Archive for the ‘reviews’ Category

by  मोहित कटारिया

(Mohit Kataria is an IT engineer by profession, writer & poet by passion, and 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)

 

Nobody knew Nagraj Manjule when his debut feature, Fandry, released. It got rave reviews and made it to our “Must Watch” list. Our recco post on Fandry is here. But this time there was lot of expectations from him as Sairat is his second feature. He delivers and how! Here’s our recco post on the film by Dipti Kharude.

The film has released all over with English subs. Don’t miss.

sairat-hero copy

As I write this, I’m listening to the heady soundtrack of Sairat. The feeling of being in a music video with a bright Dupatta fluttering behind is hard to shake off. That is the naivety of love and that is our good, old desi way of spinning a yarn. We have perhaps forgotten that song and dance can make important contributions to the narrative of our films. They can accentuate agony and ecstasy, introduce characters, and allow them to express themselves in a way that would sound contrived as dialogue. In that vein, Ajay-Atul are to Sairat what Irshad Kamil has been to Imitiaz’s films, and more. (They have composed the music, written the lyrics and sung songs for the film).

In Sairat, the boy gets a song, the girl gets another and then there’s a duet. The last song, which is a prelude to the ugly turn of events is also a subtle nod to the Romeo-Juliet balcony scene where the protagonist, Archie, daughter of the powerful upper caste Patil is dancing in the veranda upstairs and Parshya, a fisherman’s son from the Pardhi community is dancing outside the house. This, like many other visuals establishes a hierarchy without screaming ‘caste’. Manjule uses this dreamy narrative to set us up. He pulls us in with promises of hackneyed romantic epics only to shows us the realities that were missing in films like QSQT and Saathiya.

Films are not about issues but about people living their lives. Good stories are the ones where the theme is subliminal. Sairat doesn’t go gently into the night, though. Manjule’s fiery outrage is muted in the first half only to smack us in the gut at the end. Its triumph lies in the fact that Manjule doesn’t depend on an art house aesthetic to create this impact. He relies on mainstream cinema to do the job.

In the most familiar tropes, he manages to question norms.

It is refreshing to see a girl in a rural set-up drive a tractor and be the knight in shining armour spouting quips like “Marathit samjat nai, tar English madhe sangu?” (If you don’t understand what I’m saying in Marathi, should I repeat it in English?) If the first half were a Bhai film, she would be Salman. Manjule subverts by making Sairat more about the heroine’s quest than that of the hero’s. This film makes you revise your image of small-town/rural girls. They want to take agency over their own lives. The female gaze in Sairat is not the terrible flip side of the usual hetero male gaze, which typically fetishizes women. It is like a celebration of female desire.

He creates joyous moments in the hinterlands of the Solapur district of Maharashtra. This milieu is almost conspicuous by the lack of it in Bollywood – a ladder to climb the makeshift pavilion during a match, the privileged son cutting his birthday cake with a sword, a lady barging unapologetically on the field during a cricket match and yanking her son away to keep watch over the livestock and the unfurling of a courtship against the backdrop of wells and sugarcane fields.

In Sairat, the issue of ‘casteism’ is not at the forefront but its consequences are. The privilege of being the daughter of an upper caste strongman empowers Archie to be badass. Despite the entitlement, Archie endears with her rebellion. She is unabashedly flirtatious and brandishes a raw frankness. She reprimands Parshya for referring to his physically inadequate friend as ‘langda’, in jest. Manjule is interested in dismantling many other structures where the contours of discrimination may change but the hierarchical outlook stays the same. It is this advantage that Archi struggles to relinquish in the second half. Once she frees herself of the power that comes with privilege and strives on an equal footing with Parshya, she evolves.

While doing all of this, Manjule does not strike a single false note. Archie may have valiantly used a gun while escaping but that doesn’t prepare her to drink unfiltered water. The scene where Archie and Parshya quench their thirst after disembarking the train is telling.

In the gritty second half, the main characters come undone with their frailties. Even the charming Parshya succumbs to his insecurities. Slow motion sequences are traded in for rapt stillness and silences. They begin to realize their happily-ever- after dream and are even economically empowered to buy a flat in a more egalitarian city.

Apparently, class inequality is surmountable but it is the caste inequalities that cast a long shadow.

SPOILER ALERT

Honour killing is a common narrative but Manjule draws you in and makes you drop your guard. You can sense the robust command over his craft when you laugh during an awkward scene just before the ghastly climax.

ALERT ENDS

The more diverse ways we have of telling mainstream stories, the more likely audiences will find something that speaks to them. What better way to spur a discourse?

Dipti Kharude

It was suppose to be DC Comics answer to Marvel’s Avengers. But so far, the reviews of ‘Batman v Superman : Dawn Of Justice’ are more entertaining than the film. And if you have landed up from some other planet, you might have missed this video which is depressing and funny at the same time.

So what really happened? What does it mean for DC Comics’ next? Is there a way out? Have patience and read Anubhav Dasgupta‘s rant.

BatmanvSuperman

(SPOILER AHEAD. It’s fucking full of spoiler. Wait. You still haven’t seen it? Lucky you!)

On Thursday night, I sat down in a movie theater and watched Superman reach into Batman’s chest and rip out his heart. A child sitting in my row decided it was finally time to leave. I should have followed her out, but I stay put like the masochist that I am.

Batman v Superman is the nadir of DC comics. Not only is it a badly made film that made me question whether professionals  — some of them Oscar winners — were behind it, but it is an utterly reprehensible, indefensible piece of garbage that ruins the two most iconic characters in history to satiate the appetites of immature adults who constantly seek validation for their consumption of stories starring characters that were made for children.

Let’s call these immature adults “Batbros” because there’s only so many times I can type “immature adults” before I’m sick of the term.

Batman Begins was a great film that rejuvenated the Batman franchise, salvaging it from the campy wrecks of Joel Schumacher’s Batman and Robin. Christopher Nolan infused the character with a sense of pathos that made his trauma palpable every second of the film. He set it in a world very much like ours but also infused it with comic-book elements like fear toxins and a shadow cult of ninjas. Critics loved it, audiences dug it, fans were happy. It made enough money for Warner Bros to green light a sequel. Like Begins, its sequel The Dark Knight was a dance of reality and myth. Ostensibly a reaction to the American war on terror, Joker representing the chaotic boogeyman, something that Batman, standing in for Americans, simply could not understand. It was a massive, massive success and it still remains one of the greatest films ever made. But a collateral damage caused by it was the emergence of the Batbro. They identified with Batman’s seething libertarianism, his fascistic insistence on surveillance as an end to chaos and terror. They identified with an aspect of the character that was very much post-9/11 American White Male. What they thought they fell in love with was the darkness of the plot, considering it novel while being ignorant of the fact that comic books and comic book movies have touched upon dark themes before. I strongly believe that they do not recognise what makes The Dark Knight special and mis-attribute it to the grim mood of the story.

In the same year The Dark Knight came out, rival comic book publisher, Marvel’s movie arm put out Iron Man. Starring Robert Downey Jr as a genius pro-war one-percenter reformed into a superhero, it was talking about some of the same things as TDK but the approach was completely different. While TDK considered the war on terror a grim necessity, Iron Man criticised it while subtly commenting on the military-industrial complex and how corporations and militarism go hand in hand in a capitalist economy. The titular Iron Man, himself, is a much brighter character, who uses his wit and arrogance to mask his despair while Batman channels it into a life-force.

Spurred by the success of Iron Man, Marvel put out movies that existed in the same universe, done in the same style. Their continual successes culminated in Avengers, a movie that united Marvel’s heroes, which made ungodly amounts of money in the box office and millions more in merchandise sales.

DC floundered along, their one shot at a shared universe, Green Lantern, failing miserably. Batbros found solace in the Batman video games produced by Rocksteady, whose atmosphere vindicated their demand for immature darkness. The stages of the game looked grimy, the characters — save for Joker — wore constipated scowls and dressed in greasy coats. There was an unsubtle misogyny about how the game series treated its few women characters, animating their movements to make them look like they were continually cat-walking. What they got perfectly right were the mechanics of the game, the story, penned by DC Animated series alumni Paul Dini, and the voice-acting, which reunited DC Animated series alums Kevin Conroy, Mark Hamill and Tara Strong.

DC comics’ only mainstream successes were the Nolan Batman films and the Batman video games so, when it was time to reboot the DC universe and rake in Avengers money, they decided to push the tone of both these sources on to their movie universe.

It’s been a fucking disaster.

Man of Steel was positioned to revitalise the Superman franchise for a generation and a fanbase of Batbros that thinks altruism is bullshit. Zack Snyder’s film was a character assassination of the highest order, corrupting the socialist bent of the original Superman to make way for an ill-advised objectivist interpretation. The parallels to the story of Moses (Superman’s creators, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster were Jewish immigrants in ’30s America) were ignored to force Christian symbolism on the character. Snyder misconstrued the power fantasy of Superman to be a physical desire rather than an ideological one. This Superman isn’t great in heart or spirit, but in physical strength. He spends the movie moping around, so crushed by the weight of his responsibility that he does nothing about it. In the third act of Man of Steel, a noisy, grey muddle that makes Michael Bay’s Transformers look coherent, Superman allows wanton destruction as he faces off against a mighty alien being. At the end of it, he manages to catch the alien in a chokehold and snap his neck.

Batbros lapped it up. It was a mainstream vindication of the maturity of a comic book character. Surely, there could be nothing immature about dodging an oil tanker and letting it destroy a building when you have all the power in the world to stop it, or destroying a man’s livelihood because he was mean to you inside a bar.

Strong visuals and a fantastic score by Hans Zimmer elevated it from trashiness into mediocrity and it made some money and sanctimonious too-cool-for-school audiences finally found Superman to be cool after he had snapped some guy’s neck.

Never mind the children as long as the adults are entertained.

The same darkness followed through in the comic books. After the DC line was rebooted, Superman traded in his red trunks, spit curl and charm for armour and an unpleasant scowl. He was, finally, cool.

Batman v Superman doubled down on this interpretation, creating a Superman who possesses all the maturity and angst of a spurned teenager. The movie antagonises him, pities him, hates him and the one time he’s about to explain himself, it blows everything up. Literally. Here’s a Superman who seems like he hesitates to save anyone who isn’t his mother or his girlfriend. Here’s a Superman who forgets all his powers to allow a contrived plot to unfold. Batbros were further vindicated by a Batman who scared the shit out of criminals, who straight-up murdered people with military grade armaments mounted on his vehicles.

Zack Snyder has hid behind the defence that he’s followed the comics to a t. I doubt he’s read a comicbook. I strongly suspect that he flipped through a few pages, looked at the art, skipped dialogue balloons when his ADD took over and thought it was the greatest thing ever. BvS plays like a visual greatest hits of comicbooks. There’s images from The Dark Knight Returns, Crisis on Infinite Earths and The Death and Return of Superman replicated with great accuracy. But here’s the thing. Comic books don’t work solely on imagery alone. The titular fight between Batman and Superman is lifted from The Dark Knight Returns, but it lacks any of the intelligence, any of the motivation behind the fight. The philosophical battle between the ideologies of fascism and libertarianism have been replaced by Bollywood movie-level scheming. But Superman and Batman fight and the screen’s so dark we can barely make out anything so it’s mature, r…right?

Superman dies, just like he did in The Death and Return of Superman, but I felt nothing. The comic book isn’t the best but when Supes bites the bullet, we feel something. His sacrifice in the comic is earned. But in BvS? Fuck no. There’s many ways Superman didn’t have to die, and we’ve spent so much time annoyed by his moping and selfishness that it doesn’t affect us much at all.

But, hey, Superman dies. What a ballsy move, right? Fuck no. Everybody knows he’s going to come back to life. The moment has no point, no impact, no nothing. It’s cheap, superficial imagery and grim to a pornographic level.

But hey, Superman dies so this is suddenly an adult mature film, unlike the Marvel movies where everything’s sunny and you can actually make out what the fuck is happening. Batbros finally had an adult superhero franchise to rally behind. Finally, they felt, we don’t look like kids anymore. Never mind that Batman and Superman stop fighting because their mothers have the same name, killing people is exceptionally mature and adult amirite?

Never mind the kid who is bored by the pointless pontification, blinded by the few splotches of colour that emerge from a dark, drab palette, terrified by the characters they were supposed to love. Batbros will hi-five each other all the way to the fucking bank.

Kids, meanwhile, will be reluctant to buy action figures from the DC universe, page through DC comics while Marvel will capture their imagination completely.

Marvel figures are routinely cleaned up at Toy aisles while DC’s figures enter the bargain bin because nobody cares about their characters.

Except for Batman, barely any DC comics sell routinely as much as their Marvel counterparts, despite the quality.

All this thanks to DC bending over to cater to a tiny subset of fans who want to prove that their superheroes are fit for adult consumption.

Alan Moore, the writer of Watchmen, Batman : The Killing Joke, Swamp Thing and other comic book classics, infamously referred to comic book fans as subhuman. He cited the crowds of adults lining up to watch Avengers. He wasn’t wrong in his statement but he was woefully wrong in his observation.

The Marvel films, while routine, are ostensibly for children, but have enough pathos and intelligence to satisfy adult viewers. They’re stories for children that work for adults.

The DC films, however, drip in darkness. They’re for ignorant people who think that anything meant for children demands no seriousness or maturity. There’s no joy in any of their characters or any of their exploits. Their films are grim to the point of hilarity. DC films are a child’s view of what an adult film is, they are the kind of films that Vincent Adultman from Bojack Horseman would insist upon watching. DC film’s are selfish appropriations of children’s characters by childish adults.

When Alan Moore called comic book fans sub-humans, this is what he was going on about. Not adults who dress up as Thor in line to Avengers 2 but adults who celebrate the image of Superman ripping someone’s heart out while the kids cower, confused.

Thing is, Warner Bros seems to hate these characters. There is a marked cynicism behind the DC universe driven by a begrudging need to make money off IPs they disdain. They heap their own ugliness, their cynical hollywood fear and nihilism into characters that were built to give hope. Superman needed to be brought down from his pedestal of ideological superiority to our ugly levels of angst and paranoia. By reducing the symbolism and ripe mythological gravitas to petty wannabe philosophy, they have greatly diluted the power inherent in the characters. A page in Grant Morrison and Frank Quitley’s All-Star Superman has famously saved people from committing suicides. I simply don’t see films from the DC universe coming close to doing that. They’re content with being ugly extensions of an ugly world. They’re not the mirrors to our society as they hope to be, but the cesspools of our collective subconscious. Saving cats is passé, destroying whole cities is in. Fuck the kids, our audience are ugly man-children.

Batbros are celebrating the latest ravaging of the Superman icon but I feel they’ll turn round. The film has been universally panned by critics, its glaring errors in basic filmmaking revealing the true ugliness inherent in the plot. People are catching on to their shit. However, if it makes any money, it’ll be a vindication of the Batbros’ stance. Warner Bros will double down on the darkness, ruining and ravaging every bit of innocence inherent in the characters until there’s nothing.

If you’re a DC fan, and remember the joy the comics or Bruce Timm’s animated series gave you, and you like the current crop of DC films, I strongly urge you to think about it. Our characters are far more important than your selfish enjoyment and loyalism. We’ve got to save them. We’ve got to make sure Warner Bros get rid of their pointless nihilism. Otherwise we’ll be looking at a bunch of movies about joyless freaks that encourage no emotion, no thought, no joy except for infantile vindication.

Batbros are celebrating the latest exercise in cynical destruction, but they’ll be proven wrong, when, years from now, their children will ignore their Superman toys for a miniature Iron Man.

Batman v Superman is Darkseid’s anti-life, pushing us into cynical acceptance of our grim mentality. We have to resist. We have to be better. This is more important than two rival companies. This is a battle for hope and for the future. And fans are their own biggest enemies.

Anubhav Dasgupta

(Anubhav tries to make good stuff. Besides cinema, he also likes comic books and cats)

It addresses the construct of gender and trans identity while shining a light on the messy journey of self-discovery.

A few days before I gorged on the second season of the American TV series, Transparent, I happened to read a column that made a case for turning away from fictions of the self. The writer went on to say that you must write what you know but if you have a story to tell, tell it like you know it is not your story alone. It was a fitting coincidence. Jill Soloway manages just that with the semi-autobiographical, Transparent – to tell the story of a transsexual parent, in a way that is so universal, that not only transgender people but anyone in the midst of transitions, living their truths and rocking a few boats in the process, would relate to. The scrutiny that comes with the act of ‘coming out’ is true not only of the transgender community in India, but also of someone who is gay, divorced, in a live-in relationship and others, to varying degrees, who dare to disturb the status quo. Soloway explores the tapestry of oddities that make the institution of family, and distills the alchemy of weighty philosophies through the prism of gender.

Season 1 begins with Mort Pfefferman, the patriarch of a dysfunctional family and a 60-year-old retired college professor, publicly transitioning to Maura Pfefferman. The family comprises three adult children – Sarah, Ali and Josh and an ex-wife, Shelly. Coming out to the kids is not depicted as heroic, as much as honest, taking into account the emotional universe of the family rattled by the admission. Transparent acknowledges the collateral damage caused while being unabashedly honest to oneself but selfishness is still hailed, over living a lie. The children’s reactions range from denial to reluctance to a gradual acceptance – a very real portrayal of an unconventional family experience. The uphill task of getting to know a person anew begins with something as mundane as the question of what to address the parent as. Ali, the youngest of the Pfefferman siblings coins an endearing term for Maura, ‘Mopa’ – a blend of Momma and Papa.

Maura’s confession fuels the process of self-discovery in the family members grappling with identity crises of their own. While in Season 1, the characters wave the flag of liberation as they attempt to find their voices, in Season 2, they are at their lowest ebb in their quest for personal truths.  Soloway plunges headlong into the evolution of these characters, where their ugly obsessions and dysfunctional reflexes are front and centre. The series deftly dispels the assumption that brave moments of confrontation dovetail happiness. Flinging open the closet of skeletons and following our truth is only the first of many challenges. Transparent shows how being at home within oneself is an ongoing struggle, which also opens doors to a newer world with lesser and sometimes fleeting, but authentic bonhomie. With wisdom, comes a peculiar loneliness.

The series intelligently illumines that gender and sexuality are not synonymous and that both can be fluid with a range of queer female relationships. A fascinating observation about the distinction between personal anguish and male advantage is highlighted by an instance, where we find out that Maura as a man has a slightly misogynistic past. We also see Maura stumbling into her gender identity like a teenager discovering her body, straddling a sense of adventure and confusion. This is evident in a conversation in a clinic, where the doctor asks Maura, “Do you plan on getting breasts?”, and Maura quips, “Two please.” When the doctor further inquires if she’s planning on undergoing a gender reassignment surgery, she takes a lengthy pause before replying, “I’ll have to get back to you on that one.” Maura also vehemently declares that she loves vaginas, a communication seemingly at odds with being transgender. While Ali tries to academically understand the constructs of gender, heteronormavity and patriarchy, Josh still refuses to come to terms with the loss of a father – the loss Mort to Maura. Also, Sarah, the eldest of the Pfefferman kids finds a sense of redemption in her kinks during her lonely phase following a heterosexual marriage, a lesbian relationship and a breakup. The scene where Maura pleasures the ex-wife Shelly, illustrates with masterly tenderness, their fiendishly complicated relationship and the yearning of the elderly, spurred by loneliness.  Long habit and a firm sense of belonging in case of ex-spouses can lead to a self-defeating return to the old, familiar ways, irrespective of gender.

The character of Leslie Mackinaw inspired by the legendary lesbian poet Eileen Myles says, “I don’t really teach. I like to talk about things I care about to people, who are ready”. Steering clear of a didactic treatment, Soloway has adopted a similar approach in her storytelling, tackling characters with a rare balance of objectivity and compassion. She presents to us the wonderfully weird Pfefferman clan with a healthy irreverence and hilarity; therein lies the triumph of Transparent.

Dipti Kharude

(Dipti just quit her corporate job and is having fun dipping her toes in a ton of stuff like binge watching TV and web series, doing movie marathons, gallivanting, and writing about her escapades. She tweets @kuhukuro)

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*LOTS of spoilers*

“Hello Jack, Thanks for saving our little girl.” says Joan Allen upon seeing her grandson Jacob Tremblay (who play Jack so astonishingly that you want to cleave through the screen and smother him with hugs and kisses) for the first time in a hospital. This line defines the heart of the film. How a 5 year old kid saves his mother’s life. That is what the film is about, not about their heroic escape from the clutches of a psychopath.

A kid that came into being 2 years after his mother became a sex slave, and had been held captive for two years. He talks to the inanimate objects in the room (Good morning ‘lamp’, Good morning ‘sink’, Good morning ‘chair’), talks to his imaginary dog, does stretches with his mother to keep his muscles agile, listens to the ‘Big Rock Candy Mountain’ that his mother sings for him, makes toys with egg shells, and celebrates his birthday with a cake without candles, and stares out of the skylight where aliens live. That is what he’s been doing for 5 years until one fine day his mother decides that its about time he escaped. The instructions are clear – “Wiggle out, jump, run, somebody.”

He is scared shitless coz he literally has not seen anything out of that room and he is 5 years old! His world was a small room with a bed, wardrobe (where he was supposed to hide when ‘Old Nick” visited Mom, the name aptly refers to the devil as I read somewhere), a bathtub, a chair-table and a TV with bad reception. He literally is not aware that there exists a world outside these four walls full of trees and dogs and people and oceans and endless earth, which is round, he later gets to know confounded by the fact that if it is, why we don’t fall off. So when Mom tries to tell him the truth, he screams. (a scene he had the most difficulty performing)

She was all of 17 when this happened, she tells him, when she was tricked to fall down down down this rabbit hole. She tells him of Grandma’s house with a backyard and a hammock. He understands her story, coz he is five (Jacob was actually 7 at the time of the shoot) now. He is a grown up boy capable of understanding complex things, is what she makes him believe so that he can escape. And the moment he does, your heart, along with Mom’s, skip a beat. You literally want to run and save that kid from this monster driving the truck. Jack’s eyes, the moment he comes out of the carpet, are going to haunt me for a long long time.

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Ideally, this is where a conventional film would have ended. The kid escapes, saves his mother with the help of the police, and they live happily ever after, but that is where this film actually starts, and post their escape it is an intense emotional rollercoaster ride that leaves you gasping  for air by the time it ends.

“You’re gonna love it.” She tells him.

“What?” he asks.

“The World” she says.

But what she didn’t know that will she be able to love it?

“I am supposed to be happy.” says Joy (Brie Larson, I would not mind you taking that trophy home, at all.) to her mother at the beginning of a heated argument. She doesn’t know how to deal with her freedom. Everything has changed, from her own family to the world around her. People moved on, life went on. Living for 7 years in a contained space with a crushing hope that one day you might be able to look as far as your eyes can see instead of an impenetrable steel wall four feet away can leave you with severe PTSD. Plus she is worried about her child. She wants him to play with toys and connect with people, of which he is not capable of, not yet. Her mother and step father (Tom McCamus, a brief but wonderful cameo) are patient. They know he will come around, but Joy is impatient, and her interview with a news channels doesn’t really help things.

This film, in terms of narrative, explored an unchartered territory. We are used to seeing the victorious (or sometimes failed) escape of our heroes and that’s when the credits starts to roll. We are not used to seeing these people getting assimilated in the world again, and that’s where the magic lies. Showing us the struggle of Joy and Jake getting used to ‘space’ is where Emma Donoghue’s screenplay shines bright. For Jake, it’s easier coz he is still ‘plastic’ (read moldable) as per the doctor (“I am not plastic” he opposes in Ma’ ear) but Ma is not plastic, and she has to deal with not only her own loneliness but Jake’s as well.

The world is too much for Jake. He can’t handle this vast expanse of nothingness around him at such a tender age (“There’s so much of place in the world. There’s less time because the time has to be spread extra thin over all the places, like butter.”). He, at multiple times, asks if they can go back to the room coz he misses it sometimes. They do visit it one last time before saying their final goodbyes. “Say Bye to the room, Ma” tells Jake to Ma, and Brie Larson lets out an almost silent “Bye Room” under her breath. This time they don’t see the Room as the world they inhabited for 5 years but as a cell stripped off of everything that could have reminded them of their past. The flush, Jack’s ocean with boats and ships is gone, and so is the bed and mattress on which they used to sleep. The door is ajar, and the kitchen is ruined. This cathartic visit ends their ordeal coz Room literally doesn’t exist anymore.

The film leaves you emotionally drained with wet eyes and a runny nose but happy. Happy to have witnessed such an incredibly moving parable of an inexplicably strong bond between parent and child. This film rests at top with “Mad Max” and “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” (another tear jerker) as my personal favorite from last year, and I don’t think any other film would be able to come close because I don’t think any other film will be able to have as much soul as these three.

Would like to leave you with this featurette that should tell you how amazing a chemistry these two share, even in real life

Go watch it for the kid, we don’t get to see such prodigies that often.

–  Avinash Verma

Q’s latest film Brahman Naman premiered at the recently concluded Sundance Festival. Here’s all the buzz that the film generated at the fest – The fridge, the fish, and the fan!

Brahman Naman

– For Twitch Interview of Q and the cast, click here.

– Guardian has given it a three-star rating. Review is here

– Variety review is here

– Hollywood Reporter review is here

– Review on Twitch Film is here. Calls it a “fantastic facre”

– Netflix scooped up worldwide SVOD rights. Details here

– Interview on Film Companion where Q reveals that the film is really about caste system.

– Pillow Talk with Q and Shashank Arora (they are literally on the bed)

 

Tamasha

तमाशा देखकर निकला तो उलझन में डूबा रहा | इम्तियाज़ की फ़िल्में पसंद आती रहीं हैं,तो इस बार ऐसा क्या हुआ कि बाहर निकल कर उत्साह की जगह निराशा थी | जहाँ सब तमाशा की तारीफ़ में डूबे थे,किसको और कैसे बताऊँ कि फ़िल्म मुझे अच्छी नहीं लगी | यह जैसे ख़ुद में अपराध-बोध जैसा था | फिर सिलसिलेवार सोचना शुरू किया तो पाया कि फ़िल्म कई बातें सिर्फ़ ऊपर-ऊपर से करती है और निकल आती है |

या तो यह इम्तियाज़ की ज़िद है कि मैं कहानी दोहराऊँगा और उसे कुछ अलग रँग देकर पेश करूँगा और साबित करूँगा कि एक ही कहानी अलग-अलग तरह से दिखाने पर भी वह सफल फ़िल्म हो सकती है | इस की भूमिका वे फ़िल्म के शुरूआती बीस मिनट में बाँधते हैं | यह जैसे फ़िल्म शुरू होने से पहले उनका उद्घोष है कि दुनिया में सारी कहानियाँ एक ही तो हैं,तब फिर मुझपर यह इल्ज़ाम क्यों ? यहीं वे अपनी कहानी के लिए एक बचाव ढूँढते नज़र आते हैं | यही बात वे शुरू से अपनी हर फ़िल्म में कह रहे हैं | “इक्को एक कहाणी बस बदले ज़माना ” |

उनकी नायिका हमेशा की तरह एक बोल्ड और सामाजिक ताने-बाने के ऊपर की एक लड़की है जिसे बकौल इम्तियाज़ “हुस्न की गलियाँ ” दिखें या ना दिखें से कोई दिक्कत नहीं | वह दुनिया घूमती है,अपने फ़ैसले लेती है और इस विचार से कि दोबारा शायद नायक से मुलाक़ात ना हो,ऐसे में अपने दिल की सुनने से नहीं चूकती और देह की बनी-बनाई परम्पराओं को लाँघने के बाद आज़ाद महसूस करती है | फिर प्रेम उसको कमज़ोर बनाता है और अंत तक आते आते वह इस बात से संतुष्ट है कि वह एक सफल पुरुष की प्रेयसी या पत्नी है |

कहानी मूल रूप से नायक के भटकाव और एक लड़की के प्रेम से गुज़रते हुए खुद को पा लेने की है और यहीं फ़िल्म सबसे कमज़ोर है | हाँ यह सही है कि प्रेम हमारे अंतर्मन को छूता है और कई सारे बदलाव करता है | कोई हमें इस तरह पहचानने लगता है जिस तरह कभी किसी और ने नहीं पहचाना हो | प्रेम भीतर घुस कर हमें उधेड़ता है और हमारा असली रूप हमारे सामने ले आता है जिसे हम ख़ुद सालों से नकार रहे होते हैं | यह हम सहज स्वीकार नहीं कर पाते और ऐसे में वह इंसान जो यह सब कर रहा होता है,उसे भी हम उतना ही दोषी मानते हैं जितना ख़ुद को | जिस तरह हम अपने दुश्मन रहे होते हैं,उसी तरह वह इंसान हमारा इतना अपना हो जाता है कि अपना दुश्मन लगता है |

हम जो करना चाहते हैं,जब वो नहीं कर पा रहे होते,तो क्या हमारा बर्ताव वैसा होता है जैसा फ़िल्म के नायक का था ! उसके लिए फ़िल्म कोई विश्वसनीयता नहीं पैदा करती | वेद के अपने बॉस के साथ के सीन्स,यदि कोई फूहड़ फ़िल्म होती तो मैं हजम कर लेता,लेकिन यह इम्तियाज़ की फ़िल्म है और यहाँ वह अपनी पकड़ खोती है | वेद की छटपटाहट अपने सपने को ना जी पाने की है या तारा के प्यार के लिए है,यह भी साफ़ नहीं है |

वेद और तारा मिलते हैं और उसके बाद के तीन-चार साल तारा के कैसे बीते यह तो हमें पता है लेकिन वेद ? वह एक नौकरी में है और तारा से प्रेम में है या नहीं,यह कहाँ दिखता है | तारा के मना कर देने के बाद की जो चोट है,वह प्रेम में ठुकराए जाने की है या उस ज़िन्दगी को ना जी पाने की जिसकी झलक हमने कोर्सिका में देखी थी |

आप दिखाते हैं कि वेद ने आख़िरकार अपने मन की सुनी और फ़ैसला लिया और फिर सब ठीक हो गया | ऐसा कहाँ होता है जी | वह तो शुरुआत भर है | जीवन तो उसके बाद शुरू होता है | फ़िल्म ना तो वेद के बचपन पर ठहरती है जहाँ से उसके संघर्ष की जड़ें पकड़ में आती और ना ही अपने मन-मुताबिक ना जी पाने की स्थिति से उपजे रोज़ के संघर्ष पर |

“जब हम प्यार में होते हैं तो कितना हिस्सा असली होता है और कितना सिर्फ़ हमारे दिमाग़ में,हमारी कल्पनाओं में | जब सब ख़त्म हो जाता है तो सिर्फ़ कल्पना बचती है जो धीरे-धीरे दिमाग़ को खाती है और इस ज़्यादा सोचते रहने से ही उपजता है दुःख | प्रेम यदि एक यात्रा है तो दोनों की,एक की नहीं | हमारा नायक एक ऐसा आदमी है जो अपने बारे में सब जानता है और फिर खुद अपने हाथ से निकल जाता है |उसको पता है कि अब तक उसने खुद को संभाला है और अब उसकी लगने वाली है | वह जानता है कि वह अपने हाथों से फिसल कर सब कुछ तोड़ देने वाला है और इस बर्बादी के बाद जो सामने आएगा वह असली होगा जबकि वह जीवन भर इसी टूटन से बचता-भागता फिरता रहा | आख़िर में आप उम्मीद लगाते हैं कि अब कुछ होगा और वेद अपने परिवार वालों को एक कहानी सुनाता है और जो दिक्कत सालों से नहीं सुलट रही थी,वो यूँ हो जाता है मानो इतना ही आसान था | “

कुछ बातें जो कचोटती रहीं …

-वेद ने तो तारा के सहारे ख़ुद को खोज लिया, तारा को कौन खोजेगा ?

-जब तारा और वेद दोनों ख़ुद को खोजेंगे, तब वे अलग हो जाएँगे |

-स्त्रियाँ कब तक पुरुषों की मरम्मत के लिए उपलब्ध रहेंगी | क्या हमारी फ़िल्में उनको भी भटकाव में जीने की आज़ादी देंगी |

-क्या यह ऐसा नहीं था कि हाँ तुम अपने सपने जीयो,तुम्हारे लिए तो मैं हूँ | मेरा सपना तो तुम हो |

-क्या मन की सुनकर फ़ैसला भर ले लेना सफलता का पैमाना है | यहाँ तो कितने हैं जी जो मन की सुनकर ठोकरें खा रहे हैं और लगातार मेहनत कर रहे हैं |

-क्या ऐसी स्थिति जैसी वेद की है,वह यह हक देती है कि आप आसानी से बदतमीज़ी करें | या तो फ़िल्म इसे विश्वसनीय बनाती |

यह सारी बातें सिर्फ़ इसलिए क्योंकि फ़िल्म इम्तियाज़ की है | मुझे इरशाद कामिल के गीतों की फिर तारीफ़ करनी चाहिए और दीपिका के अभिनय की भी | अभिनय की कई परतों को रणबीर बस सतह से निभा ले गए |

तमाशा एक अच्छी फ़िल्म है,कालजयी या जादुई नहीं |

– Pradeep Awasthi