Monday, March 26, 2012

Losing his constitution...

Arvind Kejriwal is at it again. Making explosive statements to press, whether at a public forum like he did recently Jantar Mantar on 25 march, or in talks to journalists. He seems to be progressively losing motor control over his tongue.
I completely support the Janlokpal movement, and was even present at the Ramlila maidan to cheer Anna. I fervently believe that the Jan Lokpal bill will bring about a sea change in the Indian administration, making it more transparent and more accessible to the people.
At that time, the stars of the movement, apart from Anna himself, were undoubtedly Arvind Kejriwal and Kiran Bedi. Both career public servants, he from the IFS and she from the IPS, both having given up their jobs to serve the public, there was little wrong that they could do. When they spoke, people listened, because they spoke with authority.
But when the government decided to strike back at them, for some reason, it chose to make a case out of Arvind Kejriwal. He was a deserter, they said, having not properly resigned from his job. He owed the government money, they said. Maybe because his supporters compared him to Rahul Gandhi, but the Congress, and especially Digvijay Singh, was hounding. In the end, he had to pay the income tax department Rs 7 lakhs as a fine for what it termed 'deserting his post'. The incident seems to have impacted him a lot, as since then, he has given a lot of statements that can only be termed as inflammatory. It started when he said that Anna Hazare was above the constitution. It gets worse, when he later said on February 26, 2012 that he had no faith in the constitution, and called the MPs rapists. Though he later clarified that he meant the current constituent assembly rather than the constitution, the damage was already done.
Since then, the Anna campaign has been a roller coaster ride. The Mumbai annshan didn't plan out as expected. The huge crowds of Delhi did not turn up there. Anna became unwell. Arvind Kejriwal again was targeted for speaking his mouth off.
As things proceed, Team Anna is, at best, meandering. It is extremely active on twitter, where is latches on to any cause, as long as it is against the government.
And Arvind Kejriwal, like a good foot soldier, is the mouthpiece, shooting his mouth off.

note: I know this post is inconsistent - it too is a victim of a double write and a long gestation

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Ek Kahani

Indian cinema isn't knows for making thrillers. So when it does make one, it is a special treat for the viewers.
Kahani is a superlative thriller to be made in India in a long time.
Kahani plays well as s suspense drama, where Vidya comes from London to search for her husband, only to be told that no such person existed. From there, the movies starts playing as a cat and mouse game, as the IB gets in the mix, along with a crazy hitman, Bob Biswas.
To be true, the suspense of the film is actually a cheat. In the beginning of the film, as Vidya describes her husband, we are fed with a flashback which establish her story. Towards the climax, the viewer learns that he had been led all along, not by a clever story, but by a camera that lied. This may be a minor nitpick, but it matters a lot towards telling an honest story. There are some clues in between which hint that all might now be correct in her story, but those are so subtle of layered, we cannot be sure.
Vidya a Bidya Baghchi is a revelation. I was not impressed of her theatrics in Dirty Picture, but here, she gives a nuanced performance. She plays a woman who is undergoing tremendous pain but keeps a brave face about it all, and portrays it beautifully.
The biggest plus point of the movies, in my opinion, is that it does not rely on one single character to propel itself forward, as was in the case of Paan Singh Tomar. In here, there are lots of interesting characters, apart from Bidya. Theres the rookie Rana, the hot headed Khan, Bishnu the kid, and Bob Biswas the hitman. Bob is a scene stealer whenever he shows up. But the biggest 'character' here is Kolkatta the city itself. Director Sujoy Ghosh knows Kolkatta, and shows it to us like never before. The city comes alive under him, and as the story progresses, so does the city throw us fresh facets of itself. Kolkatta never looked so beautiful.
All in all, Kahani is a superb film, taut, well paced and well acted. The camera's visual lies could have been more muted or subtle. The story lends itself to rethinking once the movie ends, and the visual loophole is likely to come up. But if you are willing to overlook it, you may consider it an evening well spent

Friday, March 16, 2012

Paan Singh Tomar

Paan Singh Tomar is finally released, and is rocking the movie goers, who are calling it as one of the best movies so far. The euphoric claims may be valid, but only time will tell.
The story, if told, will seem like all dacoit movies. In that respect, Paan singh Tomar falls in the Cant-Believe-Its-True category, it being based on a true story. Paan Singh Tomar, was, in fact, a dacoit who terrorised the Chambal valley in the 70s. Prior to that, he was a soldier and an athlete, having represented India. If you think about it, mostly all dacoit stories in are about a law-abiding citizen wronged before he takes up the gun.
We first see Paan Singh as a tired, old dacoit, who has decided to give an interview to a local journalist, who is in awe of him. But the respect he commands from those around him makes one question, he is really dreaded? His story begins when he is  a young lad, just joined the army, probably 17. We see a tall, lean, strapping man. But there is an awkwardness about him.
He becomes an athlete, not because he loves sports, but because the army has higher rations for sports persons. Not a noble intention, but believable.
From a soldier to an athlete to a dacoit, the journey is unbelievable. It is a statement to the neglect for our sportsmen as well, the ignominy they receive once their career ends. The scene where PST tries to impress the police inspector with his medals is heart wrenching without intending to be so. We see PST bring laurels to the country, but all that is ignored. Later, he bitterly says that nobody remembers him for his achievements on the track, but they remember hims for his exploits as a dacoit. The bitterness with which the line is spoken stays with us.
The movie is believable due to the amazing Irrfan, who lends believability to the character. Paan Singh was an extraordinary character with an extraordinary life, and to lend it credibility requires someone with lots of talent. We start off with a PST who is a truant, to one who is determined to win a race. In between ,we get to see his vulnerability, especially when he goes to the police station.
PST is a must watch for the sheer Strange-But-True nature of the protagonist's live, portrayed exceptionally well by Irrfan

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


I was right - my writing sucks. And I have my wife's word for that. Going through my last two post, my wife, who generally likes my writing, gave me the her honest opinion. My writing sucked. I totally agree with her on that. The long hiatus that i took has been very bad for my writing, my chain of thought, my sentence construction. 
But the biggest culprit, in my opinion, is my tendency to write in parts - a few sentences now, and few after some days. On a forum a personal as a blog, one cannot be as lazy. A successful blog post is always a show of the writer's train of thought. Sadly, I failed.

Monday, March 05, 2012

Note to self...

Just re-read my review of Agneepath. It is shit. Note to self: reviews are best written in one sitting, or not.

Friday, March 02, 2012


Agneepath makes its way back to us, repacked. But is it the same story? I watched the movie pretty late, so I was aware that it is not the same story. There have been changes, some good, some bad.

The movie is a fresh take on the story of Vijaynath Chauhan (or is it Chavan?). The basic premise - Vijay, having seen his father hanged, vows revenge against Kancha Cheena and becomes a gangster to achieve his goal, alienating his family in the process - is the same, but director Karan Malhotra has made some changes. Gone are Krishnan Iyer and Mary Matthew, in come Rauf Lala and Kali. Though, Kaali is more of a replacement for Mary Mathew.

At various points, the movies tips its hat at its predecessor, like how Master Dinanath Chauhan is murdered, Vijay going for his sister, Vijay warning Gaitonde and many more, but again, the take on them is purely his own.

The story begins in Mandwa, the village by the sea where the good teacher is bringing about a change in his village, and then moves to the big bad Mumbai after his murder. The transistion of the village brat Vijay into the criminal Vijay is believeable since the kid himself shows so much anger to begin with. Him finally turning bad (but good from within) is credible. The characterisation, though is not all perfect the fiesty kid becoming a brooding grownup is not understandable. Also not understandable is whether he is actually bad. He works for a gangster, but himself lives in a chawl and runs a charitable trust in the name of his sister, providing ambulance services. A killer who provides ambulance services. I would think twice before hiring him as a killer.

Kali is a childhood friend who understands his pain. Thats just the brief for her character, to provide some relief from the brooding. But then again, in thebegining, of the film, Vijay meets her in what looks like a red-light area, but the grown up kali lives in a chawl and though she hasn't moved house, its is not longer a red-light area.

The mother and the sister are just points of reference for Vijay's story and do not serve up much of a conflict in his life. The mother has taken a very principled stand against hte son and refuses to meet him, while the sister doesn't know that he exists.

Inspector Gaitonde, sadly is even more unidimensional than the original, and thats saying a lot. He is a tough guy with a heart of gold, but at certain places comes across as a Vijay sympathizer, which is not law-abiding at all. In the original, the inspector cared for Vijay, but that did not stop him from calling him a crook.

Kancha Cheena is now Kancha, a psychotic killer who quotes Gita while killing, hanging being his choice of execution. Other than that, we don't know much about him. He runs a drug cartel just outside Mumbai, but does not throw any lavish parties or spend money on the good life. So why is he still hell-bent on ruling Mumbai, if not for the money? does not add up at all.

Finally, there is Rauf Lala, a new addition, and by far the best character in the movies. Rishi Kapoor completely subverts his loverboy image for this one, and comes across as darkest of the lot here. Unlike Kancha, he is not a psycho. He is a businessman, who trades in drugs and women, with a coldness and aloofness. But at the same time, he is also a family man, who dotes on his sons.

Hritik gives his Vijay a brooding demeanor. He is a man of few words, who has learnt to internalize his emotions unlike his childhood. The viewer does not know what goes on in his mind. The emotional turmoil of a man who witnessed his father's murder and then his family's estrangement remains hidden.

The film has good action sequences, but they are very few.