I liked the subtext of the movie until I read Shane Carruth’s interpretation of it in an interview. My reading of it was a bit more profound and complex than what he intended it to be. I was a bit disappointed. Then I understood what Derrida meant when he said that the author is dead. The author better stay dead. Otherwise he can be a nuisance and a disconcerting presence between the reader and the text. We all read into things what we want to see. We see our own vulnerabilities and preoccupations mirrored into every piece of art and that’s when we love it. As someone said, you cannot be moved by an idea unless you already agree to it subconsciously. So my advice to writers and film makers is- never talk about your work. Never talk about what you intended or what you are trying to convey. Make it. And just get out of the way.
No contesting that gravity is a breathtaking accomplishment in terms of technology in cinema- the initial relentless looping around of the viewing angle really steals your breath. And yes, the film maker really does a great job in capturing the eeriness and precariousness of the zero gravity world while the Earth looms behind as an ever present nostalgic anchor. But my gripe is that despite some striking visual symbols, the movie keeps its foot firm in the traditional Hollywood tropes in terms of storytelling. It has more in common with an ‘Avatar’ than a ‘Solaris’ or ‘Space Odyssey.’ ‘The dead kid’ back story, the rookie- veteran angle, ‘healing the past through current crisis’ theme, the ‘all is lost-no- not yet’ moments- everything tastes too familiar. The ‘obstacles’ are just temporary setbacks which you know for sure would never defeat the protagonist. The bottom line is that when you get out of the theatre, all you are left with are some great visuals. Only if some innovation had spilled into developing a theme that is a bit more original and profound…
She couldn’t believe her luck. He hadn’t gone far. She found him lying face down in the drain. Blood from his vomit formed dark stains on his shirt.
She looked around. The drizzling rain had coerced everyone into their houses. In the darkness, even if someone saw them, none acknowledged. They turned him around. She grabbed his hands and started dragging him back to the house. Her daughter followed the small canal in the dirt plowed by his heels. It didn’t escape her mind. Her daughter was following a rhythm of 3 to 2 steps. She loved doing everything in 3. Even now.
Inside the house, she removed his shirt. Wiped him clean. Put him on the mat. She found the sickle on the floor. She tucked it away, with other knives and sharp things. Then she poured some ink on the scald on her daughter’s cheek. Never mind. It was too late now. She will have to live with that ugly scar.
After putting her daughter to bed, she took out the bottle from inside the flush tank. She poured out more than half of the liquor into the toilet. Poured water to compensate. Replaced the bottle. And then she waited.
What is that makes The Lunchbox special? The restrain; the control over the medium. There are no characters here retching out their deepest emotions in a verbal diarrhoea. The background score doesn’t hit you with a hammer in case you miss what is happening on screen. The actors don’t go into convulsions trying to act. Every scene has a certain effortless charm. Indeed this is a director’s film.
In terms of the basic premise, the movie reminded me of the National award winning Malayalam film ‘Mathilukal’ (The Walls) by Adoor Gopalakrishnan. Instead of a lunchbox, the story device there is a prison wall separating male and female sections. And we never see the female character.
The Lunchbox is perfect except for its last 10 minutes. I personally feel that the movie should have ended with that beautiful voiceover in the coffee shop. After that, it appeared that the writer director is trying hard to be unpredictable (or ‘artsy’ if that is what you would like to call it). But sometimes predictability is better than clumsiness.
This is an interesting phase in terms of writing for me. Probably the most productive phase I have ever been through. I mean in a strict output-time efficiency sense. There have been periods where I spent more time per day on writing. But it was more in a ‘savour the process and the page count be damned’ mode. Really what it amounted to was more obsessive detailing mostly an hindrance and distraction to the stories that I was trying to write. Now I can tolerate more the imperfections of what I have put down on page. I am much more ruthless in pulling the plug when a project does not appear viable from a practical sense.
So what has changed? Probably what helped are some deadlines looming over the horizon. Planned meetings, scheduled narrations, other commitments heading my way. Until this point, these meetings were a abstract possibility far far away.
My eyes were opened because despite all these years of writing, I am still not in a perfect situation where I am all prepared for a meeting. So I guess, I will have to learn on the fly and move on.
Photo by ☆ Tabrel
Last minute jitters and runaway bride (grooms) have been preoccupations of Hollywood romantic comedies for a while. Now Jaideep Sahni gives an authentic Indian spin to the much idealised ‘commitment phobitis.’ The movie has sparkling dialogue, quirky characters, circumvented cliches, great performances. But eventually you get exasperated because of the forced cleverness- the characters never feel really real because they all are hell bend on not reacting genuinely to the situations they are in. After every heart break, the characters picks up the pieces and move on so easily that you really doubt whether there was any ‘romance’ in the first place, let alone ‘Shudh.’ These characters are too smart, and also too phony. When second half steers into familiar triangle territory, I couldn’t help imagining Jaideep Sahni in golden shackles with a Yash Chopra stamp on a heart shaped padlock.