An album of angst..and love

Vishal Bharadwaj may possibly be the most low profile creative genius Bollywood may have, overshadowed only by the technical brilliance that A. R. Rahman displays. The quirkiness of Amit Trivedi. And maybe silenced by the nasal din of Himesh Reshammiya.  While AR’s music has nuances in instrumentation and arrangement that makes you go wide-eyed in jaw dropping cerebral amazement, the former’s music tugs you at your innards. With a simplicity of melody that transports you into an unexplainable world of joy, anger, sadness or love – all combined, deep inside your heart. And you do not quite know which emotion to put your finger on, and go “yay, that is what I feel”. It is like a puzzle you are trying to decode by listening to the song over and over, finding little nooks and corners that seem to hold your hand and walk you through in a gentle sway. All the while telling you, ” it is alright, you can feel whatever you want to”. And this is exactly what makes me feel when I listen to Haider’s songs – possibly his best so far; skilfully adapting Kashmiri strains into the music of a very modern version of Shakespeare’s Hamlet that captures the brooding, dark, passionate and intensely complex backdrop there is. Haider Having watched the movie after listening to the music gets you to place the emotions in a context. Although you do not see the “movie version” of the aggressive and angry Aao Na (sung by Vishal Dadlani), the heavy guitar riffs of the song during key moments in the movie are thrilling enough. While taming a beast of a play that is Hamlet, is itself a daunting and ambitious project, depicting the complexity of the main characters is something that requires a very strong heart and a sharp mind. As an audience, you feel the confusion, angst and love all rolled into one from the eyes of Haider, and that is ably supported by the background score that just haunts you long after you leave the movie hall – coupled with the brooding hues of the paradise, that isn’t – Kashmir. There is a horrifying insanity that prevails in the characters you see, in a place where you have always imagined the colours of spring and the waltzing blues of the lakes. In the midst of all that, you have a Khul Kabhi (Sung by Arijit Singh, and my personal favourite) that transports you into a lilting world of love, warm passion, and mystifyingly poignant. And then it harks back to Haider’s reality when he breaks into tears. And talks about his existential conundrums given his father’s disappearance and his own confusions of which truth to believe in – or the lie to disbelieve in – Hum Hain, Ke Hum Nahin Hain – Haider’s version of “To Be, or not to be”. And that confusion runs throughout the movie so much so, that every other character remains open to interpretation. Some of the other songs such as Bismil (sung by Sukhwinder Singh) weave right into the screenplay and strike a much harsher chord in the movie than when you just listen to it. Shahid Kapur’s acting and dramatic skills are on ample display in this song. The movie does seem a little disjointed in parts. It is slightly choppy, but one cannot fault Vishal Bharadwaj for taking on this intensely complicated plot and transform it into Haider that is powerful, brooding, thrilling and ambitious. At the heart of it all is the love between a passionate, complex woman who seeks just a sliver of heaven in her life, and her son whose love for her (displayed in quite daring sexual undertones) is consumed only by his hatred for her for betraying his father. And yet in the end, it is this woman who loves, longs and ultimately loses everything; leaving Haider to fight his own demons – exact revenge or liberate himself from consuming this poison. Go into the hall expecting a problematic movie to understand and analyse. But watch it for the same reason. And then switch on the music in your car on the way home.

the notes that tug…

You are young and life is long and there is time to kill today
And then one day you find ten years have got behind you
No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun

Time, Pink Floyd

For all those who trip on music. who’s ever dreamt of being in a rock band. strum a few chords on the guitar to your favorite song. who dream. a must watch – Rock On!!.

musically. poignant. subtle. understated.

I need the glass. and Pink Floyd.

Shootout of "Brainwala"!!

In case you’re wondering, no, Brainwala is not a long-lost brother from the Kumbh Mela to the other more famous holders of the “wala” part of the surname. Nope, I was not talking about Doodhwala or Paperwala either. They are not surnames you stupid.

I was talking about Daruwala (The most famous being Bejan Daruwala) and Baltiwala (I distinctly remember I have seen that surname somewhere).

Which brings me to a joke I just made up –
What would happen if a Daruwala guy were to marry a Baltiwala girl?

A number of things. For e.g:
1.The girl’s side family would shed bucketful of tears when she’s leaving her home.
2.The guy’s friends would give him a bachelor’s party where they would have daru in baltis.
3.The guy’s family and all his relatives would get free buckets as marriage gifts. Dowry buckets they would be called.
4. Nobody would ever kick the bucket. Because its free, and it contains daru.

If you have other more innovative answers, please feel free to comment at my blog. i.e, if you manage to reach the end.
(For the non-hindi speaking peoples, The Daru = Alcohol and The Balti = Bucket)

Anyways, what I had started to blog out, was about a certain movie called “Shootout at Lokhandwala”, released last Friday, based on a famous shoot-out which occurred in Mumbai in the 90s and which killed 5 well-known gangsters of the Dawood gang. It was supposedly a bloody gun-battle which, though gave the Mumbai Police a much needed impetus to their fight against the under-world, but also gave them a lot of flak for their actions. An exciting premise isn’t it?

And this is exactly why I decided to watch this movie. A quick call to one of my office friends – one of those I seem to make in a jiffy…the kinds who’s eyes twinkle, tongues roll up and let out a knowing smile at the sight and sound of anything resembling alcohol. Please don’t get me wrong. This happens only on Fridays and Saturdays. My mother is staying with me here. Dry days have become the norm for me.

Anyways, so we went for the last show, thinking that watching it late night would provide a fitting context for such a dark sub-plot. However, I must add, the multiplex was quite colorful, which almost distracted us from concentrating on the mood of the film. Keeping our focus, we went inside. In fact, we weren’t even talking to each other. Oh! No wait, we were on our cell phones talking. I was telling my mother I would be late. And he was talking to his wife.

So, anyways, without further ado, beating around the bush and any such further idiotic idioms aimed only at confusing the literate, let me get to the point – I still do not remember where I saw the Baltiwala surname!!

Oops!! Sorry, that was not it. Here it goes:

“Shootout at Lokhandwala” is a movie which had a powerful plot to back it up; a plot which has seen the likes of Satya, Company, and Sarkar. But it starts and ends in a painful mish-mash of scenes and characters which seem to be embroiled in the director’s attempt to show too many sides to a simple premise – that of 5 gangsters being shot in a daring encounter by 3 brave officers of the Mumbai Police.

It starts with compelling images of thousands of bullets, ammunition and blood lying on the ground, being swept with a broomstick at the, now upmarket, Lokhandwala Complex, Andheri and with Dia Mirza doing a report, post the killing. Following which we are taken to an interrogation of the 3 officers (Sanjay Dutt, Suniel Shetty and Arbaaz Khan) by a senior lawyer, played by Amitabh Bachchan.

And this interrgation takes us to the story of the 5 gangster-characters, 3 of whom played by TV actors, while the other 2 – Vivek Oberoi and (hear, hear) Tushar Kapoor.

Now, we all know what Vivek Oberoi can do with a gangster’s role. And here, he almost lives upto it, except that he overdoes it. Maya Dolas, his character, was supposedly one who used to leverage people’s fear of the underworld for the crimes he committed. Hence, Vivek had to “taak Maya, waak Maya, eat Maya and drink Maya”. And he does all that, and too much of it.

But I did not mind it, because a character like Maya Dolas would not be known to us, unless:

1. One is in the underworld, which none of us are.
(The only word which we would have used as frequently and which sounds like underworld would be underwear. But we’ll leave that aside. The word, i.e)…or
2. One is a close relative or friend to Maya Dolas, which again points us to point no 1….or
3. One was involved in the shoot-out then, which could mean either we needed to be in the police or, again point no 1. OR
4. One is watching this movie and gets to know about Maya Dolas.

Hence, Q.E.D – Vivek Oberoi does whatever he could, to bring us this character. Apparently, in an interview, he said that he had done a lot of research for this role. Now, if only he had acted as less as he did his research, maybe things would have been better.

But what is beyond a sane mind’s comprehension, is the fact that Tushar Kapoor plays a supposedly psychotic shooter, right hand man to Maya Dolas and obsessively in love with a bar dancer!!!

I do not know much about cinema, but I can say with absolutely no doubt, that just by dressing up somebody in dirty jeans, a gun visibly tucked away at the back, a black see-through baniyan, an open-buttoned shirt, a french-cut beard and an opening shot where he smashes up a guy’s hand because he touches the love of his life, one cannot turn a romantic hero, into a dreaded Mumbai gangster!!
C,mon man! This is the same hero who ran from one high-rise to another looking for his babe, and then later goes into a jungle to croon “Mujhe kuch Kehnaa hai”!!

The only people who went psychotic were me and a lot of others in the theater when we saw him in a scene, supposedly laughing like a psycho at another man being thrown off a building!! I could have jumped out of the theater for chrissake!!

Anyways. Even if all this were bearable, how can a movie, based on a true shooting incident even dare to think that their leading gangsters would dance in sync to a daru song? Corny aint it?
Not only to a daru song, but all the other songs which were shot at a dance bar. Maybe it was to depict that these guys used to frequent such places and indulged in all vices with absolutely no regret or a sense of morality. But of all things, sync dancing to show this?

Indian Cinema seems to find novel ways to entertain its audiences.

And amidst all this chaos, we have other wonderfully crafted scenes and characters:
1. A police officer, Arbaaz Khan, speaking impeccable English and Hindi and constantly piques his partner Suniel Shetty whenever he mouths some expletives. It provided some forceful funny moments, but now, we were watching a real-life incident of a shoot-out, weren’t we?

2. One of the gangsters starts seeing ghosts of the family he had erroneously killed once. This he starts seeing as we reach the climax and the shoot-out almost begins. Premonition was it? Hmm…

3. The police and the gangsters are firing each other with all kinds of ammunition, including rocket launchers. Yet, the 5 guys take out the time to call their respective families and lovers, show emotion and fire back at the police in rage!!

Maybe it was to show that these gangsters were after all human. Now, we all know that they certainly did not land from outer space. They were human beings and gangsters.
So whats the need for such melodrama?
A bigger question – with all the firing and blasts, phone lines were still working…HOW IT IS I SAY?

Well, I could go on like this. And the more I think about it, the more saddened I feel about the 3 brave officers who risked their lives to kill the gangsters. Now, I shall leave the debate of human rights, etc to people who can speak on it. I shall stick to what I can talk on.

When one makes a movie on controversial incidents involving such brave people, and who are still alive, doesn’t it behoove the film-makers to do their homework better and put in a more concerted effort at maintaining reality as close to what it was? I think it does.

And this was the only conclusion my friend and I could come to, as we came out to a cool Pune night for a drive back.

The only shoot-out that happened for real that evening was of my brain. Which lay splattered amidst the 150 Rs I paid for this mindless mayhem.

And I can see one more. Yours’. On this blogpage.

Yeh kya pakarela hai bhai…Khopche mein leke doon kya isko kaan ke niche…

The Departed Don..with pop-corn

We all have our moments of intro/retro – spection. We realise a lot about ourselves as we go ahead with the business of living.
Obviously the next line would be to write what I have realised, isnt it?
I cannot be rambling on philosophical pcycho-babble, cause then you’d stop reading this. I can sense that you almost are. Nonetheless, I shall go on.

I have realised that the movie buff in me cannot stay dormant for long…….philosophically profound, aint it?

Its strange how geographical changes can cause tectonic shifts in your movie lifestyle as well. It was very easy for me in Bangalore, thanks to a very good friend of mine, who would not pass a chance to watch a movie with me. Yeah, a girl-friend! Now, I can see smoke somewhere – oh, no its not my computer my dear! I think its you!! (devilish laughter here).

I had once asked her (with the best casanov-ish smile I had),

I : ” Hey, I know you do like going to the movies with me?..But why me?”
(This is what you call a rhetorical question – where the answer is hidden in the question, or something like that)

She : “oh Rishi, you’re such a nice guy, thats why”
(My casanov-ish smile turned into a casanov-ish glee, but being the dude I am, I made enormous efforts to hide it!!)

She : ” yeah, you’re such a nice guy – you’re always there at the cinema hall buying the ticket for us, and you always get me pop-corn in the interval!” ( eyes fluttering with a cute smile)

Needless to say, I have started hating pop-corn!!

Ironically, its been as tough in Mumbai. No, not with the pop-corn! Rather, the search for movie-chums. Yes, thats a word I have just coined. My Dictionary meaning :

Noun: Movie-chums (-hyphenated) moovie chums
2 or more than 2 people who share a common or near common interest, a passion , and most importantly the ticket/pop-corn cost for the Movies.

Also, the proximity and choice of theatres – moreso, when you stay in the place as I do.

Anyways, I think I have digressed, because I can see from the look of your face, that the title of the post and my ramblings, till now do not have much of a relation. And thats an understatement.

Well, I wanted to tell you about the 2 movies I watched of late with 2 movie-chums – yes, I found them, and they are guys – I am happy for that -..:)…(No, I am straight!!) I am happy, because I do not have to get pop-corn for them in the interval, and we all believe in the concept of online booking!

Anyways, here goes my review (After much water has passed under the bridge, lots of candles burnt, and many reviews and polls):

Don – Comparing the AB’s version with this one would be akin to comparing Madras Cafe’s filter coffee to Coffee Day’s Cappuccino. We all love the classic Filter coffee, but a contemporary Capuccino gives you the edge! And that is what the new Don does – gives the older one a stylish , sleek look. Personally, I went to watch the movie for Farhan Akhtar’s directorial sensibility, not so much for SRK.

The King Khan was his usual self (as we’ve all seen him, be it any movie – romantic, comedy or an action movie!) – the familiar twitch of the eyebrow, the sarcastic smile trying to exude charm or the quiver in his dialogues. But having said that, I dont suppose anybody could have pulled it off with as much chutzpah as SRK did! He was brilliant in a few scenes – for eg., in Khaike Pan Banaras Waala, almost AB-esque. The music is as snazzy as you can get from Shankar Ehsaan Loy – especially the new rendition to “Main Hoon Don” or the 80’s reminiscent feel in “Aaj Ki Raat”. And the background score leaves you with a MI-esque feel to it.

The PTs – pretty things – Kareena Kapoor is no Helen, but she does make an impact with her small role and dance. Issha Koppikar as Anita is ok, while Priyanka “chops” Chopra is brilliant as Roma, the femme fatale, out for revenge.

Boman Irani – packs a punch yet again, while the rest – Arjun Rampal, Om Puri, and Pawan Malhotra provide the icing on the cake.

All in all, the new Don is a movie which you would not want to take seriously. Although the twist in the plot may leave the purist with a permanent scowl, it would be best to leave comparisons to reviewers and news channels. The new Don can probably be a cult classic for the generation that has not seen AB’s Don, and a weekend timepass for the ones’ that have.

The Departed : Martin Scorsese scores yet again after The Aviator, with a gripping cop-and-criminal story, set in Boston, Masachusets. I always say about certain people, situations and movies that they make “your life so happy” – and this is one of them. A mish-mash of the good and bad, which, at the end get mixed up so much that the line between right and wrong gets blurred. The absence of defined black and white characters lends itself to the deviousness of the plot.

Matt Damon is devilishly mercurial as the mafia’s rat in the police department. Leonardo is brilliant as the undercover cop trying to come to terms with the macabre, that opens in front of him, and above all, when you have the sarcastic, good ol’ old Jack Nicholson playing out his role of the Mafia head with devilish glee, you know you cannot sit back and put down the popcorn.

A racy screenplay, some cheeky humour, and gripping action makes it a must-watch. Of course, its not for the weak-hearted or the ones who would cry out, “mummy” if you abuse them with the F-Word!! Thats “The Departed” for you.

P.S : The “girl-friend” I spoke about in the beginning is one of my very good friends, and would gladly buy her pop-corn whenever she comes to the movies with me, on the condition that she lets me have atleast some of it!!