MOVIE REVIEW: UDTA PUNJAB

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To write or not to write a review on Udta Punjab was a question because there are many. We made it to movie plex right on time to witness first shot. The movie had a good share of controversy, do we say ‘thank you’ to Pahlaj Nihalani? Finally, the movie is here through a legal battle and without a piss scene. Fair enough.

Two of my prejudices are smashed, Alia Bhatt is making a wise selection of movies and Shahid Kapoor can look like a man. This is a first movie I see muscular Shahid. Despite powerful acting in the role of a confused prince Hamlet in Haider, his distinctive boyish charm was consistent.

Shahid Kapoor. Tommy Singh a.k.a. Gabru is a drug addict, high on stardom and cocaine, Alia Bhatt surpassed my expectations in the role of Bihari farm labourer. She is nameless in the entire movie. The minute details are an expertise of the director and appreciated. Ishqiya and Dedh ishqiya proved that Abhishek Chaubey brings the essence of the local soil, be it honking of trucks, the fields and the authentic dialogues in Punjabi and Bhojpuri. Amit Trivedi did a remarkable job as a composer. Udta Punjab has an agenda, a concealed message and it reaches to us.

Sartaj Singh, a corrupt police officer played by Diljit Dosanjh is convincing. He is already a big star in Punjab, new for the rest. Kareena Kapoor is mediocre in comparison to the performance of Alia Bhatt and Shahid Kapoor. Mr Husband concludes, “she laughs, all unnecessarily.” 😀

The song Ikk Kudi pays tribute to Shiv Kumar Batalvi (poet of the song and prominent name of the Punjabi poetic scene) with his picture in the background when Tommy Singh is rehearsing. Udta Punjab has a very sensitive subject including the stark realities of drug dealers and the mutual association of police and politicians to rot the state. It does not have the gloss of comfort, needless layer of Bollywood preaching. In fact, it leaves us in the awe of shockingly robust performance and script. The censor board might have disagreements with the profanity in the movie, I clearly remember my first road trip from Delhi to Chandigarh began with every possible cuss word by the driver.

Last part, the theatre is packed with Indians, determined to make sure you should not miss hullabaloo of Indian movie theatre. The chatter, unavoidable phone calls, few enthusiasts in a row ahead us busy with their respective important business on WhatsApp, loud message notification from the left and right, we would do fine without the added nuisance. Final verdict: A surprise from Bollywood you can’t miss.  

SALMAN RUSHDIE: CONTROVERSIES AND LITERARY CONTRIBUTIONS

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While browsing through Masters Syllabus I was curious about a controversial name on the list. To a certain extent for literary achievements, largely for his writing style Salman Rushdie appealed me. At that juncture, awareness about the controversies and fatwa followed him regarding The Satanic Verses (1988). That was a phase I didn’t read him at all. He received a death threat for crude and upsetting depiction of Muhammad in The Satanic Verses. They call it ‘Blasphemy’. The death threat was issued by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, a religious leader of Iran on 14th February 1989. It is human temperament to get hands on what is banned. I tried looking for The Satanic Verses with no luck. No offence reading it anywhere except 18 countries including India where the book is banned. There are plenty of reviews of people who actually read and found nothing sacrilegious. The curiosity shared irritation kept questioning me, what it is so offending to lead killing of more than 60 people. I read Shame (1983) by Salman Rushdie, borrowed from a professor during Masters.

I tend to forget characters of novels most of the times; it takes extra efforts to commit to memory. With novels of Rushdie, you just cannot forget characters. They stay with you. The plot is mesmeric, rich with insinuations, the bewitching range of imagination and clever captivating dialogues. The allegory in Haroun and the Sea of Stories (1990) makes you wish to write something of his calibre. I can read his works, again and again, each time you discover it in a new light.

Next text is Imaginary Homeland: essays and criticism, 1981-1991 (1991) which I read while commuting for coursework, a single trip of three hours. He would go interviewing people born in 1947 for Midnight Children, a section of essays in the book. The topics are ranging from politics of India and Pakistan, novels, novelists, world politics and experience of migrants.

Rushdie’s writing stayed with me during a long pause from formal education after Masters. When it came time to pick research topic for M.phil the wide spectrum of subjects was tempting, I ended up taking bulky Joseph Anton: A Memoir (2012). Again read this book during commutes, to make sure I am not going overboard with my enthusiasm, re-read. A mutual choice of I and Prof. G. R. Taneja to discover about more than 9 agitated years of his life under death threat of fundamentalists and protection of the Special Branch of Scotland Yard. ‘Joseph Anton’ was his alias during hiding, combining the first names of his two favourite authors, Joseph Conrad and Anton Chekhov.

Joseph Anton recounts his life under an ongoing fatwa, the stress of hiding years, a brief period of stagnation and how he used to see his friends in secrecy surrounded by security guards all the time. A visit from Christopher Hitchens is comparable to two authors donning soldiers fighting for a purpose. His battle for creative freedom, ups and downs of his personal life, his relations with his partners, break-ups with his former wives, Marianne Wiggings and Elizabeth West. The glamorously wrapped disclosures on his supermodel ex-wife Padma Laxmi are fairly repulsive. You learn the novelist you adore is an ordinary man with human self-doubts and longing to be loved. But then you see a worn-out man behind his brutal words, someone not ready to give up artistic freedom and all geared up to overpower extremists with his substantial writing.

X-MEN: APOCALYPSE

A couple of movies; some alone, few together. He began watching You Have Got Mail (1998) slept within 20 minutes, I watched it alone again, whereas He watched Colonia (2016).

Children of Heaven (1997): Iranian moviemakers are one of the powerful and talented artists. It is the first Iranian film to receive a nomination for an Academy Award. Director Majid Majidi has done near perfection job. It is sweet enough to bring back childlike innocence. Check subtitles. Watch. Watch. Watch.

Parzania (2007): An Indian movie. It might be technically weak; some scenes can be re-worked yet remains essentially powerful movie. Just watch it for the stealing performance of Naseeruddin Shah and Sarika.  Some call it eye opening movie. It is all about viewpoint, how did you manage to keep your eyes closed so long.

Bonnie & Clyde (1967) Remarkable opening follows interesting arresting story. It is one of the first modern American film based on the real-life bandits Bonnie Parker and Clyde Champion Barrow. Bored Bonnie (Faye Dunaway) is waiting for actions in her boring life as a waitress. Clyde sees (Warren Beatty) it through, their criminal adventure begins. A fine movie.

Thelma & Louise (1991): A cult feminist and controversial when it was released.  All I can say every woman should watch it, every man must watch it. Geena Davis (Thelma) was Darryl (Christopher MacDonald)’s ex-fiancée in real life, must be remarkable on set.

X-Men: Apocalypse (2016): Beginning promised a good movie.  An extraordinary  scene when Sweet Dreams by Eurythmics is playing was created by visual effects studio in Adelaide. Undoubtedly marvelous. The Mutants include disgruntled Jew, unaccepted characters and an Egyptian god brace themselves for a fight against super power. Nice allegory, familiar. I am tired of superman clichés, why they have to save the world, the same scene, an isolated villain keeps making plans where he has a decent view of the city to fit it as the world. Silliness follows some fight, VFX, and happy end.  Where is a script? It bored me. Every time I step into a multiplex with high expectations of probable improvement, and this. some day… While I dug till last popcorn was found, Mr. Husband dozed off.

AND WE FOUND TOM WAITS

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A speculation that Waits is inspiration for Heath Ledger for his immortal character The Joker in The Dark Knight

So one morning Mr. Husband comes back home, excited to play a track he discovered. I am half drowsy going along and he completely indefatigable. It was ‘Chicago’ by Tom Waits. This is awakening. The baritone voice is haunting and comforting, idiosyncratic eccentric vocals and powerful lyrics.

Past week movies is a bunch of chronological mix and most of the movies are based on actual events.

The Frozen Ground (2013): I remember parking lot of Kings Park, chips and not so distracting drunk guys and nothing about the movie. This is like any typical serial killer who happens to be a sadist rapist, targets girls in a similar pattern and nobody notices for ages. One good guy is willing to sacrifice his personal life for this case because he seeks some sort of redemption. Based on real events drew me. Skip this, life is okay.

Noble (2014): It brings the story of Christina Noble, a children rights campaigner. Noble lost her mother and a father who barely exists, life in an orphanage and never ending miseries along her way. Nothing deters her; she comes out victorious after every ordeal. Dierdre O’Kane who plays Noble twitches her face in a distinctive manner; I didn’t know she is a stand-up comedian. Overdone scenes and dialogues scattered generously throughout the movie. Watch it, every trouble of your life will look less significant and suddenly you question yourself for what good you have done.

Frances (1983): It is a depressing movie for those who search entertainment, it hits you hard. A biopic of Frances Farmer, an American actress. Jessica Lange nails the role of a talented, stubborn and compulsive woman. The movie narrates how a gorgeous talented actress destroys herself and it is heartbreaking because you know you are dealing with reality.

My Dinner with Andre (1981): Take few minutes to settle down with the fact that two gentlemen are going to talk in a chic restaurant, munching food and discussing their experiences. But it is more than that, minute details and contrast of the characters.

Spanish Apartment Trilogy (2002-13): Multilingual, ensemble cast, and real life portrayed with no fairy tale love stories and other shit. The first in the league, The Spanish Apartment is about a bunch of exchange students from Europe living in an apartment in Barcelona. The writer and director, Cédric Klapisch was inspired by a visit to his sister who was in Barcelona, sharing an apartment with other exchange students. Russian Dolls is about the struggle to settle careers and chasing wrong women and dreams. A dreamy wedding too. Chinese Puzzle: Protagonist is now trying to understand past and life. Trilogy is about experiences, observations of some loser who is figuring out his personal life at 40. Be prepared to hear a lot of Spanish, French, Russian, Chinese and if lucky English too.

A Perfect Day (2016):  based on a book, Dejarse Llover by Paula Farias.  It is a maiden attempt in English-language by Spanish director Fernando Leon de Aranoa.  Set somewhere in Balkans about the aid-workers and struggles they face as the events of a day unfolds. It is blunt and ironic take on war, sharp images, and loud background scores.  We recommend this.

MOVIES

It is getting colder day by day. The dawn of winter and lot of spare time means more movies.

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Sunset  Photo courtesy: Bharat Karangiya

Wazir (2016): a Bollywood movie with the lead of Amitabh Bachchan and my favorite Farhan Akhtar. Mr. Husband strongly believes there is a strong resemblance between him and the multi-talented singer. It is a good movie as far as plot concerns. Two men who lost loving daughters come together, unite and fight. The first half is swift, second half drags a while. Bollywood drama and loud background score are accepted.

Carol (2015): An adaptation of a novel The Price of Salt (also known as Carol) by Patricia Highsmith won six nominations in Academy Awards. It is a powerful love story between two women, who are class and age apart, glued to love. Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara plays unhappiness poetically. After watching, Blue Jasmine I thought this is Cate Blanchett’s best performance. It proves me wrong. And last, it brings 1950s New York to life.

2 Days in Paris (2007) & 2 Days in New York (2012): completely taken by Before Trilogy series, I thought let’s watch more from Julie Delpy.  You meet average movies. If you love dialogues, these both are your catch.

Sarah’s Key (2010): a French movie based on the novel of the same title by Tatiana de Rosnay. It is one of the strongest movies I have seen recently, May be I am watching too many let downs.  The holocaust always makes me curious what sort of age it was, what exactly made subservient obedient masses. It has two narrative one in past where Vel’ d’Hiv Roundup, an infamous raid of Nazis to arrest Jews in Paris and one in the present where a journalist investigates a story and get along with her pregnancy and failing marriage. This is a survival story and end disappointed me a bit. (no spoiler ahead)

The Young Victoria (2009): Takes you into the not so public life of young Queen of England. The costumes are fantastic and few scenes. Emily Blunt weighs movie gracefully, rest is dull.

Sleeping with the Enemy (1991): Review begins and ends in a sentence. Julia Roberts and nothing else.

The Jungle Book (2016):  Last night we had a spontaneous plan. It is based on Rudyard Kipling’s collection of stories of the same name. striking visual effects, simple plot and amusing  dialogues. It is dreamy, creative and picaresque. And it brings nostalgia. Jungle book filled Sunday mornings with childish joy and excitement and it does not fail even today.

 

London Street

Had a day full of cheerful laugh, a good movie and some lows. I couldn’t make it to the book club meet this month, barely finished The Eye of the Sheep. I wish I could have boasted about how I finished the book last-minute and how good it went. Counting on next month.

Movie of the day

Headhunters (2011): a Norwegian-Swedish movie based on the novel of the same name by Jo Nesbø. It was nominated for BAFTA award for the best foreign language movie in 2013. It is a story of an art thief running to save his life. Fast paced movie with an interesting plot. Simply thrilling and awesome. I recommend it. There were some speculations of a remake in English. Later the project was dropped off over an HBO Series of the Headhunters.  Better. Game of Thrones fans would love the screen presence and powerful role of Nikolaj Coster-Waldau a.k.a. notorious Jaime Lannister 😛

We wandered around the city and had complete peace to click amber lit London Street on Friday night. Apart from the cosy corner of a messy room, this is by far my favourite part of the Perth.

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Eventually you will find the Bard of Avon, Shakespeare somewhere

It has layers of history, pleasant, aesthetic and I get to see this. Some more movies and back to typing, world’s one of the slowest emerging thesis. 

Some Movies and Hitchens

Last week was eventful; event here refers to a lot of movies.

The Spotlight:  Winner of Oscar for Best picture (2015).  I had high expectations.  It turned out as a powerful movie, technically good, nice script, engaging narration and good pace.  By the way, it is about the paedophile priests being exposed by a newspaper investigation team, ‘Spotlight’.

I get back to reading Hitch-22 after the movie. Christopher Hitchens admits the existence and normalcy of homosexuality in the boarding school in London during 1960. (75, Hitch-22) My debt to Dr. G. R. Taneja is unbounded. He introduced me to Hitchens over watery tea in the Saurashtra University canteen.

 

A Bout De Souffle or Breathless (1960) & In Praise of Love (2004): I restrain to say anything to his craft before I watch all movies of Jean-Luc Godard.

 

Manjhi:The Mountain Man:  based on the life of Dashrath Manjhi, a real hero. Unfortunately, we take time to acknowledge anything and anyone until it is too late. Nawazuddin is a gift to Bollywood.  Good attempt.  A good editor and cinematographer can change any movie, where were they?

 

The Danish Girl: I like Eddie Redmayne  after  My Week With Marilyn. (2011) Mr. Husband likes Alicia Vikander. Watch if you are sensible enough to see what a sex reassignment surgery receiver goes through. Brilliantly played by Redmayne.

 

The Dressmaker:  It kept reminding me of famous movies Dogville and Chocolate, just paler compare to both.

 

Permanent Roommates (Web Series): suggested by Mr. Husband. We watched first season on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Contemporary, Youthful and Realistic.  Hail Deepak Kumar Mishra and The Viral Fever team.

 

First Month In Australia

Toyed with the idea of blogging once I leave comfortable cosy home, last few months were crazy in terms of shopping, packing, deciding what I really want and what I am going to leave at home, seeing relatives, neighbours I barely spoke to. Now once an expatriate I had a big range of things to notice, read, understand and imbibe from the new place and culture. A month went well; this is the time I type.

It sounds cliché.  Living in Perth comes with its perks, to see a cultural mix of people, art and accent. The last one was a bit tough on me.  Left me confused, helpless and in big doubt for my ability to understand English. The best thing I have experienced is you can walk on the road all alone, a zip zap zoom car occasionally, and no one in sight. Not a single person.  Unconsciously I compare it to the busy roads in India with the vast diversity of noise and of course a lot of people. There are few places we have been to.

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Western Australia Museum and two important notice to welcome.

The staff and volunteers were busy packing valuable items; most of the areas are strictly closed to visitors due to major changes in the museum.  Definitely a children friendly place.

We visited the beach at night and after watching The Reverent none of us had the mood to click.  It was a completely peaceful night by the sea.  An ideal place for star-gazing.

State library of Western Australia: I got my membership and we strolled on the three floors of library. I got a book The Eye of the Sheep by Sofia Laguna for the book club meet next month.

Few social get-together, I can’t say I enjoy it.On some serious boring events Mr. Husband rescues me with his company.

I got two books, seen a lot of movies together,will review them soon.   Australia is treating me fine.