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.
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:
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.
Found this meme on Lallopallo‘s blog and got instantly tempted to draw up my list. I’m supposed to make two lists- each in a different language. I’m fluent in only four languages (English, Hindi, Bengali and Marwari), but I listen to a variety of stuff because music really has no language. I’ve come up with my “Indian” list here.
I’m a big fan of Sufi music. I have a big list of Sufi songs that I enjoy listening to. And some old Hindi movie songs. As per the rules, I’ve restricted myself to only ten here. No particular order.
#10- Tujhse Naraaz Nahi Zindagi from the movie Masoom- Gulzar’s lyrics brings out the pain and joy in your heart. Literally. Beautifully sung by Anup Ghoshal and composed by the maestro R.D Burman.
#9- Wedding Qawalli by A R Rahman- This is from the noteworthy show Bombay Dreams. Can’t get more Sufi than this. Sukhwinder Singh is the singer. I don’t really like him, but I think he’s done a wonderful job with this one. You can listen to it here on Youtube.
#8- Silli Hawa Choo Gayi by R.D Burman and Lata Mangeshkar- This is an old song from the movie Libaas, which I haven’t watched. I don’t know when I started liking this song. Not sure if you’ve heard of it, but I go nuts every time I hear it. I’d written about it a long time back.
#7- Tere Bin Nahi Lagda by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan- The man who has given us some of the best Sufi numbers is no more with us and it is almost a tragedy. This is my favorite Fateh Ali Khan song. I’m sure you have heard/seen this song before. It used to be a hot favorite:
#6- Yeh Lamhe Yeh Pal Hum from Lamhe- Maybe it has something to do with the deserts of Rajasthan. Maybe it is Sridevi or maybe it was the controversy that engulfed this movie in the early 90s because of the unconventional theme. I’ve been a big fan of this movie and its songs. This one is my clear favorite.
#5- Gurus of Peace by A.R Rahman and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan- Too good to be true. This is the best thing to have ever happened: two legends of music coming together to give us some of the most unforgettable melodies. You can listen to this song here.
#4- Piya Haji Ali by A.R. Rehman (Movie: Fiza)- I love this area in Bombay. And I love this song too. Didn’t like the movie much, but I haven’t been able to get over this song!
#3- Ae Zindagi Gale Laga Le by Ilayaraja (Movie: Sadma) I’ve been searching for the Tamil version of this song. If anyone knows, please leave me a comment or write an email.
#2- Pachai Killigal by A.R. Rehman and Yesudas (Movie: Indian)- Kashtiya Bhi Ladh Gayi from the movie Hindustani for Hindi movie goers. I prefer listing songs in their original dialects, unless I’m unaware of the origin, that is. I rediscovered this song a couple of months ago on Youtube. I’d almost forgotten this movie’s soundtracks. Kappaleri Poyachi is a close second. I actually like all the songs from this movie. Difficult to pick a favorite.
#1- Bombay movie theme music by A.R. Rehman- One of the best OSTs I’ve ever listened to. I don’t think I can ever get tired of this one. I’ve been listening to it ever since the movie came out in early 90s. I really liked the movie back then and haven’t watched it ever since. I’ll try to watch it in Tamil this time (with subtitles of course).
Like you can see, I have a big A.R Rehman hangover. It has nothing to do with Slumdog Millionaire or his Oscars. I’ve always been like this since I heard the songs of Roja as a kid. My mom knows it all too well. I wish I could meet him once. I don’t know what I would do, seriously. I love his voice and his music. I can’t imagine anyone else singing the songs that he does. Hard to find someone who is more down to earth than him. I planned to write my favorite English songs too, but I lost track of time writing this post and listening to some songs. I’ll be back with Part-II soon. (sooner than four months for sure).
P.S- I have to have to mention this song by Pankaj Udhas that I really love- It’s called “Chandi Jaisa Rang Hai Tera”. Here’s the video:
Made in 1898, G.A. Smith’s ‘Santa Claus’ is a film of considerable technical ambition and accomplishment for its period. It uses pioneering visual effects in its depiction of a visit from St. Nicholas.
A former magic lanternist and hypnotist, Smith was one of the first British film-makers to make extensive use of special effects to create fantastical scenes. It comes as little surprise that Smith corresponded with the French pioneer Georges Méliès at about this time, as the two men shared a common goal in terms of creating an authentic cinema of illusion. (Michael Brooke)
Sunset Boulevard is the story of a yester year movie star, Norma Desmond, who dreams of making a come back to the screen. She entraps a young, unemployed writer, Joe Gillis, by making him financial dependent on her. Her loneliness and insecurity makes her fall in love with him. Feeding her vain ego is her in house servant cum driver, Max, who continues to mail her fake fan letters. The ambience and the general set up of the movie reminds me of Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. Norma Desmond’s character is quite similar to Miss Havisham’s, in that she stays in an old, crumbling palace, and is extremely detached from the reality of the outside world. Her fear of finally realizing that the world has moved on and that she’s no more a star has made her set up a mini theater at home, where she watches re-runs of her silent movies. Her house is decorated with tons of frames carrying pictures of young Norma Desmond.
What’s interesting about the movie is that the lead role of Norma Desmond has been played by Gloria Swanson, who was a famous star during the silent movie era. She lost her foot hold in the movie industry with the advent of “talkies”. This was touted to her come back movie and what a come back it was- the movie was nominated for eleven Academy Awards, out of which, it won three- Best Music, Best Art Direction- Set Decortation and Best Writing.
One of the best scenes in the movie is the one where Joe Gillis walks into Norma’s room for the first time- Norma has mistaken him to be a coffin dealer and shows Joe the dead body of her monkey. Gloria Swanson’s acting as the old woman who’s gone mad couldn’t have been better. William Holden, as the struggling writer is a treat to watch too.
One of my absolute favorites so far!
The Other End of the Line claims to offer more insight into the lives of call center workers and how they struggle to merge their Indian and American identities. The movie stars Shriya Saran as the call center worker, Jesse Metcalfe as the guy on the “other end of the line”, Tara Sharma as Shriya’s confidante at the call center, Anupam Kher as Shriya Saran’s father, among other stars.
The plot of the story is not very realistic: Shriya is helping Jesse Metcalfe (high flyer, advertising business, hot, suave, good looking) sort through his credit card bills which have gotten over blown because of identity theft. Jesse, instead of canceling the account (under real-world-ideal-scenario) continues to use the card. Shriya calls him up every time she sees a charge on the account, to make sure that it is legitimate. Now, come on! Which call center employee is that good? I would really like to come across such a loving sales rep. Instead, I cringe every time my call is picked up by a call center employee. Shriya Googles up Jesse and realizes that he the rich, unattainable guy. All this while, she hides under the name of one “Jessica” and purports to be from San Francisco. Jesse asks her out on a date. Shriya turns him down initially. But you see, she’s also under going a personal crisis: She’s getting married to a mumma’s boy! To escape from her marriage woes, she decides to take up Jesse’s offer, hops on Air India and arrives at San Francisco! When she sees Jesse for the first time, she doesn’t have the nerves to go up to him and tell him the truth. Instead, the director makes them collide in a hotel lobby, fall on top of each other…Bollywood ishtyle. What follows next is a lot of song and dance, long walks on the beaches, and no touching please!
Finally, Jesse comes to know about Shriya’s true identity. Tempers fly, lots of bad mouthing, Shriya gets back home, ready to marry mumma’s boy. But America has taught her some stuff: Live for yourself. Do things that make you happy, blah blah. She goes to the boy’s house and tells him exactly that (as if it’s a sin to do things that make you happy). She breaks off and resigns the rest of her life to her call center job. She’s soon promoted. Jesse flies to India to woo her and everyone lives happily ever after.
Anupam Kher has been completely wasted in the movie. All he does is worry about his daughter and repeat cliched dialogues (“Stop acting americano and worry about your family also…you need to marry that guy for us”). Tara Sharma doesn’t have much of a role, except play the agony aunt. Shriya Saran acts well, even though the movie doesn’t really offer much. I suspect she took it up hoping that this would be her claim to international fame. Jesse looks hot.
If I were to go by what’s shown in the movie, then call center employees have weekly classes where they are taught the difference between Wendy’s and McDonald’s burgers, where they are taught American slangs, how to tackle abusive-spoilt-rich-American customers (exact words used) and are also kept up to date on Hollywood gossip. Indians have been portrayed as hard working…people who tolerate all the abuse. Americans have been portrayed as ignorant, rich spoilt brats. Oh, and all call center people start from New Jersey (callers from this region abuse the most) and then work their way to the West- San Francisco etc.
The most unrealistic part of the movie is the fact that Shriya’s Indian accent is weird- she doesn’t even pronounce words like “familiar” and “accepted” properly. But her American accent is amazing! I’m sure that some of her foreign accent would rub off on her Indian accent too. This discord between two accents is something that I don’t agree with at all. Any Indian who stays in the US can tell you that much: The way you pronounce certain words changes and it is not even possible that you’ll pronounce “possible” as “phhhoosibl” in American accent” and pronounce it as “paw-sibbble” in Indian.
I saw an American family sitting towards the back of the theater. They seemed to be enjoying the movie. My friend and I hated it. Then there was this other Indian family sitting right in front of us who couldn’t stop laughing either. Apart from us, I didn’t see anyone else in the theater.
You can easily give this film a miss.
I loved this movie because I’d gone with zero expectations and only wanted to watch Ranbir Kapoor. And boy, was he hawt! Couldn’t have asked for a better Independence Day gift. The movie as such doesn’t make sense. It’s a fun ride and watch it only if you can leave your brains behind. You’ll see Ranbir romancing with three women at different points in his life. It’s only after Deepika dumps him that he realizes how bad he’s been to his previous girlfriends- spoke ill about one, and left one at the marriage alter. Next, he goes back and tries to ask for their forgiveness. Soon, Deepika falls in love with him and everything is hunky dory.
Minisha Lamba’s acting needs a lot of improvement. She over-act almost everywhere, and for some reason, looks too old. But her character was really interesting- a girl who loves the movie DDLJ (like me) and has watched it 17 times! (Like me, again!). So she’s on this Eurorail tour and hopes to find her “Raj” and picturizes everything from DDLJ-Raj-Simran type angle.
Bipasha Basu looks sizzling! She plays the part of an upcoming model to the hilt and we couldn’t have asked for more. Deepika Padukone looks so pretty. I can’t believe that she’s only 22. She plays the role of a simple Indian girl who works as a cab driver during night time and as a cashier at a grocery store during day time to pay off her B-school tuition. She’s independent. And she doesn’t want to get married! In almost all the scenes, I really feel that she’s done a better job compared to Ranbir.
Ranbir with his chocolate boy look is simply adorable. It’s so difficult to not like him. He has done an amazing job in almost all the scenes, especially the title track “Bachna Ae Haseenon” that’s played during the name casting of the movie.
It’s a fun movie that can be watched for plain time pass. Don’t expect anything else! Oh, and I can’t stop listening to “Khuda Jaane”.
Rating: 5.5/10 +1 bonus just for Ranbir (eye candy)