27 December, 2016

The Bakhleone Chronicles : The Nagpur Nuptials

Disclaimer: This is an account and a tale entirely inspired from fact and stretched as much as could be allowed in the realm of fun. Very little is fiction. This writer was assigned box seats and an insider kin pass for close in observation.
This is a closed group account and not an open read. Only those associated with the Bakhleone family in any fashion would be able to relate to this and it should not be made compulsory for the author to fork out explanations on what, how or why...he just may not answer and is not legally bound to either.

Circa 1st Dec 2016

A light wind rose up in a sunny afternoon on the island city that is the commercial capital of this country. It blew all around in tufts and gusts. It sneaked in through an open slit into the apartment and ruffled the pages of a book and the cover of a DVD lying on the table. Godfather was the book and Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge the cinema disc cover.
The tail end of the same wind found the apartment’s occupant boarding a flight. It went right in through the ears and nose as the doors closed behind him. He carried it with him in his journey. This wind was mischievous and his soul traversed all through New York, Sicily and some yellow flowered sarson da khet in the North while the plane flew on high in the easterly direction.

An hour and some minutes later
The flight taxied down a runway, albeit 45 minutes behind schedule. Firm hands held on to wrinkled mature ones and the pair negotiated steps and slopes. Anybody watching would assume from this picture, that they knew who was supporting whom. Reality though was in complete variance. It was a symbiotic support game. Youth, aided the resolve of maturity to negotiate a distant geography and meet a decided objective while maturity held in check the wayward flights of exuberant youth.

They were kin. It was a happy occasion and a celebratory event that this party had flown over to attend. A Sicilian marriage insisted the wind in the youth. Closing his eyes for a moment before calling up his contact there, he just imagined the set that would await them. Was it a movie? The wind inside answered in the affirmative. He just raised his hands up heavenwards and gave up fighting with the wind.


Location                                : Village Corleone, Sicily commonly known in these parts as Dhantoli, Nagpur

The Movie                              : The wind inside insisted it should be “Dilwalene dulhaniya pataa to li, aur dono baapon ko mana bhi liya, ab woh usey ghar laa riyaa hai” he subdued the wind saying this was too ridiculously long a title. It should be something short, such that the viewers can recount it easily. Even the acronym was much longer than a DDLJ… it must be something nicer like say “The Winter Wedding” (He had to call it sumthin…MayLaka, LakaMay naa naa … ChinSha???? huhhh yessss it was “ChinSha Express ”, the card had declared it so...that was perfect.

Producer                               : WinWonChin productions

Main Assistant Director          : Don WinOye

Directed By                             : Lady WonDonna


• ChinmOye Bakhleone: (The Lead) 
The handsome young lad headed into everything with his chin out; Brave, Heroic, Charming, Impish, Talented yet he could also be a smiling bumblebee… one who bumbled first into a sticky situation, took a quiet yet hard sock on his chin, yelled an “oye” and then fought his way out of the same in his trademark style.

• Shawl a.k.a. TeaWorry: (The Leading Lady)
She was the princess of the Orange Orchards. She could and did squeeze out the best orange juice from a fruit. Chai though remained her single largest concern. She need not have ever been disturbed by this at all, because the world liked what she did brew, but somehow though her worry persisted and refused to go away. Her single point agenda in recent times was to keep ChinmOye warm. Like the charming and visionary vixen she was she had devised a technique. Wrap arms around ChinmOye like a shawl and create cosy warmth. So we call her Shawl a.k.a. TeaWorry, now you know … so please don’t ask again.

• WinOye Bakhleone: (Main Asst. Director)
Don Bakhleone was what he was respectfully addressed and known as. The Don had an intense, quiet and calm manner and then he would make everyone an offer that they could not refuse. The offer would be cool and balanced as was his forte; he was Dhantoli’s book keeper extraordinaire and ruled the Accounting, Banking, Hospitality syndicate of the Bakhleone Empire also called the B'Company.

• WonDonna Bakhleone: (director)
The basketball prima donna of the empire, she was the only one who could manage DonWinOye with panache by keeping her 32 pearls on constant display. They were lethal these teeth, when they flashed out into a smile, it was a killer smile, the world around her turned to putty that she could twist and shape into in any way she wanted. One often could, would and did miss the steel in her eye on most occassions. This lady was tough beneath her very charming shell.

• Pasha Bakhleone:
The younger brother of DonWinOye, had he been born in Arabia he would have been the Pasha, mounting white steeds and riding away into the wind with a smile on his lips and a world to charm into submission. Here he made do with mobikes and cars. The Pasha was a Banker and the Consigliore of this syndicate, he handled the banking vertical. His being charming and loquacious made him but the natural choice to head the reception committee, the role became him.

• AlpsAana Bakhleone :
The Banker Pasha was smitten by her the minute he saw her in the “Kanda-Poha+Tikhat Shev” programme he had attended many moons ago. As a banker, knowing Switzerland was vidhilikhit someday to his fate, he proposed to her in the only manner he could … “Mere saath AlpsAaana pasand karogi?” and how could the light eyed damsel ever have said no to that?

• She Wahh!! Lee:
Pasha and AlpsAana in their spiritual union conceived a wide eyed, smiling tot of a child who was so enamoured by the Bruce that whenever Bruce came on the TV screen and smashed somebody the child would exclaim loudly every time with a gleeful gurgle of a laugh…Wahh!! Lee…since the child was a She, they named her so, what real choice did they have?

• SuchIt Bakhleone:
He was the younger one, the first cousin of WinOye and Pasha…and they were close, all of them. They came from the “Esh” lineage of the Bakhleone branch…the Elder sibling had been Surésh. His philosophy was music or music was his philosophy, now this is a detailing lost in family folklore, while SuchIt’s dad is the venerable ROMésh . This could have been the reasoning behind the IT in SuchIT ( dad has ROM beta has IT ), but he had extended the syndicate into the healthcare vertical. Such was his quiet diligence to every single task assigned to him, It was a given, that show him a target and it would be hit. He naturally became famous as SuchHit.

• SuperrrrNaahhh  Bakhleone:
SuchIt had liked one of the girls he had seen. This one was an educationist. SuchIt had suggested softly to her that could they be friends first and marry later or maybe even try a live-in? To that the girl had so vehemently screamed a “Naahhh” at him in the inside room they were given to talk, that an elder sitting outside remarked, what a Superrrr pitch this girl can reach with her voice. They got hitched and SuperrrrNaahhh was what her title came to be.

• MannaLee & WarOn :
MannaLee was the elder offspring of SuchIt & SuperrrNaahh, one could speculate that the daughter had firmed up that she would branch out into designing structures having seen the way their dwelling rose up, and was an architect in the making. The younger kid was at once a combo of high energy & mild manners who gave an impression that he always needs a war to survive and thrive, he was named WarOn.

• The Council of Elders:
This council was a very well liked, looked upon with a lot of affection & respect and consisted of 4 dinosaurs. They were not Dino’s as much as Dhantoli was not a Jurassic Park, far from it; they were far more mature than the extinct species. They showered the Don, The Pasha, The SuchIt, their superior halves and offspring with equal and more, love, warmth and wisdom; As and when they felt it was necessary or required while most other times they stayed well away.
SueB or Sue Ricotta Bakhleone had her name shortened to SueRico because she didn’t like to be named after a cheese, she wasn't cheesy. She was the most calming, pleasant influence with a smile that radiated warmth on all those who came in her range. ROMesh we met earlier was a man of leisure now and happy to swat flies with accuracy on his ultra wide balcony when he was not out walking.
PromoD his younger brother, after ending his younger day association with Dilli had hunted around for another village where he could build a house and settle down. He had but one condition and was pretty fixed about this. The village name should begin with a D, he had grown to liking his name so much he didn’t want to remove the D in it and change it now. That’s why Dhantoli met all his criteria and PromoD(illi) became PromoD(hantoli) and none was the wiser.
UrrrrMeLawB was the final member of this council and equally pleasant as SueB, she was the better half of ROMeshB and generally managed him pretty well with an unbeatable poise. In their apartment her word was the law.

The Crew
This consisted of extras who fancied themselves as stars. They handled the necessary and important tasks of locomotion and transportation of the guests. They also fed them by keeping the food ready as and when required; they were accomplished Drivers, Maids and Cooks. There was one though who acted above his station, the cook. He fancied himself to be so important in the hierarchy of things that in his own mind he was just as relevant as the priest who would conduct the marriage ceremony. Ask him any question and he would “pun” out an answer that could be read in ways more than one. After delivering his pun he would end it with ab khao or Eat. The family was quite  used to this foible of his and tolerated it generously. They even started calling him “PunnedEat”.

These were the animals that lived in this zoo. A few others lived there too but they were strictly the accessories, the main cast & crew is as above. Since all the occupants from time immemorial were for creation, re-creation, maintenance and nurture of this partially tame and  more wild of a life sanctuary that was their dwelling, they were all totally Pro it. Thus “The Indian Bakhleone Housing Apartments (TIBHA)” complex came to carry the nomenclature: ProTIBHA.

The B’Company:
The B’Company as the Bakhleone family was actually called is a very old and respected enterprise. This enterprise had its roots originally in a distant land, now that is a separate country altogether. This city was called “CarRachi”. The earliest founder was a dude blessed with a full head of hair that he passed on to his blood, but he sported a rather weird hair do; it looked forever rumpled n crushed…he was “BaalCrushedNa Bakhleone”. The venerable old patriarch had created a largeish brood and this stood him in good stead, a blessing in the days to come when the province got eventually partitioned. These were ten in all ,sons and daughters, subsequently who came over to this country. The company was uprooted from “CarRachi”. His progeny spread far and wide across the countrywide expanse and created two main home bases. The Patriarchs eldest & youngest sons made it to the Western Coast of Bombay while their other siblings found the Central Provinces with Nagpur as its epicentre more to their liking. Their sisters were wedded off and while one went about northwards the others were found hovering around the central provinces only. The Western provincial founders made their fortune in Tyres. The ones in the Central provinces made their bases firmer in Textiles, Media, Academics and what have you. The B’Company embraced change willingly and today as the ones in the West focussed on Technology & Healthcare predominantly the ones in the Central Provinces smelled the numbers and branched into Accounting, Book Keeping, Banking and Health Care monitoring.

The Bakhleones had arrived. The family had become a Company and where earlier it was considered crude and not classy to refer oneself by this nomenclature…the times had changed. There was an innate pride now in being affiliated or connected to the B’Company, whether by blood, marriage, friendship or allegiance.  Though Bombay historically has been and still remains the commercial capital of this independent country, it curiously was the Nagpur and Central Province branches that focussed on the commerce end of the educational qualifications of the family. The Central provinces are so accounts oriented that there are arguably more Chartered Accountants per square feet found practicing here than in the Bombay provinces.

Other Famous Bakhleone’s:
The first one to hit the headlines was a singer. He practised an art of crooning that fell into a genre called natyasangeet. He was a specialist who would get so carried away with his own performance that whenever his audience asked for a “once more”… he always agreed…but the gent had no sense of proportion. He went on and on and on till the same listeners had to scream “BussKar Bua”…this is how BussKarBua Bakhleone became a celebrity. The second one was this writer’s mater. She was a sly fox, at once charming and steely determined. She ruled with a chuckle and a laugh. The media discovered her skill at being unerringly accurate at pocketing every single wooden piece with an ivory striker on a boric powder smoothened wood board. This game had a curious name, CarROM. Was it because it originated in CarRachi from where the Bakhleones were launched on to the world? No one knows this for a fact. She loved wearing Nike shoes under her sari and was fast at everything she did like even ping pong. She was thus christened WhooSha Bakhleone. Nike then stole her name for branding their footwear but she forgave them. She was the first one to make a foray into & opening the eyes of the B’Çompany towards Banking as a vertical. She engaged with the biggest this country could muster up in Banks. ArabiAai… no… no… no… it had nothing to do with the Middle East, but if we reflect now as to why Pasha may have chosen this vertical, there could be some sub-conscious reasoning’s hidden here deeply, and can be determined if probed by a shrink.

Present Day - Now
He pulled out a phone and radio waves crackled on the hallowed soil of the central provinces. A cavalcade had come to receive them and out from it stepped the dashing Pasha. Two sets of youth and maturity were enveloped by and swept away into the local hospitality. The youth smiled as he now understood the cavalcade of cars. The B’Company was from CarRachi, this instinctive affinity for wheels was a given.


The Plot: “The Nagpur Nuptials” ( ChinSha Express unfortunately could not be used as there were copyright issues for this chronicler with the involved parties )

Cut to the opening frame:

Once upon a time in Dhantoli ( quite a few months ago )

Don WinOye looked out of his balcony staring at the leaves, laid wet by a burst of a seasonal rain shower. His son’s words rang quite clearly in his head. A droplet of water trickled down the spine of the jamun leaf held his gaze, as it finally hung on to the very edge of the leaf for a million moments…and then dropped on to the space below, lost out from his sight.
His concentration broke off and he looked back into his tea reflectively.
“Baba”his son had said tremulously but with a lot of hope in his voice, last evening. “I am going to make these two, staring at his own hands…four”.
He remembered his own reply. “We are accountants, Chartered too, not creative ones my son…our numbers have to balance every single time. That’s why we are engaged by our clients. You are not a trainee and an intern anymore. One doesn’t and shouldn’t make 2 look like 4 in any table. Had this been any other company it could have maybe been OK…but we are the B’Company and we have a reputation to protect.”
On this his son had frantically cut through…”No…no ...Baba, you misunderstood me. You know my friend Shawl…she and I are like …engaged.
Still in his business track thought he had asked “Who have you been engaged by? This is nice, the fact that you have gone and procured a new client“
ChinmOye his son had then said “Baba…you are not listening. Look here… I have asked Shawl to be my wife…is this understood now…I proposed and she accepted..OK…Got It…Clear ???... Fair ???”
He remembered his instant reaction “Does your mother know about this?” and When ChinmOye nodded it caused him an irritation way beyond anything he could comprehend and he remembered his rather curt reply “Fair ??? You ask me is this Fair ??? No it’s not Fair…its FOWL.
ChinmOye had laughed derisively and remarked “Baba, Foul the opposite of Fair is spelt as F..O..U..L  not F..O..W..L”
To which Don WinOye replied in his trademark style “Chimyaaaa…now you shall be teaching me spellings is it ? I thought you would get it. I said fowl because I meant fowl…you eat chicken , she is a pure vegetarian how will that ever ever work?” To which his son had got back stating…Didn’t you and Mum make it work…and he had walked out of the room.

He looked into his tea and his mind like minds have a propensity to in tense moments, took a flight to events nearly  3 decades ago. This was when his friends sister and her pearly teeth had caught his eye. She adroitly hooped the ball’s through the basket with ease and he was already reduced to being a basket case in her presence. While his thoughts were always quite clear and he wanted to make her his own, his tongue came out with unintelligible sounds when she was around. After a few tense, anticipatory days, weeks and months of needlessly hanging around her house he had plucked his courage and asked her brother to relay his ardour and fondness to her. Cupid was smiling on him then and she had managed to make sense of the sounds he uttered in her presence which he was sure was conversation. Life had been a song after her acceptance. 
(cut to a song in flashback mode)

Song 1 : DonWinOye & the Lady WonDonna      ( <- click on this to hear the song in the situation)

Yes it had worked out for him and while it was a difficult decision on many a plane, namely his son had found a girl for his own and not given him an opportunity to search one for him, he brushed this one away …since he was guilty of the same act with his father. She was a vegetarian and he had high hopes that someday his daughter-in-law would cook superb non-veg in the house…he brushed this thought away too, it was his son who was marrying her, that’s his business, he can go without Chicken…or order in. And then he came to the real reason for his irritation. His wife had known about this much before he did…why…how…hmmm and reluctantly realised that she always knew a lot many more things happening around them far earlier than he did. Did he really have a choice in this matter? He examined this question before him quite dispassionately. Shawl …was a very nice girl; haughty and sharp perhaps, but extremely well-mannered and very well qualified. She seemed to possess the quiet temperament absolutely essential to keep his energetic son in his proper place and yes she was extremely pretty too.  

Chinmyyaaaaaa he called out and his son came in looking quite sulkily at him, yet with a question in his eyes. Arrange our meeting with Shawl’s parents. His son had impulsively hugged him and that made him stifle a smile..Ok..Ok..enough…go now..congratulations.

Cut to Scene 2

ChinmOye was mighty kicked…as he looked around. It had all worked out after all.
Those weeks of waiting and worrying and hoping and then the sudden distance that had sprung up in their association with her shifting away on some silly work assignment, had shaken him then. She had given him a vague reason that he never understood her. He had never quite figured out the contrary conflicting completely addled messages, that girls give out as signals to the boys, that they actually are interested in. It was a harrowing time for him that had pushed him towards the stage of decision making.
(Cut to a song situation)

Pensive song as imagined by ChinmOye     ( <- click on this to hear the song in the situation)

This was the only time when the movie plays a serious reflective mood song. All along their journey they had gambolled around like Rishi Kapoor and Neetu Singh…nahh... he thought that is too old a pair, while our pair is much younger, our songs, the ones that we sang were really more like this

( Cut to additional song in the same flashback)
ChinmOye & Shawl going at it with a gusto  ( <- click on this to hear the song in the situation)

Scene 3 and the present:

Shawl a.k.a. Teaworry and WonDonna had met and were quietly chuckling about the two men in their lives who thought they ruled. The male of the species is so naïve, both had such knowing smiles as they discussed the redecoration of ChinmOyes room that would soon become Shawl & ChinmOyes room and how should the wardrobe be partitioned. 

WonDonna too had to yet completely get the hang of the mother in laws role but she was glad that she would finally have a civilized companion in her house who was a female at that. Females are inherently so clean, hygienic and well groomed and their interests are so detailed and varied. She was itching to go out shopping with someone of her own who could understand the truest pleasure in minimum three hour shopping binges, one who could understand the art behind the Chikan embroidery. Unlike the males, for whom Chikan was Chicken and she never could make them understand...infact the males never understood or got it that "rani colour" was "rani colour" and not some shade of "pink", why are the bed-sheets to be tucked in just like so and properly too at that or why after taking a bath it is actually necessary to put the wet, soiled clothes into the laundry basket or bucket and not tossed about here, there and anywhere. There were women in the dwelling but not someone who she could notionally own and boss around, there was a niece somewhere in the dwelling who did understand some of this but now she would have real help to discipline the boys properly too. WonDonna was a happy lady. 

She had decided that she would be more a mommy than a saasu mummy simply because she did not know how to be a Saasu mummy.

cut to Song situation 

Reflective song in the Shawl & WonDonna space.  ( <- click on this to hear the song in the situation)

Climax, the end and the new beginning :

Then Don WinOye, ChinmOye and WonDonna they practiced hard, enlisted the support of all in the B’Company, invited all their relatives made arrangements for their stay and hospitality, booked the Hall that belonged to a Rani (yes, it was her kothi) and not a Raja for the final nuptials, similar stuff was happening quite frantically at Shawl’s place too.
They also arranged for round tabled spiritual communions on the terrace with friends who were closer than kin and the visiting kin, in a regal and labelled manner both red and black. Age brought in some decorum to this august gathering but each one around the table was singing the signature song of such milieus. It also marked this occassion splendidly.

cut to song : Romance, fun and zing ( <- click on this to hear the song in the situation)

The Mehendi, the Sangeet and the Haladi climaxed onto a marriage and reception... and before they knew it…
ChinmOye and Shawl a.k.a.Bakhleone were saying a deeply respectful Hi to the Lady Mahalsa at Goa.

And thus they began their journey to live happily ever after.


Circa 5th Dec 2016

The youth and his entourage of living fossils made their way back to the same airport and like earlier they were fated to be on flights that never took off on time and so they whiled away some of their time at the airport, boarded and returned to the Maximum City many hours after midnight and predictably. The City was still awake, awaiting them. 

29 November, 2016

Dear Zindagi : Alia aali re ...

There are movies, there are scripts and in this weird rigmarole comes in an actor who simply steps in and owns it with her / his performance. The entire movie then belongs to that one person and no others in it matter. Dear Zindagi, is one such experience.

In the early 70’s we had Kaka aka Rajesh Khanna, when his era ended it was Amitabh Bachchan and then the Khan zone started...yet movies belonged to the menfolk. Nargis and her Mother India is but a distant memory of the past until very recently. The last few years have seen the new girls take such a firm grip of their roles and movies that the gender glass ceiling has been broken and how !!! Vidya Balan in Parineeta and Kahani, Deepika Padukone in Cocktail , Tamasha, Piku , a Tapsee in Pink, Alia Bhat who showed promise in Highway now delivers a whopping super punch in Dear Zindagi.

Gauri Shinde the director who gave us the entertaining English Vinglish by serving us a rewarmed up old dish in Sridevi had earned with it her credentials as a solo masterchef. She could now serve her own masterpiece with fresh ingredients , without supervision and she does it stylishly.

Kaira ( Alia) is a bohemian rhapsody in the form of a talented and mixed up camerawoman...a cinematographer. An independent girl who while being young is also opinionated and has no hangups of hooking up with men friends. She does take utmost care to be the one to call off the relationships first, before the guy. Her camaraderie with her chick pals ( Ira Dubey and Yashaswini Dayama)  is sassy , bitchy, warm and real and we cruise through the early portion of the movie enjoying the happenings yet not being able to clearly put a finger on the pulse of it. Does it meander for long ? Maybe, but it still is frothy fun while it does, till Kaira has dumped restaurateur Sid and film producer Raghuvendra (Kunal Kapoor, good looking and credible) and while she is on to her next guy a musician Rumi ( Ali Zafar, dashing and sparkling ) runs into another bohemian soul in a shrink Dr. Jahangir Khan (Shahrukh Khan ). Dr.Khan isn’t a typical psychiatrist in the manner by which he sifts through the jigsaw puzzle that is Kaira and aids her into reconstructing the picture back, to shed baggage and rediscover her truer higher self. It is Psychiatry, Life Coaching, Hand Holding and Counselling loaded with filmy babble. It is a pleasure watching SRK when he isn’t playing another Rahul something clone from his Yash Raj repertoire. SRK and Alia after this movie are sure gonna make having a Shrink acceptable if not fashionable.

It is a director’s cut as Gauri Shinde also the scriptwriter has written a difficult story. The music by Amit Trivedi is hummable yet the songs may not stick to the memory banks. The camera by Laxman Utekar is splendidly candid and while Shahrukh is on screen it zooms up so close that SRK and his many moons spent on this earth become apparent. SRK is very good but the movie’s real star is Alia Bhatt. For one so young she shoulders the complexed character with real panache, at once effervescent, saucy and sensual, loud and outspoken yet reflectively morose even at times this girl has delivered the best performance of her career so far and it augurs for many more ahead if her talent pool gets tapped rightly.

Demonetization may keep one away from the screens, as has been the fate of a few new releases like Rock On 2 but they were strictly avoidable...Dear Zindagi is not, and while it may not have mass appeal the movie is sure to work even commercially very well because its the girls aura that has bubbled out and lit up the film watchers world with an announcement. I am here.

29 October, 2016

Ye Dil Hai Mushkil : Ban the Banners, they created more curiosity than the movie deserved

A controversy & the furore that followed

Karan Johar has taken a Pakistani actor in the film, one Fawad Khan. When Fawad Khan was asked to condemn the terrorist attack on India he kept mum.Hawwww. The censors then pass the film. The Central Government keeps its mouth closed neither assuring protection to the exhibitors and producer nor denying it. Ban this film said Raj Thakeray, who stepped in and said we won’t allow exhibition. Some distributors stepped up and the association of single theatre owners in four states denied its exhibition and release. Karan Johar keeps quiet for the longest time as he had not stepped out of the bounds of the law but then at the very last moment chickens out and states vehemantly a love for his country. The CM of Maharshtra steps in and with Raj Thakeray playing the counting machine they force the hand of the producer and have him fork out Rs.5 crore and contribute it to the Indian Army. The Army does not like this and states it with no uncertainty. The Army says that it won’t accept any coerced funding, but take only voluntary donations. The gravel is yet to fall on this one whether the funding was voluntary or not. In the meantime the movie is released in the multiplexes to full houses.

Ye Dil is truly Mushkil - The K Jo Checklist

There is a new checklist that is out now when one has to go and watch a matured , older yet not exactly wiser K Jo directed movie. 

• Is LOVE , friendship ?
• or Is FRIENDSHIP, love?
• For life sufficiency and sustenance between Love & Friendship is either one of them good enough , or are both required or neither is enough?
•To make a movie universally acceptable is it necessary to have an international ambiance but with every single character a Person Of Indian Origin? Then a PIO to be a PIO has to flash his or her passport and proudly too. No it aint hip anymore in a Dharma productions to be an Indian with an Indian passport. You may at best become the clapper boy in the next movie.
• Should you watch a K Jo directed film if it does have a SRK , Kajol or Aalia Bhatt not in the lead roles but as special appearances ? These are the new red flags.


What happens onscreen
Ranbir and Anoushka in the first half hour have zippy conversation, cuddle, dance, smooch, look good and do the usual bummery. Then over the next five half hour slots keep repeating it until it comes out of one's ears. Fawad looks non-existently handsome and has no presence or his character any depth. As to Aishwarya Rai, one wonders from which angle did one conceive her to be a shayaraana (a Urdu poet) who spouts some really nice lines. Ash looks better as she has aged well but her acting and performance is still at the same strained level that she perfected in her magnum opus “Jeans”. No feeling ever reaches her eyes and they remain the same , blank and cold forever. Ranbir Kapoor is likeable but boringly the same as he was in all his recent movies. 

Aalia Bhatt in a special appearance brings in a breath of fresh air but it is too short. SRK in a special appearance is disgustingly smug and all in that one frame look sufficiently attractive yet old. 

The one real watchable performance comes from Anoushka Sharma. This girl is growing with every single film and is a treat to watch. She is sincere, saucy and sharp in each of her line delivery and comfortably natural on the screen. Niranjan Iyengar has written some wonderful lines in the dialogue and they may have qualified for an award had there been a structure or a story to support them. The movie has no single hummable song atleast nothing that shall remain in the memory after hearing it. Pritam struggles yet goes home with a cheque. His director found the work delieverd acceptable.


Had it not been for the controversy created over misplaced patriotism, the movie may definitely have flopped and quietly at that too. The controversy shall rake in the moolah by bringing in the crowd and even after having to fork out the Rs.5 crores there would be plenty left for K Jo to laugh his way to the bank. But he would be careful this time. Outside the bank he may adjust his expression, make it solemn and serious and then go in with the gunnybag full of collection money for depositing it.

K Jo wins, everyone else loses.

29 August, 2016

YZ : A coming of age ... to score

Why YZ ?Is that a movie ? Ohhh, a Marathi language film? Was that your first choice? To be honest, no, but what would you have me watch… a Mohenjo Daro ? Gimme a break. 

So there you are, with me booking tickets for YZ… there was something zany about the title. I didn’t know anything about the movie, nor the star cast, not the director but yeah I knew fleetingly that it had Sai Tamhankar. Her name and the movie’s title aroused sufficient curiosity to find me attempting this exercise.

Marathi films and cinema off late has been in a state of flux. A metamorphosis, if you want to call it that. After being bereft of ideas for close to 3 decades the scene has exploded and how. The fresh crop of actors, directors, producers is attempting the new, the story boards are fresh, the production value is seriously up and the package now looks as good as a Hindi film even at 1/20th of its budget.

YZ, now why did it attract me… it’s a bad word, clean and simple...a slang so common on the roads of Maharashtra it would and can rival the BC’s and MC’s of the Punjab and the North. But its presentation is unique. The slang is picked up, polished, buffed up and after attaining the removal of all rough edges is packaged and presented to us not as a word but as an attitude. Just imagine shouting a BC in the middle of a Mumbai street, all would hear a bad word and they wouldn’t be wrong, but Sameer Widwans ( YZ’s director) sees the person belting it out, makes note of the person yelling, to spot and accurately paint for us his attitude. 

I loved this approach of looking at things, it does have us storm into the life of Gajanan Kulkarni ( Sagar Deshmukh ) a wimpy history professor from the town of Wai. Gajanan or Gajya is a 33 year old virgin and rightly so. A quirk of fate finds him and his wimpy approach being transferred and trans-shipped from a college in Wai to a College in Pune. The wimp as expected encounters a culture shock and is all prepared to go back home in a week till fate intervenes and deals him a second blow. He collides with Battees (32, Akshay Tanksale, playing a street smart bumpkin of a student to perfection with his battered out of Pune and Mumbai accent and rough rakish approach to things ). Here begins the wimps coming of age story with the teacher as the student and the raw and rough student as his life coach.Coming of age can be a huge misnomer till one takes into account the bramhinical social mindset of the country, here, if one is 33 years of age, employed and yet unmarried there is something wrong. If this gets fed into a person, gender apart, it can become a monumental high jump to be completed, where the target could even be tough for a Sergei Bubka or Yelena Isinbayeva, let alone wimps who have learned to walkwith baggages and exist by hiding their selves deliberately.

Gajya encounters 3 women in his journey towards becoming a finished YZ and in each of this stage he learns a potent part of himself and then starts proudly wearing it on his sleeve. The girls in his life are credible for the characters that have been drawn and fill up those proto types quite well. Sai Tamhankar, the sensual sassy actress is devoid of this aura of hers and delivers a knock out performance, while Mukta Barve and Parna Pethe as the other two are believable.

Is this movie good? It’s certainly not bad. However on reflection it is a tad bit too long and some serious snipping would have made it tauter and pacy. It loses pace in key moments and that invites my sleep-o-meter which induces the zzzzz in me. Concisely put, Battees (32) the character, Gajya and one girl interaction would have been a crisp growing up journey with the Pune background playing its role actively. Here one feels and I could be mistaken that it is a 45 minute movie repeated thrice each with a different girl. There are innovations that are quite cute, there is an entire song belted out in Sanskrit, a dream sequence, but Sanskrit nevertheless. It is a watchable movie and while one doesn’t come out feeling that did one get a super bang for his buck..ummm no…the money wasn’t entirely wasted either. Those like me who still are reeling under the image bash of seeing a sanskritik avatared Sai Tamhankar are the chappies who may struggle for words in articulating to you what about the movie did not sit well. Every element is real and believable but the story did not need so many elements is my first gut reaction.

There are many positives in this movie and the camera takes the first spot followed by the caricatures sketched and they who get presented in the title display of the cast and characters, Akshay Tanksales battees is hilarious and spot on in parts and while the wimpy Gajya is good it is Sai's Parnarekha which is first rate. She has improved as a performer is easy on the eye in her character. If you ask me that what would you say after watching YZ has come of age...and my answer is straight, it is Marathi Cinema without any doubt.

11 July, 2016

Sultan: Of the Swing, Salman Rules.

10,000 hours at a minimum are invested in a field of choice before one becomes a master and a champion of it. Malcolm Gladwell in his bestselling book "Öutliers" drew this out as one of the conclusions from the data he analysed to decode success. 

Now why did this particular thought come to my mind as I silently walked out of the cinema hall after watching “Sultan”? Both I and my wife were quiet. It was an unexpected experience that had come our way. A Salman Khan movie released on Eid, had us emerging out of a cinema hall in stunned silence.

Salman belongs to an elite troika that has ruled the Hindi Cinema onscreen space over the past twenty years now. Never having been ever openly credited for knowing the craft or for his histrionic ability his notional equity commanded a lower price in the acting arena compared to Aamir Khan and Shahrukh Khan. Yet Salman Khan’s movies across his career have collected more money than those of the other two put together, who were a part of the supposed serious, mainstream projects. He is a star, loved by the masses, singularly handsome, and dated the most beautiful women in the world onscreen, his off screen image has a darker edge, that of a bad boy.  His off-screen antics from his early career have been the stuff that did not create happy stories and some took him to facing the law. There is also a different side to him in which he is known to help his co-stars, actors and other technicians that earned him the respectful sobriquet of bhai. From his debut in 1988 till 1992 he gave 5 solo super hits, this was the closest anyone came to Rajesh Khanna’s  record of delivering 15 back to back super hits from 1969-72. Then he meandered in his career, doing nothing meaningful yet his films made money till 2009. That year saw the rebirth of a Bollywood Colossus in him. "Wanted", was a Hindi remake of Pokkiri a Telugu film, directed by Prabhudeva , from this movie on one saw Salman taking command over the box office in a fashion that left every single peer, senior, junior gasping and miles behind. He defined the term a “100 crore” film. Consistently he has given 100's of crores of collections per film, each one of which has the typically front seater crowd whistling, howling and cheering for his action, romance and dances.

This though now was a different Salman Khan. He had taken charge, his performance, his understanding his commitment to every project grew by leaps and bounds and this attention reflected in his performance and films. His Rajveer Shekhawat to Chulbul Pandey are characters have stayed on in his audience’s memory. But with his legal cases, his oft quoted understood - misunderstood utterances and his more popular goofy cinematic image make him a soft target to be looked down upon by the select discerning audience. This same set had done it to Govinda years earlier and now it was Salman’s turn.

It was in this mindset we had entered the Cinema Hall to watch Sultan.

Sultan Ali is a townie from a village in Haryana and the movie opens in a wrestling pit. Sultan (Salman Khan ) has been a local legend in the past and a new recruiter Amit Sadh, trying to enlist him for the TV visual sport of MMA is aghast on seeing an old paunchy clerk in a government office. His queries to a friend of Sultan’s, unearths a story buried under the grime and sweat of a life in which he lived, loved and now seemingly looked like having lost. This was not an athlete in his prime who could be revived or could he? The wrestler has left the ring in memory of his paramour, Aarfa (Anushka Sharma) and as his friend joins the dots we take part in the romance of an impish Sultan. There in Sultan is a lot of heart, broken, bruised but ticking. This is what carries him on and the story leisurely moves on to its conclusion. 

Ali Abbas  Zafar, the director has a firm grip over the movie and it is the script that takes centre stage. It’s the treatment that separates this movie from the rest of what Salman has done. The story is the hero and the lovely lyrics by Irshad Kaamil the poet & lyricist its heroine. The romantic ballad "Jag Ghumiya" is so elegantly crafted by his pen that it will linger on for a long time.The fact that Salman himself lends his voice is just another raisin that I found in my biscuit. The dialect of the movie stays true to its location, is found in the songs too. Both the stars Salman and Anushka are & stay totally in character to deliver excellent performances. Their look is so beautifully designed, that both of them are believable completely.  The music by Vishal-Shekhar is rooted in the soil and the camera by Artur Zurawski the Polish Cinematographer makes love to the landscape and characters.

There is a genuineness ringing across the coin of Sultan the Movie with such a clear ring...it is amazing. The last time we had seen such an authentic energy and across the board genuineness was in Band Baja Baarat by Maneesh Sharma from the YRF’s stable. It is after that we see Ali Abbas Zafar hitting it out of the park in his third attempt at movie making after “My Brother Ki Dulhan”  and “Gunday”. Sultan shall allow him to take a bow for a movie well made. 

In a collaborative effort like making a film when all things fall into place, it is on account of everyone totally owning their work and roles. It is only on such rare occasions then that the movie watching experience becomes seamless and sublime. Everybody is outstanding and no one performance needs to be lauded. The man of the match is clearly the director and the team has won. The Kingdom is no longer King Khan's , it is a Sultanate now and there is but one SULTAN.

11 June, 2016

TE3N : South Korea to Kolkata, not much lost in translation

Kolkata is the new city of montages for the new age Hindi cinema. Look at the recent ones that have gone across our viewfinders and you shall get at what I am talking about. Kahani, Byomkesh Bakshy, Piku and now we have Te3n. 

No other city with the exception of Bombay actively interjects itself into the cast and script so wilfully like Kolkata making it special.

Te3n produced by Sujoy Ghosh and finding shape under the directorial baton of Ribhu Dasgupta is a good looking dark film. It is based on the South Korean film Montage and is officially a remake, with the copyright purchased. South Korean cinema has had unmentioned remakes earlier like the Sanjay Dutt starrer Zinda made from Oldboy. It is a different kind of cinema the South Korean one, and adapting it into the Indian ethos and milieu is a serious challenge. Ribhu Dasgupta has done a stellar job at this.

It all begins with a bang and an accident in sepia frames and the movie narrates itself 8 years later. John Biswas (Bacchhan, after Piku is officially now a screen Bengali, so natural is he at it )  loses a grand-daughter to a kidnapping and murder and is hounding the police for every single day of his eight years. The now cop in charge Vidya Balan, has empathy but no solution for the justice sought. The then veteran cop Martin in charge has also experienced the same deep rooted trauma of the crime and changes professions at the juncture of failure to become a priest. No clues are forthcoming and the case is stagnant and plateaued until a chance encounter with a baby girl unravels a thread for John. And while the thread unravels, there is a fresh crime. The MO is the same and the new cop seeks out the priest and his past expertise as a cop to crack the case. It’s a leisurely paced movie plot that deliberately tumbles itself towards a conclusion. Does John find justice, Do the police crack the cases form the fulcrum on which this plot is hinged.

The three back stories of the characters are neatly weaved in with some ends left deliberately or inadvertently open. There are more stories that intersperse and take over the narrative and make the plot more involved and complicated. 

Superb performances from Bacchhan and Sabhyasachi Chakraborty. Sabhyasachi is now finding himself as a default prop in every film that has Kolkata. 

Vidya Balan looks like a Mallu Chechi and tries to act like a young modern Bengali Bowdi who is also a cop. Someplace the cracks show up in the characterization and not in her performance. Same is the case with Nawazuddin Siddiqui as Father Martin. He is good but it is tough to digest him as the padre while easier as the padre who reverts to his cop giri. 

The camera is the final star who creates the ultimate Montage for Te3n and Kolkata shines through in its structural grandness, its fading and populated lively colourful milieu. The music is hummed prose lyrically metered by Amitabh Bhattacharya and set to tune by Clinton Cerejo. The music is unobtrusive, stays in the background and deepens the colour tone of the movie.

The pace of the movie is all Kolkata. It is languorous, slow, deliberate and garrulous sometimes more so in parts where one wishes for silence. 

This movie drives home the point that a new narrative flavour is definitely taking root in Hindi Cinema. This is seriously a welcome change.