Archive for the ‘Gods of Cinema’ Category

You have seen the film. You have read the reviews. You already know which side of debate you are on. We are late to the party. But we would still suggest that you read this Dunkirk post by Percy H Bharucha.

 

I wanted to just add a small note before I get into the movie itself. If we are to judge the skill of a moviemaker by what he adds to the medium, let us also be magnanimous enough to call it skill when he is able to subtract from the medium without compromising the quality of the visual experience.

First things first, let’s admit to the fact that Dunkirk is a movie unlike most other war movies. Which is where the comparisons to Saving Private Ryan, Hacksaw Ridge should ideally end. Those movies had an independent inspirational story line; there was a plot, which by the way is set during a war. Add to it the usual emotional heart tugging of the “true story”, and the fade to black and white montage sequences of actual war heroes. I’m not saying that’s bad or wrong but this isn’t that kind of movie. In a way the courage portrayed in the movie is mirrored by the courage of the director in embarking on a movie with truly no protagonist, no linear structure, the absolute lack of the usual narrative elements, and a rather odd penchant for sweater vests and turtlenecks. This is an experiment and like all things new should be encouraged. To quote Anton Ego, “…the new needs friends…”

This is movie making with blinders on, and it that respect Nolan perhaps does more justice to the actual event than any other historical movie so far. The evacuation is the story, the evacuation is the plot, the evacuation is the enemy, the friend, the love interest, the comic relief, the everything. There is nothing else to distract the viewer from the event.

 Allow me to list the clichés of a war movie, whose absence I thoroughly enjoyed.

There are no unnecessary amounts of blood, spurting from maimed limbs just to shock and awe the viewer with visceral depictions of bombing. There is no relentless barrage of gunfire, especially bursts of fire in the night for stylistic violence or whatever. No slow motion shots of people running around with stretchers, of shell cases flying. No unnecessary jerky first person POV camera movements to deliver “true immersion into the war front.” No unnecessary audio effects of showing shell shock or ear drums going mute after bombing. No black and white photos of sweethearts left home, no letters written but not posted to sons or mothers, no folding of the flags over coffins, no medic scene with man dying on stretcher. No Michael Bay-esque scenes of military swag with low angle shots of people walking in slow motion against the dying sun with their entourage carrying big heavy guns. No rousing speeches at the darkest moments of the film, no hope carrying banner, no heroic acts of courage glorified by technique or skill. Nobody to yell, “charge” or “fire” or any sort of witticism making fun of the enemy. There is no garish tugging of heartstrings, no vulgar exploitation of emotion, no trembling hands, no lone tear eking its way down a solitary cheek.

At this point you might say, “Percy, can we even call this a war movie?

Isn’t all of this required?”

The answer Nolan tells us quietly is a resounding NO!

That is the man’s skill; he still made it look effortless, he removes all the bells, the frills, and the whistles and still made you want more of the movie. This movie is about an event and in an era where movies pack love, fantasy, action, it is a welcome change to concentrate on one fucking thing.

Dunkirk is, possibly, in my opinion, the most authentic war movie there is. By that statement I do not imply historical accuracy, but perhaps the most realistic depiction of war there is. One of the opening scenes of the movie is a soldier looking for a place to take a dump. If that shit isn’t ‘real’, I don’t know what is. Nolan shows you that side of war that few movies touch on, the absolute chaos, the unsexy clumsiness and randomness of it. There is a fanatical detail to the idiosyncrasies of war, the fumbling with loading the gun in the initial scenes, the lifting of the hose pipe to drink water, the cracking of the fuel gauge, the accidental death of George before coming close to the battle, the soldiers blocking the stretchers as they are carried along the mole reluctant to let them pass, this is the day to day of war.

Most war movies are either; highlight reels made to glorify inspirational, individual acts of valor or the anti war, which focus on the senseless destruction it causes, and the uprooting of giant swathes of people unlucky enough to be caught in it. Nolan treads a fine line here. There is no cinematic glory or angst filter applied to his faithful retelling.

If there is one message he seems to be espousing is that wars are about survival. There is no winning or losing here, there is only survival. Surviving a relentless onslaught of chaotic destruction.

The beach turns into a black hole and we are dropped in the midst of it, through land, through sea and through air, all we see are attempts to escape it. The giving and taking of hope is a hallmark of Nolan’s films, but never before has it been employed so successfully. The moment of relief is short, so short it tears away at the viewer’s heart to have it snatched away so mercilessly. Nolan ensures that the primitiveness of his key emotion, survival is not to be muddied, diluted or tainted in any way through either treatment or narrative. The dialogue is sparse, functional, stripped down to the primitive, bare bone. There are no witty quips, no meme-worthy lines, no clever wordplay, no dying joke, no talk about brotherhood, Nolan moves the viewer through the frame and the silence of the spoken word.

But what Nolan does contrast this bleak landscape of destruction is with what I’d like to term the anonymity of courage. There are these little glimpses throughout the movie, of pure human endurance. But they are the blink-it-and-miss-it kinds. Understated, not trumpeted around there is no lengthy stay or pause for effect there is only the moment as it must have been. And yet it is this very anonymity of courage that adds so much to the movie. There are few names exchanged, there are no identifiers, there is only the anonymous soldier or civilian, blending in and out of the group as required. Perhaps a nod to the fact that war robs us all of identity, if that is intentional it is a masterstroke of filmmaking or maybe I read too much into it.

In the hands of a less skilled filmmaker or even perhaps a less courageous one, this would have been ruined. We would have seen the usual fare of a victorious score announce the arrival of civilian boats, scenes of soldiers hugging and crying with the civilians, exchanging mementos, shaking of hands, passing on of dead soldier letters, prayers being answered, etc. etc. But Nolan is unrelenting. Kenneth Branagh delivers two lines; one is waiting for the French and the other “What do you see? Home”, which are perhaps so historically inspiring from a humanistic point of view, and yet they are shot like any other lines in the movie. There is no close up, there is no heroic music, no posing, there is just the event. The wordless exchanges when the French soldier on multiple occasions saves Harry Styles. Mark Rylance delivers the line, “my son is one of you lot… died three months into the war” he is allowed no indulgence, there is no private moment of grief shared, no banal platitudes offered, just a matter of fact statement made with an implication of such sheer weight. The scene where the son hides the death of George from Cillian Murphy and the father approves wordlessly, such intense stuff yet delivered so functionally. Some tactless father son bonding ritual moment could have easily ruined this, but that is my point this movie is a case on restraint. And George, sigh, a moment of silence for George. The only official hero of the movie dies before he enters the war. If you think that the fact, that George goes blind before he dies is random, remember his lines, his talk about not doing anything worthwhile, how this war was his redemption. A part of me believes that Nolan would rather have him go blind than break his heart over the senseless chaos that war truly is. George died believing in his own myths about the glory and grandeur of the war they joined, a merciful death. But again I fear I might be reading too much into this. And I ask you how can you not be moved? Or perhaps we’ve confused delivery with dialogue. One can say the gravest things without a tear that should not take away from the gravity of their words. The acting is brilliant again by what is not done, what is not shown, the absence of that catch in the throat, the tremor in the tone.

There is little room for emotion when there is a gun pointed at your head, especially if it is an aircraft gun, let us not mistake the deliberate absence of over-the-top hysterics as the lack of emotion in the movie.

I will refrain from dealing with the technical aspects of the movie, the way it has been shot; better people than me have spoken of the incredible work done in those areas.

Lastly, this movie is about courage, the quiet kind, the kind that doesn’t require Wagner-esque scores accompanying it. And it takes courage to say ‘that’s all’ that needs to be there. Nolan has made a movie that will require of the emotionally bombarded palate, an effort to decipher, an effort to connect the storylines. Let us grant him that for the payoff is so worth it. I fear a lot of people have attributed their laziness and their need for over articulated storylines as a fault of the director.

Is the movie messy? Hell Yes, but then so is war!

Percy Bharucha

(The author is a Young India Fellow, and has been writing since he discovered he couldn’t draw. He has a full time job in advertising and hopes to keep it that way. He has been previously published in eFiction and eFiction India, Asia Lit, Reading Hour, Gratis and The Madras Mag. He infrequently tweets @Sab_Bakwaas_Hai)

Remembering Om Puri

Posted: January 20, 2017 by moifightclub in cinema, Gods of Cinema, RIP
Tags: , , , ,

Om Puri

CINTAA, IMPPA and IFTDA, the three film bodies recently organised a memorial event for Om Puri where his friends and fans from the film industry got together and shared their memories.

Varun Grover was there and managed to record some of it. Do check out the playlist. It has Rakesh Bedi, Satish Kaushik, Neena Gupta and Johnny Lever talking about their memories of the actor.

junun

“जिसे जूनून ए मोहब्बत अता किया तूने”

मुझे कव्वाली से कुछ ख़ास लगाव रहा है। छुटपन में कुछ सुनी, अब याद नहीं कैसे कहाँ क्योंकि यादों पे बारिश की ओस जमी है। और बाद में तो ख़ैर शौक ही हो गया, इधर उधर सुन सुन के जैसे शौक बन जाते हैं। मैं आपको थोडा और अंदर ले चलता हूँ की क्यों मैं इससे इतना प्रभावित हुआ। दसवीं ख़त्म हुई थी, एक दोस्त का घर था जहाँ मैं अक्सर जाया करता था। “अबे ये सुन Stairway to heaven, इसे दुनिया का बेस्ट गाना माना जाता है”, इस तरह मेरा परिचय RocknRoll से हुआ। पिछले कुछ सालों से मेरा और कुछ दोस्तों का एक शौक रहा है, नए bands खोजना। और इसी का नतीजा है की एक दिन उसी दोस्त ने मुझे Radiohead के संगीत से मिलवाया। थोड़ी दिक्कत हुई इसे समझने में, पर कहीं न कहीं जुड़ गया मुझसे। Jonny Greenwood क्या चीज़ हैं यह मुझे PTA की ही THERE WILL BE BLOOD से पता चला। Shye Ben-Tzur के संगीत से मैं बिलकुल अंजान था, और जब मैंने उन्हें उर्दू में गाते सुना तो मेरे मन के सारे मेंढक मग्न हुए नाच उठे। मैं शायद आपको समझा न पाऊँ की क्यों मुझे कव्वाली पे नाचने के लिए जाम की ज़रुरत नहीं पड़ती, क्यों मुझे बिना नशा किये Pink Floyd सुनके अजीब ओ गरीब चीज़ें दिखाई देती हैं (और बेख़ुद कर देती हैं), क्यों मैं ISCKON के “प्रभुपाद प्रभुपाद” नाद पे झूम उठता हूँ, हालांकि न मैं उनके प्रभु को मानता हूँ न ही उन्हें। पर मैं यक़ीन से कह सकता हूँ की यह सब एक ही वजह से जुड़ी हुई हैं, मेरे विश्वास से की संगीत और सिनेमा खुद में पूरे हैं। उन्हें निरोध की ज़रुरत नहीं। आप संगीत को सिनेमा से मिला दीजिये और आपको एक पाक़ साफ़ फॉर्म मिलेगा। ‘JUNUN’ यही फॉर्म है।

मेरा मानना है की आर्ट को वैज्ञानिक की ज़रुरत होती है, पथ प्रदर्शन और नए प्रयोगों के लिए। मॉडर्न सिनेमा को जैसे मैंने जाना है, Paul Thomas Anderson मुझे इसके वैज्ञानिक मालूम हुए हैं। हर फ़िल्म एक दूसरे से जुदा, हर फ़िल्म तकनीकी तौर पे पिछली को पीछे छोड़ती हुई। शायद कोई फिक्स्ड स्टाइल न होना ही उनका स्टाइल हैं। तो मैं यह मानके तो गया ही था की JUNUN कुछ ख़ास होगी। Shye और Jonny Greenwood (Radiohead से एक अलग किस्म का प्यार है मेरा, उस band में सब individual genius भरे पड़े हैं) साथ में एक एल्बम बना रहे हैं, और PTA उसे फ़िल्म कर रहे हैं…अब इंसान बौराया नहीं ये सुनके तो दिल नहीं है उसके पास।

यहाँ हम जोधपुर के मेहरानगढ़ फोर्ट में इन कलाकारों को एक माँगणियार क़व्वाल समूह के साथ काम करते देखते हैं। मैं यह हलके में नहीं कहता, और मैं ये मानना चाहूँगा की मैंने काफी संगीत सुना है, पर मैंने ऐसा कुछ पहले कभी नहीं सुना। PTA के ड्रोन शॉट्स जोधपुर को एक नयी परिपक्वाता से देखते हैं। उनके हर फ्रेम में संगीत इस क़दर है की आप दोनों को जुदा करके नहीं देख पाएंगे। एक क़व्वाली, जिससे एल्बम का नाम मालूम हुआ है, ने थिएटर में बैठे सभी को उसी ताल पे ताली बजाने पे मजबूर कर दिया, उनमे से एक मैं भी था। सिनेमा और संगीत का संगम ऐसे बेकाबू कर देता है, मैंने अब जाना। 53 मिनट तक मेरे रौंगटे खड़े रहे, मैं इतना हल्का आदमी तो नहीं हूँ। बाहर निकल के नाचने का मन होने लगा। पर मैं नाच नही पाया, मैं कुछ हल्का आदमी हूँ। ख़ालिस तस्वीर जो होती है, उसमे आर्टिस्ट कहीं न कहीं खुद को बना देता है। यहाँ आपको एक अभिव्यक्ति दिखेगी जिसे आप PTA की पिछली हर फ़िल्म में देख सकते है, Shye aur Jonny के संगीत में देख सकते हैं, इन कव्वालों की ताल में देख सकते हैं। और यही जूनून है, यही मक़सद है, यही ख़ुदा है।

मैं बस इस बेमिसाल मेल को देख के, सुन के पागल सा हो गया, की मुझे अलफ़ाज़ नहीं मिले। अब आप कैसे बयाँ कर सकते हैं की कुछ चीज़ें आपके साथ क्या कर जाएँ ?

मैं तमाम उम्र शब्दों को चेहरा देते आया हूँ, हर शब्द मेरे ज़हन में एक तस्वीर उकेर देता है। अब मुझे कभी “जुनून” की तस्वीर नहीं बनानी पड़ेगी। मैंने उसे साक्षात देखा है। Shye, Jonny और मांगणियारों के संगीत में, PTA की नज़र से, JUNUN में।

कहाँ बुत गिरा, कहाँ चैन पाया
मैं कैसे सुकूँ को सहता हूँ,
बना फलसफा कुछ यूँ ही बड़बड़ाते
मुसलसल जुनूँ में रहता हूँ।

Bhaskarmani Tripathi

(Bhaskarmani Tripathi is a chronically depressed and दिलफेंक individual who wants to make his moments last. Has been called names more than he’s been called by his name, not that there’s anything wrong with it. Hates adjectives, loves Hindi and Urdu and Almost Famous. Believes Rock n Roll saved his life. Although never seen, this is one of his most favourite moments in cinema. Tweets at @bolnabey)

(You can watch the film at Mubi)

So what do you do when you get to know that there’s a screening of Libaas? Well, only a Gulzar fan can tell you the right answer. So over to Mohit Kataria who tells us what exactly he did.

libaas_1988

Before you start:

Please don’t read this post as a film review post, it’s all about my personal experience with the movie Libaas and the way I got to watch it. I’ve never written any movie review before and I don’t think I even qualify for writing one (if there is any qualification criteria). You might also find it really biased as I’m a fan of Gulzar Saab and always wear a particular pair of admiration glasses while reading/watching/listening to any of his works.

Prologue

What do you do when you get any once-in-a-lifetime opportunity? You grab it with both the hands, right? That’s what I also did.

It all started with a Facebook post from a very dear friend and an ardent fan of Gulzar saab, Pavan Jha, that I came to know about Libaas getting screened in IFFI – 2014 in Goa on 22nd Of November. Then after a number of confusions, calculations and discussions later, I decided to go ahead and started making my travel plans. Then, I came to know about something called a delegate registration (I have already warned you about my credentials ), which was already into its “register-with-late-fee-phase”. Somehow got registered with some made up bio-data to prove that I was worthy enough to be a delegate there. I got an email mentioning that the confirmation will be done after some careful review of my bio-data. I waited impatiently for the whole day which was the last day for the registration, and by the end of the day, I got a confirmation mail asking me to pay to be a delegate. I followed the instructions and completed the formalities. Then it was time to book the tickets for travel. After doing some calculations, considering family, work, economics and time dynamics, I booked the flight from Bangalore, scheduled to reach Goa at 2 PM on the day of screening (22-Nov-14) (Libaas was scheduled for screening at 5:30 PM) and also booked first available flight from Goa the very next day (23-Nov-14). Needless to say, my only purpose of going through all this exercise was to witness something I really was waiting for ever since I started following and loving Gulzar Saab and his work – to get a chance to watch Libaas. And I never thought I would get an opportunity of a lifetime in this manner, to watch it with Gulzar Saab himself.

Experience

Before cutting through all the details of getting the passes (where Ashok Bindalji and IFFI organizers helped a lot), reaching the theater following Gulzar Saab, and finally settling down to watch Libaas, I would like to mention here that there were lots of people who wanted to get in and watch Libaas and the auditorium had a limited capacity of accommodating 280 people only. So one senior IFFI organizer (I won’t name him to get him into any trouble), took a call after consulting with Gulzar Saab and Vishal Bhardwaj, to allow people to sit in the gallery, on the floor, to stand on the gates, behind the last row and any other place wherever possible without making others uncomfortable. It got reminded me of the pre-multiplex era when it was a norm for any big movie. Isn’t it delightful to treat and watch the movie in the same manner we used to watch movies when it was actually made (in 1988)?

The stage was set by welcoming Gulzar Saab by the IFFI authorities, and then Vishal Bhardwaj presented the movie Libaas as the inauguration movie of retrospective: Gulzar. Vishal said that it’s an honor for him to present this movie, and spoke about how Gulzar Saab started his career as a poet and brought his poetry from paper to screen. Each of his movies are poetries on screen. He also briefly mentioned about the efforts at various levels that have gone in trying to get the movie released, including his personal efforts of 20 years which has gone in vain. Then he mentioned what it means to him personally, and for his whole family to be part of this historic event.

Gulzar Saab was visibly holding back his emotions, and he started on a lighter note saying, saying, “दोस्तो, मैं भी उतना ही curious हूँ फ़िल्म के लिए, जितने कि आप हैं. आप ने भी नहीं देखी फ़िल्म, मैंने भी नहीं देखी”, which rightly summed up the significance of the film. He was happy that the family and friends have come from all over to see this screening. You can listen to the whole discussion here. And then the magic started on screen. We were in for a very delightful treat for next couple of hours.

As you might know, the movie was completely based on Gulzar Saab’s own story Chaabiyaan which has also published later with the title Seema. There was wit, brilliance, intelligence and emotions written all over the movie. Each frame was flowing into the other one like the way water flows – at times like a river, sometimes like a silent lake and often like waterfall. It was a sheer pleasure to experience Gulzar Saab’s poetry for the next 137 minutes. The movie has four main characters – Sudhir Bhardwaj (a passionate theater director, played by Naseeruddin Shah), T.K. (a flamboyant businessman, played by Raj Babbar), Seema (an amazing actress who is also a not-so-happy wife, played by Shabana Azmi) and the theater which is the sutradhar which keeps tying all the running threads of the movie. It also has a handful of supporting cast who made their presence felt without shadowing the main leads. Not even a single character was out of place or not required. The story primarily deals with husband-wife relationship and a extra-marital affair, all in the backdrop of theater. While watching it, I could feel it was much ahead of its time (it was scheduled to be released in 1988), as was confirmed by Gulzar Saab in a post screening Q&A session that such things were happening at that time but were never shown in cinema. He dared to reflect what was part of society then.

Opening scene of the movie is in a theater, where Jamal Saheb (played by Utpal Dutt) is entering the theater while taking a look at the play being staged.

Utpal Dutt in Libaas

Utpal Dutt in Libaas

In the canteen, he is greeted by youngsters who are theater artists/aficionados and the scene establishes that Jamal Saheb is a great artist from the times gone by. He is not relevant anymore and is in a poor state. He has been replaced, so to say, by Sudhir, who is dominating the contemporary theater scene. In next few scenes, we come to know that for Sudhir, the first priority of his life is theater – the way he forces Seema to gargle every day in the morning, no matter what, and the way he keeps on talking about and enacting various scenes from his plays. One scene which nails it down clearly is when Seema asks Sudhir if she could get a hair-cut as she feels she would look prettier in short hair.  To which he replies, if she gets the hair cut, what would happen to all the characters she is playing in theater, and starts quoting each of the characters from different plays. All the members of his theater group love and fear him in equal measure due to his strictness while doing the rehearsals. A couple of times when Seema forgets her lines during the rehearsals, he yells at her, and at home, he tells her,

“खाना बनाना भूल जाओगी तो बर्दाश्त कर लूँगा, dialogues भूल जाओगी तो कभी बर्दाश्त नहीं करूँगा.”

Phir Kisi Shaakh Ne Phenki Chaanv - Libaas

Phir Kisi Shaakh Ne Phenki Chaanv – Libaas

Seema is already strained, and wants a break from the monotony of Sudhir being so hard on her as he always thinking about one thing – theater. That’s when T.K. enters the scene and their home. He is informal and is such a close friend of Sudhir that even Seema feelss surprised as she had never seen Sudhir being so comfortable with anyone, including her. TK’s flamboyant style of talking and cheerful behavior attracts Seema, and he gets attracted to her beauty. They all meet a couple of times and then while one relationship starts forming, other one starts breaking. On one side, Sudhir is always busy with his play rehearsals and on the other hand, T.K., a well versed businessman is always ready to meet her and pay attention to her.

Her loneliness and boredom from theater adds fire to the fuel, and before even they realize, the relationship becomes complicated. The high-point of the movie is a scene which has brilliance of Gulzar Saab written all over it. It was Gulzar Saab’s craftsmanship that he handled such a burdened situation in such a subtle manner. The treatment of the characters, the dialogues of this one scene leaves us completely mesmerized and catches us unguarded. The scene is when Sudhir decides to confront T.K. and Seema about their relationship. Seema and T.K. enter the house after spending some good time together, and they find Sudhir at home. T.K. tries to cover up his embarrassment by telling Sudhir that he was asking about him from Seema as Sudhir was very busy, they were not able to meet.

T.K. – और किस ड्रामे में busy हो आजकल?

Sudhir – “अ..अ..म.. आजकल… अ… एक personal से नाटक में ज्यादा busy हूँ.”

“ह.. ह.. मतलब..?”

“नाटक तो दूसरे लोगों का है, मैं खा-म-खां बीच में फंस गया”

“अम.. कुछ समझा नहीं यार, वो कैसे?”

T.K., though embarrassed, is still trying to appear innocent even though he is guilty of cheating Sudhir.

“क्या है के हमारे यहाँ… हमारे यहाँ, वो हैं ना… मि. मुखर्जी”

He looks at Seema and starts building the story.

“मुखर्जी? कौन?”

Seema asks, to which Sudhir replies –

“तुम मिली हो उन से, शायद याद नहीं है… मि. मुखर्जी में याद रखने जैसा कुछ है या नहीं मालूम नहीं… लेकिन अपनी पत्नी की वजह से वो.. अक्सर याद रह जाते हैं लोगों को…. बड़ी talented… और talented से ज्यादा ख़ूबसूरत पत्नी है उन की. अब ज़ाहिर है कि लोग उन की तरफ़ तवज्जो देते हैं, attract होते हैं. और ये कम्बख़्त चीज़ ऎसी है कि आदमी हो या औरत, पाँव तले की ज़मीन खींच लेती है. आदमी सोचता है, इश्क ही में ज़िंदगी है, बाकी सब तो फ़न, आर्ट, talent, सब सजावट की चीज़ें हैं. बहरहाल, मि. मुखर्जी का problem है, उन की पत्नी… वो किसी के इश्क में पड़ गई हैं या कोई है जो उन के इश्क में पड़ गया है….”

Seema asks, “तो problem क्या है?”

To which Sudhir replies, point blank, still keeping it indirect,

“तुम्हें नज़र नहीं आता?”

“नहीं मतलब… समझ में आता है लेकिन दोनों अगर एक दूसरे को चाहते हैं तो…”

“नहीं, नहीं, नहीं, नहीं… तुम उस लड़की के problem को देख रही हो, मैं मि. मुखर्जी के problem की बात कर रहा हूँ”

“उनका क्या problem है?”

“क्यूँ? याने… उन का कुछ है ही नहीं?…

उन का problem ये है कि उन्हें मालूम हो गया है… और जान लेने के बाद शौहर यानि मि. मुखर्जी क्या करे उस पत्नी का? चुप रहे? देखता रहे? होने दे जो हो रहा है? मुश्किल तो ये है कि कोई भी शौहर जान लेने के बाद ये निगल नहीं सकता”

Now T.K. intervenes,

“आख़िर मुखर्जी चाहता क्या है?” “चाहता क्या है, वो छोड़ो, क्या करना चाहिए उसे?”

“अम..ज़ाहिर है अगर उन की पत्नी, उन के साथ नहीं रहना चाहती तो उन्हें कोई हक़ नहीं है कि वो उस के साथ ज़बरदस्ती करें. After all.. वो अपना अच्छा-बुरा समझ सकती है, ऎसी कोई बात नहीं है…”

“हाँ, समझना तो चाहिए, सिर्फ़ ये कि जिस से वो प्यार करती है, क्या सचमुच प्यार करती है? यूँ ही उन्स में तो नहीं पड़ गई? ख़ा-म-ख़ां का infatuation तो नहीं है, जिसे वो प्यार समझ बैठी है?”

“आख़िर शादी-शुदा औरत है, क्या इतना नहीं समझती? इतनी mature नहीं होगी के…”

And that’s when Gulzar Saab’s intelligence of handling the complicated situations comes in full form.

Sudhir interrupts Seema at this point and says it straight,

“इतनी mature हो तुम? इतना समझती हो कि जिस राह पे जा रही हो, जिस के साथ जा रही हो वो झूठ-मूठ का कोई ड्रामा तो नहीं कर रहा है?”

At this time T.K. tries to escape saying this is personal matter between husband and wife and he is an outsider.

Then, as a matter of fact, Sudhir tells him,

“बैठ जाओ T.K., तुम भी कोई बच्चे नहीं हो… बैठ जाओ… देखो T.K., इन रिश्तों में कानूनी, ग़ैर कानूनी कुछ नहीं होता. कानूनन कोई पत्नी नहीं बनती, कानूनन कोई शौहर नहीं होता.Law has nothing to do with it. हम ज़बरदस्ती इन रिश्तों पर कानूनी मोहरें लगाते रहते हैं. आज तक, कोई किसी आते को नहीं रोक सका और ना किसी जाते को थाम सका है. और मैं ये कैंसर ले कर नहीं घूम सकता…. तुम ने ठीक कहा, अगर सीमा मेरे साथ नहीं रहना चाहती तो मुझे कोई ज़बरदस्ती नहीं करनी चाहिए, मैं नहीं करूँगा, लेकिन मैं इसे रास्ते पर नहीं छोड़ सकता. मैं तुम्हारा फ़ैसला जानना चाह्ता हूँ, तुम दोनों का फ़ैसला जानना चाहता हूँ… अगर तुम दोनों flirt नहीं कर रहे हो, एक-दूसरे को धोखा नहीं दे रहे हो, सचमुच एक दूसरे को चाहते हो, तो हाथ पकड़ो और निकल जाओ इस घर से.”

Seeli Hawa Chhoo Gayi - Libaas

Seeli Hawa Chhoo Gayi – Libaas

Even after Sudhir and Seema get separated and she remarries T.K., there is still an element of care and affection for each other.

T.K. and Seema are living happily, yet Seema is not able to forget her past so easily.

In one scene, where one evening she is sitting sad all alone on a yatch, T.K. comes and asks,

 “क्या हुआ… सुधीर का ख़्याल आ गया?”

“हूं..”

“इसीलिए तो तुम्हें शादी के बाद यहाँ ले आया. जानता था, अगर वहाँ रहोगी तो अतीत याद आएगा. अतीत बुरा हो तो सीमा, आदमी गर्द की तरह झाड़ दे, ख़त्म कर दे, लेकिन सुधीर जैसा… मुझ पर अंधविश्वास था उसे. जो कुछ हुआ, मुझे उस का अफ़सोस नहीं, बिल्कुल नहीं, बस यही है कि अगर तुम किसी दोस्त के यहाँ ना होती ना…तो अच्छा होता, क्यूँकि तुम जहाँ भी होती, मैं यही करता, I love you. मैं तुम से प्यार करता. I love you Seema, I love you.”

[Edit Note : While Mohit has written the climax in his post, we are not going to reveal what happens in the end, as we expect more screenings of the film soon and expect you to watch it someday, somewhere. We leave you here with Ravi Shastri Quote : All Three Results Possible ]

And the end credits roll over with the song

“तुम से मिली जो ज़िंदगी, हम ने अभी बोई नहीं,

तेरे सिवा कोई ना था, तेरे सिवा कोई नहीं…”

…Leaving everyone in the theater completely spell bound.

Gulzar Saab got a standing ovation which refused to die down for the next few minutes.

Epilogue

It had Gulzar written all over it. Gulzar the writer, Gulzar the dialogue-writer, Gulzar the lyricist and Gulzar the director. It was like various Gulzar competing with each other and attaining the pinnacle of expressions. The music of R.D. Burman was also a highlight of the movie as the melodies are so soulful, the film would have been definitely incomplete without such lovely songs.

From story perspective, it is really difficult to say what was wrong or who was wrong or whether anyone was wrong at all? This is the power of a sensibly told story on screen. We all know that Gulzar Saab has great sense of expression when it comes to relationships. He is the one who has given the words to all the emotions we have gone through at various points in our different relationships. He is no different here as well. Gulzar Saab has also given various references of past work of theater artists who have explored the complexities of husband-wife relations – Leo Tostoy’s Anna Karenina, Vijay Tendulkar’s Khamosh adaalat jari hai, Mohan Rakesh’s Aadhe-adhure. The film, even though made some 26 years back, is still relevant and I believe due to the nature of human relationships, will be relevant even after 26 years.

There are so many situations in the movie which could have been exploited with melodramatic scenes but he kept them subtle, and trusted the intelligence of audience he was catering to. Like after re-marriage, one day when T.K. is gargling in the morning, all of a sudden she gets reminded of Sudhir, who was always after her for gargling. She gets in that groove for a moment that she actually calls out her old maid’s name “दुर्गा…” and then she realizes her mistake. And when she calls up their family doctor (played by A.K. Hangal) asking him to visit their home for T.K.’s cough and cold, she forgets to mention to the doctor about his new life and husband. The doctor habitually visits their old home and because Sudhir is also suffering from the cough at the same time, he doesn’t find it surprising that Seema called him up. Subtle ways to show that the bridges are not yet burnt completely. The central idea of the story keeps coming back again and again in multiple ways.

During the post-screening Q&A we came to know that the climax which was shown in the film was not his choice but the producers insisted upon him to change the climax.

He wanted to leave it a bit open ended, which he couldn’t do in this movie, hence he made Ijaazat, another masterpiece on husband-wife relationship which he ended the way he wanted it to be.

Nobody dared to ask the question, “अगर लिबास release हो जाती फिर भी क्या वो इजाज़त बनाते?”  and I doubt if anyone who has watched Ijaazat would even dare to think it being non-existent from the filmology of Gulzar Saab. Nothing to compare but to give a flavor to the people who could not watch the screening of Libaas, in my opinion, it was at par (if not more) with Ijaazat in terms of exploration of relationships, writing, dialogues, songs, direction and music.

To sum it up, I would just say, no matter how many years the movie has spent in the laundry or dry-clean, this Libaas is still as crisp, clean and white as new.

 – Mohit Kataria

 

(Mohit Kataria is an IT engineer by profession, writer & poet by passion, a Gulzar fan by heart. He is based in Bangalore and can be reached at [kataria dot mohit at gmail dot com] or [@hitm0 on twitter)

(Pics & Videos by Ashok Bindal [ajbindal at gmail dot com], a close associate of Gulzar saab, based in Mumbai)

Retrospective Inauguration Video via Ministry of I&B YouTube Channel]

Still reading Interstellar? Done with all these? Welcome to the Club Nolaniana. And remember Haider from our ‘Haider on Haider‘ post? Well, he is back too.

InterstellarHaider

Beware, this post is rife with spoilers.

“The Bolt Beings are closing the Tesseract!”, warns TARS as Coop finally figures out how/what/why he is in the Tesseract in the first place. The reference to the Tesseract got me really excited, and not just because it’s one of my favorite bands (ha ha), but because it was my first introduction to begin to be able to fathom a higher dimension. It took me back to Carl Sagan’s soothing yet captivating voice in one of his original Cosmos episodes where he, patiently, explains different dimensions, Flatland style. This part of the film, the third act (or in Nolan terms, the Prestige), is the make or break part of the film. This separates the people who are absolutely going to be blown away by the film from the ones who will cringe at this representation of the inner workings of a Black Hole beyond the Event Horizon.

The third act was my favorite part of the film. To be honest, when he enters the Tesseract I actually went ‘Oh, come ON!’ in disbelief and disappointment. But, giving Nolan the benefit of the doubt, I wanted to wait. And I’m glad I did, because, this is the part where they had all the liberties with the science stuff. Because, as Romley puts it, no one knows what’s inside a Black Hole.  And, in my opinion, they did a beautiful fucking job with representing it. They, obviously, could have done much more and explored that unknown more. But that could have bordered to the complete extremities of the unknown and could have very easily turned into some pseudo-scientific psychedelic pedantic mumbo jumbo. Also, this was akin to the representation of the ‘higher beings’ in Contact who communicate with Jodie Foster through a vision of her dead father. And, hey, if Carl Sagan is cool with that representation, then it’s more than good enough for me. Although I don’t agree with him, after the screening, my boss put it quite funnily. He said “It was really nice how they tied it all together in the end and explained the story, even though it was SO fucking stupid”. That really cracked me up.

Throughout my childhood, my parents (especially my mother) slyly inception-ed me into falling in love with astronomy. I didn’t grow up on a diet of Goosebumps, Eragon and Harry Potter. I was fed heavy doses of astrophysics and space exploration encyclopedias, of which I understood absolutely nothing. But, my parents succeeded, since the first book I ever purchased out of my own will was “Can You Hear a Shout in Space?”, a lovely little book answering a lot of FAQ’s on space travel. I was set to become an astronaut. Dominic Cobb aint got nothing on my mom.  That is, until a sad afternoon in February 2003. The Columbia Space Shuttle had burnt up and disintegrated on re-entry and the world lost seven heroes. My mom walked into my room where I was probably building the nth spaceship with legos, and gave me a sad shake of the head. “Not happening bro”, she said (I’m paraphrasing). My interests dramatically shifted after that, and Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll happened (minus the sex and drugs, I was 11 for crying out loud!). I started playing music, since my mom had a guitar lying…. Holy shit this woman has pretty much manipulated me into who I am. I need to have a serious talk with her. Astronomy took a back seat, now it was about barely passing exams and playing music. That is, until my last two years of high school where my Higher Level Physics optional topic was Astrophysics. And to date, that and Literature have been the only two courses I have ever given a fuck about. It instilled the same sense of wonder in me, that I would have staring into the storm of Jupiter in one of those encyclopedias as an 8 year old. I wanted to do something; I wanted to excel at this one thing, to have a purpose to at least doing ONE of my IB courses with any real conviction. And I did, I scored a perfect 7/7 on that paper. That also triggered me into undertaking one of the dumbest decisions of my life, studying Aerospace Engineering at university.

Astrophysics you idiot! Not Engineering! That’s what you should’ve done!  Ask me why? Because I figured, to be practical and to be ‘financially stable’, engineering would be the way to go. And hey, it’s Aerospace, so it’s kind of related right? What an idiot. Here I am, five years later, still degree-less, a lot more cynical, and giving up all hopes of ever making any money, by deciding to become a filmmaker. Maybe this is the bolt beings punishing me for not dreaming anymore.

This is why Interstellar is such an important film. I never, ever, ever, cry watching films. But I managed to shed a few solitary tears while watching Interstellar. Not because of the emotional high points of the film (which Nolan has beautifully crafted), but because of an inexplicable feeling of being overwhelmed by everything. “This is my childhood! Why did you take it away from me!” I wanted to yell out at imaginary villains. When the truth is that the villain is inside me.  I was the one that started chasing after green eyed girls, rather than asking someone in my Calculus class “But how are infinity plus seven and infinity equal? Yeh kya hai???”. I was the one that stopped living a normal human life after a terrible heartbreak and locked myself in a room with a laptop and a high speed internet connection and just watched film after film after film. I forgot what the Tsiokolvsy’s rocket equation was, I forgot why we need to add a J2 perturbation to some orbital equations, or even what the names of the crew members of Apollo 14 were.  And I am absolutely not alone in this. There are countless versions of myself all over the world, and especially in India, who are conveniently shoved into boxes of engineering/medicine/law at a very young age. Financial security and ‘respectable job’ take precedence over talent and wonder. I know it’s too late for me now, but why can’t we let the newer generations dream a little more? Just a little more, before we bolt and rivet them into mechanical versions of themselves, set to serve one giant master. One giant wheel to be a cog in. All of my heroes from the space exploration world were from the 60’s/70’s. None from the 80’s.90’s or 2000’s. That is fucking sad. Who am I left to be inspired by? Someone who’s contribution to the world is measured by what his/her net worth is? Fuck. That. I refuse. I’d rather look up to a filmmaker like Christopher Nolan, who creates, even if fictional, worlds and stories that expand minds and inspire the glint of wonder behind our stone set eyes.

The film does not come without its flaws, of course. But what it left me with is much bigger than any miniscule anal thought I had during the film (“Heh, nice impact toughness on the ceramics of that ranger, am I right?” *wink wink*). The film is much, much bigger than the sum of its parts. And it has a LOT of delectable parts. Watch it, and be inspired. Let it talk to the ethereal child in you.

It’s time to stop fearing the unknown. It’s time to embrace the fact that it’s much more wondrous to NOT know, than to create a meaning that is convenient for us. Such is the beauty of science, it doesn’t judge. And it does not require you to believe in a certain god or be of a certain color or caste. It just requires you to question everything, especially what science itself brings forth. And it’s inclusive. You don’t have to be a genius. If I can be adequately interested in it and understand it, anyone can.

I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes from one of the greatest human beings that ever lived. Find out who it is, if you don’t know already.

“The significance of our lives and our fragile planet is then determined only by our own wisdom and courage. We are the custodians of life’s meaning. We long for a Parent to care for us, to forgive us our errors, to save us from our childish mistakes. But knowledge is preferable to ignorance. Better by far to embrace the hard truth than a reassuring fable. If we crave some cosmic purpose, then let us find ourselves a worthy goal.”

 – Haider Hussain Beig

(Haider Hussain Beig is a 23 year-old filmmaker based out of Netherlands. When he’s not alienating close friends with painful film gyaan, he dabbles in Aerospace Engineering. You can check out his stuff here)

So the wait is over. And the movie of the year is in theatres. For Christopher Nolan films, to watch or not to watch is never the question. And if you belong to the same tribe, you are at the right place. And more so, if you love reading countless pieces about a film that you love. But only counted few films and filmmakers give us the luxury of doing “Everything you always wanted to know about” posts. Cuaron’s Gravity was the last film we did a post like this.

We are trying to make this one the definitive post on all reading material on Nolan and Interstellar. Welcome aboard!

Nolan

Before Watching

Three must-read articles on Nolan and his cinema –

Caine told him, “I’ll read it and have my driver bring it over tomorrow.” But Nolan, who is notoriously secretive about his projects, said he’d stay and wait. “He had a cup of tea with my wife while I read it,” Caine told me. “I said I’d do it. Then he took the script away, and I never saw it again.” (Nolan defends his predilection for secrecy with the good sense of one of his paternal figures. “We all want to unwrap our Christmas presents early,” he told me, with a tone as sympathetic to childlike curiosity as it was firm in its tut-tutting advocacy of the greater pleasures of deferral. “But we all know we’ll be disappointed if we do.”)

– From NYT’s The Exacting, Expansive Mind of Christopher Nolan

The name of his production company, Syncopy, is the word for the temporary loss of consciousness caused by loss of oxygen to the brain, and all his films, to some extent, use the tropes of the detective film or heist movie to dramatise the twists and turns of consciousness.

– From Guardian’s long read Christopher Nolan: the man who rebooted the blockbuster 

And in contrast to the frantic last-minute reshoots of so many big-budget movies, Mr. Nolan’s work is reliable. He delivers films that are remarkably close to what he originally pitched to his backers. They come in ahead of schedule and under budget. Last April, a time when many summer releases were still far from complete, studio executives saw Mr. Nolan’s first cut of “Interstellar”—nearly identical to the one hitting theaters now.

– Ffrom WSJ’s Why Hollywood loves ‘Interstellar’ director Christopher Nolan

– The Physics Refresher You Need To Read To Understand ‘Interstellar’ (No Spoilers). Click here

After Watching (SPOILER ALERT)

– Plot of Interstelar – Read if you are still lost and confused about the film’s plot. In “Prologue and Epilogue: The Fifth Dimension and the Bookshelf at the End of the Universe” and “Love is Science, and Vice Versa”

– The Science of ‘Interstellar’ Explained (Infographic) – All about wormholes, black holes and space-time

– The Spaceships of ‘Interstellar’ Explained (Infographic). Click here

– What Is the Fifth Dimension in ‘Interstellar’? Click here

The one place where I am the least comfortable is on [a] planet where they have these ice clouds. These structures go beyond what I think the material strength of ice would be able to support. But I’d say if that’s the most egregious violation of physical law, they’ve done very, very well. There’s some artistic license there. Every time I watch the movie, that’s the one place where I cringe. I don’t think I’ve ever told anybody that.

– Kip Thorne’s interview is here – Physicist who inspired Interstellar spills the backstory—and the scene that makes him cringe

One of the older women, Murphy Cooper, is played by the actress Ellen Burstyn. But the rest are not actors. They are interview subjects fromFrom Ken Burns and Dayton Duncan’s 2012 documentary “The Dust Bowl,” and they are speaking about their experiences in that real environmental catastrophe, rather than a fictional cataclysm.

– How Ken Burns’ surprise role in ‘Interstellar’ explains the movie (click Here)

– A spoiler-filled look at Interstellar’s ending | Den of Geek

What is Nolan’s secret?
He has his tea in his pocket that he drinks all day. He has a coat with a big pocket and in it, a flask of tea. He drinks it all day. That’s his secret.

– Michael Caine’s interview is here. On Interstellar, Christopher Nolan’s Secret, and Drinking With Dylan Thomas

I said, Steven, if it was a contemporary space exploration film, it would be about 15 minutes long. And it would consist of the they all go in to the Appropriations Committee and quietly die, right? We don’t do that anymore. It’s fucking done. We peaked. In the years when the anthropologists come down, they’ll find a little polyester flag in the Moon and they’ll say, fuck, they almost made it. Right?

– Writer Jonathan Nolan’s interview is here

– “Academy Conversations: Interstellar”, followed by a new featurette and a bonus video of Nolan introducing his first film “Following” at the 1999 Rotterdam Film Festival. Click here

– Some interesting trivia on the film’s making #InterstellarHangout – Cast LIVE from Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum

– Christopher Nolan’s Favorite Shot, and How It Reflects What His Movies Are Really About. On Slate

– Interstellar’s Black Hole Once Seen As Pure Speculation. Fifty years after the term “black hole” was coined, audiences and scientists remain captivated. Here

– The plot of ‘Interstellar,’ in 10 TED Talks. Click here

– NASA | Caltech: An Interstellar Conversation – How is it possible to do it in reality (Panel of Astronomers, Physicist, Engineer)

CRITICISM

21 Things in Interstellar That Don’t Make Sense –  On Vulture

What the movie gets wrong and really wrong about black holes, relativity, plot, and dialogue – by astronomer Phil Plait.  On Slate

Nolan2 It’s showtime, folks! Come to the Master!

(Pic courtesy – via FB. Whoever created it, please come forward and take the credit. Jejus still loves you 🙂

Seen Haider yet? Naah? What are you doing? Go, book your tickets first. Coming back to the film, if Vishal Bhardwaj can get two Salmans, we aren’t far behind. We got two Haiders. One is his, other is ours. So here is our Haider on his Haider.

Our Haider Hussain Beig is a 23 year old filmmaker based out of Netherlands. When he’s not alienating close friends with painful film gyaan, he dabbles in Aerospace Engineering. You can check out his stuff here. This is first post here.

To read our previous post on the film, “Haider : Uncertain, Complex, Asymmetric…Because the screenplay is Kashmir”, click here.

Haider2

Heavy handed exposition usually kills a film for me. It could be a tasteless voiceover or a redundant character painstakingly ear-fucking the audience with drab explanations of already convoluted plot-points. Which brings me to one of my favorite ‘did you catch that?’ Moments in the film. It occurs when Khurram is being led into an abandoned house and he notices ‘Yeh toh Kaul Saab ka ghar hai.’ Then a brief exchange ensues about the whereabouts of ‘Kaul Saab’, finally coming to the conclusion that he has ‘shifted’ to Bombay.

This was an in passing reference to the exodus of the Kashmiri Pandits from their homeland. It perfectly captures the nonchalance of the characters who, putting it crudely, have different issues to deal with now. And perhaps are still dealing with the brutal and horrific ousting of their Hindu neighbours as a mere migration to the big city. This is just one of the many examples of sheer brilliance in storytelling by someone who I would not have expected less of. Best of all, I didn’t feel like I was being explained a point of view or thrown facts at that I was supposed to ingest like a frustrated teenager in a History lesson. I knew most facts about the region and the socio-political situation already, and never once did I feel the need to internally sigh with a ‘pata hai bhai, gyan dena band karo‘. And trust me when I say I know a lot about Kashmir. Because unlike most of us, I have not been fed frustratingly conflicting facts from different sources of news, I have lived them in my own little way.

I was born in Delhi to a German mother and a Kashmiri father, who decided to name me Haider. It’s one of those unique ‘this-guy-is-definitely-a-Shia’ names. I guess like most things my father does, he wanted to be different. And I was happy with that. I personally don’t know any Haiders. Until late last year, when I heard Vishal Bhardwaj was making his third Shakespeare adaptation on Hamlet, called Haider. Same name, same spelling. Not Hyder, Heydar, or Haidar. HAIDER. F-U-C-K-ed-M-E.

Putting it simply, it’s unnerving to see your name in posters, on billboards, as a trending hashtags of some of my cinematic idols on the big screen. In the ticket line at the box office I turned around as a reflex to my name being called out by impatient ticket buyers. And let’s not get started with the jokes that only true friends and elementary school goers can come up with; ‘How does it feel to have Shahid Kapoor in you?’, or ‘Dude! You gave Hansal Mehta fulfilling sleepless nights!’.

What put me to a melancholic ease though, was the name being pronounced in a Kashmiri accent. It took me back to an angry grandmother yelling out ‘Huhder!’ at my mischief. It’s sad that it takes a great like VB to put in the careful attention to detail to make sure that stars make the proper effort into not caricaturizing the dialect. From Shahid Kapoor’s ‘Sirinagar’ to Shraddha Kapoor’s endearing ‘Luvved, Givved, Suckked, Fu..’. They were almost pitch perfect. And even if some may not agree, full points for the effort.

The dialogues, their delivery, and timing, were just a revelation. Blending in Shakespeare’s cunning words with the heavy backdrop of the ‘Kashmir Issue’. Nothing felt pedantic, heavy handed, apologetic, expositional, out of place, or forced. It was as it should have been. Nothing more, nothing less.

The supporting cast was mostly played by locals, and they were spot-fucking on. There was no need for windy character back stories. From Janus’ two faced Salman and Salman, to Khurram’s born-again militant henchman. They could all have separate films based on them and I would pay good money to watch those too. It’s heartening to see such a wide pool of talent scattered all across the country. WAKE THE FUCK UP, BOLLYWOOD!

Shraddha Kapoor’s work was a welcome surprise. I wouldn’t say her performance was perfect, but three films in, she’s already giving her contemporaries a hard time. Aloof, innocent and gullible, Arshia was what I would call a perfect representation of Kashmir in the early parts of the militancy. It resonated, or was rather amplified by Tabu’s Ghazala, as a more worn out, mature, but also much more grey representation of Kashmir in the time the film is set in, the glorious mid-nineties. It seems like Tabu is the only actor that can play a self destructive feminine character in a Shakespearean tragedy to such seasoned perfection. And to Shahid Kapoor, all I want to say is, Ghanta-Ghar in Lal Chowk will never be the same for anyone again. They better fucking throw all the big (even if bogus) awards at him.

Never have I seen a film capture the reality of the situation so beautifully. Pankaj Kumar’s cinematography is a result of what would happen of each character we’re given a brush to paint out exactly what they see. Each frame was a representation of these personal works of art. It was almost akin to the wounded beauty of the valley. You are one of my heros. I was more excited about seeing your name attached to the film than VB’s. After Ship of Theseus, and now this, I can’t wait to see much much more work from you!

Finally, to the master himself. Vishal Bhardwaj. I might need a series of blog posts to talk about your work. And I’m sure, as I have also read, there is enough information, analysis, discourse and dissection of your work already. I’d rather not add to the pile. I’ll stick to what stuck out most for me, the score. I had listened to the songs that had come out in the run up to the release quite a lot. My favorite being, of course, Bismil. Though what really captured my entranced attention was the score. So, so, …. Fuck I’m out of adjectives that would do justice. I hope the score will be out soon. I know what music I’m going to write to now.

I have never lived for more than two months in Kashmir. Most of my upbringing has been in Delhi, though I have visited Kashmir every year of my life since I was born, most of those years being the most dangerous. I have only fond memories. I have never once seen a terrorist/mujahid/militant/freedom-fighter/jihadist. And it’s not like I lived in a cordoned off posh area. In fact my family lives in one of the rather impoverished Shia neighbourhoods in Srinagar. Though that is not to say, that the distant sound of gunshots and bomb explosions was not a common sound. In my own way, a part of my brain would register them as the sound of Diwali fire crackers, and things would be festive in my mind again. I’ve had the most tranquil moments of reflection on the banks of the Nigeen lake, on a grass patch between abandoned houseboats. I’ve cried my eyes out laughing with my cousins at the millionth viewing of Andaz Apna Apna on local cable channels. And don’t even get me started on wazwan. The closest I’ve come to ‘danger’ was a scooter ride back from football practice, dodging a hail of stones, swerving around burning tyres, and slyly detouring to my aunts house who lived nearby. I’ve always thought of that memory as a rather funny adventure. My worried wailing mother on the other hand, did not.

On the contrary, I’ve heard personal first hand accounts of friends, acquaintances and even close cousins (mostly young men), about the dangers they’ve had to endure. From both the militants and the army. Some accounts are so chilling that I’d rather not get into them, for your sake and mine. ‘Jab do haathi ladte hain, neeche ghaas hi kuchli jaati hai‘. It saddens me to see tasteless Anti-India graffiti vomited on ancient walls. Though their distrust and disdain for the AFSPA and conversely the Armed forces, is not without reason. There are bad apples everywhere, even in Kashmir. I recommend Ashwin Kumar’s two brilliant documentaries – Inshallah, Football and Inshallah, Kashmir. They will show you a side of the story the mainstream media conveniently redacts. I’m not an expert on the subject and I’m not foolish enough to think that I might even have something close to an answer. If anything, having a foot in both worlds, has given me a rather confusing point of view, so I usually stay out of Kashmir based bar-conversations. Plus, whenever anyone looks at me for an explanation, I conveniently say, ‘I don’t know bro, I’m German’. Which is why, I love this film too. I went in as an outsider, and actually learnt a few things I did not know. Thank you Basharat Peer, I’m no one to challenge a reputed journalist and writer who, by the way, happens to be from Kashmir.

Haider is by far the most realistic depiction of Kashmir I’ve seen on screen so far. That includes Aamir Bashir’s heartbreaking Harud.

It’s a perfect balance that knocks you out of your seat in a jolt of energy and then in an instant makes you slow-down and wonder. The only think I would have liked to see more of was a bit more on the exodus of the Kashmiri Pundits. Though, the film takes place in a time when the people have ‘gotten over’ it.

The first scene I ever wrote was of a conversation between two friends on the banks of the Nigeen Lake, my spot of tranquility, hiding from the world, sharing a cigarette, something I’ve done a countless number of times. Since then I’ve rewritten, thrown out, written again, and rewritten it again. I think it’s time to finally finish it. Thank you Vishal Bhardwaj.

To everyone out there still deciding, please watch this film. It’s the real ‘Bang Bang’. I really hope it releases in Kashmir. Last I heard, my local cinema in Hawal Chowk was still an army bunker.

Haider Hussain Beig