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7 khoon maaf – Let’s slaughter

21 Feb

Trying to write a movie review after ages, actually watched a movie after many months, that was actually worthy of putting an effort to write by its worthlessness.

And it’s worthless because it pretends to be priceless; holes so big in the plot that a crowd can pass through them standing on each other’s shoulders.

But why do I have so many problems with it?

If you have seen 7 khoon maaf, you would know the movie is not an inane entertainment, it is definitely not a thriller since the murders are so simply executed that there is no thrill, it is definitely not a horror film so much so that it doesn’t boost of a single on the edge of the seat moment, it is not a mystery with everything happening in front of yours eyes, it is not ambiguous film where you are never sure as we are shown and told that she killed her husbands. Since we know what it is not, the only safe assumption we can make is that the movie thinks that it is a thinking film.

Even with this premise, to be honest, I normally don’t think much about movies or their shortcomings but this movie has at its heart a concept that fascinates me a lot that is the concept of an idea called love. The journey of the main character is a quest for love, that’s what the movie claims and throughout the story the fact is reiterated by multiple characters in, no no not in various forms, in the same form uttering the same words like a parroted witness in a court trial. Insincere and dishonest.

I doubt anyone older than a certain age has not considered or dwelled upon the topic of eternal love and its illusiveness, and internal reconciliation and compromise with the fact eventually. But here is a character who searches for it from the age of 20-65 and never loses hope.

Commendable.

Or is it unrealistic premise?

Or maybe insane and a sign of mental instability?

I could have applauded the belief of the heroine and understood her motivations and compulsions better if I could have answered some of the questions in my mind better. And don’t think these are inane questions, love eventually is a test of time and not the heights of passion. In love how far the point of end is pegged that defines its depth and not its height at the beginning of the journey.

1. 6 marriages in a period of some 45 years, almost 7 ½ years in each wedding. Can I take that as an benchmark or maybe around 6 years per wedding keeping other things constant?

2. Or did each marriage have a different life span, ranging from few months to decades in some other case? But none of the marriages point to longevity in any case. They all seem to be extremely short lived. Few weeks to maybe some months and maybe 2-3 years if one really stretches the limits. What was the lady doing in the interim periods? She seemed quite a passionate woman and her need for physical closeness endless. How did she quell her needs during that period? Was she in illicit relationship with her servants to instill such a strong sense of loyalty?

3. Except for the first wedding and we will come back to that wedding again, all other marriages were her own choices And she did not come across as morally so uptight that she would not get into physical closeness before wedding. So how did the marriage with Irfan Khan happen? How could she be so ignorant about that aspect?

4. And someone with moral ambiguity as she, what exactly was her problem with the Russian spy? That he cheated on her?

5. The weirdest of them was murder of the doctor; she already has been shown as foolish with money for the sake of “love” so why did he have to kill her for that?

And now we come to the main issue with the problem.

What exactly was her quest?

Let me start with the assumption that it was love. And now let’s look at her life from this filter. And we shall also murder them all one by one.

1. “Major” problem – Except when she calls him incapable of fathering, the man is never shown to be cruel to her. He seems to enjoy spending time with her, he has not shown to be greedy of her wealth, he seems to be so much in love with her to the point of insanely possessive. So what exactly was her problem with him, that she actually was an alcoholic and couldn’t drink or that she was a woman of loose morals and she wanted to have sex with many or that she killed him because he was cruel man? Let’s assume he was cruel and not very understanding man.

2. Love “Drug” problem – Hmmm… except for the fact that he was a druggist and hence victim of a habit, what was her problem. I am assuming that she understood that it’s important to be compassionate and understanding (refer to husband no, 1 note above) in relationship, she too was one. But then obviously she wasn’t, she was impatient and killed a helpless man. I would like to remind that poor drug addled brainless, nightgown wearing boy at no point has shown to not love her, like gentleman no. 1, and even in his helpless state he tries to make her happy.

3. Love “hurts” – This I have already explained why it makes no sense. Except remember the way the man is killed. Buried alive. This from a woman who couldn’t bear the pain of slaps and bites. And like gentleman 1 and 2, he also loves her and they seem to spend actually very loving romantic moments except for that time in the bed.

4. Russian roulette – Actually this one deserved to die, Mr. Master Spy, did no check on the lady he was marrying and the organization that knows everything didn’t do the basic background check and psychoanalysis to find out if the lady was sane. There is only one explanation to this irrational behavior Mr. Spy actually fell in love with the lady.

5. “Why gaya re” – Passion of the youth, holds on till the old age. And when he gets she is old, with all signs of age reflected in bloated body. He divorces wife, marries her to find grave for his ardor for the lady. But she was not looking for a man who loved her but the man she loved. Right? Wrong.

6. “Mushrooming” love – She loved him, he loved her money. He wanted to kill her. She killed him. But look at husband no. 5, to find why the reason is faulty.

In a nutshell, we know the following –

1. She doesn’t love a man who loves her but she doesn’t love him

2. She doesn’t love a man she loves but who doesn’t love her

3. She doesn’t love the man she loves and he loves her but also love someone else

4. She doesn’t love the man she loves and he loves her but is helpless in front of internal compulsions

5. She doesn’t love the man she loves and he loves her but is helpless in front of external addictions and needs help and support

6. She doesn’t love the man she loves and he loves her but doesn’t love others

The truth is that the lady in question loves three things –
1. Herself
2. High of falling in love
3. High of taking life rather watching others die

She is a fucking addict.

What about those snakes?

Was it some ploy to show strength of character?

She is so helpless all the time. It’s her servants or helpers who kill, for she cannot-

1. Say no to a husband who mentally abuses her

2. Face the pain of her husband

3. Say no to a husband who physically abuses her

4. Say no to a rapist

The mistake the film maker has made is to peg this as a “thinking” film but unfortunately if you “think” even a little about it, you find that it is a bloody thoughtless film.

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DevD is not Devdas

12 May

DevD, the new flag bearer and a symbolic harbinger of ensuing change in Hindi cinema sensibilities. Maybe it is. And with so many pundits of cinema bestowing accolades on this creation, it would be safe to assume there must be some semblance of logic to these whirling 24 frames per second creation.

But before we move any further, let’s quickly recount the original story.

Childhood friends, Devdas & Paro, growing up together, soul mates, divided only by social order. Both have strength of character and strong streak of individuality. Where in Paro it is an expression of pride & self respect, in Devdas it is unbridled, raw & uncontrolled,  and Devdas rebel of the family is shunted to London, where he still pines for his love waiting back at home. Comes back after years and start-off from where they left as kids, fighting, yet loving each other madly. For reasons, which are not relevant or maybe they are, they have a fight and Paro ends up marrying an old man. Devdas has a spat with his father, leaves home goes to city, meets Chunnilal, starts drinking, during the course meets Chandramukhi, a nautch girl, who falls in love with him, incidents happen, until Devdas realizes he is dying and to keep a promise made to Paro goes to her house and dies in front of her house without meeting her.

Now each character had defined traits, now if you take those traits which define their personality, then are we talking of the same person?

Let’s take Paro as an example, Paro in her mind was always wedded & belonged to Devdas physically as well as spiritaully. The author kept this concept of purity alive by marrying her off to an older person, wherein though she now by social norms belonged to another person but she never enters in any physical relationship with her husband, thus could spiritually keep her relationship intact with Devdas. What defined Paro was her moral character & physical purity.

And Devdas takes to uncontrolled drinking not because he is consumed by his desire but because he is consumed by his guilt, by his loss, a loss which goes beyond mere physical gratification. In a real world, one can say physical aspect is important but in Devdas it is not exploration of human needs but about their actions and its consequences. He is destroyed not by liquor but by his guilt. Wallowing in love and the anguish of loss, realization of the injustice of his action destroyed Devdas. DevD, says that was stupid, where conceptually death of Devdas was his redemption, DevD scorns at the choice.

As they say the most beautiful & memorable love stories are based on loss and imperfections. Both the protagonists bear the consequence of very minute flaw in their behavior (it’s situational and has no bearing on their attitude) and are destroyed by a moment.

What about Chandramukhi? What concept does she portray? She is the mirror image of Paro, reflecting the same reality but is opposite in every aspect. Where Paro is about love and soul as the starting point and paramount before the union of the bodies, Chandramukhi takes the opposite path, her degenerate environment, fleeting opportunities & milieu of existence makes gratification as a starting point for discovery of higher purpose; discovery of love in its purest form.

 DevD works on the premise that if I was Devdas what would I have done? But then you are not him and he is not you. It is a story of his life and his choices and not your assumptions. DevD feeds on popular assumption and modern outlook towards live, which is self driven and self indulgent.  As Shakespeare aptly said, Rose by any name would smell as sweet. Or even if I call Ravana, Rama he is still evil, it is actions and their meaning that defines him a person and a story.

Anurag Kashyap has not made Devdas. He has made DevD. And the both are not same. Period. He just has taken recognizable elements as a gimmick to tell a very different story. He for one calls Paro, Chanda and Chandramukhi, Paro. He technically has swapped their positions in the story. And that changes everything. Because Devdas is the tragic love story of Paro & Devdas and Chandramukhi a character in that story. That means Paro of DevD is not the central character, she is a support cast, it is Chada who is the most important character, as she is the real Paro.

And Devdas is about loss, and DevD by very fact that Dev gets Chanda betrays the basic premise of the story. Devdas penalty for his actions is he cannot achieve what he desires the most.

So DevD is maybe a great movie but it definitely is not Devdas. It’s not even an adaptation.  

Despite being a different story what Anurag Kashyap has done, I must add, is misrepresentation, amoral, dishonest, deceitful and unethical.

Slumdog, Jodi and gajini…some thoughts

19 Jan
This post is about movies but not just about the movies. Let’s start first with Slumdog Millionaire (and if you have seen the movie, I recommend read the book too, both are similar yet very different) and the associated comments made by the legend Mr. Amitabh Bachchan. Mr Bachchan’s contention, which he notes on his blog, is that the west focuses only on the underbelly of India and the poverty is not just an Indian phenomenon but global malaise, yet that is the only impression it seems the west propogates and imbibes, while filtering out every other reality about India. And he in turn feels affronted by this narrow approach of the west and he feels hurt that west chooses to celebrate this parochial view of theirs about India everytime.
I am sure what what he says with his vast global experience must be true at some level (and is true) but I think the issue is not limited just to what has been said by him and felt by others with membership to this niche achievers segment. The angst is deeper, the angst is personal and it no longer is limited to just him but to everyone in the affluent class, the class which has delivered, the class hunger for recognition and respect, the class that now claims its legitimate time under the sun. This acknowledgment and harping and glorifying of the poor by the west makes them feel ignored, shamed, disrespected and unacknowledged. These intelligent people despite their sheltered life and protected existence, would not be so blind and immune to the Indian reality. They would be well aware that whatever has been captured by Danny Boyle in the movie exists and things maybe worse than depicted. Can they challenge the fact that our police is corrupt and the poor have no rights or laws to protect them or that slums exist or that people defecate in public or that the basic lack of amenities or anything else shown in the movie as a reality (ignore the fable part, that is fiction and beyond contention and I am sure they are very comfortable with that part). Karan Johar or his ilk can create a facade of the rich, helicopter riding, designer wearing Indian but still the reality exists. I am also very sure that Mr. Bachchan is not so narrow minded to object to the fact that a westener has made that movie; when we did not stake any claim to the movie made on the most famous Indian (Gandhi not AB) by a westener than why would or should we cry wolf for this movie. My hypothesis is that Mr. Bachchan feels when the west laps this reality, it becomes the only reality about Indian and when this becomes a singular image about India he in turn becomes part of this image, he gets painted along with the slumdog and they now stand shoulder to shoulder, which in his mind is not true hence the outrage: I AM NOT A SLUMDOG. So when he has raised the issue, it was not due to any moral outrage, it was personal,very personal.
The second movie is Aditya Chopra’s “Rab ne bana de jodi”, a universally ridiculed movie and rightly so people believe. Let me start this by saying, I am not trying to be different and I do not think it is a great movie but nevertheless it is a movie that poses lots of interesting questions and answers them equally interestingly. I am not sure these meanings were interjected consciously by the creator or are there accidentally but these are there. I will start with the most debated and derided concept in the movie. When Raj and Sahni are the same people, how does it matter who gets he girl, they/he is afterall the same . Why indeed? But then it does matter and it matters because it challenges the very existence of Sahni. It makes his previous 30years and the values in which he has believed in and lived by redundant. It makes an identity called Sahni meaningless. His every previous action, his every thought, his every belief empty and pointless. It was as if face he saw in the mirror ebery morning will now be scorned at and mocked not just by the world, but by Raj. So it does matter to him. So what started as a joke became for him a quest and answer to his own very existence.
The second aspect he stands for is what every second Indian believes is the path to glory and a true way of life. Good people always win in the end; a reality propogated by Hindi movies for the last 60 years and believed by the people who struggle everyday for mere existence, that this is the path which will eventually give rewards and satisfaction. It has become a defacto path of the God. And this aspect has been captured in the movie that the movies have defined and constructed Sahni’s beliefs and value system. Those movies have been the foundation of his reality and in turn our reality of every ordinary Indian. So Sahni and Raj are not mere characters they are concepts, concepts of the old India and the new India. And the movie says in the end, yes old India has to embrace the new India but new India also cannot eschew old India.
Last aspect is my comment on the loud behaviour of Raj. You know SRK could have easily played Raj of DDLJ, charismatic, charming (he has done that part so well for so long) but then director chose to interpret the role in this manner and SRK showed the courage to play this obnoxious lout. But do not look and seek SRK, remember the character, it is Sahni who is role playing, and his concept of cool comes from movies (yes the SRK movies DDLJ case in point), but it is an uncharacterstic behaviour for Sahni, something that does not come naturally to him. This behaviour is so alien to him that he should fail, and he did fail. Sahni as Raj is an absolute failure, and that is exactly what happened in the movie. So what’s the crib. It is a victory of the director and not his failure, what is winsome about Raj are his values and those values are of Sahni. So only time Raj is lovable is when he is Sahni (in his thoughts).
Gajini – First comment. Do not watch this movie. I am not saying because it is a bad movie. My issue is different. The previous makers of the movie, in Tamil, malyalam and now in Hindia hve always harped on the fact that this movie is not a remake of Memento. Afterall what are the similarities, dead wife/GF, lost memory, 15 minute attention/memory span, revenge, polaroids, tatoos, that’s it. Everything else is different, different story,different treatment, everything. Let’s not even argue the fact that the value is of the idea everything else is just a veneer, you can dress it up in any form, the look changes and the idea does not. a rose is a rose is a rose. Again I do not have any issue with the South Indian original versions of the movie (i profess ignorance there), my issue is only with the Hindi version. And the issue is due to Aamir Khan, the intelligent actor. The actor who stands up for the causes, originality. He is so honest that he bought the remake rights from the makers of the Tamil version before making the Hindi version. SUCH HYPOCRISY, such dishonesty. Can a man stoop any lower? And he has the audacity of have that mocking smile on his face when he says on national channel, see the movie then tell me if it has any resemblance to Memento and continues to say poker faced, it has none. You MOTHERFUCKER IT IS A RIP-OFF. And now wipe that fucking smile from your face.