Posts Tagged ‘Rabbit Hole’

Subrat, who ? If you know him, great. If not, Kartik Krishnan has an intro for him – He is The Guru-Mahaguru encyclopedia of film knowledge, pop (and other) culture, literature connoisseur from the Raymond Chandlers, Oscar Wildes to Ibn-e-Saafis, and expert on music, quizzing, food & alcohol (One would think in that order). Unlike most professors, his musings on cinema are non pedantic and yet rich with layers of subtle meaning (and humor). And as he says himself – he’s more a consumer than producer of creative output. He’s even introduced us to two of his legendary colleagues. Prof ATM Yadav – whom KRK so shamelessly copied saying , “Yadav kabhi Bhikhari nahi hota, hamesha raja hota hai raja“. And Prof Arthashastri. We do hope to see both of them soon. And if you thought that’s all the man does, his day job has nothing to do with any of his aforementioned passions.

Woohoo! Quite a long one! And since the intro has managed to over-hype the author, please read on….

It was an opening sequence that filled me with dread. A tiny sapling being planted into the soil by a female hand soon to be trampled over by an insensitive passerby. Was this “Rabbit Hole” or will I now espy a Guru Dutt sprawled in a park morosely observing the world go by? Is this Pyaasa with the oft talked about symbolic opening sequence of a bee hovering over flowers in an ‘all’s well with the world’ sort of a manner till a surprisingly careless foot precisely squashes it away? Thankfully, that was a minor aberration in Rabbit Hole as it went on to depict a heartrending yet understated story of loss and longing. Pyaasa, on the other hand, for all its hallowed position in the classics of Indian cinema, would go onto show an overwought story of poet who riles against this soulless world with barely a nod to subtlety barring Sahir’s poetry. Maybe I am being harsh to Pyaasa. In my opinion it was the subtler of the Guru Dutt films and it showcased his limited acting abilities rather well. The rest of Guru Dutt ‘tragic’ oeuvre has often left me wondering. When it comes to raw display of emotions, why do we love going over the top and then staying there. As the lawyer pleads NOKJ – kab tak chhat pe rahega. Ab to neeche aaja.

And, this is Guru Dutt – widely held to be one of our more understated filmmakers.

I have lost my appetite for melodrama. As more life happens to me (as opposed to I seeing more life), I realize nothing dramatic happens in ordinary life. And, nothing dramatic happens in things around ordinary lives. The background score to our lives is the drone of the whirring fan above our heads. You will be lucky to discern melody there if you hear closely and start humming to it. But, trust me, there’s no Salilda doing an Anand in that drone. But, why has this discovery eluded our filmmakers who claim to show ordinariness in our lives? Or, why do we as audience love melodrama so much that it is a ‘fix’ we need in every movie watching experience?

These are questions that crop up in my mind as I see the audience reactions around me on No One Killed Jessica. Admittedly, the film fell short of my expectations – an inconsistent screenplay, an over the top Rani and a poor supporting cast. However, what surprised me was the commonest reason cited for disappointment – the way the movie closed. Apparently, there wasn’t enough drama; a spectacular last reel of monologue, rousing emotions and the deliverance to all of us who invested our emotions in Sabrina.

We must love melodrama dearly to expect such a denouement and then be bitter about not finding it. Why do over the top portrayals win our hearts and then the awards? How does one bear Rani Mukerji in Black? Or, why should the last sequence of Sadma be so iconic? In my mind it spoils an, otherwise, remarkably restrained film. Or, take Dilip Kumar’s shtick through the decade of the 60s. How was it great acting? And, since I am getting these things off my chest, let me not forget the cringeworthy Karishma throwing stones into the lake while cursing her creator in Dil To Pagal Hai and finding a Filmfare and a National Award being thrown at her in return for display of such histrionics.

The reason I am often given is a version of ‘we are like this only’. That we love our emotions, the rona-dhona and our movies reflect them. I find this hard to accept. Firstly, we are not the most emotionally expressive race. I am sure the Italians, Spaniards or the Latinos will concur. Secondly, the arts that precede filmmaking like theatre and literature hardly betray any signs of our future love affair with melodrama. Read Premchand, Tagore or even the relatively pedestarian Devdas (that marker in melodramatic history of Hindi cinema). You will be surprised by the restraint, by what’s left unsaid. Even the early years of Hindi cinema rarely had the protagonist declaiming for long periods on social ills or the mythical mother with her gajar ka halwa.

So, where did we go wrong? I don’t know. May be the answer lies in the transformation of Dilip Kumar from a genuine brooding actor in intense portrayals in the early 1950s to a caricature of the ‘tragedy king’ that lazy directors made out of him in the 1960s. Is it any surprise that the most restrained of the directors of that era, Bimal Roy, didn’t direct Dilip Kumar after late 50s? And, once you had accepted Gunga Jumna, Dil Diya Dard Liya or Aadmi as great dramatic performances, how far is Rajendra Kumar banging the door down in Dil Ek Mandir and Manoj Kumar grating on and on about Indian culture in Purab Aur Paschim. Follow that linear process and you will reach Sunny Deol with a handpump and Shah Rukh Khan’s quivering lips in Devdas. And,eventually, to the million TV serials where each emotion is amped up a million times with the camera going berserk being lapped up by millions of us.

There have been signs of improvement though. Movies like Johnny Gaddar, Oye Lucky, Kaminey and, lately, Udaan, all had great drama without going over the top. Just as I was letting a sigh of relief, I find everyone around me sorely missing that dramatic closure in NOKJ. And, then I saw the Ra.One poster. Out went subtlety through the window.

Rabbit Hole – Film Recco by Kartik Krishnan

I have interacted with kids in my limited life experience. Cute ones, silly ones, irritating ones, relentlessly curious ones. Haven’t been so fond of most of them but of some of them. The ‘nice’ ones.

Needless to say that is a very biased perception. Because I’m sure the day I become a father, regardless of how cute, ugly, nagging, constantly pottying-pissing, relentlessly crying my kid will be, to put in a cliche he’ll always be “the apple of my eye”.

There are some losses that are irreplacable – that of a loved one. A mother, father, spouse, brother, dear friend. Somehow to me the death of a child has always seemd to be the most painful one.

And somehow, I have always prayed (which is very infrequent and rare) that such a tragedy may never befall on anyone.

How does an urban well to do couple cope up with that loss?

How does the couple cope up with it even after months have passed, since the event?

How much of alcoholism, weed, food, gyming, squash, binging or any of the ‘cathartic’ activities one can do to evade the pain, is enough ?

How does it affect you in the every single most unimaginable way – the conversations with random strangers, your family, your spouse, your daily routine, the most mundane aspects of your life ?

Do you cling on to the memories or do you move on ?

Is it easy to move on ?

Do you still play the blame game even when you know it is pointless to play it since no matter who wins, both have lost?

Do you blame God and say “If my son was such an angel, then why did God take him away from us ? Why didn’t he make one up ? He is God after all”.

Do you drift apart from you spouse and hide the ways you cope up with your depression from him/her – eventually feel guilty as though you were not an aggrieved parent but an infidel ?

There are some films which cease to be films. Which suck you in and you are not thinking about what the director would have said to get such a brilliant performance from the leads, where he would have placed the camera, what the writer wrote and how, who produced the film, how come the film doesn’t have a ‘story’ and yet it is so powerful.

No sir/madam, those questions come after you finish watching this film.

As for me, after I finished watching this film, only one thing came to my mind.

I wanted to go and hug my parents.

Highly highly reccomended this film. Just relax and let the film win you over.

( P.S – I love you Nicole Kidman, for acting in and producing this film. )

( P.P.S – I love the rest of the team associated with this film too 🙂