[The powerful finale from Greed, my favorite film]

Monday, January 31, 2011

Dhobi Ghat - Themes

The divide

From Raj Kapoor and Nargis in Awaara to Aamir Khan and Karishma Kapoor in Raja Hindustani, love between a rich girl and a poor guy is a recurring motif in hindi cinema. Dreams, magic, any thing can happen on celluloid. Love knows no boundaries. So they say.

Life is not like that though. There is a divide which is evident from the different utensils the maid gives Munna and Shai when serving them tea to the way the friends of Shai joke about her hanging out with him. Munna standing on the road while Shai leaves in her car is a recurring event in the film. Even when Munna joins Shai in the car, the divides are evident. Shai wants to take Munna's porfolio shots (as he wants to become an actor) out in the open but Munna wants them in the studio.


Shai shoots Arun while Arun is looking at Yasmin's videos. Love, Sex and Dhoka explored this theme in much more detail. The voyeuristic nature of our society is quite sad. As soon as you are interested in some one, you check out more info via google, facebook.When you encounter the person in real life though, like Shai sees Arun on the road, they try to hide away. 

Unrequited love - A constant and most obvious theme in the film. I am always glad on the rare occasions when some one shows it on celluloid like in Kabhie Haan Kabhie Na, Darr, Saawariya and of course Devdas. There is a deep grief about unrequited love which is probably why it makes for great cinema.

The breaking of families

Aamir is disconnected with the real world all the time. However, when he hears the possibility of going to Sydney, he becomes alert. He probably longs to see his son all the time. The old woman is some one whose children have left her on her own in all probability. I see a lot of older people being abandoned. I used to visit an old home till a few years back and it is heart breaking when you talk to some of these people.

The Daily Grind

The day job of Munna is not enough. He has to kill rats at night to make ends meet. Munna idolizes the leading man Salman Khan. He has dreams but as responsibilities crush him, all he can think about is how to earn money. Any small role to make ends meet will do for him.

A lot of people haven't liked this film which is okay as it isn't a movie for every one. However, when you talk with people who have indeed liked the film, a lot of people say it is beautiful. When you look at the photographs of the people, it is indeed quite beautiful to look at. However, their life is a mess. Like Munna, they are trying to make ends meet, or are emotionally scarred like Arun, or even have had their lives destroyed like Yasmin. Munna asks Shai why she is shooting the common place Mumbai streets. "Why are you doing this?", he asks? "All is dirty here." For Shai, it is all very lovely from the outside. There is nothing beautiful about the stark, harsh realities of life though. 10/10.

PS - On Kriti Malhotra's performance- She was the soul of the film. Delectable in her potrayal of the innocent and full of love Yasmin Noor.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Guru Dutt's Directorial Debut - Baazi

Guru Dutt's directorial debut venture, Baazi, flatters, shows a lot of promise but deceives in the end. The film starts with Guru Dutt shown sitting on the porch and looking like a man who has failed in life. He is probably the man who has lost out in the world of gambling after going to the dark side. A forewarning, a sign of things to come perhaps.

There are lot of things which are magical about the film. The young girl kissing Dev Anand's hands before he rolls the dice for luck, the elements of noir (there is actually a shot of a lamp post which thrilled me no end). By the time the Tadbeer Se Bigadi Huyee Taqdeer song plays, you are gushing and have smiles all over. That is the high point of the film, however.

The plot becomes pretty hotch-potched after that. There are a fair few songs which keep popping up as well which not only disturb the narrative, they aren't that great mostly either (a huge disappointment for a S.D.Burman fan like me). I really loved the choreography of the song where women dance with umbrellas and rain coats though. That was some thing new.

The direction is excellent though. Guru Dutt shows he knows his craft. There is a song where Dev Anand has to come home after the heroine's father has thrown him out of the car. There are shots of common folk shown and they are going about their daily work.

The acting through out is excellent. Dev Anand is neat and plays the leading man with panache. He underplays quite a bit. Kalpna Kartik, who went on to marry Dev Anand in real life didn't have a very successful career as an actress. I loved her in this film though. She has a deep, husky voice and adds a lot of sensitivity to the morally upright character. People talk about Dharmendra's iconic scene in which he went shirtless. It is supposed to be the first instance of a bollywood star going shirtless. Not true. Dev Anand is shirtless in the film and the scene is far more sensuous than the Dharmendra scene according to me. That scene has an element of raw sexuality. This is far more subtle and all the more sexier for it. Dev Anand is in a situation where he is without a shirt outside his house. He tries to poke his elder sister to give him one without Kalpna Kartik seeing him. Kalpna Kartik notices him, takes the shirt and goes out of the house to give it to Dev Anand. Ahead of it's time much?

Geeta Bali is the star of the film though. She has a small role but shines bright. Even the smaller roles, the father of Kalpna Kartik, the actor who plays Pedro and others, some of whom are there in only a couple of shots seems interesting. There is a cameo played by Johnny Walker for instance and I laughed out loud with the first sentence he uttered. That's why Johnny Walker was so special I guess.

The murder scene was very well shot. All through the film, there are people smoking, smoke flying across the screen as a result of it which sets the mood. There is even a scene where Dev Anand puffs right into the face of Kalpna Kartik.

The film could have been far better if edited well but it doesn't fail to give us a peak into the fountain of talent which is Guru Dutt.