Silent Water (Khamosh Pani in Hindi) handles a very sensitive period in history surrounding the hanging of Pakistani PM, Mr. Bhutton & the rise of the martial laws, under General Zia. The change in the political air of the country and it’s effect on the lives of ordinary Muslims of Pakistan has been portrayed through a middle aged Sikh woman and her not-a-kid-not-yet-an-adult son, who gets swayed in the jihadi direction, all due to radical Islamic influential talks and the in-born need to be powerful.
The movie provides a rare, visual glimpse of the miseries surrounding Sikh families who were forced to move to India during the Partition in 1947. It speaks about the apathies faced by women, who, among other things, were most often mercilessly killed by their male family members, when preservation of family “pride” was deemed more important. The ones who survived faced a life of abduction and rape. We are treated to views of village lanes, Gurdwara, run-down fortresses and Masjids in a small, quaint village of the country. Sikhs from India who travel to the village for a religious tour as a result of an India Pakistan agreement try to re-live their past days, and find old connections, in a miserable attempt to still feel at home. Even though the environment is politically charged, folks who moved into the village during the Partition and folks who moved out, still manage to maintain outwardly humane relations…void of any common thread.
Just when I thought I’d seen all that the director had to show me, the movie spins out into a new direction, when one of the Sikh travelers from India, goes around old shops in the village by lanes, desperately trying to find his sister who got left behind during the Partition.
Kiron Kher has done a phenomenal job, playing the role of a woman, who has nothing in her except for a young son & flashes of her past life. Seeing her in such an under-played role is a welcome treat. It is a far cry from her loud performances in most of the commercial Bollywood movies.
There is a scene towards the end of the movie, which shows the son sitting at the end of the river, staring at on old, battered suitcase laden with personal belongings, being carried away by the river currents. His old flame stands on top of the hill, watching both float away- the lover that she knew as well as her old life. Three decades later, the same boy emerges as a powerful, Jihadi leader. His old lover, now an independent, hard working woman, watches him ruefully on a street side TV set. Top marks to the cinematographer for sealing the emotions so beautifully.
The movie is about a important piece of history, changes in the lives of ordinary people, choices painstakingly taken by women, sacrifices done at the behest of the society and the shame faced at the hands of one’s child.
Link to the movie on Google Videos: Link. I found this movie in the section “Your recommendations” on Netflix. At times like these and at all other times, I love Netflix so much.
I read two novels recently- Summertime by JM Coetzee (my favorite author, by the way) and The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga.
Summertime is a 2009 Booker Prize Finalist. I chanced upon the novel while perusing through the New Arrivals section at Barnes & Noble. I sat on a plush couch for more than 2 hours and read 100 odd pages. I had a feeling that the store associates will probably kick me out for reading the book for free. Of course, nothing of that sort happens in the US. India, yes. Anyway, I went to the Saint Louis County Library the next day and got a copy of the novel and spent the next couple of hours absorbing each word. Coetzee manages to transpire me to a state of bliss every time. My first book by Coetzee was _Disgrace_- early 2000, probably. Summertime is semi biographical and the third installment of the series; the other two, Boyhood and Youth, I haven’t read. Coetzee comes across as a detached and an intellectual person in the novel. Someone who is not capable of loving anyone. Someone who is very personal. The book is set in 70s for the most part- a time in his life when he had just returned to South Africa from the States, when he was still struggling to find a foothold as a writer. He projects himself as a single man in the novel. In real life, he was married with two kids. (Got to know after doing a quick Wiki check). The book doesn’t disappoint me one bit. Again,this might be because I read a Coetzee novel after a gap of 5-6 years.
The White Tiger was an interesting read. Unfortunately, it didn’t teach me anything about India that I don’t already know- how corrupt the entire system is, how drivers employed by middle class families back home hoodwink their masters, how poor their families are etc. Adiga’s execution is brilliant though. There is a twist in the story and that is what sets this novel apart from many others. Did it deserve to win the Booker? I don’t know. In a match between Summertime and The White Tiger, Summertime wins hands down for me. Of course, Coetzee (two time Booker winner, Nobel Prize in Lit.) versus Adiga (one time Booker winner, budding author) is not a fair race. I guess I’m just mad at the Booker committee for only shortlisting Summertime. I can see why they did that- they do not want to give the general public the impression that they are biased towards one author. They probably want to give new writers a chance. But shouldn’t the slate be wiped clean every year? Shouldn’t each book be judged entirely on its own merit and not on the merit of the author? Don’t get me wrong. I am thankful to the Booker Committee for introducing me to great pieces of Literature. I do wish that the ultimate winners were a little more worthy though. I think Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things was a very well deserved Booker Prize Winner. The White Tiger is not. The book is witty and entertaining even though it is not a literary masterpiece. Something is lacking though. It leaves much to be desired. I have Adiga’s latest work, Between the Assassinations lying on my bookshelf. I will return to him after reading something else.
Finally watched The Boy in the Striped Pajamas after months of wanting. This movie was being aired at an independent theater, but I missed it then. AT&T U-Verse recording system came to my rescue.
You must be thinking: Oh, another movie dealing with WWII and Nazi Germany. Another movie that highlights the sufferings meted out against Jews. Another movie showing Hitler. At the risk of sounding cliched, the movie is a “different” take on WW-II. It tells the story of a Nazi family from the eyes of an eight year old whose father is stationed near one of the concentration camps. The boy, Bruno, thinks men in striped pajamas are farmers. He is upset over the way an old Jew who serves them food is treated by his father. He’s much surprised to learn that the vegetable tending man was actually a doctor by profession.
There’s so much of meaning to everything that happens in the movie: A kid’s conscience is so clear compared to that of an adult. How as parents, humans try to protect their kids from the harshness that surrounds us. Yet it is this unequal and filtered information that might sometimes harm the kids. A mother’s instinct is so strong. She realizes the danger that her children face. It’s hardly suitable for them to live only a couple of yards away from a concentration camp. And at the same time, the father thinks it is his duty to stand by his countrymen. The movie doesn’t delve much into the actual propaganda and atrocities surrounding the era. All of us very well know what happened. The father, who is referred to as a “brave soldier” by his son, learns a very important lesson in his life the hard way. The mom suffers.
So the crux of the movie is this: Bruno’s Jew friend who stays in a concentration camp comes to work at his place. He is busy cleaning silverware. Bruno offers him some food which the Jewish boy gladly accepts. One of the Nazi officers stationed in the house catches the two boys talking. He reprimands the Jew and asks Bruno if he knows the Jew. Bruno denies knowing the Jew. The Nazi officer takes the Jew boy away and punishes him. The Jew boy appears several scenes later with a purple eye. I thought he would have been dead. Anyway. Bruno is guilt ridden over the fact that he let his friend down. He wants to make up to him. See, it’s his clear conscience that brings his downfall. If Bruno were a 35 year old, he would have still been alive. The Jew boy tells Bruno that his father has been missing since the past couple of days. Bruno offers to help him find his dad. Both devise a plan to smuggle in Bruno into the concentration camp. Now you’ll wonder, why would Bruno agree to enter the forbidden area? This is where “unequal and filtered information” is to be blamed. A couple of days ago, Bruno sees a propaganda movie spearheaded by his dad that shows Jews living very comfortable lives beyond the bloodied fences. The documentary makes him believe the Jews have a cafe, play area and everyone is one, big happy family. When the time comes for him to join his Jew friend, he gladly agrees. In the mean time, Bruno’s mother learns what goes on in the concentration camp just a couple of yards away from her house: the smoke emanating out is that of Jews being burned alive. Visibly distressed, she convinces her husband that they need to move their kids somewhere else. Before she can do this, her son manages to escape and join his Jew friend on the other side of the fence. A search follows. However it’s too late and the boys have been gassed. The new gas chambers promise to be more efficient and were masterminded by Bruno’s father. Cruel way of learning an important lesson, huh?
The movie is based on a book with the same title, written by John Boyne. I haven’t read the book. My biggest regret is the authenticity lost because of the main language. I wish the movie were in German with English subtitles. The direction and acting were all up to the mark. I did wonder a couple of times how a pair of eight year olds managed to escape the eyes of Nazis while they sat facing each other across the fence, exchanging thoughts and chocolates.
I remember visiting the Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC last December. It was a humbling experience. I got to walk through real coaches that were used to transport Jews to concentration camps. I saw the actual bunk “beds” in which they slept. There were striped uniforms, mountains of real shoes, and other personal items of the deceased on display. This June, there was a shooting outside the Museum. Neo-Nazis still live on this Earth. Each one of us is a Nazi as long as we, as common people, don’t realize that everyone has a right to live.
As the great day approached, Indians thanked their varied gods and rejoiced with special prayers, poems and songs. Poetess Sarojini Naidu set the theme in a radio message: “Oh lovely dawn of freedom that breaks in gold and purple over the ancient capital o . .!”
lessing with Ashes. Even such an agnostic as Jawaharlal Nehru, on the eve of becoming India’s first Prime Minister, fell into the religious spirit. From Tanjore in south India came two emissaries of Sri Amblavana Desigar, head of a sannyasi order of Hindu ascetics. Sri Amblavana thought that Nehru, as first Indian head of a really Indian Government ought, like ancient Hindu kings, to receive the symbol of power and authority from Hindu holy men.
With the emissaries came south India’s most famous player of the nagasaram, a special kind of Indian flute. Like other sannyasis, who abstain from hair-cutting and hair-combing, the two emissaries wore their long hair properly matted and wound round their heads. Their naked chests and foreheads were streaked with sacred ash, blessed by Sri Amblavana. In an ancient Ford, the evening of Aug. 14, they began their slow, solemn progress to Nehru’s house. Ahead walked the flutist, stopping every 100 yards or so to sit on the road and play his flute for about 15 minutes. Another escort bore a large silver platter. On it was the pithambaram (cloth of God), a costly silk fabric with patterns of golden thread.
When at last they reached Nehru’s house, the flutist played while the sannyasis awaited an invitation from Nehru.
Then they entered the house in dignity, fanned by two boys with special fans of deer hair. One sannyasi carried a scepter of gold, five feet long, two inches thick. He sprinkled Nehru with holy water from Tanjore and drew a streak in sacred ash across Nehru’s forehead. Then he wrapped Nehru in the pithambaram and handed him the golden scepter. He also gave Nehru some cooked rice which had been offered that very morning to the dancing god Nataraja in south India, then flown by plane to Delhi.
Later that evening Nehru, and other men who would be India’s new rulers on the morrow, went to the home of Rajendra Prasad, president of the Constituent Assembly. On his back lawn four plantain trees served as pillars for a temporary miniature temple. A roof of fresh green leaves sheltered a holy fire attended by a Brahman priest. There, while several thousand women chanted hymns, the ministers-to-be and constitution-makers passed in front of the priest, who sprinkled holy water on them. The oldest woman placed dots of red powder (for luck) on each man’s forehead.
Tryst with Destiny. Thus dedicated, India’s rulers turned to the secular business of the evening. At 11 o’clock they gathered in the Constituent Assembly Hall, ablaze with the colors of India’s new tricolor flag—orange, white and green. Nehru made an inspired speech: “Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge. . . .At the stroke of midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom.”
And as the twelfth chime of midnight died out, a conch shell, traditional herald of the dawn, sounded raucously through the chamber. Members of the Constituent Assembly rose. Together they pledged themselves “at this solemn moment . . . to the service of India and her people. . . .” Nehru and Prasad struggled through the thousands of rejoicing Indians who had gathered outside to the Viceroy’s House (now called the Governor General’s House) where Viscount Mountbatten, who that day learned he would become an earl, awaited them. There, 32 minutes after Mountbatten had ceased to be a Viceroy,* Nehru and Prasad rather timidly, almost bashfully, told Mountbatten that India’s Constituent Assembly had assumed power and would like him to be Governor General.
The people made it their day. After dawn half a million thronged the green expanse of the Grand Vista and parkways near the Government buildings of New Delhi. Wherever Lord and Lady Mountbatten went that day, their open carriage, drawn by six bay horses, was beset by happy, cheering Indians who swept aside police lines. A Briton received a popular ovation rarely given even to an Indian leader. “Mountbattenji ki jai [Victory to Mountbatten],” they roared, adding the affectionate and respectful suffix “ji” usually reserved for popular Indian leaders.
Now & then Nehru (who sometimes shows the instincts of a traffic policeman) harangued the crowd to be more orderly. Once he espied a European girl caught up in the swirl. She was Pamela Mountbatten, the Governor General’s 18-year-old daughter. Nehru literally slugged his way through the crowd to rescue her, brought her to the platform.
In the Council House the Constituent Assembly heard Mountbatten take the oath as Governor General.†”Regard me as one of yourselves,” he told them, “devoted wholly to the furtherance of India’s interests.” Then he swore in the new Indian Government. Messages of congratulation from over the world were read. The most original was a greeting in verse from Chinese Ambassador Lo Chia-luen. It read:
India be free!
Won’t that be
A Himalayan dream?
How absurd an idea,
That never occurred to me!
Freedom’s Architect. Mountbattenji drew the biggest applause of the day when he said: “At this historic moment let us not forget all that India owes to Mahatma Gandhi—the architect of her freedom through nonviolence. We miss his presence here today and would have him know how he is in our thoughts.”
The Mahatma, who more than any other one man had brought independence to India, was not in New Delhi on the day of days. He was in troubled Calcutta, mourning because India was still racked by communal hatred. (In the Punjab last week, even more than in Calcutta, communal warfare blazed. Nearly 300 were killed.)
Gandhiji had moved into a Moslem house in Calcutta’s Moslem quarter, which had been assailed by his fellow Hindus. He appealed to Hindus to keep peace. Angry young Hindu fanatics broke up a prayer meeting at his house. For the first time, Indians stoned Gandhi’s house. Gandhi spoke sadly to the crowd: “If you still prefer to use violence, remove me. It is —not me but my corpse that will be taken away from here.”
But on Independence Day even Calcutta’s violence turned to rejoicing. Moslems and Hindus danced together in the streets, were admitted to each others’ mosques and temples. Moslems crowded round Gandhi’s car to shake his hand, and sprinkled him with rosewater. For the disillusioned father of Indian independence, there might be some consolation in the rare cry he heard from Moslem lips: “Mahatma Gandhi Zindabad” (Long Live Gandhi).
*Inl London, the King-Emperor became plain George VI, King of Pakistan and of India (just as he is King of Canada and other dominions beyond the seas). Workmen took down the bronze plate in Whitehall, reading “India Office,” replaced it with a painted wooden sign reading “Commonwealth Relations Office.”
† Another colonial power, France, announced that the 203 square miles on India’s east coast which she still rules will be organized as the five free cities of Pondichery, Karikal, Chander-nagore, Mahe and Yanaon, with locally elected governments, within the French union.
A collection for 18 short movies, directed by 21 world class directors. Each movie is about 5-8 movies long. Making short movies is an art- having the ability to pack a punch in only a couple of minutes. So, Dev , if you are reading this post, please do take a note.
About nine short movies are par brilliance. About 5 are very good. About three to four are pure hogwash. Since the average duration is about 5-6 minutes, sitting through some BS is tolerable. I did take a break for a couple of minutes every now and then because the stories are quite intense and it’s too much to take at one go. The Wikipedia page of the movie has a couple of lines on each short movie. Some reviews around the internet say that it’s worth watching this collection because it gives you an opportunity to compare the direction style of one director versus another. Doing this is a very difficult task for me. Compartmentalizing the direction of great directors like The Coen Brothers, Alexander Payne, Alfonso Cuoron, Gus Van Sant etc. is not easy. Each story is so different. It’s not disappointing to not see familiar sights like the Eiffel Tower, various Parisian museums etc. in every segment. Instead, each piece is set in a different part of Paris and elucidates a different angle of love, suffering, joy and longing.
Some of my favorites:
“Tueleries” by The Coen Brothers- Story of an American tourist in a subway station in Paris and how staring at a young couple for a couple of seconds lands him in trouble. If you have five minutes, you can watch the movie for free on Youtube:
Loin du 16e by Walter Salles and Daniela Thomas- A young woman sings a soulful lullaby to her baby early in the morning at the daycare. She goes to her employer’s house. The employer’s baby is crying and she sings the same lullaby again, sans feelings and emotions. This video has no subtitles. Even then, it should be easy to understand because the emotions are well executed through a simple lullaby. The movie hardly has any dialogues.
Place de Victoires- I’m a big fan of Juliette Binoche and Willem Dafoe. I didn’t care much for Nobuhiro Sawa’s director. Juliette Binoche stars as a young mother grieving the loss of her young son. Her acting makes this movie worth a watch.
Tour Eiffel- Brilliant acting by mime artists. And the boy with the oversized backpack is really cute. One of the few segments that is very light hearted and makes you smile.
Faubourg Saint-Deni- Natalie Portman’s contribution to this wonderful series. She stars as a young actor who falls in love with a blind guy. The boy talks about their love and how it turns sour eventually.
14e arrondissement- Best ending a series can ever have. Directed by Alexander Payne, an American tourist narrates her tale about her love for Paris and her recent visit to the City of Love. The American-French accent is so lovable. If you’re short on time, just watch this one segment because it’s totally worth it.
Maria Elena used to say that only unfulfilled love can be romantic
- Juan Antonio
Woody Allen almost makes me ashamed of wanting normalcy and stability in my life. He also seems to propound that sex equals love. As in, unless two people are having lots of sex, they can’t be in love. Maybe I’m getting it all wrong. I enjoyed the madness and the Spanish scenery. I enjoyed feeling inspired to love, to paint, to create music and to live like an artist. I wish I’d watched this movie sooner. Perhaps I would have done something about what I didn’t intentionally want to happen.
Oh, Penelope Cruz looked very pretty. But I’m not sure if she deserved the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. I think Scarlett Johansson did put up an equally impressive performance. I’ve seen Scarlett Johansson and Rebecca Hall together in The Prestige and it was a pleasure seeing them again in this romantic comedy. Javier Bardem looks delicious.
I love being in the United States for many reasons. Opportunity to watch world class movies is one of them. A lot of movies make their way here, sooner or later. I had no idea that Okuribito has won so many awards when I read its impressive story line using Flixstr app on the screen of my iPhone. I told A, “Let’s go watch this Japanese movie that seems to have figured out what death is all about”. “A” turns to me and says, “Oh it has won several awards, including an Academy Award”.
The small theater was filled with a lot of old folks. My guess is…about 80%. Maybe more. I don’t think it is a co-incidence that people who perceive themselves to be closer to departure are the very ones who chose to watch this movie. Did I know who Yojiro Takita is? No. Did it matter to these people? Probably not.
The opening scene of the movie shows a young man, driving a car in between snow filled roads. Think about the first scene of the movie Fargo. The similarity ends there though. He talks about his orchestra that went bankrupt. He quits his job as a cellist and returns his 18 million yen worth of cello. Daigo and his wife Mika leave Tokyo and move back to this hometown, where his deceased mother has left him a modest house. Soon, he comes across an ad in the newspaper for a person who needs no experience to help with “departures”. Little does he know what he’s getting into. The job involves working with dead bodies, cleaning them and putting them in the casket. Making the dead ready for their funeral and for entry into the next life. It pays him well and he keeps his job description hidden from his wife. In fact, his first assignment involves posing as a corpse for a short video that his boss is making. The boss plans to use this video to train others. The rest of the movie deals with his coming to terms with the realities of death, the effect of his deathly job on his relationship with his wife and the impact that the various funeral procedures have on him.
Some of the main characters of the film: His boss- Who hires him on the spot because very few people want this “unreal”, taboo-ed job; his wife Mika- a great woman who never questions the husband, finds happiness in the saddest of situations (sounds cliched, yes) and most importantly, has the strength to remain married to a man with an unconventional job and somewhere down the line, to understand her husband’s dedication and professionalism towards a job he grows to love and respect; his dad who leaves his mom when he was only six, the old lady who takes great pride in running a public bath and the desk attendant from work.
There is this scene in the movie where he is standing by the river, staring at salmons swim. One of the salmons gets stuck behind a big boulder. Daigo thinks, “Why do these fishes travel all the way only to get stuck and killed?”. A old man who is passing by tells him, “Because they want to come back to their old home first”. Such profound philosophy. I’m pretty sure I’ve heard this before. Maybe it has to do with growing up in Southeast Asia, but we do have this notion that a person always wants to die in his place of birth. So far, I haven’t come across this concept in the US.
Not every death scene in the movie is sad and depressing; each funeral has something new to contribute to the general story line. For example- Imagine cleaning the body of a beautiful woman and stumbling on a penis. Yes, a man-woman commits suicide. Daigo’s boss asks the deceased’s father if he would like his kid to be dressed as a man or a woman. Then there is this young woman who dies on the motorbike of her boyfriend. Daigo goes about his usual job of cleaning her dead body and applying make up on her face. The mom realizes how innocent and pretty her daughter looks while she sleeps. And how much of a pain her daughter’s real-life persona was. Another widower breaks down when he sees his dead wife for the last time. He’d never seen her look so beautiful. These snippets are important because they show the impact the dead have on the living. Daigo, the professional that he is, remains relatively untouched on a personal level.
All hell breaks lose when Mika finds the taped video of her husband posing as a corpse. Daigo refuses to leave the job that he’s grown to love. He likes the influence that he creates on others during their most intimate moments. It makes him feel important. Mika leaves him and returns to her native village.
The death scene of the lady who runs the bath is the second most beautiful scene in the movie. She was the one who had heard little Daigo cry longingly for his father behind the closed doors of a public bathroom. For Daigo, it’s a tremendous honor to send her on her final journey. For Mika, this is the funeral that brings her closer to her husband. She witnesses Daigo’s love for his job. And the old man who Daigo had met near the river makes a come back. He happens to be the dead lady’s lover during her final months. He also happens to be the man who’ll push the button that will cremate the dead lady’s body electronically. The dead lady’s son wails loudly as he watches through a small window his mother’s casket light up in the fire. He regrets all those hours that he spent fighting with her, asking her to close down the public bath and to sell the land to a real-estate agent who can build modern condos.
Daigo’s life comes a full circle when news reaches him of his father’s death. He’s determined not to pay homage to a man who never inquired about his well being, after he deserted Daigo 30 years back. The only material thing that ties him is a large stone that was gifted to him by his father. Daigo doesn’t even remember what his father looks like. So the man that he sees lying dead is a stranger to him. Until he finds his father clutching on to the stone that Daigo had given him. I don’t even want to try and express the mixed emotions that were flowing through my mind and the minds of many others seated next to me. Tears were freely flowing down people’s eyes when they saw Daigo shaving his dad’s old beard, trimming his hair, cleaning his body and putting on fresh clothes.
“A” tells me that he saw lots of men in the restroom splashing cold water on their faces, deep in thoughts staring into open space. I don’t even want to imagine what they were thinking about. Perhaps imagining their own death scene.
This movie, at a subconscious level, reminded me of a very personal experience- Me, as an eight year old, witnessing the old body of my dead grandmother being cleaned. There were men and women all around crying loudly. My grandmom’s sister held me on her lap and gently rocked me. I don’t exactly remember, but I think my mom and some other aunts dressed my grandmom in a bright red sari, applied make up and made her look like a new bride. There was a hired photographer who took pictures. I’ve never had to go back to those paper photographs. That’s one scene I can never forget. It traumatized me for months. And this film brought it all back.
This movie has some of the finest cello and piano pieces. Japanese Cherry Blossoms and fine emotions that’s missing in a lot of Hollywood movies. Please do take a look if you get a chance.
Trailer from Youtube:
How do you make an insecure person feel insecure? How do you bat off senseless, mindless and baseless questions? It’s sad when people want you to prove yourself even though you’ve known them forever. Or, at least it feels like it’s been forever.
Are we living a pretentious life? Sweepings things under the carpet, until it gets too late. And when you stand on such a crossroad, you don’t even realize that you just missed the last bus.
It’s easy to say “don’t let anyone else dictate your happiness”. If you actually let no one affect your moods or feelings, you are probably not human. To what extent? That’s the question.
It’s difficult to know when enough is really enough. Wish everything were black and white. Even if I read every damn psychology or philosophy book out there, nothing will ever teach me how to deal with real life situations. Besides, I’m unique. You are unique too.
Every single incident is like a crossword puzzle- the pieces are in your hands. You need to learn how to put all the pieces together.
Dev-D…What a movie. No, it’s not futuristic. Instead, this movie depicts modern day love stories. Behavior of people like you and me who fall in love. And then manage to screw up their lives in a unique way. I was mesmerized by Dilip Kumar’s Devdas and I had cried (yes cried) through Shah Rukh Khan’s Devdas. This one, however, steals the cake for me because Abhay Deol’s concept is my concept. I thought I was done with “sentu” (Sentu- short form for sentimentality) stuff. It’s my way of dealing with downturns in life- Drink,
dope and die.
What made me watch this movie? You really want to know? My coworker, emailed me .mp3 file of X-Rated Version of “Emosional Atyachaar”. I haven’t been able to sing this song ever since without silently muttering lines like “Hai poora ka poora mind fuck yaar…tera emotional atyachaar” (Translation- Your emotional torture completely fucks my mind). A piece of advice: Don’t listen to it if you are not well educated in Hindi gaaliyan. By the way, why is it okay for people to abuse in English and not okay for people to abuse in Hindi? A person is “cool” if he abuses in English. A person is a bloody gawaar and ghaati if he abuses in Hindi.
The movie sticks to the basic story line of Devdas- Devdas and Paro are childhood friends. Devdas is a rich and misbehaved kid who is sent away to London by his father (fondly called “Sattu”). Dev returns back to Chandigarh, India after what seems like almost a century. He romances with Paro amidst sarso ke kheth and lots of hoopla (Older brother is getting married). Devdas manages to lose Paro and land up in Chanda’s (Chandramookhi) haveli.
The story line actually has a lot of “twists”- Devdas’ sis-in-law is no bitch. Devdas’ dad, Sattu, is quite a decent man himself. And for a change, he doesn’t hate Paro. And Paro’s a Jatt who doesn’t shy away from abusing men or admitting her sexual fantasies. Dev, on the other hand, is the biggest Male Chauvinist Pig (Long form for MCP) of all.
Paro’s character is probably my favorite. I liked her because her role explores the characteristics that define a modern woman. A woman who is strong enough to explore her own life and to break away from societal stereotypes. She is from a typical middle class family. She’s well educated (college topper, of course) and yeah, sexually frustrated. Only in India women are not allowed to be sexually frustrated. She doesn’t shy away from sending her long distance boyfriend a nude picture of her upper body. In fact, she has more balls than any man- she clicks her pic using a film roll camera, gets it developed at a film camera store, manages to ignore store owner’s perverted looks, goes to a cyber cafe (yes, they are still called cyber cafes in India), scans the image herself after abusing the cyber cafe guy and emails it to Dev. After Dev returns to Chandigarh, she asks her admirer, a servant of the house, his room keys- “Dev is back!” The servant of the house, unfortunately, professes his love for her. He manages to convince Dev that Paro is a top quality slut. Paro doesn’t look back and gets married right off the bat to a Punjabi guy who is rich and the father of two kids.
I fail to understand how men trust others more than their women. He dumps Paro and drinks and dopes to death (well, almost). Dev’s “friend”, Chunni babu (dressed in a green shirt and red tie), takes him to Chanda, who is actually quite young. An eighteen year old girl who helps guys get off over the phone by seductively talking and moaning in Tamil, English, French and Hindi. Chanda’s character is quite interesting- She is the famous woman who was involved in Delhi’s MMS scandal. Her mom kind of disowns her and her dad kills himself. With nowhere to go, she lands in a modern day brothel. She wears jeans and a tee shirt, rides a cool bike and goes to college when she’s not being a commercial sex worker (CSW).
Dev and Chanda actually fall in love and live happily ever after.
The reason I really like this film is because it celebrates womanhood- you can choose to be either Paro or Chanda. The director, Anurag Kashyap, explores different angles of a common woman’s life. He shows how women are actually much stronger than men in many ways. Paro moves on pretty quick. Dev doesn’t. He, in fact, chooses to meet Paro’s sister-in-law (who has a thing for him) to get back at Paro. He spies on Paro using telescopes. He calls her at 11 pm at night. And in a fit of emotion, tells her that he still loves her. Paro brings him back to Earth and shows him the reality- that he’s had his chance. Very briefly, the movie also talks about the importance of having safe sex. How it is never embarrassing to get yourself tested frequently and to request for a condom.
People make mistakes and they move on. Each experience makes you into the person you are. Oh, and our lives never come to a complete stop for anyone. We can always pick up the pieces and create a new mosaic. What society construes as acceptable in one part of the world might not be acceptable in some other part of the world, but this doesn’t make your truth or experience any less significant than mine.
Abhay Deol, as Dev-D, gives an outstanding performance. I haven’t seen any of his movies. This is my first. I really hope this won’t be my last Abhay Deol movie! He’s so different compared to his cousins. I also hope to see more of Kalki and Mahi Gill. Both were spectacular.