ae-dil-hai-mushkil-shubhodeep-pal

In the first section of Amitav Ghosh’s The Great Derangement, a mind-opening book on the climate crisis, he traces — with great depth and clarity — why fiction has been unable to accommodate the present and impending crisis. He posits how, from origins of high fantasy, where the imagination soared and took acceptable leaps and bounds, fiction gradually evolved into its current avatar, with a single-minded focus on realism, and “individual moral adventure”. The extraordinary was relegated to the background — and there it lies currently. As a result, science fiction and fantasy were torn away from mainstream fiction, of which both were once soul and sap.

A gold rush for internet activists

In Ghosh’s thesis, and in our internet culture, we can find a diagnosis for our age of activism-affliction. While thinking about these two, I realised I would find no better pillar to lean on than a recently-released Bollywood film,  Ae Dil Hai Mushkil. After all, some Bollywood films are loyal to a certain fantastical vision that successfully draws the ire of the internet elite (no doubt unaware of the irony of calling a film “sooo filmy”). And in this ire, I believe we can find the symptoms of a different derangement.

Ghosh writes:

If literature is conceived of as the expression of authentic experience, then fiction will inevitably come to be seen as ‘false’. But to reproduce the world as it exists need not be the project of fiction; what fiction — and by this I mean not only the novel but also epic and myth — makes possible is to approach the world in a subjunctive mode, to conceive of it as if it were other than it is: in short, the great, irreplaceable potentiality of fiction is that it makes possible the imagining of possibilities.”

I suspect a similar project is underway in the world of films as well. After all, films are fiction; and many of them are adaptations of novels — hence, they are literature themselves.

In addition, along with the suspicion of fiction itself, and its ever-closing boundaries, we now also have an internet generation  that is feeding itself on half-baked knowledge. (The other half is internet memes.) As a result, we’re flooded with opinions — attached to worthy causes, no less — that nonetheless exhibit a startling blindness to the necessity of argumentation and contextualisation.

It is deemed progressive enough to have loudly demonstrated loyalty to a certain belief system (say feminism) with a rash of generic, chest-thumping statements, and then to comfortably retire into a cocoon of smugness and self-satisfaction. It can be no coincidence that companies looking to create popular advertisements are pressing writers to include groan-worthy angles of women power. Depth is unnecessary; abiding by certain tired tropes is good enough.

This mad rush to demonstrate a certain progressivism is now turning into a mass blindness (and hypocrisy) of  the internet elite.

In some reviews of Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, for instance, there is a familiar disapproval — a carefully practiced, holier-than-thou disavowal of a story about unrequited love. All this has been largely centred around how the characters behave. Unsurprisingly, many wonderful subversions of tired Bollywood tropes were lost in the mad dash to be the first to call the film out for various behavioural crimes.

Blindness or hypocrisy? 

First, can we please accept that we live in a world of complexity, and messy relationships, especially when it comes to romance? Often, at the level of the individual, morals and social mores break down when two people are “in love”. We know this from our past relationships, and those of others around us. Accepting this reality is not to condone such turbulence in relationships, but to acknowledge that they exist, and that — despite our best efforts — they will remain messy. Moreover, unravelling the many threads in romantic relationships is almost impossible no matter how progressive one’s outlook might be, especially because romance involves sex.

Think about the objections to Lisa Haydon’s character because she’s apparently with Ayan (Ranbir Kapoor) due to his wealth. Such straight-slamming is ironic. Largely because, in the garb of feminism, it would have you believe that there are no complex realities in romantic relationships. I suggest more research into the thriving world of sugar-daddies, ably aided by women with undeniable agency.

In How to Think More About Sex, Alain de Botton writes:

“Despite our best efforts to clean it of its peculiarities, sex will never be either simple or nice in the ways we might like it to be. It is not fundamentally democratic or kind; it is bound up with cruelty, transgression and the desire for subjugation and humiliation. It refuses to sit neatly on top of love, as it should. Tame it though we may try, sex has a recurring tendency to wreak havoc across our lives… Sex remains in absurd, and perhaps irreconcilable, conflict with some of our highest commitments and values.

…This is not to say that we cannot take steps to grow wiser about sex. We should simply realize that we will never entirely surmount the difficulties it throws our way. Our best hope should be a respectful accommodation with an anarchic and reckless power.”

Even as we grow wiser and kinder, we must not forget that taking a moral high ground on someone else’s love story is the ultimate act of hypocrisy. Most of us have said and heard, and have forgiven, and been forgiven for, saying and doing cruel things in love (and obviously I do not mean physical assault).

Real life — and love — is difficult business. And nowhere can this be experienced more than in this book review about the lives of two very famous people, one of whom is a feminist icon:

Many of the myths that surrounded Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir in their lifetimes were demolished when their private letters and journals were published after their deaths. Even Beauvoir’s legions of feminist admirers could no longer view them as role models for new forms of free love. By their own accounts, Sartre and Beauvoir were often selfish, callous and cruel, not least to third parties caught in their web.”

Have we not fought angrily and thrown around things, and then made up later? Has nobody ever sulked after being turned down by a girl, or a guy? How many people have actually asked before kissing someone? Should trying to kiss someone and then stopping (which happens in the film) when rebuffed — yet display some hurt — be called sexual assault? I worry then that many or most of us could be accused of some form of sexual assault. If donning the mask of feminism closes our eyes to the possibilities and complexities of human interactions, we might as well not wear it. The complexity of human interactions is the reason why it’s difficult to sue for emotional torture.

Context matters

It must be a sign of the times that opinions attached to admittedly worthy causes can be handed out with argument or attention to context. For instance, isn’t it a worthy subversion that Alizeh, who is not in love with Ayan has agency, and isn’t, ultimately, forced into loving the guy? Or, that the entry of the third other is not an exercise in mindlessly demonstrating that women are always keen to undermine each other? The sautan of Hindi films died in this film and nobody applauded. Neither did anyone notice a man admitting, of his own accord, that his ego was hurt at the unresponsiveness of the woman.

Of course, it’s a small matter that Ranbir Kapoor’s nuanced performance was one of the most extraordinary portrayals of a leading character well in touch with his feminine side. Look at the film again — look at his babydoll dance; his bag when he’s at the airport (did anyone even notice?); his gait at Alizeh’s wedding; the mehendi on his hands; his pretending to be a bride; his easy tears; his non-embrace of a macho indifference in the face of tumult. Karan Johar’s obvious influence is strong here, but it’s easy to miss when you’re looking for ways to rip apart a Bollywood love fantasy. In fact, it has been reduced to characterising Ayan as a man-child. Five years ago we would have said “kitna rota hai, ladki ke jaise”. Irony?

So barren is our imagination, and so dedicated are we to the task of claiming virtue for ourselves, that we’ve rid ourselves of the possibility of examining whether “he acts like a child / he cries too much / he is too emotionally needy / he acts like a girl” are precisely the acts of assigning a behavioural trait to a gender / age that is an easy escape from understanding others. When “maturity” is measured by arbitrary, and ever-changing, social diktats, how easy does it become to disparage those who don’t fall into our chosen moulds?

“You see I love you better each time and I want you worse each time, and I bruise more heart strings each new time I go away, until finally you’ll just have to realize my life means you always near, and I can’t be nice and unsarcastic and happy when you aren’t near…

When I sometimes think that someday you may be married to someone else and I may be lying awake at night when it’s dark and still and deep and thinking of you, I wonder how I can stand to realize your blue eyes belong to someone else and that I can’t even have so much as the touch of your hand… Please don’t be mad at me, Eve, and like me more than a little bit. Please, please, please, please, Eve.”

James Thurber’s letter to an unrequited love could have been Ayan’s words, but since this is a Bollywood film, we are contemptuous of the latter. (Let me not even explain that the exaggerated crying of Ayan after a break-up is actually a humorous jibe at those who take the idea of love too seriously. That would ruin the fun of an easy jibe at him.) I am sure some bright person might suggest that the letter, with its forceful words, could be tantamount to sexual harassment as well. Such are the times.

The unwillingness to look at, or uncover, nuance, is a new derangement. So is the blindness to fiction — and our hard-headed efforts to examine fiction against reality. But what is reality? Some moan that the characters are too rich, they have private jets, they party too much. What is reality? Our reality, we of the internet, who belong to maybe the top 10% of this country? I don’t remember the last time the help at home, or the man who drives our car said he didn’t like a film because people were too rich. For them, the 90%, it’s fantasy that works. Which reality is real? The reality we seek in films is also fiction for many. I wonder if the reason we rail against opulence in films is because we have enough money to aspire to — and grudge — such possessions.

The great internet derangement

What is it about our internet-addled lives that closes even the most intelligent minds to possibilities other than those they’ve declared as final? I have three reasons to offer.

First, in a time of excessive information, skimming is the easy way out. Learning something appears overwhelmingly difficult. Therefore, we learn a little of everything, but not much of anything. Second, we are seized by an overwhelming desire to create a progressive personality online, because it is the right thing to do. It is sufficient in this case to loudly affirm allegiance to a cause; often, without knowing much about it. Third, people on social media behave like a mob — a much more insidious form of peer pressure can be observed here — and we’re afraid to be on the wrong side of internet opinions. Therefore, we refrain from seeking answers when in doubt, and clutch at the lowest hanging opinion.

Ghosh argues that the word “moral” which has transcended its Protestant origins and entered literature as a secular force, defines much of fiction now, compelling us to pay attention to “individual moral adventures”. As a result, “sincerity and authenticity” have become “the greatest of virtues”.

I suspect this is why we now seek a greater understanding of ourselves as individuals, but are loath to offer any acceptance to alternatives. Ghosh says “just as novels have come to be seen as narratives of identity, so too has politics become, for many, a search for personal authenticity, a journey of self-discovery”. I wonder if this makes us blind to fantasy, to other thoughts, and to other people and their opinions. No suffering, no love, no opinion matters until it is conveniently straitjacketed into a moral framework of our choosing.

Today, it’s easy to dismiss Ayan’s behaviour as that of a man-child, despite his obvious difficulties in dealing with rebuffed love that is not alien to anyone. (If I were cruel enough, I’d point to the personal lives — and some choice incidents — of some people who have called him that.)

We are now doctors with a ready diagnosis — but without a remedy — for other people’s failings. After all, on the internet, preaching is practice.

Shubhodeep Pal is a Mumbai-based freelance writer and photographer.

NFDC Screenwriter's Lab

The 10th edition of NFDC Film Bazaar will run from November 20th to 24th 2016. It’s  a development bazaar created exclusively to encourage collaboration between the international and South Asian film fraternity. The Bazaar is focused on discovering, supporting and showcasing South Asian content and talent, in the realm of filmmaking, production and distribution.

 – The Film Bazaar Recommends (FBR) 32 films out of 164-feature length films (131 fiction features and 33 documentaries) submitted to the Viewing Room this year.

– It includes 5 feature length documentaries and 27 fiction features in 14 languages (including Hindi, English, Malayalam, Arabic, Marathi, Bengali, Punjabi, Nepali, Sinhalese, Tamil, Assamese, Dari, Pahadi and Japanese).

– This year Viewing Room has received films in 6 rare language films (including 3 rare language FBR Films) in Film Bazaar. The 6 rare languages are The Gold-Laden Sheep & The Sacred Mountain in Pahadi, The Bioscopewala in Dari, Sonar Baran Pakhi in Rajbangshi, Dongar Dei Paribi Naahin in Kui, Kho Ki Pa Lu in Chokri, and River Song in Shertukpen. There is also a silent film, The East Wind submitted to the Viewing Room.

– The 32 FBR filmmakers will pitch their trailers at the ‘Investor’s Pitch’ held on 22nd and 23rd November.

– The films submitted in Viewing Room are either just completed or still in progress, to be completed in 2017. Almost a 100 films presented at the Viewing Room are awaiting a world premiere and 60 are still in progress. Many of these films are looking for world sales agents, film festivals, buyers and distributors and also gap financing through co-producers and investors.

 

Viewing Room (VR) – 202 films in 19 different languages 

– 202 films in 19 different languages are presented in the Viewing Room reflecting the exciting diversity of South Asia as a cinema-producing region. In 2015, a total of 156 films were presented in the ‘Viewing Room’.

– 202 films in VR include 164-feature length films (131 fiction features and 33 documentaries) and 38 short films.

– The film bazaar is also giving a platform to a record number of over a 100 debut directors, thus is the largest showcase of fresh budding directorial talent from South Asia.

– There are also 38 short films, with duration under 60 minutes, which are available to watch in the Viewing Room.

– Out of the 32 FBR films, 4 films are also selected in the WIP Lab. These are Nimmo by Rahul Shanklya, Once Again by KanwalSethi, The Bioscopewala by Deb Medhekar and The Gold-Laden Sheep & the Sacred Mountain by RidhamJanve

– The FBR films are as following:

FICTION FILMS

1) Nimmo by Rahul Shanklya

Language- Hindi (Also in WIP Lab)

2) Once Again by Kanwal Sethi

Language- Hindi (Also in WIP Lab)

3) The Bioscopewala by Deb Medhekar

Language- Hindi/Bengali/English/Dari (Also in WIP Lab)

  4) The Gold-Laden Sheep & the Sacred Mountain by Ridham Janve

Language- Pahadi (Also in WIP Lab)

5) Izahaq-Smoke on the Altar by Charles Kollannoor Chakkunny  (Malayalam,Arabic)

6) Lathe Joshi by Mangesh Joshi (Marathi)

7) Mehsampur by Kabir Chowdhry  (Punjabi, Hindi, English)

 8) Newton by Amit V Masurkar (Hindi)

9) Ottayaal Paatha(The Narrow Path) by Santosh Babusenan, Satish Babusenan (Malayalam)

10) Ralang Road by Karma Takapa  (Nepali)

11) Rukh (Unknown Faces) by Atanu Mukherjee (Hindi)

12) Sahaj Paather Gappo (Colours of Innocence) by Manas Mukul Pal (Bengali)

13) Sexy Durga by Sanal Kumar Sasidharan (Malayalam)

14) Sonar Baran Pakhi (The Golden Wing) by Bobby SarmaBaruah (Rajbanshi)

 15) The Color of Loss or Blue by Aakash Bhatia (English)

 16) Village Rockstars by Rima Das (Assamese)

 17) Walking With The Wind by Praveen Morchhale (Hindi, English, Japanese)

18) Whithered Leaf by Duminda Sanjeewa (Sri Lanka) (Sinhalese)

19) Rathu Samanala Sihinayak (A Red Butterfly Dream) by Priyantha Kaluarachchi

(Sri Lanka) (Sinhala)

20) Bhasmasur by NishilSheth (Hindi)

21) Kadvi Hawa (Dark Wind) by Nilamadhab Panda  (Hindi)

22) Lapachhapi (Hide and Seek) by Vishal Furia (Marathi)

23) Idgah by PiyushPanjuani  (Hindi)

24) Matir Projar Deshe (Kingdom of Clay Subjectsby Imtiaz (Bijon) Ahmed (Bangladesh-Bengali)

25) Revelations by Vijay Jayapal (Tamil, English)

26) Ghode Ko Jalebi Khilane Le Ja Riya Hoon (Taking The Horse to Eat Jalebis) by AnamikaHaksar (Hindi)

DOCUMENTARIES

27) A Dream Document by Rupak Das (Hindi)

28) Buddhagram by Kabir Mehta (English)

29) Remembering Kurdi by Saumyananda Sahi (English)

30) The Karma Killings by Ram Devineni and Tushar Prakash (Hindi, English)

31) Wayfare to the Night by Rinku Kalsy  (English)

32) Limitless by Vrinda Samartha  (English)

We have always tried to spread the good word about various crowd-funded projects through our blog. Here’s one more film which looks interesting and you can contribute to its making. In today’s Fund A Film (FaF) initiative, we are putting the spotlight on renowned cinematographer Ranjan Palit’s film, Orphan.

ranjan-palit

Orphan is a English-Bengali bilingual feature film. It is the story of a family-clan spread over 5 generations and 150 years. Check out the pitch video.

 

About the project

Orphan – Award winning Cinematographer’s directorial debut that chronicles the lives of members of a clan in West Bengal over the last 100 years. This feature film promises to be a never seen before epic saga.

What is Orphan all about? 

Orphan is a story of my wacky and historically unique family. It will showcase the lives of my family members through the last century, go on to show my life in the present day and a glimpse of my daughter’s life who is the last member in the Palit clan.

It will take the viewers on a unique journey with a family that has a river pirate, a yogini, a World War soldier, a naxalite and more!

-Ranjan Palit (from wishberry.in)

To read more about it and to contribute, click here.

VOTD : Dangal Meets Stranger Things

Posted: October 29, 2016 by moifightclub in VOTD
Tags: , ,

Just watch the mashup video. We don’t need to write anything else.

Done by @SumitPurohit.

For most of us who are based in Bombay, the Mumbai Film Festival is an annual ritual. And since the fest always has a strong programming line-up, we keep telling our film fanatic friends who are based in other cities, that they must visit during the fest. Anand Kadam attended the fest for the first time this year. As he is back to conference calls and office emails, he looks back at the madness of those few days.

“Tonight I Can Write the Saddest Lines”

I wait for an hour in the queue, legs bent, shoulders slumped, sweat on my forehead, a water bottle and a jacket by my side – both to counter the air conditioner in the auditorium. This is not the sad part. The sad part is that I miss it. I miss the early rush. I miss the struggle of booking the slots. I miss the anxiety of missing other films. It was as if the universe decided to carve four days out of my life and paint them Neon. The screen lights up with snow and the name comes up – Pablo Larrain. Claps and whistles. Goosebumps. A biopic turned inside out where non-fiction and fiction intertwine and where the literal and the poetry marry to create beauty.

“Beauty is not everything, it’s the only thing”

Nicolas Winding not only believes it but lives through it as if this very line is his gospel; why else would he put everything aside in Neon Demon, from logic to rationality, to dazzle you with images that burn your retina and sound that pulsates your heart. Early morning dose of lesbian necrophilia and cannibalism. Yum. I am awestruck and angry at the same time. My stomach grumbles for breakfast. I eat a sandwich. The images keep disturbing me, and Jesse, who isn’t ashamed of her body, refuses to leave me.

“Shame isn’t a strong enough emotion to stop us doing anything at all.”

I count the number of people ahead of me. The counter on the screen reads thirty two. Touch and go. I feel restless as the queue starts moving. I reach the entrance but I am stopped. My heart breaks. I wait there. Hundred options run through my head as I scan the schedule. I am about to leave when I am allowed in. Beauty is not everything, it’s the only thing. Paul Verhoeven finds beauty in perversion. My brain in unable to process what it had witnessed. Elle is the exact opposite of everything I had ever seen. It challenged every notion I held of morality. It’s not immoral but it makes morality irrelevant.

“A stew needs time for the flavors to sink in and so do people”

What if there isn’t enough time or you have all the time in the world but something is amiss, like the flame is too slow or the wind is unaccounted for? How does he do it? Koreeda. How does he do it? I am exhausted. My eyes are heavier. My jacket feels heavier. The film starts. It ends. I don’t blink. A family drama that makes you laugh and is profound, where melancholy hides behind the surface. The constant struggle of not ending up like your father. It’s all there, rolled up into a bittersweet film.

“Why are there so many crying scenes? This isn’t a funeral”

I stand up for National Anthem for the umpteenth time as I prepare myself to watch a documentary where the citizens, in fear of being killed, must cry at the funeral of their leader. Weirdly though, I never thought I would be, in some sense, similar to Kim Jong-il. He loved movies and disliked his country’s cinema. What he does next is downright bizarre, hilarious, and tragic at the same time. He kidnaps South Korea’s Shin Sang-ok and his ex-wife Choi Eun-hee to fulfill his dream – to make better cinema. The irony of it all, Shin Sang-ok gets more freedom to create his cinema in North Korea than in South Korea. This entire story would have been unbelievable only if it weren’t a fact. North Korea, a country that needs to be saved.

Another country in Chaos. Egypt. I watch with my mouth wide open as the entire film is being shown from within a police van. Clash is an ultimate depiction of chaos and riots. No matter the ideology, people suffer. It’s an attempt to make us realize the only solution is for people to learn to coexist with people they hate.

Then there is India where child labor is abundant facilitating child traffickers.

Cecilia, a heartbreaking story of a tribal woman whose teenage daughter has died in mysterious circumstances. Apart from being a brilliant investigative journalism, the documentary also deals with moral dilemmas – would you rather accept monetary compensation or fight for your daughter’s justice? Pankaj Johar successfully shows the apathy of the entire system and makes you question your role in its contribution. By the end of it I feel absolutely numb. How can I break this vicious cycle when I myself am a spoke helping it rotate?

“I like to bring a bulldozer and ruin all of this city.”

“They ruined this city once, they built it again and now this is it.”

After traveling for more than an hour, I am stuffed up to my chest with Baghdadi’s daal gosht and fried aloo. The premier is late by an hour. I sit there in the stall of Regal wrapping myself with my jacket as if it were a blanket. The Director apologies for the delay and introduces the star-cast. Then it starts. The story moves in a leisure pace giving you ample time to absorb and soak in it. It slides through mundane parties and games. Then something strange happens. I see myself on the screen. I am twelve, asked to babysit my nephew who is all but four. I am busy watching something on the television as my nephew gulps down half a glass of old monk left on the table by my dad. I am to be blamed. Of course. I feel humiliated, families can do that, they can smother you. I am scarred and scared. Like Shutu, I am to carry everyone’s guilt. I want to scream at the screen and tell him to survive this. This will pass and will only be a distant memory. You will grow out of it. Great genius blooms late, remember?

“I want to witness your death and I’ll be the main character.”

My last show ends. It feels like an end of a pilgrimage. Where else do you find people, from eighteen to seventy, discussing films and only films, and a bit of gossip? Be it during lunch or dinner, in the queue, in the theater, in the loo. Discussing films with unknown people.

Heaven.

Films, Food, and beer.

What else do you want from life?

Just one slot a year dedicated to films. Isn’t much to ask.

(Based in Pune, Anand is a software engineer working in a bank. Priorities in life – Mutton, Wine and Cinema, in that order. He tweets @invokeanand)

And we have come to the second last day of the Mumbai Film Festival. Here’s quick wrap of all the films that we managed to catch.

If you are looking for our previous posts on reccos and reviews from Mumbai Film Festival, our Day 1 wrap is here, Day 2 is here, Day 3 is here, for Day 4 click here, and Day 5 is here.

For our notes on Movie Mela, click here. And click here to read about Cary Fukunaga session.

Nakom

The reason why I love attending film festivals is I get to see and learn about other cultures and countries. Kelly Daniela Norris and T. W. Pittman’s “Nakom” took me to a hidden rural town in Ghana and made me a part of their daily struggles. A simple story, on the lines of “Swades”, this is a very personal and sincere film. Story about going back to ones’ roots has been explored time and again but here, the filmmakers treat it in a very unassuming and simple manner. Truly an indie film with grainy night footage, non-actors performing to the best of their abilities, these flaws only add to the narrative to tell a very personal story about being torn between two worlds. Just wish the protagonist wasn’t so righteous and had some flaws in him. Nevertheless a gorgeous to look at with some great music. Here’s hoping this film gets a wide release so people can explore this side of Ghana. “Nakom” is probably a film that Ghana desperately needs.

Trapped

After the underwhelming “Lootera”, Vikramaditya Motwane has made one hell of a survival thriller in “Trapped”. What I loved the most was that it’s set in a metro like Mumbai where anything you can think of is available. Be it food, friends, enemies, dirty, crowd, empty nights and yet Shaurya (Rajkumar Rao) has nothing! Juxtaposing this mad city with the emptiness of a brand new flat was just a masterstroke. You can see the busy city, hear the noise but a call for help is useless! “Trapped” is also technically the strongest Hindi film this year. Motwane smartly uses aspect ratio to draw you into trapped environment and goes 2.35:1 during some really epic dream sequences. Everything here is just right, not more, not less and that’s the power of editing! Without a strong edit, a thriller is nothing. Too add to the awesomeness is the mind blowing score by Alokananda Dasgupta. Terrific stuff!

Mihir @mihirbdesai

My Life as a Courgette

Icares is sent to an orphanage after he accidentally kills his mother in an unfortunate yet hilarious accident. He meets a bunch of other orphans there and after some initial hospitality, he develops a bond with them, especially with Simon, the resident bully. Camille enters the scene after a few days and Courgette falls for her.
This gorgeously rendered stop motion Mary & Max-ish feel wali French language film is Swiss official entry for the 89th Academy awards. I’m so glad I ended my day with this after starting it with the eerie Hounds of Love. Had a huge grin on my face throughout the 65 minutes of this absolute cuteness overload.

– Avinash @filmworm85

Multiple Maniacs

On the surface, Multiple Maniacs is about Lady Divine and her motley crew, luring unsuspecting suburban folks to her show ‘The Cavalcade of Perversion’, the catch being the audience will have never seen something so ‘nasty’, so ‘filthy’. The show consists of acts such as ‘puke eater’, ‘faggots’ kissing and alike. At the end of the show, the unsuspecting audience is looted off their money and belongings on gunpoint.

Scratch a layer deeper, the film is about John Waters luring sweet suburban folks (yes, even us Mumbaikars) in to his own version of ‘Cavalcade of Perversion’. The film is like looking in to a mirror but only seeing a more grotesque version of your staring back. The film is truly twisted at its core. All institutions of our current day society such as education, family etc. are torn in to thither, but none as much as ‘Religion’. If you are even remotely religious, stay away from this, you have been warned. But if in case you have a thick skin, you are in for a bizarre treat which hasn’t aged a single day in the 46 years since it first released. Mr. John Waters, you have attention as well as our curiosity! P.S. Multiple Maniacs will be screened on Day 7 of at La Reve, Bandra. Do catch if possible.

– Aditya @TheRadiowala

Death In Sarajevo 

Danis Tanovic’s new film is an Altmanesque satire, a drama of ideas until it isn’t. Cash strapped and desperate, a hotel prepares to host a function commemorating the hundredth anniversary of the first World War while its meagre staff readies for a strike, while at the same time tensions flare between a Serb and a Bosnian woman interviewing him on the rooftop. The hotel becomes a fascinating backdrop for exploring worker rights and capitalism while Tanovic brilliantly uses the rooftop sequence to depict the dissonance between humanity and politics as the two warring parties display a subtle sexual chemistry. A prerequisite knowledge of European history, specifically of the Slavic countries, is recommended.

The Untamed

I didn’t watch Mexican filmmaker Amat Escalante’s Heli at last year’s MAMI but I heard people berating it while riding the elevator up to the screens, an old bearded man ranted about how it had gone too far. I never got around to watching it but a viewing of Untamed has all but ensured that I’ll seek it out.

It’s a bizarre lo-fi sci-fi domestic drama about a mother of two and her husband who is in an abusive affair with her gay brother. The science fiction elements mostly take a backseat to the human drama but when it’s there, it’s deliciously done, calling to mind Andrzej Zuwalski’s Possession, with its creature design and erotica. There’s some allusions to the misogyny and homophobia in Mexican society but I’ve little context for it. On some level, I’m in love with the film, but I’m not entirely sure why. It’s definitely not a film for everyone.

– Anubhav @psemophile

 

Trapped

This MAMI has been a bit of a disappointment in terms of the new works by revered and trusted directors. A lot of great filmmakers produced average to even abysmal works. Somehow, despite that, I hadn’t lost even an iota of excitement for Trapped, because Motwane has my unshakable faith.

Trapped is a very simple survival drama, simple as survival dramas go. I’ll divulge as few details as I can, since even a trailer has not come out and I do not know what can be a potential spoiler to you. The film boils down to this – a man gets trapped in his own apartment, due to his own carelessness and actions performed in desperation. He has to survive, and find a way out. This isn’t any apartment, it’s an apartment in an unoccupied building. The whys aren’t something I’ll get into, suffice it to say that nothing seemed contrived. The writing felt utterly grounded, the protagonist utterly relatable.

The greatest thing that the movie does is that by virtue of it being set in Bombay, it taps into a contradictory claustrophobia that all of us who’ve lived here have felt at some point of time. You’re just one person in a sea of people, and despite the sheer population and closeness with which we live, it can be the most daunting task to be heard, to be seen, to be found. Along with that, the film deals with a lot other fears that you or I may have while living in this city. The shut out balconies. Animals. The blind trust that everything will work as planned. In the end, and this is the truth which we all need to know, when the shit hits the fan, we have only ourselves to rely on to clean it all up.

The film is not at all lengthy, the pacing is solid, the editing practically flawless. Few moments feel ripe with tension, not just in terms of “what the fuck is going to go wrong next?” but also in terms of “oh my God what is this guy going to do next?”. If you’ve seen enough movies, you’ll start trying to predict all sorts of scenarios, and Trapped sometimes lands where the predictions land, sometimes it does not, but regardless of either case, it does not feel stupid or watered down one bit. You truly feel the basic survival instinct kick in, and the battle between surviving and already set fears. Forgive me for speaking in such abstract terms, any more specifics could ruin the film for you. I enjoyed it as much as I did because I knew NOTHING about it. The thing about survival dramas is that it’s set in such a confined space and it’s got such little space, it’s easy to lose track or momentum. Tedious flashbacks, slacking of pace, repetitive tropes, all of those are pitfalls which Motwane and team effortlessly and continuously avoid. There are parts where the humour isn’t obvious, but you laugh inside. And even more effortlessly, the story eases us back into the scenario of tension. There were quite a few instances where my balls were in my mouth, pardon me for the lack of a better euphemism. Anything said about this film CANNOT be complete without mentioning the hero of the hour and a half, Rajkumar Rao. The man has proven himself time and again, but I firmly believe that he has outdone himself. Have you ever screamed yourself hoarse? You know what your voice sounds like after that. This man has actually acted that out. You see a rabid survival instinct in his eyes develop gradually as the film progresses. In the sequences preceding the entrapment, you see the awkwardness, introversion, infatuation and pure love. And then you see the most basic human nature take over. It takes an immensely skilled actor to bring all of that into one character, and this film would’ve fallen like an unstable jenga tower had it not been for Rajkumar Rao’s acting.

I believe this film would not have been the way it is had it been set in any other city. This is a story of a man surviving in Bombay. In a hunger and thirst induced stupor, he hallucinates about how joyful it would feel to travel in a sweaty, crowded local train compartment again, how joyful it would feel to argue with a BEST bus conductor again, to jump into the sea at Chowpatti beach. The barricaded balconies, the “jugaad” that we are used to seeing and doing, everything forms an integral part of the story, or character, or both. Motwane made a coming of age film that was a masterpiece. Then he adapted an O Henry story and made it into a period drama. Now, he’s made a survival story that’s stripped bare, and yet, its not devoid of magic. That’s Motwane for you, and that’s Trapped for you. Trapped is right up there with Red Turtle for me as the best that MAMI has to offer this year.

Light Music

An experimental “Experience” of sorts, involving two 16mm projectors, to showcase the way sound is used in celluloid. This one was a half an hour long experience for the curious, for the die hard cinema lover. Seeing a 16mm projector in the flesh is beautiful, to say the least, but the best part about the whole thing was that the two projectors were kept opposing each other, one in each end of the cinema hall, and with the fog effects, the rays of the projectors felt like they were having some sort of a magical duel. Or maybe I’m just indulging myself here. The images projected were that of the soundtrack part of the celluloid. We were supposed to hear, as well as see, what the sound aspect of a film is, or was. However, after maybe 10 minutes, I got bored so I stepped out.

When Two Worlds Collide

A documentary about the battle between an indigenous community and the government for the Amazon, the atrocities that can and are committed in the name of “progress”, and the price some people are willing to pay for the greater good. It is a harrowing tale, no doubt. And it is ever relevant, as whatever be the struggle, the core of it is the same everywhere – standing up for what’s right. However, this documentary had some strong pacing issues in the start. By the time it picked up the pace, I’d lost interest (in the film, not the subject), so it wouldn’t be fair if I said anything more.

Achyuth Sankar

 (Pics – Varun Grover/Jio MAMI)

Sin Nombre, True Detective, Beasts Of No Nation – These three titles on a cv are enough to impress anyone, even the ones who are difficult to please. Thanks to Mumbai Film Festival, filmmaker Cary Fukunaga is one of the guests at the fest this year. Filmmaker Zoya Akhtar was in conversation with him. We are hoping that the video will be out soon. Till then here are some interesting notes from the session of CARYFUCKYEAH! (the way we like to say it)

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