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.

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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.

Alternate cinema

Siddalingeshwara, Renuka Prasanna, Raghavendra, Shiva, Kamakya, Mahadeshwara, Maheshwari. These Gods have something else in common….they also lend their names to some popular ‘touring talkies” of Bangalore. Also colloquially known as ‘tent‘ or ‘tent cinema‘.  11112008478

If you ever looked beyond your nose, you might have noticed posters in two-tone, plastered on walls that also serve as free urinals. These posters, usually in combinations of bright red, green, yellow, blue and pink are like front page solus for the pissers-by. In one leak, they give you a glimpse of all the movies running in the nearby locality. So as you release yourself, you also get an idea of the latest releases, right before you.

The posters follow the rule of territorial pissings. Never does a poster stray into a wall from where the tent is not reachable by cycle or foot. So if you are seeing the poster, sniff harder, and you can smell the tent somewhere nearby. 

These posters artistically reduce the entire story line to a single picture, maintaining absolute transparency on what to expect. Designed for people who have no time to waste. They only part with vital information, cutting out all the crap. And mostly supported with line drawings of the hero and heroines in relevant poses for the benefit of ones who don’t enjoy reading. If it’s action, it’s only the hero with a gun or a machchu (big sickle). If it’s romance, the heroine is also added, in the arms of the hero. If it’s an adult movie, the lips of the shapeless heroine are given an extra bleed effect, and the ‘A’ certificate is flashed like a headline. 

11112008477No space is ever wasted.

What matters is what’s mentioned. Like a poster for Tarzan that says ‘Starring Kimi Katkar’. Why even mention ‘Hemant Birje’ when it is of no consequence? The poster for the kannada movie ‘Jogi’ reads ‘Shivarajkumar and Yana Gupta’. Even if Yana Gupta is only there in one song, she surely has been put to better use than the main heroine of the film. So ‘Jennifer Kotwal’ has been mercilessly knocked off from the credits.

If your nose doesn’t lead you to the location, look out for carts selling ‘Mewad‘ cone ice cream, vendors carrying huge placards displaying screen printed photographs of heroes and heroines or mithaiwalas who pull gummy tapes from under the skirt of a doll and shape it up like a ring or a watch on your hand for you to lick on.

Look further and you’ll see a thatched roof cinema house…..The tent

As you approach the tent, a rare scent of arrack mixed with urine invites you to join a queue of assorted characters. This is probably the most open-minded audience you can ever come across. The language is of nobody’s concern, as everyone is clear as to what to expect. They blindly believe that the poster will live up to its promise.111120084801 

(All kinds of films including Hindi, Kannada, Telugu, Tamil and English, yes even English movies are screened here. Currently, one of them is playing ‘Quantum of Solace’. They have all their love to give, be it for Akshay Kumar, Annavaru, Rajni, James Bond, Jackie Chan or Shakila. Oh no! How did I forget?…they also screen Malayalam movies. In fact they even have a fixed slot – The morning show.)

As the queue gathers length, the scent of sweat proportionally intensifies. Once the counter opens, the queue changes its shape to a circle. But there is no reason to panic, as the concept of ‘HOUSE FULL’ doesn’t exist here. 

There are no seat numbers, infact a part of the tent has no seats. Every tent has two basic classifications. ‘Nela’ (means ground), where it’s an open cemented floor right below the screen, where you can squat or lie down or do what you please. And seat, which are rows of steel or plastic chairs welded to each other to avoid any chair being hurled at the screen out of excitement or disgust.

There is also a separate queue dedicated to brave women and family folk. Somehow, people who do not belong to this esteemed crowd, know without being told, and just leave them alone.

Nela sells for Rs. 5 a ticket and seat for Rs. 20. The two are separated by a long horizontal bamboo pole and a mutual understanding to stay away from each other’s spaces. If the seats are filled up, simply find your own corner to stand.

The cleaners are grounded, the drivers are seated and the show begins, if it already hasn’t. Usually, there’s a small chamak (a little stunt to give a sudden dose of excitement) before the film begins. A random glimpse of the movie on hold, is played for a few seconds to check picture and sound quality. Enough to send the audience into a frenzy, and make them express ‘impatience’ in as many variations as possible. The madness continues till the projector gets its tuning right, and reaches a crescendo when it finally manages to. 

Two naked kids blow their trumpets from either side of the canvas. A tuneless tune blares out from the ‘Ahuja‘ speakers, prompting the spectators to outdo their previous performance. The screen is now filled with silhouettes of ecstatic drunkards blocking the projector.

Once the credits begin to announce names that don’t matter, the audience settle down, leaving behind a trail of beedi smoke to follow the rays that’ll soon unveil their God on screen.