Posts Tagged ‘Ranvir Shorey’

The World of Shutu

It’s always difficult to write about a film when it comes back home with you as a very palpable emotion. The conflict is between whether to talk about the film (like a semi-review, talking about the great crew and cast, plot, motifs etc.) or the memories & insights it triggered. Since it’s a quick & short piece written in the middle of a very tight schedule, mainly to excite the reader enough to go and watch the film, I will stay somewhere in between – a bit clumsy but functional.

We all have been Shutu at some point of time in our lives. I know I have been, for many years. Bullied, ridiculed, misunderstood, misfit and still trying to smile lest I should be seen as ‘sissy’. Fitting into this world of men is a constant struggle for men even. It’s a game whose rules we laid on our own and still laid them so tough that now we are having a hard time catching up. Why did we do this to ourselves? Why we continue to do this – trying to check items off a laundry list to pretend that we have grown up (from a male perspective only)? Why do we want to grow up? Due to social pressure or survival mechanism – like preys turning into predator?

Konkona Sen Sharma’s directorial debut A Death In The Gunj takes one to such places – beautiful and uncomfortable – places where innocent nostalgia meets the darkest memories. Set in 1979, it’s about a Bengali family with a severe Raj-era hangover on a quaint holiday in Bihar’s (now Jharkhand’s) McCluskieganj – a place with an equally severe Raj-era hangover. The family has many people and egos, a bunch of well-adjusted, seemingly non-threatening abnormals. And the family has Shutu (Vikrant Massey in a role of a lifetime) – the younger brother broadly seen as a silent-introvert type. The constant clash between the two worlds – one inhabited by the family with its bikes & muttons & drinks & pranks & love-games, and another in which Shutu sits by the window sketching frogs in an old diary – scrapes the paints off both of them. The delicate locking mechanism that had kept them together starts wearing off and the moment of truth, or whatever the grown-up version of that is, comes closer and closer.

The only bridge between the two worlds is Shutu’s teenaged niece Tani – already bored of the games adults play & constantly fascinated by Shutu’s scientific-poetic lonely view of the world. It’s not a coincidence that the bridge is a female ‘cos this is a film deeply aware of its gender politics (and at a couple of places, class politics too). Men behave like boys-behaving-like-men, women behave like women-seen-through-men’s-eyes, as two conflicted souls (Shutu and Tani) clutch at straws while drowning in the waters of such rigid definitions.

As a fat teenaged kid in the 90s, I loved watching cricket and I wasn’t bad at playing it too but nobody would select me in the team. My fatness and my academic bent (the tag of “padhaaku”) were a liability nobody was willing to carry. Even if selected in the team (the last to be picked), I’d not get a chance to bat or bowl. So I’d put all my efforts into fielding well. I’d kill myself to get that throw from the boundary right.

But still, just to show I am cool with this treatment, I would offer to play the umpire. That way, I’d get to be on the field at least, get to hold the ball at the end of every over (just for a few seconds before I toss it to the next bowler), and be treated with respect by both the teams. I’d apply myself to the task & be the most unbiased, observant umpire. Sometimes, I’d get to play a few balls or bowl an over – and I believe that became possible only because of the bridges I made as an umpire. But in the process, I lost something precious too. I lost my courage to openly cry in public. I lost my feminine side, or at least suppressed it for the longest time, to fit into this world of men.

And that’s why, when in one scene Shutu is the last to be picked for a game of kabaddi, his state of mind was so relatable that I felt like crying. I did not, yet again.

Varun Grover

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For those looking for a quick list of reasons to watch (and watch you MUST):

  1. Konkona Sen Sharma’s assured, sensitive debut as a Director. Ace!
  2. Konkona Sen Sharma’s screenplay co-written with Disha Rindani (based on a short story by Mukul Sharma) is full of delightful dialogue & an eerie sense of impending doom.
  3. Rich texture and detailing. Made on a small budget but NEVER looks like it. Sirsha Ray (DOP) and Sidhharth Sirohi (Production Design) bring their A-game to the table.
  4. McCluskieganj’s wild charm has been captured so ethereally that you can smell the air, touch the greenery.
  5. The film has four languages (English, Hindi, Bangla, and Chhota Nagpuri) and all spoken with a natural effortlessness rare to find in Indian cinema.
  6. The brilliant original score and music by Sagar Desai (disclosure: I worked with him in ‘Ankhon Dekhi’) elevates and layers the film with great precision.
  7. One of the best ensemble casts in recent memory – Ranvir Shorey, Kalki  Koechlin, Tilottama Shome, Gulshan Devaiah, Jim Sarbh, Arya Sharma, Tanuja, and Om Puri (one of his last roles and what a delight he is!).
  8. Such well-etched and distinct characters – right from Ranvir Shorey’s Vikram to Kalki’s Mimi to Tilottama’s Bonnie to Gulshan Devaiah’s Nandu – constantly chattering, surprising and layering the film with their brilliant mannerisms.
  9. Vikrant Massey got the kind of role actors crave for and he hits it out of the park. Shutu is beautiful and heartbreaking.
  10. Every department has delivered and the best thing is – the sum is way greater than the parts. Do not miss this film.

Going by this wicked short film directed by Konkona Sensharma, we felt it was just a matter of time till she graduates to features. So here’s the good news – her feature directorial debut, A Death In The Gunj is ready, and the film will have its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival.

With this film, Abhishek Chaubey and Honey Trehan have turned producers with their new production banner, MacGuffin Pictures.

The film’s festival trailer is also out. Do have a look.

We don’t have exact synopsis of the film yet, but here’s what TIFF says about the film – Award-winning actor Konkona Sensharma makes her feature debut as a writer-director with this coming-of-age story about a shy young Indian student who quietly and fatefully unravels during a family road trip.

The film’s cast includes Vikrant Massey, Ranvir Shorey, Kalki Koechlin, Gulshan Devaiah, Tillotama Shome, Jim Sarbh, Tanuja Mukherjee, Om Puri and Arya Sharma.

Kanu Behl’s Titli released few days ago. But we go busy with Mumbai Film Festival, and so haven’t been able to post anything on the absolutely brilliant debut feature of Kanu. The film premiered at Cannes last year.

Here’s Karan Singh Tyagi on Titli.

titli

 

Delhi has always struck me as a suffocating city. It has no harbor, it’s main river lies dangerously polluted, it boils in summer and it freezes in winter. To an outsider it is also a distrusting city; the city has watched me without interest many times – suggestive of some harshness in the people.

I experienced this same feeling visiting Delhi last week. At the airport, I placed my backpack in the dedicated common section in the restroom for cabin-bags. The restroom attendant immediately turned around and gave me a mocking smile, as if poking fun at my naivety and suggesting what a fool I was to blindly trust the safety of my bag in that common enclosure.

I had arranged for a private cab to take me to the city. I had not even settled in the cab when the driver started telling me that he was an expert in beating the parking system – stationing the car a few kilometers away and waiting for the phone call from the passenger to drive to the pick-up spot. We passed a signpost to Dadri. I was naturally reminded of the lynching incident, and expressed shock at what had taken place. Pat came the reply from the cab driver, “U.P. Sarkar itne paise deti hai ki ye log khud hi kar lete hain ye sab drama. Do aur hindu bhi mare, unhe to kuch nahin mila.”

There seemed something savage and gluttonous in the manner in which he shifted the discourse from a humane level to a transactional level. I was left wondering where these thoughts had come from, and what is the prism through which he was viewing the world, looking past empathy to power and money.

As we advanced, garbage was being burnt on an open spot along the NH-58 highway. White smoke was rising from the burning trash.

It reminded me of Kanu Behl’s “Titli”, a film that burns with an intensity not matched on screen in a long time. It smells of hazy smoke that rises from burnt trash in the dusty by-lanes of Delhi. The film internalizes my growing feelings about Delhi (and this country) and spits out something dangerous, something macabre, even.

On the surface, the movie is about Titli’s (Shashank Arora’s) attempts along with his wife (Shivani Raghuvanshi) to escape his family that engages in violent carjacking. But, underneath the film holds up a brutal mirror that shows an unflattering reflection of our hypocrisy, patriarchy, mistrust, rage and sorrow. What spoke to me the most was how brilliantly it handles the subject of patriarchy.

“Titli” places the four male protagonists along a continuum of misogyny, ranging from the father (Lalit Behl) who is extremely hegemonic to Titli who is consciously trying to find a sense of agency. Vikram (Ranvir Shorey) and Bavla (Amit Sial) occupy spots in the middle. Each male protagonist has much to tell us about who we are.

The father is so deeply entrenched in patriarchy that he doesn’t even realize it; his Zen-like presence in a world where violence happens around him every day is devilish. Vikram, supportive of entrenched patriarchy, knowingly and on occasions unknowingly, finds rhetorical ways to contort his patriarchal gaze into expressions of compassion and sadness. See him in scenes where he is dealing with his divorce or where he is thrashing Titli while simultaneously crying and imploring: “Parivar vale narak lagte hain tujhe?” – his is a world of wretched and labile emotions in a patriarchal universe.

Bavla’s position on this continuum is the most unique that while on one hand he displays gay leanings, on the other hand he is an unobtrusive participant in the terror perpetrated by his father and brother. In contrast, Titli is trying to actively seize control of his life, but he soon finds himself engaged in praxis of futility as he discovers that morality and conscience is the price for freedom.

Viewed from a certain perspective, the film is also a peerless portrayal of our hypocrisy – our classic ability to extricate a problem from its context and deal with it symbolically. The movie spends an excessive amount of time showing the male characters brushing their teeth and clearing their throat, as if these acts of personal hygiene allow the male leads to purge their sins and soul, thus making them cleaner humans. The symbolism should not be bewildering as this is happening in a country where millions gather at the ghats of the Sangam every year to purge themselves of all sins by taking a dip in the waters.

Symbolism aside, where the movie soars is in its representation of the construct of the family in India. It deftly depicts how an Indian family can be something of an unforgiving structure for many – one which dedicates itself to the art of the self-inflicted wound (there is also a gut-wrenching scene in the movie that involves a literal depiction of a self-inflicted wound), and which, knowingly or unknowingly, is committed to acts of cruelty against its own kind rather too often.

The portrait of India that emerges from this examination shows a country that is broken, in a fundamental, probably irreparable way. But, to completely mangle Wright Thompson’s beautiful lines on India, “Titli” is both the riddle and the solution. One must understand today’s India to understand “Titli”, but one must understand “Titli” to understand today’s India. They created each other. They are the same.

Karan Singh Tyagi

(The writer, currently based in Mumbai, is a graduate of the L.L.M. program at Harvard Law School. You can find him on twitter here: @karanstyagi)

The much awaited trailer of Kanu Behl’s debut feature ‘Titli’ is finally out. The film has been doing the fest rounds for quite some time, and has been talked about since its Cannes premiere last year. Finally,  it’s all set to release on October 30th, 2015.

Produced by Dibakar Banerjee Productions and Yash Raj Films, Titli features Ranvir Shorey, Amit Sial, Lalit Behl, and newcomers Shashank Arora and Shivani Raghuvanshi in lead roles. And here’s the official synopsis of the film –

In the badlands of Delhi’s dystopic underbelly, Titli, the youngest member of a violent car-jacking brotherhood plots a desperate bid to escape the ‘family’ business.
His struggle to do so is countered at each stage by his indignant brothers, who finally try marrying him off to ‘settle’ him.

Titli, finds an unlikely ally in his new wife, caught though she is in her own web of warped reality and dysfunctional dreams. They form a strange, beneficial partnership, only to confront their inability to escape the bindings of their family roots.  But is escape, the same as freedom?

The makers also released a new poster of the film for its India release.

TITLI

main-titli

Time to say we told you so. Here – where we wrote that we are going to hear a lot about Kanu Behl’s Titli in the coming days. And much before anyone else, it was our Varun Grover who saw the film at Goa’s Film Bazaar, wrote about it’s brilliance and predicted that the film has all the potential to travel far. He got this one bang right.

So here’s the big news – Kanu Behl’s debut feature Titli has been selected for this year’s Cannes and will premiere in Un Certain Regard section.

Produced by Dibakar Banerjee Productions and Yash Raj Films, Titli features Ranvir Shorey, Amit Sial and newcomer Shashank Arora in lead roles. And here’s the official synopsis of the film –

In the badlands of Delhi’s dystopic underbelly, Titli, the youngest member of a violent car-jacking brotherhood plots a desperate bid to escape the ‘family’ business.
His struggle to do so is countered at each stage by his indignant brothers, who finally try marrying him off to ‘settle’ him.

Titli, finds an unlikely ally in his new wife, caught though she is in her own web of warped reality and dysfunctional dreams. They form a strange, beneficial partnership, only to confront their inability to escape the bindings of their family roots.  But is escape, the same as freedom?

Kanu is an almunus of SRFTI, worked with Dibakar Banerjee on Oye Lucky Lucky Oye, and co-wrote Love, Sex Aur Dhokha.

Vikramaditya Motwane’s Udaan and Ashim Ahluwalia’s Miss Lovely had premiered in the same section of Cannes.

And this is what Varun Grover wrote about the film in our year-end post

The best Indian film I saw this year, and hopefully the whole of world will see soon, is Kanu Behl’s ‘Titli’. Seeing it on a desktop computer in IFFI, Goa’s ‘viewing room’ should be counted as an underwhelming, far from ideal setting, and still, this very dark very funny very depressing dastaavez on patriarchy BLEW ME AWAY like nothing this year. Stunning is the word. Breathless is another. Writing so sharp (Kanu Behl and Sharat Kataria co-wrote it) and performances so bang-on, not to mention excellent edgy-gritty cinematography (Siddharth Dewan), this is our best bet for world cinema honors next year.

Rajat Kapoor’s Fatso has been ready for quite sometime and now the first trailer of the film is out. It’s produced by PNC and stars Ranvir Shorey, Purab Kohli and Gul Panag.

Check it out.

For more details about the film, click here.

Tip : DaMovieManiac

 

Here is the trailer of a new film called Emotional Atyachar – The film and two posters of other two new films – Jhootha Hi Sahi & Action Replayy.

Emotional Atyachar – the film is directed by debutant Akshay Shere and stars Ranvir Shorey, Vinay Pathak, Mohit Ahalawat, Kalki Koechlin, Abhimanyu Singh and Ravi Kissen.

Jhootha Hi Sahi is directed by Abbas Tyrewala and stars John Abraham and Pakhi (Abbas’s wife). But why is Pakhi missing from the first poster ? Isn’t this her big debut ? Any conspiracy theory ? Action Replayy is by Vipul Shah and stars Akshay Kumar and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan.