The Man Who Became His Mother

ki-and-ka_640x480_51451807578

Railways.

Yes let us begin with railways.Last week when the Gatiman Express was launched and proved to be only ten minutes faster than the quickest of trains we already had, I groaned. That’s it?

MORE FASTER!!!!!

Kabir from Ki and Ka would have been amidst those who would have complained about the ever reducing experience of the rail road or how forms of transportation seem to be converging based on just one parameter: speed.

Ki and Ka is one of the most well written films in recent history, it pays to notice that their back stories don’t seem like one liners scribbled in the corners of a script; but that which actually lends character.

A standing testimony to “two good characters and it’s a movie!”

Since we have already begun with railways, let us stick with Kabir; the one who is seen crying for his dead mother in transit, no he is not the spoilt-Singhania (Bansal actually) heir but a deeply sensitive man who misses his mother whom he feels has been thoroughly under recognized for the work she has done.

So we have a mama’s boy, trying to tell the world(and his father, no mainly his father; world comes later) that home making is an under appreciated art and that women almost daily have been denied of this credit while their men work away to corporate glory which has historically been called ‘work’. If women are truly the pillars to a man’s success, then in real time they are rusting only.

Kabir also likes trains, ‘likes’ here is a severely subtle description.

Son thinks he is continuing mother’s good work (also the story of Psycho, oops!) and combines his mother’s passion with his own (art meets art) and what we get is a dinner table served by a locomotive and a bed room that resembles an 80s waiting room (wow), see layers. A really fleshy character, i mean fleshed out character.

An act of God, in Bollywood land.

It would also help to notice that Kabir also thinks, his actions are driven by thinking.

arjun-kapoor-kareena-kapoor-ki-and-ka-train-still1

Pillars (stambh)

Kia doesn’t want to be a pillar, she wants to be a CEO; at first she does seem like the one who would do anything to get ahead, and her back story is not as detailed as that of her better half and depends entirely on how Kareena(brilliant) plays it, she is genuinely curious and visibly tired of meeting the same old men who are seeking pillars, so meeting Kabir on an aircraft was indeed godsend.

Good movies are about two people talking and they become better when what they are talking about is more interesting than who is speaking those lines, the first set up in Ki and Ka is genuinely engaging. The characters need not be yugapurush-es( I dont know the stri-ling equivalent of yugapurush) when they are created and any sort of character development that happens during the course of a movie is like the well mixed flavored popcorn that one encounters when one reaches the very end of the basket.

Ki and Ka is a modern film for a truly modern audience, does it play around with stereotypes? Yes, but only to get to the point, I could not see this as a regular gender/role reversal film, I felt the film had risen above these problems; because it would have become a Ramany vs Ramany* episode otherwise.

To further strengthen my point, the problems that Ki and Ka puts forward are solved without much issue or drama.  This film is not about career driven women trying to not have a baby without guilt because this problem gets solved within minutes.

Films are a reflection of what our society is or what society is moving towards, there could be people like Kabir out there who needs a Kia to function and there could be many Kias running away from becoming pillars and yearning to be architectural structures of beauty by themselves. (Kia ends up becoming the CEO of a construction company, nice touch there)

Ki and Ka is not about role reversal and it is definitely not a broad comment on man and woman, but an intimate look at two individuals post marriage. This is not about who gives up what or which profession is better; this Ki and Ka is actually Yin and Yang.

A well made modern film for the modern Indian, hopefully should inspire more Kis and Kas in real life as well.

Also officially now Arjun Kapoor is my favourite Bolly hero, the kind of restraint he brings to a character that would have become a caricature is absolutely magical.

Hey! Yes, they take the train back home, so finishing with railways as well.

The End.

PS

*Ramany vs Ramany a tamil sitcom on recently married couples.

 

 

What’s Music Doc? Tere Bin

I have been fence sitter when it comes to the song or no song debate, I jump sides often (ya it’s me) . My reasons for this are grounded in the hours and hours of political news coverage by national and regional channels. “Issue based support” being the correct phrase, if you please.

This song from Wazir definitely deserves a WMD post.

tere-bin-story_647_120415045355

I do not know if anything else from Wazir deserves writing about, ok that was quite rude.

You can’t get always what you want, so my dream of ‘seeing’ the songs ONLY along with the film is more than always killed. Technically the songs should ONLY work in the boundaries of the film, yeah the song might be great, composed with a mind that has been aided by the hands of the divine or verses that have been taken right from the surface of a calm lake.

All that is ok, but what is the song doing in the movie, yaar?

Wazir has this genius level intro song, there is no prelude to this introduction(prelude to the introduction a? ennada solre), you have no idea who the characters are and there is no associated speak or visual cues for us to identify with; in other words Bejoy Nambiar was on a ‘wing and a prayer’ (we like to use phrases, kid writers we be) when he begins his film on loss of kids masquerading as a thriller with the absolutely wonderful ‘Tere Bin’

Shot in enjoyable slow motion, which although seems forced at the very beginning comes to its own being towards the end of the song; ever since I heard the song I had wanted to see it and ever since I have seen it, I can now never forget it. Which is success in a way.

But I’ll tell you what real success is, these flash backs are one irksome lot in movies, but the thing is most dramatic films can’t do without them, they lend character to the characters, essentially these are parcels of emotions which make us realize the motivations and why a certain character is behaving in a certain way at present. And this takes up a lot of screen time and when done badly makes you wish you were never born.

In 3 minutes Wazir establishes what most movies take a good part of the ‘first quarter of the post interval’ phase (hehe not that technically, buddy), there are no scenes as to how Daanish (Farhan Akhtar, a disoriented ATS officer) and Ruhana (a very oriented Kathak-ist? played by Aditi Rao Hydari) meet, there are no scenes of their courtship period (this being a Delhi film would have been shot in Humayun’s Tomb etc),there are no scenes to show each doting on the other, how their firstborn was cherished like little Simba and how love was so much part of their family like most Bollywood families tend to be; but all this is there in the song ya. ( director laughs like Blofeld who has plans to take over the world but doesn’t know Bond is lurking somewhere in the shadows)

And all this is very necessary for the audience to feel the weight of child loss when the kid is killed a few minutes later in a rather umm ‘This-is-not-supposed-to-happen-now’ moment (OK I spoiled that for you), so now you see that this is a genius move to open with a song that adds something to your movie and more importantly, doesn’t eat up time. Do not know if it will work every time, but here it did!

While Shreya Ghoshal and Sonu Nigam take you through the lives of the protagonist and family, couldn’t help wondering if these moments are like those carefully selected photos that are seen on facebook, highlighting the happy moments, even more stressing to the general populace that happiness is abound. ALWAYS.

But is it?

That’s for another post. but if only Wazir had been quite as amazing as the song and used judiciously the time created by this number.

 

Yeah, here is the song. 

 

 

THE AGE OF EMPIRES

baahubali-teaser-copy

There is an anecdote of how Queen Elizabeth went up a tree as a girl and came down a Queen, to put the story of Baahubali in a single line will be on similar lines, like say, the boy who went up the waterfalls and became a prince.

But stories are best told in their entirety with flourish and detail and the stories of kings and queen require something else, magnificence.

Magnificent as they may be in text, the trouble lies in the realisation of these visuals from the mind and this is where we come to the ‘is technology taking over our movies’ part of the discussion, in a film like Baahubali yes, a computer really does aid your/the director’s imagination.

From a country that routinely decries its films for not making movies with better graphics, we are very much left behind in the technology debate as well, especially in a time when StoryBrain came up with what he calls the Weta Effect last month; which is in other words that movies with better graphics do not really resonate well with the audiences.

Personally, the inability to make graphics seem seamless in only a temporary worry and can be overcome with training and investment and Baahubali is definitely a step in the right direction, the best graphics film is a film that you can sit and not worry about the graphics (remember Kochadaiiyan), also miraculous that we have moved so far away from Kochadaiiyan in a span of two years. And that is all I have to say about Baahubali’s graphics which went from non-troubling to quite spectacular, but let us first attack the mind/heart(don’t know which does which job, not a doc) of Raajamouli which I guess is filled with fascinations for the epics and long forgotten stories from Chandamama back issues.

Fifty and a half years back, we were making such movies, often large studio productions involving the matinee idols from the states below the Vindhyas, swashbuckling stories of slaves who become kings, banished princes, scheming uncles and whispering corridors, occult magicians, tender princesses and giggling harem girls and not to forget the scenes of war.

With the advent of the so-called realism and the Dravidian movement, these movies dwindled, but the spirit of the classic fantasy lived on but not quite so rightly on the shoulders of mega stars, the characterisations would only fit a mythical time: the masala film.

Somehow a hero jumping between cliffs sits well within a royal story rather than a modern entertainer. Rajamouli’s Baahubali is set in the mythical nation of Mahismathi covering diverse geographies (waterfalls, mountain avalanches, vast dry lands and imposing palaces) and populations ( tribes of different types, assassins, barbarians and royals of course) deserves mention because most of the time the mind limits, and these are how epic stories are built, it is never about one person, it is about all those who live and die in the space that you create and this is where the modern formulaic films go wrong.

Testimony to this is one scene which can also be called “the moment of realisation” , the ground is covered by all those who have shaped the hero’s life, direct and indirect, friend and foe.

While the effect of visuals has considerably increased since the times of Paathala Bhairavi, Mandirikumari and Uttama Puthiran, the excitement in telling these stories has been thankfully retained, which I think is the next greatest triumph of Baahubali (the first being the director’s bold imagination).

mk1 best-films-set-in-ancient-rome-spartacus-cover

Palaces made of sandstone or software are nothing without the people, here Mahismathi which resembles Minas Tirith from The Lord of the Rings is populated by a league of able actors  who mouth refreshingly well written lines.

The empty throne of Mahismati resembles a widow’s forehead” a minor character says, enough to make me sit up, the fact really was that I was wide eyed straight from the beginning, even the initial dragging set up seems justified for what is to follow.

Patience in actors like Satyaraj is truly rewarding, one of the finest Indian actors alive, catching your eye even when bowing down to someone in deference; but the film truly belongs to Ramyakrishnan, the God Mother who breast feeds both the scions of her clan, it is said that Romulus and Remus; the founders of the Roman empire were nourished by the same wild wolf and that comparison here only seems right. A performance to savour.

Ramya-krishna-in-Baahubali

Baahubali is in no means a perfect film, making a film this scale is in a sense like building an empire, but is a start, a beginning as the title loudly says. Post Gladiator, there was an active public interest in the Roman classics and the sword and sandal genre itself, if only Baahubali could do the same; then we could have a cinematic age of empires ahead of us.

bahu

Jai Mahismati!!

WALLS PEOPLE BUILD

Image

Even in the most formulaic of products cinema can surprise you to lengths that you could have ever imagined.

2 states is no new story, two people from diverse background fall in love and naturally their parents oppose, how the couple convince their parents form the rest of the tale. Yes, how many times have we seen this story? Yet 2 states gets most things right where others slip.

This writer walked in expecting a clash of cultures, a comedy of manners and other such gags, but that was not the case to be. Usually not one to expect authentic portrayal of south Indians in Hindi films, there was really anything for me to complain about.

Most of the films in the same fashion, in fact even with the same story reduce characters to prickly caricatures, taking ample advantage of existing stereotypes, the troubled couple usually have to tread carefully amidst the culture bushes while not rustling them, but trying to win their approval as well.

It is not to say that 2 states does not take the help of the stereotypes, just that they are not gags, like first you think Mr. Swaminathan is the grumpy  simple south Indian dad, then we come to realize that he is not grumpy  because he is south Indian, but he is tired of doing others’ work, likewise  the “middle-class” minded fast talking groom’s mother also begins as a staple, not unlike many Bollywood Mas; but she too just wants some respect after being mistreated for most of her life. Her issue is really not having a ‘Madrasi’ daughter-in-law, but her fear of losing her son’s love and respect, something her husband could never provide. 2 states aptly bring out the motivations behind the stereotypes rather than just painting them in stock expected colors.

When characters are written with respect, it shows on screen! Even if respect did not allow much time for research, the previous clash of the culture films only seek to bring the differences to one common ground for the benefit of the lovers, so much so that we do not really care in the end if the protagonists get married or not.

In the end it is not the diversity of the cultures that is the hindrance; it is the minds of the people who preferred to be safely walled up in the name of society and culture.

Marriage is about individuals, not about culture. Yes it does involve culture, but it is not to be seen as a solid unmovable entity that shuts out people and selectively allows some in. Culture is a result of individuals, accumulated over the years to make things easier, if it makes life a chore; then a lot of rethinking needs to be done.

Well written characters are essayed by finest supporting actors (Ronit Roy, Amrita Singh and Revathy deserve more than special mentions), while the biggest hurrah must go to the likeable lead, Alia ‘light-in-her-eyes’ Bhatt and the surprisingly effectual Arjun Kapoor.

While the film does stop and get into the usual Bollywood song and dance occasionally, all that is forgiven. Also nobody gets married at the Shore Temple, it is a UNESCO world heritage site for God’s sake.

2 States is immensely pleasant even at its length, a film that rightly captures the scenario while not being either youth-rebellious or teacher-preacher in its handling of marriage, that is an achievement.

Yes it also ends well.

PS: Two paragraphs on how good this Alia Bhatt is, as Ananya Swaminathan was written, it was deleted keeping in mind that Arjun Kapoor(Krish Malhotra) too is amazing. Further problems were averted by using simpler adjectives in the piece.

PS 2: Remind yourself that this film is not an ad for YES Bank and Sunsilk, repeat this again please for your benefit.

PS 3: This writer did not read the Chetan Bhagat novel from which the film was adapted from and thus cannot speak about loyalty to text issues.

X Box: Kya Yaar, we also see Hindi films.

CK AND MM AT THE MOVIES: DHOOM 3

It is New Year’s Day 2014 as Caustic Kumar and Moderate Manohar make their way to one of the theaters screening Dhoom 3.

They find that they are not the only ones who are spending the first day of the year watching a film, at that very moment CK remarked

CK: Heard some news about some set ratings is slowly going to replace us.

MM: I heard them, too. Think the recession is catching up in our field too; soon robots will start writing customized articles in long form for readers.

CK: Who reads long form anyway? Imagine the horror when people get to read what exactly they want to!

CK and MM together: The Horror!!!

dhoom_660_081413122505

<Movie Begins>

<Interval>

<Movie Ends>

CK: You go first

MM: No! You go first.

CK: You were the one who complained that you were being made the ‘Watson’ in the two of us.

MM: As if that isn’t true, you are the vociferous one, take the first shot.

CK :< starts to say something…pauses…looks around to the thinning crowd> I actually liked it.

MM: Aha!

CK: What Aha? Can’t I like any film?

MM: Surprised actually, was hoping you will run this down with a bulldozer with the ‘Prestige’ point, which this film is a sort of reworking.

CK: That it is, maybe reworking is not the right word.

MM: But then this is the same reason you had problems with earlier films, I see that clearly the film will work for anyone who has not seen ‘The Prestige’ assuming all those cheering in the audience haven’t seen it.

CK: It does work for people who have seen Prestige too, at least for me. Dhoom 3 takes the big reveal from Prestige and digs with it for plot moments, almost care-able characters. I must say I was not disappointed.

MM: And you are not going to say anything about the increasingly irritating buddy cop routine brought out by Jr.Bachchan and Uday Chopra, forced excuses like world crime conference and the utter buttery premise of a plot.

CK: No. I won’t even try to remind everyone that Katrina appears only when there is a song.

MM: I thought the songs were done quite well, even if you are irritated of their occurrence you cannot look away.

CK: Exactly

<Both then speak on the choreography for a moment>

MM: So you are saying that even if this is more than an ‘inspired’ film, it is alright and you are not going to snipe this down; which is more like the philosophy that I’ve been trying to tell you all the while. That means we are not too different after all.

CK: No such thing, just that this movie didn’t irritate me as such the previous feigned ones did, and there were likeable things going on screen even if you knew what was going to happen. Something emotional I guess, and that I think is a primary requirement for any film.

MM: So you are going to be inconsistent in your views, I don’t know how chief will react to that.

CK: Inconsistent it maybe, but at least I am honest, I don’t think you can have an objective approach to these things, I’m not going to decry anything to which I was hooked to, also this Aamir Khan did lift this film; even if his tics did get quite tiresome in the end.

MM: Clearly you are reading some pseudo-spiritual meditation books, the ones which have bearded sanyasis on the cover with “happiness” quotes.

<CK frowns for a while, not unlike what Aamir Khan does in the film>

MM: Thought you would ask, but nevertheless I couldn’t buy this whole revenge against the bank is the motive for the heist thing, but otherwise yes I did find the film engaging, eye candy entertainment and technically superior; serious doubts are now in mind as to whether the film would have been engaging if not for Aamir.

CK: Speaking of Aamir, what’s with his cheeks, they seem to be playing a completely different role all through the movie, hope they too got paid.

MM: Oddness noted, but not so odd as much as your mild treatment of the film itself.

CK: I have a whole new year to be belligerent.

MM: I look forward to those times.

Happy New Year!