Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Mahabarata Revisited

The weekend I watched the movie 'Kalyug'. Review from Mouthshut.com

KALYUG is one of the ’ ’best films’’ made by Shyam Benegal and taking into consideration Shyam Benegal’s oeuvre, Kalyug must be something special to deserve that tag. IT IS... KALYUG was produced by Shashi Kapoor who in his producer’s phase made some really good cinema like Junoon, Kalyug, Vijeta and Utsav.. its another matter that none of them did well commercially though they did get a lot of critical acclaim and bagged a host of awards.

Kalyug tells the story of two feuding business families-one led by Raj Babbar and the other by Victor Bannerjee.They are both cousins incidently and the patriarch of the whole family is their grand-uncle played by AK Hangal. Raj Babbar who has too honest and retiring a disposition finds it difficult to acquire the smart and shrewd ways of the corporate world. He basically lacks the guile and craftiness to take the family business forward much to the chagrin of his wife Rekha. His younger brother-Kulbhusan kharbanda assists him but the person who actually runs the show is their kid brother Anant Nag who plays a driven and highly ambitious person who hates to lose.

On the other hand,Victor Banerjee is a person who will do anything by hook or crook to get one-up on his cousins.He does not hesitate to use devious and even diabolical means to beat them in the game of business.In this he is assisted by his brilliant and loyal manager Shashi kapoor who does not really endorse his ways but is too burdened by his debt to protest.Victor Banerjee has a life-long gripe with his cousins as he feels he was unfairly denied his right of leading a unified and undivided business by his cousins.He knows the dark truth of his cousins’ birth.They are not really his uncle’s children as his uncle was impotent-they were fathered by a Swamiji whose ’’sewa’’ their mother-Sushma Seth did.Victor Banerjee therefore considers them ’’bastards’’ who had no rights whatsoever on the business..

Does this story sound familiar..does it ring a bell..yes the narrative of KALYUG is heavily inspired and derived from the Mahabharata..with the 2 estranged families who fight till they completely destroy each other..Its a clever interpretation of Mahabharata in the modern context..where Raj Babbar is the self-righteous Yudhistir,Kulbushan Kharbanda is the simpleton Bheem,Anant Nag is the highly skilled Arjun,Victor Banerjee is the diabolical Duryodhana and Shashi kapoor is the loyal Karna-the illegitimate son of Sushma Seth. Shashi kapoor is incidentally called karan in the film and to make matters even more delectable there is a passing reference that his marriage proposal was rejected by the very snobbish Rekha-Draupadi.

This film wonderfully extrapolates the incidents of Mahabharata in the narrative making the going-ons very interesting.The film moves at a brisk pace and you never feel the pace of the film sagging.Considering the complexity of the plots, the film still manages to very skilfully examine and delve into the protagonists’minds.Its very adroitly done-with minimum of fuss and some wonderful dialogues by Satyadev Dubey..not the ’filmy’ kind but everyday language is used...

The film’s ensemble cast put in spirited performances-be it Victor Banerjee who hits just the right pitch to play the arrogant,refined yet spiteful Dhanraj.Anant Nag shows his inherent restrain and underplays his slightly flamboyant role.Raj Babbar mercifully doesn’t ham and neither does Kulbhushan Kharbanda-think Mr. Benegal held them on a tight leash. Rekha plays the snobbish,unhappy-with-her-husband,hard as nails,uppity character with flourish . Shashi Kapoor shows what a wonderful actor he was..wish he had done more roles like this..instead of the happy-go-lucky poor man’s Shammi Kapoor roles he specialised in.. The rest of the cast puts in some good performances..watch urmila matondakar as the young parikhshit...:)

The direction by Shyam Benegal is unobtrusive..he creates a complex web and draws the viewers in it..slowly but surely..there’s no look-at-me technical wizardry of Ram Gopal Verma in his directorial touches. Incidentally Ramgopal Verma said in one of his interviews that his ’Company’ was inspired by ’Kalyug’ . Cinematography by Govind Nihalani and Background score by Vanraj Bhatia are the other highlight of this movie.

Friday, July 21, 2006


Brand: American Express
Execution: TV (Academy Awards 2006)
Description :
This 2:00 minute spot shows M. Night Shyamalan, the director of “The Sixth Sense” and “The Village” sitting in a restaurant. As he watches the patrons, strange and stranger things begin to happen. We can see his vision infiltrate the actions of the people around him. Then a waitress interrupts his thoughts and breaks the spell. The voiceover - in his voice says, “My life is about finding time to dream. That’s why my card is American Express.”

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Mumbai's Lifeline

The local train - the lifeline of Mumbai that was attacked on 11th July - has been used by filmmakers to symbolise many aspects of Mumbai city. Local train has been used as an anchor by many filmmakers. I am highlighting some of the movies that featured Local train.

In Half Ticket, Kishore Kumar steals a ride in the train by posing as a child.

The local train played a significant role in Basu Chatterjee's Manpasand where Dev Anand spots the talented daatun-peddling Tina Munim.

In Zanjeer, Pran escorts a potential witness, to the city, by local train. Unfortunately, the witness is thrown out of the train.

In Ramesh Sippy's Shakti, the local train forms the backdrop of a fight between Amitabh Bachchan and a few lumpen elements who harass Smita Patil and try to outrage her modesty.

In Page 3, the local train served as a meeting place between a journalist and an aspiring actress.

J. P. Dutta's Hathyar which showed Sanjay Dutt seeing his dead father lying in between railway tracks, amidst the whizzing locals.

In Ram Gopal Verma's Company, Vivek Oberoi convinces his friends that how they will work under Malik (Ajay Devgan) in local train compartment.

In Anant Mahadevan's Dil Vil Pyaar Vyar, also has Jimmy Shergill in a car pursuing Hrishita Bhatt who insists on travelling only in a local train, rejecting his offer to be dropped by car.

Mehul Kumar's Jaago is based on the true incident of the rape of a minor in a Mumbai local train in which no spectator came to her assistance.

In Milan Luthria's Taxi No. 9211, John Abraham gets Nana patekar stuck in his taxi on a railway track and a local train smashes it.

In Shaad Ali's Saathiya, the hero searches for the heroine by repeatedly travelling in local trains eventually wooing her. Later, in a heart-breaking scene, he is shown walking up and down the station searching for his wife who never arrives.

If anybody has any addition to the above list, please comment.

Thursday, July 13, 2006


Last Monday myself and my wife went for shopping and as it was already late in the afternoon we decided to have our lunch outside. We went to Nandini Hotel at Domlur circle,Bangalore. Amid heavy rush the floor supervisor accomodated us in two seats at a corner. As we were very hungry, we decided to order for Meals and with chicken as side dish. I randomly went thru the long menu and decided to order for Chicken-65. After giving order and anxiously waiting for the meal I wondered why is this dish called Chicken 65. Why not 01 or 10 or 100, why 65?
For those who have never tried this dish, let me make it clear that it is a chicken fry with lot of masala esp ginger.The next day I decided to check it out on the net - why is it called chicken-65?. I got a few interesting results like :
Story #1 - Some one tried to cook a whole chicken in a pot with 65 dried red chili peppers to make it hot, and then adjusted the spices by adding lime juice to make it more palatable.
Story #2- an expert cook states that 65 chillies are used for every kilo of chicken.
Story #3- According to a waiter, the recipe, which originated in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu, is best made with a young chicken exactly 65 days old.
Story #4 – It was first made and served in a bar in Kerala in 1965.
Story #5 – It was first served in a hotel on NH 65 (NH 65 runs from Ambala in Punjab to Pali in Rajasthan).
Story #6 – 65 ingredients are used to make the dish.
Story #7 - The name comes from the 65th item on the menu at Buharis hotel on Mount Road Chennai.
Story #8 - Indian soldiers needed something quick and easy during a war in 1965 and the unanimous choice of the soldiers was to have deep-fried boneless chicken pieces dipped in yogurt and spices.

I am unable to come to a conclusion and it will always remain a mystery. But it is really delicious and those who want to try it can check here.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

City of God (Cidade de Deus )

I hate violence in real life but I love violent movies. I saw an excellent movie this weekend, 'City of God'. It is a Brazilian movie about a young boy growing up among the gangs at a slum outside Rio de Janeiro, and his dreams of escaping to become a photographer. It is a very violent, heartbreaking and beautiful and bloody gangster movie based on a true story. After watching this movie I searched and came to know that Rio de Janeiro is a city where tourists are very much afraid to visit.
The film starts off with a brilliant sequence : A visual shot of a butcher knife against a sharpening stone with a tingling sound. Then the screen goes black. Again the same image is flashed for a few seconds and screen goes black. After flashing the same scene for three times we see a skinny chicken watching its former companion being throat cut with the knife. The other chicken manages to get free and starts running on the narrow streets of the slum. It is chased by a group of gun-toting gangster kids.......... and the movie rolls.
check here for the brief review of the movie and also check the official website here.
Full marks to director Fernando Meirelles (his debut film) and cinematographer César Charlone (Even the dust looks beautiful in this movie). Nearly all of the actors are nonprofessionals. The filmmakers conducted yearlong workshops preparing the cast, which was partly composed of street kids with experiences much like those of the characters they portray. The film is brilliant from beginning to end, and keeps the blood pumping. If you liked Martin Scorsese's 'Goodfellas', 'Taxi Driver', 'Mean Streets, and Tarantino's ' Pulp fiction' then do watch 'City of God' because it cuts like a butcher knife — the sharpest one.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Sleeping Beauty

Title : Flaming June,1895

Artist : Frederick Leighton

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Matrubhoomi - A nation without women

Yesterday I watched Manish Jha's 'Matrubhoomi - A nation without women '. I would like to warn everybody that this movie is very Intense and disturbing. I would advise people with a faint heart not to watch the movie. The movie does not have any jhatka-matka or dances set in Switzerland. The movie will shock and stun you with the violence. Now after this warning let me tell you that this is the best and original script that I have come across from Bollywood in recent times. Let me give out the story.
The movie's opening scene shows a lady in childbirth. The husband and the villagers are waiting anxiously outside the house. The lady gives birth to a child and the people waiting outside start celebrating as soon as they hear the new-born baby cry. The midwife bring the child outside and announces - "Its a girl". The father of the child and the villagers are stunned. In the next shot the girl child, still crying, is immersed in a big bowl of milk and killed, ...female infanticide which was (and still is) so rampant in Indian villages.
Mathrubhoomi - A nation without women - The title comes alive. This is Manish Jha's movie on female infanticide.
The movie is set in the future where female infanticide has run so rampant that there are hardly any women left in the country. Directory Manish Jha takes us directly to a village where there is no women in a population of say 5,000 adolescent and unmarried menfolk .There had been no weddings in the village for past Fifteen years.
A group of villages are gathered in front of a stage and cheering and shouting. A man come to the stage dressed colourfully as a woman and starts dancing (to the tune of main aayee hoon UP, bihar lootene) sending the male audience to raptures.
The next scene shows the male audience (both young and old) watching pornographic movie in TV. The audience compalin that they are being shown the same movie for the last three days and thus we can make out there desperation for a female company.
The director gives the clear picture of the village which does not have any women through various scenes like families of men fight over women, parents dress up their young boys as girls to marry them off and claim dowry, men copulate with animals, and women are only used for procreation.
The film centres around powerful family landlord (Sudhir Pandey) and his five sons. The sons are desperate to get married. The village panditji who is also a broker informs the father that there are no women left anymore in any villages nearby. The Panditji is a homosexual as one of the scenes indicate.
The panditji locates a girl named Kalki from the neighbouring village and informs the landlord. The landlord gives rupees 5 lakhs and 5 cows to the greedy father of the girl and gets his five sons marred to the girl (in an awesome marriage scene). After the marriage the sons sits together and discuss who gets her for each day of the week (One of the brothers does not want Friday coz he is on vratha!) and at last the father also claim for one day of the week and also gets to spend the first night with the girl. We then see that the girl is used each night by the sons and father just to satisfy the sexual needs. Only the youngest son respects her, so the girl likes him. The brothers comes to know of this and inturn they kill him. Kalki decides to run away with the help of scheduled caste servant boy but the brothers comes to know about this and kills the servant boy. Kalki is chained along with cattle. The younger people of lower caste decides to take revenge of the servant boy's death by raping kalki. she is also raped continously by father-in-law and her husbands night after night. she becomes pregnant but still people abuse her.
Finally the villagers and the landlords and comes to know that Kalki is pregnant and there begins a friction between the lower castes and the landlords and the caste war breaks out in village. Kalki gives birth in this violent backdrop...to a girl child...movie ends...
The movie is very disturbing but it is a view about how women are treated in many parts of India. Performance wise, everybody has given a natural a excellent show. Tulip Joshi as Kalki is brilliant. The role was really tough but she has done good justice to it. Other actors like Sudhir pandey, Sushant singh, Piyush Mishra and others (I dont know the names) performance is very natural. Cinematography by Venu and background by Salim-Suleiman needs special mention and maintains the tempo of the movie. And finally Directory Manish Jha, simply brilliant. He is one guy to watch out for. Also three cheers to Sridevi for distributing and getting this movie released in India. If interested in a serious matter, watch this movie.


review on countercurrents.org

review on upperstall.com

Saturday, July 01, 2006


Fifteen years ago a hindi movie named Sadak was realeased starring Sanjay Dutt and Pooja bhatt. I watched the movie and was going through the review of the movie in a film magazine and remember that the the author of that film review had compared this movie to an Hollywood movie 'Taxi Driver'. Since then I had read a lot about this Martin Scorsese movie but was never been able to watch it. I used to check with all CD rental shops but could not get this film.
Today morning as usual I searching for good film in the video rental shop and to my surprise I saw the DVD of ' Taxi Driver'. I immediately rented the DVD, went home and watched it. After watching the movie, I could easily make out why this is rated as one of the masterpiece by Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro team.
It is really a hard hitting also disturbing movie. The film did not win any academy award though it was nomintated in some categories. The entire story of the movie can be best described by the tagline of the movie - "On every street in every city, there's a nobody who dreams of being a somebody." Robert De Niro gives a wonderful performance as nighttime taxi driver Travis Bickle, a mentally unstable, but rather special guy who wants to clean up the politics and crime in New York city. I am going to give some of the quotes from the movie.

  • Travis Bickle: The days go on and on... they don't end. All my life needed was a sense of someplace to go. I don't believe that one should devote his life to morbid self-attention, I believe that one should become a person like other people.
  • Travis Bickle: June twenty-ninth. I gotta get in shape. Too much sitting has ruined my body. Too much abuse has gone on for too long. From now on there will be 50 pushups each morning, 50 pullups. There will be no more pills, no more bad food, no more destroyers of my body. From now on will be total organization. Every muscle must be tight.
  • Travis Bickle [Into the mirror]: You talkin' to me? You talkin' to me? You talkin' to me? Then who the hell else are you talkin' to? You talkin' to me? Well, I'm the only one here. Who do the fuck do you think you're talking to? Oh, yeah? Ok.
  • Travis Bickle: I'll tell you why. I think you're a lonely person. I drive by this place a lot and I see you here. I see a lot of people around you. And I see all these phones and all this stuff on your desk. It means nothing. Then when I came inside and I met you, I saw in your eyes and I saw the way you carried yourself that you're not a happy person. And I think you need something. And if you want to call it a friend, you can call it a friend.
    Betsy: Are you gonna be my friend?
    Travis Bickle: Yeah.

Check this video.

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