Posts Tagged ‘Irrfan Khan’

The first look of Meghna Gulzar’s Talvar is out. Starring Irrfan Khan, Konkona Sen Sharma, Neeraj Kabi, Sohum Shah, Atul Kumar, and Gajraj Rao, the film has been written by Vishal Bhardwaj who has also given the music. It has Gulzar’s lyrics and has been shot by Pankaj Kumar.

Do check out the trailer.

The film is based on Aarushi Talwar murder case and looks at it from the point of investigation.

Talvar will have its world premiere at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival.

Irrfan

The Toronto International Film Festival has just announced its line-up for 2015. And here’s the good news – two Indian films, Meghna Gulzar’s Talvar and Leena Yadav’s Parched have been selected for World Premiere in ‘Special Presentations’ section.

Starring Irrfan Khan, Konkona Sensharma, Neeraj Kabi, Atul Kumar, Gajraj Rao, Sohum Shah and Tabu in a special appearance, the film is a gritty investigative drama about the Noida double murder case. With Gulzar’s lyrics, Vishal Bhardwaj’s music & screenplay, and cinematography by Pankaj Kumar (Haider, Ship Of Theseus), the thriller is a fictional dramatization of true life events revolving around Aarushi Talwar murder case investigation.

Leena Yadav’s Parched has Tannishtha Chatterjee in the lead role. The official page has one line description – In a rural Indian village, four ordinary women begin to throw off the traditions that hold them in servitude, in this inspirational drama.

(Disclosure – One of our editors is closely associated with Talvar)

Anup Singh’s Qissa is finally releasing in India. It’s a limited release in 5 cities with just a few shows. Scroll down to the bottom of the post to see the release details. But here’s the good news – even if you are not in any of the 5 cities or you are outside India, you can watch it on VoD. Click here to go to NFDC’s VoD link and enjoy the film. The film is in Punjabi with English subtitles.

We are re-posting an old recco post on the film. Don’t miss it- it’s a must-watch and has made it to our mFC Recco List.

Qissa

If the header of the post seems loaded, you will be surprised more when you watch the film. Yes, there’s gender-bending, it’s genre-bending, and a ghostly tale. Add partition, identity crisis, sexuality, female foeticide, sibling rivalry. It’s a baffling cocktail that you have never tasted before.

The ghostly part might be considered a spoiler, but since the film’s title already tells you that, am not sure if it should be counted as one. The film is titled “Qissa – The Tale Of A Lonely Ghost”. I think that’s a smart choice to let the audience know what they are getting into, and be prepared for it. On a similar tangent, it was a mistake which Talaash makers did by not getting the spoiler out.

Varun Grover saw the film at TIFF where it premiered, and reccoed it in a post here – “A film based on partition, in Punjabi, starring Irrfan and Tillotama Shome and Rasika Duggal and Tisca Chopra! I was already sold. And though it deals with partition in a more symbolic, metaphoric, allegorical way – I was moved immensely by it. Many friends had issues with the logic and amount of suspension of disbelief it demands (basic premise of a father who brings up his daughter as a son without letting anybody else know is a bit of a stretch, yes) – but it still managed to disturb and involve me probably because of the magic realism zone it enters in the 2nd half. And also because of Rasika and Tillotama’s terrific performances. Probably it’s only me but I think the film gives a solid theory on why Punjab has the maximum cases of female foeticide/infanticide. (Qissa won the NETPAC Award at TIFF)”

So i was already prepared for it. But i had no clue that it will be such a fascinating ride. The film starts with a voice-over that feels like a folktale. But it soon jumps into the reality of partition and ethnic cleansing which forms its backdrop. In the aftermath of partition, Umber Singh (Irrfan Khan) is forced to move to Punjab with his family. A loss of identity, roots and that place you call home. Do you ever get that back?

And from the politics of the land the film moves to gender politics. Having already three daughters, Irrfan forces the forth daughter to grow up like a son. The gender identity part is strange and you might question its believability factor. But i have always felt that never let the truth (or logic/reason/whatever you call it) come in the way of a great story telling. Let the filmmaker be your guiding torch in this new dark room that you have never entered. Just hold his hand tightly and enjoy the ride. Leave him only if he trips over something. In that dark room, the only thing that matters is the conviction with which the filmmaker guides you, and how much are you willing to trust him. I live to enjoy this cheap thrill, and trust me, most of the times the experience has been rewarding. It’s easy to spot the ones who know their craft and can direct. Qissa is one such dark room which you have never entered. It’s strange, it’s weird, it’s unique. You need that torch and that trust. So as you buy into the premise of its gender politics, you realise that this strange tale is becoming weird, and you keep wondering where it will end up.

Then comes the magic realism bit which wraps up the story and completes the circle. The sudden tonal shift feels slightly jerky but it’s a minor quibble in an otherwise brilliant film. Anup Singh captures the sights and sounds of the land beautifully. The arid landscape, the rustic rituals, the folksy sound, and the dialect of the region, there’s not a single false note in Qissa. Backed by strong acting talents – Irrfan Khan, Tilottama Shome, Rasika Dugal and Tisca Chopra, they manage to pull off this difficult film with much ease. Describing anything more of the film will spoil the fun for you.

Qissa is an audacious film, and all credit must go to Anup Singh for stepping into this rare territory which we hardly explore, and for delivering such a brilliant film. This is the reason why it might alienate some audience too. You are not sure how to tackle this film. So remember the dark room and hold that torch. You will be fine. Don’t miss this one. It’s rare to find such a gem. Because it’s rare to find a desi filmmaker who takes such an untrodden path.

@NotSoSnob

Qissa

A new Vishal Bhardwaj film is always cause for celebration. Even his weakest films have so much to savour, and in an industry so plagued by intellectual and creative bankruptcy, Bhardwaj is the rare filmmaker who could perhaps truly claim auteur status- he produces, directs, writes, composes- and does all of it with a style so distinctive and quixotic- there’s no mistaking his stamp. We’ve got to admit, we’re fanboys, and unashamedly so.

The much awaited trailer for Mr Bhardwaj’s new film ‘Haider’ has arrived along with a trio of posters. Haider is based on Hamlet and is the final film of his Shakespearean Trilogy (preceded by Maqbool and Omkara) and stars Shahid Kapoor, Tabu, Shraddha Kapoor and Kay Kay Menon among others (including Irrfan Khan in a special appearance).

Notably, Haider has been co-written with Kashmiri author and journalist Basharat Peer and also marks the filmmaker’s first collaboration with cinematographer Pankaj Kumar, who is best known for shooting Anand Gandhi’s Ship Of Theseus. Click here to read an interesting article about Peer’s collaboration with Bhardwaj.

Take a look at the trailer and posters and let us know what you think:

 

 

Qissa-Movie-Starring-Irrfan-KhanIf the header of the post seems loaded, you will be surprised more when you watch the film. Yes, there’s gender-bending, it’s genre-bending, and a ghostly tale. Add partition, identity crisis, sexuality, female foeticide, sibling rivalry. It’s a baffling cocktail that you have never tasted before.

The ghostly part might be considered a spoiler, but since the film’s title already tells you that, am not sure if it should be counted as one. The film is titled “Qissa – The Tale Of A Lonely Ghost”. I think that’s a smart choice to let the audience know what they are getting into, and be prepared for it. On a similar tangent, it was a mistake which Talaash makers did by not getting the spoiler out.

Varun Grover saw the film at TIFF where it premiered, and reccoed it in a post here – “A film based on partition, in Punjabi, starring Irrfan and Tillotama Shome and Rasika Duggal and Tisca Chopra! I was already sold. And though it deals with partition in a more symbolic, metaphoric, allegorical way – I was moved immensely by it. Many friends had issues with the logic and amount of suspension of disbelief it demands (basic premise of a father who brings up his daughter as a son without letting anybody else know is a bit of a stretch, yes) – but it still managed to disturb and involve me probably because of the magic realism zone it enters in the 2nd half. And also because of Rasika and Tillotama’s terrific performances. Probably it’s only me but I think the film gives a solid theory on why Punjab has the maximum cases of female foeticide/infanticide. (Qissa won the NETPAC Award at TIFF)”

So i was already prepared for it. But i had no clue that it will be such a fascinating ride. The film starts with a voice-over that feels like a folktale. But it soon jumps into the reality of partition and ethnic cleansing which forms its backdrop. In the aftermath of partition, Umber Singh (Irrfan Khan) is forced to move to Punjab with his family. A loss of identity, roots and that place you call home. Do you ever get that back?

And from the politics of the land the film moves to gender politics. Having already three daughters, Irrfan forces the forth daughter to grow up like a son. The gender identity part is strange and you might question its believability factor. But i have always felt that never let the truth (or logic/reason/whatever you call it) come in the way of a great story telling. Let the filmmaker be your guiding torch in this new dark room that you have never entered. Just hold his hand tightly and enjoy the ride. Leave him only if he trips over something. In that dark room, the only thing that matters is the conviction with which the filmmaker guides you, and how much are you willing to trust him. I live to enjoy this cheap thrill, and trust me, most of the times the experience has been rewarding. It’s easy to spot the ones who know their craft and can direct. Qissa is one such dark room which you have never entered. It’s strange, it’s weird, it’s unique. You need that torch and that trust. So as you buy into the premise of its gender politics, you realise that this strange tale is becoming weird, and you keep wondering where it will end up.

Then comes the magic realism bit which wraps up the story and completes the circle. The sudden tonal shift feels slightly jerky but it’s a minor quibble in an otherwise brilliant film. Anup Singh captures the sights and sounds of the land beautifully. The arid landscape, the rustic rituals, the folksy sound, and the dialect of the region, there’s not a single false note in Qissa. Backed by strong acting talents – Irrfan Khan, Tilottama Shome, Rasika Dugal and Tisca Chopra, they manage to pull off this difficult film with much ease. Describing anything more of the film will spoil the fun for you.

Qissa is an audacious film, and all credit must go to Anup Singh for stepping into this rare territory which we hardly explore, and for delivering such a brilliant film. This is the reason why it might alienate some audience too. You are not sure how to tackle this film. So remember the dark room and hold that torch. You will be fine. Don’t miss this one. It’s rare to find such a gem. Because it’s rare to find a desi filmmaker who takes such an untrodden path.

So far I have seen only two films in India Gold section of Mumbai Film Festival, but i wouldn’t be surprised if Qissa walks away with the top prize.

@cilemasnob

(ps – It also reminded me of a strong Peruvian film, Undertow which was a strange mix of a ghostly tale and gay love story. Do watch this one too if you haven’t seen)

If you follow this blog and twitter feed of our regular contributors, you know that we have been plugging, writing and tweeting about Ritesh Batra’s debut feature ‘The Lunchbox’ for a long, long time. The film is finally releasing this friday. Thanks to UTV and Karan Johar who came on board and made it happen.

And Dear UTV, for Ship Of Theseus, The Lunchbox and Shahid, sau khoon maaf (or Chennai Express maaf) this year from our side. Do continue the good work, or at least just the balancing act will do.

Over to Fatema Kagalwala who tells you why ‘The Lunchbox’ is a must watch and is easily one of the best films of the year.

Lunchbox copy

Cinema is a big lie. Loneliness isn’t as poetic as it pretends to be on celluloid. And nostalgia is a double-edged sword, its pain bitter-sweet but pain after all. Not many have the courage to show it as it is and we keep buying those lies, keeping the pretence going. Good things happen to good people in films but not real life. But who are we to conclude that? Definitely, not Ritesh Batra. Because, he is not pretending, nor bull-shitting us. He is simply throwing two situations, two people very real and painfully so, together and asking ‘what if’? And also, ‘what now’? And that is beautiful.

There is loneliness everywhere in the film. In every frame, every character. Accompanied by that unshakeably loyal bitch of a companion – longing. And along with it disillusionment, resignation and valiant attempts to overcome. In all the three central characters of the film played by Irrfan Khan, Nimrat Kaur and Nawazuddin Siddique.

I don’t know how to write a recco post without divulging too much. So free-wheeling it will be. In a Q and A, Ritesh Batra said there is a lot of nostalgia in every character, yearning for a time long past. And nostalgia is the step-child of loneliness, undesired yet cannot be shaken of. Always around to remind you the good times have long gone. But they needn’t stay gone. And as humans we will always wish for better times, strive for better times. And so do these three characters. Just like Georges in Amour. Or Salma of Lemon Tree.

How do you write about a film that you just liked and liked? No, there is nothing to dislike in the film. At least, there wasn’t to my eyes. Unless you are that guy who thinks old people and middle-class, married women with children cannot be protagonists of a film because their stories are drab. Had Ritesh Batra thought so, we wouldn’t have had Lunchbox, a deceptively feel-good film that goes just this much beyond feel-good, opening a world that is so ours yet painted with a warm, tender, home-grown, understated sensibility that till now we saw only in Iranian films.

So Irrfan Khan is an old man, Saajan Fernandes, who is about to retire from his job at the Claims Department in what I presume must be LIC, given it looks like a Govt organisation. He is a widower, childless, lonely and prickly like how the emotionally un-nurtured sometimes get. Work-wise he is punctilious, much respected and almost clock-work, again almost like how the emotionally un-nurtured sometimes get. He just might easily become Carl from Up in a few years. Or a middle-class Isak of Wild Strawberries.

One day, Saajan receives an unusually well-prepared lunch and then the next day a letter. He responds and a story grows out of those little bits of interactions that happen at lunch-time via a now-defunct medium – hand-written letters. The film packs such old-world symbols with aplomb, while just slipping them in casually. Letters, VCR with ‘Yeh Jo Hain Zindagi’ playing (Yes, sigh!), a song from Saajan; celebrating nostalgia with its characters and nudging us to try it too. Who knows we might like it too? And yes, I did. (Btw, is Yeh Jo Hain Zindagi on #YKW?)

The person on the other side of the letters is Ila, a young, middle-class housewife and mother, maybe in her late twenties or early thirties, who is already spent fulfilling the thankless responsibilities of a home-maker for a long time now. A few years older and she will become Francesca of Bridges of Madison County. But she isn’t there yet so she is conspiring with her neighbour aunty, present only in voice (the awesome Bharti Achrekar with her distinct voice), to win back the attentions of her husband, which, as they do, have eroded over time. Special lunches with special masalas are prepared in the hope that her husband will notice her again. But the first tiffin she sends him doesn’t reach him. Nor does the last. And by then it is too late. Maybe, that is better because what happens otherwise is what we want for Ila, not the dregs of a dead romance rekindled with wet wood.

And then there is Sheikh, played by that annoyingly smooth and frustratingly effortless actor Nawazuddin Siddique. An orphan who has come up on his own in this tough world and loves saying ‘Maa kehti thi’ because it adds ‘vazan’ (weight) to his quotes. He is looking for an anchor too and under his lisping, people-pleasing, yes-man, we see that vulnerable and achingly lonely man longing for someone elder he could call his own. He influences Saajan’s life as much as Saajan does his. (SPOILER – The scene where NS asks Saajan to represent him at the wedding may seem cheesy and clichéd but when Saajan actually does, the heft of emotion actually weighs you down. Suddenly, you realise this is what it meant to him. This is how much having someone you can call family can mean. By then, our Saajan has begun thawing too and we revel in it. SPOILER ENDS)

The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, if there is a film that personifies this, it is Lunchbox. Ila is trying to win her husband back through it, Saajan’s tough crust begins to melt in it and we also see Sheikh trying to woo Saajan’s confidence by his own culinary talent, but along with suitable pride he takes in his wife’s cooking. If at all food was a central motif in a film it was this. Nourishment. We all need it. Physical and emotional. After a point, the physical nourishment and the loveliness that comes with the excitement of change just becomes a symbol of emotional nourishment.

It is as tender as it gets, almost as tender as ‘Mary and Max’ was. The characters could just be Indianised versions of that touchingly, understated and very well-written film. The promises in Lunchbox are slightly more populist, a wee dream-like to really compare. But that is where it scores. In maintaining that thin line between selling dreams and mirroring reality while infusing hope. And if not for the ending, it could have killed the film, or dragged it down the much-beaten path of ‘potential thi, expore nahi kiya.’ Because, in the end, try as we might to resist it, suddenly it becomes our story, we are pulled in, by force. Forced to commit to it, engage with it at a deeper level because our own catharsis depends on it. How? Experience it and then we will talk.

I haven’t watched a movie on old age more painful than Sarah Polley’s ‘Away From Her’, which shows the pain of growing old in all its nakedness. Irrfan as Saajan is brilliant as he wears that pain as a daily accessory, treating it almost as a part of life. Yet, there is a balance in tone, where we never indulge in his sorrow vicariously, yet it touches us as we see him being rough with little kids and then staring longingly into other people’s houses, watching them eating noisily together. We worry what will happen to him now that he is retiring and from the looks of it, it seems he is worrying too. Just that his worries are masked with a longing he himself doesn’t want to admit.

Ila on the other hand has been brave enough to admit it. And brave enough to do something about it. She has a confidante in her neighbour aunty who has been taking care of her bed-ridden husband for fifteen years without complaint. And she has a mother who, instead of being in pain, feels empty and relieved, the day her husband dies. All she feels is hungry she says and it is a stunning metaphor of nourishment again. What comes out after the cork is removed on years of repression, years of living with an extinguished relationship? Maybe, Ila sees her future in her mother because, we surely do.

A lot of the film is editing. Ritesh Batra admitted it too. The stories of Saajan and Ila are inter-cut with an intuitive sense of excitement. It is all repetitive, everything the two do, they can’t help it, their lives are like that, mundane, boring and same always. What’s worse, ours is the same but the story-telling takes care of that, there is no boredom or ennui hitting us. Slightly mismatched voice-overs, visual exploration of possibilities and a sense of control in scenes showing Saajan and Ila alone transports the film out of monotony so much that the deliberately cultivated tedium becomes part of the fabric of the film without becoming an obstacle.

There is a refreshing un-self-consciousness about the film that is so rewarding, one is wonderstruck to know it is the director’s debut film. Irrfan Khan, we know isn’t a self-conscious actor, repetitive and uninspiring he maybe at times but never self-conscious. Nimrat Kaur isn’t either and it is a pleasure to watch two actors who know the meaning of restraint and understatement. Nimrat Kaur takes the staid and plaid Ila out of her very common characterisation and infuses so much warmth in her that we cannot but help root for her. All this without any manipulation. However, while the world was busy adoring Irrfan I gave away my awe and jaw to Nawazuddin Siddique. The man is something else. Would it be blasphemy if I say watch the film for him above all?

Mumbai is a silent character as well, looking on at its victims, as they grapple with their lives in this big, sprawling city of faceless people full of dreams waiting for a miracle to transform their lives. Do Saajan, Ila and Sheikh find theirs uplifted? Do their dreams find wings and their desires expression? Does loneliness consume them or release them to fly on? Is loneliness on celluloid different than it is for you and me? There is only one way to find out and that is by watching this delectable film this Friday. If only we got fare like this more often, we’d be feeding off the cinemas more often too. Here’s wishing Lunchbox a dream run at the BO.

qissa_01

Toronto International Film Festival has come to an end, and has announced the winners  for this year.

Here’s the good news – An Indian co-production, Anup Singh’s Qissa has bagged the NETPAC Award at this year’s fest. The film stars Irrfan Khan, Tillotama Shome, Rasika Dugal and Tisca Chopra. This Punjabi film is written by Anup Singh and Madhuja Mukherjee. And here’s what the official release says –

As selected by a jury from the Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema, the NETPAC Award for World or International Asian Film Premiere goes to Anup Singh’s Qissa. Jury members include Jay Jeon (Korea), Intishal Al Timimi (Abu Dhabi) and Freddie Wong (Hong Kong). The jury remarked: “The NETPAC Award for the best Asian film at Festival 2013 goes to Qissa, directed by Anup Singh, for its sensitive portrayal of the issues of identity and displacement that affect people not only in India, but in all parts of the world and for brilliance of cinematic craft and the choice of metaphor that has been employed to tell a moving story that is bound to provoke thoughts, spark debate and give its viewers an intense experience.

TRAILER

TIFF NOTE & SYNOPSIS

Set amidst the ethnic cleansing and general chaos that accompanied India’s partition in 1947, this sweeping drama stars Irrfan Khan — also appearing at the Festival in The Lunchbox — as a Sikh attempting to forge a new life for his family while keeping their true identities a secret from their community.

Beautiful, timeless, and touching the deepest of human impulses, Qissa carries the spirit of a great folk tale. Although it’s set in a particular time and place — the Punjab region that straddles India and Pakistan in the years immediately after partition — it is both deeper and broader than any one moment. As this eerie family drama progresses, it cuts to the heart of eternal desires for honour, empathy, and love.

One of India’s best actors, Irrfan Khan (Life of Pi, Festival premiere The Lunchbox, and a feature guest in this year’s Mavericks programme) plays Umber Singh, a Sikh uprooted by the religious violence that came with partition in 1947. He and his family move to a safer locale, and it is here that the story takes a remarkable turn. Having already fathered daughters, Singh now wants a son. When his next child is born he celebrates his wish come true, but there is one problem: the baby is in fact a girl.

“Qissa” is originally an Arabic word meaning folk tale. Both the word and the idea migrated from the Gulf into the Punjab, still connected by the ancient oral narratives handed down in communal settings. Working within this tradition, director Anup Singh gives his film both the grand themes and elemental emotions of classic storytelling. As Umber’s daughter is raised as a boy, the characters are propelled with greater and greater urgency towards their inevitable fates.

Part of a new generation of directors with feet firmly planted in India and far beyond, Singh has delivered a film immediately accessible to anyone sensitive to the conflicts that drive classic stories: fear versus hubris, individual need versus social codes. Qissa is a Punjabi story for the whole world.

DIRECTOR

Anup Singh was born in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. He has written film reviews for Sight & Sound, directed Indian television, and consulted for BBC Two. His features as director are The Name of a River (02) and Qissa (13).

CAST & CREW

Director: Anup Singh

Countries: Germany / India / Netherlands / France

Year: 2013

Language: Punjabi

Runtime: 109 minutes

Rating: 14A

Producer: Johannes Rexin, Bettina Brokemper

Production Co.: Heimatfilm, National Film Development Corporation of India, Augustus Film, Ciné-Sud Promotion

Principal Cast: Irrfan Khan, Tillotama Shome, Rasika Dugal, Tisca Chopra

Screenplay: Anup Singh, Madhuja Mukherjee

Cinematographer: Sebastian Edschmid

Editor: Bernd Euscher

Sound: Peter Flamman

Music: Béatrice Thiriet

Prod. Designer: Tim Pannen

Int. Sales Agent: The Match Factory