Saturday, November 22, 2008


Orginally written for The article has been published here. I suggest you read the article at the link given because that one is a tad complete!

Watnabe knows he will die. Soon. But, it is not death that scares the wits out of him. It is life. His life. A lifetime of wasted opportunity. A life of failed expectaions would have been still better. His was a life of no expectations. A life wasted behind the pile of emotionless papers. He didn't miss even a single day of his office in the work span of 29 years, 11 months. Stamp after stamp after stamp after stamp after stamp after stamp...

A life that carried out recursive functions, without any goal and purpose in sight. A life that associated no joy or sorrow with the rising sun, with the star studded night, with anything. A life that was so listless, that it was not even life at all. These things come rushing back to him, when he is diagonised with stomach cancer and he knows, he only has half a year or year at maximum. To live.

Now, he desperately wants to cling on something. Anything. He doesn't know how. He wants to decorate his life in all the ways he possibly can. The miser even withdraws his hard earned 50,000 yen, because he wants to enjoy. At any cost. He goes places for seeking that elusive thing, happiness. No matter how transient or superfecial it may be. Places, he would have never even imagined going. Because, he hadn't given his life even a chance before. He had closed the doors to happiness ages ago, and when now life is actually closing door on him, he wants to sneak through and live it. Live it all. Like never before.

He meets the girl from his office who is a bundle of exuberance, and exudes contagious joy. Watnabe is both envious and happy to see her. She unconsciously leads Watnabe to discover himself, what he really wants to do the rest of his life. Of doing atleast one thing in his life he is proud of.

Kurosawa's sensitive lens meets Hashimoto's poignant story in this stunning movie. Such is Kurosawa's brilliance that he doesn't speak much, but even then he speaks volumes. I had merely heard about the art of silence, with Ikiru I have experienced it. Kurosawa's brilliance is not only mind numbing, it is also heart warming in the same breath. The penultimate shot shows Watnabe, hours before his death, on a swing, with a smile on his lips. Lively than ever before. The smile of a satisfied man. The satisfaction of having atleast lived a live. The satisfaction of him being able to provide something of value to others.

Because, that is what Ikiru is all about. It is not about death, it is not about questioning it's inevitability. It is about life. It is about having a purpose, it is about keeping the flame alive in our hearts. It is about the skip in our walk, it is about still being a kid at heart. It is about embracing those little things that we so forget in our busy, daily lives. It is about having a dream, and then doing anything to fulfill it.

Below is the lyrics of the song, that Watnabe sings during some of the scenes of the movie:

life is brief.

fall in love, maidens

before the crimson bloom

fades from your lips

before the tides of passion

cool within you,

for those of you

who know no tomorrow

Monday, November 10, 2008

Of middle class, insignificant things and growing up with Indian Cinema.

Originally written for The article has been published here.

Cinema is still frowned upon in many of the middle class families; it is only logical when the first concern is fuelling the stomach, fuelling the heart comes at a much, much later stage. Though I grew up in a milder version of the aforementioned setting, I, like any other movie enthusiast watched movie after movie every Friday. Those were not the days of multiplexes, but hot, suffocating theaters. No nachos at the oh so swank counters, instead there was a huge clank of bottles with the bottle opener seconds before the intermission, accompanied with Thanda, Thanda.

I grew up watching a host of movies; good, bad, ugly, boisterous, boring, bullshit. 90’s was an interesting decade for lots of things were happening simultaneously at the same time, Mithun Da’s Aai-Yaee , Akhsay Kumar crushing the genitals of all the baddies and proclaiming I do all my stunts myself. And this used to be the talking point at our school. Saala kya hero hai. There were few actors, only heroes and heroines. Barring Aamir Khan, almost every ‘hero’ had the same weird hairdo, the shoulder long length hair, and mouthing dialogues which even their kaam waali would have cringed upon hearing. Even the goddamn interviews were the same; it’s a very different role. I’m sure I must have missed the interview, where someone would have said, the role was very challenging for me. I play a different rapist.

But that was cinema in those days; it was so detached from the real life. Barring few movies, almost every other movie seemed to follow a certain pattern. Religiously. Six-seven scenes cut to a song, then again six-seven scenes, cut to a song, and so on. It looked as if the movies were being made by a group of programmers paid to execute certain instructions. So I watched and watched and watched. And waited, and waited.

Week after week, it was the same stuff, same Switzerland, same snow, same hero, different heroine. (I swear on god, I have no problems with the chiffon sarees, and the sleeveless blouse amidst the snow capped peaks, the only problem I have is everything should gel with the story. Does anyone remember the Europe that DDLJ showed us? That was not Europe for the heck of it. In a similar vein Kuch Kuch Hota Hai was honest enough).

On the other hand, there was the same corrupt police officer Shinde, same corrupt, flawed ‘system’, same nobler than thou hero sometimes as police inspector, sometimes as the nobody. To quote Norton from Fight Club, everything was a copy of a copy of a copy. And the sad thing is, back then, I even used to enjoy some of them, not because they were good movies, but because I had no choice. If you have never seen Tendulkar bat, you would start liking Ashraful’s batting someday. I can bet on that.

So basically that was it, I had started wondering, is this what cinema is all about? Is it only about certain particular things? Does it have to be shown in a particular way? Why everything that is shown to us is perfect? Why are families always happy? And even if things are wrong, why are they so obviously wrong, that it makes me puke? Not at the wrongness, but the crassness in which it has been delineated. Why does everything oscillate in extremes? When would someone capture the simple delights of life, or was it an unimportant chapter ignored while writing the ‘rulebook’ of Indian cinema in that decade?( I didn’t know at that time, that movies like Saaransh had been made and forgotten long ago).

The late 90’s still produced some watchable movies, thanks to one man. Ram Gopal Verma. There was an instant connection with his movies. His most talked about work, Satya, was also about gangsters as thousands of other movies in the same decade were. The similarity ended right there. The execution just blew everyone. ‘Kyun be maarna tha? Ae Amitabh Bacchan marega kya? With Rangeela he changed the way heroines would be presented, and followed it up with absurdly funny Daud. Everyone had enough of the cheesy lines, and the Ram Rajya being shown on the screen, the tryst with realism had to begin somewhere.

I’ve had various moments in the cinema hall, where not the movie but the people watching it were the source of entertainment. The most recent one that I can remember goes something like this:
The movie was Mission Istanbul’lshit’, where in one of the scene, they had shown a look alike of George Bush. Cut to the conversation in back –

A “Saala, lagta hai bahut paisva kharcha kiya hai. Dekho, Jorj Boos bhi acting kar raha hai.”
B – Pagla gaye ho ka? E to pirated hai.”
( Translating the above, would rob all its charm!).

Saturday, November 1, 2008

The (najayaz) Baap of all movies: Gunda

Originally written for

Disclaimer: This post has lots of profanity. Acche ghar ki bahu, betiyan are advised to skip this post.

"There are three kinds of movies in this world. Good. Bad. And Gunda" - Ancient Chinese proverb.

I can't claim to write anything new( or refreshingly fresh) about this classic. But, that is what great things are about, it graciously shelters every one and gives each its own space. This is my humble dedication to GreatBong, the followers of this cult classic, and last but(t) certainly not the least, Prabhujee.

There are some movies which pushes the envelope of cinema to an extent that when you are done with the film, you are speechless. You don't know what just happened, were you thrown into an illusionary world of madness where nothing is what it seems? Has it ever happened with you? It has happened with me only two times. Once, when I watched Fight Club(David Finch's) and the other when I saw Gunda. Gunda is not only a movie, it is an epic, it is an epitome of what an ideal Bollywood movie should be. Never before has a movie seen such nicely etched characters, where their names not only rhymes with their motives, but also their appearnces. When was the last time world cinema saw such nicely etched characters? Don't you ever say movies like Reservoir Dogs, here the five goons(in one of the scenes) introduce themselves with some breathtaking dialogues. Not only the dialogues mirrors the demented state of this world, they are lyrical and poetic in nature. For a second, I was confused, whether this was Rime of the Ancient Mariner or the movie. But, that is the brillance of the dialogue writer Bashir Babar. He shows why S.T.Coleidge can never be Bashir Babar, but it is not the other way around. The dialogues rhymes with such efforltess ease that it elevates the movie to a level where movie makers can only see it, can never ,ever dare to go near it. Sample this video where each of the characters introduce themselves.


Mukesh Rishi - Naam hai mera Bulla rakhta hun khulla.

Shakti Kapoor - Mera naam hai chuttiya, acchi acchon ki khadi karta hoon main khatiya. bulli kahan hai teri ungli, bulla bhai ab hoga hulla gulla. police aur hukumat karegi hai bulla, hai chuttiya. Sab bolenge hai chttuiya, hai bulla. Arre dhoondho dhoondho kahan hai chuttiya,pakdo pakdo kahan hai bulla.

Mohan Joshi - Mera naam hai pote, jo apne baap ke bhi nai hote. Jaljala jaag utha hai, ab sabko pata chalega ki gang war start ho chuka hai. lashein aise tapkeingi jaise nanhe munne ke nunni se peshab tapakta hai. TAP. TAP.

Harish Patel - Mera naaam hai Ibu Hatela, maa meri chudail ke beti, baap mera shaitan ka chela, khayega kela?


The above dialogues clearly gives you an insight on how layered the script is. Not only does it gives you a peek into the history of each and every character, the great Kanti Shah also pays homage to some of his favorite movies.

Sample this, when Ibu Hatela says, "Maa meri Chudail ki beti, baap mera Shaitan ka chela.:" He clearly means that his baap is an IAS officer who works for the corrupt ministers( and thus, Shaitan ka Chela), and since his mom is Chudail ki beti busy shaking legs(and god knows what!)with fellow chudailins, this poor hatela guy is all alone. So alone is this guy that he is dangerously close to violating the line of sanity, as depicted in Scorsese's Taxi Driver. Thus,Ibu Hatela's character is Kanti Shah's homage to this Scorsese classic. So this hatela guy's life is colorless until one fine day he realises that 'kela' is just not a fruit, but how 'fruitfull' it can become. So he starts social servicing his kela to ward off his lonelineness.

Now, when Bulla says Naam hai mera bulla rehta hun main khulla, it implies how uncluttered his mind is. That Bulla is so innocent that he is unaware of the decitful ways of this world. You culd have easily found him talking stupidly with one of the ladies waiting for their buses, and saying My Momma said stupid is who stupid does. Yes. Bulla's character is homage to the one of the most innocent characters in Cinematic world, who was always khulla(read transparent or innocent).Forrest Gump.( You shouldd see the incoence dripping from Bulla's eyes when he kills anyone!)

When Chuttiya says, Naam hai mera chuttiya, acche acchon ki khada karta hun main khatiya. khadi karta hun main khatiya, clearly means that he is unable to sleep, the insomniac behavior, the same problem which Norton was suffering in FightClub, the dig at the white collored jobs. Chuttiya is Shah's homage to Tyler Duren's character.

And when Mohan Joshi says, naam hai mera Pote jo apne baap ke bhi nai hote, shows the concept of selflessness, that whatever be, the 'self' shouldn't be sacrificed, the belief in the power of "I". No prizes for guessing, Pote is homage to Rand's hero Howard Roark.

This is a descripition of just many of the wonderful scenes.Each and every frame of this epic ought to be discussed, because this movie is equivalent to a painting, the different colors fusing with each other to give us something we can cherish for. Let's look at this scene now: from 4:55 to 6:18.

The najayaz son of Terminator II wants to rape the oh-so-awesome-touch-me-not-plant sister of prabhujee. She runs for one and a half seconds and then falls, and waits for 4 seconds so that the najayaz son of Terminator II can fall on her. Now, intense fight and bacha bachao, the calisthenics of Terminator II and his facial contortions make me believe that lady is raping him, not the other way around. Some second later, the hero comes(no, not prabhujee, some local disciple) and kicks the fuck out of the guy being raped. Then, the normal shukriya and crap follows, the guy asks, "Tum iss veerane me kya kar rahi ho?" If you see the video you would get the setting, it is a fucking desert, with only one electric pole(or something which resembles that, no double meaning here, if you count all the pole it would be two, as the hero is also standing besides her, but mind you, I'm a good boy!)in the vicinity. And the girl replies, "Main to college ja rahi thi." College in a desert? Yes, that is Kanti Shah's take on our educational system. Why there are nocolleges in the desert? In the jungles? When would institutes like IIT,IIMs come to desert? Why there is such a disparity?Why are educational oppurtunities not equal? You never know,but soon after that, a place in Rajasthan(close to the deserts),coaching institues begun to spring in large numbers in a place called Kota. Huge number of people are making it to the esteemed IIT's from that place now. Such was(and is, and will be)the power of Gunda.

The movie also corrodes our conscience on one very important thing. Rape. Kanti Shah's epic almost hoarse its lungs out - Why is Rape not a fundamental right? Why is Rape considered wrong? When will all the horny men of this world get a 'realise'? Why is being horny wrong? Cows have horns, they are not wrong, we worship them. Then, why adding a mere 'y' makes it so abominable? Also, there is an almost unwritten rule in Prabhujee's movie( this applies only to his sisters). The rules are:

1. If you are prabhujee's sister, you should, and you would be raped. Don't ask why. Ask when.

2. If you are prabhujee's sister, and you have not got the priviledge of being raped, contact the higher authorites as soon as possible and inquire when the needful would be done.

3. If the aforementioned points do not apply, you are not prabhujee's sister. Yes, it is true. Better luck next time.

I can go on and on, but go and cherish the masterpiece for yourself. As they say, ye to bas trailer poori film abhi baaki hai. Also, to make this masterpiece even more exciting, you can do a tarantino to Gunda. That is, you watch the last scene first, then see some random scenes in the middle, and then watch it from the first scene. Trust me on this, it won't make even an ounce of a difference, as comapred towatching it linearly. Isn't that one of the many intriguing things about this movie? Watch it for yourself, and I'm sure you would find lots more. The lovers of cult classics, my humble offering to you. Lastly,inspired by the poetic Bashir Babar I would leave you with two lines I cooked up on my own for the sheer love of my favorite movie.

Agar G**nd me hai gudda

To zaroor dekhna Gunda