Badlapur

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Revenge is a poisonous plant that grows in the dark island of narcissism. There is a certain lack of abstraction when you go after someone for revenge. If someone pulls the trigger on your dear ones, you attribute all the causation into the brain of this ‘other man.’ But life is complex. Events are complex. When you are ready to face the complexity of the world, it becomes difficult to reduce all your griefs as ’caused’ by a person. Because then you start to see his motivations, insecurities, spur of the moment stupidities, naivety, chain of events, bad luck, and a hundred people in the world without whom this would never have happened- it becomes difficult to hate him any more. But if you are not willing to do that, and you want simple answers- where all your problems are personified in a human being-  you get the hero of Badlapur.

But he is not only the hero of Badlapur. He is there in each of us. He is there in HATE. Hate against men, groups, religions, communities, countries… But before one’s hate can destroy his opponent, it will destroy his own soul.

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Interstellar

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I think it is one of Christopher Nolan’s greatest till now. But it is not going to be that popular. Some will hate it because it is too expository, shallow, cliche-yish and the posturing with ideas. Some will hate it because Nolan disappointed them in their idea of fun. It has the same fate that looms over all the artists who try to make ‘popular art’- they will not completely satisfy anyone but none can dismiss them either.

And please don’t drag Tarkovsky in here. That is obscene. If you want, let’s talk about 2001: A space odyssey. The difference is obscurity and the awe that it offers. But Nolan doesn’t have that privilege. Nor the guts. Because he has a billion dollar fan base to please.

About Time

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It was a random choice. I didn’t even know that Richard Curtis (Four Weddings and a Funeral, Nottinghill) wrote and directed this until the title credits in the end. I did not know that this was about time travel till 10 minutes into the movie (Not ‘I can go back and kill Hitler’ kind, but ‘I can go back to an earlier point in my own life’ kind). And I didn’t realise that a movie about time travel can turn into such a touching examination about our own obsession about ‘making the right decisions.’ That it can be a bittersweet chronicle of the irretrievability of our experiences and our moments with the loved ones. It reminded me that the most tragic part of our existence is not death but the irreversibility of something that happens in the past.

It is a warm movie that wore its heart on its sleeve. Probably that’s why critics didn’t love it much. 

Upstream color: Or why artists should not talk about their work

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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.

Gravity

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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…

The Lunchbox

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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.

Shudh Desi Romance

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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.