I went to see a hindi movie in theatre after a really long time. The last time was "Mangal Pandey" a couple of years back and it was a really traumatic experience. I saw Rang De Basanti and Taare Zameen Par both last year on DVD and regretted having missed them on big screen. I had some serious problems with the "political" content or the "message" of Rang De Basanti and how it went about delivering it but it was still heartwarming to see a mainstream Bollywood movie trying a little harder. I loved TZP too and was really glad that it became such a big commercial success and a general topic of discussion. I don't know how much was it able to change people's perspectives but if it made them think critically about how our schools and colleges behave as if they were factories and how dehumanizing competition can be for children, it still served its purpose.
Now coming to Ghajini, I actually rather liked it. One of my friends had warned me about it saying that Aamir Khan has moved into the Sunny Deol's "Haath nahi hathoda" territory so may be it was because I went with lower expectations and consciously tried not to think about those two earlier films. The romantic track was wonderful, very natural and spontaneous. It was nice to see a new actress getting so much screen space and opportunity to shine and she did a really good job. I liked the way the love story was cut short by tragedy just after the wonderful song "Kaise Mujhe...", it could have been even better if their mutual acceptance had remained in their hearts before the tragedy struck. But that's probably only me with my masochistic leanings.
It is still hard not to express disappointment over a nice opportunity wasted. The story about memory loss could have gained some depth if they had concentrated on how the awareness of passage of time is essential to grieving and moving on and how without it the wounds never heal, even the emotional closure that craving for justice and revenge provide may prove illusive. Then there is the idea of identity, how to form relationship with other people based on trust and how all this is linked to memory, and who knows even an allegory about the dangerous effects of "live for the moment" philosophy. I mean, I wasn't looking for a course in existential philosophy but these things do cross our minds when we sit alone and think. Memento also didn't veer into these territories so for me it was ultimately a shallow film, a clever puzzle yes but ultimately uninteresting and shallow.
I was trying not to think of Rang de Basanti all the while but that scene after the protest in which he breaks down is hard to forget. Specially when, as in this film, he just screams and growls and moves his hands randomly all around. I really hope he doesn't let all the success of Ghajini get into his head and treat it as just temporary distraction.
This took me completely by surprise. Extremely impressive and very cathartic after a terror-filled 2008. An excellently made thriller with a stirring and provocative "message" in the end, all the more disturbing because it comes straight from the heart. I can't think of a better film which captures the psyche of ordinary people after so many senseless terrorist attacks that India saw in 2008. It gets even more impressive when you realize that it is the work of a debutante director (Neeraj Pandey). I am really looking forward to whatever he does next.
This was just a random choice, not something I expected to like and it was exactly what I expected it to be - shallow and dumb moralizing about the evils of modernity. I didn't think it was unfair. I am no fan of fashion industry. It is dehumanizing, exploitative and alienating (just like many other jobs such as, ummm, software programming?) but there is a difference between moralizing, using your received ideas and cliched opinions and criticising something on ethical grounds which requires thinking through your ethical principles and applying them to reality.
Singh is King
Inanity. Beyond any commentary.
Next up on my bollywood catch up (planning to see): Chak De India, Jhoom Barabar Jhoom, Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye, Jodhaa Akbar (?), No Smoking, Jaane Tu...Ya Jaane Na (?)
Question marks are because I feel ambivalent about these films. First because of Aishwarya and second because of teenagers.
Tuesday, January 06, 2009