Soni-that Netflix film you should see

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Just like that I watched it. Nobody asked me to see it.

So I just watched it. Simply. With nothing in my brain.

One scene has the protagonist filling herself a glass of water for about 42 secs. And one where she’s folding clothes for 38 secs. And one where she is walking for 63 secs.

Like long takes.

Where she is doing the mundanest of things. And these mundane activities happen between edge of the seat, nail-biting, rage inducing scenes that leave you with a surge of emotions. And those crucial scenes take lesser screen time than these mundane activities. Like you are crazily involved and suddenly it just snaps. It gets cut off to see the protagonist doing mundane bodily actions like drinking water, folding clothes and just simply breathing. Not breathing heavily or anything…just simply breathing and sitting on a bed.

And the best part is that this fucking works wonders on you. Like I haven’t been so engrossed watching a film. Like I watched her folding clothes sitting on the edge of my seat.

Soni with the kind of storytelling it uses is absolutely and insanely refreshing.

And it is shot like the way Manmohan Desai describes in one of his interviews “I don’t know anything about camera. I am so involved in telling the story that I am assuming someone is recording it.”

The DOP does nothing more than record it. But the manner in which he does it..is so incredible. He makes you forget the fact, that this is a movie in progress. It’s so sexily shoddy, that it is genius. Like pitch perfectly flawed and organic. Nothing is framed. Nothing is lit. Nothing is worth being recognized because nothing is more important than the story. If your eyes had a record button..this is how the footage would look like.

And if your ears had a record button, this is how the world would sound like.

Now in that…happens a story.

Who are these people? Actors? I can’t imagine them to be that. Not a single one of them misses a beat. Nobody is anybody else than the character.

That leaves you simply awestruck…because you end up not having watched a story, but having lived one.

And this story is great to have lived it.

More than anything else, it just opens your eyes to a new kind of storytelling.

Which is ‘Nothing else matters but the story’.

I’m dying to spend some great time talking to people who have watched it.

Incredible.

 

Gaand mein Ghusedh doonga

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As I stare at Amazon Prime and Netflix and various other sites like Viu, Voot, Zoot, Loot…etc…I make some calculations, and take my bet for the night. My fingers randomly click on yet another new series. I patiently and nervously wait for it to buffer, till it goes ‘oops something went wrong’.

I ignore the warning and go for it bravely again.

12 minutes after the titles fade, I am taken into the same world, in the same grade, in the same dimly lit gullies of Haryana, UP, Bihar or somewhere in that belt, where someone is belting someone, and belting out a dialogue like ‘Gaand mein Ghusedh doonga’. He has the customary ‘Ghoda’ tucked away close to his crotch. I know he’s going to pull it out right now, and ‘ah so nonchalantly pull off the trigger, like so unexpectedly…without batting an eyelid…so that I can go…’oh fucking shit! What the fuck happened types!!!!’ and jump on to the edge of my seat with 4 exclamation marks, spilling my popcorn.

Like I didn’t see it coming.

I wish I reacted like that. I want to continue to have the ability to react like that. But fucking crap, all I did was I got up and went to pee. I didn’t even pause it.

Not because I was shit scared…I just wanted to pee.

I had become numb.

As I was peeing, I kept hearing the dialogues of some pent up writer going ballistic…venting out every single gaali he had carefully nurtured and crafted over the years, thrilled that his time has come, where he can now shit out dialogues from his pichwada, proving that he’s the true ‘mai ka laal‘, from a hinterland that’s yet to be featured on the Indian map.

Now I start to get scared. Shit scared. Because I knew that if I continued watching this shit, I knew I have to set aside a huge portion of my brain. to accommodate close to 1027 characters who are going to be launched in the next 8 episodes, each with their own strange quirks and nanosecond backstories.

This is over and above the 1732 characters I am dealing with in real life.

I went back and pressed pause as the protagonist was removing his Ghoda or Tamancha or Katta or whatever else the fuck you call it in those belts.

It was decision making time. I already have too many things in my head that can send me to dizzying spaces.

Is this one more thing that I need?

Because I knew pressing the un-pause button means a hell lot..I will now have to follow some random guy who is pretty incoherent and random in most things he does. He’ll not emote regularly (like most of us). Like I know he won’t cry when something bad happens and certainly won’t laugh when something happy happens. He’ll mostly walk around emoting strange emotions which takes an effort to understand because, remember, he has a nanosecond backstory.

Also yes he is going to speak modern day muhawaras in strange dialects with peculiar metaphors, in poorly lit gullies.

And from the shadows of these sunsaan gullies and flickering bulbs, characters will emerge one by one, carrying Ghodas. And at any point in time they could fire. Drug peddlars, cops in mufti, prostitutes, transvestites, politicians, goons and a million other mind-fucks who are both good and bad, supported by author-backed roles and method acting, all set to inhabit your densely populated brain. So I have to watch out carefully who fired whom, and for what?..or else, I will lose the plot. So I know I’ll have to pay close attention. Because the gun is going to fire for sure, with no rhyme or reason. Or more accurately, the rhyme is going to be in episode 2 and the reason will be revealed in the sequel.

I’m scared.

Do I have the space in my head for this?

That’s the only shit I’m thinking, as a rerun of my favourite movie is freely hanging around on Youtube, with no takers, feeling so outdated. With 4-5 basic characters in a regular ‘run-of-the-mill’ plot. But yes, it seems so tempting because I know my brain only has space for these cliches. Giving me all the liberty to doze off/ tune out/ blur away/ watch with one eye…do whatever I feel like..but I know I’ll still make it to the end.

Should I do that

OR

Should I go for this Mensa challenging mega-series?

A chilling algebra algorithm. Where every 13 minutes a new character is introduced. Where every action and line of ‘his’ or ‘her’ or ‘it’ can connect 16 dots in the plot that’s in progress. Where even the background action is important because a random character lighting up a beedi in the background will soon be in the centre of things adding a unique twist to the tale. Fuck that..even the beedi’s ash is going to play a role sooner or later…demanding complete ‘front bench attention’.

My brain warns me giving me an actual picture of how under-equipped it is to handle all this madness. As it is, all these characters right from Satya to Sacred Games have now merged and become one big gang residing in one giant locality in my head. They are now walking in the same gullies, spitting the same Vimal pan masala and spewing the same garbage, and now this locality has spread and extends all the way from Mirzapur to Mexico. Except that, the chap in Mexico spits the end he’s bitten off a Cigar…and here locally, the guy thookhofies some Gutka wrapper.

With these minor nuances, I am supposed to give them unique distinction in my brain.

My brain is crying, saying…..

“dude..don’t ask me to remember who is from where and saying what, specially when you are in those drunken conversations. I don’t know what I am processing anymore…so I’ll just pull out anyone from anywhere. And at that point, because they are all right now criss-crossing freely in here, it could be Bhiku Matre in Badlapur or Gaitonde in Ghana. Don’t blame me..because it’s a mess out here…there are now close to 9438 people walking around doing the same things. Walking, shooting people and speaking cool cool lines after that…ya…all so nonchalantly. So anyone could be with anyone, anywhere, at any point in time. Just warning you. So if you’re going to binge watch this shit…be prepared. Because when you sleep, I’m going to take all these characters who are till now separated in shades of grey and merge them into tones of sepia.”

I ponder for a moment. And then open youtube, and watch Aamir selling black tickets in Rangeela. One guy asks him ‘corner ka hai na?’ and he replies ‘ekdum corner ka..ek yeh corner ka..ek woh corner ka’.

I laugh out loud. Like I didn’t see it coming.

PS: This crap above doesn’t deserve a copy check. Fuck that..it doesn’t even deserve a read.

 

2016-What was that ride?

La La Land. Just them sitting in that dark theatre and him trying to hold her hand for the first time. And the nervousness he goes through, I wondered if people still go through this. Im happy that they do, or at least Emma and Ryan convinced me that movies can be as magical as you want them to be. La La Land took me to La La Land. Im happy that classics can still be made. It doesn’t have to be restored or digitally mastered only.

Thithi. When Gadappa took that long drag of that beedi, that the smoke almost got to my lungs, quenched quickly by the Tiger Brandy, that he swigged on the screen. Thithi, made me so happy, to hear lines spoken in a language I am so fond of.”yen ninnn problemu’, Gadappa asked and all I said to myself was ‘yenu illa’. Thithi wiped off my life’s shitty problems for the 2 odd hours I spent watching it. I wanted to be Gadappa. Not give a damn about the world. It was therapeutic.

Aligarh. When Manoj Bajpai, closed the doors of that little room he had moved into, after being humiliated, and puts a chair in front of the closed door, so scared that the world could find him so hate worthy, even when he is sitting alone in that room drinking all by himself, I choked. Aligarh, moved me to tears.

The Jungle Book. It tickled me back to life. More than the movie, I was happy with myself, because I was happy that I still had it in me to be fascinated. Fascinated like a child. It just took off about 30 years from my actual age. I am still wondering why it needed an A certification.

Kabali. Kabali touched that raw nerve. That nerve that activates endorphins. I needed calming pills. Not throughout the movie. But enough and more times with a soundtrack that can wake up even the dead. It was enough to see my God on screen. But to make him so sexy was too much sexiness to handle.

Dangal. A movie that make you leap out of your seat every now and then. It is almost like following a rule that only once in two to three years is it allowed to make a movie this inspiring.

Kapoor and Sons. It never felt like a hindi movie. It broke all expectations of a multi-starrer. Thankfully so. A new kind of story. A new kind of story telling. I was engrossed. Contemplating on behalf of the people on screen.

Visaranai. A big applause to the chaps who decided to send this as our official entry to the Oscars. I am still to come to terms that it was just a movie that I watched. I squirmed uncomfortably in my seat. I was in the story, being beaten and bruised. I was screaming innocent. It took a lot of time to exit out of the film.

Kabali – Don’t review God

o-KABALI-facebookImagine standing in front of a tornado that’s fast approaching you at the speed of 280mph. And you stand there ready to dive into it. You stay put. All willing to hitch a ride. The tornado arrives with some dizzying surround sound. Engulfs you. And carries you to a spot which is the epicenter of an earthquake. And then suddenly ejects you out into outerspace..where you are floating somewhere between Neptune and Uranus.

I think such an experience cannot be called ‘watching a movie’.

So when a lot of them seem to be let down by ‘Kabali’ because of high expectations…I feel sad. Because I feel their expectations weren’t high enough. They weren’t willing to let go….and probably wanted to be sitting close enough to the ground…and maybe take them only as far or as high as a giant wheel can . Where they still get to see ‘familiar things’ around them. Like spotting their school from up there. Or point around towards some parks and roads which they’ve seen from close quarters. And get all excited because they are now seeing the same from as high as a giant wheel.

Kabali is certainly not that.

Don’t go, if you are in it for a movie. Don’t go if you are in it for a story. For screenplay. For familiar emotions being replayed. Don’t go for technical brilliance. And certainly don’t go if continuity, logic, brilliant performances, a coherent story, great character sketches all come in as prerequisites that first need to be fulfilled and tick-boxed before you are ready for the ‘take-off’.

Don’t go if you are not willing to ‘let go’.

Go only if you are willing to get carried away. And be swayed and swung and spun and churned and thrown around by the only superhero we know who exists for real.

He’s here in his newest avatar to take you on a heady trip you’ve never experienced…not here as a cuddly grandpa to sit you down and tell you a story.

And yes, he and we, want no time wasted before we’re in the middle of this trip. Because he knows and so do we that we’re here only for that trip. Nothing else. Rest is mandatory.

Yes, since he’s decided to only meet us at movie halls, he’s engaged some mere mortals who have sat down and put together some mandatories for that to happen. If you are going to be stuck there…then you are missing the ride. The larger picture. The madness. The heady giddy mix of all things Thaliava…all things Superstar…all things that we are in it for.

I have been watching every movie of Rajini ever since he made my brain understand that there are some things in life where every part of your anatomy can be given immense joy at the same exact moment.

There is nothing more supreme than this euphoria. Everything else is a means to it.

And ever since, after having watched every movie of his, he’s only left me behind with this feeling that makes me pissed off with the people who contribute words to the dictionary. Only because they haven’t invented a word that can fully express what this feeling is.

This feeling has now grown with passing time. And now this feeling has somewhere crossed the line and now has the audacity to make demands.

‘Expectation’.

‘Expectation’ makes you the higher one. Makes you and your imagination the elevated one. And then someone has to rise above to meet it. It is great when you have it in some cases…and it’s absolute stupidity when it comes to some other things. And certainly impudent and immodest when it comes to Rajini.

kabali hi resTo me, ‘Kabali’ is a return of sorts. Right from the credit title. Where it’s back to where the ‘Superstar’ phenomenon all started. Back to those little led lights that tries to illuminate that feeling on the screen. A feeling so euphoric, that we’re unwilling to accept any word that the dictionary has to offer for it.

Rajini gives this feeling a new journey. A new path. Rajini reboots. Restarts. And goes back to a place where it all started. Back to that place where he walked into that dingy stage at the ‘Gubbi Veeranna’ theatre. Where he played the character of Ravana in a play.

A time when people queued up only to see him. He was there to show you how menacing he can be. People came to watch that. Nobody came to see the story of Ramayana. Everyone knew it. They came there to lose themselves and travel along with him.

Over there people knew the story. Over here I feel we need to assume it. Either way, the fun is only in travelling along with him.

He’s back here playing an evil baddie. He goes about killing everything that doesn’t suit his taste. Who or what he’s killing doesn’t matter or shouldn’t. Why he’s killing too shouldn’t. That part is ours. To fill it up on our own.

Half of what Rajini does lies in our imagination. Whatever he was fighting…we weren’t fighting the same enemy in our heads. We were fighting our own. He just gave us the manner in which it needs to be done. And we loved it.

We’re only back here for a refresher course. Not for a movie. To learn from a man who teaches us as to ‘how it’s done.’

And then…we now have to come back to terms that this is a movie.

Tiring.

Tiring to interact with people who still see him as an actor. And as an actor who acts in movies.

And then to see some reviewer say ‘his age is beginning to show’. I wanted to laugh out loud. Like the way Rajini laughs. I only want to ask him ‘where or when was he trying to hide it?’

“He’s not moving in the same speed. Not picking up the guns with the same swiftness.”

Now show me a 60 something man doing that with even half that speed. Fuck that. Show me a 20 something anybody who does that with one hundredth of that swag or style.

Infact he adds a whole new body language. That I think is nuance.

Chuck it.

Ok…now coming back to what if ‘Kabali’ were a movie.

After the previous two disasters, Rajini has understood the dangers of the tried and tested. The very idea that he now stars in a movie like this sends out a strong signal that he’s moved on.

Rajini has chosen a guy with right kind of sensibilities.

Even if he doesn’t have the right sense.

Pa Ranjith’s desire of seeing Rajini as a menacing gangster who probably should have been in ‘lock stock and two smoking barrels’, is absolutely mind blowing.

The mind-blowing part of Ranjith pretty much ends there. And is then taken over by Santosh Narayan.

Santosh is sensible enough to understand that all the bullshit that Ranjith serves and all the awesomeness that Rajini radiates, needs a separation.

His job is now then to become a guide of sorts to bring our attention back to the screen at the right moments.

Which comes in the form of a siren. A siren that summons us back. A siren that has been programmed to release the dormant endorphins within our bodies..asking us to drop our popcorn, leave our phones alone, stop our pee midway and rush back in time to succumb ourselves to the God on screen.

Kabali_2834894fAnd It is in these parts where Rajini takes it upon himself to more than make up for the mistakes committed by his mere mortal crew.

It’s only then when it strikes us.

That we were here only for him. Nothing else matters.

Court

Like when you wait for your turn at a barber shop, you do notice a lot of things. You notice it, because you are doing nothing but just waiting. You notice that the barber just went outside and blew his nose, and then he’s back massaging some guys head. You watch some random telegu channel, which you have at your home too, but never ever stopped at it. But you now watch it in the barber shop because you have nothing better to do than wait. The guy next to you is on the phone speaking to his uncle about some sick relative of theirs in a language that you dont understand but you strain your ears and try and figure out the story because you have nothing better to do in that barber shop than wait.

Court is an incredible incredible documentation of just observations. Observations that are so accurately translated back to cinema.

c o u r t_0If every road, every street and every room in the country had a cctv camera, and if one incident were to be covered in its entirety by only using footage from these cameras, the result would be something like court.

Court makes everyday life more exciting than fiction. Court throws the spotlight on everyday mundanity and makes it steal the thunder out of the most bizarre fantastical dream. Court creates superstars out of nobodies. Court makes you sit up and take notice of everything happening around you, and makes you believe that your life is not mundane. It makes you think that you could actually be amidst the most engrossing story ever.

Court opens up your mind to a new topic. A mundane life. And it has the sexiest stories hidden underneath.

This Talvar has the edge

The reason I went to watch this movie was plain curiosity. And yes, with that thought playing in the back of my head, that someone is being opportunistic about this. As I began watching, I began to realise that the film was not being made with sensationalism in mind. I never guessed that the filmmaker’s motivation behind this was to seek justice. It’s the pitch and the creator’s sensibilities that speak volumes about her craft and intention. The film opens up your mind, and elevates you from being a layman. Mostly, it brings to attention that at the end of the day everything is a consequence of various individuals and their characteristics. Nothing is a system. Nothing is a process. Not even law. No system can be so watertight that it can’t be influenced by the people that are in it. A lesson I learnt after watching the movie ‘Court’ too. I have no idea how this lesson would be useful to me in life, or maybe I do. Just that I am aware could probably make me more emotionally intelligent and competent when I am going about living my life.

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And in movies, usually characters talk and behave in a manner that adds to the overall character of the film. The personality of the film in some manner dictates how each person should talk and behave. Talvar breaks it, and brings it as close to reality. There are no two of a kind. And they all speak in very different ways. It’s impossible to believe that one person was behind all their lines. In some sense finally hindi films are catching up with regional cinema.

I can’t pick a character who went wrong, because they leave no room for anyone to imagine them in any other way. Yes, but Irrfan just by his sheer presence elevates his role to make himself the face of this film. Even Prakash Belawadi and Gajraj Rao, are absolute scene stealers whenever they make an appearance. Down to the background cast, like even the bystanders are handpicked in such a manner that they were made for that role.

This film clearly proves that Meghna Gulzar belongs to a better pedigree.

Al Fucking Pacino

No. I didn’t go to watch Danny Collins. I don’t even know who the fuck he was. Maybe he was real, like the movie declares right in the beginning ‘This is a true story…ok a little bit of it’. That intro was just like in the movie ‘Salim langde pe mat ro’, where right in the beginning Salim says “ye apun ka story hai…beech beech mein thoda bandal merega…chalega na”….something like that. You know right then and there, that this is unlike any other. Yes…I was there to watch Al Pacino do something, some role of Danny Collins, Steve Jobs, Albert Einstein…..whoever..I don’t know and I don’t care. I’m sure everyone in the theatre, though it was a few of them…were here for the same reason. To watch one man. Not Danny Collins. The movie began, and Al Pacino came. Just like how Al Pacino needs to make an entry. Under the arch lights with a thousand fans screaming for Danny Collins, a rockstar. And Al came in with a swagger, as the camera follows him from behind and enters a deafening stage. And outstretches his arms. And the crowd roars. And the popcorn stops. The man is back. That was Al Pacino making an entry. Not some Danny Collins. tumblr_lxpmrnomQm1r6bre1o1_500 Then Al Pacino performs for about 3 minutes. And Al Pacino exits the stage. And then suddenly it is Danny Collins who exits the stage. I forgot I was watching Al Pacino. No, it wasn’t The Godfather, The Scarface, Lt. Frank Slade…not any one of them. Who exited that stage was Danny Collins. I then realize that I am not supposed to be here to watch Al Pacino. I am supposed to be here to watch the story of Danny Collins. A rockstar who is in his sixties or seventies, who has lost the plot some 30 years ago. And still living off his past glory.al And he drew me in, and got me engrossed about some fucking Danny Collins who till then I didn’t give a fuck about. No, I wasn’t here to watch a movie on Steve Jobs, or Maragaret Thatcher or Gandhi or characters who I wanted to know more about. I was here singularly to watch one man, and that man vanished. Al Pacino made me forget Al Pacino. He made me notice every other character in the film. His manager. His wife. His son. His daughter-in-law, his granddaughter, the manager of the hotel he stayed in, the valet parking guy, the receptionist. And everyone else who were a part of Danny Collins’ story.danny He made me watch the story of a failing rockstar who is going through an existential crisis. It was just last night where I watched on youtube, legends like Robin Williams, Andy Garcia, Sean Connery, Oliver Stone, talking about the kickassness of this one man, at the AFI ceremony where they gave him the lifetime achievement award. I never saw that man in the movie. I saw Danny Collins. All I saw was an aging rockstar. A drunk drug addict trying hard to connect with his estranged son. Hitting on a middle aged hotel manager (played amazingly by Annette Bening), and trying hard to get her to agree for a dinner date with him. Saying some of the cheesiest lines like ‘I’ll check you out while you check me in’, delivered in such a sexy charming and funny manner, like he knows he’s being absolutely lame in his attempt. A superstar’s story narrated in the most human manner possible. I don’t know what the oscar boys are really looking for. But all I know is that in one scene in this movie, Al Pacino feels shit nervous about a new song he’s written, a song that he’s composed after 30 bloody years. that he’s about to perform to a small audience. And that small audience has his family in it. I can bet that every single person sitting in that theatre was feeling equally nervous. Like as if they were going to perform themselves. If someone can make you feel so much, like you are that person himself, I really don’t know what can be better than that for an actor. The best part of Al Pacino is that he doesn’t know and act like he’s Al Fucking Pacino. al 1