Posts Tagged ‘Kartik Krishnan’

And we are also back with our daily fest diary. As long as our brains keep working after 5 back to back shows, we will try to do a post daily. Here’s Kartik Krishnan‘s to Day 1 wrap.

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Matterhorn – a normal middle class devout time table wala Ram Gopal Bajaj (Andaz apna apna – Paresh Rawal) character’s life changes when he takes a mentally challenged drifter as a ‘flatmate’. Dealing with themes of ‘मोह’, church, conformity, redemption, cognitive disability, pity, homosexuality, relationships and a dash of black humor – this dramedy is crisply directed with minimal flab. The usage of BGM is particularly striking.

Pussy Riot – A Punk Prayer – This documentary immediately reminded me of Ismat Manto Haazir hain & Howl (the brilliant film screened few years ago at MAMI). Bunch of girls perform anti establishment punk rock songs at the Sacred Cathedral in Moscow and the ‘orthodox’ residents are outraged – following which the administration slaps a case on them. And then we delve into the characters’ of the three girls and the courtroom drama that follows. Gandu-equivalent music (though with more political content), the girls claim they have not done anything blasphemous. Provocative, entertaining, subversive, satirical.

Blackfish – Docu on Killer whales exhibition and how the greed of Seaworld (no different from any of the conscience-less corporates ruling the roost we’ve seen before) led to the death of many trainers. The fondness & familiarity with which everyone talks about the ‘culprit’ whale – Tilakam almost makes this docu like a thriller with an unpredictable eccentric protagonist at the center. Candid videos of training gone wrong – there is a particularly chilling sequence with a trainer being forced entertain Tilakam’s ‘eccentric’ behaviour, and being dragged underwater for as long as 60 seconds – repeatedly.

Wajma – An Afghan Love Story – turned out exactly what the trailer promised. An Afghani Julie. Made with low budget & minimal production values, shot on HDV, candid shooting style. While the film lacked the ‘professional’ touch it had a lot of heart in it. The lead actress gave an arresting performance, and particularly the honor-beating scene stays in your memory more so perhaps due to the rawness of the film. Want to see more films from Afghanistan.

The Weight of Elephants – starts out on a promising note and a mis direction – I was wondering(hoping) perhaps it is going to go in Prisoners’ zone with kids gone missing. But this New Zealand film stays with the drifter protagonist – the young Adrian and his life in an around his school friends, next door neighbors and troubled home, and eventually becomes a coming of age film. The kids look so natural and impressive that their scenes alone tower over the nothingness which is so present in the film. Disappointing except for the lovely Kiwi locales and the Gulzar-ish/Masoom-ish kids.

Tales from an Organ Trade – This docu shot all over the eurasia, middle east, canada, thailand covers the complex nature of the Organ Trade, specifically the kidney racket. Why do slumdwellers in Manila happily become kidney donors for as little as 2000USD? How do the doctors performing such clandestine surgeries look at themselves in the mirror? Is only voluntary organ donation ethical ? What other option does a long suffering renal patient have if he/she has been waiting for 7-8 yrs for a ‘legal’ kidney? The docu puts forth these and many more important questions in an entertaining engaging manner.

The Armstrong Lie – This documentary focuses in detail on the confessions made by the cycling champ cancer survivor famous oprah interview. Slightly long and rambling, it turned out to be nevertheless an eye opener on the life of Lance (I must confess- knew little about him before this docu). How can one be so convincing as a liar for so many years ? Why is every genius a narcissistic aatm-mugdh asshole ? With lots of in depth interviews and candid conversations, this one really made my day. Another must watch.

Locke – Tom Hardy. Driving a car. One night in London. Travelling from one end of town to another. All the time on phone. The premise sounds like a thriller but it is a superlatively shot human drama about a man trying to face his demons. Doesn’t get repetitive despite being a single ‘setup’ film. Wish we could see a hindi film like this but which actor is confident and daring enough to pull off something like this ? I wish subtitles were there because the Brit accent sometimes flew over my head. Now I want to see the writer-director’s Humming bird.

Kartik Krishnan

(PS – If you are wondering how KK managed to watch 8 films on one day, well, he did his homework well. Watched three films from #youknowwhere)

Features Kartik Krishnan, Varun Grover, Namrata Rao and Richa Chadda.

Karan Johar, Dibakar Banerjee, Zoya Akhtar and Anurag Kashyap – four filmmakers with distinct signature style of filmmaking. So it’s interesting that a film like Bombay Talkies managed to bring them together. Though the occasion is 100 years of Indian cinema, all four shorts don’t have a strong cinema connect.

Interestingly, we also have got four writers to write about these four films. Read the post, watch the films and do vote for your favourite short in our poll.

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Jahan Singh Bakshi on Karan Johar’s Ajeeb Dastaan Hai Yeh

Of the four shorts in Bombay Talkies, I was most interested in Karan Johar’s film. One couldn’t quite tell what it is about beyond the fact that there is a troubled marriage in an urban setting (between Rani and Randeep) and a blossoming friendship (between Rani and Saqib) that perhaps gets the plot rolling. Also, there was a delicous sense of irony in the fact that in an anthology including films by Anurag, Zoya and Dibakar, it was K-Jo’s that seemed like the most dark and bleak!

What Karan has delivered in Bombay Talkies is something I did not expect (and  I’m sure no one did). And with unexpected elan as well! Not just daring and bold, but equally graceful and poised- this is a Karan Johar you haven’t seen before. Or maybe he always had this in him but was waiting for the right time and a film where he did not have to wear the producer’s hat. I won’t reveal the plot of the film here (even though soon people would be talking about it) but when a filmmaker like Karan Johar makes a film like this, it isn’t just a film, it’s a massive statement. A few glass ceilings have been instantly shattered in a snap.

But let’s give Karan Johar, the guy everyone is probably looking at as the dark horse black sheep among these four, credit for more than just audaciousness. Ajeeb Dastan Hai Yeh grabs you by the collar and jolts you in its very first scene. But it instantly and nonchalantly moves on. This isn’t a Madhur Bhandarkar ‘shockfest’ or a film about ‘issues’.

What you get is an astutely made relationship drama- funny, candid, empathetic and in the end, wonderfully poignant. As I thought of the film later, I also appreciated how economically and smoothly it moved, everything is established so quickly and well. The characters are all flawed; there are no judgments made, no quick answers given, no simple resolutions. Apart from the odd cornball line in the beginning (‘Gale mein mangalsutra, aakhon mein kamasutra!‘- and that too from an intern to his boss!) the dialogue is smart and well written. And yes, no clumsy melodrama either. Maybe it’s the effect of shooting in ‘real’ locations! 😉

The performances are excellent and fearless. After trying too hard in NOKJ & Aiyaa, Rani Mukerji is back to doing what she does best- in Talaash, and now this. She is raw and wonderful, and the camera doesn’t look away from the love handles pouring out of her blouse or the freckles on her face. This is the sexiest and most beautiful she has looked in a long time. Saqib has cocky charm, but also a heart-breaking vulnerability. This is a role few young actors with Bollywood-Hero aspirations would take on. And Randeep Hooda surprises with a superbly reined-in performance, emotions carefully simmering under the surface.

As tempting as it is to discuss the story, I’d prefer to let everyone discover it on their own and react. This is surely going to be the most talked-about film of the four. And bagging second place in such illustrious company is no mean feat either. So many good directors stumble when it comes to short films- and well, here we have a filmmaker who’s so often reviled and not exactly known for brevity- making such a terrific one.

Mr Johar, you had my attention, now you have my curiosity. I’m curious to see where you go from here. You’ve taken the big leap, now don’t stop.

PS: You’ll be humming the ‘title song’ for a long, long time after the film. 🙂

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Varun Grover on Dibakar Banerjee’s स्टार

अगस्त 2011. हम रेखा झा से पटना में मिले थे. उन्होंने ‘गैंग्स ऑफ़ वासेपुर’ में ‘वुमनिया’ गीत गाया था. वो एक और गाने (तार बिजली) में कोरस की लड़कियों वाले ग्रुप में आई थीं. स्नेहा खानवलकर को उनकी आवाज़ अच्छी लगी और उन्हें अलग से पूरा गाना मिल गया. वापसी के समय उनके पति (झा बाबू) मुझे अपनी टैक्सी में छोड़ने आये. उनका पटना में ही भाड़े की टैक्सी का बिजनेस है. रास्ते में उन्होंने बताया कि वो १९९०/९१ के आस-पास एक बार बंबई आये थे; हीरो बनने. “उस समय अगर कोई हमको बोल देता कि दस मंजिल से कूद जाओ और हम तुम्हें हीरो बना देंगे तो हम कूद जाते.” मैंने पूछा “तो किसी ने बोला क्या?” उन्होंने बताया काफी दिन बंबई में भटकने के बाद उन्हें एक जुगाड़ मिला. बाज़ीगर की शूट चल रही थी…लोनावला साइड कहीं पे. वो वहां पहुँच गए और यही ताव (कूद जायेंगे वाला) सब प्रोडक्शन वालों को सुनाने लगे. एक ने कह दिया, यह नदी है सामने छोटी सी, इसको तैर के पार कर लो तो किसी एक सीन में हीरो के अगल-बगल कहीं खड़े होने को मिल जाएगा. जनाब कूद गए. तैरना नहीं आता था, फिर भी कूद गए. किसी और को उन्हें पकड़ के निकालना पड़ा. झा बाबू के मुताबिक़ उनकी इस हिम्मत को देखकर सेट पर मौजूद (वीनस वाले) रतन जैन का दिल पिघल गया और उन्होंने झा जी को एक हफ्ते बाद बंबई में अपने दफ्तर बुलाया. झा जी एक हफ्ते तक सडकों पर रहे, बस स्टाप पर सोये, पर रतन जैन से मिलने का दिन आने से पहले ही उनका सारा सामान, जिसमें रतन जैन के दफ्तर का पता भी था, चोरी हो गया. उन्हें वापस पटना लौटना पड़ा. हमेशा के लिए.

कट टू – जनवरी 2013. एक अवार्ड फंक्शन में रेखा झा वुमनिया के लिए nominate हुयीं. झा जी भी उनके साथ बंबई आये. यशराज स्टूडियो के अन्दर बैठ के उस दुनिया को देखा जिसके लिए वो कूद जाना चाहते थे. मुझे सुपरमैन ऑफ़ मालेगांव के शायर फरोग़ जाफरी याद आ गए. (“मैं कब से बंबई की तरफ चल रहा हूँ. मालेगांव से बंबई बस एक रात का सफ़र है. पर ये रात ख़त्म नहीं होती.”) झा जी की छलांग भी 22-साल तक लगती ही रही.

कट टू – मई 2013. दिबाकर बनर्जी की फिल्म ‘स्टार’ में पुरंदर (नवाज़ुद्दीन सिद्दीकी, हमेशा की तरह बवाल) भी ऐसी ही एक छलांग के बीच में कहीं है. और पुरंदर की छलांग इतनी सीधी भी नहीं है. वो कई दिशाओं में कूद रहा है. या हवा में कहीं बीच में लटक रहा है. दिबाकर बनर्जी की हर अच्छी फिल्म की हर खासियत इस २०-२५ मिनट की फिल्म में मिल जायेगी – बहुत ही कडुवा सा sense of humor; social issues पर एक तीखी नज़र; खतरनाक casting (हमारे drunk-शायर और असल ज़िन्दगी में बहुत ही sincere, assistant director कार्तिक कृष्णन का इस से अच्छा इस्तेमाल नहीं हो सकता था, नवाज़ की पत्नी के रोल में एक गज़ब की नयी एक्टर (sorry नाम नहीं देख पाया end credits के गीले कचरे से भी बदतर गाने के चक्कर में), और सदाशिव अमरापुरकर की धांसू वापसी); कहने को एक बहुत ही गहरी बात; और एक गांड-फाड opening scene.

बल्कि अगर दिबाकर की फिल्मों का एक सबसे बड़ा recurring structural-motif ढूँढा जाए तो वो यही होगा कि उनकी हर फिल्म का पहला सीन पूरी फिल्म का सार होता है. और अपने आप में एक complete short-film भी. LSD में short-film या meta-film का element deliberately बहुत साफ़ था, लेकिन बाकी हर फिल्म में (‘ओये लक्की..’ में तो बहुत ही गज़ब तरह से) पहले सीन को लिखने की मेहनत साफ़ दिखती है. Shanghai पर हज़ार debate हुए कि फिल्म किसके बारे में थी लेकिन दिबाकर के motif से जाएँ तो फिल्म का पहला सीन साफ़ कर देता है कि फिल्म मामा और भग्गू के बारे में ही थी.

और ‘स्टार’ का पहला सीन ‘ओये लक्की’ की टक्कर का है. बस उनके पिछले काम से काफी अलग, (के.के. के शब्द) “फुल बंगाली सिनेमा है रे!” और सिर्फ पहला सीन ही नहीं, क्योंकि पूरी फिल्म सत्यजित रे की लघु कथा ‘पोटोल बाबू फिल्म स्टार’ से है, तो बहुत जगह रे की छाप साफ़ दिखती है. (मुझे एक जगह ‘नायक’ दिखी और एक जगह ‘महानगर’. और एक जगह एक जानवर में रे बाबू की २-३ लघु कथाएँ.)

फिल्म के बारे में कोई spoilers नहीं लिख रहा. लेकिन बस इतना ही कि Bombay Talkies की चारों फिल्मों का पैसा मेरे लिए इस अकेली में ही वसूल हो गया. (करण जोहर की फिल्म भी शानदार लगी वैसे.) नवाज़, दिबाकर बनर्जी, और सत्यजित रे – इससे आगे कोई क्या मांगेगा?

Update: अभी अभी एक जुगाड़ से नवाज़ की पत्नी का रोल करने वाली एक्टर का नाम पता चल गया. मराठी थियेटर की एक्टर – शुभांगी भुजबल. और ये भी पता चला कि वो खुद ऐसी ही एक चाल में पली-बढ़ी जैसी फिल्म में दिखाई गयी है.

(If you have difficulty reading it in Hindi, scroll down and read its English transalation)

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Kartik Krishnan on Zoya Akhtar’s Sheila Ki Jawani

It’s more Taare Zameen Par than Pankh. The 6 yr old’s desires stifled by the ‘Sharma ji’ type moochad father with shades of Naseer-Ishan Nair (the fat dancing kid from Monsoon Wedding) conflict. मेरे-Parents-चाहते-हैं-मैं-आम-खाऊँ-जबकि-मुझे-केले-पसंद-हैं is the dillema/drama. The sexuality theme is not explored (or maybe I’m reading too much into it).

The film stealthily enters the kid(s) world and takes you along. Not the most ‘fresh’ stories but again very well done, non-melodramatic realistic treatment by Zoya Akhtar (with Excel Ent Production Design from LBC not Rock On). The casting of the kids and mom is spot on. And the relationship between the siblings could’ve been autobiographical, which is probably why it is so heart tugging despite being no Children of Heaven. They help each other out in the ‘trying circumstances’ and unlike the एक दूसरे की चुगली करने वाले बच्चे, would probably be best ‘friends for life’. The message of the film is not so much ‘Follow Your Dreams’ but more ‘Follow Your Dreams लेकिन शान्पट्टी से’. Slightly underwhelming coming from Zoya Akhtar but it seems her most ‘personal’ film (like KJo’s and AK’s short films). ‘शुरू होते ही ख़त्म हो जाती है’, ‘3rd Act है ही नही, setup ही setup  है’ were the common refrain but the climactic performance with the arresting cutaways is itself worth the price of ticket itself.

The pillow conversations at night between the siblings took me back to my childhood days, and that’s why may be I’m being a little too lenient unlike rest. ‘मानता हूँ Cliche है Sir लेकिन Conviction से किया जाए तो आज भी work करता है !’

P.S – An aside – On the occasion of 100 yrs of Indian cinema celebration – here are two of the most brilliant kids performances in recent cinematic history for you – this & this.

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Neeraja Sahasrabudhe on Anurag Kashyap’s Murabba

Twice during the film, I was reminded of this funny inimitable character from my childhood. There was a short period of time, when we used to get dabbawala food at home in Banaras (Yes! there are dabbawalas in Banaras too). That man had a wild imagination. From the stories about owning the golden temple land to getting his mobile phone repaired in 2 lakhs (back in 2000! well, that sounds ridiculous even now), there was no end to his cock-and-bull stories, and there was a new किस्सा everyday.

The sequence where Vijay is regaling his fellow travelers in the train reminded me of many such characters from Banaras. जैसे दिल्ली में गाली देना सच में गाली देना नहीं होता, वैसे ही पूर्वांचल में गप्प मारना झूठ बोलना नहीं होता। Another one from a train journey is that of a group biharis…I remember looking at my brother and suppressing a giggle when one of the men said “ये बहुत संघर्शेबुल (sangharsh-able) हैं “. ऐसी बहुत सी सुनी-सुनाई कहानियां हैं अपने यहाँ के amazing गप्पी लोगों की, जो याद करके भी हँसी आ जाती है. Anyway, the point here being that the film captures that character and that space very well. For me, this was the best part of the film.

The film is about a young man traveling from Allahabad to Mumbai to meet Amitabh Bachchan so that he can offer the superstar a piece of Murabba that his mother has made. This is his father’s “last wish”. As far as the theme of celebrating 100 years of Indian cinema goes, among all four shorts, this film comes closest to capture the passionate frenzy that bollywood has created among the masses over the years. As usual Kashyap get the milieu right but the punchline is not strong enough to make you fall in love with the film.  Unfortunately the film goes downhill as soon as Mr. Bachchan makes an appearance. There are moments that made me nostalgic and made me chuckle but overall the film was a bit of a disappointment. But inspite of all the shortcomings, I am sure all the fanboys/girls out there who have done crazy things for the stars they love, will connect to the film.

PS: The other thing that I noticed is that when Vijay’s father asked him where he was, Vijay replies “मेल में थे”. The people in and around Allahanad always call the kumbh mela as just “mela” whereas it is the outsider (mostly the पढ़ा – लिखा वर्ग) that always calls in “kumbh” or “kumbh mela”. Full marks to AK for that.

*****

The film ends with an atrocious music video which seems to be have been produced on MS Paint. Though the initial montage of yesteryear actors make it look slightly better. As a friend pointed out, wish they had just used the opening credits of Luck By Chance in the end credits here. That would have been enough.

And do vote for your favourite short. You can vote for 2 films.

UPDATE – 3rd May, 2013

(Since many people have been asking for English translation of Varun’s post on Star, here it is. We still suggest that you try in Hindi first, Do “Control +”, make the font bigger and it becomes easy. If not, here you go)

August 2011. We met Rekha Jha in Patna. She would sing ‘Womaniya’ for ‘Gangs of Wasseypur’ a few days later. She was part of the group of girls we had called for chorus singing in ‘Taar Bijli Se’ song. Sneha Khanwalkar liked her voice so much that she got offered a full song to herself. On my way back from Patna, her husband (Jha babu) dropped me to the airport in his taxi. He has a small taxi-rental business in Patna. He started talking and told me ‘I had gone to Bombay sometime in 1990/91; to become a hero. If at that time, somebody had told me to jump from a 10-storeyed building to get a role in films, I’d have done that.’ I asked – ‘So did somebody say that to you?’ He said after wasting many days in Bombay, he somehow landed one contact which took him to the film shoot of ‘Baazigar’ in Lonavla or around.  On the sets of Baazigar, he again started bragging that he can jump from a building to get a role, and some production hand dared him to cross the small river nearby. He promised Jha Babu a role (of being in the same frame as the film’s hero) if he finished the swim across the river. Jha babu jumped in the river without a thought. He didn’t know how to swim, but jumped anyway. He had to be rescued by some locals else he was sure to drown. Seeing the commotion and young man’s stupid desperation, Ratan Jain (Tips owner) was impressed. He gave Jha babu his card and asked him to come over at the Bombay office a week later. The whole coming week Jha ji spent on the roads, sleeping on bus stops, but before the big day arrived his whole luggage including the address of Ratan Jain was stolen. He returned back home to Patna, never to attempt his Bombay dreams again.

Cut to: January 2013. An award function nominated Rekha Jha for singing ‘Womaniya’. Jha babu came with her to Bombay, first time since he left it in 1991. Sitting inside Yashraj Studios, he finally saw the unreal world he wanted to jump from a high-rise for, up-close and live. I was reminded of Farogue Jafari, the poet and writer of/from Supermen of Malegaon – “Main kab se Bombay ki taraf chal raha hoon. Malegaon se Bombay bas ek raat ka safar hai. Par ye raat khatam nahin hoti.”  (I have been walking towards Bombay for a long time. Malegaon to Bombay is just an overnight journey. But this night is too long.) Jha babu’s jump also lasted for 22-years.

Cut to: May 2013. Purandar (Nawazuddin Siddiqui, terrific as always) in Dibakar Banerjee’s segment ‘Star’ is also in the middle of one such night/jump. But Purandar’s jump is not so simple. He is jumping in many directions simultaneously. Or may be he just thinks he is jumping while being magically, depressingly hanging static mid-air, like a cartoon dog from Tom and Jerry. The 25 minute film has all the best elements of all the good Dibakar Banerjee films. A very wry sense of humor, a sharp comment on social issues (right from the very first scene that stays on long enough for you to attempt decode its meaning),  pitch-perfect casting (our drunk-shaayar and a sincere assistant director Kartik Krishnan couldn’t have been cast in a better role, the lady playing Nawaz’s wife Shubhangi Bhujbal is a gem of a find from Marathi theatre though her name gets drowned in that horribly composed and shot end-credits song, and Sadashiv Amrapurkar’s comeback to cinema alone is worthy enough for this film to be made), a new world to explore, and a kick-ass opening scene – all DB strengths are at their top-game in ‘Star’.

In fact, a recurring structural-motif of DB’s films has been a meta-film like opening scene that has the sly-synopsis and tone of the entire film you’re going to watch. If you go back to any of his film after finishing it, and watch the opening scene again, you’ll be surprised by the number of hidden-meanings it contained. LSD had the short-film/meta-film element deliberately carved out but even the rest of his films have a masterful opening scene (OLLO has the strongest one). Shanghai generated many debates, chief among them was who the film ACTUALLY is about, and going by this motif the opening scene of the film clearly says that the film is about Bhaggu and Mama, the two ‘killers’.

And the first scene in ‘Star’ is as powerful and poetic as Dibakar has ever written/shot. Though in a different league/tone altogether (as Kartik Krishnan said ‘Full Bengali cinema hai re!’). And not just the opening scene, the entire film bears a noticeable stamp of Satyajit Ray as the screenplay is adapted from a Satyajit ray short-story (“Potol Babu Film Star”). I could spot a hat-tip to ‘Nayak’ (appearance of Sadashiv Amrapurkar scene), and another to ‘Mahanagar’ (working wife and daily memorabilia for child), and a pet-animal Purandar keeps reminded me of a couple more short-stories of Ray. (Fascination with abnormal/surreal animals/plants is a recurring motif in Ray’s stories for children.)

Keeping it spoiler-free so can’t write much more. Just enough to say that DB’s ‘Star’ alone is worth the price of admission for Bombay Talkies. (While K-Jo’s film too is as good as they come.) Nawaz+Dibakar+Satyajit Ray – and the sum is greater than the parts!

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Sam: [In the women’s dressing room] What kind of bird are you?
Sparrow: [Starting to point to the other actresses] I’m a sparrow, she’s a dove…
Sam: [Cutting her off] No. I said…
[Points to Suzy]
Sam: What kind of bird are YOU?
Suzy: I’m a raven.
what-kind-of-bird-are-you

I have stood in front of the mirror, pointed my index finger at my image, just like Sam points at Suzy in that delicious Wes Anderson film, and have asked the same question quite a number of time, using all kind of possible emotions. And whenever i think about the scene, it still makes me smile. Bit of Googling tells me that am not the only one who loves this dialogue so much. Though it’s quite difficult to dissect why such a simple line from the film has turned out to be one of my favourite quotes of the year and has stayed back with me for such a long time.

So i thought about doing a collaborative post on similar lines. Quickly mailed some of the friends/films buffs for a simple exercise –

1. Close your eyes

2. Think of all the films you have seen in 2012…released/unreleased/long/short/docu/anything

3. Think what has stayed back with you…impressed/touched/affected/blew

4. Write on it and tell us why.

And i didn’t tell anyone else what the other person was writing about. Got some very interesting responses on all kinds of films and i have put it all together in this collaborative post – 15 film buffs on 17 movies (memories) of the year. The post has turned out to be bit long but hopefully you will enjoy it. And it can also serve as a movie recco list if you haven’t seen the films.

@CilemsSnob

Joshua #TheActOfKilling

—–> Kushan Nandy on The Act of Killing

I saw this two and a half hour-plus documentary at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2012 and was blown away. Long after the film got over, after Joshua Oppenheimer spoke about it, even much after, weeks later, the film haunted me. It did to me what Incendies had done to me a couple of years back. But much more.

Never before have I seen a film or documentary, where, during the process of film making, the characters go through a life changing process. They metamorphosize into better beings, and this becomes a part of the actual film.

For example, what would happen if someone video interviewed Modi, his political associates or even the people who were the actual executioners of the 2002 Gujarat massacres? And they all accepted their crimes and celebrated this with glee? But suddenly, one of them changed, understanding the repercussions of what he had done?

Anwar, from The Act of Killing, is a person I will never forget. He had butchered thousands. But it was this documentary, and the process of filming it, that showed him who he actually was. He can’t sleep anymore, he stutters, he throws up. He will never be the same again.

And after watching this film, I wont either.

SRK JTHJ1

—–> Varun Grover on Shah Rukh Khan/Jab Tak Hai Jaan

Setting: 7 degree centigrade. Fog. Railway station. A small town in North India where Shatabdi/Rajdhani trains don’t stop.

My fingers are numb and typing out each letter is like feeling the power of it. For some strange reason, the 1st image from Cinema of 2012 that comes to my mind is SRK’s bike rising above the horizon as AR Rahman’s strings go crazy in the background. The theme music of JTHJ (the one they used in promos) it is. Call it the power of music, and it can’t be anything else ‘cos I didn’t even bother to watch the film, or call it my latent romanticism.

My friends from Lucknow – who were there alongside me, fighting for tickets outside Anand cinema hall in 1997 when Dil To Paagal Hai released – watched JTHJ on 1st day in Lucknow and sent me an excited SMS telling me – “Don’t believe the reviews. It’s as good as any Yash Chopra – SRk film you’ve seen. The crowd at Novelty loved it.”

The crowd at Novelty. I was that crowd once. My life’s biggest joys came from being that crowd. Especially on being among the select few who had the matinee show ticket on the 1st day. (1st show was for loafers, matinee was for civilized middle class.)

For Dil Toh Paagal Hai, our friends’ group of 5 was split into 2. Three of us got the evening show, while two fortunate ones got the matinee show. They were clearly the winners – getting to see Maya and Rahul and a new-look Karishma before us. Also they’d get to tease us on their way out, may be telling a couple of spoilers too. So we tried our best to avoid them as their show got over and we were allowed in.

But as it turned out – the theatre owner had cut the film by 15 mins in the 1st and 2nd shows. Apparently he didn’t think the Karishma outrage scene by the river had any merit. But when he saw the audience going crazy with whatever they saw in 1st two shows, he added the cut footage back. And we, the losers till just a few hours ago, were the 1st bunch in Lucknow to watch the entire film.

This scene, Karishma blaming God for complications in love, is almost the crux of Jab Tak Hai Jaan. Though that doesn’t explain why that image of SRK is the 1st that comes to mind. My nostalgia does.

Paan Singh Tomar4

—–> Varun Grover on Paan Singh Tomar

Now inside the train. Cozy and warm. Time to think clearly.

I can’t be a cinema buff by just noting down SRK/ARR as the lasting memory of 2012. But of course there are more. Neeraj Kabi’s intellectual-saint from Ship of Theseus, Denis Lavant and Kylie Minogue singing the existential song of the year (Who Were/Are We) in a post-apocalyptic shopping mall, Sridevi’s eyes full of tears (sprinkled throughout EV), Pi’s uncle swimming in what appears to be sky, the big-screen film print grainy look on Naseer’s face as he looks in the mirror half-seduced, half-confused by Bhakti Barve’s reflection in JBDY (which re-released this year), the spaceship landing smoothly in waters next to a dense mountain in Cloud Atlas, the sad, spent face of Dimple Kapadia at Rajesh Khanna’s funeral (in contrast to a 21-year old Dimple asking Khanna which color sari she should wear for the wedding reception party in the excellent BBC docu resurrected this year due to once-superstar’s death), Gael Garcia Bernal walking away silently, amused and (maybe) depressed amidst the emotionally charged crowds of his nation in Pablo Lorrain’s excellent NO, the trailer of Nikhil Mahajan’s ‘Pune 52’ (though the film didn’t live up to the high expectations and made the trailer look like a red herring), Faisal Khan’s eyes as he lets his gun go crazy on Ramadhir Singh while singer-composer Sneha Khanwalkar screams ‘Teri kah ke loonga‘ in the background……. and I can go on and on.

But one image that will shake me for many more years, the one that is so depressing that I haven’t seen the film again even though it is, for me, one of the best films of the year – Paan Singh Tomar’s sadness at seeing his worst enemy Bhanwar Singh dead. The man who had forced Paan Singh to end his international sporting career to become a dacoit had died. And instead of being relieved, Paan Singh was left purpose-less. The cries of Paan Singh, telling Bhanwar Singh’s dead body that he will chase him in another world and get his answers still give me chills. Those lines are the best lines of the year for me, resonating so much with the cynicism and depression of our times, where one fine morning, without any notice, all good turns into hopeless, impossible bad by the apathy of the system and resident evil of vengeful human kind we are, making Paan Singh Tomar the film, a kind of socio-political version of unrequited love stories.

Talaash

—–> @Anand Kadam on Talaash

This year we saw a gamut of movies from the hilarious yet fresh Vicky Donor, violently poetic Gangs Of Wasseypur,  and a mystery with a pregnant femme fatale  – Kahaani . But the movie that has stayed with me, which still sneaks into my mind and cuddles me, is a strange one. I call it a strange choice since this movie isn’t a great one (to be honest), and i didn’t think of it much when i watched it. But the grief stricken Shekhawat and his wife refuse to leave me. Talaash is like “Rabbit hole” with more guilt. When you lose someone very close to you, really really close, his or her or its memories sticks to you like a parasite, sucking every notion of happiness from you. You become a robot going through your daily chores with only one thing playing inside your head – how things could/would have been different. And when a small ray of hope or redemption comes into your life, even if it defies common sense, you cling on to it, not for a closure which comes later (or does it really comes) but for confronting the loss and accepting life as it is.

This is Talaash for me, not the twist, not Kareena or Aamir Khan, or the underbelly of Mumbai. And as i had said it earlier – A movie is never about its twist and if it is, it’s not worth it.

Kumki

—–> @Vasan Bala on Kumki

This year, I guess, without much fuss some low budget sleeper hits happened down south. Sundarapandian, Pizza, Naduvula Konjam Pakkatha Kaanom (a few pages missing in between). This year’s Paruthiveen-set-in-the-Jungles-with-an-Elephant marked the debut of Sivaji Ganeshan’s grandson, KUMKI! Breathtakingly shot. Directed by Prabhu Solomon, the guy who made Mynaa.

The film was earlier called “Komban” (Big Tusker). It’s about a mahavat and his “timid” Elephant Kumki, which is supposed to keep a wild elephant Komban from straying into the fields. The film is basically Kumki v/s Komban. It almost reads like a Pixar film, doesn’t it? BUT….Like any south RURAL “hit” this too has it’s rugged faced man with a toothy grin walking behind a shy girl “LOU STORY”, this one too has endless walks and shy glances and grins and predictably ends in a bloody tragic battle. An epic elephant battle! and it boils down to Computer Generated Blood and Dust (hmmm..ummmm). It’s a bona fide formula now, it’s a dream debut for any Star before he graduates into City “Criminal and Cop” roles, mouthing punch lines and beating up Telugu Villains. Loved the music though.

take-this-waltz04

—–> Jahan Bakshi on The Sarah Polley Double Bill : Take This Waltz & Stories We Tell

Sarah Polley delivered a double whammy this year with two diametrically different but intrinsically linked films. The first was Take This Waltz, her deeply sensual and feminine take on love, longing and those gaps in life that we try to fill in vain, and those questions about relationships that never have easy answers. Once you get over the affectedness: the overtly twee touches and some clunky dialogue at the start, Take This Waltz is in turns both superbly seductive and devastating. Michelle Williams once again, brilliantly owns her character and her mousy imperfection, and it’s clear that Margot could only spring from the mind of a filmmaker with a distinctive voice, and one who is a woman. And it contains two of the most exhilarating (musical) sequences I’ve seen at the movies this year.

In Stories We Tell, Sarah turns the camera on her own family with a brave, deeply felt documentary/personal detective story about her discovery of her real biological father, but more importantly, the meaning of family, secrets, memory and the very nature of storytelling. This must have been an impossibly hard and emotionally testing project to put together, but Polley pulls it off- life might be messy but Stories We Tell holds together very well as a rich document, revelatory in unexpected ways. Watch it when you can, and you’ll see where Take This Waltz comes from.

Shanghai-Movie-2012-Review

—–> Kartik Krishnan and Fatema Kagalwala on Shanghai

Kartik’s take

He gets to know that the system is rotten, that the investigation he was heading was flawed to start with from beginning, that beyond the scattered red herrings lay the actual ‘villain’, who incidentally is the same person who gave him the power & ‘support’ to start the investigation in the first place, that the ‘villain’ is the CM of the State.

So easy for any protagonist to become an Anna Hazare/Kejriwal in such a case, or to become a whistle blower and later face the inevitable martyrdom (ala the Satyendra Dubeys & Manjunath Shanmughams). What else can a cog in a wheel in such a scenario do? Pickup the gun like Eddie Dunford in Red Riding 1974 and blaze away? Become corrupt like Micheal Corleone or Ram Saran Pandey (Mihir Pandya has written an awesome article on Dil Pe Mat Le Yaar) ? Or run away into overexposed light like Vijay in Pyaasa? Should he accept defeat and get down to some other profession like learning Medicine (like KK Menon in HKA), or resign hopelessly like Vikas Pande in The New Delhi Times? Even Z didn’t have an answer.

He goes to the party and plays a ‘Prisoner’s Dillema‘ of sorts with his Paneer tikka-munching Boss and the other Powerful man. Eventually he somehow manages to ensure that the guilty get their comeuppance. But this ‘victory’ is hollow. As his Boss asks him “Yeh hai tumhari Justice?”, he gives a reply which was there in the promos but sadly cut out from the film – “Justice Ka Sapna Maine Chhod Diya Hai”.

And this was probably my moment of the year which is not there in the film, but there in my memory, for a long time!

Fatema’s take

The cutaway from Dr. Ahmadi’s murder to the item song. It was a stroke of brilliance. Not only technically, but as a comment on our conscience in itself. Physically it’s a jolt, meant to unsettle us and shake us up. We’ve just witnessed a murder we’ve seen hundreds of times before but what we expect to come next is NOT an item song. And so we sit up and take notice. Besides, there is the juxtapositioning of the two warring factions of the film itself, one (the ‘good’) killed like a dog on the street and the other (the ‘bad’) celebrating his decadent power in all its ugliness. And then there is that tenuous mirror to our own conscience – what’s our rtn to this cutaway? Are we glad we are back into an indulgent song-n-dance setting and away from boring Dr Ahmadi? Or gratified by our own lust? Or guilty about feeling so? Or disgusted to watch such sharp contrasts unfolding in front of us? Or do we feel the cut is an over-sighted mistake? That the director doesn’t know what he is doing? The answer to this is a huge part of our response to the film and to think AND achieve something like this is no less than genius.
Beasts of the Southern Wild - 6—–> Shripriya Mahesh on Beasts Of The Southern Wild

The movie of the year for me was Beasts of the Southern Wild. I saw it in Sundance in January 2012 at it’s premier. I knew very little about the movie going in because the filmmakers were careful about not even putting out a trailer before the premier.

It was instantly captivating. I love the world Benh Zeitlin creates. It is constantly surprising, always engaging. All the actors are local and that lends significant authenticity to the world (bigwig directors would do well to take note). It tackles such powerful themes, but all from the perspective of the little girl, Hushpuppy, played to perfection by the adorable Quevenzhané Wallis.

There are no long speeches about government control, environmental disasters or about the right to live freely in a manner you choose. No sermonizing. The visuals speak and the magical realism is very nicely done. The music (also composed by Zeitlin) and the the production design really elevate this movie.

And it’s a debut feature. It won the Camera d’Or and Sundance.

Since the film’s theatrical release, there has been a fair share of haters. But for me, it just worked. Eleven months later, I still think about it.

ScreenShotAlma
—–>Mihir Desai on Fjögur Píanó

There are times when I can’t put things in words, I feel the need to express and communicate in visuals. Visuals stick with me and this year one such visual experiment has been playing in my head for the longest time. Directed by Alma Har’el, the Sigur Rós music video, Fjögur Píanó.

Har’el, director of last year’s surreal documentary Bombay Beach creates this gorgeous portrait about the painful pleasures of love. The couple, addicted to each other only really ‘feel’ the pain when separated. The edit juxtaposes the bruises on the girl with the boy softly touching the butterfly. This image stuck with me and Alma Har’el’s quote sums it up so perfectly, “For me it’s about not knowing how to get out of something without causing pain to somebody else.” Without lyrics Alma Har’el has created this beautiful story which I feel was one of the best, cinematic experiences of the year. Due credit to Sigur Rós’ music that inspired Alma Har’el to create this world. Click here to watch the video if you still haven’t seen it.

Other Picks: Celluloid Man, Last Ride, Rampart, Once Upon A Time In Anatolia, Holy Motors, Your Sister’s Sister.

Supermen Of Malegaon

—–> Neeraj Ghaywan on Supermen Of Malegaon

At the surface it may be about the lives of people dreaming about film-making with empty stomachs and hearts full of passion, it could be about an accidental hero, about a world we have never seen but still seems so close. The director is never interested in milking the tragedy of the crew’s limitations, their poverty or the tragic loss of the lead character. Instead, she turns it all into a celebration of life, we smile along with the characters who are making the film, in a way we reflect upon our own personal constraints and learn to laugh at them. It is a comment on the Bollywood system of over-produced film-making, it is paying homage to films of the 80s/90s, it’s also a drawing lessons about how to keep going at it even when there is no hope, it is philosophical at times, it is laughing at itself too.

A film that is so simple in its structure and still speak at so many levels is remarkable. And above everything, it inspires you to take the plunge without thinking twice. When I saw the film, I wanted to get out of the hall and start shooting a film immediately. The biggest achievement of this film is that it goes beyond the confines of being a documentary and touches you more than a big budget fiction based feature.

 Koormavathara

—–> Ranjib Mazumder on Koormavatara and Makkhi

Be it a random blogger or a certified critic, everyone is Noah on internet and takes no time to float the boat of top ten lists. Like the middle-class father comparing his kids among themselves or with other families, we always manage to make a list of ten best films every year, irrespective of their debatable qualities. I am no exception.

However, when I was asked to contribute for this collaborative piece after shutting the eyelids, a bald man appeared in front of my eyes, riding a fly. So, here I am, writing (only because I have been threatened with sarcasm) on two of the most remarkable Indian films of 2012.

Koormavatara

It starts late at MFF 2012. I am almost certain that I would leave it midway because Hansal Mehta’s Shahid is right after it and almost everyone from my group is going for it. The film opens, Godse shoots Gandhi and my doubts evaporated in no time. This is the world of an old man, disinclined to show emotions and engrossed only in his mundane office work and his little grandson. A Gandhi lookalike, when he is approached to play Gandhi in a TV show, he vehemently opposes but gives in due to the greedy family tentacles. Gandhi, like the fourth passenger in Mumbai locals, slowly invades his life, brings him down to the level of helpless co-passengers. Like a master of swift attack, Girish Kasaravalli breaks down the middle-class system and releases the Gandhi in him, leaving him in the midst of incessant disintegration of his surroundings. Rajkumar Hirani’s Munnabhai MBBS was a joy to behold, but Lage Raho Munnabhi, despite a splendid screenplay, offended the adult in me, with its preachy attitude. Without making him God, Koormavatara makes Gandhi accessible showing the mighty repercussions it can have in a typical family in independent India. As far as breaking down the myth of Mahatma, this is the best we have seen so far.

Makkhi

With scenes dipped in liquid cheese, a boy constantly stalks a girl with trite expressions; Makkhi was loathsome in the first 20 minutes. I wanted that boy to just die. Thankfully he did thanks to the overdramatic villain, soon after I wished. Little shaky special effects took charge. And I witnessed the most inventive revenge drama this year. A fly killing a mighty man is simply an impossible idea! But the way this little soldier choreographs his action scenes in the concrete fort of the villain, you can’t help but root for an insect that you have always detested. The triumph of S S Rajamouli’s film lies in the sheer leap of faith. We are yet to have our Jaws, but this is the one that comes closest to the idea of a fantastically executed concept film.

Kahaani2

—–> Pratim D. Gupta on Kahaani

Parineeta did the same thing for me in 2005. Celebrate Calcutta! And how. It reminded me of the way Mira Nair shot Delhi in Monsoon Wedding and Taj Mahal in The Namesake, almost pausing the narrative to just soak in the sensuality of the space. You sexy! Also what Sujoy Ghosh did brilliantly was inculcate his love for cinema in the many myriad moments of the movie in a way that they never became copie conformes but rambunctious references that served those respective scenes just fine. From Satyajit Ray to Salim-Javed to Bryan Singer. And those eyes of Bidya Balan when she looks up in the twist-revealing scene before unleashing her real self. Eyes filled with hurt, vengeance and rage…Our own Beatrice Kiddo? Present please!

Ship Of Theseus

—–> Svetlana Naudiyal on Ship Of Theseus

I don’t see all films that release in the year (and I am kind of unabashedly arrogant about it; can’t spend moneys contributing to someone’s 100 crores or out of sympathies to so called indie/different films), so my opinion from the very beginning of it, is skewed. The indie film movement (or whatever there is of it) took a whole new leap with PVR Director’s Rare creating a platform for their release. And even though in my personal opinion, indie films are becoming the cinema equivalent of DSLR carrying people with so & so photography facebook pages (read opinion as – ‘people should be banned, either from making films or from expecting people to watch’), there have been moments of pure delight at the movies in 2012 than years before that, much thanks to the few Indie films that released this year.

Some of the favourites this year are Supermen of Malegaon (one of the best, a documentary so delightful, hard hitting and yet nowhere remotely close to being poverty porn), Kshay (for Chhaya), Gattu (for finally bringing to the screen an unpolished, bratty, clever, naive and most importantly, real kid), Shanghai (for creating that discomfort that exists in our world and we do not see) , Anhey Ghorhey Da Daan (for creating a cinema experience like no other, for delving into time space and making the silences speak)

The most favorite of all that I managed to see in 2012 would be Ship of Theseus for its language, for its being able to be so unique, so evolved in thought and yet not have an iota of pretentiousness and be accessible to just anyone. For the benchmark it creates not just for indie filmmakers but Indian cinema, in general. I am dying to point out and quote every single nuance I loved, but that should be saved for the film’s release. For the smallest of elements it picks and for the whole it creates. For repeating itself like a poem long after you’ve seen it. This is Cinema!!

anhey ghorey da daan

—–> Mihir Pandya on  “अन्हें घोड़े दा दान” (पंजाबी), निर्देशक – गुरविंदर सिंह

एका – कदमों का, कराहों का, नांइसाफ़ियों का, नकार का। एका – दुख: का, संघर्ष का, सपनों का, समता का। वही इंसानी पैरों का जत्था जिसकी मूक कदमताल में पलटकर मेलू सिंह के पिता शामिल हो जाते हैं। किसी अभ्रक से चमकते इंसानी इरादों का जत्था, जिसका सीधा मुकाबला समाजसत्ता अौर राज्यसत्ता के मध्य हुए भ्रष्ट समझौते से तैयार हुई दुनाली दुरुभिसंधि से होना है। किसी ख़ास दिशा में सतत बढ़ते चले जा रहे वे कदम कोरी भीड़ भर नहीं, वे जनता हैं। एक अात्मचेतस समूह। निर्देशक गुरविंदर सिंह की ‘अन्हें घोड़े दा दान’ के इस विरल संवादों से बने विस्मयकारी दृश्य में, जिसके अन्त में सरपंच की दुनाली के सामने गाँव के दलित फ़कत लाठियाँ किए खड़े हैं, अाप सोचते हैं कि अाख़िर वो कौनसी अात्महंता चेतना है जिसने उन्हें वहाँ साथ अा खड़े होने का यह गर्वीला माद्दा दिया है?

बराबरी का सपना। समता का सपना। यह खुद अपने में पूरा मूल्य है। गैरबराबरी के अंधेरी सुरंग रूपी वर्तमान के अाख़िर में न्याय अौर समानता रूपी किसी उजले सिरे के होने का यूटोपियाई स्वप्न। बराबरी स्वयं ऐसा मूल्य है जिसके लिए लड़ा जा सकता है, जिसके लिए मरा जा सकता है। अौर जिस दिन एक दलित दूसरे के लिए खड़ा होता है, एक शोषित दूसरे शोषित के हक़ की अावाज़ का साझेदार बनता है, वह सदियों से जड़वत इस सत्ता व्यवस्था के लिए अंत का बिगुल है। यह दलित चेतना सबक है जानने का कि हमारी देश के भीतर की तमाम पुरानी संरचनाएं कहीं गहरे बदल रही हैं। यह शोषित की साझेदारी है। यह दुख का एका है। वो बस एक फ्रेम भर है ़फ़िल्म में। गाँव के सरपंच की दुनाली के सामने डटकर खड़े मेरी पिता की उमर के ये निहत्थे भूमिहीन किसान। लेकिन इस एक फ्रेम में अक्स है मणिपुर की उन तमाम माअों का जिन्होंने अपनी उस एक बेटी के लिए खुद को विद्रोह में उठे जिंदा माँस के झंडों में बदल लिया था। इनमें अक्स है सशस्त्र सेना का सामना पत्थरों से करने का दम रखने वाली उस नौजवान पीढ़ी का जिनकी ज़बान पर बस यही गूँजता रहा, “हम क्या चाहते… अाज़ादी”। इनमें अक्स है खंडवा मध्य प्रदेश के उन किसानों का जिनकी सामूहिक जल समाधि ने एक बहरी सरकार को भी सुनने अौर अपना फैसला बदलने पर मजबूर कर दिया। अौर इनमें मेरी ही उमर के उन दो नौजवान साथियों का भी अक्स है जो रविवार की उस रात उस बस में इंसानी जिस्म की हदों के पार जाकर भी अंत तक लड़ते रहे, एक-दूसरे के लिए। बराबरी के उस अप्राप्य दिखते स्वप्न के लिए जो सदा ‘फेंस के उधर’ रही इन अाँखों ने अब देख लिया है।

So this was our list. Do comment and share your movie memories/thoughts/opinions of this year.

This isn’t a tale of heroic feats. It’s about two lives running parallel for a while, with common aspirations and similar dreams.

-Ernesto Guevara de la Serna

I am bad with names. I guess, terrible. And am very good with excuses. So, it gets compensated mostly. And that’s why whenever I save a new contact in my phone, I always add a suffix or prefix to the name. It makes life easier. Because whenever I am searching for anyone, if not the name, the suffix or prefix will help. Either place, profession, common friends, where we met, how  we met, why we met, and noun, pronoun, adjectives, verb (don’t pick) of all kinds.

Before I started writing the post, I quickly searched for PFC in my phone’s contacts list and believe it or not, the number of contacts with PFC as suffix is 44 – covering almost every alphabet from A(shish) to W(B), even Z if you count Zoorya (Surya) as I call him. And in the last few years some of them have become 4am friends too. And am not counting any filmmaker, producer, writer or celeb here, with them it’s always aspirational, at least to start with. Talking about mere mortals like us. Friends from across states, nations and even continents. Many of us have met each other, shared our stories and bonded over everything that’s life. At the end of the day,  I guess, that’s what PFC has done. Internet, you beauty. Add cinema, and we are alive.

PFC started in August-September 2006. I guess I joined in December. How, why – don’t remember exactly. I wasn’t in a boring cubicle and my day job wasn’t boring either. Then? Must have been a google search for ‘Anurag Kashyap’. Because there was a time when PFC = AK, which wasn’t true but the industry always thought so. “Oh, AK’s mouthpiece. So much negativity on that site!”. Well, that’s the way it was.  Just because we had endless rounds of biryanis and drinks at his place with access to some of the best world cinema, it didn’t mean that we had to worship him or his friends. Criticise him and he will listen. He will argue, fight, try to make fun of you, put his favourite question to you, “tune kya likha/banaya hai?“. But that’s just him, trying to figure out if you really know your shit or just blabbering. And yeah, No Smoking had equal number of posts on both the extremes. Let me also confess that there were times when many comments which attacked AK were moderated and without telling anyone I used to approve them. If it’s about cinema, if someone is making a point that AK might not agree with, there is no point in blocking that comment. The general policy was to keeps the trolls away from filmmakers, keep the site clean but what’s life without some cheap thrills. If it’s AK’s cinema, his post, let him face it.

There was also Suparn Varma, Hansal Mehta, Pavan Kaul, Sourabh Usha Narang, Sam Longoria, Ramu Ramanathan, Bhavani Iyer (Onir, Navdeep Singh came onboard later) and some 30-35 bloggers from across the world. Forget everything else, we had no clue about each others names also. Some of us used to write posts with nicknames/handles and we used to address each with those handles. Honhaar Goonda, DPac, RK, Ranga, Macchar Kumar, Dabba – some of the handles that I can think of right now. Once a friend was visiting London and he needed some cash urgently. The first name that came to my mind was Honhar Goonda and I had to ask another friend for his real name. There were mele-mein-bichhde-huye-bhai too, Pavan Saab and Subrat: where Google fails, they come to the rescue. Do you know Chic Chocolate?

Then there was Kartik Krishnan (KK) – the face of PFC in Mumbai. He would go to any length to do anything for PFC, would travel any distance to meet any new author of PFC. With Vasan, three of us soon became the point persons for all kinds of activity. And the invisible brain, the hand, the man behind everything else was Oz. PFC was his idea, his intiative. Log milte gaye aur karwaan banta gaya.

For the first few years, it was all smooth. We never bothered to ask how the site was running, how much space, what the readership was and  other such technical details. That was all Oz’s headache. A bunch of 10-12 editors, including three of us, used to take editorial calls and we were busy blogging – shouting, screaming, fighting – all for cinema.

I might be completely wrong but I think the first time we had some kind of disagreement when a filmmaker gave the idea of turning PFC into commercial venture and someone decided to do it. Since it was mostly one man control as far as any cost was concern, it was all his call. Rest of us were foot soldiers. Discussion soon moved from club to chain mails and many of us expressed our discomfort about the way the decision was taken. We were blogging because we loved it, there was no intention of making it IndiaFM or any such commercial venture.

Of course there was ample space and time given to everyone to debate, discuss and put forward all kinds of suggestions in Club. Those days authorship wasn’t open to everyone, but by invitation only. We had a club for the authors which was not visible to the rest of the world. And countless nights have been spent on random discussion threads in that club. Those were the Club days too!

There was Review contest (Yes, Thani), One minute short film contest, Poster design contest, Pitcher contest – Oz was always the man to go and we would execute it in best possible way. TOI gave us half page coverage too, with some of us happily posing for the camera in the middle of  a busy road in Dadar’s Hindu colony. Aha, the cheap thrills. Every mention of PFC in the media was one step forward in making it more visible, making it more mainstream. The industry slowly took notice and mostly loved to hate us.

Krsn Kavita Kasturi (I hope I have got her name right) – She was one of the  respected blogger at PFC who knew her cinema quite well. As it mostly happened in the club, once she disagreed on some point which we all were gung-ho about. We were quick to brand her as PFC-Drohi and me and KK got into an altercation with her. I Still can’t remember what was the reason, the exact topic. Blame it on age. But we were PFC-Bhakts and she was PFCDrohi soon. She quit PFC after that. KKK, if you have Google Alert on, apologies from me. Because all this seems too trivial now.

And what a surprise, in the next two years, I was in her shoes. As a dozen of us  met last night  at a friend’s place and we started talking about PFC, we could not agree on one version of the story – how it started? Was it this or that? And there were alternate versions too. Why we could not agree on few things?

Among many other things (man with an agenda, conspirator), I was even branded racist. I could not figure out the reason then and discovered it much later that I had put a comment saying “firangi” or something like that in one of the threads in the Club and by that time one of us had got married to someone for whom that was racist remark or kind of. I tried the search option in my gmail, went through some mails, and gave up. Too tedious, too kiddish. There must be hundreds of those mails, may be we will tell our grand kids about it.

Like every story has my right side and your wrong side, it was the same for PFC. Also, it was “Catfish” syndrome for some of us. “Dude, he is so boring. Come on, we can’t say it to him. We have to meet him. No, you go away, I will skip.”  We also realised that the set-up was becoming too feudal. One man would control it all, he would not listen to anyone except those who  agree with him and celebrate him. We asked questions, raised our voice and it made things worse. The reason given was, “I quit my job, I gave my life and soul to it, my space, my time for it. How dare can anyone ask me what i want to do?”.  And we thought, “But who asked you to do so? We all have our jobs, we all still contribute”. The ping-pong game continued.

By that time, the commercial venture keeda had done the trick too. The critic we had no respect for and who is known for his extremely biased reviews, was asked if he would blog at PFC. Posts/blogs were done in tie-up with films/directors. The aim was to get more page views, more readership and thus generate revenue.

Things started piling up. All kind of decisions were taken on the basis of MBBS (Miyan-Biwi-Baccha-Samet). Many bloggers were finding an excuse to quit it.  Or as Roger Ebert wrote in the review of Blue Valentine, “I’ve read reviews saying Cianfrance isn’t clear about what went wrong as they got from there to here. Is anybody?” When in doubt, trust Ebert.

Oz also used to run DesiTrain.com, his personal blog. And there were some incidents where personal things got mixed up with PFC. It involved his family, he felt that some of us said/did something nasty about someone related to him, he wrote a post on it, we commented there, he was hurt, attacks, counter-attacks. And back to Ebert. Since there was no professional set-up for PFC, it was again Oz’s call. So, if he was pissed off with someone because of some personal reason, that also meant that it’s the end for him/her at PFC. You can take any side here and have your arguments, and we did the same. As I wrote earlier, I am not sure if this was the correct flow of the events. Flashbacks are not so smooth always as they show in movies. I might have missed many things but I am writing whatever I can remember now.

What else? I am still trying to think if there was any big reason apart from “making PFC commercial”. We tied up with Tehelka for PFC Awards, some felt we were moving too hastily,  some felt it’s better to do something rather than ponder over it and make powerpoint presentations. Few calls and more miscommunication – ‘how dare you hang up the phone, it was ISD call and so must have been the time difference my and your voice, you sent such a nasty SMS when I was going through a family crisis’, ‘But that was a joke and how am I supposed to know that you had a crisis at home..’ – everything that counts for the lovers’ tiff, we had it all. And like in every lovers’ tiff which ends in separation, this story is from one side, the other side’s story might be completely different.

I quit. KK quit. And for similar reasons some 20 authors also quit one after another. And we all felt strange that nobody thought that this was strange – if 20 active bloggers decide to quit one by one, there has to be some reason, some logic, some problem. Someone must be wrong somewhere. Naah, by that time it has straight forward – we are right, they are wrong. It was Us Vs Them. Those who stayed Vs Those who left. Those who stayed – we stayed at the worst period of PFC, we are friends, we saved him, saved PFC. Those who left – they don’t make any sense, it’s feudal approach, it’s MBBS, power drunk, dropping names, enough! It might have been lil’ bit of this, lil’ bit of that, some ego here and there, and that was the end for us. But I/we never thought that it would end in such a bitter way.

I started writing this as a Goodbye post and soon realised that it might not be a goodbye after all. But I thought it’s better to complete it.

So, Dear PFC – Cheers for all those 40 friends and 4am buddies, and apologies for all kinds of ugly spats, intentionally or otherwise, it just seems so funny now, or may be it was all for cheap thrill. May be we all were in our best possible Natural Born Killers avatar and part of that secret club. It was great fun till it lasted.

But no apologies for watching the 2nd half of Contract before the first half and then again going to the other screen to catch the first half, no apologies for asking Ramu, “Do you think you have lost it?”, no apologies for not liking No Smoking and Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na and million other such things.

(PS: Questions have been raised many times about exclusive authors/filmmakers. Why don’t they write more often? They come only for their film promotions. But let me clarify – most of the time we wanted them to blog. Except few, it was us who approached them. They were not dying to blog. We wanted them and they had a film for release, they had something to say, so they blogged whatever they could. There is no point in putting the blame on them. We were eager to get them onboard – always!)

(PPS – Hansal – Sirjee, I have never cooked for anyone.)

What else? Lots, but can’t remember. Told ya, the age.

Yours,

Phoenixnu

RK now runs Cinemanthan,  Sameer went full time with his CinemaaOnline, Shripriya’s site is Tatvam, Mitch’s work can be seen at Bokehchaser, Fatema reviews films for Indiaentertainment and blogs at filmsandwords, and Pavan still runs GulzarOneline. Also, Indraneel can be found here, Sudhir is here, Jahan Bakshi writes here, Dipankar is here, and Srinivas here . And a bunch of us still create nuisance here at mFC. 🙂 For the rest, they are all on Facebook and Twitter.

First came the good news…here and here. Venice & Toronto. And now here is the first look of the film! No teaser or trailer but few scenes from the film. Thanks to Umar for the tip.

The movie stars Kalki Koechlin (as Ruth) alongwith Naseeruddin Shah, Prashant Prakash, Gulshan Devaiya, Shivkumar Subramaniam, Divya Jagdale, Kumud Mishra and Kartik Krishnan amongst others.

Its written by  Anurag Kashyap and Kalki Koechlin. Music of the film is by Naren Chandavarkar and the cinematography is by Rajeev Ravi.  Play.

And here is the official synopsis…

That Girl in Yellow Boots is a thriller tracing Ruth’s (Kalki Koechlin) search for her father – a man she hardly knew but cannot forget. Desperation drives her to work without a permit, at a massage parlour. Torn between several schisms, Mumbai becomes the alien but yet strangely familiar backdrop for Ruth’s quest. She struggles to find her independence and space even as she is sucked deeper into the labyrinthine politics of the city’s underbelly. A city that feeds on her misery, a love that eludes her and above all, a devastating truth that she must encounter. And everyone wants a piece of her.

He is the biggest Nolan fanboy whom we know. He has googled and read, youtubed and seen , everything thats possibly available on Christopher Nolan and his films. Add to that, the books, philosophies, theories and every possible meaning of anything that Nolan ever said or shot. We saw the film together (and ditched the third musketeer of our group because had only two tickets & fanboy should get the first prefernce) but seems  the fanboy wasn’t as impressed as I was.  Click here to read my orgasmic non-stop tweets on Inception and read on to know Kartik Krishnan’s views.

At the very start itself I will confess that I’m as big a Nolan fan as anyone else. Loved all his films from Inception to Following/doodlebug

The concept, idea, premise behind Inception is intriguing and like one of the good old sci-fi films. A group of ‘dream stealers’ who get into a subject’s dream and steal the secrets in his mind. And of course Nolan being Nolan, there will be a dream within a dream setup-possibility which will be explored. Corporate espionage, a heist & con which is truly psychological, special effects which cannot be identified as so, adequate performances from all & sundry including Leo, & the massice ‘scale’. Just about everything you think should be there is there. Including a Shutter Island meets Memento track.

It’s all in there. Exposition which doesn’t look like exposition. Twists keep happening. The pledge, the turn & the prestige – all there. The magic tricks are shown first and then much later subtle reasoning is provided which takes you by surprise. The question is when do u know that the trick has ended ? Is there an overkill ?

My single basic grouse with the film is – the inability to suck me in. It didn’t suck me in unlike the equally long Dark Knight, Batman Begins. Or may be it was my fault that I didn’t get sucked into it.

The reaction I had was similar to what my friends had to The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Full marks for scale, production design, idea etc but somewhere it left them cold. Overwhelming yes. Cold – may be I was the only one.

No one is debating the greatness of the film. But the emotional connect/feeling of tied down a lot. There are too many ideas for a 148 mins film. Too many strands.

May be I do need to watch Inception again. Let me know if you felt the same.

( Our recco – KK – Please go and watch it again. You feel the “attachment” better when you pay for the tickets. Bet! ;-))