Sunday, November 15, 2015
Wednesday, March 04, 2015
Tuesday, March 03, 2015
Revenge is a dish best served cold.
- Klingon saying
The modern discourse is populated by calls for revenge and retribution. Revenge has gained acceptance in popular culture as justified if one feels slighted. But what about the revenge seeker? When does the yearning for revenge die? What if it stays alive?
Badlapur doesn't tackle these questions head on, but it does visit them. Let's not forget, first and foremost, this is a masala film, and it stays true to the genre.
Sriram Raghavan, a master of thrillers, tells a story of revenge, but true to the genre, presents it with a lot of twists. People expecting a straightforward revenge and redemption story may be disappointed but those that love a good thriller will find it satisfying.
The story, told in a linear fashion goes thus: Raghu's (Varun Dhawan) wife Misha and son Robin, while returning home one day end up becoming hostages to an escape from a bank heist. Both are killed and the culprit, Laik (Nawazuddin), is jailed for the crime though he claims that his partner did it without revealing his name. Liak is a free man after fifteen years and as he goes to collect his share of his booty, discovers that Raghu had killed his partner Harman and his wife, and his love is a rich man's keep.
The theme of Badla or revenge runs prominently throughout the movie, but a subliminal theme also is of a badlav (change). Time changes everyone. As Raghu waits for his revenge, he undergoes a badlav from a man mourning over the death of his family to a loner who is looking for a chance to avenge the murder of his wife and son. Liak, too, metamorphoses from an eternal optimist in the prison to a jaded person once he manages to come out. People change, as does the times. Holding on to memories - tragic ones for Raghu and happy ones for Liak - is no protection against the present. There is no redemption to be had in memories.
Liak's coming out of prison sets into motion a chain of events that forces to audience to view the protagonist and the antagonist in a new light. To paraphrase a Gulzar song, भला बुरा है, बुरा भला है। As tables turn, one wonders if there is any absolution for the players. Raghu lost his family in one brutal incident, while Liak lost his love over the years but only realised it when he came out of prison. Both face their demons in their own fashion.
Varun Dhawan is a revelation, in that he can pull in a performance. Though not fully convincing, he shows that he is ready to push his limits, which is a good thing. Nawazuddin puts in a great performance that has come to be expected from him, and then takes it a notch higher. His Liak is at once reprehensible as well as pitiable. Huma Qureshi, Vinay Pathak, Radhika Apte also put in convincing performance. Pathak, especially, is a treat to watch, as he belies expectations from his character convincingly. He deserves a movie of his own and not of the Bheja Fry kind.
The director loves the jump cut as a plot device to move the story forward. It takes a little getting used to, but in the end, makes for an interesting narrative.
Badlapur is not your typical Bollywood revenge saga, but is told deftly to interest even a hardcore masala lover.
Saturday, February 15, 2014
Wednesday, March 27, 2013
Monday, August 27, 2012
So the Rebels have lost, the Party has won.
I was skeptical about the Jan Lokpal movement from the outset, when Anna had fasted at Jantar Mantar last year. It was too idealistic. But it had a person of theandnbsp;statureandnbsp;of Kiran Bedi, which was a good indicator. I finally visited the Jan Lokpal movement during its second innings at the Ramlila grounds, and came back a changed man. Looking at the electric atmosphere there, where the people braved the elements are listened to people like Kiran Bedi, Arvind Kejriwal, Om Puri and many others speak. I started believing in the Jan Lokpal movement, but not in the methods. Anna's movement did bring the idea of the Lokpal to the people, but to believe that his fast could bring about that change would beandnbsp;naive.
At Ramlila grounds, looking at the sea of humanity and the throng of celebrities, it was obvious that it would be a tough act to follow, a fact that was proved right a few months later in Mumbai. The fatigue had set in. People would not be willing to take time out to hear Anna speak again.
So, when Anna announced a fast again, people had a right to be skeptical. Since Ramlila, a lot had happened. The people India Against Corruption were not the saints they were a year ago. Stories, real a well as planted, about the mismanagement of the movement had tired the people.
That would have been a good opportunity to separate the movement from the people - Jan Lokpal should have been placed above Anna and Kejriwal. But the movement started worshipping Anna and Kejriwal, thereby undermining it themselves. Kejriwal even proclaimed that the Jan Lokpal was above the Constitution of India! So much so for humility!
To be sure, this movement didn't implode by itself. The government too planted stories about Anna and Kejriwal, leading to a lot of misinformation.
As things stand, the Jan Lokpal movement didn't achieve what it set out to achieve. Even the presence of Anna in the anshan could not drum up the hysteria of a year ago. The government chose to ignore the latest protest, and even the public stayed away, largely (I know, I was there).
The final nail in the coffin was announcement by Anna of forming a political party. The rebels had lost and the powers had won. While their demand of a Lokpal Bill was unfulfilled, the government's demand that Anna join active politics was fulfilled. Score one for the Institution!
By giving in to the demands, Team Anna have dashed the hopes of many Indians. What brought a diverse group of people together was a common dream for a better society. By going political, they have again divided them along regional, religious and political lines.