Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Day 4 at the Mumbai Film Festival: From Awful to All Right


But life intrudes and you give in. I missed Day 3 at MAMI and after yesterday, I wished I had missed Day 4 instead.

I watched





So much fun to be the priest in Aferim! Hiding behind his holy robes, he happily decimates Italians, Egyptians, the French, the British... Here is the exact quote (thanks to IMDB):

"Each nation has its purpose. The Jews, to cheat, the Turks, to do harm, us Romanians to love and suffer like Christ. And each has their habits. Hebrews reads a lot, Greeks talks a lot, Turks has many wives, Arabs has many teeth, Germans smokes a lot, Hungarians eats a lot, Russians drinks a lot, English thinks a lot, French likes fashion a lot, Armenians are lazy, Circassians wears much lace, Italians lies a lot, Serbians cheats a lot, Gypsies get beaten! Gypsies must be slaves."

The movie is about a police constable's journey (his son is his apprentice, rides with him) to find a runaway gypsy slave and bring him back to the local zamindaar. On his journey we get to share the old constable's quips about life and its truths: 'Both the slaves and the wives can be beaten, but you should be gentle...

In The Shadow Of Women (French) begins with a sulky man leaning against a wall. It's black and white, and I hmmm to myself. Wanting like a 'mom' to push his hair away from his face and putting a butterfly clip. 

Such a wannabe Breathless it turns out to be. 

But Belmondo was so charming! The only thing nice about this lad was his hair. He cheats on his wife, he's selfish and rude to the woman he's cheating with, has no talent (he's supposed to be a documentary film maker, but clearly his wife is doing all the work (she shoots, she edits, she goes through the stock footage they are going to use). Even the girlfriend has a job. 

You begin wondering why two pretty women (and there's a clear Breathless hangover in the bedroom scenes) want him...  

For The Love Of A Man would have been superb had it been just a tad shorter. The documentary does go inside the head of Rajinikanth fans, but it does seem to go on and on when it comes to the personal lives of the mimicry artist, the local thug turned fan club president, the mithai shop owner. These are predictable things: fans so crazy their personal lives are affected. I wish they'd come to the point sooner. And considering how ordinary the camerawork is, the burden on the viewer to like the documentary is that much more. Given that I am a fan (not a rabid one) I quite enjoyed the process of the madness that is induced by the star. And wished there was more analysis of the phenomenon by K Hariharan and fewer shots of people eating food (a nasty sight!)

But what left a horrid taste in my mouth was the awful Umrika.

Fake from the very first shot, the movie begins to annoy you when you realise that the gaonwaallahs who speak a weird Hindi can make references of Gorbachev and Reagan being but consistently spell America incorrectly. Even the schoolteacher writes Umrika on the blackboard. Even though the movie makes an effort to tell us that it is set in 1984 (Hum Log on TV, and Liril jingle and Indira Gandhi's death in the news are the best part of the movie) it just seems stupid that the hero knows about Groundhog Day, but wonders if they eat that animal. They have footage of the turkey pardon but know nothing else.

The half-assed information stops being cute right in the beginning where the mom discovers a picture of the potty. The life of an immigrant in Mumbai seems to be too pat and too clean to be real. 

Poor Prateik Babbar. He needs to find another day job. He's just boring. And the end of the movie when Suraj Sharma actually is shipped off in a container, it seemed like a bizarre prequel to Life Of Pi. I prayed that he wouldn't survive the journey... Umrika is 'awful' spelt 'offal'.

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