Friday, November 27, 2015


Wake Up, Ved!

1 and 1/2 star

Mini Review: 

Such a pity Bollywood directors think Ranbir Kapoor will continue playing the confused young man looking to not grow up and beautiful women like Konkona and Deepika will continue pining for them... It's a mess, and not even cute any more. Wake up, Ved! The story (and Ranbir) are way past their 'awww, cute!' date...

Main Review: 

Given that the 9am show was full of chirpy co-eds who screamed when Ranbir showed up on screen, I am compelled to write the review with their help... Anything else would sound like 'Aunty Pulis bula legi!'

Ranbir (dressed in camel colored pants and a ghastly denim back, nylon front four color jacket from the 'before' part of his ad for ask me bazaar) says, 'Main Don hoon!'

Co-eds: Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! Chal selfie le le quick with screen! So cute!

(They do!)

Me: Oh mah gawd! Those dimples on Deepika's face... cuter than the cinematography that will NEVER ever make it to the Corsica tourism brochure. My sister makes Dosa pictures look more appetizing on instagram...

co-eds: Awwwwwwwwwwwwwww! He is playing football with local kids.

me: Haircut lete wakt aadha chhod ke bhaaga tha kya?

Co-ed: How cute he looks na when he sleeps?

me: wait a minute! Football ke pehle there was a bed on the floor, and now he's on...

Co-ed: ooooooh! They're kissing... He's soooooo cute!

me: She pre-poned the ticked? Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha! My inner Ajit says, 'Smart Girl!'

But then it goes downhill from there. The Co-eds become busy posting Instagram pictures of the Mediterranean Sandwiches they ordered at PVR, and I have looked and looked at the coffee hard fantasizing about it being a dirty martini being served to James Bond in the next theater...

EEEEEK! one co-ed shrieks!  My daddy found a Product Manager for me on Shaadi dot com and I said no! Ranbir is Product Manager....

'Oohhhh! Why you said no?' another co-ed!

'Don't worry! Just text your dad, and say yes! It might be Ranbir only naaaaa!' another co-ed!

I so want to turn into Raavan that Ranbir sees in his nightmares and want scare these co-eds. But they're keeping me glued.

Deepika dumps him again! I actually stand up and clap hard... but she's so exquisite when she's crying, I sigh into my sixth coffee.

Jobless Ranbir in the meanwhile finds junta to preach to late at night.

Co-ed: Awwwwwwwww! He's a poet only! I went to an Open Mic poetry event and saw this dreamy guy talk about his lost love too...

I hide deep into my chair, hoping she never identifies me as the host of one such open mic at the Prithvi theater... 

Awwwwwwwwwwww Ranbeeeeeeeer so chikna no without his beard! But so saaaad he looks! 

The co-eds are awake again...

I'm just thinking of what moisturizers to recommend for his well-scrubbed face.

'Hai! My dad texted back! I'll meet the product manager at starbucks this evening!'

'Wear something hot!' the other co-ed chirps.

'I look hot in anything! But loooook! Ranbir is running like Barfi all over Shimla again!'

'You better say no to product manager, and we'll find some cool theater director with long hair at Prithvi. We'll hang out there later!'

'Yaaaaa! Because Ranbir is now Theater Director!'

I facepalm so hard, I know there are ungliyon ke nishaan on my face!

Deepika in the meanwhile remains gorgeous and smart as a tack because she is now Mata Hari, with lots of Chinese torture methods up her sleeves

Jeejus! Hasn't this movie been one of those tortures?

P.S. The girls looooooved Ranbir Kapoor. They were sure if they could get him, they would change him. The lads in the theater shuffled out, knowing Deepika just had to shake her finger in a 'no' if they even thought about approaching her...

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Review: CREED


3 stars

Mini Review:

Everything you loved about the original Rocky movie minus the awful caricature the franchise had become is in Creed. I found myself being shamelessly drawn in - one step, one punch, one round at a time... It has lots of humor, lots of punches and lots of heart...

Main Review:

One was too young to have watched Rocky when it released, but it has always fascinated me because it trumped Taxi Driver and All The President's Men at the Oscars. The story of a lad from the wrong side of the tracks who works hard and wins. What is there no to like? Subsequent movies did make Rocky Balboa more of a caricature, but it kept the flame alive. No one can forget the iconic Bill Conti soundtrack

So Creed follows the pattern Rocky established years and years ago, and you take to him immediately. A young man who does not want the name of his father and yet is so much like him that he cannot help himself. He's had a rough childhood, a tougher time adjusting to his normal life at a brokerage firm...

His loving step mother (Phylicia Rashad in a wonderful role as Apollo Creed's widow) tries hard to keep him away from his father's profession, but Donnie (short for Adonis) cannot resist boxing.

Which brings us to Philadelphia and Rocky Balboa (I'm saying: Rocky! Rocky! Rocky in my head!)

There is a great sense of corn at work here. The humor keeps you believing. Donnie called Rocky 'Unc' and Unc is now old, hasn't been inside a gym for a long, long time, but you sit back and enjoy the young man's insistence and persistence and how the old man finally agrees to 'give him some pointers'. The rest is history.

The most amazing scene in the film is when Rocky goes to the cemetery to visit Adrian and Pauly's graves. It's a beat the rival to pulp and take a beating until your eye is swollen up like movie, but it's scenes like this that make you want to go back and watch the original.

The slow turn reminds you that Rocky has come a long way... From the man who ran through the streets to climb up the 72 steps of the Philly Art Museum (should be on every movie buff's bucket list!) to someone who takes on Mickey's role.

(Rocky! Rocky! Rocky! Rocky!)

I did not enjoy the unhappy, dour Southpaw and even though The Fighter brought you emotions about brothers as it did about boxing, you know there was something as simple as a 'hero' story missing. Creed makes you want to cheer even though the hard punches makes you go, 'Whoa!' 

And that brings us to the intimate camerawork that makes the fights real. We are in that ring, feeling every punch in every round...

You will have to hold your heart from leaping into your mouth for young Creed punching his dad by matching every punch Rocky throws at him on the big projection screen...

Watch this movie, if only to erase the memory of the horrendous Rocky Balboa you saw last.

P.S. The romance track is sweet, and keeps us liking the angry young man...

Friday, November 20, 2015

Review: X The Film

Superior Style, Really Tiresome Content

2 stars

Mini Review:

One laughed at Pyar Ka Punchnama which painted women as gold diggers and vain, but this one takes many many gorgeous women and plonks them in beds in bras, wanting to have babies of a man who is a stalker, and a self-confessed 'loser'. It's a humorless, tedious watch, except for one story which is simply outstanding. Such a pity.

Main Review:

As much as I loved the idea of ten (or is it 11) directors who chose to come together and shoot one man's story, I hated watching the slow paced, tedious story where you wanted to perk it up with some Criminal Minds style action just to get over the trite, 'If this were Hollywood, I'd be tearing your clothes off and if it were Bollywood, we'd be sitting on the bed like good boy and girl...' type dialog.

Besides gagging at the stupidity (it's at a film festival! Which delegate even remembers Hollywood or Bollywood when watching world cinema? Sigh!), I was so bored I almost clapped when the girl at the bar slaps the protagonist who doesn't know his wine, and has pick up lines so gauche you suddenly like Pyar Ka Punchnama and remember Sophie Chowdhary was so much cooler when she asked Rahul Bose, 'Coffee?' 

And when the hero (Poor Rajat Kapoor!) continues to mouth super dumb lines like, 'I haven't written a word since last six months' you have no sympathy left for him and heckle, 'Maybe you need a different day job, asshole!'

If only Huma Qureshi's character had a whip (or an old fashioned wooden 'ruler' in her hand) her trouser-less avataar would have been more fun.

If only the Calcutta girl who was reading rubbishy 'thoughts' in the lad's diary edited and made corrections (and he goes on to publish the corrected version as his own book) I would have loved his story more.

If only the maid had added a mirchi to the vodka...

If only his wife had passed off another man's child as the director's instead of whining about, 'You fucked her? You fucked her?' 

If only the protagonist had enough cojones to kill his whiny wife with extra chillies...

It's like the directors have missed watching the brilliant short called Ahalya where the saucer eyed Radhika Apte behaves like a woman who knows her mind. All these stories had so many possibilities. They just ended up being boring. Why would so many beautiful women clad in bras falling on the bed, their curly hair spread beautifully on the sheet wanting to see 'little Ks running around the house.'?

'More like little K's sitting in the corner and moping!'

But the whole movie has been edited and put together so beautifully, you regret wanting to slap everyone.

And then there's the story of Swara Bhaskar seducing young K which made me sit up and go slack-jawed. She walks home, knowing the young man is following her. Wow! She just seduces everyone in the theatre. The movie just becomes brilliant. Both the stars this movie earns are here. One for this story, and the second for not having subtitles and allowing the simple Tamil to seduce you.

Unfortunately one part of ten doesn't a hit make.



'I Thought You Came Here To Die!'
'It's a matter of Perspective.'

3 stars

Mini Review:

'If James Bond doesn't get to seduce the women, who will?' my mum said when she heard that the idiotic Indian Censor Board asked Sony Pictures to cut the kisses from this awesome new movie. But they could not take away the innate sexiness from the man. The action is super too. Good weekend watch!

Main Review:

One of the bad guys in the movie is called 'C' and I hope Nirlajj Pahlani (the right honorable Varun Grover of Masaan fame coined the name!) feels like the letter (it connects to the 'arse' in hindi) is branded on his forehead. 

Cutting the kisses from a Bond movie is so asinine, and it shows. Wonder how Sunny Leone's Ek Paheli Leela slipped through. Maybe Nirlajj ji was salivating too much...

But no matter what our arse-licking Censor does, Bond emerges hotter than ever. He wears his suits so well: large checks in Mexico, black in london, dusty brown in Tangiers and Morocco and a Uniclo type padded jacket in Austria... He is simply delish. And don't forget, he is perhaps the only man who has been able to carry a horizontal striped suit! (Yes, he does!)

He even looks awesome standing at the window, waiting for Moneypenny in his apartment. And talking to a mouse...

Why am I not mentioning the gorgeous Tom Ford Snowden 05B ($227 only) sunglasses? 

Because they are a cover for not-so-great a story. Especially because we have seen and heard and read so much from Assange to Snowden, this global surveillance is not as menacing as say the baddies from Live and Let Die, or Goldfinger even...

This story is personal, and you feel for M who wears his frustration well.

'If you don't know where James, is, I'll have you...'

But James is filling up the screen with excitement wherever he goes. Helicopters, trains, cars and airplanes... He makes us all part of the action. Mr. Hinx is powerful and creepy all right, but Jaws from Spy Who Loved Me and Oddjob from Goldfinger were scarier.

And the song! The song! Why does a man sing the song? Where are the husky voiced seductive songstresses?

Oh! They probably anticipated Nirlajj Pahlani's objection to sexy voices and asked Sam Smith to sing...

I wish there was more of Monica Bellucci in the movie. Literally and storywise too... She disappears from Rome all too soon.

The action set pieces -- and you will hear every critic mention the phrase -- are stupendous. The end is a bit tame. My mum said, 'The Inglorious Basterds wallah baddie should have been a little meaner, no? Why drill only little pinholes in someone's head? '

I looked at my mum in alarm.

Have hid the Black & Decker drill set after coming back home. Tonight I sleep with the door locked. You go book your tickets to Bond!

P.S. I don't wish to sound like a show-off, but boss, finding a traffic-free road in Rome was too unbelievable. Even a lame (in comparison) comedy movie SPY got the traffic is Rome right...            

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Review: Prem Ratan Dhan Payo


2 stars

Mini Review:

What could have been a 1 and a 1/2 hour decent movie, has been stretched beyond belief for 174 minutes with 12 most godawful songs, and the word 'Royal' attached to everything including horrid brand endorsements. A Royal Pain in the you know what!

Main Review:

Rajshri does not let you forget, not even for a minute that everything about this movie is 'Royal' (Except when Salman Khan makes an entry wearing Royal Blue kurta)

The palace is royal, the school is royal, the scissors are royal, so are the shoes, and the study, and the servants and the clothes and the dining hall... 

If that is not enough, there are rajkumaris and diwan saabs and head of security (who is sent to buy fruit in the local market), also there is a royal carriage (jisme bachpan khila tha!),

Oh is that more than three sentences? Then let me sing you a trite song, which might be about something completely inane: the Tulsi found her Raam, and now let me sing a song because her dupatta is green...

So the pauper helps royal family by pretending he is prince...Oh damn! Am I giving away plot? Let me numb your senses with a song: Prem se sabkuch bhoologe, jo bhi Salman karta hai woh cute lagta hai kyonki her dupatta is sky blue!

Salman Khan looks gorgeous in a black shirt.
Salman Khan looks so gorgeous in a transparent black shirt.
Salman Khan is stupid in love with a princess...

Oooh! Did you say, 'in love'?'

Time for a song, 'Jo humse takraayega... choor choor ho jaayega!' 

Halt! Achtung! This is not a love song! 

Rajshri doesn't care! It sounds royally royal. You know, sword fights and all...

Oh and a good time to introduce Jaani Dushman-Ek Anokhi Royal Prem Katha. It would have been fun to see Icchadhari Naag appear. After all, there is room for wicked snake making chhote rajkumar behave badly (Remember Puli? Bad guy makes Sridevi behave badly!)

Wasted opportunity there, because we don't really know why Jaani Dushman wants to hilao the Royal Family ki neev! 

But Family is watching, so we just allow Royal Villain to be just that.

Oh! Time for a song. 'Royal time aayo! Royal alarm baajyo! Royal mara mari roko because her dupatta is orange!'

Sonam Kapoor looks really nice playing dress-up a la Maharani Gayatri Devi, a pretty picture when seducing Salman with a song: 'Flowers are falling, in the bower, put your royal arms around my royal waist, right now!'

And the audience wants to run over the swords the brothers were using to show us royal timepass. 

Brand endorsements are rampant with Haldiram, Gowardhan Ghee, PN Gadgil Jewelers, brand emblazoned on cooking range, cars... Royal puke!

Oooh! By the time Swara Bhaskar is out of her Royal Koap Bhawan, there have been two more songs and flashbacks about how Sheesh Mahal is a place of flashbacks for the grown up royals.

Boss, No wonder Neil Nitin Mukesh is sodden drunk in that Sheesh Mahal. 

Speaking of which, they missed an Enter The Dragon type royal homily: Destroy the image and you will break the enemy, and a fight with Icchadhari Naag. Imagine shirtless Salman being scratched by Jaani Dushman's snakey claw...

What a cool fight it would have been!

All you know that nobody in the royal family called the royal carpenter and fixed the damned ledge of the royal glass palace...

I kept having flashbacks from The King And I and I happily imagined Salman Khan do a Yul Brynner, 'Etcetera, etcetera...'

Alas. Rajshri is yet to get out of Hum Saath Saath Hain mode. Nothing wrong with that. Except, this time it was Hum Royals Songs Ke Saath Saath Hain!

The story is not new, but it could have been told in say 120 minutes. The songs screw your happiness, but the lead pair is cute enough for you to gush and sigh.

Wait! Did I like the movie? Let me sing a song first: Prem is too sexy for his shirt, too sexy for his shirt, so sexy it hurts... (And these lyrics are 100% superior to what we heard!)

What was the question? Fuhgeddaboutit. After 174 minutes, your arse is so set in the chairs and your senses so numb they send in ushers with cattleprods to help you up. You scramble for the exits before one more song assaults the credits...

P.S: There's a bhai dooj scene when two royal sisters accept Salman as royal Bhai, "Hame apni behen maan bhi lo ab!" Suddenly royal Neil Nitin Mukesh steps forward with a dialog, 'Aur main bhi...' Before I clutched my heart and collapsed, anticipating a strange politically incorrect confession, he added, 'Bhai samajh lo!' Phew!


Friday, November 06, 2015

What a finish to the Mumbai Film Festival!



My Golden Days (Trois Souvenirs De Ma  Jeunesse)

Land And Shade (La Tierra y La Sombra)

Morning started on a low note, with life intruding on Deepa (the best movie watching partner!). I stepped into the theater alone, wondering how is it that kids manage to stay healthy all year and are feverish when mum wants to lose herself in the movies. While Deepa was on mom duty, I watched Taklub (Trap), a Filipina movie.

Having lived in Hong Kong, I have watched maids go from happy to distraught at news of hurricanes and typhoons, this movie jolted me more than it should have. The idea of survivors looking for their lost loved ones, building lives with the debris of their former lives looking for survivors after the typhoon where people lose everything is awful.

The movie is so real, you begin to think you are watching a disaster documentary. It shows how the lives of three people inter-linked and their concern for each other makes them so human.

And although the Filipinas are deeply religious, the loss of faith shown was too melodramatic I thought. 

Too much despair to start the last day of the film festival...

But then Charlie Kaufman came to the rescue, and we were plunged into the world of seriously strange stop motion animation. 

Once you got over the 'humanness' of the figures/puppets, you begin to enjoy the tale that is being told. The ice is broken by the common 'grab your arm' co-passenger on a flight (i choked on my chai here because I was reminded of a fellow film critic who grabs the nearest available arm at anything dramatic on screen).

But Micheal Stone is telling us the story of how everything and everybody conforms and that he is alone because he won't. Was weird bawling in an animated movie where people were gasping at the nudity in the shower. But if people have ever told you what to do with your life, or asked you, 'Why can't you be normal like everyone else?' you'd understand why the movie hit home.

Charlie Kaufman is telling us how lonely it gets when you do not conform. You want to adjust, and Micheal Stone tries really hard, but he cannot. The humor is never absent. And you are reminded by the uncomfortable laughs in the fully packed auditorium that you are watching the movie with many a tortured soul.

The line outside My Golden Days was so long, you wondered if the synopsis was misguided. Misspent youth sounds like a promise of lots of onscreen sex...

Once the movie started, my cynical side vanished. It was drowned in the most deliciously written correspondence between two lovers. Deepa (who was back!) and I, and possibly all the women in the theatre began to fall in love with Paul. 

The film has been shot beautifully and I loved the choice of non-conventional looking actors. Instant love for scenes from Tajikistan and one where Paul's dad walks into his own bedroom and finds his son with Esther, and slowly steps back embarrassed.

The film, no matter how much it indulges every woman's swooning poetic side, left me wondering why Paul hated his mother so much. It is probably fashionable to say 'How I hate my mother' but even so, it sort of rankled...

Came away wondering if there were shades of Heathcliff in the movie... Laughed pointedly at two gents who were having a conversation which something like: What men! French cinema and so little sex?

The sex was there. In the words of the letters they exchanged...

Land And Shade (La Tierra y La Sombra) seemed to be incorrectly named. 'Sombra' the Spanish word which has been called Shade is more 'Shadow'. The story of a family living in the shadow of the land they own, is a far, far sinister tale than the simplistic description Land and Shade.

You are immediately drawn to the horrors of cane farming and know why Don Alonso leaves the farm and why he is back. Especially in Maharashtra, where sugarcane is depleting the water table far more rapidly than ever, to watch the ash cover everything is an eye opener. You think of ways of saving the little family when you watch Alonso do the dishes, sweep the floor covered in ash. You feel claustrophobic when you realise that they dare not open windows because the ash and soot will cover everything.

A shower scene in a movie generally titillates, but the scene in this movie just made me want to kneel down and pray to the gods they had water.

It sounds trite, but even the drunken song Alonso sings touches you deeply. It gives you no time to think though, because the land continues to engulf this family in its shadow, attempting to bury them under ash and dust...

I stepped out of the theater, wondering how much it would have cost my dad to give up on the lands of his fathers. In my head though, I was sitting next to the mother, stubborn and helpless, unable to let go of the land that was hers.

A sombre end to a film festival that delighted my heart and head with so many amazing films. Deepa and I said quiet 'byes' and walked towards the parked cars, ready to be swallowed by reality once again.

We will meet again, over wine and discussions of about Waheeda Rehman in pants, Guru Dutt's designer forehead wrinkles, and Ingrid Bergman saying, 'Play it Sam, play 'as time goes by'...'

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Loved Day Six: Super Disturbing Films


DON'T TELL ME THE BOY IS MAD (Une Histoire De Fou)

THE CLUB (El Club)

Was battling time and traffic to watch the amazing, disturbing Kotha Nodi (River Of Tales) but failed. That is the one regret I shall have in the festival. It is indeed a fantastic thing to have so many venues, but yesterday I hated it.

But the rest of the day was such a blessing!

Watched Haramkhor first. 

What a delightful film. Imagine two kids Mintu and Kamal (Mohammad Samad and Irfan Khan) and a young girl Sandhya (Shweta Tripathi) match skills with the inimitable Nawazuddin Siddiqui. 

It is not just about a small town teacher and his romance with his student, it is about loss of innocence as well. The scene where the Sandhya eats ice cream and flirts with her teacher is perhaps the best scene of any film this year. It is at once innocent and at once gloriously wicked. And Nawazuddin Siddiqui's expressions are just a lesson in acting.

The two kids who make the schoolteacher's life a misery are super fun to watch. Their ideas, their pranks, their dogged determination to get to the bottom of things gets them into more trouble than they can handle...

You know the movie is like an avalanche coming down a mountain and you are standing like a deer in headlights in its way. You come away actually soaked by the rain that comes down on all of them.

Watch this film when it releases. Simply brilliant.

Don't Tell Me The Boy Is Mad is a beautifully shot film about the Armenian conflict. 

What do you do when your grown up son leaves home to become a 'freedom fighter'? As a mother Anouch knows that he will probably never come back home alive, because he's really a bomber, a terrorist. 

What she does surprised me out of the sleep induced by the slow beginning of the movie.

The family comprises of dad (you saw him - Simon Akbarian - in Gett- The Trial Of Vivienne Amsalem), grandma and a little sister, welcomes Gilles the lad who has lost both his legs in a bombing of which their son Aram is responsible. 

That's when shades of Hindi movie melodrama begin to show up and Anouch, the wonderful mom, begins to act like Rakhi in Karan Arjun, hoping against hope that Aram would be saved by a horrible fate he has written for himself. She thinks by saving Gilles she would save Aram. The melodrama then turns into Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham as Aram and Gilles meet. Aram watching his mom asleep on the chair, waiting for him to show up, and then the 'Ma, you are so beautiful' scene was so Hindi filmy, I had to stuff my socks in my mouth to stop laughing out loud (everyone in the theater was quite moved by the scene)... Good place to remind you that the average age of the audience must be 60...

There was time for a coffee and a slice of pizza (delivered by the PVR lads) at the seat to the next film El Club.

The particles of chilli flakes remained suspended in air, and the pizza slice (helpfully cut up in bite sizes) remained uneaten as the story unfolded in front of us.

My coffee jolted in its cup as the old priest waved the gun at the horrid man yelling obscenities and then shot himself. It was smarter after that moment to leave the pizza in the box.

The story of past sins was haunting. The man at the gate yelling foul things at the seemingly harmless priests living a quiet life in a seaside town opens up a can of worms. The Church has sent a crisis counselor to help these priests figure out penitence for their past sins that are so horrific, you begin to empathise with the foul mouthed Sandokan who has parked himself right outside their peaceful home.

The story is everything that begins to shake your own belief on the system. You don't have to be a Christian to understand why the old priests need to face their demons. You also begin to be afraid of Sandokan who seems to be present everywhere. You actually feel so haunted by the man, that surround sound in the theater made me turn around and check if he were sitting in the seats cordoned off for celebrities that did not show up for the screenings.

The man sent by the church to exorcise the evil in their hearts is himself hounded. And the punishment for their sins is so fitting and so horrific, you emerge from the theater too stunned to watch the next film you booked (Mistress America).

I called the driver with hands shaking from the experience of watching the sinners and the man who was sinned against sing a creepy song about the savior of lambs... When and how I reached home I don't know. But went to bed hoping the Micheal Keaton film on the Church and child abuse does show up on our screens soon.



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'.

Monday, November 02, 2015

Day3 at Mumbai Film Festival. Full Of Smiles

The Assassin
Journey Of A 1000 Miles
45 Years

The Assassin is a visual feast. 
And that meant you watched the nun in whites watch the mist come up the mountains. And it does. Slowly. The nun is alone on the mountain top, so there is no dialog. Not even an internal conversation. 

There were other scenes. The corrupt governor is riding with his entourage. The Assassin and the nun are watching their progress up the hill to where they are hiding in the clump of trees...

The rebel princess strumming her zither, after much thought...

The routine of dressing up and pinning hair ornaments in laquered hair...

Some of us sighed in pleasure. Other took silences in the movie as permission to cough.

I was willing to bet that the theater could be the proverbial TB ward of some hospital in a dystopian future, where the uninfected ones were sent to catch the bug...

Practically ran to PVR Phoenix Mills to catch 45 days. Realised it was 4.30pm and not 14.30 zulu time. Made a mental resolve to stop watching war movies/shows on tv.

However, got a place in screen one where the documentary on Bangladeshi Womens Peace Keeping Force was just starting.

Hmm... Untrained and not really ready for hostile situation, the women police officers leave their homes to help people in Haiti. The situation in each of their homes is not all happy happy joy joy... But nothing drastic happens to them in Haiti either. 

I suppose this was not meant to be Hurt Locker...

45 Years is a pure delight.

The songs, the people, the friendships, the coupling, the undoing, the unravelling... It is such an amazing film about not rocking the boat even though you know it is sinking... Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay are so true, you wonder how you would react if you were in either's shoes.

Would you give up a life you have built because some ancient truth has surfaced? Or would you fight for all you have built?

There was not a minute to let it all sink in, because some moron with math worse than mine at the next screening was saying We will now let in non registered people because you people are coming with less than 15 minutes to the next show. 

We stormed the Bastille, and the din was deafening. It was awful to try and get a seat we reserved for Lobster.

We did, eventually because the non-registered members were not as loud as the registered people...

Lobster was such a delight. Colin Farrell is so much fun! And everyone else. The story goes from a shocking 'What the faaaack!' to uncomfortable chuckles to outright laughter and almost screams...

Is this science fiction or some mad fantasy? 

I didn't care. I loved it. The madness of the hotel, the craziness of the loners and the weird city. Loved the idea of compatibility that has been pushed over the edge. And I love Colin Farrell even more after I saw him kick the annoying kid sent to fix a marital relationship... Did you jaw just drop? 

You are not alone.

The movie was wild enough to propel me away from the last screening and I got into a cab. Happy with what I watched...

P.S. will miss monday screenings... going walkabout...

Sunday, November 01, 2015

So Good, I Was Hankering For A Fifth Film: Day 2 at MAMI Film Fest

Happy to watch movies from 9am!

I want to have breakfast with Ingrid Bergman, or eat Kaqchikel bread made by te'ej who wears a traditional huipil... Movies should start early, so we can watch five a day instead of a measly 4 when they start movies at 10.30

That said, Day 2 at the Mumbai Film Festival was simply amazing.


Ingrid Bergman in Her Own Words (Jagar Ingrid)




To start the day with a documentary (the kinds that make it to 'film festivals') is usually not a good idea. The artiness of some of them might drive you to snore... And predictably there were less than 20 people sighing away at every frame. But I was glad. Did not need selfie-obsessed young women clicking pictures through the screening. Thankfully, the ones in this screening were people who have seen Gaslight and Autumn Sonata and Casablanca several times... My day was made when they show Ingrid Bergman's screen test ('no lip rouge', reads the board).

Rest of it was simply stunning. Thank goodness she saved everything. From her baby passport, to the pictures her dad took of her, her diaries, her children's pictures, and videos and home movies, and carried them with her when she moved from Sweden to Hollywood and to Italy and then to Paris and to London and then back to Sweden again...

And when it makes Deepa Deosthalee (my partner in crime and an enlightened being of cinema) say that she needs to now watch the Golda Meir docu-drama Ingrid Bergman's last big work, you know the documentary has been exceptional. 

I was converted into a mush puddle of memories to see shoot videos of Casablanca and Notorious and to hear about Bogart and Cary Grant in her own words...

How we scrambled for Dheepan could have been an entry to 'funniest home video' contest. Dheepan turned out to be 'How To Make Textbook Festival Winners'. It checked all the right boxes.
Refugee family who have escaped from a war-torn third world country accepted in socialist France, given a job, a home in projects where violence is just across the street. 

You just have to wait out for the circle of violence to be complete. You don't mind watching the movie play out in set pieces - it's three people stuck together as 'family', how they learn to be one slowly, how violence plays the villain that won't go away...

Surprising how there was no 'fancy' Bollywood introduction with extra spotlights thrown in, despite the fact that this film won the highest accolade at Cannes and the award winning actor was present.  

A short drive from PVR Juhu to PVR ECX was thankfully in quick moving traffic. The bar code reading made entering the theater so easy. And even though I felt like produce being checked out of a supermarket, I am grateful for this super-efficient method.

Stepped into Ixcanul.

And fell in love with Maria Telon who plays the mom, or 'te-ej' as Kaqchikel Mayan people will address her.

What a mother! She is empathy personified. She is the glue that keeps her poor peasant family together. Her beautiful daughter and her farmer husband. She is shown to be disapproving, cajoling, determined, has the never-give-up spirit... She is full of poetic folklore dreams when she offers advice, and yet amazingly practical. 

'Touch me here' she demands of her husband, and orders her daughter to 'jump on both feet' when trying to...

No, no, no! You will have to watch this brilliantly shot (made me google travel routes to Gautemala after I came back home!) story. If not at the festival, then somehow, some other time. 

Maria Telon is so amazing, I am looking forward to the 18 minute short film Tether which will be released soon.

Walked into Atlantic after dinner at a nearby restaurant, not suspecting a thing.

If you could fall in love with the first frame of a film, then this would be it.

And the feeling just grows and grows on you with the movie. The film is so fabulously shot, it made the silent as a ghost (when she watches movies) Deepa exclaim rightfully in a whisper, 'Deserves the Cinematography Oscar, no?'

I simply nodded. The last time I felt this level of envy was when I was reading everything I could about Ernest Shackleton. 

Atlantic is not just about some guy who wants to windsurf 3000 kilometers of the ocean, it is about answers he seeks as he glides across waves.

The fishing village, the music, the little girl... I have been seduced.

I have yet to see anything more visually stunning than this film. 

P.S. I have unfriended three people who said Atlantic made them sea-sick and it was like an extended Old Spice ad.