Showing posts with label film review. Show all posts
Showing posts with label film review. Show all posts

Sunday 24 July 2016

Madaari - Hindi Film - Review


If you have not watched and want to watch Hindi film #Madaari, avoid reading this post.
Madaari is a metaphor. There is no real madaari. The metaphor is used for a #Damaru player who makes #Jamoora dance at its beats. The metaphor can also be read as snake charmer as the protagonist somehow charms to bring out the real poisonous nexus between construction company, engineers and politicians who collect funds for political parties through corrupt means.
(Metaphor reminds of one dialogue in film : "Accountability and Responsibility? Hey Man, it is metaphor. Do not take it literally. Problem is because people take metaphors literally" 😂😂😂)
At the same time, the protagonist is service provider / repairer for WiFi networks. This job these days is no less than that of Madaari 😀😀.
Statutory warning: Stop reading if you want to watch the film.
Well, now it is your choice to spoil the game. I am no longer spoiler.

The film has two endings.

One is more realistic and hence throat chocking. Such throat chocking endings in literature leads towards restlessness, anxiety and angst, rather than giving outlet to repressed desires. Such literatures are not for masses. As only Lord Shiv can drink poison to be Nilkanth,  only rational and mentally strong in society can sustain mental stability after reading / watching such realistic literature.
The other ending is romantic happy-endings walla. No throat chocking but a relief that poetic justice is done. All is well that ends well. Such literature makes masses relieved from repression and thus gives feel-good effect. Haash! The social filth (corruption) is cleansed! But we know that it is mere illusion that problem is solved. As the mind do not differentiate between the real and imaginary, the imaginary gives us an impression of reality. No throat chocking moment.  No anxiety. No restlessness. No angst. No revolution.  No #Change. Is this the secret that most of our literature ended with make-believe poetic justice? The mass / sheoples shall be opiumated in the feeling of trance. If they are woken up, they may be problematic to power structures. Has literature played the role of ideological state apparatus to subjugate the subjects?

Shh . . . Desh so raha hai!

One more spoiler:

True to its genre of suspense thriller, the film do not have thrilling moments of #Kahani or dramatic appeal of #GabbarIsBack or common man feeling of #AWednesday.

Sunday 11 October 2015

Zero Dark Thirty: Event, Film, Technology, Illusion (Maya)

Zero Dark Thirty - a film

The historical event, the literary expression, the illusion and freedom from time and space

Zero Dark Thirty (2012) is a film about  "the story of history's greatest manhunt for the world's most dangerous man". Yes, it is none other than Osama Bin Laden. The film dramatizes the decade-long manhunt for al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States. This search eventually leads to the discovery of his compound in Pakistan, and the military raid on it that resulted in his death on May 2, 2011.
Watch the film dubbed in Hindi - 

Zero Dark Thirty received wide critical acclaim, and appeared on 95 critics' top ten lists of 2012. It was nominated in five categories at the 85th Academy Awards, including Best PictureBest Actress for Chastain, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Film Editing, and won the award for Best Sound Editing. The film also earned Golden Globe Award nominations for Best Motion Picture – Drama,Best Director, and Best Screenplay, with Chastain winning the award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama. (Wikipedia).

The film is not about the brave and courageous attempt of Navy Seals in killing Osama Bin Laden. The film is about CIA agents who worked very hard in Afghanistan, Pakistan and various tough locations, at the cost of their lives, to track the trace of hidden Laden. On the morning of 3rd May 2012, we read in newspapers and watched on news channels about the tough tasks done by Navy Seals. But the real success of such operations lies not in field victory, it lies in feeds collected, organised and passed on to higher offices by secret service agents. If the best of the brains are employed for this task, the task for the field operations become child's play. That's what the film proves.

However convincing the film documents in fictional narration the events of the decade adter 9/11, the conspiracy theorists are not going to believe the story of the murder of Osama Bin Laden. With America's past records being mired in with doubts by conspiracy theorist, it is not easy to believe that some good morning, Osama Bin Laden is killed in an operation 'without casualties', except for a helicopter.

The question about the reality of this Geronimo Operation looms large. After all no body has seen the body of Laden. It is reported that it was buried in the sea.

Surprisingly enough, the film approved with edits by CIA, also remains silent and ambiguous about the real identity of Osama. In the film, except for Maya, CIA agent, no body is sure about the identity of the person in that hideout in Abbottabad. Maya, too, is in doubt. She do not have any proof to prove her claim. In fact, there were no proofs to prove that the person in that compound house was Osama Bin Laden. Several attempts to know the identity of the people failed. Even after the encounter, when the women in the house are asked about the old man, they said some other name. The photos are taken. The body is flown to US base n Jalalabad. Maya, 'visually confirms' (Yes, these are the words in the film) that the body is that of Osama. How can she? She has not seen him. No body has seen Laden for more than decade. So there is no certainty, in the film, about the identity of Osama. There are no blood samples and DNA things shown in the film. Why? It was fictional narration. Why this is not depicted? Why is the film silent on this issue of ascertaining identity of an old man killed and disposed off somewhere (film does not show that either) as Osama Bin Lade? Why the film ends with mere assumption that the man must be Osama? Why it is not proved scientifically? 

Well, there will be theories and histories but no facts or truths. Nietzche has rightly remarked that there are no facts, only interpretations. Julian Barnes in The Sense of an Ending wrote about History (citing Patrick Lagrange) that - 'History is that certainty produced at the point where the imperfections of memory meet the inadequacies of documentation'. The 9/11, death of an old man, operation by Navy Seals are historical events. Very recent ones. We know that it happened, in a way, before our eyes. Quite consciously, we have experienced them. They are in our memory. And yet, the events are full of inadequate documents. Because there are no valid truths to connect Al Queda with 9/11 and certainty of the man killed in Abbottabad , they are recorded in memory as imperfect facts / truths. 

The one who are victorious, becomes the writer / narrator of the history. One who believes in this definitions are the defeated on and thus history is also self-delusion of the defeated. History and literature are deeply connected. Northrop Frye observed that Literature stands on the support of Philosophy and History. The film is a literary expression. Thus, an imaginary narration of the historical event. As time passes on the line of difference between history and its imaginary narration starts getting blurred and seems to be one and the same. Therefore, it becomes necessary to ponder upon the historical events which are near in time and consciousness and its narration in literature. This film (Zero Dark Thirty) is classic example of certainty produced at the point where inadequacies of documentation and imperfections of memory meet. Without any evidence, we are at the mercy of 'visual confirmation' of Maya. Maya is a Sanskrit word for “magic” or “illusion”) a fundamental concept in Hindu philosophy, notably in the Advaita (Nondualist) school of Vedanta. Maya originally denoted the magic power with which a god can make human beings believe in what turns out to be an illusion.

Well, the film is worth watching.Watch it for Maya. Her unflinching doggedness in pursuit of her goal. Her belief in what she believes. . . and later on she is the only one to confirm what she believes. That's where the symbolic significance of her name 'Maya'- an illusion becomes crucial to understand the film.

Brief note on Hollywood and Bollywood

Comparison of any sort is odious, but it is quite obvious. One can't escape comparison. It seems to be hard-wired in human psyche.  One thing is for sure that Bollywood (Hindi films) are very loud, melodramatic (which is pardonable looking at the way life is exuberantly lived) and 'unrealistic' (which is not pardonable). While we see films with similar themes, we find quite opposite treatment in Hollywood and Bollywood. It is not an issue. The films come from different culture and hence they ought to be different. But if the difference is breaching law of probability and necessity and dives deep into the ocean of unrealism, one's attention is drawn to it.
'The Reluctant Fundamentalist' - a Meera Nair film based on Mohsin Hamid's novel (same name) and Kabir Khan's 'New York' are based on similar theme. It is post 9/11 and muslims in USA. Apart from the loudness and melodramatic depiction, what gives us unrealistic and quite opposite images is the way FBI treats the alleged convicts. Needless to say, Meera Nair seems to be more realistic.
Even in this film (Zero Dark Thirty) and films with similar themes (Man hunt in foreign land) like Ek Tha Tiger, Holiday, Baby, Phantom etc, similar sort of unrealism is found. The agents (FBI or CIA or RAW) are picked up for their mental abilities and not physical. The Marines, Navy Seals, Military Jawans are picked up because of their physical abilities and not mental. So, when it comes to man hunt, the agent will apply his mental abilities but will never (and should never) jump in with open AK 47 or grenade bombs and start fighting with the one to be hunted. Maya (in Zero Dark Thiry) or any male agents do not do so. They feed in the information and seek help from the others, who are best for that task. Let us hope, Bollywood will be more realistic is portrayal of characters and situations.

I watch this film on YouTube. I rented the film for Rs. 50 for 48 hours. It was quite unique

experience. Though I watched on mobile phone, I had an option to screen share on Smart TV and have better cinematic experience. I rather opted for watching it while travelling in car from Ahmedabad to Bhavnagar. It is amazing to see how technology is changing the way we entertain ourselves. Technology of 21st century is giving us freedom - the freedom from time and space. There is no need to wait for the film to start (time) or to go to cinema theatre or near TV (space). Where-ever, when-ever, how-ever, we want to entertain ourselves, we can. Yes, we can!
How illusory is this freedom from time and space offered so easily by technology?

Sunday 13 September 2015

Drishyam - Hindi Film

Hindi Film Drishyam Poster

Drishyam is one of the best scripted movies of recent time. It is no surprise that the film has been remade in Kannada, Tamil, Telegu and Hindi from the original Drishyam (English translation: Visual/The Sight). It is is a 2013 Malayalam language Indian drama thriller film written and directed   and starring Mohanlal and Meena in the lead roles.

Aristotle and subsequent literary theorist went on harping that ‘Plot is the soul of the play’. For films, script is the soul of the film. All that is said about plot applies to script. There should be not a single scene (frame), character or dialogue which is unnecessarily present in the play or film. Even if a dialogue or character or scene is deleted, the play / film seem to be incomplete. In Drishyam, all characters, dialogues, scenes are harmoniously arranged. All the events are so well chosen and so meticulously arranged that one has to watch this film time and again to find any sort of improbability. All the laws of probability are tried and tested; and all stands strong to give robust and resilient scaffolding to the script/plot.
Some questions are obvious. Say for example,
·         Why is the protagonist’s profession cable operation? Why is he so obsessed for Bollywood films?
·         Why the protagonist is the father of two daughters and no son? Why is one daughter a teenage girl and another small kid?
·         Why they (husband and wife) are not formally educated? (Hmmm . . . Education ruins mind’s ability for divergent thinking . . .  and does films, which gives exposure to art and literature, sharpens divergent thinking? Interesting to think so. . . .)
·         Why does the protagonist have bad relations with one cop and decent with all others?
·         Why was the new construction of Police Station so importantly present as a recurring motif? This was the master stroke idea of the director.
Well, one can argue that it is not fair to apply theory of play on film. Films are not only performance like plays, it has something of narratology as well. Films have elements of play as well as novel and something more than that. So, it becomes necessary to see if the said film qualifies to be of some quality so far as narratology is concerned.

Well, this film (Drishyam-2015) is directed and scripted so well that it can be a beautiful case study of Gerard Genette’s Narratology. The five main concepts used by Genette in Narrative Discourse: An Essay in Method are:
1)      Order
2)      Frequency
3)      Duration
4)      Voice
5)      Mode (will write in detail with illustrations from film when I will can have some time)
Films make extensive use narrative techniques like ellipses and flashback. Drishyam has near perfection in the use of both ellipses and flashback. They are used so well in the film that one cannot think of better timing for it that found in the film The ellipses when
·         Sam is showing clippings in mobile to Anju
·         Sam demands Nandini in liew of Anju
·         Reconstruction of entre episode to make people remember dates of event
·         the replacement of dead body
·         and above all, burial of the body in the police station!
is marvelously mingled with the flashback. The timing and frequency of events along with changing focalization are so well scripted and directed that one not only gets glued to the screen but feels the real thrill. A very well made family thriller!
Yes, the film is typical Bollywoodish masala movie which lacks realism. But it is bound to be as the protagonist is voracious watcher of Hollywood – Bollywood masala movies. What else can he think of if not filmy ways to solve family crisis!
Performance wise, the film is average. None of the actors were able to rise above the script. Credit may be given to script for being so that actors are overshadowed. I have not seen Mohanlal in Malyali and Kamal Hasan in Tamil version of this film. But one can sense that they would have done something better than Ajay Devgan who seems dull, stale and flat in Hindi version. It was surprising to see Tabu failing to deliver powerpack performance. Is it the director who failed to extract best performances from these experienced actors? May be. The ultimate crefit goest to Jeetu Joseph - the original writer / director of this story and script.
Drishyam - Malayalam Version - Film Poster

Drishyam - Tamil Version - Film poster

Philosophically speaking, the concept of the discourse analysis between ‘seeing is believing’ and ‘seeing is deceiving’ would have been exploited fruitfully. But it goes in vain. It just remains at superfluous level.

Last word . . . a film is worth watching and has got some interesting material for academic discussion on plot structure, character portrayal and recurrent motifs.

Friday 8 May 2015

Gabbar is Back - The Reincarnation of the Dacoit as a Professor

Gabbar is Back - The Reincarnation of the Dacoit as a Professor

This is not a review of Hindi film 'Gabbar is Back'. This is reaction after watching the film.

Film Poster
Note: Gabbar Singh is a fictional character and the antagonist in the 1975 Hindi film Sholay written by Salim-Javed. Played by Amjad Khan, he is shown in the movie Sholay as a dacoit who leads a group in looting and plundering the villages in the region of Ramgarh. He has a sadistic personality and insists on killing whenever required to continue his status and to take revenge on his enemies. The character of Gabbar is one of the most popular in Indian films. (Gabbar Singh (character). (2015, March 20). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 05:52, May 8, 2015)

Gabbar Is Back​ - Hindi film - has one good thing. Though people came out in support of central protagonist's crimes; he accepted judicial death penalty for his crimes. . . and convinced blind followers (#Sheople) that it is 'rightful' that he is hanged till death. . .  the symbolic nib is broken by the Judge after signing the verdict. (Quite relevant - #SalmanVerdict #SalmanGuilty).
The other episode in plot worth mentioning is private medical practice. Though doctors would not like to see stereotypical representation of money-minded doctors, yet it has grain of truth. Anybody related to or in favour of private medical practitioners shall strictly stay away from this film.

That's all!
Baaki sab bakwaas! Rest is all stupidity!

We have not only seen 'smart' cops, army officers saving the day for common man, but we have also seen 'out-smarting' thieves, smugglers, underworld goons, serial killers - on silver screen. How can a professor of college be so dumb to take on the path of 70s to fight with corruption? Mr. Aditya 'Gabbar', still you believe that killing PWD officers, Collectors, Police Inspectors, IASs, public administrators will solve the problem of corruption in India? There are elected members who represent people in Democracy. They control public administrators. Do not blame 'tail' and spare 'Horns' for the wrongs of the system. Such dumbness in portrayal of 'Professor' is unpardonable. . .  and his 'ISIS - Talibanic way of abduction and hanging body for public display' is yet another bankruptcy of creativity on part of film makers. Teachers have better vision of future. Teachers look beyond present generation, towards coming generations. This professor gave merely 'fast-food' sort of solution to the problem of corruption. The teachers never nurture such illusion that 'change' can happen overnight. For any human-problem, if human-violence is the solution, ask again . . . and keep asking till you get another answer. If a fear is used to change the heart for better, the other fear will change it for worst. Make people free from 'fear'. Make sheople, people!

No, it is not to say that make another 'Teacher-Movie like Imtihaan (1974 Hindi movie) or To Sir, with Love (1967, British movie) or Dangerous Minds (1995, American movie) or Not One Less (1999, Chinese movie) or Alone (1931, Russian movie) and many more can be listed. (See the list of best 'teacher-movies at the bottom of this post). If the imagination has to break the barriers of reality, why not for something better. The better in the sense of an utopian future where people are not blood-thirsty; where sanity prevails over insanity; where those dead ideals of French Revolution (Fraternity, Equality, Liberty) arise from ashes like Phoenix; Where the mind is without fear and the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls (full poem given below); where people understand Gandhian cliche: "An eye for an eye will make the whole world blind"; and last but not the least, where 'meritocracy' prevails over any form of reservation, be it birth or dearth.

Rabindranath Tagore - Gurudev

Where The Mind Is Without Fear

~ Rabindranath Tagore (Rabīndranātha Thākura)

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
Where knowledge is free
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
By narrow domestic walls
Where words come out from the depth of truth
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit
Where the mind is led forward by thee
Into ever-widening thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.

Best Teacher-Movies of all time: