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Raanjhanaa

Raanjhanaa

Going by the rave reviews for the movie and this poster in particular, I took out some time to watch the film. For a weekday matinee show, the multiplex was rather crowded. A LOT of youngsters had come to watch the movie. In fact, for some unknown reason, I felt like the oldest member in the crowd, at least, till the lights went out. After that, it didn’t matter :).

I didn’t intend to write a movie review and frankly, this isn’t one in the real sense. Its just that, when I walked out of the theatre, I kept lamenting about how the female lead called Zoya had deceived the male lead, called Kundan, in the end. I haven’t been a fan of Sonam Kapoor, ever, and after this particular role, I vowed never to see her films again. But as I dropped cousin L back to her place (she had accompanied me for the movie) and drove on towards home, it struck me.

*BAM* !!

Wait an effing minute!!

Was I really sympathizing with the guy’s character? He, the uneducated, good-for-nothing cad who thinks nothing more of Zoya, other than being his rightful wife, irrespective of the fact that never once in the movie did she display anything more than a hint of affection for him.

Now, this is going to be a spoiler post, so if anyone of you hasn’t seen the movie yet and intend to, then kindly shut this browser window. I don’t wanna ruin your fun or prejudice your thinking 🙂

I’ll wait.

*tap tap tap*

Still here?

Al right. Let me start afresh.

A young boy has a crush on a neighborhood girl, of a different religion. He grows into a teen, the crush still exists. He stalks the girl, gets innumerable slaps and finally, the girl agrees to meet him alone. BUT, she clearly states that it isn’t because she has any feelings for him, its just that he was so consistent in his request that she felt bad about depriving him. For her, the meeting was nothing less than an act of pity.

In the said meeting, boy gets close to the girl. The girl, on finding that the boy had lied about his religion (he claimed to be a muslim, just like the girl), immediately shuns him and walks off. The boy wasn’t going to take it sitting down, so he stalks her some more, harasses her and one fine day, slits his wrist in her presence. When the girl cries out in shock and horror and hugs the boy, I could make out that it was because of compassion, and NOT love. Alas, the boy thinks otherwise. He thinks that he has made a pathway to her heart by his ‘heroic’ act.

The girl is punished for her PDA and sent away to an aunt’s place. Years later, she returns to her hometown, a much mature and educated young woman. We can see that she has grown up. But has the boy? Alas, apart from pining for his ladylove, Kundan has done nothing constructive of his life. He is still a street ruffian who runs odd jobs at Zoya’s place. Needless to say, she doesn’t recognize him when he makes googly eyes at her. For her, its just an errand boy hitting on her. Kundan tries his best to revive her memory, succeeds and when she gets friendly, starts stalking her again. All her laments , that she was never interested in him, fall on deaf ears. He wants her back and will go to any lengths to get her.

Some people say that Zoya used Kundan. As I see it, she asks for his help twice. Once, to get rid of a prospective bridegroom and the second time, to convince her father. Kundan could have refused both times, but he didn’t. He does help her, but takes it as his due that she is indebted to him for life. Even when Zoya tries to thank him, he rebukes her for rejecting him. So driven is he by his selfish sentiments that he wrecks one havoc after the other, all in the name of love.

Zoya loses a loved one because of Kundan and instead of moping in one corner or running into his arms, tries to channel her grief into supporting the political party of her departed fiance. One would have expected that at least now, Kundan will leave her alone. But nah!! He bulldozes his way into her college campus and then into her political party, reminding her every second of the humiliation and loss that she suffered at his hands? Was this, his way of redemption? It was a very poor implementation if that is what he intended!

Left with very little option, Zoya tries to get rid of Kundan, who had been clinging onto her like a festering wound, refusing to heal and let her be at peace. She knew the consequences of her actions and also publicly accepted her guilt.

Alas, we were left with sympathizing with the guy.

Why didn’t we sympathize with Zoya earlier?

Was it because the guy, in order to teach the girl a lesson for refusing his advances, hadn’t thrown a bottle of acid on her face yet? Well, he wasn’t a picture of peaceful devotion either. Beating up a female childhood friend? Check. Using her unashamedly for his selfish purposes? Check. Driving into the river on a bike, with Zoya, in a fit of rage? Check. Proposing marriage to childhood friend and then dumping her at the last minute? Check.

There is something really wrong about portraying a woman as evil because she chose to live her life on HER terms and not some street ruffian’s. Why didn’t we root for Zoya  right from the beginning? Can it be called a ‘sweet love story’, when clearly, it was more about harassment and ego? One man’s at that!!

In a country so full of misguided youth who believe that any woman who refuses their advances doesn’t have a right to live in dignity, do we need such cinematic ‘heroes’ who show the wrong way? Is slitting of wrists the only way of achieving love? Of protesting? Isn’t it an act of self-pity ? When Zoya does it, we can understand, her loss is much more grievous. But why does Kundan do it so frequently? With his frame, he cannot afford to lose blood at the drop of a hat.

Street-sexual harassment, or ‘eve-teasing’ is a serious crime. It has extremely serious repercussions on the victim. Kundan’s stalking of Zoya for 8+ years and her continuous denial of ‘love’ show us two aspects to this ‘love-story’. An unemployed youth, with nothing better to do, will indulge in fantasies, which for him, take the shape of truth, his truth. A woman who says ‘NO’, means ‘NO’. A ‘NO’ will never translate into a ‘Yes’, even after the passage of time.

I bet a similar ‘Kundan’ did this to Sonali –

sonali

Raanjhanaa gives out very wrong signals. The movie is making quite a lot of moolah….but I’m just worried about the impressionable youth who watch this film.

We don’t need such movies right now. Or ever.

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New Look —- Old Look

Going through rediff yesterday, I came across the just released poster (first look, they say) of Ranbir Kapoor’s upcoming movie “Rockstar”. Here’s the poster :-

Rockstar poster

Looking at this picture, can’t help but wonder if the inspiration came from this :-

Che Guevara

Remove the guitar and button up the trenchcoat and Ranbir might just as well look like this :-

Or is it just me who sees the similarity/inspiration?!!

😐



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Quite a mouthful, that title, isn’t it?!

I’ve been reading a lot lately (actually, Pre-Ramadan) and even watched a few movies (again, pre-Ramadan). I’m awful at reviews of both, so I usually don’t try. Only when a book/movie really takes up 80% of my attention span, does it get mentioned here 🙂 . So anyway, I was watching this movie ZNMD at a cousin’s place last month. The reason I stayed back to watch it was because the movie was by Zoya Akhtar, whose Luck By Chance remains one of my most favourite movies of all times. Don’t ask why though. I wouldn’t be able to explain 🙂

Another reason would be Hritik in Zoya’s movie and NOT having the lead role (both the movies were focused on Farhan Akhtar 🙂 ). There must be something about the pressure of being a lead actor I guess. Because most times I find that when an actor is cast against his type, when the onus of carrying a film does not rest on his gym-pumped shoulders, he gives a performance which is far more nuanced, and makes his character feel far more real. Case in point – Hritik’s role in Luck By Chance. A supposed cameo, but so effective. The expressions in Hritik’s eye in this movie are yet to be seen in another film! The haughtiness at the beginning, the smug look which eventually boils down to simmering resent, with a dash of jealousy and regret in equal measures! Wow! I guess this why I stayed back to see Hritik in a Zoya movie once again. And I wasn’t disappointed. At all 🙂

ZNMD is a beautiful movie. Not because of the road trip or the locales. Not because of Katrina or her Spanish friend (who looks lovely by the way!!). But because, none of the three leads carries the baggage of making the film a hit. They chip in with relaxed ease. Each actor doing his bit and then some. The eventual outcome is a movie we can relate to. There are no corny jokes and very few profanities. The one or two places they are used are justified! The movie touched the right chords in me and I enjoyed it thoroughly. What came as a gentle surprise though, was the song ‘Senorita’ sung by the three leads themselves. What a brilliant idea! It added so much to the charm of the song and the movie as a whole! In fact, I’m really liking this idea of actors singing their own songs ( and full marks to Alisha Chinoy for bringing out this issue into the open!!). Of the three singers, Hritik was definitely The Best! No second opinions there. Its a wonder how this speech-handicapped man not only mastered his stammer to spout urdu dialogues in Jodha-Akbar, but also warmed his vocals to belt out beautiful numbers! His 5-min monologue in Guzaarish is all the more appreciable because of the effort that must have gone into delivering it. This man is the epitome of hard-work I say. In spite of all his fame and fortune, he still takes an hour’s speech therapy session everyday. Btw, who else loved his English number in Guzaarish??

Anyhow, back to the song from ZNMD. I liked ‘Senorita’, because it sounded so unique and so fresh 🙂 . I’m still on the fence about Farhan’s singing talent (its the voice I guess. But he can string a note for sure !) . The shocker was Abhay deol ! But he was given precious little to do. The chorus was very well executed and thats why even all this time I find myself humming that song 🙂 . I think Zoya Akhtar is a director to look out for. This woman knows the tricks of the trade…but best of all, she knows how to do sensitive well. Very well.

Talking of Zoya, can’t help but remember this book called ‘The Zoya Factor‘ by Anuja Chauhan. I think I guessed the end in the first few pages itself. That it took another 500 for me to be proved right was a tad painstaking. Firstly, because I HATE cricket (sue me!) and secondly, because the female lead appears so daft! I really think we need to get out of the M&B mode (here in India, they term it as Chick-Lit). So all and sundry can see the sparks flitting between the leads and yet, they themselves are unaware of each other’s sentiments. Give me a break! Real women are seldom oblivious to the reactions of the opposite sex. And coming back to Zoya the director, I think I can now say why I liked Luck By Chance (and now ZNMD). Because the women in her films are not caricatures of their selves. They are real flesh and blood, the types who can say no to a relationship and be happy about it! That part in LBC where Farhan’s character seeks out Konkona’s character to ask for forgiveness and another chance at their relationship, was priceless!! Because I just couldn’t imagine what would come next. It was such a pleasant blow that instead of rushing into his arms sobbing with relief, Konkona’s character actually talks him into why it wouldn’t be a good idea to get together after all! Take that buster! If you think you can play hooky with today’s woman and get forgiven, you got another think coming your way! Redemption be damned 😀 . That the female lead could hold her head high and be proud of her choices in life was such a breath of fresh air 🙂 .

After watching ZNMD,  I’m not critical towards Katrina Kaif anymore. I never liked her before (too vapid for my liking) but ZNMD proved me wrong once again. KK’s character was real too. Not too pretentious and just enough charisma to hold her scenes well. In fact, all that I now want to do, is see Hritik crooning a love number for Katrina Kaif in a movie directed by Zoya Akhtar. I bet my last penny that I’d be there to see the First Day First Show First Row.

😀



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I had the good luck of watching Udaan with the BF yesterday. The family was out for a dinner party. They had taken SS with them. So that left me with only RS to worry about. The BF had brought a DVD of Udaan (which he said he’d heard a lot about) and we got down to watch it.

It was mind-blowing. The synopsis (as taken from imdb) :

After being abandoned for eight straight years in boarding school, Rohan returns to the small industrial town of Jamshedpur and finds himself closeted with an authoritarian father and a younger half-brother who he didn’t even know existed. Forced to work in his father’s steel factory and study engineering against his wishes, he strives to forge his own life out of his given circumstances and pursue his dream of being a writer.

The movie started off well enough, with the regular antics of teenage boys in a hostel. The friendships(which lay the foundation for an important role in the decision made by the lead towards the end) are not forced and come off naturally. The interactions between the boys are depicted in such a casual manner, it does not seem as though they are acting or reciting memorized lines. It all comes off naturally and beautifully. A word for the young actor Manjot Singh, who plays Muninder. This young lad was engaging enough in “Oye Lucky Lucky Oye” and even here too, he does  justice to his few minutes of screen space. Even when he’s not present on the screen (like the time Rohan calls him) you can feel his presence. This is one young man to look out for!!

Once Rohan comes back home, the movie takes a more sombre turn. Rohan now has to acknowledge the presence of a 6-year-old half-brother. He doesn’t remember much of his own mother, having lost her early in life. And it seems like a wicked twist of fate that even the young half-brother Arjun (played adorably by Aayan Boradia. See him in the video below. I couldn’t find a snap of his on the net 😦 ) loses his mother early and has to live with the awfully authoritarian father (played by a  goose-bumpingly evil Ronit Roy).

The way the brothers bond, or more importantly, how Rohan comes to accept and love the little boy are depicted so beautifully, one is left with a tiny little lump in the throat throughout!!

Ronit plays the authoritarian father Bhairav with such fierce intensity, it is difficult to differentiate between the actor and the character!! I always considered him as the typical  soap-opera-ish actor . But in this movie, he redeems himself. Once or twice, we are given glimpses of why exactly he is the way he is. A couple of references to his father and the way he was brought up was enough of an indication. But then, the same fate was borne by his brother, the much more cheerful Jimmy (played with wonderful constraint by Ram Kapoor) and one can surmise that Bhairav did not take kindly to the treatment meted out to him by his father. Maybe thats why, inspite of spawning two children, he prefers they call him ‘Sir’ rather than ‘Papa’ or ‘Dad’. This way, he can distance himself emotionally from his children. Though he claims to fulfill the material needs of his kids, the one thing he can’t give them is his love and acceptance. He takes Rohan on a run every morning, just to prove that he is physically superior in every way and intimidate the teenager.Little Arjun, meanwhile, is in silent awe (fear?) of his father. When Bhairav asks for his son’s forgiveness one night, one hopes for happier times ahead for the family, but then the next few scenes easily squash that hope.

Not surprisingly then, Rohan takes refuge in his imagination. He pens his thoughts beautifully and dreams of becoming a writer/poet (against his father’s wish of becoming an engineer). Some of the lines he writes are compiled in this video below :-

It might appear a little depressing to a viewer to find the boys being continuously at the receiving end of their father’s ire. But that is exactly what leads Rohan to make his final decision. Maybe his being a poet stops him from taking a more drastic action early on. Even when he is egged on by his new-found friends (a very likeable Anand Tiwari) , he doesn’t do anything rash. He is controlled and patient. And when the time is right, he makes his move. And we are all with him. That last letter speaks out his frustration, but not in such terms. Though it contains angst and regret, it also speaks of hope, of love, of family. And for those lines alone, it is worth watching the movie. The last scene, of Rohan and Arjun walking hand-in-hand is enough to make you reach for the tissue box.

Why are such movies not spoken about often? ? It was one of the best movie’s I’ve seen in recent times (maybe, TZP). The pace of the movie was initially slow, but then later on I realized that the pace was necessary . To make us absorb what was happening on the screen. To take in the expressions on the face of the protagonists, to read their eyes and the subtle body-language, which spoke volumes.

Throughout the movie, me and the BF could not help but rue that there can actually be such parents in this world. But then, we hear of much worse in the real world. This movie was reasonably milder in its treatment of the father-son relationships!! But what a narration!! And what performances!! It’s rare to see a film where each and every character puts in his best.

A special mention must be made for Rajat Barmecha who plays Rohan. This young boy with the puppy-dog eyes was the right choice to play Rohan. He displayed amazing sensitivity in his scenes with his brother and a deep vulnerability in the scenes with his father! The mother in me just wanted to envelop him in a hug and soothe his worries away!! And ohh…for some reason, I kept thinking that little Aayan looks a lot like my SS. In fact, I felt that SS would grow up to look a lot like Aayan. Which is a good thing, because, Aayan is just so adorable 🙂 !!

Do watch this movie people…its very rare that you get to see a well made movie. Full marks to director Vikramaditya Motwane. Keep it up VM, hope to see more such gems from you 🙂



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This one’s for nostalgia. For memories best NOT remembered. But it helps to face those demons once in a while. To get a reality check. And also, to thank the Almighty that we were not infected much with that virus.

In case you think I’m rambling, please stop.Halt.Desist.Retreat.

This post is best suited to people born before 1980, though I feel a few of you born till 1985 would be aware of the calamity I’m talking about.

For the record, I talk about the period in Indian Film industry, which stood between Rajendra Chaturvedi and Saroj Khan. The gap between a Habib Mirza and a Manish Malhotra.

Eeeyup!!

I talk about the outfits and dance sequences of films in the late eighties and early nineties.

When there didn’t exist a ‘stylist’ or even a ‘dress designer’. Instead, we had ‘costume’ designers. And as the word aptly says, the outfits were costumes, best suited for theatrical appearances. And since Cinema was an extension of theatre, the producers felt no harm in mirroring those outfits for 70 mm.

As for the dance….err…the less said, the better 🙂

Anyhow, there are loads of articles on the same on the net. And I don’t want to be another critic/reviewer of those styles. But I do want to be the one to share with you these priceless gems . Please take out some time and view these. You may either feel enthralled at how these people got away with it, or you can shudder and turn away, relieved that you don’t have any such ‘demons’ hiding in your closet. Or do you??

Hehe. Just kidding 😀 .

Check these out (to better absorb the outfits and dance, please set the video on mute. Let not the music interfere with your visual senses) :-

1) Sridevi-Jeetendra : Competing with each other!

Where do I start??  From the extreme match-much in the blue to the bird-wings-tiara-red-gold to the canary-yellow-monstrosity, what were these people smoking?? Who paid money for these creations? And WHY??

Was Sridevi sleeping when they asked her for a trial. Or was she just blinded by all that colour and glitter??

And coming to the choreography……hmmm….that particular step at 01:27  (and again later towards the end of the video) must not have been easy. Hell, by the looks of it, it’s not even a ‘dance’ step. What made the dance director incorporate it in this song? If it wasn’t the steps, it’s the awful synchronizing that eats at me. Even S and J are not able to match steps with each other. S definitely looks as though her skirt will rip off any minute if she tries to match steps with J (who, not surprisingly, jumps with much gusto!!)

Help me people, I’m at a total loss here 😦

BTW, kudos to S and J for actually looking happy performing that feat. That, my friends, is called ‘acting’ !!

2) Jaya Prada : Secrets in her cupboard

First, just ignore the caped crusader in the beginning. I have NO idea why he’s dressed like that, when its clear he’s reminiscing about frolicking on the beach with his lady-love. Dressed up for dreaming, I guess.

Coming to Jaya Prada……Aaarghh…. to think I actually liked her at one time. What was I smoking?!! That silvery, castle-tower on her head takes the cake. The faux-middle-eastern setting/clothing clashes oh-so-bad with the pseudo bharatnatyam dance!! They tried for fusion I guess, but ended up with a horrible, horrible mish-mash of unpalatable, squishy,semi-not-erotic number. Dont even get me started on the banjara look !!

3) Kimi katkar:Am glad we have no idea where you are 😐

Warning: Jewel-coloured-tight-shalwar-kameez-with-boots-frizzy-hair-puffed-full-sleeves-brocade-dupatta-alert.

Ahh…I see you took a peep. C’mon, confess. Confess that you were as stunned as I was at the entire ensemble. Govinda, we can ignore for now. He was (is) never known for being well dressed.

As for Kimi……kimi, kimi, what’s up with those outfits? Tell me frankly, you hate it, dont you? You were just a newbie in the industry and didn’t have much of a say, isn’t it?ISN’T IT?? If the purple one wasn’t fugly enough, you exchanged it for a pink one. Of the same design. And possibly same material. WHY?? Thankfully, the boots were missing this time!!

Coming to the dance people, do pay special attention to 00:25 and 02:00. What is it?? What is the idea behind those moves? And who am I kidding here? Hell. Watch the whole video and then wonder what the song was about.

I’m surprised there weren’t rounds of protests and demonstrations when these movies got released. I’m surprised these were accepted and *shudder* copied.

But for now, if my kids ever get hold of these movies and ask about them, I’ll simply lie about my age say I wasn’t around when this catastrophe occured. That’ll prevent me from being ridiculed (or so I pray 😐 )

On second thoughts, any idea where I can grab my copy of that blue dress Sri wears in the first video?? Its kinda captivating, you know, in a faux-royalty kind of way,not that I know any royalty who wears a blue hat, blue dress, blue bracelets, blue leggings and blue shoes. Or for that matter, anyone who wears blue like that.

Or maybe, I do 😦



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How did he DO it??

Saw a movie on DVD over the last few days.

Its called Hairspray(2007) (there’s the original which was released in 1988). I was skeptical about it until I found that it was set in America of the 60’s and the movie was a kitschy musical (I LOVE musicals. The last one which I adored was Chicago. Gosh!! That movie rocked BIG time 😀 . Back in those college days, I’d saved it on my PC and would play it again and again and again 🙂 ).

Hairspray is directed by Adam Shankman and boasts of a pretty impressive star cast comprising Queen Latifah, Michelle Pfeiffer, Christopher Walken, Zac Efron , and……… her :-

Edna Turnblad from "Hairspray"

She  is one astounding dancer. Do check out her moves in this video :-

At the first look, I thought it was Jennifer Coolidge in a fat-suit.

But I was wrong. It turned out to be John Travolta in a fat suit!!

Yup , people!!

That is our man from “Broken Arrow” and “Face-off”!!

I had no idea he could prance like that…. in heels!!  Now tell me, when was the last time you saw a guy (carrying excess weight ) dancing in heels as though he was born doing it?!!

This guy is terribly convincing in his role as Edna Turnblad , totally mimicking the nuances of a woman, that too, a mother (our Bollywood heroes need to take a leaf or so out of his book ).  Awfully commendable!! I’ve notched up my respect for this guy by a zillion degrees. The BF couldn’t believe it himself and it took some googling AND waiting for the credits to roll to convince him 😀 !!

Watch this movie if you ever get a chance 🙂

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Not flying high enough!

Was quite keen on watching Kites…but the reviews don’t seem to good.

If anyone’s seeing this movie this weekend, could you please let me know if it is worth the effort?

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Note : This is NOT a film review.

Warning : Long , rambling post ahead.

 

Now that the noise over SRK’s MNIK has subsided, I guess it is safe for me to come up with my thoughts on this movie.

First, the positives.

It was a nice film, had a nice flow, was witty at times and funny at others. Mostly, it appeared to be an honest take on the lives of people (read , muslims) post 9/11. The things I liked about it were :-

— SRK, in a role where he didn’t have to throw back his head, arms spread out, and breathe in deeply with a dimpled smile to woo his lady love. What a relief!!

— Kajol, looking good, acting every bit her age in a role which was believable.

— SRK, who surprisingly, knows his ‘Kalmas’ , ‘Surahs’ and ‘Duas’ in Arabic. His recitation and diction were impeccable. I had this impression of him being a totally non-religious person. But the way we uttered those prayers were truly authentic. By the way, its not easy to mug up arabic prayers from the Quran. It can come only through year’s of practise in reciting them.

–No irritating dance and song numbers. THANK GOD!!!

— Zarina Wahab. I had no idea I was sick of watching Rakhi, Farida Jalal and Reema Lagoo in motherly roles, until I saw Zarina Wahab. What a refreshing change indeed!!

—————————————————————————————–

And now for the negatives …..

The points I will list here are not the real negatives per se, but they are the points where I feel the movie scores low. I have reasons for those points and I’ll try to make my views clear. Most of the readers may not agree with them, but then , it is natural. At many points, I may go off on a tangent and appear to discuss another matter altogether or I may appear to be ranting, but believe me, its all rooted to this movie.

Anyhow, here goes :-

— I couldn’t understand why an innocent Muslim has to be portrayed by an Autism patient. Couldn’t we have SRK playing a normal healthy muslim who is innocent? It is a known fact that autistic patients, irrespective of any religion, are devoid of hate/crime . They are truly innocent. If the director wanted to prove that there are innocent muslims out there who are targeted wrongly, he could have done so more convincingly with a normal muslim, one, who is more capable of expressing how it feels to be targeted wrongly. But I guess, it wouldn’t have worked at the box office.  The director knows that the majority of the population holds muslims guilty for all crimes under the sun and doesn’t want to shake that notion. Else, who would come to watch his movie?? The minorities? I doubt.

— too mush of Islam. Which I guess is needed, but not like this. Not wrapped up in candy floss and bundled and thrown at us this way. I agree we muslims chant our ‘Surah’s ‘ anytime we feel like. We recite the prayer ,‘Inna lillahi wa inna ilahi rajioon’ (We come from this earth and we go back to the depths of this earth) when we hear of someone’s demise. We give ‘zakaat’ * (religious tax) every year which is other than the regular ‘Khairat’ (charity).

When we were kids in school, we had the entire Ramayan and Mahabharata as a part of our syllabus. We had separate books for the two. And I wondered then, why didn’t we have more information on Islam or Christianity or even Sikhism?? Why were these religions relegated to a single paragraph each? Why not cover more on it? Though, the books did manage to mention , even in that confined space, that Islam permits four marriages (the innumerable terms and conditions are conveniently ignored ) and eating meat (There are Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, Parsis and most other religions which don’t prohibit meat-eating. Yet, this ‘Meat-Eating’ title is reserved for muslims. Why??)

Anyhow, I digress.

My point is, the movie was more like a lesson is Islam, where the director preached every possible facet of the religion in a span of 3 hours. Well, 3 hours aren’t enough to understand Islam, but for a movie which a public pays to watch, it was too much. Either way, it didn’t work.

— The not-so-plausible romance. Well, Rizwan Khan is cute. He’s persistent. He’s in love. Its easy to see why he falls in love with Mandira. But tell me, why does she fall in love with him?? Why does she marry him?? Because he shows her the San Francisco skyline at dawn? It was cute to see SRK doing the blushing act when Kajol asks him to marry her…but all the while, I couldn’t help having this niggling thought that the proposal just didn’t click! Or was I the only one?

— Supporting characters. How desperate were Sumit Raghavan, Arif Zakaria, Praveen Dabas , Navneet Nishan and the rest to pick up roles that gave them a maximum of  2-3 minutes of screen time? Was the banner that was the bait or was it the tag of acting in a ‘monumental-coming-of-age-movie’ by Karan Johar (by the way, I personally feel, KJ came of age long time back when he made KANK. If that isn’t being grown up, what is?)

Whatever the case, it was sad to see talented veteran actors, who  have held their own in substantial movies, being relegated to the sidelines in roles that could have been performed by any 2-bit actor. Sheer waste of talent!!

— Reel after reel depicting Rizwan’s heroism and tenacity. I can’t help but roll my eyes in dismay at the way in which he’s the ONLY one in the whole of America to come to the rescue of residents of Wilhelmina. He’s the one who’s not afraid to offer ‘namaz’ even at the risk of missing his bus (irrespective of the fact that at no other point in the movie was he shown praying.Or did I miss out that part??).

Also, at no point in his journey does he run out of money. How much did he manage to carry in that sack of his?

— The gentle, subtle insinuation that all whites are mean and the blacks are decent, loving peaople. Why the disparity?? Aren’t blacks equally proud of their country and vary of terrorists?? Then how come they all trust Rizwan , whereas the whites hate and suspect him at sight??

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Coming back to the issue at hand, about the treatment meted out to muslims. Well, it didn’t all start with 9/11, did it? It started a long time before that.

With Dad being in the armed forces, I never really had a chance to see what discrimination on religious basis feels like. But I did get to taste it once I got to staying on my own. Like the time I was hunting for a PG accommodation during my post-graduation days. I had classmates who were paying guests and they introduced me to their land-lords. There were rooms available and when I used to enquire about them, I was welcomed warmly. Surprisingly, ALL the vacancies got filled in as soon as they heard my name. Too much of a freaking co-incidence!! And oh, there was this one lady who was honest enough to state that she didn’t want to entertain a muslim. Frankly, I was too shocked to even ask why!

When I narrated this tale to the BF, he just smiled ruefully. “Welcome to he real world”, he told me. And then he started off on how, throughout his childhood, he was subjected to discrimination. Like the time his teachers called his parents to school and asked them to pull him out of it because they couldn’t see him going anywhere in future, and it would save the parents the hassle if they could kindly get him a job in a garage or some such place so that he learns to earn his living. This, in spite of the BF being the most popular boy in his class and getting elected as class representative year after year, in spite of him being an excellent sportsperson, in spite of him scoring the highest in the IQ test held in his school . Thankfully for the in-laws, better sense prevailed and they made sure that the BF and his siblings got the best education possible.

This is just one incident in his life. There were many more like this. When he was sent on site the first time, he had to make his own living arrangements which would be later reimbursed by the company. The BF had gone with a hindu friend. Surprisingly, his friend got a PG accomodation within 2 days, and though that place had vacancies, they wouldn’t give it to the BF. Obviously, the BF’s friend was quite embarrassed and ready to give up the place himself. But the BF convinced him to stay back and hunted for another place on his own. One place did take him in eventually…..it was a place rented by muslim students.

Another fellow student and subsequent colleague had a much more sad tale to narrate. He was in Ahmedabad during his school days. His class teacher, mind you, had named all the muslim boys in the class (there were four of them) by the names of Pakistani cities. So my friend was titled  Karachi. The teacher, and the rest of the class used to call these boys by their given names. Sometimes, the teacher even went to the extent of asking these “Pakistanis” to go back to their country (whatever that means)! I wonder how it would have felt for a young impressionable mind to face such mindless hate so early in life. I know that when I faced it, I was quite broken. My stern belief in being Indian and being accepted for what I am,was at stake. There were people who actually felt that I wasn’t worth being in their presence. What was my crime? That I was a muslim!!!

I did speak to many of my muslim cousins, friends, colleagues to find out if they have faced any such situation. And should I be surprised to know that they ALL had their own sorry tales to narrate? That they all rued the fact that they have to put in more effort, more patience, just to be accepted for who they are?

Somehow, the movie MNIK touched all these raw nerves and yes, inspite of it being tacky in more ways than one, it is doing good business. It is watched again and again by people in muslim dominated countries. It is watched by people like the BF and my friend/colleague who know that they are discriminated against, for no fault of theirs. It is watched by all those muslims who believe that they are innocent , and not terrorists.

Question is, does anyone believe us?

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I felt like an Idiot…..

……after watching 3 Idiots!! 

No, seriously, I mean it. 

Hold on, hold on. Dont start throwing the jootas and chappals yet 🙂 . Hear me out !! 

It was a Raju Hirani movie. The one of Munnabhai fame. 

I had high expectations. 

It starred Aamir Khan. My HERO!! 

I had higher expectations. 

It starred Madhavan. (Does anyone remember Ashley from Banegi Apni Baat? I was lost at the first sighting of those bunny teeth!!) 

I was, expectedly, raring to watch this movie. 

And I did. 

Wish I hadn’t. Under all the brouhaha over its being the highest grossing movie of the decade(really!!), I had this urgent need to voice my dissent. And why not?! The movie challenged my intelligence, treated me like an imbecile, whacked  me on the head with its ‘message’, all the while covering it up with sugar-coated preaching. 

Impossible to digest. 

I’ve been trying to prepare a list of what actually irked me to no end, and finally, I’ve mustered the courage to put it up here (at the risk of being treated to rotten tomatoes going ‘SPLAT’ on my face!!)

Anyhow.

1) The leads . Check them out. You’ll know what I mean!! 

Idiots, ALL of them!!

Balding Sharman.Check. 

Wrinkled Aamir. Check. 

Flabby Madhavan.Check. 

Why couldn’t I have the pleasure of watching a regular 20-year old play the lead role? Why , Mr. Hirani?? You’d rather pay up for Aamir’s steep rates than to invest in finding good newbies for the role? Do we really lack talent that bad?? The bags under Aamir’s eyes can hold small change in them!! 

The same applies to Sharman as well as Madhavan. 

The movie starts with freshers joining an Engineering college. And we all know that people apply for engineering after their 12th standard boards. That makes the students 17-18 years old at the time of joining and 21-22 at the time of graduation. 

At no point of time in the movie, could I relate to these three as “Students”!! 

2) Boman Irani. WHY??? Aren’t you SICK to DEATH of watching him play the blubbering “Principal” yet again?? Only this time, he gets to wear a curly wig and talk with a lisp. Method acting, anyone?

3) Premise. Raju and Farhan are looking for their friend Rancho for the last 10 years. Why couldn’t they have approached the Principal (with whom they had better relations towards the end) and requested Rancho’s address?? Wouldn’t it be in the student’s personal records?  After all, wasn’t Rancho’s father a multi-millionaire?? He would be well known. 

What took them so long??

4) The suicides. Aaahhh!! What do we have here?? A Principal confidently telling a student’s father  that his ward is not going to graduate. Student commits suicide. No action taken against the Principal. 

A student being asked to make a choice between getting rusticated and implicating his friend. Student commits suicide. No, make that, jumps from the Principal’s office, while the Principal is still in there!! 

Any action against the Principal?? None. 

I wonder what kind of a**h**** sit on that college’s board!!

5) Doctor doctor!! 

Tell me people, am I wrong in assuming that Kareena Kapoor’s role was that of a SUPER DOCTOR in the guise of a simpering maiden?! So not only is she the fountain of knowledge in Neurology, she’s also the resident gynaec, spouting delivery techniques using a web cam! 

The whole of Delhi has only ONE doctor available, and her name is Pia S.  

Save me God!!

6) Suhas. 

Ok, so this guy was called a price-tag. Agreed. Pia dumps him. Understood. 

But what wasn’t clear was that WHY did he wait for 10 years to marry Pia?? Don’t people move on in life?? Couldn’t they have shown Pia getting married to someone else?? Would it have made a difference?? 

It almost made me pity the poor guy. He seemed more genuine in his affections than Rancho.

7) Ragging. I haven’t understood the director’s fascination for ragging. And in the same manner too !! So we had freshers catwalking in their underwear in Munnabhai and here we have freshers slapping their bottoms in their underwear. Is this the ONLY form of ragging you are aware of, Mr. Hirani? 

And oh, did you know ragging is considered as a punishable offence??

8 ) Preach-a-holic. Thats what Aamir has become. The TZP bug had bitten him hard. The venom still flows in his veins. What other excuse could there be, for him to spout gyan at the drop of a hat?!!! 

Student’s funeral, give bhashan to the Principal. 

In the classroom, give bhashan to the lecturer. 

At the wedding/mall, give bhashan to the lady-love. 

At drunk get-togethers, give bhashan to friends. 

Its a wonder everyone didn’t conspire to strangle him everytime he opened his mouth. 

But behind the bhashan to the characters on screen, was the ‘subtle'(?) gyan being dispered to the public at large. First fifteen minutes into the movie, we come to know of the purpose of the film. Fifteen minutes later, we are told again. Another fifteen minutes pass by and once again, we are made aware. After interspersing the gyan throughout, the message is conveyed once again, just before the end credits roll. 

Thunk, thunk, thunk.  

Thats me banging my head against the wall.

You see, Mr. Hirani, I got the message within the first 15 minutes. The worst of the “Duh”s would have got it at 30. But you weren’t convinced .

The Agony of it all 😦 .

9) If I’m not wrong, the college was a co-ed, right? It had girls sprinkled across the campus. 

Isn’t it considered indecent to bathe in public when women are around? Why no action was taken against Rancho when he bathes with a water hose? 

Oh, I get it.  Its acceptable, because he’s a guy!!!  Right. 

What if a girl had tried doing that stunt in college? 

Double standards??

10) Mona. Pia’s sister. She gets married, goes into labour. Nowhere in the entire film does she EVER mention her husband. Even at the crucial time of her delivery, no one bothers to inform the father-to-be. In fact, they don’t even  call him after the kid is born!! 

I mean, C’mon!!! Isn’t the baby’s father the first person a woman thinks about after she delivers?? The first person she craves to give the news to? 

The least they could have done was shown Mona grabbing a cell phone to make that all-important call!!! 

Anyhow, I seem to be ranting here, which is not the entire purpose. 

It was a movie, funny at times, but irritating at others. The only person watchable, was Omi Vaidya, as Chatur. 

I wrote about him here before. 

I’m not sure of the postive impact of the film (except for the moolah it has garnered for the people involved with it), but the negatives loom large. 

There have been a spate of suicides recently. Or maybe, the media is highlighting these in the wake of the movie. 

Whatever the case, I personally feel that Raju Hirani could have done a much better job. There was so much potential here. 

Alas, it was all lost the minute Aamir gave his, “am-a-cute-youngster-with-stars-in-my-eyes” smile. 

There’s a limit to which we can be fooled.  Didn’t expect you to do this to us, Mr.Hirani 😦

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When I met Atul Kulkarni

Long back,about 6-7 years back, dad was visiting Pune. When I got back from college, I found him watching a movie CD on the comp.

Dad called out to me and pointing to a guy on the screen asked me if I knew who he was. There was this lanky guy with the meanest look in his eye. Looked new to me. I shrugged my shoulders and told Dad that I had no clue.

Later that night, I watched the same movie, “Dum“.

The guy playing the role of “Encounter Shankar” was mind-blowing good!! No wonder Dad was asking about him. How come I hadn’t seen him before?? Going through the credits once more, I came across his name. Atul Kulkarni.

A few weeks later, I got a chance to see “Chandni Bar“.  And I was hooked. I used to eagerly look forward to his films. One of his best performances was in “Satta“. He totally owned the middle-aged politician role!!

At work one day, good buddy Shripad (from here) asked me if I was interested in buying tickets of a marathi play for my mom. My mother was visiting me those days and once in a while, she had expressed a desire to watch a marathi play (she hadn’t watched a play in more than 25 years, since she married dad!!)

Shripad and his fiancee were going for the show and I asked him to buy one ticket for mom too. The he told me that the play had Atul Kulkarni in the lead role.

Thats it.

I just HAD To go.

The play’s name was “Samudra” , and it was supposedly a deeply profound and thought-provoking drama (going by the expression on the faces of Mom, Shripad and his fiancee). I, for one, couldn’t keep my eyes off the main character. I didn’t understand a word he spoke. Just that he had immense presence.

Once the play was over and we were heading towards the exit, Shripad’s fiancee asked me if I was interested in meeting Atul Kulkarni.

“Are you kidding ?? Lead me to him”, I yelled.

She took me back-stage and there he was. A tall lanky guy, busy signing autographs.

My heart was threatening to burst out of my chest and here I was, standing in front of this guy, an ugly grin plastered on my face.

“Hi, I’m N. I love your work”, I said.

“Thank you. Did you enjoy the play?”, he asked me politely.

“Ummm ……not really”.

“Why not??” he was concerned.

“I don’t understand Marathi. I came here just to see you”, I blurted.

Must say, he had the grace to blush.

There were unruly people pushing us from behind and I had to wrap up my talk-time with Mr.AK.

But I was happy. Nothing pleases one more than a humble celebrity. A person , good at what he does, but still having starry airs about him.

I’ve seen plenty of his movies after that, and I’ve loved each role of his (except for the one Dilli 6. Why-O-Why did he accept such a  DUMB role??)

And now, for a second time, I’m gonna sit through his movie without understanding the language.

Yup, am gonna watch “Natrang“, a movie which everyone here is raving about.

Am sure you’re gonna be great. As always.

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