Posts Tagged ‘Ankhon Dekhi’

Like in the last few years, Rajeev Masand has done a series of roundtable discussions this year too. And the one which has the best panel and which interests us the most is the directors roundtable. This one had Vishal Bhardwaj (Haider), Rajat Kapoor (Ankhon Dekhi), Vikas Bahl (Queen), Imtiaz Ali (Highway), RajKumar Hirani (PK) and Abhishek Varman (2 States).

As we have done in the past, this year too we are trying to source the scripts of some of the best films of the year. As most of you know, the scripts of Hollywood films are easily available online, even the unreleased ones. But we don’t have any such database of Hindi or Indian films. So that has been the primary reason for this initiative. And it has been possible because some of the filmmakers have been very supportive about it. It’s only for educational purpose and much like the spirit of the blog, is a complete non-profitable exercise.

Rajat Kapoor’s Ankhon Dekhi is easily one of the best films this year. It has made it to the top of the year end list of many critics, filmmakers and our post too. Rajat has always been known for writing and directing unusual and interesting stories. But this time, the film really went beyond just the interesting premise. So here’s the script of Ankhon Dekhi in our “Best of 2014” list.

Thanks to Rajat Kapoor for sharing it. We have Ankhon Dekhi’s script in its pre-shooting original draft.

Do click on the “Scripts” tab on the top right corner of the blog page to access all the other scripts (Queen, The Lunchbox, Shahid, Kai Po Che, D Day, Lootera, Kahaani, Ek Main Aur Ek Tu, Agent Vinod, Dev D etc) that we have posted here so far.

Film – Ankhon Dekhi

Director : Rajat Kapoor

Story, Screenplay, Dialogue – Rajat Kapoor

The brief was the same this year. A mail was sent to the usual cinema comrades who write, contribute, and help in running this blog. Pick a film (released/unreleased/long/short/docu/anything) that stood out and has stayed with you, whatever is the reason. Since the idea was that we cover maximum films, so no two people were allowed to write on the same film. And nobody was told who was writing on which film. So here is the final list:

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shripriya mahesh on Love Is Strange

Love Is Strange is a quiet, contemplative, almost observational movie that follows two older gay men, Ben (John Lithgow) and George (Alfred Molina). After finally getting married, they are then forced to live apart when George loses his job. We follow their separate lives as they adjust to not being together and to imposing on those who host them. The awkwardness of small talk with family he doesn’t know well, the feeling of constantly being underfoot, the profound sadness at being separated from someone he’s spent his life with are all portrayed exquisitely by John Lithgow. The loneliness and dependency of old age are captured so perfectly that months after seeing the movie, I find myself thinking about Lithgow sitting alone in the kitchen or painting on the roof. The little moments stay with you and make this a special, intimate film.

shubhodeep pal on Drevo (The Tree)

I wrote about the Slovenian film Drevo (The Tree) almost three months ago when I watched it at the Mumbai Film Festival. A month later, by a curious turn of fate, I found myself in Slovenia. At the main train station in Ljubljana — where trains themselves look like art installations — I chanced upon exactly what I was looking for: a poster of Drevo, in its homeland. In Ljubljana, which has forever embedded itself as a colour in my memory — grey — I explored the scantily populated streets in the early hours of the morning and thought about Drevo, a film that has refused to leave me since I saw it first. Juxtaposed with the chilling backdrop of the movie — about a peculiar sort of honour killing in the Balkans — the Slovenia I saw felt harmless, almost inert. But this curious contradiction left me with two realisations: first, the power of imagination, which transcends reality despite all odds, lends colour to the most drab surroundings — as indeed it does to the child trapped inside his house, going endlessly around the courtyard on his bicycle, and imagining the world outside, out of his reach seemingly for ever. Second, the nature of reality itself is twisted: accidents become murders; a place of beauty houses ugliness; seemingly innocuous places house terrors. The films I watch inevitably take on a life of their own, outside the screen, moving me in inexplicable ways. For Drevo, this has never been truer.

shazia iqbal on Boyhood

After a dramatic scene where the mother (played by Patricia Arquette) walks out on her abusive alcoholic second husband, she tries to pacify her daughter’s tantrums and breaks down, we see a poster outside her son, Mason’s new classroom that says ‘You are responsible for your own actions’. Richard Linklater is the most remarkable filmmaker of our times who has cracked certain philosophical conundrums of life like most of the humanity hasn’t and makes stories to make sense of the same.

In a family where children are treated as adults, the boy (Ellar Coltrane) in Boyhood silently observes the intimate ‘in-betweens’ of life, post his parent’s separation, where the only constant is changing families, friends and houses. Linklater’s response is not anger, aggression and rebelling, typical of a quintessential coming-of-age story. He almost seems unaffected, unsure by wherever life puts him, and reasons it with confused curiosity only to conclude that growing old doesn’t mean having all the answers. Even during the most disturbing moments, the drama happens in a character’s head than outside of them. Which is why Boyhood, devoid of all sentimentality and melodrama is a path-breaking reflective piece of cinema, and to paraphrase the final line in the movie, it seizes you in its various moments. These moments stay with us accompanied by a daunting silence specially at the point where the mother breaks down saying ‘I just thought there would be more…’, which becomes the culmination of our collective expectations from life.

mihir fadnavis on Cheap Thrills

What if you found a guy in a bar who offers you ridiculous amounts of money to indulge in the most bizarre challenges? How far towards depravity would you go when the chips are down? Do you really care about right and wrong when defecating in your neighbors house gives you one thousand dollars? Debutant director EL Katz’s answers all your sickening queries in Cheap Thrills, a pitch black, hilarious, and audacious horror comedy that transcends the torture porn genre. As the crackpot version of Who Dares Wins unfolds on the screen Katz offers you a huge dose of guilty pleasure, and surprisingly, an even larger helping of social commentary, which sends over Cheap Thrills to this particular ‘best of 2014’ movie list. Katz also happened to direct the best segment of The ABCs of Death– couple that with Cheap Thrills and you’ve got a very interesting young filmmaker on your radar.

rahul desai on Mommy

Forget that director Xavier Dolan is 25 years old. Forget that this is his fifth full-length feature film. Forget that he is known as L’enfant Terrible in Quebec–where he has grown up, and perhaps the town that has made his films such throbbing, breathing, evocative chunks of heart.

Mommy is his finest; a wretched, energetic snapshot of time. It is about a single mother struggling to bring up her ADHD-afflicted 15-year old son, with the help of an enigmatic, stuttering woman next door. Somehow, somewhere, this is a rousing film; brutally honest escapism, grounded and battered into frames of all-consuming chaos.

Three souls combine to give us something more than just mere performances; they blend into their surroundings and suck us into their vortex of desperate love. None of them are quite in sync with society. They’re not ideal mothers, sons and neighbours. They’re misfits, but unapologetic and glorious. So uncomfortable, yet beautiful to watch. The cheesy pop collection chosen as an audacious score surprises with intent, and album-izes their lives in phases.The result of messing around with something as taken-for-granted as a screen aspect-ratio is not always pleasant, but Dolan gives us the cinematic moment of the year when it happens.

Mommy is best symbolized by this fervid Ludovico Einaudi piece, which incidentally amounts to the most exhilarating time-lapse imagery captured on film. Not because of how it looks or sounds, but because of where it appears, and because of where we hope it will take us.
Because it gives us light, and messes with our jittery minds, and because we don’t want to discover what happens next.

varun grover on The Wind Rises

Didn’t see many films this year and I can feel the emptiness in my heart. Among the ones I saw Dedh Ishqiya, Haider, Abhay Kumar’s docu Placebo (due in 2015), Avinash Arun’s Killa (due in 2015), and Nisha Pahuja’s The World Before Her were the most powerful and delightful. But the film that churned the cold corners of my existence and turned them into soft, frothy Malaiyyo was Boss Miyazaki’s The Wind Rises. An animated feature unlike any other I’ve seen (quite unlike earlier Miyazaki films too) – a period love story in the backdrop of early days of aviation industry in Japan. I can watch it again just for the stunning colors of sky in various frames, and once again just for the various sources of light shown and used. And then there is this flight of crazy fancy by Miyazaki in his last film. The film has the feel of a farewell letter – lots of meta references to Miyazaki’s own career and ambitions – and that makes it all the more poignant. Magical, and I mean it when I use the word, in every sense.

manish gaekwad on Under The Skin

The other night, watching Under The Skin, I was reminded of what Kiarostami had once said about the kinds of films he likes watching. “I prefer the films that put their audience to sleep in the theater. I think those films are kind enough to allow you a nice nap and not leave you disturbed when you leave the theater. Some films have made me doze off in the theater, but the same films have made me stay up at night, wake up thinking about them in the morning, and keep on thinking about them for weeks.” A little bit of that rubbed on us when i watched the film with a few friends.

Our senses were so dulled by what was happening in the film, that between switching it off, to leaning forward and peering at the screen, only sleep could have rescued us. But we kept staring, unblinking, intrigued by the mysterious nature of the film, discussing if this was any different than Veerana, where a pale white woman, lures men into her lair. IMDB pretty much sums it as, ‘A demonic woman uses her seductive charm to prey on unsuspecting men,’ and this could be said for Under The Skin.

While Veerana was obviously titillating giallo, Under The Skin is simply hypnotic; from the striking images to the creepy Ramsay upgrade background score. That divide between what is crass, and what is art comes here, when days after viewing, the images and sounds of UTS recur and crawl under my skin. What separates these two films is also what unites them in memory – if it is unforgettably etched, difficult to erase, then that’s what Kiarostami is getting at. Oh and he also made a film where all the action is inside a car with a woman driver talking to various people, quite like Scar Jo in Under The Skin. Ah, almost.

kushan nandy on Interstellar

Writing about a Nolan film is monumental. What can you write about a film directed by a man who is the greatest illusionist of all? The Alfred Borden of Cinema.

The standout moment of the film is when Cooper watches his teenage daughter suddenly turn as old as him. Stationed in the darkness of a spaceship, millions of miles away, he watches time slip out.

I felt like Cooper, sitting in the darkness of the theatre, watching time slip out. Remembering
the moments of life I skipped in an attempt to survive life itself. I wanted to savour and appreciate the remaining moments of life just like Cooper did.

It made me pause. It took me beyond Cinema.

Kubrick must be watching from up there. Proud.

sukanya verma on Aankhon Dekhi

When a 50-something family man of limited means and unfinished responsibilities decides to go the distance between method and madness, real and surreal, thought and practicality, there will be repercussions. To question the natural order of things, to argue, to protest is one thing but to make it a way of life is another.

Rarely does a Hindi film probe into its protagonist’s soul as nimbly as Rajat Kapoor’s brilliant Ankhon Dekhi. Told with tremendous thought and texture, Ankhon Dekhi’s parable-like profundity unfolds through Bauji’s unique metamorphosis (conveyed in Sanjay Mishra’s extraordinarily perceptive performance) following his resolve to believe only what he sees or experiences.

If one aspect of Ankhon Dekhi’s episodic narrative is concerned with the different stages of his idiosyncratic obsession and its impact on his big family, the other draws us into the authentic sights and sounds of his hectic, populated space in Old Delhi– rickety roofs, yellowed walls, poor plumbing, crumpled sheets as well as the multihued personalities of his claustrophobic neighbourhood among whom he eventually garners a spontaneous, unsought following.

Where many would solely focus on his quirk to generate ridicule and humour, Kapoor, even when proffering moments of ingenious wit (“Male menopause”) treats him with fascination and fragility. Bauji’s existential crisis may cause embarrassment to his supportive wife, darling daughter and reserved younger brother but he’s much too well meaning and mild-mannered to take offence. Even if they don’t understand his motivations, they never cease to care.

Absorbing, whimsical, intimate, awe-inspiring and evocative, Ankhon Dekhi doesn’t make claims of knowing better but faithfully documents a determined individual’s journey to seek answers unmindful of what the world dubs him– fool or fearless.

karan anshuman on Pride

Pride may not be the best film I’ve seen this year (that’d probably go to Tamhane’s Court) but it’s definitely the best formula (commercial? mainstream? sellout?) film I’ve seen all year. Having entered the Bollywood fray, these days I’ve newfound respect and appreciation for films that pull off the balancing act with grace.

Pride’s remarkable, still-relevant tale set in Thatcherian UK essays a comic love/hate standoff between exuberant London homosexuals and dour Welsh miners. This is a true, unlikely underdog story with heaps of emotion, humor, social and political insight, and a magnificent feel-good ending: the ultimate recipe for that sense of contentment when you walk out the theater. Pride would make Hirani proud (and is probably the ideal next subject for him) and other filmmakers scramble a search for similar real-life stories.

But for crying out loud, director Matthew Warchus, why didn’t you use U2’s Pride, my all-time favorite song, in the movie?

jahan bakshi on The Grand Budapest Hotel

As one sees more and more films, there’s this dreadful kind of inertia that sets in- and film experiences that arouse genuine joy and excitement rather than cold admiration become increasingly rare. Of late, the one thing I’ve longed for at the movies is for a film to really move and surprise me. With his last film, Wes Anderson managed to do both these things- and as the cliché goes- made me rediscover that elusive magic of the movies.

This one actually warrants that much-abused M-word: The Grand Budapest Hotel is a masterpiece. There is just so much happening in this movie on so many levels, it’s a minor miracle that it never goes off the rails- and major credit for this must go to Ralph Fiennes’ soulful and masterfully comic performance and Anderson’s astonishing control over his material and craft. Together, they make it all look like a piece of cake, quite literally.

An internet commenter put it perfectly: This is a beautiful pastry of a film- with chisels and sharp files baked into it. I expected to be delighted but was startled by the sadness and darkness at its core. Loaded with mirth, melancholy and a streak of the macabre, Grand Budapest Hotel is an ebullient comic caper that ultimately reveals itself as an elegy to an era long gone by (or perhaps one that only exists in the collective imagination of a few- such as Monsieur Gustave H himself). The film’s unexpectedly poignant, tragic ending stabbed me right in the heart- and in the sweetest way possible. Sorry Amazing Amy- this was the real cinematic twist of the year, darling.

PS: I recently realized that the two best films I saw this year: Grand Budapest Hotel and The Square (2013) couldn’t be more different- and yet, they’re both about essentially noble people fighting battles to defend the liberal ideals of human dignity and freedom from the looming dark clouds of fascism. This is Anderson’s most violent and overtly political film- not just as an indictment of modern barbarism, but because it puts forward the argument that maybe prettiness is political. If ‘a thing of beauty is a joy forever’- perhaps it’s also something worth fighting for.

fatema kagalwala on Clownwise

Very recently I was contemplating on the films that stay with me and I realised all of those films have been portraits of life seen through the prism of hope. Maybe that is why I jumped and clutched at Clownwise to write about. A story of a once-superstar trio of clowns now in the dusk of their lives trying to gather its strands, Clownwise made me happy, it had me literally smiling at its sheer joie-de-vivre of not only the world and its people, but of the writing and the making. It is this very vitality of thought and spirit of the world of the film and film itself that has had me charmed. The bittersweet tone of the film effortlessly carries through the dramas and dysfunctionality of the lives of the three men, now in their sixties, seeing them dealing with it all with a head held high and enough gumption to see it through till its logical end. Smart and sensitive at once, large-hearted and laughing at one’s owns pain, a little cheerful, a little sad, a little profound, a little reflective, and a lot of fun – now where do we get films like that often?

aniruddha chatterjee on Anubrata Bhalo Acho?

His wife, her husband, both terminally ill with cancer. All they do is come to the hospital, sit beside their respective spouses and give false hope. Life has become repetitive, mundane. They meet and fall in love. To have a film that deals with people in their 50s, married, yet daring to fall in love to heal themselves from the pain they are in, deserves to be applauded especially in a country obsessed with morality. While watching the film I was worried that the climax will be a cop out. That is where the film scores the most. Brownie points for taking the film where we as viewers will shudder to go. It has been more than two months I have seen the film. Yet, the shocking climax keeps on lingering in the mind.

kartik krishnan on Jigarthanda

A bunch of gangsters are seated somewhere in a banana ‘bhajji’ (pakoda) shop in Madurai, pulling one of the lieutenant’s legs. It’s Tea/Snack time with few goons sipping a quarter whisky in a plastic cup. It’s a setting straight out of Goodfellas with goons chilling out, joking.

The Gangster Boss – ‘Assault Sethu’ casually takes one last jibe at his lieutenant, spits out the tasteless bajji, orders the shop owner to put more masala and walks ahead. Does small talk with the dosa making chef and walks outside into the rain with a steel plate as cover on his head, behind the shady single screen theatre which, true to the nature of the film, has a Kamal-Rajni poster somewhere in the background.

Sethu walks ahead to the sarvajanik shauchalay where a cleaner does dua-slaam and ingratiatingly asks for some baksheesh, directing him to the 1st loo which he has cleaned just now, for his use of course. That is the power of a gangster. And that is all what a poor toilet cleaner can offer as obeisance to him.

Sethu replies cheekily – You should be the one paying me to crap in your loo instead.

Sethu walks ahead and is about to enter the designated loo when a Vomiting (presumably) drunkard, who under sober circumstances wouldn’t dare cross his path, dissuades him from entering his ‘territory’. The disgusted gangster moves ahead into another loo and the vomiting drunkard opens the door of the designated loo instead.


The door to the loo opens and the poor drunkard is shot to instant death by an Assassin from inside the loo who immediately calls up his Clients – “Hey. Sethu is dead. Hear this” – Bam ! Bam! Bam!.”

More bullets are fired into the dead body as Sethu who has just survived a hit by sheer luck, watches silently. The shirt pant wearing assassin continues on the phone -“Sethu seems to have lost a lot of weight”.

And then Sethu’s goons rush in to see – the cocky assassin boasting his kill – “Come on folks, take away your Boss’s dead body.”

Slowly, the assassin realises that he has killed the wrong man and Sethu is very much alive, standing behind him. He shoots at Sethu but his gun is empty. SHIT!

He is facing certain death and Sethu can kill him any second.

However, Sethu prefers to go and answer nature’s call instead of bludgeoning the assassin to death. Revenge can wait.

This long take sequence is laced with humor, violence, pop culture & unpredictability that is so omnipresent in Karthik Subbaraj’s Jigarthanda – a film which is much more than just a gangster flick. While some might have been disappointed by his debut film Pizza’s ‘cheat’, this one is a must watch. Yes it is long and a genre bending film again, but immensely rewarding.

neeraja sahasrabudhe on Court

न्याय (सामजिक, आर्थिक और राजनीतिक) पहला अधिकार है जिसे हम भारतीयों (“We, the people of India”) ने अपने संविधान के preamble में अपनी आवाम को दिया है। चैतन्य ताम्हणे की फिल्म ‘कोर्ट’ इस अधिकार, इससे जुड़े संस्थाओं व उन संस्थाओं और जनता के बीच के सम्बन्धों को समझने का एक प्रयास है।

कहानी की शुरुआत लोकशाहिर और दलित कार्यकर्ता नारायण कांबळे की गिरफ्तारी से होती है। इलज़ाम यह है की उन्होंने अपने किसी भड़काऊ गीत द्वारा सीवर साफ़ करने वाले कर्मचारियों को आत्महत्या के लिए उकसाया और इससे एक व्यक्ति की मौत को गयी। ये case तो एक बहाना है, हमें कोर्ट के अंदर ले जाने का। इस case के बहाने चैतन्य हमें उस कोर्टरूम के महत्वपूर्ण खिलाड़ियों के जीवन से परिचित करवाते हैं। मध्यम वर्ग की प्रॉसिक्यूशन वकील, नए पैसेवाले तबके के जज और व्यापारी वर्ग में जन्मे डिफेंस वकील। ऐसा करने से एक disconnect उभर कर आता है (जो चेखोव की इस कहानी की याद दिलाता है)। हालांकि डिफेन्स वकील कांबळे साहब के काम के प्रति संवेदनशील है, पर उनके जीवन के तमाम पहलु देख कर यह समझ बनती है कि बड़े सामाजिक बदलाव के लिए संवेदनशीलता या ज़रा सी मदद काफी नहीं है। ऊपर के तबके को जिस तरह के जीवन की आदत पड़ चुकी है उसे चुनौती देनी ही होगी और अगर उसमें ये संवेदनशील लोग साथ नहीं हैं, तो वे सब कुछ कर करा कर भी उसी शासक वर्ग को serve कर रहे हैं जो चाहता है कि आवाज़ें उठें पर उतनी ही जितनी दबाई जा सकें।

कोर्ट में चल रही कभी हास्यास्पद तो कभी झल्ला देने वाली जिरह के बीच एक दूसरी ज़रूरी बात उभर कर आती है। वह यह कि – ये सच है कि ये सरकारी दफ्तर, कचहरी वगैरह bureaucracy से लदे हैं और यहाँ काम करने वाले लोग न्याय की परिकल्पना या न्याय मांगने आई जनता के प्रति बिलकुल असंवेदनशील हैं, लेकिन न्याय न मिलने का असली कारण है कि नारायण कांबळे जैसे लोगों को, जिन्हे शासक वर्ग अपने रास्ते का काँटा समझता है, state न्याय देना ही नहीं चाहता। State चाहता है की वे या तो जेल में रहें या कचहरी के चक्कर काटते रहे। न्यायपालिका एक साधन है लोगों को डरा कर रखने का।

‘कोर्ट’ अभी हमारे समाज में हो रही घटनाओं के द्वारा एक अहम मुद्दा सामने लाता है। ये फिल्म हमें मजबूर करती है उन बातों पर सोचने के लिए जो छुपी हैं और सिर्फ कचहरी के न्याय-अन्याय तक सीमित नहीं हैं।

और अंत में नारायण कांबळे की तरफ से बोलते गोरख पाण्डेय:

हज़ार साल पुराना है उनका गुस्सा
हज़ार साल पुरानी है उनकी नफ़रत
मैं तो सिर्फ़
उनके बिखरे हुए शब्दों को
लय और तुक के साथ लौटा रहा हूँ
मगर तुम्हें डर है कि
आग भड़का रहा हूँ

mihir pandya on Killa

‘किल्ला’ देखना किसी रूठे हुए जिगरी दोस्त से सालों के अन्तराल के बाद मिलने की तरह है। इसमें उदासी भी है, उन बीते सालों की जब वक़्त हाथ से छूटता रहा अौर दोस्त की बेतरह याद अाती रही। इसमें बेचैनी भी है, उस पल को पकड़ लेने की चाहत जिसका सालों इन्तज़ार किया अौर अाज अचानक समयचक्र ने उसे सामने ला खड़ा किया है। इसमें ठहराव भी है, जब दौड़ती ज़िन्दगी में अचानक अासपास की दुनिया की तमाम गतिविधियाँ अापके लिए रुक जाती हैं अौर सब कुछ उसी पल में सिमट अाता है। अौर इन सबके ऊपर इसमें निस्संगता भी है, कि दोस्त के चले जाने से दोस्तियाँ नहीं जाया करतीं। कि वर्तमान से बड़ा कोई सच नहीं अौर वे तमाम स्मृतियाँ अतीत नहीं, दरअसल इसी गतिमान वर्तमान का हिस्सा हैं। हमारा हिस्सा हैं। कि ज़िन्दगी का नाम चलते रहने में है।

लड़कपन की दहलीज़ पर खड़ा चिन्मय (अर्चित देवधर) अपनी माँ के तबादले की वजह से ‘बड़े शहर’ पूना को छोड़ कोंकण के किसी छोटे से कस्बे में अाया है। ‘किल्ला’ की कथा हमें ग्यारह वर्षीय चिन्मय के जीवन संसार के भीतर ले जाती है। इसमें एक अोर है चिन्मय का अपनी कामकाजी माँ (अमृता सुभाष) से रिश्ता जहाँ पिता के असमय चले जाने की ख़ामोश उदासी घुली है, वहीं दूसरी अोर है कस्बे के स्कूल में चिन्मय के नए बने दोस्तों का संसार जहाँ बेपरवाह दिखती दोस्तियों में गहरे छिपी व्यक्तिगत प्रतिस्पर्धाअों अौर रूठने-मनाने के अबोले दायरों के मध्य वह ज़िन्दगी के कुछ सबसे महत्वपूर्ण सबक सीखता है। उमेश विनायक कुलकर्णी की लघु फ़िल्म ‘गिरणी’ अौर उनकी बेहतरीन फीचर फ़िल्म ‘विहीर’ की याद दिलाती अविनाश अरुण द्वारा निर्देशित ‘किल्ला’ मेरे लिए अात्मकथात्मक फ़िल्म है, लेकिन भिन्न क़िस्म से। यहाँ फ़िल्म सिनेमा बनानेवाले की अात्मकथा न होकर देखने वाले की ज़िन्दगी के किसी पीछे छूटे अध्याय का अात्मकथात्मक अंश हो जाती है। जिस कस्बे की यह कथा है, वह प्रतिनिधि है मेरी किशोरवय स्मृति में छूटे कस्बे का। इसे परदे पर देखने वाले हम सब इन्हीं बाहर से उनींदे दिखते लेकिन भीतर से खदबदाते कस्बों, देहातों को छोड़ अाज शहर के मेले में अा पहुँचे हैं। अौर ऐसे में ‘किल्ला’ का यह ‘पुनरागमन’ स्वयं हमारी स्मृतियों की कथा बन जाता है।

‘किल्ला’ जितनी उसकी कथा में है, उससे कहीं ज़्यादा उसकी गतिमान तस्वीरों में है, उसकी ख़ामोश ध्वनियों में है। पावस के महीने में मूसलाधार बरसते बादलों के बीच अविनाश अरुण कोंकण को उसकी अनछुई काया में टटोलते हैं। समन्दर किनारे बसा यह ठहरा हुअा कस्बा बारिशों के बाद जैसे एक नई हरी सघन पोशाक पहनता है। यह समन्दर की लहर के लौटने के बाद रेत के कोरे किनारे पर पहला पैर रखने की तरह है। उन्होंने किरदारों की भीतरी उदासी को परदे पर फ़िल्माने के लिए इंडोर दृश्यों को लट्टू की सघन पीली रौशनी में फ़िल्माया है अौर इस उदास पीले का विलोम वे बरसात, समन्दर अौर अाकाश के अासमानी नीले के साथ अपने अाउटडोर दृश्यों में रचते हैं। पानी स्वयं यहाँ सबसे बड़ा मैटाफर है। पानी ही यहाँ बाँधता है अौर पानी ही यहाँ किरदारों को बंधनों से अाज़ाद कर देता है। किरदारों के मन का बोझ जब पक जाता है तो वे भरी बरसात में छाता ‘भूलकर’ निकल जाते हैं, अौर मुझे चैप्लिन की कही वो बात याद अाती है जिसमें वे बरसात को अपना दोस्त बताते थे जो अाँखों से नमकीन पानी बनकर निकलते दुख को अपने अाँचल में छिपा लेती है। ‘किल्ला’ की कोमलता मुझे भाषा में कविता कहने वाले, सदा मुंह में छालों वाले किसी मितव्ययी स्वभाव पहाड़ी कवि की कविताअों की याद दिलाती है। यह उन फ़िल्मों की सूची में शामिल होगी जिसकी स्मृति को अाप फ़िल्म ख़त्म होने के बाद सिनेमाघर के अंधेरे में छोड़ने की बजाए किसी नवजात ख़रगोश के बच्चे की तरह नज़ाकत के साथ अपने सफ़री झोले में रख साथ घर ले जाना चाहेंगे।

sudhish kamath on The Interview

The stoner bromance that almost started World War III was smarter than most people gave it credit for and truly representative of our times. In fact, The Interview > Newsroom.

The world doesn’t give a shit about anything anymore.

One tweet, it’s mourning innocent kids being shot dead, the next it’s cheering a goal. Or a six. Aircraft lost. Sad face. Next moment. OMG! Eminem’s gay? Did you know McConaughey fucked a goat?

The guys behind Superbad, Pineapple Express or This is the End never intended The Interview to be seen as a symbol of patriotism. The film’s clever enough to take digs at not just American/global media priorities, it also portrays America as the country that is capable of making citizens shove a missile up their own ass (literally) to fuck with another country’s politics.

When the American “heroes” of the film believe they have the required statistics to corner Kim Jong-Un, he simply gives it back to them raising far more uncomfortable questions about the US and sanctions imposed that was driving them to the brink of despair.

Unable to deal with reasoning, the Americans go back to what they are best at.

Because trolling NOT reason, bullying NOT debate, is the only form of supremacy that the world recognizes today. Mediocrity connects with more people than intellectuals or custodians of high art do. No wonder then that the elitists, the critics and all the snooty uptight fuckers hate The Interview. As Skylark says: “They are motherfuckin peanut butter and jealous… They hate us ‘cause they ain’t us… You know what you do to haters? You just smile.” *pops Ecstasy*

sudhish kamath on Birdman

“You’re not important, ok? Get used to it.”

Only the greatest epiphany you would ever have.

That’s Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s Birdman in a line.

We lead dysfunctional – largely unsatisfying – lives and try hard for relevance and popularity that matches the self-importance in our heads. The film is full of precious little moments, a fucking brilliant drums score and cinematography so fluid and seamless that you can’t ever spot the cuts even if you try. A terrific ensemble that’s going to have a field day at the Oscars.

When Riggan (Michael Keaton) tries to reinvent himself as an artist, after having played a superhero earlier in his life (and continues to in his head), he has this superb conversation with his daughter who tells him about her days in rehab and an exercise they gave her. About drawing tally sticks.

She hands him a roll of toilet paper full of tally sticks. Each stick represents thousand years. And all of humanity has been around for what would fit in one slip of toilet paper, she tells him. The rest of the roll is how long the world has been around.

He hears out her perspective and wipes his hand with it accidentally. And he’s wiped out all of humanity, she jokes.

How good is Emma Stone! She’s even better in this scene here that pretty much seals her a Best Supporting Actress nomination: Click here.

There are just too many brilliant scenes to list – the one where’s locked out of his green groom in his underwear and has to make his way in public and get up on stage to not miss his cue or the one where Norton tells Keaton that popularity is the slutty little cousin of prestige when they go out to get coffee. But every single scene in the film is designed to tell us that in the larger scheme of things, nothing really matters. Nobody’s opinion really matters. Or as a sign in Riggan’s green room tells us: A thing is a thing, not what is said of that thing.

ranjib mazumder on Jatishwar

Jatishwar as a concept is brave and ambitious to say the least. As the film unfolds, it has the promise of a new classic. Traversing through different timelines and a story of reincarnation, it dares to bring back Anthony Firingee, a man of Portuguese origin and exceptional talent, who not only mastered Bengali but also composed songs in it to perform in public duels known as Kavigaan in the early part of the 19th century.

Kabir Suman’s music is so good that I can’t possibly to begin to imagine another music album in the last 20 years that can match the majesty of this work. Bringing back lyrical fights of nostalgic Bengal, Mukherji shoots it with beautiful tenderness. That’s the film’s biggest strength. Also the biggest weakness. Apart from Anthony’s story, you hardly care about modern day sappiness that the story brings along.

Mukherji is probably the most acclaimed filmmaker working in West Bengal today. And that speaks a lot about the current state of Bengali cinema. I find Mukherji brimming with new ideas in every film; flashes of brilliance in certain scenes but the sum of the parts never make an engaging whole. And that’s been my consistent problem with his filmography. I know I would be attacked by my fellow Bengalis for looking at Mukherji through a glass darkly, and I have tried hard to sum up my feeling for his brand of inconsistent narrative. And then I stumbled upon this paragraph by one of my literary heroes.

“From the moment I start a new novel, life’s just one endless torture. The first few chapters may go fairly well and I may feel there’s still a chance to prove my worth, but that feeling soon disappears and every day I feel less and less satisfied. I begin to say the book’s no good, far inferior to my earlier ones, until I’ve wrung torture out of every page, every sentence, every word, and the very commas begin to look excruciatingly ugly. Then, when it’s finished, what a relief! Not the blissful delight of the gentleman who goes into ecstasies over his own production, but the resentful relief of a porter dropping a burden that’s nearly broken his back . . . Then it starts all over again, and it’ll go on starting all over again till it grinds the life out of me, and I shall end my days furious with myself for lacking talent, for not leaving behind a more finished work, a bigger pile of books, and lie on my death-bed filled with awful doubts about the task I’ve done, wondering whether it was as it ought to have been, whether I ought not to have done this or that, expressing my last dying breath the wish that I might do it all over again!”

― Émile Zola, The Masterpiece

So that was our list. What’s your list? The films that stood out and stayed with you, and you won’t mind pushing the rewind button on it. Tell us in the comments below!

In the last of our posts on Ankhon Dekhi (Fatema Kagalwala’s piece here and Q&A with Rajat Kapoor here), Mihir Pandya (film critic and the author of Shahar aur Cinema: Via Dilli) comes up with some keen observations on the naksha of Babuji’s home, mind-scape, and philosophy.

And continuing with our efforts to share the scripts of most talked-about and best reviewed films, we have Ankhon Dekhi’s script in its pre-shooting original draft. Thanks to Rajat Kapoor for sharing it.


vlcsnap-2014-04-21-16h54m50s212अाँखों देखी : विलक्षण साधारणता अौर अनुभवजन्य यथार्थ

राष्ट्रीय पाठ््यचर्या की साल 2005 में प्रोफेसर यशपाल की अध्यक्षता में बनी रूपरेखा के मध्य एक दिलचस्प किस्सा सम्मिलित है, ‘शीत ऋतु की एक सुबह’ शीर्षक से. किस्सा कुछ यूँ है, “शिक्षिका ने बच्चों को प्रात:कालीन दृश्य बनाने के लिए कहा. एक बच्चे ने अपना चित्र पूरा किया और पार्श्व को गाढ़ा कर दिया लगभग सूर्य को छिपाते हुए. “मैंने तुम्हें प्रात:कालीन दृश्य बनाने के लिए कहा था, सूर्य को चमकना चाहिए.” शिक्षिका चिल्ला उठी, उसने यह ध्यान नहीं दिया कि बच्चे की आँखें खिड़की से बाहर देख रही हैं; आज अभी तक अँधेरा था, सूर्य गहरे काले बादलों के पीछे छिपा हुआ था.” किताबी शिक्षा के ऊपर स्वयं बच्चे के अनुभवजन्य सत्य को तरजीह देनेवाले इस किस्से की याद मुझे फिल्म ‘अाँखों देखी’ देखते हुए बेतरह अाती रही.

रजत कपूर द्वारा निर्देशित फिल्म ‘अाँखों देखी’ के मध्य एक सहज ध्यानाकर्षित करनेवाले प्रसंग में कथा के केन्द्रीय किरदार बाबूजी (संजय मिश्रा) अपने स्कूल में पढ़ने वाले भतीजे के उस गणित के मास्टर से सीधे भिड़ जाते हैं जिसने भतीजे द्वारा उत्तरपुस्तिका में अक्षरश: वही उत्तर न लिखा होने के चलते, जो किताब में लिखा है, उसे परीक्षा में फेल कर दिया है. इस दृश्य की खूबसूरती जितनी इसके तर्क में है, उतनी ही इसके किरदारों की ख़ब्त अौर उससे उपजते उनके विरोधाभासी व्यक्तित्वों में है. यहाँ पुरानी दिल्ली के निम्नवर्गीय परिवार का मुखिया एक मिडिल स्कूल के गणित के मास्टर को यह समझाने में लगा हुअा है कि सिर्फ़ नज़रिये का फर्क किसी सच को झूठ में नहीं बदल देता, अौर कि सच्चाई को देखने-समझने अौर महसूस करने के सबके अपने निजी तरीके-रास्ते हो सकते हैं. दोनों सामान्य से गणित के सिद्धान्त पर दूसरे अादमी को खिजा देने की हद तक पिले हुए हैं. बाबूजी का तर्क है कि जब दो समांतर रेखाएं एक-दूसरे से मिल ही नहीं सकतीं, तो यह क्यों कहा जाये कि वे किसी अनदेखे-अदृश्य ‘अनन्त’ पर जाकर वे मिल जायेंगी?

बाबूजी का भतीजे की गणित की किताब में मौजूद निर्जीव समांतर रेखाअों को नई मौलिक नज़र से देखने का यह अाग्रह जीवंत लोगों को देखने के उनके नज़रिये में भी पैठ बना रहा है. अपने ही दफ्तर के चायवाले अौर साथ काम कर रहे बाबू में उन्हें वह सुन्दरता नज़र अाने लगती है, जिसे चिह्नित करने की फ़ुरसत अौर नज़र, शायद दोनों ही उनके पास पहले नहीं थी. अौर सिर्फ़ अपने ‘भोगे हुए यथार्थ’ पर दुनिया को पहचानने के इस नए प्रण के पीछे कोई अाख्यानिक किस्म का किस्सा भी नहीं है. यूँ ही एक भले दिन घर में घटी सामान्य सी घटना से बाबूजी को यह भिन्न क़िस्म का नज़रिया हासिल होता है अौर फिर घर में एक नितान्त रोज़ाना सी सुबह बाबूजी दफ़्तर जाने से पहले नहाते हुए यह प्रण करते हैं कि “मेरा सच मेरे अनुभव का सच होगा. अाज से मैं हर उस बात को मानने से इनकार कर दूंगा जिसे मैंने खुद देखा या सुना न हो. हर बात में सवाल करूँगा. हर चीज़ को दोबारा देखूँगा, सुनूँगा, जानूँगा, अपनी नज़र के तराजू से तौलूँगा. अौर कोई भी ऐसी बात, जिसको मैंने जिया ना हो उसको अपने मुँह से नहीं निकालूँगा. जो कुछ भी गलत मुझे सिखाया गया है, या गलत तरीके से सिखाया गया है वो सब भुला दूँगा. अब सब कुछ नया होगा. नए सिरे से होगा. सच्चा होगा, अच्छा होगा, सब कुछ नया होगा. जो देखूँगा, उस पर ही विश्वास करूँगा.”

यहाँ यह भी साथ ही रेखांकित किया जाना चाहिए कि बाबूजी को अचानक हासिल हुई दुनिया को देखने की यह अनुभवजन्य यथार्थ पर अाधारित दृष्टि उन्हें परिवार के अन्य किरदारों से भिन्न तो बनाती है, लेकिन वे फिल्म के ‘अादर्श नायक’ नहीं हैं. फिल्म इस बात को लेकर सदा चेतस है कि बाबूजी अपनी नई दृष्टि से लैस होकर भी परिवार के मुखिया की उस भूमिका को नहीं छोड़ते जहाँ घर के अन्य सदस्य उनकी नज़र में स्वयं कर्ता नहीं, उनकी क्रियाअों पर प्रतिक्रिया करनेवालों की द्वितीयक भूमिका में हैं. छोटे भाई के घर छोड़कर चले जाने के प्रसंग में भी उनका अनुभवजन्य यथार्थ उन्हें अपने भाई के निजी यथार्थ तक नहीं पहुँचने देता. अौर ख़ासकर यह उनके अपनी पत्नी (सीमा पाह्वा) से संबंधों में प्रगट होता है. बाबूजी अपनी नई दृष्टि से लैस होकर भी घर के भीतर उस नई दृष्टि का इस्तेमाल कर पाने में असमर्थ हैं अौर अपनी पत्नी को कहते हैं, “कुछ भी नया सोचो अौर तुम अौरतें… चुप रहो.” लेकिन फिर अपनी बेटी से संबंध में यह नई दृष्टि बाबूजी को नई पीढ़ी के अनुभव तक पहुँचने में मदद भी करती है. वे देख पाते हैं बिना किसी पूर्वाग्रह के, जो उनकी बेटी अपने भविष्य के लिए निर्धारित कर रही है.

बाबूजी अजीब किस्म की लगती ख़ब्त तो पालते हैं, लेकिन वे इसके ज़रिये कोई क्रान्ति करने निकले मसीहाई अवतार नहीं हैं. दरअसल इसके ज़रिये वे अपनी साधारण सी लगती ज़िन्दगी को ही कुछ अौर बेहतर तरीके से जानने, समझने की कोशिश कर रहे हैं. यहाँ यह फिल्म शशांत शाह की ‘दसविदानिया’ की याद दिलाती है, जिसमें मध्यवर्गीय ज़िन्दगी की साधारणता अौर उस साधारणता में छिपी विलक्षणता की कथा कही गई थी. यहाँ दरियागंज में पुश्तैनी मकान में रहनेवाले संयुक्त परिवार की ज़िन्दगी का टुकड़ा हमारे सामने है, जिसके चिह्न फिल्म के प्रामाणिक सेट डिज़ाइन, संगीत अौर धारधार छायांकन में उभरकर सामने अाते हैं. अौर उन संदर्भों के ज़रिये जिनसे फिल्म पुरानी दिल्ली की निम्न मध्यमवर्गीय ज़िन्दगी अौर उसमें होते पीढ़ीगत बदलाव को रचती है. घरों का बदलना अौर उनमें मुखियाअों की सत्ताअों का बदलना यहाँ स्टील के गिलास से चीनी-मिट्टी के कपों में होती गरम चाय की यात्रा में अभिव्यक्त होता है. यहाँ बन्द घरों अौर अापस में जुड़ी हुई छतों वाले घरों में इन्हीं शामिल छतों पर मनाए जाते सार्वजनिक जन्मदिन हैं तो मोहल्ले के नाई की दुकान अाज भी पुरुष ज़िन्दगी का सबसे महत्वपूर्ण सार्वजनिक स्थान है. लेकिन फ़िल्म का सबसे चमत्कारिक पदबंध उस घर की संरचना में छिपा है, जिसमें यह संयुक्त परिवार इतने सालों से रहता अाया है.

मेरे लिए ‘अाँखों देखी’ की बहुत सारी प्रामाणिकता उस घर के नक्शे में छिपी है, जिसमें बाबूजी अौर उनका परिवार इकट्ठे रहता है. बीच में बड़े से चौक के चारों अोर बने रेलगाड़ी के अागे-पीछे लगे डिब्बों से छोटे-छोटे कमरों से घिरी इस बहुमंज़िला इमारत को मैं देखते ही पहचान जाता हूँ. चूने की बनी दो हाथ चौड़ी मोटी दीवारों अौर खड़ी सीढ़ियों से बनी यह इमारतें उत्तर भारतीय शहरों की भवन निर्माण कला का शायद एक समय में सबसे प्रामाणिक नक्शा रही हैं. इनका बड़ा पोलनुमा दरवाज़ा किसी घनी इंसानी बस्ती की संकरी सी गली में खुलता है अौर कमरों के भीतर कमरे निकलते चले जाते हैं. अाप इस इमारत के नक्शे का मिलान अागरा शहर में रहनेवाले मिर्ज़ा परिवार की उस पुश्तैनी हवेली से कर सकते हैं, जिसे हमने सथ्यू साहिब की ‘गरम हवा’ में देखा था. अौर साथ ही इस तुलना द्वारा यहाँ समय के साथ उपयोग में बदलाव के चलते इन पुश्तैनी मकानों की बदलती संरचना पर भी गौर किया जाना चाहिए. समय के साथ जैसे-जैसे शहरी जीवन की सामुदायिकता सीमित हुई, घरों की संरचना में चौक का केन्द्रीय महत्व भी सीमित होता गया. भागती ज़िन्दगी के निवासी इन नौकरीपेशा लोगों की ज़िन्दगियों में समय को लेकर वो सहूलियत नहीं थी कि वे चौक में मजमा लगाकर घंटों चौपाल किया करें. नतीजा, चौक की जगह के अन्य उपयोग ढूँढ़े जाने लगे.

लेकिन इन इमारतों का नक्शा कुछ इस शक्ल का था कि चौक पर सीधे-सीधे छत डाल देना भी संभव नहीं था. यह चौक दरअसल बाक़ी मकान के लिए उस कृत्रिम फेंफड़े की तरह था, जिससे होकर ताज़ा हवा अौर रौशनी बाक़ी सारे निर्मित मकान में अाया करती थी. अौर मकान की संरचना में यह इन्तज़ाम ज़रूरी भी था, अाखिर अापस में एक-दूसरे से छतों से जुड़े मकानों वाले इन रिहाइशी इलाकों में वैसे भी अौर घर में रौशनी अाती भी कहाँ से. घर के नक्शे में हवा अौर रौशनी का इन्तज़ाम घर के बीच से ही करना ज़रूरी होता था. अौर ऐसे में अगर इस चौक के ऊपर पक्की छत पड़ जाती तो बाक़ी सारे मकान की हवा-रौशनी बन्द हो जाती. यहाँ फिर वो जुगत काम में अाती है जिसे इन पुश्तैनी मकानों में रहनेवाली नई पीढ़ियों ने इन घरों को हमेशा के लिए छोड़ने से पहले के कुछ सालों में बहुतायत से अपनाया अौर जिसका गवाह मेरा बचपन भी रहा है.

‘अाँखों देखी’ उस परिवार के बारे में है जिसके सदस्यों के मन में नए समय के साथ दौड़ लगाने की तमन्ना तो है, लेकिन उसके पाँव में सीमित अाय की बेड़ी पड़ी है. वह इस पुश्तैनी मकान की संरचना को बदलना चाहता है, उससे बाहर निकलना चाहता है. लेकिन उसके अार्थिक संसाधन उसे ऐसा करने की इजाज़त नहीं देते. अौर इस कारण वह इसी घर को नए समय में अनुकूलित करता है. इसीिलए चौक के ऊपर पड़ी उस जाली को मैं तुरन्त पहचान जाता हूँ. लोहे के सींखचों वाली यह जाली चौक के ऊपरी हिस्से को कुछ इस तरह ढकती है कि रौशनी अौर हवा पूरी तरह बन्द भी न हों अौर ऊपरी मंज़िल (जो ऐसे मकानों में सदा ज़्यादा ‘ख़ास’ होती है) को घर के बीच एक नया फर्श भी मिल जाये. फर्श न नही, फर्श का अाभास ही सही. ‘अाँखों देखी’ में परिवार के रिहाइश के मकान के मध्य में पड़ी यह जाली कितना कुछ कहती है. यह बताती है कि इस मकान में रहनेवाले अब इस रिहाइश के अनुकूल नहीं रहे अौर किन्हीं मजबूरियों के चलते अब अपने मकान को खुद की ज़रूरतों के अनुसार अनुकूलित कर रहे हैं. यह भी कि एक न एक दिन वे यहाँ से निकल जायेंगे. इसीलिए शायद छोटे भाई ऋषि (रजत कपूर) के पुश्तैनी घर छोड़कर जाने पर फिल्म का जो दृश्य सबसे ज़्यादा याद रह जाता है वो है उसी जाली को बीच से खोलकर रस्सियों द्वारा उतरती अलमारी का दृश्य.

कुछ साल पहले ‘लाइफ स्टाइल’ का कहलाए जानेवाले एक टीवी चैनल पर परिचर्चा में निर्देशक अौर अभिनेता रजत कपूर अपनी निजी ज़िन्दगी के बारे में बड़ी दिलचस्प बात बता रहे थे. ऐसे समय में जब मोबाइल भारतीय मध्यवर्ग की ज़िन्दगियों का ही नहीं, शहरी निम्नवर्ग की जीवनचर्या का भी अभिन्न हिस्सा हो गया है, वे अपने साथ मोबाइल नहीं रखते. वजह पूछने पर उन्होंने बताया था कि उनके हिसाब से इतना महत्वपूर्ण कुछ भी नहीं कि ज़रा देर इन्तज़ार न कर सके. बात को कुछ अौर लम्बा खीचूँ तो मतलब यह कि दुनिया में अाप जिस वक्त जहाँ मौजूद हैं, उससे ज़्यादा महत्वपूर्ण कहीं कुछ अौर नहीं घट रहा, यह विश्वास इस निर्णय के पीछे है. गौर से देखिए तो उनके द्वारा निर्देशित फिल्म ‘अाँखों देखी’ के मुख्य किरदार में भी अचानक यही विश्वास पैदा हो जाता है. वह अपने वर्तमान को किसी अन्य अदृश्य यथार्थ के लिए ठुकराने से इनकार कर देता है.

फिल्म में बाबूजी का यह निर्णय उनको अपने निजी यथार्थ में कहाँ पहुँचाता है, यह तो अाप फिल्म देखकर ही जानें. लेकिन फिल्म में बाबूजी की इस ख़ब्त से उपजे दो बहुत दिलचस्प प्रसंग हैं, जिनका उल्लेख मैं यहाँ करना चाहूँगा. पहला प्रसंग उनके फैसले के दिन का ही है, जब बाबूजी अपने भाई के अखबार पढ़ने पर टिप्पणी करते हैं, “खबर नहीं है ये. सब बकवास है. खबर वो होती है जिसे हम अपनी अाँखों से देखते हैं, कानों से सुनते हैं.” अौर दूसरा प्रसंग उनके पड़ोसी के लड़के द्वारा यह टिप्पणी किए जाने पर कि “बाबूजी भी न, कुएँ के मेंढक जैसी बातें करते हैं.” उनका जवाब बहुत मानीखेज़ है, “हाँ, मैं मेंढक हूँ. लेकिन अपने कुएँ से मैं परिचित हूँ. उसको जानने की कोशिश कर रहा हूँ. उससे अपना परिचय बढ़ा रहा हूँ.” अौर इसमें वह प्रसंग भी जोड़ लें जहाँ बाबूजी चावड़ी बाज़ार मेट्रो स्टेशन के बाहर व्यस्त सड़क पर हाथ में तख़्ती लिए खड़े हो जाते हैं. तख़्ती पर लिखा है, “सब कुछ यहीं है, अाँखें खोल कर देखो.” मेरी दिलचस्पी इन दोनों संदर्भों को जोड़कर देखने की है. क्या हम सूचना विस्फोट के इस महासमय में अपने निजी अनुभवजन्य यथार्थ से अपनी पकड़ खो रहे हैं? मैं यह सवाल इसलिए पूछ रहा हूँ क्योंकि इन अाधुनिक सूचना के साधनों पर हमारी निर्भरता कहीं न कहीं हमें द्वितीयक स्रोत पर प्राथमिक अनुभव से ज़्यादा भरोसा करनेवाला बनाती है. तर्क भी इसका साथ देता है क्योंकि एक अकेले व्यक्ति के अनुभव के मुकाबले समूह का अनुभवजन्य सत्य या तकनीक अाधारित सामुहिक यथार्थ बड़ा माना ही जाना चाहिए. लेकिन इसके अपने खतरे हैं, जिनका सामना हम वर्तमान समय में कर रहे हैं. अाज द्वितीयक सूचना के स्रोतों को योजना के तहत नियंत्रित किया जा रहा है. शायद मध्यवर्गीय जनसमूह इसे पहचान भी रहा है. लेकिन दिक्कत यहाँ अाती है कि उसने अपने प्राथमिक स्रोत, अपने अनुभवजन्य यथार्थ में भरोसा खो दिया है. ऐसे में हम सब जैसे किसी अंधेरे तहख़ाने में हैं अौर एक-दूसरे से भविष्य का हाल ऐसे ले रहे हैं जैसे कोई अंधा हाथों से टटोलकर कमरे में रखे हाथी की अाकृति को पहचानने की कोशिश कर रहा हो. पिछले एक महीने में दर्जनभर लोग मुझसे बहुत उम्मीद से यह पूछ चुके हैं कि मैं उन्हें बताऊँ कि अाने वाली सोलह मई को अाखिर होने क्या वाला है.

मेरी खुद को भी, अौर उन तमाम लोगों को भी जो किसी छिपे हुए यथार्थ को जान लेने की तलाश में अाजकल बनारस की अोर भाग रहे हैं, एक ही सलाह है − “सब कुछ यहीं है, अाँखें खोल कर देखो”.

– Mihir Pandya

(This piece was first published in Hindi journal ‘Kathadesh’)

And here’s the script of Ankhon Dekhi

We generally don’t have a culture of discussing movies with the makers after they are made. Most of the talk on the film happens before its release, mostly as a PR exercise. But things are changing slowly/steadily and after similar discussions on Gangs of Wasseypur, Rockstar, Paan Singh Tomar, and recently Highway, we got a chance to interact with Rajat Kapoor on his excellently reviewed ‘Ankhon Dekhi’.

Here’s the video in 3 parts, and advance apologies for low sound on the questions (keep your speakers at full-blast please). Though Rajat Kapoor’s responses are loud and clear enough. The session was moderated by our own Somen Mishra and film’s music director Sagar Desai, lyricist Varun Grover, and actor Taranjit Kaur (who played Rajat’s wife in the film) were also present on/around the dais.

(A quick thanks to Cinemax Versova managers and our PVR-man Shiladitya Bora for the venue permissions and arrangements, and Sameer Sheikh for getting the video recorded and uploaded..)


Rajat Kapoor’s new film Ankhon Dekhi opened with rave reviews. Though it has been a limited release, if you still haven’t seen it, do watch. It’s easily one of the finest films of the year. And if you have seen it, here’s Fatema Kagalawala on what worked and what didn’t. Read on to see if you agree or not.

“Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth.” ― Henry David Thoreau, Walden

ankhondekhi-4b (1)

Are stories set in a real-life world created with an unimaginable honesty, enough? Remember this line as you read along.

There are films that are character-centric, there are films that are character-driven, there are plot-driven films and there are those where the idea looms large enough to swipe everything under its shadow. Ankhon Dekhi is one of those films. Truth is your inner truth, your own truth, what you can see and feel and experience. Can a theme get more universal and personal at the same time than that? Can a theme get more exciting, thirsting to be explored threadbare than that?

“There are only two days that are important in life; the day you were born and the day you realise why.” – Mark Twain

Bauji has an eiphany one day and he must follow it because suddenly he has realised why he was born. He must follow his own truth and his own truth will only be that which he has experienced. Soon, the meaning of his entire life changes. He leaves his job as a travel agent because he hasn’t seen any of the places he regularly recommends and hence it is a false existence, something he cannot allow in his life anymore. “Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth”, Bauji could easily have been Thoreau. Or Maya Angelou who when asked what is right simply said, “Truth is.” His loving wife and daughter indulge him, his younger brother, tired of hauling material responsibilities leaves him, his loyal fans follow him blindly and we have a picture of life as we all have seen unfolding in our own worlds.

Creating a world to touch and feel

Every film is rooted in its own ideology and born of it, whether it likes it or not, whether it is conscious of it or not. Rajat Kapoor’s cinema seeks to question consciously and that is the joy of watching his films. In Mixed Doubles he questioned the idea of monogamous relationships, in Mithya and Fatso identity and truth, in Ankhon Dekhi truth again. There is something very honest, at an intrinsic level, in his searching and nudging set beliefs. That draws you in and makes you take it seriously, keen to know if the journeys of his characters will somehow make your own easier and enlightened.

It does but not in the philosophical proddings. It does in the earthy, rustic (and inspired) casting of Sanjay Mishra, Seema Pahwa and others. It does in the lovely, early morning winter mist-like songs written by Varun Grover used beautifully. It does in the very common-sounding but carefully written dialogues. It does in the loving relationships we see functioning in what we see as a very average, very ordinary family. We smile when we see Seema Pahwa’s Amma, nagging but warm and soft-hearted wife and mother because we know her, maybe in our own mothers, wives, mother-in-laws, aunts, grandmothers or neighbours. Even if we don’t she seems familiar. Because she is real.  There is no artifice in her character or her performance and she appeals to us in a way no hot babe or heartthrob can aspire to. Like most women do, she forms the spine of the family, keeping it together emotionally yet invisibly. (If you disagree, imagine the family without Bauji. Then imagine the family without her). Getting her character right (and getting the brilliant Seema Pahwa to play it) is the first solid brick Rajat Kapoor lays in creating a world we cannot help but fall in love with.

As we gently land into the world we are welcomed by a ruckus over the inappropriateness of the friendship the daughter of the house has with a boy. Bauji protects her as Amma lashes at her. We then see Bauji’s younger brother Rishi (a terribly miscast Rajat Kapoor) step in to play the peace-making voice of sense role with a sigh; a role he has probably been playing for a long time now and is weary of. There is also the no-good younger son (a character that spirals the story even more out of focus in the second half) whom Bauji doesn’t know what to do with and we see that the irregularities of the family are as regular and middle-class as they can get. There is daily bickering, daily endearing moments, gentle warmth and regular disappointments as ordinary yet interesting for it, as the patchwork quilt the family cosily shrouds themselves in, in the cold nights of this North Indian town.

“The truth is out there!”

Bauji would like to believe so but there is a strong corollary to that. Only that truth is truth that is true to your experience. And hence begins a journey of a family dragged into this search of truth by the man of the house who now begins to appear a little senile to our eyes shrouded by practical concerns. We, as an audience become the family and Bauji the lone crusader trying to put out what he has discovered.

I tripped out on the promise of the premise completely.

“In a time of deceit telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” ― George Orwell

Truth does revolutionise Bauji’s life. The search for truth comes with a price, from Gandhi to Satyapriya, they all knew it. The price Bauji pays is to see his joint family breaking up. Rishi chooses to live separately with his family and the graceful Bauji lets him be. We sense there is a parallel search for one’s own truth unfolding elsewhere. Practical and material concerns do not provide us the middle-class luxury to indulge in fancy philosophical journeys; no, that’s for the elite. And hence the entire family rises up in arms against Bauji’s new avatar. Philosophy is costly but we forget that in merely surviving we let go of living. Subtly deceiving ourselves that this is what life is meant to be after all. For Bauji, surviving suddenly becomes an ugly word.

Sadly, his discovery does not become an expansive, life-affirming philosophical journey or a guiding light. Neither does it elevate itself to a deep, cinematic exploration of its theme. Like Matrix did for example.

Instead, we have a situation with little sub-text to the real theme, of his younger brother’s separation from the joint family. Animosity grows between the brothers, one that is treated gently and with love but does it contribute anything to the central conceit of the film? Yes, the younger brother is following his own truth but the film seems to be saying little about his journey, treating it with realist-humanist sympathy alone with no philosophical implications. A mere by-product of the mess Bauji has invited in his life by choosing what he has. That a sub-plot that crucial has little bearing to the theme than being a mere outcome seemed to me to be disservice to everyone included.

“Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing ever happened.” ― Winston Churchill

The tender-hearted Bauji suddenly becomes a braveheart in our eyes because he finds in himself the courage to face the truth he has found. It isn’t easy, such conviction, but neither is it difficult because when you have an epiphany, when the clouds clear for that insoluble moment of time and the sun shines brighter than it ever has, all shadows fall away, and the truth stands alone, refusing to be blind-sided, refusing to be hidden by rationalisations yet again. With such truth such courage comes as default. One has no other way. Yet, Bauji’s truth does not become ours nor egg us to seek ours. It gets lost in the whimsy of card-playing popularity, fan-following herds, and placard-holding eccentricities. None of which are organic or dynamic. They remain interesting plot points, the ‘coulds’ one writes on the margins of a script when at crossroads of plot development.

It’s almost like Rajat Kapoor himself stumbled over the truth, picked himself up and hurried off as if nothing happened.

And that killed the film for me. A theme as rich as that I found aimlessly tossed around, especially one with a very honest intent and one that is completely devoid of posturing. I know what became of Bauji but was it an organic growth or a cop-out? To me it seemed like the latter. Not that I know, but the alleys of truth must be convoluting, without easy answers, especially since so many of us know so little about it. The end of Bauji’s search seemed very easy. And his journey very unmindful as well. For a man who has found the reason of his existence, one which has been turned 360 degrees, he seemed to be acting more from whim than a focussed intent. Because whim is superficial but intent helps you delve deeper. If Bauji’s character had truly delved deeper he wouldn’t be going on trips to the zoo very late in the second half to establish a point he had painstakingly established very early on. If his character hadn’t taken an eccentric turn he wouldn’t suddenly become the lucky charm of a small-time Mafioso. His character seemed to be truly seeking and struggling, breaking free and revolutionising all that we know of an average man’s search for truth (notice the paradox in the statement) when he took to standing on the chowk holding confounding placards embarrassing his family. But suddenly, there was no movement in this journey. And a brilliant plot point became a mere set piece contributing nothing to anything.

 “The more I see, the less I know for sure.” ― John Lennon

Is this why Bauji ends up the way he does? We don’t know, however we are led to believe that he has come to a fructifying end to his journey. With the end as he chooses for Bauji, Rajat Kapoor seems to want to put an existential spin in the narrative which is as exciting a thought as his original theme. But there are no questions raised before we are led to this resolution. Nor is there an indication of a journey that seeks a proper close. The end comes and goes, just like Bauji’s epiphany, leaving us cold when it should have ideally left us shivering with goose bumps. Maybe inches closer to our own spiritual or intellectual thirst. That is because we did not see enough. Deep enough. Of Bauji and his thirst, his angst of marrying his new reality with his old, or a trajectory that led to his resolution that seemed to satisfy him. The film is linear and not episodic, however treating his journey as episodic fails the entire structure of the film and the audience, who by the middle are expecting more. Not answers, no one has them nor they can give anyone (Your truth is your own, remember?). Nor was it the intent of the film to provide ready ones. It was the experience of the search, the pain, angst, growth, questions, answers, trials and peace. Logically, all of this exists in the film but tattered and scattered, making little sense, not feeding off each other as it should and hence coming across as an under-played game of TT where no one wins.

Aldous Huxley once wrote, “Experience isn’t what happens to a man, it’s what a man does with what happens to him.”

I think that just about sums up, at many levels, what I feel about the film.

– Fatema Kagalwala


Ankhon Dekhi Poster

We are a bit late on this one, but we still thought we ought to feature it nevertheless. The poster and trailer of Rajat Kapoor’s Ankhon Dekhi arrived online sometime back- and while we are not quite sure how well they sell the film or convey what it’s really about- they give us a feel of the world it’s set in.

Some of us happened to see the film a while back and the reactions were pretty good. It’s an oddball, quirky film that goes through some distinct shifts of tone but always remains interesting and thought provoking. It’s also powered by some good performances from a strong cast led by Sanjay Mishra.

Here’s the trailer of the film, followed by the synopsis:

‘Ankhon Dekhi’ is the story about ‘Bauji’, a 55 year old man, who lives a dreary but eventful life in a joint family, that shares a small house cramped with people and drama. One day Bauji has an epiphany and decides that from that point on he would only believe what he sees with his own eyes, nothing else can be certain. There are a quite a few challenges on his onward journey- but Bauji never loses sight of what is before his eyes.

Produced by Manish Mundra, the film has been written and directed by Rajat Kapoor, who also stars in the film. ‘Aankhon Dekhi’ also features Sanjay Mishra, Seema Pahwa, Taranjeet, Maya Sarao, Namit Das, Brijendra Kala and Manu Rishi Chadha.

Varun Grover, lyricist and our editorial member, has written the songs for the film.

And here we have an interview of Rajat Kapoor where he speaks about Ankhon Dekhi and the challenges of making his brand of cinema.