Ram Leela goes Ruptured Lola!

If he thought of doing a Vishal Bhardwaj, then he fell flat on his face. The latest colourful cinema from Sanjay Leela Bhansali is nothing but a pathetic display of brilliant photographic frames, loud & not necessarily good music, incessant violence without any sense, style or substance, a love story gone completely wrong and vibrant colours. The took too much from Bhansali and I think it received little from the Bhansali of Black or Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam. My suggestion is to save some time & money, divert your effort to watch another movie or just lay back in the arms of your loved one. Trust me, you’ll be more in love than you ever will be after this pathetic adaptation of Shakespearean classic play Romeo & Juliet.

Raam Leela

Courtesy Google

For a story to start, it has to have a start. The Ram Leela did not have one. Once upon a time, there was a holi celebration where she kissed him with colour and they fall in love. At a time, when films like Ishaqzaade by Habib Faisal, that is more or less have similar story lines, were made at a more dramatic yet pragmatic milieu, this Bhansali movie is shame on today’s film making culture from Bollywood. The biggest pull of a romantic play is the romance between the protagonists. It is flirting, the beautiful unease, the dreamy stares, the painful aloofness that made it beautiful. Sadly, these essential ingredients are given a complete overlook by Bhansali. It does not have romance but its is pitted as a romantic movie. That is the pity.

What is good about the movie is the frames! He has good eye for colour, for beautiful frames. But where Bhansali flops are editing and story telling. The romance of the movie never started for it to end. The plastic smiles, those dispassionate kisses, those distasteful acting by the Ram & Leela did their best to usurp the happiness of the viewers. Don’t be surprised if you see people leaving at the intermission not to return to their seats to watch the later part of the movie. I came back just to see how bad it can be. Is it so bad that it is good? Sadly, it isn’t.Ram Leela

The grand sets, vibrant colours, songs for each and every occasion made the lives of viewers pitiful. The viewers love songs when they arrive at the right juncture with apt timing. If you are bombarded with songs at every five minutes (it happened twice in this movie), then you will sunk inside your palms as you have no place to escape. The movie maker should note that romance is not about bootylicious heroines, topless heroes and smutty witty one liners. Even if it is for commercial reason, then it is to be weaved into a story for the viewer to enjoy it. Jumping the gun, wielding the gun and pulling the triggers at every turn of moment won’t get us an action pack. The worse was pathetic acting by leading actors (?) of the movie; Ranveer Singh (a sexy body does not imply good acting) and Deepika Padukone (some acting apart from joyful display of beautiful skin)

I wonder if Sanjay Leela Bhansali wanted to do what Vishal Bhardwaj has already done beautifully. They both adapted western classic plays by William Shakespeare (read Othello and Macbeth by Bhardwaj and Romeo & Juliet by Sanjay Leela Bhansali), Indianised the theme, Bollywoodised the movie & produced a product they deemed fit for commercial success. One important thing to note is that Sanjay Leela Bhansali also directed the music of the movie. However, Bharadwaj edged out Bhansali in all of the departments, hands down. The Bhansali should do movies where he can do justice rather than trying to do more than his might.

If you are looking for an one line review of the movie, then this is what I have to say: If you are planning for Ram Leela this weekend, then save some money and time. This is Classic Bollywood trash with no sense or sensibility in what is an adaptation of Romeo Juliet. Disgusting!

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Redefining Moment with Cinema

Cinema has been an important instrument of personal growth and challenges. I always try to face a situation and interpret as how would I react to a certain peculiar situation. Life is a big teacher and cinema is a lesson that teaches us many things in life. Joy, sorrow, introspection, identity, journey are some of the most important aspects that has stirred me. The recent challenges in my life, an emotional struggle with life and within myself, have questions. The answers to these questions are easy to come by if you accept it and harder if you decide not to accept the truth and rather fight a myth.

Last fortnight, I had the privilege to watch a few beautiful movies that stirred my soul, and asked me tough questions. Osian Cine Fan Festival held recently at Siri Fort Auditorium in New Delhi provided a perfect escape sojourn from the humdrum mayhem of a mundane metro life. It exposed my inabilities, my inexperience,  my myths and truths that I decide not to embrace. I was numb as I sit back today and try to unlearn many things. Life throws whatever comes its way and we are sometimes clueless as how we would react to it. Of course, we are good in ‘celebrating’ happiness, joy and festival. But, are we really celebrating? We often lament that we are naive when it comes to sorrow, pain and myths. Are we stepping a step at a time?

Life is short and it’s full of spectacle, both dark and light. Sometimes, we know exactly what we need to do to live more and die a little less. Les Miscreant e (The Miscreants) taught me that life may have challenges and threats, if you consider death as a threat, but you never stop breathing. This movie challenged the methodology of violent protest as against the sustenance of a cultural protest. The latter method is more critical in bringing changes where it matters: within one inner self. It makes one think as why is he doing it. The sound of drums of echoes louder than the sounds of gun shots as the rhythm is closer to the heart. Its not about the cultural resistance that we face or impose, as a social entity or being part of a ‘responsible society,’ but its about seeing the rational behind a particular voice, understanding the tone and replying in a language which is lasting, impressive and heart hitting, if not changing at least.

And, as we breath, we forgets to respect it. The freshness in a breath is something going elusive. We talk about it, we write about it but we do little about it. Its how you react rather than how you want others to react. We live and we eat but we litter too. That is a tragedy that is slowly but very stealthily seeping into our daily lives.  “The Orange Suit”  is an Iranian film that wants to instill that sense of cleanliness in your lives, both internally and externally, as well as clean up the litters that makes one’s lives horrific. It questioned me: why do I not clean up myself; i.e. spiritually? How can I achieve inner peace if there is dirt in me? And, if you keep your surrounding environment clean, it helps one to enjoy positive energy and how it can help one to improve one’s solitary journey onto life. The film challenged the protagonist and showed how his unanswered, or questions which he did not face, were answered when he tried to find answers of his relation with his son and wife.

The voice may be small but cinematic expression makes sure that it is being heard in the right spirit. As the questions with regard to the identity of the feature film “As the river flows”  remains unanswered, I, as spectator, don’t have any inhibition in discovering that this is indeed an Assamese movie. The expression of an Assamese born and raised during the troubled years are said through this movie. This is what I wanted to tell and this is what any other rational and humane person from the land of Brahmaputra will tell you. The story revolves around a mysterious disappearance of a social activist and a friend’s effort, through his journalistic ethics, to find answers. His journey led him to believe in many questions rather than as many or far lesser answers. He found answers in many questions that remains unanswered. The love and hate relationship, the chicken and egg story, the beauty of nature and ugliness of society, the magic of culture and evil of distrust runs deep. And, one is never alone. Everyone is accompanied by a painful, often bloody, history with an urge to make amends that went awfully weird, wrong and wrestling between urge for change and power. This is indeed put up the question that we have been facing since a long time now and the search for an answer remains elusive.

To remain a living creature from a town by the bank of the Brahmaputra, the Local Kung Fu  is a piece of cinema that deserves a special mention. Carved out of a mere budget of INR 95 K only, this movie binds the influence of martial art comedy movies of Jackie Chan and combines it with some brilliant screenplay with awesome comic timing based on typical Guwahati city life and customs. What makes this cinema beautiful (apart from wonderfully comic scenes & timings) that it instills a sense of accomplishment by someone with limited resources and unlimited dreams. It is an effort that needs to be applauded much more than any other cinema because it gives inspiration to people who never thought that they want to do something like a cinema. It inspired critics to laud the effort put in creating such a wonderful cinema. It inspired me to try my Nikon D31oo to make a short 5 to 10 minute cinema. Experimenting with novetly! It inspired me to try a new thing in life, an unknown thing! Thanks Kenny for crafting such a wonderful cinema.

At this festival, we celebrate life, or at least its varied shadows. I saw the ruthlessness of life. The violent tragedy that may dawn upon someone, anyone. In a land where violence and terrorism goes hand in hand, the value of human life may be cheap. But, is the value of people missing high? In ‘The Repentant,’ a person deserts his terrorist group and joins back his family. He left it because of the death that loomed large following bombing in his hideout and depleted morale of the group. He deserts and come back to his home. But, “Karma” follows him and he has to fled to the town. There he experienced something that he never did. He gets attracted to the smaller beauties of life. But that was to end when his past life came back to haunt him once again. He met a pharmacist. It was a drama about how his information about his daughter would bring together three estranged characters together on a road trip right down to the heart of the disturbed land. I had goosebumps when the Mother cried and tried to wake her daughter who has been sleeping since five years. The Repentant knew where she was sleeping.

“Music makes the people come together”, Madonna once sang. This is the magic wand that would bind people who would love it together without adhering to political differences, religious differences, geographical differences or even age differences. During a brilliantly poignant musical documentary “El Gusto,” I felt why this is the biggest gift of god. Life is no more painful when you pick up your instrument of music and play it or listen to it. All your pains of yesteryear and many years, will die down and you will walk back to the time when it was just absolutely beautiful. All friends come together and sing a song for themselves, for their own selfish happiness. And, it works wonders. A beautifully shot and documented film that started with a Mirror. And, a mirror it was that would reflect the various faces of a society that was once together by the sole power of music. The music is known as “El Gusto.”

And, music that still rules this magnificent, rustic, raw cinema from Anurag Kashyap. It may have got the popular imagination but its worth its hype. For a hall that is packed with people, who were occupying anything that can be used to rest their bums and watch a non stop five and half hours of cinematic excellence from Bollywood from a long time. The dialogues, the pangs, the violence, the romance, the revenge, the gorgeous women, the superb actors, and a superb background made “Gangs of Wasseypur I & II”  just a superb experience. So much so that I was reluctant to spoil the mood of our very own “Tony Montana” of Scarface fame in this movie. The director also ensured that the red is applied gorgeously in the entire scheme of things. And, what a bloody messy affair it was! Faizal Khan (like Tony Montana in Scarface) would be drowned in marijuana but remain in perfect control about the gang politics. He remained fateful to his beloved and they remain in love as expressed by their gold rimmed aviators. The climax was expected but the angst of the revenge and gravity of the scene can only match the ferocity with which Tony Montana fought and died. Of course, Faizal did not die then and there. But, you never know! Nothing is ‘Definite!’  Does he carry on Sardar Khan’s honour forward? Well, of course, he does but life has its own plans. Avenging pride is one of them, and Faisal does that perfectly. Sardar Khan will be ‘Definite’ly be proud of Faisal.

Two movies that made me sit up and stand were Rituporno’s “Chitrangada” and Asish Shukla’s “Prague.” Both of them asked questions. As I ask myself, who am I, why am I, and why am I. These are some basic questions that we always ask and we wonder if we are doing right or wrong or are we just playing alike because others are. Are we really interested to know why we are doing something? Most of the time, we dont know. Chitrangada is inspired by the play with the same title written by Rabindranath Tagore and the director’s modern interpretation about it. It questions about complex emotional stress and how one’s own interests, desires and hopes are shaped because of some other exogenous factors. Why do we want to change for someone else when you really do not want to? Are we remain happy after going through such a change? Or, are we going to go back to listen to our own heart rather than someone’s else. Its a slow process of establishing the fact that not everything is alright when you are only listening to yourself. Or, you may be inspired by your situations. Life is complex but the basic idea is to keep walking. Talking to oneself, arguing with your alter ego and deliberate on something that you may or may not like are things that we all undergo. This cinematic expressions exposes our innate desires and how we struggle to keep pace with them. The plot of the film is based upon two persons in love but this should not essentially be locked in that premise. The idea is universal and every person with a brain that works right face these dilemmas in their life.

“Prague” is not just a wonderful city to live and breath but its also the name of the movie that enthralled both audience as well as critics alike. Its an interesting psychedelic struggle where a person wants to destroy something which he appreciates as much. Its a soul stirring and heart wrenching cinema that challenges the dark side in us and how we love to become evil even when we are in love. It tries to discover the darkest corners of one’s heart, suffocate your soul to find out who you really are, preserve your jealousy and kill your suspicion. And, you remain in romance with your dead. This is pure cinematic delight when it comes to experimental cinema in India. This is surely a notch above “No Smoking” or “Aks.” Go for it if you want to challenge yourself and want to know your darkside and be in love with your dead.

Walking away!

It is an interesting and a dangerous game. Stakes are high and fatality in the line of action cannot be ruled out. There is a fearsome jungle out their where every animal with their ghastly carnivorous instincts are waiting to unleash upon a weak & poor prey. The puzzles and confusions are even more ferocious as one may not know at first where he is stepping in. But with time one realise that everything may not be as blooming or rosy as it was before. One may smell red and rose without realizing the fact that its blood all over. There is no free lunch in this world and neither does anything goes unpaid in this ferocious and dangerous jungle. You pay and you move ahead. What lies ahead, we don’t know. Or, may be, we don’t want to know.

Do you want to move in that direction? Guess what? I think we are already on that road towards the unknown. It has been throwing its little surprises and some naughty characters has already started flirting with you. The walk through the initial steps have been good. The lovely aroma of red roses engulf the atmosphere as you walk towards an orange sky where the possibilities are infinite. The lush green grass that lay down a warm welcome to you expands until the end of the world. The occasional oak tree which have grown old and tall make the occasion even grand. The fresh whiff of air that just blew her hairs across throw him out his gear as the deadly autumn nip makes him croon for some music. The smell of lime interfere in between and they stop. As he bends and sit down on a cold, dark and big stone, sweat oozes out of his forehead. There is a terrible sensation that is running down his mind. His mind goes berserk as it runs north and south, to the Sun and the Moon, it floats in the clouds. Yes, he can smell the clouds, feel the dampness, sweat at the Sunlight. He runs and flies, swim and crawl but he runs. He escapes.

The sweet music of lullaby woke him up. He traveled the universe but he rested on that cold, dark and large monolith. A night was spent under a clear sky and amidst those dark clouds that hover in his sky of thoughts. He opens his eyes for that wind of change to come to his sky that can take the clouds with it. He feels the hunger but he never wanted to eat alone. There was a time when they had breakfast together. But not anymore! He feels hungry to keep running. From himself or from his thoughts, he needs to run today, tomorrow! He is escaping. 

A lot has been done, experienced, dreamt. But the journey never stops. He, who dreams and breathes, will walk and walk away. Towards an unknown jungle which may be a deadly paradise! Take a walk! Walk away!

Escaped

The mood is set, tickets are book and bags are packed. Its time to unwind, unravel and unfold an experience that never was. The excitement and exuberance in my mind was a never before experience. The adrenaline rush is making me go berserk. I am loving this.

Everyone is asking where in UK are you going. Is it Yorkshire, Newcastle, London (which part), Manchester (?) I have no clue what they were talking about. All I know that this weekend I am out of this morass and out there in the green lap of mother nature along with its beautiful children music and peace. UK for me, as on today, is Uttarakhand. The destination is Lake resort, Naukuchiataal in Uttarakhand.

As we rolled down through the circles and hills, the sunrise set the mood as the orange sky welcomed us to this beautiful festival with a gush of cool breeze. We realised that we have moved north and a few inch closer to the grand Himalayas. Yes, we have escaped from the dust and heat of the Delhi summers and we felt better.

This beautiful festival, Escape Festival as it is called, was started in 2009 to give the urban india a chance to escape their daily lives into the passionate lives of theirs. The routes were serene natural beauty with an equally pure and unadulterated music performed by both known and unknown musicians of the world.

As I strolled down the lazy lawn holding a beer in my hand, I found the stage where its all set to go. It was set in the huge backdrop of the Naukuchiataal lake. With every gentle stroke of that cool breeze from the colossal lake hitting on my face, I hanged my head in the air and looked straight in to that beautiful blue sky. It was one of the bluest skies I have ever seen and I murmured “Blues is my soulmate.” I felt as if the entire world has fallen at my feet.

When the world was falling on to my feet

“Mama,” I shouted. And, she turned around smiling. She was smiling as we towards each other and finally we met after a long one year. Her grey hairs remind me of how many thoughts they, as a band, have covered over her lifetime. And, I wonder how it is still giving us some wonderful musical pieces along with some powerful lyrics. I shook her hand and I said, “Mama, we meet again.” I was also sorry at the same time since I have missed their performance the previous night.

Mama was there.

I hate to miss any Skinny Alley show and she told me that the show was good. While we got clicked for a picture, she promised to meet me again in the evening. Jay Singh, the leading lady of the Progressive Jazz Blues band, Skinny Alley, is a pleasure to meet anytime and all the time. Sigh! I miss their performance.

We ate. We slept under the blue sky by the side of the lake as we inhaled some fresh air. And, someone smoked but I got high with the pristine and fresh mountain air. It was enough to give me a kick. I took out my camera and decided to take a walk. Just strolling without any agenda, anything in my mind. I took a few shots, enjoyed many more shots that are saved in my biological hard disc. Sometimes, I feel, one has to drink, eat and breath beauty so that one remains beautiful in his or her mind.

As the sun started to settle down behind those green and blue hills, the lights above the stage lit up. So, did the moon which glowed and showed us sparkling yet priceless pearls and diamonds just behind the stage. I wish I could froze that moment. The guitar strumming and rolling of those drumsticks made me realised that Mother nature’s destiny child, music has just arrived.

The scene got better and better as each band played their typical style of music but I really enjoyed the Menwhopause, and Nyasa. The high from music was ecstatic. The beauty of the place was only enhanced when we saw some seasoned painters and artists doing their own paintings. The colours of those canvases just made the event even more colourful. As the night got older, the music become younger. At the brink of the midnight, some DJs started playing those psychedelic trance that made the entire crowd go crooning and swooning to their tunes. High was a understatement as the people danced to the trance and everyone found themselves in peace with their souls. That night was a night never dreamt before.

menwhopause

Morning was clear, peaceful and bliss. As we woke up to a nice and beautiful morning, we remained constant in that mode of laziness personified until it was afternoon. We did nothing but loiter around in the room and at the balcony, getting lost in the tranquility all over, rolling over and finding ourselves in the midst of dreams yet again. We decided to get out when the show was about to start.

This was a penultimate experience. It was classic, jazzy and memorable. The artists dolled out nice little music with lots of powerful lyrical songs from yesteryears. Lou Majaw was a league apart when it comes to interacting with people and singing Zimmerman’s songs. I yelled, “Play a song for us, Mr. Tambourine Man.”

Mr. Tambourine Man sings another song!

Valentine Sippley was also good as he sustained the mood.

But, if the foreplay of the escape festival was Skinny Alley, the orgasm of the event was going to even better, I guessed and hoped. I was not wrong. There came a band with four talented musicians from Bombay and they sang. The Interplay was a brilliant exhibition of stage music and confluence of jazz and rock, much to a delight of a die hard skinny alley fan, as they dedicated one of their songs to their inspirational band from India, Skinny Alley. I love her when she sung and yelled about relationships, be it of love, hate or life. It was beautiful.

As the night unfolded and grew old, we realised that the escape from the humdrum life is coming to an end. It was time that we move back to where we live. But never the less the escape was worth an escape as I wait for another year to pass by before I escape again.