‘Baahubali: The Conclusion’ is a nice movie but there are places where the message of ‘women empowerment’ feels like a joke.
’36 Chowringhee Lane’ marked the directorial debut of Aparna Sen. Set in Calcutta, this Bengali/English film is a story about an old Anglo-Indian teacher, who lives a solitary life after her husband’s death. One fine day, she bumps into her former student and her unemployed boyfriend and invites them to her home. The couple starts visiting her often and she feels less lonely. The lovers want to make out but lack of privacy compels them to devise a plan: The boyfriend tells the old lady that he wants a quiet place for writing and she happily gives them the keys to her house. The lady once sees them romancing but she never makes a fuss about it. The lovers eventually get married. Unfortunately for the old lady, they start ignoring her.
Note: This post contains spoilers
‘My Brother..Nikhil’ is a story of a swimming champion who has everything going for him: He is handsome, charming and his parents’ favorite. But one day, he finds out that he is HIV positive. He also happens to be gay. The revelation shocks his parents who throw him out of the house. However, his sister and his boyfriend stand by him. The film is about Nikhil’s battle against an insensitive society which alienates him and treats him like an untouchable. The film is also about the strong bond between the brother and the sister.
In an important scene in ‘Dangal’, Geeta and Babita Phogat vow to tell their father, Mahavir Singh Phogat’, that they don’t like wrestling. Up until this point, the girls had to get up early, train, go to school, eat a strict diet,and train again. Mahavir also cuts off their hair. Geeta and Babitaare all set to rebel but before they give up their father’s dream, they meet their friend who asks them to be grateful for the life they are living. Unlike Mahavir, this friend’s father is only interested in his daughter’s marriage. The friend believes that Geeta and Babita are in a better position because their father wants them to excel at a sport. She points out that Mahavir has the guts to challenge the society by treating daughters like sons. These girls live in Haryana, which has a patriarchal society. Geeta and Babita are moved by their friend’s point of view and they decide to fulfill their father’s dream.
Note: This post contains spoilers
I hardly watch TV and I don’t really have the patience to religiously follow a web series. But I happened to read about this web series called ‘The Other Love Story’ which looked quite interesting. It is revolutionary in a way because it is the first same-sex web series in India and as expected, the makers didn’t get a backing from the conventional routes. Director Roopa Rao opted for crowd sourcing and succeeded in raising the amount that she needed. The web series consists of 12 episodes (5 of them are already out on YouTube) and they are of very short duration.
Due to an interesting turn of events, I had to work on a job that involved reading Entertainment news for hours (no, I am not a journalist) . I was initially quite embarrassed. I mean, my team members worked on politics, business, national and other serious stuff and here I was reading things that hardly make any difference to the world. Whenever I told people that I am working on something that involves news, I saw admiration in their eyes. But the moment I said ‘entertainment’, they gave me THAT look…the same look that parents give you when you tell them about any career that is not ‘academic’ (like Sports is considered ‘wasting time’). I was personally neutral about the task. I was neither thrilled nor did I hate it. I tried to find something interesting but couldn’t. But then I realised that I could change the way I see the task at hand. I am not interested in what a Bollywood actor had for his breakfast but I am interested in why people are interested in his breakfast. In other words, I want to know why my neighbour is obsessed with Shah Rukh Khan. Why are Salman Khan’s fans so loyal and forgiving? I wanted to understand ‘ordinary’ people through the celebrity culture. This way of approaching my work helped me to look at celebrity culture in a new way.
I remember reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Eat Pray Love” where she explores the reason why people are more bothered about the actions of artists or sportspersons than real issues like poverty, policies etc. She says that the reason why people obsess about movie stars and sportspersons is not because they don’t care about real issues… it’s actually the opposite: They are overwhelmed by the pain and the injustice in the world and hence, they try to find perfection in movies or sports. Alain de Botton says that people are passionate about sports because it is black and white. There is a winner and a loser. There is no ‘in-between’…there is no complexity. The same principles apply to movies as well. Movie stars exist as ideas in people’s minds. People use these ‘heroes’ to stay sane. In a way, movies are an outlet for our collectively repressed emotions. Maybe this is the reason why people are more furious when a movie star makes a mistake…he/she is not supposed to remind us of our imperfect world. As a teen, I used to ‘hate’ the world for its obsession with ‘fake’ people. Now that I’m older, I am wondering if the most absurd celebrity news has some insight into the hopes and dreams of human beings…
P.S. If you want to look at celebrity culture through the eyes of a philosopher, do check Alain de Botton’s work :).
This Pakistani film was released in 2011 and I wonder how I missed it! I knew that it was a critically acclaimed movie but I hardly paid attention to the news around it and I am regretting it! This is a story of a conservative Muslim man who already has six daughters and is still willing to have more children (The family can barely make the ends meet!). Why? Because he wants a son. When he finally has a son, he turns out to be transgender. The unfulfilled expectations and the stigma around transgenders makes him hate the boy. So strong is his hatred that he locks up the child in his house. How the family deals with the boy’s identity forms the rest of the story.
I am not well-acquainted with world cinema to know if Anurag Kashyap has ‘copied’ this movie (going by his record and his interviews, I believe he is an honest person when it comes to filmmaking, but that’s just my opinion), but if this movie is original (I know there are influences), then I have to say that it is one of the most courageous Bollywood movies that I have ever seen. Many years back, I used to read Mr. Kashyap’s blog (which if I’m not wrong doesn’t exist anymore) and he talked about the difficulties while making the movie. He had approached SRK for the lead role. Khan liked it, but he told Kashyap that he should be making films like these when he is ‘established’. For those who don’t know, Kashyap’s directorial debut ‘Paanch’ has still not released because the Censor Board …well, do I need to say anything about it? In short, Anurag was a nobody whose films always bombed at the box office. And yet, he made ‘No Smoking’. And it bombed. What’s interesting is that it was not critically acclaimed. I was going through the reviews and this film was basically thrashed and mocked by India’s leading critics. Well, I happened to watch the film yesterday for the first time and I am actually surprised at the negative response that this film has received. I have watched only a couple of AK movies and I’m not a fan. But I admire his courage to make movies that he believes in. ‘No Smoking’ is an unusual Bollywood movie and it takes serious guts to do something like this in India.
‘No Smoking’ is a story of a narcissistic man named K, who is OBSESSED with smoking. One day, his wife decides to leave him because his smoking habit is unbearable to her. To save his marriage, K visits a mysterious rehabilitation center, where a ‘Baba’ forces him to sign a contract. As per the contract, the person cannot smoke and if he does, then: his fingers will be cut, his family members will suffer or die, etc etc. The center keeps an eye on the person ALL THE TIME. One can’t escape it. It’s basically dictatorship. K tries to beat the center at its own game but he fails. His life becomes hell. He is so afraid that he now starts worrying about smoking. What if somebody puts a cigarette in his mouth and forces him to smoke? The center doesn’t care if the person is smoking out of his free will or not. Will K find a way to smoke? Or will his family die? The plot doesn’t tell you how interesting the film actually is. The movie actually blends reality and illusion in a way that you are not sure whether K is dreaming or experiencing things in real. There is no one answer…it is all your interpretation. And the movie can be taken as a metaphor. The film does lack coherency, but what’s sad is that critics have refused to see that Kashyap is actually trying to say something.
The film unfortunately stereotypes women into wife/girlfriend roles. The story is only and only about K. Also, John’s acting is bad in many scenes. However, he makes a lot of effort and sometimes, he surprises us and even himself. He was the only actor willing to be a part of a risky movie like this and he must be appreciated for that. He is not a good actor, but he has made some interesting choices in his career.