Trailer Tales: Toilet Ek Prem Katha

Bhumi Pednekar is back to shine, Akshay Kumar shines as always…

Bhumi Pednekar make a startling debut in Dum Laga Ke Haisha. Her talent was praised by everyone, and I think the same would happen after the release of Toilet Ek Prem Katha. She looks very convincing. And Akshay Kumar seems, as always, promising enough! 

The story goes like Akshay Kumar (Keshav) has one aim in life – to get married. He falls in love with a more modern woman, played by Pednekar (Jaya), and they eventually get married. But all hell breaks loose when after marriage, Jaya finds out that Keshav’s house doesn’t have a toilet and she leaves the house and goes off, maybe to her parents home only to return if a toilet is made. 

The film, apart from being a love story deals with the subject of so many Indian’s having to use natural areas, like farms, rivers, forests, etc instead of a toilet. It’s high time someone spoke about it! 

Image Credits: YouTube 

A Death in the Gunj: Is Konkona Sensharma perhaps the new Satyajit Ray? 

This is a kind of a film that Sensharma would have been a part of as an actor…

We are all very well versed with Konkona Sensharma’s ability as an actor. With movies like Mr and Mrs Iyer, Omkara, Wake Up Sid and more to her credit, she’s proved to the world that she is an excellent actor, with perfection being her forte. A Death in the Gunj is her first attempt at direction and that too is an example of excellence of art.

a-death-in-the-gunj-tiff
Google

There always are certain movies that you watch and think:

  1. It couldn’t have gotten better.
  2. I haven’t seen such a beautiful work of art in long.
  3. I am not even going to watch a film as good in a long time.

That is A Death in the Gunj for you.

The film traces the story of Shutu (Vikrant Massey), who is the unsaid protagonist – a 23 year old student who is considered to be a child by everyone else. Shutu, along with his family – Nandu (Gulshan Devaiah), his wife Bonnie (Tillotama Shome), their daughter Tani (Arya Sharma) and Mimi (Kalki Koechlin) have come to visit Aunty (Tanuja Mukherjee) and Uncle (Om Puri) in McCluskieganj for New Years. There also are Brian (Jim Sarbh) and Vikram (Ranvir Shorey) who are Nandu’s friends. The film is about this dysfunctional family and how they go about the daily chores of life, sexual tension between some of them and their approach towards gender differences.

A Death in the Gunj is the retelling of real life incidents from Sensharma’s life. She traces the stories her parents used to tell her and carves a screenplay that is far away from artifice. It’s so good! The dialogues are short and crisp. While some of them are written in Hindi, most of them are in English, and that is what creates more of an impact.

aditg33
Google

With an ensemble cast of nine actors which includes a kid, A Death in the Gunj could have just fallen apart. But all the actors play their parts with equal grace and everything is in place. Gulshan Devaiah, Jim Sarbh, Om Puri, Tanuja Mukherjee and Tillotama Shome are all fine actors. No one has acted too much or too little. Kalki Koechlin and Ranvir Shorey are way beyond praise. Kalki’s portrayal of a broken Mimi, deprived of love is outstanding. The way she can seduce a man or even smoke a cigarette, are outstanding. The anger in Shorey’s eyes, the sense of superiority in his tone and the robustness of his body are all marvellous. But, among the entire cast, Vikrant Massey and Arya Sharma are standouts. I remember watching Massey in Lootera and falling in love with his craft. He is perfect as Shutu – there couldn’t have been a better alternative. As far as Arya is concerned, she has a long way to go.

Again, what is best in this thriller is the writing. It was like reading an Agatha Christie book. You will never know who is to actually die. Is it Tani, is it Shutu, or Vikram, or Mimi or someone else? Watch the movie to find out. Also, it is very difficult to not feel a part of this family. Sagar Desai’s background score is haunting. It sets the mood right as it compliments the writing in a very beautiful fashion.

aditg
Google

 

Update: When I saw A Death In The Gunj for the second time, I noticed things I couldn’t have noticed had I not watched it again. This film not only belongs to Vikrant Massey and Aarya Sharma but equally to Kalki Koechlin too. She brings to the table different nuances of Mimi’s life, whether it’s the sexual tension inside of her, or a part of her, that maybe secretly loves. And as I pointed earlier, the biggest jewel in this crown is Sensharma’s writing. And we have seen such writing – with a smooth flair, a place for comedy, for tragedy even – earlier. But almost only once before this. Sensharma’s writing is, in fact, very close to Satyajit Ray’s. She’s not only a gifted writer, but over the years, she has definitely mastered her art, maybe through acting!
All in all, I will definitely recommend A Death in the Gunj to everyone whenever it releases, or if you can, catch a special screening like I did.

If I had to rate the film, 1200 seats hain Liberty Cinema mein. And it was house full. Soch lo what you might be missing…

Watch the trailer here:

Trailer Tales: Sonata

A film with three women is not always a feminist film…

When a film boasts of the director being Aparna Sen while the cast includes Aparna herself, Lillete Dubey and Shabana Azmi, you sure have to watch it, don’t you?

IMG_5777

Sen’s Sonata deals with the mid life crisis of these three (unmarried) women, as they go about life in one apartment, sipping wine, lusting over men in briefs and all this while, making sure that no one hears their conversations.

 
Based on Mahesh Elkunchwar’s play, Sonata talks about the complexities and isolation that these three women – a journalist, a professor and a banker – have to deal with while going about their so called modern life. All of them have different backgrounds, despite which, in fact because of which, they manage to cherish each other. And if you’re thinking that three women on screen means a feminist film, you’re wrong. Dubey has clearly mentioned in the trailer, “we are not even feminists.”

 
If nothing, you have to watch Sonata for the performances by the three ladies, specially Shabana Azmi. We hope the movie delivers as much as the trailer does, but of course it will! It’s Aparna Sen for Gods sake! Also, the trailer has Emily Dickinson’s celebrated poem, ‘Because I could not wait for Death’ in it, so double yay! 

 
Watch the trailer here:

Kaabil: Rests on Performances

Kaabil is a poorly written film but Hrithik Roshan and Yami Gautam lift this clanky narrative, especially Hrithik…

kaabil9

The story is about Rohan Bhatnagar and Supriya who are blind. They meet at a coffee shop and this meeting leads to marriage. This love story finally takes a tragic turn and then this blind man seeks revenge.

That’s all Kaabil is about. Though the story is predictable, there are certain twists and turns in the film that blow your mind. The first half is a beautiful love story, but it’s too stretched. It is the second half where director Sanjay Gupta loses his grip over the film which is then just all over the place. The narrative loses its charm very soon into the film and there isn’t much to offer because you know what is coming. The action seems good initially, but becomes repetitive very soon. The over digitisation of the landscape is something that doesn’t really work in Hindi cinema, but you’ll see it here.

kaabil-5

There is a scene in the film that I really loved. Which is when Rohan and Su are in a mall and they get separated. The tension on their face, the sense of losing each other and the desire to find one another is outright beautiful.

The film also defies logic. Sanjay Gupta has paid attention while carving out the characters of Rohan and Su but not enough while forming the others and that’s where the logic lacks. For example, a fogging machine is all Rohan needs to fool the policemen and a politician moves about without any security.

Brothers Ronit and Rohit Roy play the villains, but they aren’t villainous enough. Their characters seemed to have been borrowed from old times.

kaabil-9

But, there is icing on this half baked cake, and that is the performance by Hrithik Roshan. His love for his wife and genuineness to seek revenge is something I bought into very soon. Also, minutes into the film he makes you believe he is actually blind, even during the songs.

Yami Gautam acts like the cherry on the cake. She is radiant and her performance is as genuine as Hrithik’s. After films like Total Siyyapa, Action Jackson, Sanam Re and Junooniyat, I had completely lost all my hopes in her, but here she proves me wrong.

But no matter how good she is, Kaabil is a Hrithik Roshan show. And the chemistry between Hrithik Roshan and Yami Gautam is just perfect.

kaabil-2

All in all, with powerful performances and a beautiful first half, Kaabil is one time watch.

If I had to rate the film, 3 minute ka item number hai Urvashi Rautela has, but she’s just too bland…

The Chasm of Relationships

Have our relationships grown too much on us?

The Hindi film industry is blessed with certain writers, directors and producers who do not shy away from talking about bold relationships. Today, they don’t think that they need a Paris runway to make a film work. It can just be about something we see everyday, something that the social eye generally ignores, something that is hidden, concealed. And relationships outside of social conduct are a good example of the same. Let us look at some of the films in Hindi cinema that talk about the same. (I know that I might get criticism regarding the fact that I’ve only chosen some recent films, but those are the ones I’ve actually watched and those that came to my mind when I thought about the topic).

Haraamkhor

Starting off with the latest release, Haraamkhor. Shweta Tripathi and Nawazuddin Siddiqui’s Haraamkhor primarily deals with an illicit relationship between a teacher and a (minor) student and how he uses her just for the sake of sexual pleasure. This man is a very horny man, who if looks at Sandhya (Tripathi), you feel sorry for her. Now such relationships, or rather forced relationships do exist in our country, maybe not so much in places where people are educated enough, but they do exist in a large part of rural India. Even though the movie tells us that Sandhya is happy to be in that relationship, she actually isn’t. Shyam (Siddiqui) seems to have casted a veil over her and moreover, that is the only thing she knows. Early into the film we are told that he has tricked her into having a relationship with her by lying to her. Many people I discussed this film with said that this is a common thing to happen to uneducated people. But, wasn’t Sandhya already in a school and wasn’t Shyam a teacher? All the other characters – her father is in the police, the mistress is a nurse – are educated too. So it isn’t really about education. Sometimes, our desires go beyond what they actually should and we tend to break social boundaries. Shyam isn’t deprived of a sexual relationship. He already has one with his wife, but it’s his greed and horniness that drives him to fool Sandhya into believing in a thing called love.

The Dirty Picture

How far can a person go to get things his way? And more importantly, how long can he/she sustain on that? In The Dirty Picture, Vidya Balan played a very controversial character. Silk aroused a lot of questions and dilemmas in a lot of people’s heads. Her outlook towards life, and particularly towards her sexual life. She did not confine herself to men she would fall in love with. If work was getting done and as long as she was climbing the ladder, she’d do anything, whether it included sleeping with Naseeruddin Shah or even his younger brother, played by Tusshar Kapoor. But little did Silk’s innocence realise the grasp of these patriarchal men, one of whom is married. Little did she know that she would never be more than a mistress. But why does the human heart take a leap towards such a relationship? Is this a general merger of love and career or is the desire to be successful so strong that you travel such paths? Who is to be blamed here though, in both the relationships? The men or the woman? Is the drive for sexual pleasure so eager that you search for it outside of marriage?

Cheeni Kum & Fire

Cheeni Kum traced the lives of Buddhadev Gupta (Amitabh Bachchan), a 64 year old man and Nina (Tabu), a 34 year old engineer. In the film, Balki talks about the essence of love based on the fact that love knows no boundaries of age and time. What follows is Buddhadev falls in live with Nina and the only boundary that remains is her father (Paresh Rawal), who is 6 years younger to him.

On the other hand, in Deepa Mehta’s Fire, the first instalment in the Elements Trilogy, she talks about a very intimate relationship between two women – Sita (Nandita Das) and Radha (Shabana Azmi) – of the same house, as their husbands find solace in mistresses.

Now, how blind is love? Did this man not see that the woman he is about to fall in love with is almost half his age? Did Sita and Radha not think about the relationship they share as sisters-in-law? Or was it that their love for each other was so strong to defy the social norms, while falling in love with a young woman (Cheeni Kum) or with another person of the same gender after being married to a man (Fire)? Whatever it was, both these movies talk about forbidden relationships, well at least socially, because ‘log kya kahenge’. And they talk about these relationships in great glory and that is exactly where the beauty of the films lie. We live in a society which has created ground rules for us, fair enough. But are those patriarchal rules still so prevalent? is it not high time that we readily accept, without resistance, if two people are in love – people of varied ages, people of the same sex, people from different social groups. For how long will we pretend to live in a chaos we ourselves have created and keep calling it the ‘calm’?

Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna

img_1611

Everyone knows about my love for Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna by now, hopefully. And if you didn’t, now you do. It is one of my favourite movies in Hindi cinema just because of the beauty of the relationships involved, that of Dev (Shah Rukh Khan) and Rhea (Preity Zinta), Dev and Maya (Rani Mukherjee), Maya and Rishi (Abhishek Bachchan) or even Sam (Amitabh Bachchan) and Kamaljeet (Kiron Kherr). Though, everyones favourite shall always remain the one between Dev and Maya, the one with the mistress (or the one with the mister). The human heart is an emotional fool. Here is a conversation between Dev and Maya from the very beginning of the film:

Dev: Go now, get married.

Maya: Aur agar woh pyaar mujhe shaadi ke baad mil jae toh?

Dev: Nahi dhoondogi toh nahi milega!

srk-rani-kank

In just a few dialogues the characters show how easy it is to fall out of marriages but at the same time it is not every difficult to make marriages work. But, there always is a void. There is an empty space, always, that you want to fill, maybe with some love. In order to make their marriages work (though there lies no love in their individual marriages), Dev and Maya decide to help each other and eventually fall in love.

But weren’t they helping each other? What happened? Did Maya finally give in to search for love? Was Dev too looking for love? Yes, maybe inside their marriages. But does the heart know where to go when set out? Don’t we tend to leap on to the closest pillar of support when we are at our worst?

Dev and Maya’s relationship was certainly wrong. Infidelity, even in other words, is infidelity. But there was love in it. Though there is no defending their wrong. There are ways in which you do things, and sometimes there are things you don’t do at all. But sometimes, in their defence, I feel that what could they have done? Living in an unhappy marriage is not easy, sleeping with someone you don’t want to everyday is not easy, having a child and wanting to break the marriage is also not easy, breaking the trust of a father is not easy.

We live in a society that is surrounded by unhappy marriages, particularly India. And I think I’d blame our social and cultural systems and boundaries for the same. Why is stepping out of an unhappy marriage wrong? Why are women or men, sometimes, so weak that they cannot say ‘it’s over’? Why does having a child mean staying together? I agree that as Indians we have a deep rooted culture we are bound to, but till when and why?

Ask yourself, how many couples you know exist in unhappy marriages? Of course they wont tell you, but you’ll know. You’ll see the signs. And if its an unhappy union of poeple, either end it or solve the problem. Because if your own home is broken, you have to blame yourself and not the mistress/mister. As Rhea rightly says:

Rhea: Kya baat hai Maya? Aaj mujhse nazare nahi mila paa rahi ho? Kyuki tumne mera ghar toda hai?

Maya looks up.

Rhea: Toote hue ko tum kya todti Maya…

2006-5-23_182116_kabhialvida05