The Darjeeling (Un)Limited

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Travelling can take you places. But, travel books, movies can take you to different world where you are provided with some surreal experiences of the characters which you can live as your own. For instance in this picture a man is trying to catch the running train with all his bags packed. This is the opening sequence of Wes Anderson’s movie The Darjeeling Limited. Sitting at one place day after day, thanks to my job, I am at the mercy of such pictures, movies and books to switch over to some other world. The Darjeeling Limited did a perfect job for me.

Darjeeling_Limited_PosterAt some point when you do not know the way ahead travel is the best remedy. Getting away from your comfort zone and doing something that you have never done before can be the way out of life’s lows. Here, we have three brothers who have not met in a while; each in a crisis, meanwhile are mourning over their father’s death have taken a train “The Darjeeling Limited” which will provide lodging and boarding while they travel in India. On the route a special schedule will be followed everyday and experiences will be enriched by visits to all the holy places.

Movie was really unfathomable for me. But I have interpretations of my own. In one of the instances, when three of them experience death of a child, they are able to overcome the loss of their father. Attending the funeral takes them back to the time when they were to attend the funeral of their father. Three of them realise the loss they have suffered and realise that in order to overcome the stuff bothering them they need to be together and need to support each other. At the end of the movie when the three protagonists throw away the luggage once they have boarded the train, it  signifies how they have left the loss behind and are ready for the new beginnings.

Movie is filled with jargons native to India.  If you look at them it is difficult to understand why they are present. The train itself is something out of filmmaker’s dreams. We still have snake charmer, there are taxi drivers overs-speeding in the city, some obscure medication with magical powers and so on. This chimerical and perplexing image of India is explored with unusual humour.

Wes Anderson has his way of telling stories. Only thing a viewer can do is get lost in the world Wes Anderson has created. Go with the flow. Try to experience the things people on-screen are going through. If you can relate to it, may be you can understand something that cannot be expressed in words. The Darjeeling Limited has unlimited possibilities in store.

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– Sumit Chinchane

 

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Whiplash – Beats and the Beast

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Whiplash_posterThe quest for greatness and success can make people go crazy.  Conviction, self-belief, perseverance, dedication and incessant efforts are not sufficient for the purpose.  An appropriate mentor/teacher is always required.  Mentor is someone who can guide you through your struggle, someone who is experienced enough to show you the right path, someone who pushes you to do that extra bit.

“How far a person can be pushed?”  The question is of the essence in Whiplash.

Whiplash is an artistic story of 19-year-old kid Andrew, studying Music at Shaffer Conservatory in New York.  He aspires of becoming one of the greatest Jazz drummers and his idol is Buddy Rich. Andrew happens to join the band of Terrence Fletcher (J. K. Simmons) his new mentor and the bandmaster. He is brutal, abusive and short-tempered.

Out and out Damien Chazelle’s Whiplash would be the film that is about a music student carving out a drumming career in a jazz band.  It can also be perceived as a film about Jazz, astute in its observation about music and the lives of musicians who work religiously to get recognition. But the film would largely be observed about relationship between Andrew and Fletcher his inhuman mentor with his own ambition to create perfectionists using verbal abuse, racist, homophobic comments.  Whiplash with its limited time and story still tries to explore all these facets comprehensively.

Human nature is tricky and when it comes to artistes it is trickiest of all. Artistes are renowned for their whimsicality. Andrew is no different.  He is ready to let go all human contact. He has no friends. At the family dinner with his cousins he points out this will lead him to success. The scene where he breaks up with his girlfriend is my personal favourite. His explanation for breaking up is his girlfriend would be a distraction for his goals. He points out what he does is more important. Andrew shows no emotions of faltering when he is doing this. For him nothing is as important as his career.

For an ambitious person like Andrew I feel Terence is a perfect mentor. He justifies his method saying that toughness pays off, citing the apocryphal story of teacher Jo Jones throwing a Cymbal at the head of Charlie Parker that motivated him to practice harder and become the great jazz musician he turned out to be.  Fletcher argues “There are no two words in the English language more harmful than good job”.

Last thing you will hear about a movie related to music is that watching it on the edge of the seat with its fast paced narrative and editing.  Whiplash is gripping and keeps the audience attentive and sometimes even feels like psychological thriller.

Whiplash throughout the film remains focused on the music along with its essentials about characters. The final showdown is nothing short crescendo for the film. Every characteristic of both the characters is explored in the scene along with its dedication towards music. It provides the necessary finale the film deserved.

– Sumit Chinchane

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The Bolly Trinity of 2014: Haider, Ankhon Dekhi , Ugly

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For Hindi movies I don’t think this year can be called a very significant one as most of the movies that got released were remakes of South Indian movies and we see big stars opting for same to earn some easy money. But certainly some wonderful movies were produced in 2014 which really stand out.  Here is an attempt to write what I loved about these three movies which I think stand out of the movies produced this year.

Haider

haiderWhenever, Vishal Bharadwaj adapts one of Shakespeare’s works it is a treat to watch and Haider is no exception. He has chosen picturesque Kashmir for adaptation of Hamlet. The issue at hand is the conflicts between the Indian army and native population in mid-nineties where Kashmiri people are toiled between militants and separatists. This issue is showcased like no one has done ever before and fits right in.

Haider is a very clever take on Hamlet. It staggeringly departs from original piece yet stays loyal to it on some fronts. In the first half Haider is an articulate take on disappearances and poignant drama, the unrest and uncertainty in Kashmir during that period. The plot from the play only kicks in with the entry of Roohdar (Irfan Khan) with audacious background music who is supposed to be the ghost from the film. Gravedigger scene is as chilling in the play as in the movie.

The performances by actors what makes movie stand out. Tabu is the pick of actors in Haider. Her Ghazala is a heartbreaking character with all passion and preening and perpetually inappropriate relationships. Shahid Kapoor and Kay Kay Menon are brilliant as well. We come across a little dazzling black humour as well when we come across Salman and Salman. It is evidently one of the finest Hindi movies produced this year.

 Ankhon Dekhi

Ankhon Dekhi is humrous and sarcastic take on the approach an individual takes to live Ankhon-Dekhi-Posterhis life. Ankhon Dekhi, set in old Delhi (an authentic version of it) is the story of Bauji ( Sanjay Mishra) and his family. One day Bauji gets an epiphany and decides to believe only in what he can see for himself refusing to go with accepted truth and we get to ride with his humorous yet thoughtful endeavours. All along the movie, Bauji, in his whimsical ways tries to establish a fundamental concept of “Truth is not same for everybody. One person’s truth may not be the truth for the other person”.

The setting of Ankhon dekhi , their house, the jobs people in the movie do, friends  they have, problems they face , all of it are ubiquitous in any average middle class Indian joint family.  All of it feels natural and one can easily identify with the situations the Baujee’s family come across.

The striking feature of the movie is its ensemble cast at the heart of which is spectacular Sanjay Mishra. We have his drama queen wife Seema Pahwa and his brother Rajat Kapoor among others. All of them deliver natural performances. Background music and songs are like you are hearing them in the serene winter mist.

It sets up the mood of the scenes. With ‘Ankhon Dekhi’ saying a lot of things but never becomes preachy anywhere. It establishes the message it wants to convey in a modest and a practical narrative. After all, we don’t have to go across the world to experience things and learn from them, everything could be found around us. One just needs an eye to look for it and assimilate.

Ugly

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It’s an Anurag Kashyap movie.  Period. Not Anurag Kashyap’s finest I would say but certainly noteworthy. Like all other Kashyap  movies Ugly is take on the darker (read Ugly) side of human beings, the one which every individual would like to hide, the other half of human conscience which is discomforting, bigotry and evil. It is a story of kidnapping of a little girl and how people around her ready to take advantage of the situation.

The movie is a dark thriller. Situations, people, locations like the sound proof torture rooms, sleazy restaurants and dance bars, dialogues, everything seems so real but disturbing and discomforting. Audience is left clueless in a frenzy of scepticism about who could have kidnapped the little girl amidst every other character lying to everyone else. At every juncture morality of the characters comes into question.

Ugly is story of what people are and what really they can become.It is not an easy watch.

Anurag Kashyap proves a point here: to make a remarkable film a star or a well known actor is not required. People who act well and are fit for the role can make as spectacular film.

Queen would have certainly made this list. But, I plan to write a complete piece on the movie. Other honorary mentions would be of Highway and Dedh Isquiya  and I have not seen PK , Miss Lovely and Sulemaani Keeda.

Ankhon Dekhi – I believed in What I Saw

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Atmosphere for Hindi movies with the matter of quality is not very good these days. On the other hand with the matter of quantity of money they are earning, movies are touching skies. In this foray of ridicule some filmmakers do manage to do well.

In the first place I see no reason whatsoever why an ordinary person would go and watch Ankhon Dekhi’ in theatres. Reasons are so obvious; it has no superstar, no ‘fancy’ heroines, no item songs, and no big budget, not directors whose previous movies made big bucks and not even a remake of any South Indian movie. Some would even wonder how anything without one of these ingredients could be qualified as a movie. Rajat Kapoor’s Ankhon Dekhi may not fit into definition of movies for most of the Indians but sure is one of the best movies produced this year.

Ankhon Dekhi, set in old Delhi (an authentic version of it) is the story of Bauji ( Sanjay Mishra) and his family. This is the part of India, where ‘ghar ke bujurg’ take all the decisions. This is a family where Bauji his wife and children live with his brother Rishi (Rajat Kapoor) and his wife and son.

One day Bauji gets an epiphany and decides to believe only in what he can see for himself refusing to go with accepted truth. Here becomes the quest for truth and we are audience is presented with numerous comic setups. One where Bauji, eats Prahsad and says “Kalakand tha, acha tha, swadisht tha”, and later, when the annoyed priest asks him if he will accept the presence of God only if He makes an appearance, Bauji says that that would be ideal. Imagine what it would be like, he says, “Yahan baithke chai pee rahe hain, Shiv ji ke saath.” In another encounter with the school teacher Bauji disputes how come Parallel lines could be called Parallel if they meet at infinity. Bauji, a travel agent by profession, finds it difficult to sale tickets to places like Amsterdam which he has not seen, or by far is refuses to guarantee the time the flight takes to reach there and quits his job from the place he thinks telling lies is part and parcel of his job.

All along the movie, Bauji, in his whimsical ways tries to establish a fundamental concept of “Truth is not same for everybody. One person’s truth may not be the truth for the other person”. In his pursuit for truth, Bauji gathers a bunch of motley disciples, who first make fun of him and joke about his theories but then follow his every word. They are with Bauji all the time accepting him as their Guru and following is every word. Quite ironical is the fact that Bauji preaching about believing only in things that can be validated and his followers are blindly flocking him.

Bauji serves us with a lot of eccentricities. In one scene, we see him on the roads, holding up a sign that advises people to open their eyes and trust only what they can see – and yet, this doesn’t build into anything. It just is. Bauji then takes a vow of silence, then start gambling, the decision to do away with borders on Rita’s (his daughter) wedding invitations and all this things are just there. I did not know what to take out of it. It should be heading somewhere and would not have been included simply to humor viewers.

The striking feature of the movie is its ensemble cast at the heart of which is spectacular Sanjay Mishra. We have his drama queen wife Seema Pahwa and his brother a Rajat Kapoor among others. All of them deliver natural performances. Background music and songs are like you are hearing them in the serene winter mist. It sets up the mood of the scenes.

With ‘Ankhon Dekhi’ saying a lot of things but never becomes preachy anywhere. It establishes the message it wants to convey in a modest and a practical narrative. After all, we don’t have to go across the world to experience things and learn from them, everything could be found around us. One just needs an eye to look for it and assimilate.

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Her – Inconceivable … Yet so Credible

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her_1‘HER’ is beautiful.

There are science fiction movies, there are AI movies and there are romantic comedies and then there is ‘Her’. Spike Jonze presents us with a Sui Generis combination of all these in a single movie.  ‘Her’ is not about technological advances, it is not about those science fiction flicks wherein machines just take over the mankind and establish themselves above humans to rule the world in some or the other way. Yes, in a way it is similar to the futuristic movies where people are in search of truth about themselves and society, but in altogether different way.

‘Her’ takes place in near future. We have our protagonist Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix), a divorced, lonely man who has an incredible job of composing letters on behalf of people who’re too busy to write to their loved ones.  He purchases a new OS which is interacting. Interacting doesn’t only mean to accept commands and reply in robotic voices, but also features lovely voice of Scarlet Johansson who names itself as Samantha. Initially, it performs tasks like organising Mailbox among lot of other stuff. But this OS Is not limited to perform mundane activities but it evolves itself and learns about Theodore by reading his mails and voice patterns and the two began having conversations and gradually fall in love.

‘Her’ deals with tender emotions of isolation and solitude which tech savvy and people dependent on virtual social world are facing.  It goes beyond and tries to discover a healthy romantic relationship that is possible between a man and machine.

Samantha does not exist physically but she is always there with Theodore through his mobile phone linked with his OS. He goes around the city having  his mobile phone stuck in his Shirt pocket and Samantha peeping out of it in the form of a camera and hissing in his ears through the earphones. see Theodore taking his cell phone on a date to the beach, whispering sweet nothings into the microphone. This makes for a lovely scene as does the scene where Theodore’s colleague and his girlfriend suggest that they go out on a double date. But Jonze stretches his idea a little thin when he gives us a scene in which Samantha recruits a surrogate to have sex with Theodore on her behalf, speaking to him through an earpiece.

                Excellent background score with lot of melancholy preserves the integrity of every scene. With his orange and bright shirts when Theodor’s mood is all gay; with his pants up to his ribs presents how careless he is about his outer appearances.  In every frame when Theodore is talking to Samantha we have  him and other people wearing bright colours and the tall skyscrapers look black and white as if they don’t deserve any importance.

Apart from one of the best performance coming out of Joaquin Phoenix and Scarlet Johansson we also have wonderful Amy Adams in role of Theodor’s friend best friend.

Many things could be said about the movie. But I would like to avoid spoilers and stop here.

Well, with all this ‘Awards Buzz’ going around, ‘Her’ may not get an Oscar given the so called ‘Standards’ of Academy for judging any film. For me by far it was one of the best films I have ever seen. More than accolades it gets, I would like to satisfy myself with a sweet smile that appeared on my face so many times while watching ‘Her’.

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Hysteresis – Of Felons and Of Thugs and Of Criminals

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scarface_al_pacino_little_friendI wish sometimes wish I had life of a criminal, a gangster or a murderer or at least a person who wants to seek vengeance.  At least I would have had a purpose and some madness and an iota full of passion about something. When you read this you would find me a mind wobbling person and that I am not. I am a person of that you would find in every crowd, someone who will easily go unnoticed because I am not special or heroic. The description promises a man full of insanity but I guarantee you that apparently you wouldn’t find someone saner than me. These are just the feelings I get when there I have an empty mind and an empty stomach and nothing to eat. Yes it is the Sunday evening now and after a boring day of happenings or rather of no happenings I am just letting my thoughts flow free wherever they want.

Coming back to all the crappy thoughts (as they may seem) ; they all are due to imagesthat criminal, detective, gory movies where gangsters and murderers are presented in such lavish fashion that you  want to be one. I feel nothing wrong for someone who wants to be one of them because I believe you always want to be a person you are not. As a matter of fact today I am talking about those stylish smugglers, killers, drug lords and other verbatim wearing Armani and glaring Ray Ban’s having Colt’s in pockets sitting in those dim lit bars or night club with hot women; folks who have risen from a filthy and low life to be a so called respected men in ‘different’ circles of society. It seems like   you want to be with them intending to watch yourselves in their shoes.

But this is not the only reason I want to be like them or it is not just because they have such a lifestyle that I envy them. It is because these people are full of imagesconviction, deep in self-belief and courageous like no one else. They have the readiness for anything they decide to do and go to till the end. The aura that surrounds them is huge and very much influencing. You surely want your neighbourhood to afraid of you! Why wouldn’t you want to follow the ‘good’ words of Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson) from ‘The Departed’?

“I don’t wanna be a product of my environment. I want my environment to be a product of me.”

But this all you feel when you are inside a dark hall where magical light falls on a huge white screen in front of you. It is a temporary effect and sometimes it comes back as hysteresis. I would definitely not want to be a thug!

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Oscar Spree – Django Unchained, Lincoln, Argo

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Very well, this week I was on a spree to check out the movies nominated for Oscars. I was not able to see all of them but managed to accomplish three of them which I would say were fabulous. Django Unchained – A Tarantinoian (that should be the genre of movies directed by Quentin Tarantino),  Lincoln – A political masterpiece with perfect blend of drama with some of the finest actors alive in the present times, Argo – a movie about a fake movie and a wonderfully crafted tale.

Django Unchained

django-unchained-posterWhen the credits of a movie say that it is directed by Quentin Tarantino, enough is already said about it. This man has his own peculiarities. The script of his movie was released by him on his official website even before screening began. What we have for our eyes when movie releases is an array of bold, gory, humorous and exceedingly stylish characters in the times when slavery was prevalent in America wherein a slave named Django is made free by a bounty hunter and they act a drama to free enslaved wife of  Django. Tarantino has a cast assembled that has the chemistry and feel already that you can imagine no one else playing every single role. He has masterfully directed every aspect.

There is something distinctive about Tarantino’s movie which has always fascinated me is the level to which he takes his every scene. It begins at some place with short discussions and then it reaches to a level like each and every scene has a climax like any movie has. In short, his single movie is a bunch of short movies each of which have an out of ordinary climax. Thus, you are treated with a number of movies at the cost of single movie and Django doesn’t disappoint in this respect.

The violence is outsize, epic, enormous, bloody – but not disturbing, and not dehumanizing. There’s a place for violence onscreen, and this is the place, a Quentin Tarantino movie. Just as there was nothing dispiriting about watching Hitler get his in “Inglourious Basterds” – it was about time – the same could be said for the events in “Django Unchained.” And if Tarantino next time wants to give an alter of history for something else he should be provided full support.

Lincoln

lincolnDirected by Steven Spielberg Lincoln is not to be confused with a comprehensive life story of one of the most influential people to ever live on earth. Rather, it focuses on the last four months of Abraham Lincoln which was vital period of his life for which he is known to make a mark in the world history. It was the period when amendment in the constitution was to be made for abolishing slavery. It was matter of 20 Democratic votes which were required to pass the Amendment for which they were bribed and promised lot of opportunities. But it was all for a moral cause. As in the end it is truly pointed out

“The greatest measure of the Nineteenth Century. Passed by corruption, aided and abetted by the purest man in America.”

Movie is a small chronicle which makes it possible to provides in-depth political details of that period and  makes it stand out of other biographical accounts.

The greatest takeaway from Lincoln, of course, is the performances. While Tommy Lee Jones is excellent in this author-backed character of Thaddeus Stevens, Lincoln is all about Daniel Day-Lewis. It is like this man had a time machine and has gone back to Nineteenth century several times to study and research Lincoln himself. He has played the role to such an effect and naturalism that it seems we are watching and hearing Lincoln himself.

The best thing about movies is its script. Dialogues are wordy but effective, replete with humour. Lincoln is shown to be a person who while making his point always begins with a story and make a critical situation lighter and steer the conversation to his way. Overall, Lincoln is perfect, comprehensive and exhaustive account of only four but crucial months in American history.

Argo

argo-1In first appearance heard or read about Argo it would look like a typical Hollywood CIA thriller. But no, to prove yourself wrong you need to watch this movie. It is a CIA thriller without any gunfire and based on a true story. Ben Affleck pulls out a wonderful tale of escape of six Americans from Iran. When this people have to be moved out of Iran they are required to cover and hide the fact that they are Americans. For this Ben Affleck in the lead character of CIA agent who is expert in exfiltration comes out with an idea of a fake movie and covering those Americans as a film crew.

Argo in its most of the time is busy in making preparations for this escape. The producer and make up  man and Ben Affleck make it an effort to feel the movie to be real for Iranians. Trainings and tension regarding preparations for escape among the exfils is demonstrated fantastically. Argo, makes a perfect thriller drama in all respects without any out of the world spies, agents, guns or gadgets.

There will be Blood – Story of an “Oilman”

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There Will Be BloodHow would a person who calls himself an “Oilman” sound like?

It is deep, greasy, reassuring, absolutely sure of itself, and of a true businessman who is curiously fraudulent. No man who sounds this forthright could be someone other than a liar.  Daniel-day-Lewis in his movie “There will be blood” perfectly defines himself in the character of Plainview. The way he speaks, he can bring anyone on his side. When the movie begins, for some time we don’t hear any voices but for the first time when the protagonist begins to speak, he starts with bio of his life and calls himself an “Oilman” which he says is probably only 1 out of 20 persons and we come across a middle-aged figure with a stiff face and a firm mustache speaking  in front of a bunch of people convincing them to give their land to him for drilling.

How would a person who calls himself an “Oilman” look like?

First appearance would be certainly deceiving for people who take Plainview for a businessman. He is field man, a person who started his journey of being an “oilman” searching for silver and ultimately ended up drilling gallons of oil. He has mustache and a light beard, his face is some wrinkles and overall a look of strong, confident, greedy and self-centered man. His voice, his posture, his attitude, and everything that you see and hear will give  you an idea of how ambitious a man could be and at what level he could go.


How would be his life?

“Oilman” is a loner. He has no women in his life but has an adopted child who is only support for any work he does and someone who’s innocence can be useful for his business. But he has immense love for him. For some part he finds his half-brother who for some time remains to be a person who Plainview can confide with in his ambitious endeavors. He makes a living searching for oil moving place to place and has an aim in his life to make the biggest contract of his life with the Union Oil company.

This all makes Daniel Day-Lewis in the character of an “Oilman”, a monster size human being who hates everybody including himself.

Who in the movie is as interesting as “oilman” ?

there-will-be-blood-eli-plainviewOne of the striking features of the movie are the contrasting characters of a preacher name Eli in the village where Plainview wants to begin his most ambitious project. Eli is an evangelical preacher whose only goal is to extract money from Plainview to build his church, the Church of the Third Revelation. Plainview goes along with him until the time comes to dedicate his first well. Each has humiliated the other in public — Plainview slapping Eli for being a fake healer, and Eli returning the blows later as Plainview, who views God as a superstition, agrees to a baptism to gain land. the false Prophet to blackmail the misanthrope in the mansion greed built — all bloody hell breaks loose. The ending is relentless.

Why watch “oilman”?

There Will Be Blood is an achievement in cinematography, acting, writing and film-making.Sound is also crucial, even in its absence, to reflect H.W.’s silent world.  It is a film that puts its focus on wholly unlikable characters and dares to take you in deeper despite this fact. It is a character study of a man who you would not normally want to know and who you will be unable to forget about after it is all said and done. Overall, it is a powerful and emotionally draining experience.

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Cinema Paradiso – A Love Letter Written to Movies

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cinema-paradisoAlways I have wondered why people like movies so much. But I wasn’t aware of the real answer until I saw this incredible movie “Cinema Paradiso”. This movie, the way I take it, is not about its story or characters but about how over these years people have lived cinema and cherished it. It has formed an important part of people’s lives and has been held to heart by them. We have only heard stories of how people laughed and cried with movies, killed for movies and thought their lives were like the life of people in the movies but this film demonstrates them in a charming and elegant way.

Every little thing in the movie makes you to fall in love with it. Imagine a country side in beautiful Italy, simple people, a small street with a theater which is the only one in the town, movies in the theater are censored by a priest in the village church, a bunch of crazy people for every single movie shown in the theater and in particular a cute little boy always curious about the way the movies are projected.

You become familiar with some of the regular customers at the theater. They are a noisy lot – rude critics, who shout suggestions at the screen and are scornful of heroes who do not take their advice. Romances are launched in the darkness of the theater, friendships are sealed, wine is drunk, cigarettes smoked, babies nursed, feet stomped, victories cheered, sissies whistled at, and only god knows how this crowd would react if they were ever permitted to see a kiss.

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It is a story of a Toto the little boy who shares a wonderful friendly relationship with the projectionist Alfredo. Alfredo teaches him how to project films after chasing him couple of times. In between the theater catches fire and Alfredo looses his eyes. Toto now starts projecting films. Toto when he grows old leaves the country side to become a great movie director. This is a very simple sounding story of the movie.  But the way  movie is produced is extra ordinarily magnificent. It has some of the beautifully shots of Italy. Conversations between Toto and Alfredo are mesmerizing.

imagesThis movie is chronicle of beginning days of television and how in that period people enjoyed movies like nothing. In one of the scenes even in the late night when after theater is closed on public demand the movie is screened on the wall outside. Thus, one could easily comprehend how frenzied people were in those times for movies.

The movie could thus be described as a classic, nostalgic, timeless, bitter, naughty, inspirational, about friendship, about relationships, about love and above all about a movie about love for the movies.

Ardh Satya – Cop Story with a Difference

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ardh-satyaMovie audiences over 100 years of Indian cinema are fed with all sorts of police officers who in their mindless action films are lost in fake patriotism and who go all nuts over their profession and look fascinating just on the virtue of their dramatic dialogues and style. ‘Ardha Satya’ scores the difference here. It is a portrayal of an officer who is lost in his trials and tribunals. He is honest, justice-seeking but somewhere he is ill trodden by the system not in his beliefs but his deeds. The focal aspect of the movie is its reality and presentation of the cop who looks a normal human being and is a person who is not some stereotype superhuman which would have been the easy way to go for a cop movie.

Ardh Satya is story of Anant Velankar(Om Puri) who in the first place had no intention of joining the police force. But due to the pressure of his father he is forced to join the police force. Now as he has joined it he wants to work efficiently but the system won’t let him to. Due to some incident he has to seek help of some politician in Delhi to get out of the situation.  This corrupt behaviour troubles him. Also, he all through his life feels guilty of being inactive when his mother is beaten by his father. He is angry because his credit for his stolen away for him and bestowed upong someone else. This all leads to his extensive drinking habit. It is not just a cop story but a story of Anant’s dedication to his job, his frustration, his deterioration and fall from grace.

The most crucial scenes in the movie are sequences between Anant and Jyotsna played by Smita Patil. Their relationship does not have much romanticism but has humanity and respect. Om Puri’s character takes shape from various conversations that these two have. The pivotal sequence being the one in which Jyotsna gives Anant a poem to read from which movie derives its name. As Anant reads the poem, towards the end his smile fades away and his voice becomes morbid and subdued. (The poem is given below).

Chakravyuh mein ghusne se pehle,
kaun tha mein aur kaisa tha,
yeh mujhe yaad hi na rahega.

Chakravyuh mein ghusne ke baad,
mere aur chakravyuh ke beech,
sirf ek jaanleva nikat’ta thi,
iska mujhe pata hi na chalega.

Chakravyuh se nikalne ke baad,
main mukt ho jaoon bhale hi,
phir bhi chakravyuh ki rachna mein
farq hi na padega.

Marun ya maarun,
maara jaoon ya jaan se maardun.
iska faisla kabhi na ho paayega.

Soya hua aadmi jab
neend se uthkar chalna shuru karta hai,
tab sapnon ka sansar use,
dobara dikh hi na paayega.

Us roshni mein jo nirnay ki roshni hai
sab kuchh s’maan hoga kya?

Ek palde mein napunsakta,
ek palde mein paurush,
aur theek taraazu ke kaante par
ardh satya

Chakravyuh recited by Om Puri in the movie

Jyotna’s character is quite important as it shapes the protagonists. Many a times when drunken Anant calls her she doesn’t like it. After reading so many bad cop stories she is under the belief that if Anant has to marry her he has to leave his job. Anant now with his challenging job and his inability to act in some situations finds himself in between manhood and impotence and ultimately frustrated. He has gone astray in this half-truth(ardh satya).

Anant’s relationships with those who surround him are aptly portrayed. Even the portrayal of his relationship with his parents, in spite of the minimal screen time it is given, is spot on and is very troubling.

In the acting department film is superb. Om Puri all the way leads them all. He captures Anant’s honesty, determination, anger and devastation with sheer intensity, and is always moving, credible and convincing. The support cast which has very limited screen time is wonderfully played by Amrish Puri (Anant’s father), Sadashiv Amrapurkar(Rama Shetty) and Shafi Inamdar (Anant’s senior officer). Last but not least Smita Patil is incredible in the film. She looks natural, tender and provides warmth that is missing in the film. Also, when drunken Anant calls her, he is never shown; in the frame we see Smita Patil, her expressions of anxiety, anger and care for Anant simply flow out.

The film is blessed with wonderful direction of Govind Nilhani and screenplay by Vijay Tendulkar. Movie has certain scenes in which a close up shot of Om Puri is taken in his anger and you are left enthralled by its sheer intensity. Towards the climax when Om Puri expresses his devastation in front of Smita Patil is one of the finest scenes of the film wherein she is calm and listening quietly to Om Puri and lends him a hand of support but just withdraws it. The film’s climax is most unexpected and fills viewers’ mind with lots of questions. Overall, this movie, considered to be a landmark in Indian cinema with its meticulously written characters is excellent and absorbing.