrative. The comedy is subtle there is no Rajpal Yadav or Johnny Lever for you, though Johnny has a class of his own, a hackneyed one though. All the actors did awesome acting, at no time did I feel I was watching a petite Amrita Rao or Shreyas Talpade, it was Kamla Kumharin's and Mahadev's world I was peeking in to.

The protagonists are themselves not the innocent villagers - mehnati kisan, godhooli ki vela, ganv ki gori such stereotypes are kept out at bay . The shade of greys in Mahadev's characters are awesome, Kamla's role needed more dimensions as most of her role was reactive putting the onus on Shreyas.

The character and story of eunuch Munni is hilarious, bawdry yet grounded in reality and leaves an indelible mark on audiences mind. It is her/his/her/his quips at embarrassed Mahadev that steals the scenes. Do watch it with your friends and family :)

In Munni's own words: "Tikke ne khoob kiya, chaukke ne khoob kiya are panje ne khoob kiya, ki ayi ab munni ki baari"

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Vichitra Kintu Satya (Strange but True)

Couple of desis waiting for a bus, talking boisterously in chaste Hindi in the heart of Switzerland, Zürich, late night and not even owl screeching to let you know there are other living beings. Zap comes a black, open roof sedan with a glistening head and old melodious Hindi movie song blaring out of his cell phone.

Hmm, looks an ofay, not a desi I thought. Must have listened to some songs by an Indian/South Asian friend and might have liked the melody but why the heck is has he stopped in the middle of the road on a deserted street, playing the music for strange desis on a bus stop!

"You might be liking the new, modern stuff" and he switched "O jane jaana" song by Atif and suddenly everyone participated in a half shocked, reserved, baffled, amused yet maintaining the distance.

"Old is gold" comes the cliched response from a desi and pat came the reply "But gold never goes old" and he zoomed past us. And all I could say was - Vichitra Kintu Satya (Strange but True)