Saturday, December 26, 2009

Wake up Idiots, Subah ho gayi mamu

Originally published on , the article has been published here.

Rajukumar Hirani’s power as a director comes from the vision of world he creates. It can be called a world of ‘convenience reality’, his world is only real to the extent he wants it to be. But, it is his unique style of exaggeration where he chooses to address a relevant problem by dressing his characters and conversation in a manner which lends his narrative clarity and often helps him find his destination. He has been primarily a story teller where he chooses to create a somewhat simplistic model of the world he chooses, but it is the genuine warmth that his narrative exudes makes him an important filmmaker. However, with 3 Idiots, too much to recount at hand becomes his undoing rather than privilege and the movie ends up sneaking into different zones, peeking, often sniffing, passing a statement and then moving on to different parts of the story.

One of the liberties taken by our story tellers for eons has been the use of clichés. It is a convenient device that instantly polarizes the different characters and clearly draws a line by delineating clearly what is to be ridiculed and what is to be taken sides with. Hirani is no different here. Like Bhagat he sets his story and bombards it with characters that are painfully stereotypical. The movie is a depressing celebration of motley of clichéd characters who clamor after your attention: a nerd who is oblivious to ways of life and does not defer to human feelings, same can be said about the college dean, the female lead’s beau is a yawningly out and out black character who is blatantly stupid and materialistic, the main characters are under performers and therefore, by default ‘cool’ and ‘different’. Such shallow understanding of people that throng the campus and hence translating them to mere stereotypes stems from limited understanding of college life and plagues the movie quite badly, because the majority of conflicts arise from these stereotypes which makes the whole situation a farce and nothing else.

can’t be denied that Hirani has an interesting premise at hand. In fact, the most relevant and pertinent than his previous two movies; the age old debate examining the importance of grading system, the fact whether our current education system stifles independent thinking.etc, It is also commendable what he chooses to do with those questions, but the fact remains it is not a concentrated effort and the movie never settles into one zone. Also, what hurts the movie’s prospects is the fact that Hirani is more concerned about the fantastic quirks of the characters and exposing them so as to extract numerous laughter moments on screen. He is less concerned about the message he wants to put across and is more intrigued by the flippancy that comes by default to all his characters. Because, the real answers are not as monochromatic and simple as proposed by Hirani and Joshi, rather they are kaleidoscopic in nature. This is where Hirani’s world clashes with the real world. In his previous two movies, his was a world of ‘convenience reality’ where he kept things ‘real’ at one plane and hyperventilated to another at will taking every liberty under the roof and often achieving the desired result with glee. Because, for all we cared, we had not come across a Munnabhai anywhere and therefore we embraced his vision of world unquestioningly. But, the world depicted in the movie exists and we have been a part of it, and hence Hirani’s toggling his versions of reality does tend to affect the movie a bit.

Also, there is absolutely no connect between the characters of Aamir and Kareena. Barely three scenes they have met and the fourth one breaks into a imagined romantic duet. There is no noticeable arc in the feelings and hence, the whole romantic track between the two leads looks forced.

Where Hirani fails with this movie is the lack of conflict between the existing world and the world his main characters believe in. When the characters wants to chase excellence and not success, there is hardly any mention of what happens when you throw caution to the wind and do what you think is right. What happens when one’s idealist self steps into a dog-eat-dog world. How is one tempted to succumb when one’s ideals are questioned at each and every moment? The nerds are always shown as someone devoid of intelligence but only gifted with superb memorizing power. Is it really the case? Are they the typical drones they are made out to be? Really? Besides, it must not be noted that nerds are someone who have seen this system from close and know how to live harmoniously with it. How sinful is it to make peace with a system which you can do nothing about other than scraping out of it? But, these are serious questions that require deep contemplation; rather, here the protagonist’s problem gets solved by a freak accident. Although it can be argued that Hirani’s main intention is to propose a solution rather than contest the ‘what ifs’ of situations. Even then, the subject here is complex and required more attention than what Hirani chooses to lend it. The movie is also yawningly formulaic at places and laced with myriad filmy moments. Yes, not the magical uniquely cinematic ‘filmy’ moments but rather cringe worthy predictable scenes that have a hangover of ‘been there, done that’.

What is to Hirani’s credit is he keeps the thread of comedy throughout the movie and it is this flavor that Hirani is most comfortable with. He is most comfortable at creating something which is a derivative of his soaring imagination, and clearly not comfortable at creating (or, rather recreating?) a prototype of the world that already exists. Creating funny situations out of nowhere is Hirani’s groove. He makes the journey tolerable by creating many light moments. You tend to laugh at the situation, even though disagreeing with the way he handles the ‘message’. But, it must be admitted that he is an important filmmaker just because of the way he has handled all his three subjects so far. His style is often at times endearing and takes unique potshots at conventions; however, he is most comfortable when he does not have to think about hammering a ‘message’ to the audience. Because, Munnabhai despite being insanely funny showed what ‘parental pressure/expectations’ can force one to be. Here, the thread of laughter is strong and glowing, but sadly is the movie’s only saving grace because for most part it is absolutely clueless what to do with its soul.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Paranormal Activity – Goes way deep than some goosebumps on surface

Originally published on, here

Being fearful comes naturally to us. We need not be conditioned for it. However, bravery, courage and other virtues seek example. Fear stands on its own. Tall, unfettered bonded to our psyche naturally. All great horror movies revel in the fact that ‘it is not about what you show, but what you not show’. They exploit the human imagination and spur it on to unlock the normally inaccessible sets of thoughts and images. Peli knows the fear of unknown is the most pronounced of all and hence builds anticipation like a slow poison with a lot of care and craft. He makes sure the movie doesn’t startle us all of a sudden one moment and fizzles in the remaining parts. The emotions don’t vacillate in crests and troughs here, but rather take a forever depressing linear path which sometimes make it quite a task to even tolerate this movie.

The movie’s sparsely used narrative style transports one seamlessly into the couple’s bedroom. Not like a voyeur, but as an intelligent and keen observer who has the unfortunate advantage of seeing things when the potential victims laze defenseless. Peli hands us the camera when we are least prepared for it. And he keeps putting the onus on us again and again, and we succumb to it unwillingly, because just like Micah and Katie there is no escaping from this. The audience faces the same predicament as the protagonists and it is the synchronization of fear that binds the audience and the protagonists together in an unsettling, stifling fashion.

The use of hand held camera and its often unpleasant jerky movements aggravates tension, for it restricts one’s field of view, and hence amplifies the fear of unknown. When the camera moves through a partially lit living room, the field of view worsens further, anticipation escalates dangerously, and one almost wants to implore the characters to switch on the lights and then continue their quest. At this time, our sympathies doesn’t lie with them, because it is our fear that robs us of any power of lending sympathy. In this way, Paranormal Activity erases the difference between what happens on screen and what happens off it.

It is interesting to note how otherwise mundane, insignificant things add on to the terror here. The place where the camera is planted in room provides the maximum field of view. And once the camera is alive, nothing happening in the house is merely an activity, but rather an indication of impending gloom. Also, the camera is agile and observant when the protagonists are totally defenseless, and becomes reluctant to give us whole peek into sets of action when the protagonists are active themselves. The motive and action of camera is totally opposite to what the characters do, thus connecting and alienating audience at will.

Generally, a lot is said, discussed and dissected about the role of background music with respect to horror movies. Peli adopts the contrarion approach by its minimalist use. The only appreciable moments it registers its presence are the scenes filmed in couple’s bedroom when everything is at standstill except the audience’s expectations of what is to come. The crescendo aspiring to reach its loud climax complement those scenes really well.

It is an important movie because of audience’s relationship with it. It sneaks quietly in that remote, inaccessible area of one’s mind like an unwelcome visitor and stays there. In times when majority of mediocre horror movies beg for audience’s attention, this one dominates the mindset ruthlessly even when the movie is long over. Give this movie a chance to play with your imagination. The sadist in you would thank you for that.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Viva Pedro: Talk to Her

There are people in this world who judge you. There are people in this world who understand you. In fact, let’s not attach any hues with either the former or the latter. These are just some of the few things that exist. You are free to take a seat on any side of the pan. Point of view can be a strange thing. It can transform a human being to a monster, and vice-versa. In fact, who is who? We can be conditioned to see different things, and feel them in a certain way, judge them by the restricted parameters where there is not much scope for sinking into other person’s shoes.
It is very, very difficult to divorce idealism from love. Also, it is a very thin line. In this territory, virtue can be seamlessly bartered with corniness. For me one of the fascinating things about Chungking Express was that it tread that line of idealism sans any flaws. Same holds true for Talk to Her.
The movie opens to a concert dance which shows two women dying, and a man trying to restore order or increase disorder in their life. Depends on how you may want to view it. This is pretty much similar to what happens in the later part of the movie. Benigno comes back from the emotionally draining concert only to dive in an equally disturbed world of his own. Today is not special for him, it is just one of those nights when she is lying on a bed, stone like, motionless. Dead. Well, almost.What does he do in such a case? It’s pretty simple. He talks to her. While washing her hair, her body, filing her nails, all he does is talk to her. Nothing special, nothing profoundly moving, nothing remotely even worth remembering and recounting.
There is a difference in which we see Alicia and the way in which Benigno sees her. There is one overhead shot where Alicia’s clothes are being changed, and we are only shown Alicia’s body being wrapped by clothes. We, as audience, obviously see Alicia as a mechanical unit, incapable of giving and receiving love, sometimes to an extreme even callously wondering as to why there is so much fuss over someone who is practically dead? Ironically, for Benigno she is his life.
Well, did he rape her? Try asking him this. He might have just been making love, he would reply. Can love really push someone to the edge of insanity? That is the beauty of Almodovar’s movies. He makes his characters seemingly normal. There are always two worlds. One on the surface, and the one under it. Benigno could just be any guy when he is introduced to us, but then using a series of flashback Almodvar corrodes the paint from the facade and brings out the real him. It would not have been half effective, had the movie been loyal to chronology.
Benigno’s love for Alicia defies the conventional boundaries. It is madness, his friend tells him. But, haven’t our own madness been sheltered and consoled by the oft quoted “If it is not madness, it is not love”? He would unhesitatingly accept her as who she is. No questions asked. It never bothered him that her brain is dead, because he knew that a major part of his insignificant, humdrum life in the last four years has gone in talking to her. He talks to her as if she is there, listening patiently, smiling contently.
Almodovar effectively uses the silent movies that Benigno goes to mirror his state of mind. The movie he goes to see is titled ‘Shrinking Lover’, where a man(Alfredo) shrinks in size so much with respect to his lover that he is unable to make love to her(in a conventional sense, at least!). Benigno is not much different from Alfredo. He wants to love Alicia, but he is incapable of loving. Months looking from the window, years nurturing her in a dead-like state. Yet, he is zilch to her. And as he narrates the story of the movie to Alicia, in the strangest and the most poignant of scenes, it looks as if the ever-vulnerable-parched-from-love Benigno is losing grip over himself by each passing second and strangely almost-dead Alicia looks in supreme control. That has been the sum-total of their relationship. If at all it could be called that. Benigno was never in control even in life, while Alicia even in a comatose state held the strings. It is this forever imbalance that pushed Benigno further.
And then there is Marco, whose life inter cuts with Benigno’s. Marco is visibly frustrated with his inability to communicate with his wife who suffers from the same problem as Alicia’s. Benigno offers an uncluttered explanation –Talk to Her.Really, if at all instead of harboring their parallel world, people would come out and talk, confusion, melancholy would not be swept coldly under the rug, rather they will see the light of each other’s feelings. However contradictory, however caustic. This supreme metaphor is almost an antithesis of Almodovar’s many movies. This is what makes this movie so unlike his previous works.
One of the most striking feature of this movie is that it is difficult to bracket it. And it is not a mean feet. For a movie that runs for 110 minutes, it gives plenty of slices to relish. Different people can take different things from this movie. It is the various sub-plots in the movie that makes it even more profound. What is the movie really about? Loneliness? Friendship? Unusual love? Also, after a subtle revelation in the movie, it seems as if Almodovar is teasing us with childish glee, throwing the question at us again and again: So, whose side you are on? Benigno? Or, the people who judged him? Whose side is Alicia is supposed to be (if at all she comes to know)?
And then Benigno crosses the line, probably for the last time. In the heartbreaking climax, Beningo writes to Marco. The camera moves over to the barbed wires of the Jail. How different was it from the window of his own room from where he used to gape at Alicia, daily? The biggest, thickest and the most insurmountable barriers are the ones we create for ourselves. Benigno created one for himself and it finally took more than a dozen pills to break free from it. Although according to him he was not even trying to break free. He was going back. To himself, to Alicia, to the ‘we’. As he writes in his letter to Marco, to “reunite with Alicia in coma”. Almost as a matter of fact. Little does he know, she came crawling out from the coma, on that faint dim of hope that Benigno had infused her with in those four years. And she does not even know it. Neither does he.
Benigno’s expectations from life had been fairly modest. Even now, he just wanted Marco to ‘Talk to Him’. Because, he had never been talked to. He was the one, who invariably used to do all the talking. It is his time to listen now. As the movie draws to a close, there are three world and its inhabitants. Marco, obviously distraught by trusting ‘the correct people who judged Benigno’ rather than his own judgement. His only redemption is to live in a room that had promises of Benigno-Alicia relationship. Yes, just that. Promises. Alicia’s world is insulated from her past. She would never get a chance to even contemplate whether ‘Benigno’ meant any harm or not. Infact, more so, it was Benigno who never got a second chance to reiterate this fact to Alicia. And then there is Benigno, waiting to be talked to. Just about anything.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Sankat City: What it could have been, what it is.

Originally published on here.

Let’s begin with Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa. One of the few ‘Bollywood’ movies that dealt with a loser’s story. The movie made us sink into his shoes and helped revisit our vulnerabilities. It also commented intelligently on youth’s lack of choices, and only few clearly defined options of future that they gulped. Rather, forcefully. A loser who bent all the rules in the book, but still remained what he was – a loser. Although the last scene got trapped by the contagious disease called ‘Happy Ending’ or ‘binding all the threads together’ that had been prevalent in Bollywood movies since forever, even then the movie was one of the finest of the decade. Pankaj Advani wrote the screenplay for that movie. It always helps to know where the director is coming from.

But, Sankat City’s fault not lies entirely with director’s surprisingly stunted cinematic vision, but rather failing to realise even its most basic requirement. Living up to a promising script. A script that contains some of the most weird, zany characters, but when translated on screen, the consequence is not inebriated laughter, but listlessness . The jokes are inconspicious by their absence, and it hurts the movie’s prospects because social commentary is not the director’s aim here. At least not the primary one. Although Advani’s attempt is undeniably laudable and honest, but, don’t we all understand and appreciate the cliched ‘Don’t talk about the labor pains. Show us the baby’?

The most potent weapon in the movie of these kinds is dialogues. But, that is not a mean feet to achieve. Specially because one attempts to tackle madness with a subtle method. Less effective dialogues only causes the method to appear more wobbly at a tangible level. The method is then no longer hidden, but is rather exposed, bringing all the flaws on surface. Sankat City ails from this major problem. Ek Chaalis ki Last Local and 99 were prime examples of smart dialogue writing in the movies of same genre. Yes, I am not even attempting to raise the bar by mentioning Tarantino and Guy Ritchie. Even in the Bollywood playground, the dialogues of Sankat City are uninteresting and pedestrian.

However, Sankat City doesn’t suffer from hangover of any film. Pankaj Advani’s voice is essentially his own, and that is heartening to note, however detached it may be from tickling the funny bone is a different thing all together. Characters don’t become weird and interesting just by default. They have to prove their madness. The fact that Fauzdaar substitutes ‘j’ by ‘z’ every time he speaks doesn’t make him a very appealing character. There is nothing else he does to hold your attention. The character had a lot of potential to seamlessly switch between aggression and comedy. That’s what these kinds of characters can do. They coax you into their mannerisms, and when they unleash their venom with blinding alacrity, you almost feel guilty by laughing at the wrong time.

Fauzdaar does nothing of the sort. Briefly, when he chides Pachisia for not slapping the captive followed by a hesitant, wobbly camera closing up is one of the few times the character looked interesting. The movie had a motley of potentially interesting characters on paper. Consider this: A gangster who has a thing for sexy sirens, a homosexual baba, a con woman who is not out and out black, a goon who struggles with English as much as with his life and his overtly emotional co-worker, a stupid goon, and his lover, a sex worker. Pretty interesting characters these. However, the director’s inability to go full throttle with them robs the movie of many potentially rib tickling moments. When Fauzdaar meets the Dynamite, it could have been an insanely, complex, comical epic scene. However, Advani trivialized the whole thing by showing us a silly 20 second dance number. Amongst the pack, KK stands out. The consistency in his character is remarkable. Papa will geeo you breakfast, still makes me chuckle. It is not the kind of role we are accustomed to see him play. But, even then his execution looks effortless .

Over the top characters are a dangerous territory, not because they stand the fear of being rejected outright by people hopelessly running after realism. They are a dangerous proposition because they are difficult to carry. Some characters are intentionally over the top to quench people’s quota of laughter(Most of them are formulaic and poorly written too). But, one there is even a remote intention of taking a dig, the character’s loudness seems shallow. Because then, one is sure the mannerisms are supposed to justify the self depreciating humor dedicated to a much higher cause. Sadly, they don’t in this case. So, Chunky Pandey’s ‘Ye role different hai’, and the usual inanites that he mouths merely transports the message the director wants to convey. It doesn’t touch us in any way, and thus doesn’t a warrant a laugh. Same holds true for Lingam, and Dr.Zhivago. They are irritatingly loud and hence, mere caricatures who do not justify their presence. Here the character’s justification is not related to whether they mean something in the context of the story, which is obvious they do, but into the larger context of adding that quirkiness which movies like these are known for.

It is not as if Advani doesn’t have anything to say. He says, and says it rather well in plenty of situations. Most notably in the movie’s climax when KK and Rimi are trying to find the money in the heap of garbage. Isn’t it analogous to trying to make a fortune in a city which is full of scum(people)? Or, that scene when KK plays with his fishes. One of the few things in the movie(or, even in the dynamics of the frenzied city as a whole) that is not corrupted by the shadow of monetary gain. The fact that KK and Rimi Sen’s story don’t have a romantic angle to it. The swapping of bags and the meteor twist is really smart too. The movie has its moments, but few and far in between.

The movie could have been an intelligent homage to all the Bollywood absurdities we have grown up watching, and it gets some of the things right too, but on a macro level the movie leaves a lot to be desired for. It became a slave to a genre and couldn’t justify its place there.

I wish the highly discussed New wave Indian film making doesn’t resort to mere mutual back slapping, but rather cultivate and encourage serious criticism. Where every rebuttal is not encountered with ‘It is his first film’, ‘atleast he made a film’ , ‘the movie was made in trying circumstances’ , ‘go make a film yourself’ ( Lest I be misunderstood, this is a general statement and is not directed at any one particular!). Or, with excessive cynicism such as ‘Look! he is trying to sabotage our baby’. Our collective goal is much more higher and shouldn’t be impeded with such trivialities.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Do Bigha Zameen, Umberto. D and the Bicycle Thieves: Where Do Bigha Zameen falters

Originally written for The article has been orginally published here

The distinction is important. Amongst good, very good and great. Because, something which is merely good sometimes seeks to shelter and glow amidst the presence of myriad mediocre works, where it stands apart on a strictly relative plane, nudging mediocrity by an iota. And we often confuse and consequently, equate it to as great. Great it is not, mediocre it could have been, but to its credit, it is only good. This is true with respect to Do Bigha Zameen.

I was delighted to find a copy of its DVD in my University library. Having recently seen Umberto D., and earlier in year The Bicycle Thieves, the comparisons amongst the movies is inevitable as these three were not only made around the same time, but even their principal plot point was same – poverty. The predicaments of characters, vacillating needle between right and wrong, the unusual friendship that only poverty can give rise to is similar too.

Do Bigha Zameen dives straight into the problems of farmers, where the babus never give a moment of respite to the farmers. A world where farmers not only live on Zamindar’s money but also on their mercies. The stark contrast between the cunningness of rich and naivety of poor is portrayed effectively. The first half an hour establishes and exposes the grave problem of the protagonist. But, not before showing a fleeting glimpse of romance between Sahni and Nirupa Roy(My first movie, where no one called her Mataji). Fabulous scenes such as: When he coaxes her, and then drags her deceitfully to get drenched in rain. And when they talk like two love struck teenagers in the field, much to the surprise of a fellow tiller who thinks and suggests romance has no role after marriage. Nice observation, interestingly juxtaposed.

Then, Shambhu (Sahni) moves to Calcutta in order to earn quick cash so that he can save his land. His mother, as he calls those two bighas. The city life slaps him and treats him like a proverbial step child. Then the movie moves into the maudlin zone. And sadly, stays there. Bimal Roy along with the dialogue writer injects maudlin, over the top dialogues scene after scene, and paints a more sorry picture than required where the characters speak out aloud their problem. What could have been some quiet, poignant scenes of sharing sorrow turns out to be loud declaration of love and sacrifice.

Performance wise, the kid is so unbelievably shoddy that he takes the sheen away from what could have been very poignant last 15 minutes of the movie. His performance is a walking, talking guide of the many Don’ts in acting for child actors. Infact, Bollywood had its share of horrendous child actors, mainly in many Amitabh Bachann movies, where a 8 year old’s mouth was filled with such wisdom that you wondered whether to cry or die. Or, both.
Nirupa Roy’s performance is a delight. Her portrayal of a typical coy Indian housewife is not only accurate, it is heartwarming too. Specially that scene where she is dictating the content of the letter to be sent to her husband, and even a remote suggestion of little romance in the letter makes her shrink in veil. Amazing, little scene. Balraj Sahni is spot on as an idealist farmer, though he gets a bit jarringly repetitive towards the end as he sings paeans of morality every second scene with his son. But, that is just a minor blemish to a very controlled and believable performance.

Contrast it to the relationship between the father and son in the Bicycle Thieves, where there is no histrionics on play, the sorrow has bound the father-son together, and they don’t wail over their problem every now and then. Even in Umberto D, what is possibly the last meeting between Umberto and the Maid, when she knows that Umberto has resigned to fate, there is a only a faint eye contact; small, insignificant promise of keeping in touch, and things move on. Just like life.

While the protagonist of De Sica’s two movies are realistic, edgy individuals, Roy’s Shambhu(Sahni) is just too good to be true. So, when the landlady threatens to throw out Umberto of the house, he doesn’t cry or fall at her feet evoking sympathy from us. Instead, he retorts. His pathetic condition doesn’t rob him of any manipulation a perfectly flawed human being is capable of. Making him ordinary makes the story real, and his struggle all the more important and relevant. The character’s constant see-sawing between the two sides of morality in De Sica’s two movies makes them more interesting as compared to Do Bigha Zameen’s linear characters. There is no battle in Do Bigha Zameen, in fact a uni-dimensional, rigid, too idealistic approach by the characters that raises a huge wail whenever the line of morality is crossed.(Although the kid’s moral does sway a wee bit towards the end but his redemption comes gift wrapped in such a pathetic fashion that you wished it never happened in the first place!). There is no wrong in portraying idealist people in a world where they are misfits. It would have elevated the movie to a new level had it been achieved without being preachy, or without highlighting the halo of every character.

The penultimate shot where Shambhu clutches a piece of land, but isn’t allowed even that is touching. Here not much words are exchanged, but even then the director so effectively captures the essence of the scene. I wished the movie had more of that, but it sadly falls in the categories of many merely good movies which could have been great.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

MS Dhoni - Split Personality?

[The article has been originlly published here. ]

India has never been a land where wicketkeeper's willow has dictated the terms to the ball. There have always been wicket keepers who can bat a bit. Yes. And I do remember Mongia's 152 against Australia, and his inconsistent pinch hitting prowess, Dasgupta's innings to salvage our pride against the Proteas. But, these examples are few and far. Wicketkeepers have always been the guardians of the tailenders. Nothing more. Nothing less.

That sunny morning in Vishakhapatnam saw a wicket keeper of a different kind. India was playing Pakistan. And while batting first, a wicket fell in the 4th over, and in walked a batsman, who was heard of only on the domestic circuit, and faintly in the previous series against Bangladesh. He made his way to the centre, and it was a clear indication that he had been sent as a pinch hitter. His first major one day innings, and all the team wants is to utilize the first 15 overs. The whole country would be content with a snappy 40. He begins his innings - for the lack of a polite word - shoddily. He knicks the balls outside off to third man, gets beaten. But, even then manages a brisk start. We don't care either. Runs are important, no matter how they come, one of the staple lines in the annals of a cricket commentator’s book is repeated for the nth time to reassure our woot against a nervous, inept batting display by a newbie.

Slowly, but surely, he settles. Both in the pitch, the international arena, and his own skin. And then he bats, as if there is indeed no tomorrow. He goes down the track, cuts, pulls, hits the ball for a single and steals a two. We are reminded that he would keep wickets for us, later in the day. Damn! He could get into any side just on the basis of his batting. Similar to Sehwag, he hasn't got the best of techniques, but, his hand-eye-coordination has pummeled Pakistan to ignominy. 148 runs at a blinding speed. Take that!

The biggest disservice to some one's talent is by labeling his work of genius as a 'fluke'. A one off thing. 148 was a chocolate syrup. But, was he here to stay? The majority was still skeptical. Dhoni blurred the line, some months later at Jaipur. There are some players with which you associate something very personal. For me, if you say Jonty Rhodes, the first thing that flashes my mind is him running out Inzamam-ul-Haq by breaking the stumps in the '92 World Cup. Every cricket fanatic has a distinct remembrance of each player. I never knew I would associate one with M.S. Dhoni, from that day on. It had to be that six he hit over the covers on the bowling of Chaminda Vaas. The beauty of the shot was, it was played with such nonchalance that the outcome of it seemed to be completely divorced with the effort. Effortless. He didn't even step out. He just planted his front foot forward, and the ball sailed into the stands stamped with Dhoni's brilliance. 183 runs he scored, that day. Did I say something about 'fluke' some lines ago? Pardon me.

Dhoni's batting was never high on technique. No one was oblivious to the fact, and we were happy to embrace it, because when he hit those attempted yorkers in the death overs with maddening fury, suddenly, the paragraph number three of the page 23 of the batting manual seemed oh-so-silly and supplementary. Dhoni was the weapon we needed in the death overs. We had always made hay while the ball was nice and hard, courtesy the Sehwags, Sachins, and the Gangulys. The lower half now looked all the more dangerous with the combination of Yuvraj and Dhoni, especially while chasing. Team India had a new swagger while chasing those days. Even 90 off the last 10, wasn't a big deal anymore. The big boys were in town.

Then, the team got embroiled in multiple controversies, and before one could get hold of what was happening - M.S.Dhoni was the captain of the Indian team. With great power comes great responsibility. Every Indian Skipper, it seems, is a big fan of this quote from Spiderman. Captaincy for the Indian players is sadly a license of not playing their natural game. It happened to so many before Dhoni. But, for all we knew Dhoni was the maverick. The new face of the Indian cricket. He took some brave decision, and India was back to its merry ways of winning. But, somewhere down the line, Dhoni metamorphosed from a slogger to an accumulator. Initially, he carried even this job with perfection, even sans any big hits, his strike rate was around 100. But, the question is: Was it required, the change? Is, M.S.Dhoni the man who is destined to rotate the strike, and steady the ship? Just because he is the captain of the Indian Team, now? We can have other players to do the job. Dhoni proved his mettle even in his new avatar (he averages a whopping 58 as a captain, as opposed to 44 as non-captain!), but, didn’t he sacrifice his natural self in the process that hurt the team’s prospects in the long run?( Although his average has increased considerably, his strike rate went down substantially too, and his strike rate in T20 has been abdominally low.)

So, when India required 60 off the last 5 against England to be alive in the recently concluded T20 World Cup, and when Dhoni walked in. It was still possible. After all he was the same Dhoni, who had hit Vass of cover for that six, who used to heave his bat to dug out the yorkers and send them sailing over long on. Or, wasn’t he? He had been playing like a dormant volcano recently. But, the faith that he would explode was still there. He did not. He could not. His identity that he had bartered to shelter the team's interest, ironically, betrayed the very team when it needed him the most.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Chungking Express

There are some movies that numb you, some leave you awestruck by its novelty, some inspire you, some make you laugh your gut out, some make you cry. But, I had never fallen in love with a movie. Not until I saw Chungking Express. This is not a critique of the movie in any way. This is my love letter to Chungking Express. Very few things, let alone movies have given me the pure inherent joy, as much as this movie did. So much beauty is packed into even the minutest of frame that you want to choke yourself with happiness. It is very difficult to describe what it feels like. It is an awful personal experience. Quentin Tarantino, once said in his own inimitable style with respect to this movie, “This movie made me cry. Not because the movie was sad, but, because I was amazed how much I could love any movie.”

The movie begins rather gloomily to a lovelorn cop, and takes us through protagonist’s same predicament in the second story too, but there is an unmistakable strong thread of hope that runs through both the stories. Hope is really an amazing thing. It is free and comes in many forms. For Cop 223 it came in the forms of Pineapple cans. He broke up with his girlfriend on the 1st April and gave 30 days to the relationship by purchasing a pineapple can that expires on the 1st May, each day of the month. If she doesn’t come by the 1st of May,the relationship would expire as would the pineapple cans, he believes. Through his soliloquy, he questions whether every tangible or intangible thing in this world comes with an expiry date? That is one question, that raises some circuituitous answers.

She doesn’t come to him and thus, on 1st May, he eats all the pineapple cans and consequently becomes sick. Relationships, if turned to stomach disorder, should be flushed down the toilet. He finally decides to fall out of love by falling in love (A debatable concept, but, won’t go into that for now!).

Even the protagonist of the second story (cop 663) keeps hoping and waiting for his love to turn up. Foolishly wishing she would leap out of the closet and surprise him. If only wishes structured the outcome of things in life. Meanwhile he keeps meeting the shy May at the Express restaurant, his past doesn’t let go of him to even think about the present. May harbors feeling for him, but their story doesn’t venture via the normal boy-meet-girl caper. Infact, almost bowing to an idealistic definition of love, she just keeps him happy without even being with him. That is where Chungking Express packs a punch, it goes to the idealistic realms of love without being corny. She tidies his apartment, as if the soaps, towels and goldfish are the only way of stepping into the inaccessible 663’s life, and she is happy doing that. She represents the change in his life. In truly one of the movie’s most ironic and poignant scenes, the cop 663 stands in front of the closet hoping to be surprised by his girlfriend. But, nothing of the sort happens. Instead, we see May hiding in the closet. Dejected on not getting any reply, the cop turns back. How often have we been near to love only to turn our back against it?

The movie scoops out dollops of realism moments before its ending. When the cop 663 expresses his desire of dating her, May agrees. She reaches the place of the date and is about to meet the cop 663. About to have an interesting conversation with the man, whose inanimated life she has changed. From a distance. Would the conversation be interesting? She is shy, what would she speak? Does she have butterflies in stomach? Does she see herself or 663? Or, herself and 663? Together? What does she see and think. None of the above. She sees the name of the restaurant she is headed towards, and possibly a beginning of a new life for her. She sees the name of the restaurant emblazoned in golden colours – California. It is raining. She sees the water droplets caressing her most beautiful dream, as if they were her messengers. Now, she sees herself and decides. Obviously, Wong Kar Wai doesn’t sketch the details for us, but the close up of the the california for few seconds is enough to get what is being said. She decides amidst all this, she has been missing herself. She wants to love 663, but, not by compromising herself. She decides its not time. Not yet. She leaves something for the cop 663.

True to her promise, May returns to cop 663. In a fitting display of roles reversal, he is working in the Express restaurant in the same fashion May used to (the loud california dreamin’ song blaring on). May walks in carrying with herself not only a calm satisfaction of having giving this relationship the requisite time, but also living her the life way she always wanted to, so as to carry no regretfull What-ifs of the past. The destination of the economic class boarding pass is unknown. But, it has two passengers. In love.

P.S : I have never believed and will never believe in quantitative estimation of a movie. However, this time I will make an exception.
Rating – 6/5.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The times of Harvey Milk, the times we live in…

Have you ever tried speaking while someone clutched you mouth? Did you ever lie to anyone each day of your life so that you could survive? Did you ever cuss at yourself for being what you are? Did you ever wonder why you were not normal, but deep within the true answer betrayed the answer you wanted to listen? Were you met with the stifled giggles of your classmates when you just walked past them? If the answer to all of the questions above is a resounding No, then you don’t know what it was like to be a homosexual in the 1970’s ( people have been a bit forthcoming of late, but those days were the pits). The times when bigotry spread in the air like a contagious disease, the time when a ‘queer’ man showed how one can fight for his own rights, fight for his own life and in the process leave a legacy which people would admire years later with exalted respect.

The movie Milk opens to Harvey Milk confiding his thoughts on to a tape recorder days before his death. He knew his end, because he knew the world well enough. He knew the people cloaked in fear and the repercussions of their action. On November 27, 1978 Harvey Milk was shot two bullets in his head. It took 26 years for the bullet to break ‘that’ closet door, Milk aspired for. 26 years. And this is just a beginning, a good beginning no doubt, but, just a beginning. Many closets are still tightly closed; ’religion’, ‘violation of natural discourse’ are just some of the weak latches. Common sense has never been the forte of human beings, constructing barbed wires and alienating a group has been.

In the first hour or so, the movie plays like a documentary. The camera is an indifferent, emotionally divorced viewer at times, objectively noting points from Milk’s life. It is too reluctant to do anything here, following quietly the phenomena that engulfed the castro streets in 1978. The movie doesn’t place him at the pedestal, but shows Milk as a normal human being, as turned on by power and sex, as any other normal human being would be. It is a transparent delineation of his life, and unlike A Beautiful Mind it never banks on those scenes that never happened in Nash’s life.

Milk is an important movie in todays’ times because our thought process is still a storehouse of conventional, contrite ideas, where the alleged law of God looms large. Neil Armstrong took a giant leap for the mankind in 1969, the very same year when homosexuals raised their collective voice for the first time. Talk about congruency. We make smaller notebooks every other month, but have we really shed our prejudices and moved on? This movie is a a crude reminder of the past, and a subtle gentle suggestion of what needs to be done in the present.

Milk as a movie works on various levels {feels great to use the most abused line in reviews :) }. It is not only about a man who fought for the homosexuals stood against the odds and faced the wind head on, but his life can also act as an inspirational model for he was a man who was proud of being himself. And he never cared a fig of what everyone labeled him as. Because, it is the certification in life from within that matters the most. Harvey Milk knew it. He knew it well. It is about a man who inspired a millions and gave hope.

Milk\’s Hope Speech is one of the most poignant speeches I have ever heard and has the magical ability to lift anyone from abyss and set one free. I am of the firm opinion that things change. That things can change, that things will change. I’m proud to be foolishly romantic. We can’t live on hope alone, but without it, life is not worth living, said Harvey Milk 32 years ago, and I hope. With a million wishes locked inside.

Are YOU ready to give it to them?

Friday, February 20, 2009

There is something about Delhi-6...

Originally Published here on

Why do we love Ramayan love so much? Of all the factors that peoplecan possibly come forward with, I’ve a relatively simple answer. We love Ramayana because of Ravan. Because, he distinctly draws that line. He writes it on the wall and declares which side he is standing. Now, that makes our job much more simple of where do we want to position ourselves. We need a hero, so that we may want to be like him. We need a villain so that me may stand on the opposite side of wall. Who the hell are we? Mixed vegetable hain sirjee. Thoda Paneer to thoda mutter.

Roshan( Abhishek Bachchan) comes to India to drop his ailing grandmother. He is flabbergasted by the loudness and madness, where every hour is a celebration of a celebration, where every minute is an event in itself. He neither loves it nor hates it initially, but, is rather fascinated by it. His Motorola cell phone connects him to a world never seen before. He is greeted by a host of interesting characters, who attaches a different meaning to every emotion experienced by him before.

There is not much of a story to boast about in Delhi-6, it is about the journey of protagonist, though to much disappointment, unlike Lucky, he reaches a destination. A forced one. In the first half, the flow of the movie is inconspicuous by its absence, there are sudden stoppages, hiccups, gathering and moving on again. It can be a bit uneasy as an audience to register this, but, since there is so much to show and talk about the Dilli, that the camera is just too busy doing the hopping business. There is just too much going on in the first half.

Mehra’s sense of subtlety, attention to details and metaphors makes it a delightful watch. But, when you have just basked in the essence of scene, Mehra comes back abruptly on to your face and takes care to spell it out. Why would one like to do that? For instance, take the beautiful conversation between Abhishek Bachchan and Rishi Kapoor, where the latter explains how he lost in love, and how desperately he tried salvaging it in whatever way he could. Kapoor’s one line seals it all, but, then, he explains himself again. One doesn’t even get the chance of reveling in that line before being explained like a 8 year old. Same for the fakir’s use of mirror, it was evident, but Kulkarni lectures about it unnecessarily. And these are not the only two scenes.

The music of the film, needless to say, is nothing but jaw dropping. Rahman. Period. Let’s move on. The dream sequence in Dil Gira Dafatan is nothing but amazing, but, after watching the movie, the standout song of the movie without even a speck of doubt is, Rehna Tu. Before watching the movie, I could almost imagine a Chupke Se kind of a treatment being done to it. But, after watching the movie, one realises that Mehra almost reverses the conventional treatment this song could have been meted to. And the lyrics makes perfect sense when viewed in that context. Mind Blowing stuff. Rehman, Joshi and Mehra killed me then and there. Drop dead. Watch the movie and experience the scent of these lines:

Haath tham chalna hiTo dono ke daye haath sang kaise
Ek daaya hoga ek baaiya hogaTham le haath yeh thaam le


Mujhe teri barish mein bheegna hai ghuljana hai

Now, comes the most important part of the film. Climax. Rakeysh Mehra has a penchant of shockingthe audience, he just has to do it. He is not satisfied until and unless, he doesnt’ find anything out of the ordinary to end his film with. He almost killed a beautiful RDB with the garish climax, same happens here too. it seems Mehra is more comfortablelewith the journey rather than the destination. In both the movies, the first two hours flows naturally, while in the last twenty minutes you can almost imagine Mehra scratching his head and thinking about the climax. Thinking too hard. It looks as if he comes up with a ’solution’ to a problem more than anything else. Almost analogous to a 5 paragraph model students have been ‘programmed’ to write in most of the schools. Where is the fucking ‘conclusion’? Mehra wonders aloud. Why it has to be so forced? You may want to retort back. The last 15 minutes killed it. Almost. I say almost because because the first two hours is so damned well made that it would be atrocious of me to deride this movie. Logically, Maths does not allow me to do so. Nor does my conscience.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Film-fare? Awards...

Originally published here on

It is that time of the year again. When Filmfare announces its award for excellence( in movie making? well, that’s for you to figure out). You might want to scratch your head and wonder why this article is there in the first place, isn’t it PFC? The place where we don’t look beyond Oscars, Golden Globes, BAFTAS and their likes. Where it is assumed(yes, yes, you guessed it right, the ‘intellectual types’) we think A stands for Akira, instead of Aditya and K stands for Kieslowski rather than Karan. I know. But, then the fact that these awards are the alleged representatives of one of the best movies to come out of our country( National Awards, you may argue, but then, is the majority of ‘aam junta’ really bothered?) makes one cringe with irritation after glancing through the nominations. I didn’t even think twice when one of the many illegetimate sons of Filmfare awards, gave Race the Best Screenplay. But, this is Filmfare, and in its 54th year. Oh darling ye hai India, we are different. By almost every means. We award a Maine Pyar Kiya over Salaam Bombay, when a portrayal of Aman Mehra wins the best supporting award, and portrayal of Bhiku Mhatre is given a consolation nomination. Well, I could go on and on.

The question I want to raise here is: What should be the yardstick of these awards? Should it go by awarding genuinely good movies, or, the movies which the masses lapped up? Once in a blue moon, a Hindi movie qualifies, which can do both. When did the Black lady lose its moral? For as long as I can remember the awards of early 80’s and the decades preceding it were still applaudable. ( Ardh Satya, Kalyug, Khubsoorat.etc were awarded the best movie).

Shouldn’t there be that balance, heck, I would even settle with that. But, year after year, what we have is senseless movies having a bagful of stars making it to almost all the categories. There is always a critics award, to keep everyone happy. A Power award so that the tube lights of the venue can be switched on. This year too, has been no different. Most of the movies about which people debated here and intricately pointed out flaws have been shamelessly put there. It is a starry night after all. Where is Mumbai Meri Jaan, Dasvidanya, Mithya, Aamir, and for me the best movie of the year - Oye Lucky Lucky Oye?

Bol Bol, why did you ditch me WHORE?

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Luck By Chance: Some thoughts.

Originally published here on

When Anurag Kashayp first approached Shahrukh Khan for the role of K in No Smoking, SRK refused. He answers that circuitously in the movie Luck By Chance, when he advices Vikram that, in this industry it is very important what kind of choices you make. The first film chooses you, now, you are going to choose your films. Choose well. The answer could very well have been Choose safe. Luck By Chance is one such movie that fleetingly touches some unanswered questions, and then indifferently moves on to its own story. The story of Indian film industry or Bollywood? Call what may you want to, after watching Luck By chance, I just realized, the striking difference between telling your story and sensationalizing it. The difference between honesty and pretentiousness. The difference between a Page 3, and Luck By Chance. The difference between Madhur Bhandharkar and Zoya Akthar. You think I’ve lost it by digressing this far? Well, I’ve just begun..

There have been a lot of discussions on PFC itself regarding its main leads. Konkona Sen Sharma, and Farhan Akhthar. In the movie, they play outsiders, the struggler who are ready to do anything to achieve that coveted spot, to break in. While the former also strives hard, is ambitious, but the latter is unrelenting. To an extreme, almost. The discussion was: Should they have actually cast new comers for the role? I wouldn’t dismiss this question straight way, by just a Yes or a No answer. Because, that is one of the things that this movie raises. How the hell a newcomer can break into this industry? It is not only a bad, mad world where there is not even an inch visible from the outside. We hear thousands of stories about struggles, that actually makes us shudder from inside. Javed Akhthar writes in his book ‘Tarkash’ about his struggling days, everyone who visits PFC knows Anurag’s struggle, and a countless other rags to riches story of those who have made it. In the movie, Karan Johar says to Zafar Khan( Hrithik Roshan), Vikram should be thankful to you, had you not left this role, he could never have got this chance. Zanjeer was refused by 7 people, and then it came to Amitabh Bachann. Aamir Khan left Darr, and then Shahrukh got it(though that Shahrukh’s break, but, from there on started his association with Yash Raj Films which is as significant as a major break). Otherwise, who gives a chance to a new comer? Very true, Mr. Karan Johar. Very true. The way Karan delivers this line rings so true because we all know Karan himself will not give a chance to any new comer, he is too busy working with his ‘brother’, ‘uncles’ and ‘aunties’. This is one of the most honest and ironical lines being spoken in a ‘Bollywood’ movie in recent times. See, I digressed again, back to the question of discussion…

So, the question which some people were discussing on was: how apt it was to cast two established actors who are themselves from a ‘filmy family’. Doesn’t the whole point the movie tries driving home gets a bit lost here? When you see Farhan enter for the audition of a major movie, where he sees many people like him, and when ‘Sapnon se Bhare naina‘ plays in the background. Your heart goes out more to whom? Farhan Akhthar, the struggler shown, who he is actually not, or the people sitting out there filling forms, who are struggler in the real sense. Because, for that brief moment, I snapped out of Luck by Chance, and dived straight into the what is the story of an ordinary struggler. It was very important for the rest of the star cast to be from film industry, because it was about them, but had fresh faces portrayed the role of Vikram, and Shona, the film would have been that more honest for me. Because, one of the part of the movie is about the trial and tribulation of a newcomer trying to break in. It could have given the film that edge. Although, all said and done Farhan and Konkona deliver a staggering performance. Konkona, is by default, expected to act fabulously. So, it would really be a exercise in redundancy to pour accolades on her for this performance. It is the kind of stuff she is born to deliver. Next time someone gives a believable and awesome performance, we can safely it to be a ‘What a Konkona performance’. Now, comes Farhan Akthar. Farhan’s restraint performance was one of the high points of Rock On!! His role raised the movie to a new level, and with Luck By Chance, he raises the bar for himself staggeringly high. What a performer! Farhan should discount everyone’s advice of playing safe,( as advised toVikram by the ’star’ himself) because, this actor has put character back into the word character-actor. Farhan absolutely outshines and dazzles in this movie, a powerhouse performance. I should stop gushing, otherwise people would start guessing I have been hired by Excel Entertainment. Such is the performance by the two main leads, that it actually becomes difficult to answer the question raised in the beggining of this paragraph. Their performance injects honesty and sincerity to the movie.

I also think Zoya owes a lot to her brother Farhan for this movie. I am not going to deny her any credit. It is a smash-hit debut in almost all the ways possible, and I consider it foolish to say that this is the best debut of the last decade or not. Frankly, it doesn’t matter to me. But, I feel Farhan’s Dil Chahta Hai unconsciously laid the foundation of this beautiful movie. Anurag said in one of the comments that, Farhan and Zoya struggled a lot with him and Farhan didn’t know any stars when he was making Dil Chahta Hai. Okay, that is fine. But, after Dil Chahta Hai made waves, when Excel Entertainment came into being, when they had the backing of a powerful Javed Akhthar, a versatile S-E-L at their disposal, it laid the foundation of Zoya’s work. I will reiterate the fact that story and screenplay which has been done by Zoya herself, is a work of an exceptional talent. But, having said that, had the aforementioned factors not been on her side, the movie could never have been as effective as it is now. The guest appearances, the special appearances, the friendly appearances, taking digs at oneself.etc. would never have been possible in a movie made by an ‘outsider’ in the truest sense.

The movie raises so many questions through its funny but dark lines that it would be a crime to ignore them. The actors play themselves, and go on to say some of things that would make you laugh, but at the same time make you think and question the dynamics of ‘Bollywood’. For instance, When Anurag is ranting about one of the supposed endings of the movie via symbolism, and visual metaphors, Rishi Kapoor cuts him short by saying, Ae Institute, main ye picture film festival ke liye nai bana raha hun‘. This line again goes on to say a lot of things in its own unassuming way. When No Smoking was released, people here discussed about Franz Kafka, Ayn Rand, and what not. While the hard breaking truth is that most of our audience and even the so-called stars and member of this fraternity, give a damn. The ideologies don’t match. Not even an iota in most of the cases.

That is what Luck By Chance. About the industry, where everyone dreams to be a part of, an industry where every one bitches about one another, an industry where everything seems unfair and unreasonable. An Industry which is so ruthless that it has made a few, has broken thousands of dream. Hats off to Zoya for delineating such a true account of this kaleidoscope.

Friday, January 2, 2009

City of God: Depressing. Shocking. Brilliant

Originally written for The article has been published here.

Civilization. Sanity. Peace. Brotherhood. Throw these words out of the window. Because, with respect to the City of God, they are not only an aberration and theoretical, but also, fantastic. A city where every unarmed person is equivalent to a eunuch, a city where anarchy is the only form of order. A city where massacre is a rule, peace an exception. A city thriving on the fringes of insanity and its people clinging on to the feeble dim of shallow hope.

Adapted from Paulo Lins’s novel, the movie is a gut wrenching account of the people living in the City of God( Rio-di-Jenerio’s slum). Narrated by Rocket, a wannabe photographer, who unlike his brothers, and the majority of the people of the city of Gods is not obsessed with guns. Or, taking life. He admits he is not cut out for that stuff. The movie is a first hand story about an ordinary guy who grew up in the City of God, his tryst with this abnormal world, where killing is almost as common place as is the lack of it on the streets of a so called normal, civilized world. Almost everyone and everything is corrupt, the city’s name is ironic in the very sense because it looks as if it is this very city that has been abandoned by the Gods. Most of the cops are as dangerous as the hoodlums dominating the street, a child’s definition of becoming a man is this - I smoke, I snort, I’ve killed and robbed, I’m a man. Robot narrates the story and the movie almost unfolds in a chapter wise format, delineating each character’s background and bind them to the main story with seamless ease.

The movie opens to a mad chicken chase. An entire gang is running after the chicken, a symbolic representation of the narrator’s unending desire to flee from the same madness. The manner in which the scene launches till the point it concludes is simply amazing. The cinematography here is just magical, for a few seconds the camera almost becomes a living entity running with the spirit of chicken and possessing the heart to break free. It has to be one of the most kinetic opening sequences in the movies. In host of other scenes as well, the cinematography of the movie stands out, be it capturing the blood laden streets and by lanes of the favelas, or be it the violent action scenes, or capturing the symmetric houses(probably the only thing in the place that exists in order and symmetry). The editing too is top notch, movie switches time so casually, but, not for once does it looks discontinuous, all the parts merge into each seamlessly and the movie succesfully emerges as one gigantic story composed of different sub-plots embedded to each other.

I was pleasantly amazed to find that the movie had only one formal actor, rest all were kids from the favela itself(although they went under a rigorous acting workshop later!). The performances are just so natural, there is no forced histrionics, no sense of lingering in any scene, the movie is spellbinding and unravels with blinding ferocity.

The movie tells in its own chilling way that how crime never pays, that how one can never win in the world of crime, how one can never be the boss when everyone is wrong around, that the transition from being ruled to a ruler can be done with unbelievable ease, that this world of violence can come back and bite anyone and everyone. City of God is a depressing testimony to this fact.