Thursday, March 28, 2019

Super Deluxe review: Life lessons in a magic event at the cinemas

Disclaimer 1: Zero spoiler piece

Disclaimer 2: I used to think I have a really small and simple brain which can barely process calculations of monetary transactions above fifty rupees. This stands changed now onwards.

Disclaimer 3: I revel in basic dal-chawal meals, this evening I savored a 100-course buffet, and came back content and nourished. I might throw up in some time, but that is all going to be virtually on this blog of mine. In a parallel universe your screen might stink because of the vomit.

Sample the trailer of Thiagarajan Kumararaja sir's film, 'Super Deluxe':

Last disclaimer: I am not too well-versed in Tamizh cinema, so I might have not cracked all or any of the references or hat tips employed by TK sir. Pardon my ignorance.

Moving on to the two most important men in 'Super Deluxe' - TK sir and Vijay Sethupathi sir - they deserve all possible awards in all the universes that exist. I think each brain cell of TK sir can contain a universe of their own. The actor that Vijay sir was in this film, his cojones, as a rule must be used as weapons to attack satellites and planets of other galaxies. What a greedy actor, he has sunk his teeth not only into the meat his character offered, he also seems to have relished all the red and white blood cells on the offered meat.

I don't know why the director chose to start this esoteric film with a Bappi Lahiri tribute, but it really stamped my wrist the way they do at posh night clubs. It felt like I have surrendered to this universe completely unknown to me. I am perhaps one of the few cinephiles who have not savored the brilliance of 'Aaranya Kaandam' yet. Before you jump at me with carrots and dried fruit, I promise to make up for this faux pas. CineMaa Kasam.

As I mentioned earlier, I am too simple a guy who still can't fathom why Jai dies in Sholay or Tina dies in Mr. India - I still cry while watching these films for the millionth time. After watching 'Super Deluxe,' I am really surprised that I didn't cry even once through out the film. Could it be the genre? Could it be the flawed characters? Could it be that 'Super Deluxe' is four films rolled into one? Too much material to process, and I certainly was too overwhelmed with what I watched. I feel similarly while watching 'Pulp Fiction,' it never ever made me cry.

Before I go any further, music magician, Yuvan Shankar Raja sir, take a bow. 'Super Deluxe' is one of the few films that reminded me of the heydays of RGV. The way he used to employ music - both songs and BGM - I relived that era gone by in TK sir's genius of a film. As time passes, this creation of Yuvan sir will become a rage and beast of its own, and will spawn fan clubs all over the internet. I have been usually pissed off when the BGM tries to manipulate me while watching films, but the BGM of 'Super Deluxe' is stuff legends are made of.

So long into a blog, and no mention of Rani? Let me correct that immediately. Long before the movie Her, Rani came into my life - first we used to chat online, and then we started talking on the phone. These conversations usually began when I reached my favorite watering hole in Yaari Road called Madhuban, and lasted till either of us passed out or fell asleep or the phone battery died. There came a point in this stage of our life when I thought either she was an automated voice planted by my mother, a Russian spy or some prankster employed by my sick friends. I had a deja vu moment while watching 'Super Deluxe'. 

Getting back to The Film of The Weekend, I have been in love with Samantha since I first saw her in Gautham Menon sir's VTV - I still was till early this evening. I hated Fahadh Faasil since I first watched him in 'Bangalore Days'. Mind you this is my perception of them due to the characters they essay and has nothing to do with them as humans. May be some day I could bond with Fahadh over toddy and fish fry, but wait - I hate fish fry too. Hahahaha. Sorry couldn't resist. This love-hate equation I had with Samantha and Fahadh changed this evening - don't ask me for good or bad.

Time to wrap, Rani is waiting to read this and approve of this piece. So, parting words:

To employ the translation of a piece in the trailer of 'Super Deluxe:

"If a man chased by a tiger, has no where to hide & runs and flings himself over a cliff with a tree, if he falls through leaves and branches, grabs a vine, hangs in mid air; if he realizes that the vine is a snake, tiger above, abyss below,  a snake coiled around his body. As he lifts his head to curse his life, what if he spots a honey comb?  From which a drop of honey, trickles and drips and lands close to his lips...  And when death stands above and below & he knows his end is near; if for a split second he goes fuck the tiger, fuck the fall, fuck the snake, fuck them all, and in reckless abandon, if he sticks his tongue out and licks the honey & cries out 'aaaaaahhhh' in bliss..." 

This is the guy I want to be.

Thank you, TK sir, for this "magic event" at the cinemas. Next time you come home, I will kiss your shoelaces, and make boiled water (only thing I can make) for you. It's a promise. Post that please share all your references and tributes you planted in 'Super Deluxe'. 

Friday, March 22, 2019

Aaj mera dil ubal raha hai...

A humble tribute to Gulzar Saab's recent speech I watched/heard.

Koi diggaj mujhse likhne ko keh raha tha aaj,
Koi mera mooh bhi bandh karna chaahta hai;
Meri baat padh ke mujhe koi maar bhi dega,
Mere dil ke andar ka dil ye mujhe ab keh raha hai...

Aaj toh mera dil ubal raha hai zor se,
Aanch tez hai, dhuaan bhi toh uth raha hai;
Zubaan kaamp rahi hai meri, mere darr ke maare,
Kya bolooon main, sab theek-thaak nazar aa raha hai.

Ek baat pe hazaar log naraaz huwe baithe hain,
Sabke jazbaat kyon itney thes khaaye rakkhe hain?
Aaj main phir bhi likhoonga, kisine kaha tha mujhe,
Bataao toh ye samaaj ke thekedaar kahaan baithe hain.

Dil ka nek banda hoon main, likhna mujhe aata nahin,
Kyon gareebon ki, sarkaar ko kisiki koi parwaah nahin?
Yeh likh toh diya hai maine, darr bhi lag raha hai mujhe,
Main marr bhi jaaoon agar kal, shayad koi badi baat hain...

Aaj toh mera dil ubal raha hai badi zor se shaayad,
Aanch tez hai, dhuaan kahin se toh uth raha hai yahaan;
Lagta nahin Rani ye sab mujhe aaj raat likhne deti,
Woh meri jaan hai, aur meri pyaari nigehbaan yahaan.

Aaj toh mera dil bada bade zor se ubal raha hai,
Aanch tez hai, dhuaan seene se bhi uth raha hai;
Dil ki baat poochh loon kya? Gehra mera sawaal hai...
Lagta hai desh ka maamla toh aaj bloody behaal hai.

Monday, March 18, 2019

MARD KO DARD NAHIN HOTA review: Underground retro pulp cult stuff

It was my birthday yesterday (technically still today). In my head I am still celebrating it with my lovely wife Rani. She's a an amazing superwoman, and is the best cook ever, perhaps a close second to my mother. Wait, this is not a Rani appreciation post, but let me still just leave this here - I am the luckiest guy in Andheri (West) - no, make that the entire earth, and all its cousin planets.

 The last paragraph was a trick.

Just like how director Vasan Bala sneaked in all his ginormous love for movies, music & Matunga in an out-and-out action film, I wrote a little love letter to Rani. Hahaha.

If you scratch the surface of 'Mard Ko Dard Nahin Hota', you will see what I mean. I have known Vasan for more than a decade now- no, we barely meet, or hang out. He is schooled by Anurag Kashyap, and I lean towards the realms of Yash Chopra, Vishal Bhardwaj & Rajkumar Hirani.  I could be totally wrong, but that's my perception of this mad man. What does connect me and Vasan is our mad passion for cinema. I guess we are movie fanatics first, and then film professionals.

MKDNH is absolute underground retro pulp cult stuff - please first watch the trailer of Vasan's labour of love here:

I don't think many of my readers know of my Matunga connection... I was born in Udipi-Manipal, but raised in erstwhile Bombay. Till the 5th standard, I used to go to Holy Family High School, in Chheda Nagar. Before moving to Indore, we had a 1-room-kitchen-nothing-else apartment in Tilak Nagar (Chembur) and it was a ritual for us to visit our relatives who owned an entire building in Matunga. Acharya Products baad mein Google kar lena. Those visits involved us going and pigging out at the joints in and around that vicinity.

The food at Cafe Madras! Totally worth dying or killing for.

Story mein abhi tak hero ki entry nahin hui? Okay, here you go -

Abhimanyu Dassani came across as a worthy inheritor of Hrithik Roshan's legacy. Period. 

I swear to Lord CineIndra, I am not exaggerating - this young boy is going to be one of the busiest actors for the next few years, and will reign the action films' genre. Rani had predicted this way before even Abhimanyu could have imagined. There is something very 'Mard' yet very endearing - you know like everyone would wish good things to happen to him. I hated everyone in the film who did nasty things to our Surya of MKDNH. Super Gullu, please go to hell.

RADHIKA MADAN - The STREE of our Mard is a "PAAO KILO KI PYTHON" - ye Google pe nahin milega, sorry. The blood, sweat and dirt she suffered is on ample display. Radhika is perhaps Bollywood's answer to Angelina Jolie, Halle Berry, Uma Thurman, Jennifer Garner and the likes. She kicks ass, breaks bones but the moment her hair flies in slow motion, your heart skips a beat. You don't want her to hurt herself.

Take a break, listen to 'Rappan Rappi Rap' now:

Okay, so let me tell you about the man I hate the most in Andheri (West) tonight - Gulshan Devaiah - he has killed it in more ways than one in MKDNH. Humility be damned, I think I was one of the first to call Gulshan the new 'Bad Man' of Bollywood, I think this was during the release of 'Shaitan,' or one of his first films. He has a double role in this film, and the characters he is playing here are too extreme opposites - award nominations are inevitable. Congratulations & bouquets in order.

Okay, so now let me tell you about the man I love the most in Mumbai tonight - Mahesh Manjrekar. Mahesh sir plays the role of Surya's grandfather "Aazoba" and perhaps packs in a career best performance as an actor that will be remembered for ages. I wish one of my grandfathers were a fraction as cool or inspiring or motivating - he talks about sex with his son and grandson, in a clean yet cool fashion. And the hats he wears - what an enviable collection.

P.S.: We are still talking about the minutest attention to detail we saw this night.

P.S. 1: Love you, dear Vasan Bala, please keep peddling your dreams. We will keep buying the tickets, you keep entertaining us. It's our little deal, you sasta Sriram Raghavan.

P.S. 2: Once again, happy birthday to me. HAHAHA.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Kirdaar short film - short review: Mukesh Chhabra gives a memorable performance as a struggling theater actor

Let me warm you up to this piece by showing you the trailer of Swati Semwal's short film that features my bossman, mentor, elder brother - Mukesh Chhabra.

In what can perhaps be called as a delicious twist of role swapping, actor-director Swati Semwal has cast Mukesh Chhabra, the casting director, the man who has cast her in many films. Semwal’s short film, ‘Kirdaar’ is the journey of a struggling theater actor, Aman who commits himself to his role so completely that it isn’t even safe – not for him or his loving wife, Aditi (played unimaginably brilliantly by Pooja A Gor).

The popular perception of theater actors is that they will not shy away from going to any length to do justice to the characters they play. ‘Kirdaar’ is a dangerous extension of the same thought. Given it’s runtime of less than 20-minutes, the director does a great job of saying more by showing less. To top it, the performances feel so heartfelt, one is already rooting for either Aman or Aditi – or even Aashiqa, the character Aman is essaying.

Given the fact that Chhabra is the most sought-after casting director in Hindi cinema, agreeing to essay this twisted character is a really bold step – nowhere close to his or anyone else’s comfort zone. While watching ‘Kirdaar’ it is evident that Chhabra has internalized his years of experience of interacting with theater artists of various backgrounds. Pooja Gor does justice to her role has the wife who is at the receiving end of her husband’s creative endeavors.

I am really paranoid, if my loving wife, Rani, God forbid, ever had to go through this trauma.

Director Swati Semwal must be appreciated for documenting a theater actor’s journey in a way that keeps you hooked all the way. Director of photography, Syed Tanveer Riaz and the editors - Jayant H. Verma and Akash Malame have done a great job too. Watching ‘Kirdaar’ might leave you asking for more, but that’s perhaps the biggest victory of the director and her entire cast and crew.

Watch the full film here:

Also, happy birthday to me!   

Friday, March 15, 2019

HAMID movie review: A befitting addition to the legacy of Vishal Bhardwaj's Haider

Disclaimer: A dear friend, Ravinder Randhawa, wrote this film, so cannot be objective or clinical while writing this review - actually I am too emotional at the moment. No spoilers here.

Let me warm you up to this piece by showing you the trailer here:

Now sample the awesomeness of Ravinder sir here:

And then here:

If the second song made you cry,  I can understand - the song is like that. Take a break and come back to this piece on director Aijaz Khan's film, 'Hamid,' that has released in theatres this weekend.

Let me give you an explanation for the headline of this piece - I am an ignoramus, and my worldview comes from the films I watch. For me, Vishal Bhardwaj's 'Haider' was baptism by fire into what's happening in and around Jammu-Kashmir. Judge me, I don't care. 'Haider' also prepared me as to what to expect from 'Hamid'. A 5-minute standing ovation for all those who ensured that the Kashmiri accented Hindi was spot on, if 'Haider' is the gold standard.

The opening scene of 'Hamid' planted me deeply into its universe. I think it is devastating to be probed and questioned regarding your identity by random strangers (in the form of army personnel). I don't know why they, both in 'Haider,' and now in 'Hamid,' are shown as cocky, rude blokes who are unhappy in their lives. I know there are and will be exceptions, but mostly that's the scenario. Okay let's get back to little Hamid (the lovable, innocent boy played by Talha Arshad Reshi) and his screwed up paradise.

Hamid is as influenced by his father, as I am by Gulzar Saab and most of his legendary works. In the beginning we see an old craftsman painstakingly making a boat with a song on his lips - I smiled wide thinking of the blessing every artist has while in the process of creation. All us artists live for moments like these, the fee may be pittance - hundred rupees a month in little Hamid's case - truth be told, not too different from what I make as a writer. 

Little boy Hamid is perhaps the sweetest and purest soul in the realm of the film, his father comes a close second - or vice versa. Hamid's mother (played by a brilliant Rasika Duggal) on the other hand has become cynical and bitter and I hated her from the word go. But what else to expect from a human who has been living in the harshest conditions - both politically and financially. She smiles perhaps once when Allah comes to her rescue via Hamid.

'Hamid' the film is loaded with metaphors, both sublime and sometimes it feels like how one would after walking into a glass door. The metaphor marathon begins with a metaphor on how the color red suits the Jhelum river and ends with a red on Jhelum but on the hopeful spectrum of emotions. Aijaz's film is an emotional roller coaster, and there's never a dull moment other than few poetic silences. I think I will watch many times over just to soak in all the metaphors.

I have always been in awe and regard of Ravinder sir's writing, but after watching 'Hamid' my respect for sir shot through the stratosphere - his brilliance, to employ a metaphor, lies somewhere between the sun and the stars. Sir's influences are bigger legends like Faiz Ahmed Faiz and Paash to name just two. His wit and sharpness can be sampled in the first song I shared - 'Sursuri ye chaai hai...' and we have been lucky to sample many of his creative endeavors. Some samples here:

And this one too:

I had read a saying, "One man's terrorist is another's tourist," or something to that effect. 'Hamid' the film showcases just that in a very poetic, visually delicious and in a very balanced way. In between the terrorists and the tourists, the ones most hurt in the entire scheme of things are the people living in their paradise lost. By now, I think I guess I know why the army personnel are shown as cocky and rude, as they are hated by both, the terrorists and the local citizens.

The only ones they get love from, they are away from, for most of their working lives. How tragic is that! If you had money to just watch one film this year, please buy that ticket for 'Hamid'.

Thank me later.

Love, K.

Spot Rani in this video: