Archive for category Movie Reviews

Extraordinary Attorney woo – Serial Review

This extraordinarily insightful and brilliant drama with a heart is a must-watch Korean serial with English subtitles, that is winning audiences everywhere. The serial centers around twenty seven year old attorney Woo Young-Woo who graduated at the top of her class and lands as an attorney in a top law firm. At one point, she says, ”I am like a Narwhal lost in a pod of belugas”. She says she is unusual and peculiar and yet her life is valuable and beautiful. There are two peculiar aspects about her. One, she has an impressive photographic memory, something that is extraordinarily rare and enables the individual to have superior autobiographical memory where they can remember almost all of their life experiences in vivid detail. Attorney Woo is also diagnosed at an early age with autism spectrum disorder and she struggles in social interactions.

What brings this serial to life and makes it one of the most memorable and deeply enjoyable is masterful performance by Park Eun-Bin in the role of Woo Young-Woo. For an actor to put life into a complex character like the one she plays and bring to life their journey with opportunities, challenges, hopes and frustrations is incredibly challenging and Eun-Bin has delivered an unrivaled performance that is sure to keep the audience glued to their screens.. 

This is also a very thought-provoking series, written by Moon Ji-Won and directed by Yoo In-Shik. Incredibly well written dialogs, bring heart to a series of challenges that humans deal with ongoingly, for instance, “if you want to communicate, make an effort” and “different doesn’t mean inferior”. Or when young Woo with autism spectrum disorder wants to experience life in its entirety and tells her father, “I would like to get discouraged, I do not want you to intervene, when I am going to get discouraged”. Her concerned father once says he wants to see the young man his daughter likes, in order to ensure he can make her happy, to which Woo insightfully says, “He is nice, he can make me happy. The problem is me. Can I make him happy or make him lonely”? 

Yoo In-Shik’s direction is flawless. Big credit goes to In-Shik for creating the vision and getting the best performance from the entire cast. Kang Tae-Oh as attorney Woo’s colleague then an intrigued friend and later a caring lover, delivers equally riveting performance, at times perplexed as he navigates through the challenging world of autism and at other times just someone who feels on top of the world, in love. Kang Ki-Young in the role of Woo’s boss navigates through similar challenges, in how best to communicate when all communication happens literally and how to get the best out of an employee who is superior in every way and yet may be perceived as inferior. Yoon Kyeong-Ha and Joo Hyun-Young offer their friendship and collegiality as they struggle to keep Woo focused and not veer off on a tangent. 

A final shoutout to Hyun-Soo Cho for amazing subtitle translation from Korean to English. A person with autism often interacts with communication in a literal way and that is challenging enough to show in one language but to then translate it into another one? And indeed the serial also got into a bit of trouble initially when the literal translation of the title from Korean to English appeared as Weird Lawyer Woo Young-Woo. In the drama, Woo uses palindromes or words that can be read the same forward and backwards. But these can’t be translated literally so English palindromes like Kayak, Deed etc. are creatively inserted.  One of Woo’s friends is into telling jokes and riddles like why is the police questioning the thread, because needle sewed the thread. In place of Korean jokes and riddles, creative and funny English riddles are inserted.

This is an incredibly well made and beautiful drama with a heart. On a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being excellent, I rate it a 5. It’s a not-to-miss show, currently streaming on Netflix. Review is written after Season 1.

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Gangubai Kathiawadi: Bollywood Movie Review

Based on a chapter of Hussain Zaidi’s book “Mafia Queens of Mumbai”, film “Gangubai Kathiawadi” revolves around the life of Gangubai Kothewali, who rose to fame and prominence, during 1960s and came to be known as the “Madam of Kamathipura”, the famous red light district of Mumbai. The film premiered at the 72nd Berlin International Film Festival and was then released in theaters on February 25, 2022 and is produced by Sanjay Leela Bhansali and Jayantilal Gada and Directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali. I never mention before completion of the review, but I will make an exception and say that this is an absolutely beautiful and “must watch” movie for any serious movie enthusiasts. 

This is a biographical film and is loosely based on the life of Ganga Harjivandas, who was born into a reputed Kathiawadi family in Gujarat, in 1938. She had dreams of city life and having found the love of her life, at a young age of 16, she married and eloped with Ramnik Lal to Mumbai. That is when her life’s trajectory changed. Ramnik Lal sold her to a brothel for a paltry Rs. 500 and she was forced to enter the oldest trade in human history.

Ganga eventually emerged as Gangubai and became a powerful brothel owner herself. At a time when feminism wasn’t even a concept, Gangubai emerged as a voice for these women, and she demanded they get equal treatment, opportunities for their children, and legalization of their profession. Alia Bhatt has exceeded all expectations in the role of Ganga, as she evolves into Gangubai. When starring in a biopic, the actor is familiar with the story of the events that took place in the character’s life. But it is only an actor who can put life into the evolution of the character and bring to life their journey. This is the journey of how a young girl with dreams of starting her married life dealt with that betrayal, accepted the fact that there was absolutely no escape for her and to change her circumstances, she needed to change herself and get an upper hand over the life that was thrown at her.

Every dialog that Gangubai says, is uttered with masterful theatrics by Alia. 

When challenging her competitor in local elections, without a shred of doubt about her own potential win, Gangubai says, “ज़मीन पे बैठी बहोत अच्छी लग रही है तू, आदत दाल ले, क्यों की तेरी कुर्सी तो गयी”.

As she riles up her girls she says, “इज्जत से जीनेका, किसीसे डरनेका नहीं,  ना पोलिस से, ना मंत्री से, ना MLA से, ना भड़वो से, किसी के बाप से नहीं डरने का”. 

And “genius वोह नहीं होता है जिसके पास हर सवाल का जवाब हो, genius वोह होता है जिसके पास हर जवाब तक पहोंचनेका patience हो”.

And “अरे जब सकती, सम्पति, सदबुद्धी तीनो ही औरत है तो मर्दो को किस बात का गुरुर”?

Bhansali has said, “That belief in herself and that fight for dignity is what fascinated me” but then his challenge was to extract it out of his actors. Brilliant director that he is, the movie is incredibly emotionally and visually rich, with every scene loaded with meaning. When Gangubai finds a lover, she is skeptical at first and tests him to see if he respects boundaries. And then comes a surreal moment when she simply rests her head on her lover’s shoulder and in that moment her skepticism, the load of betrayal that she has carried for years on her shoulders, melts into deep love and trust towards this man. There are so many moments that portray genuine humanness, whether it is about aggression, betrayal, defiance, distrust, or concern and caring. And there are incredibly powerful dances by Alia to the beat of drums and songs that connect Gangubai to her Kathiwadi roots but also to her present. In the song Dholida, Alia dances with abandon, to the praise of Goddess Amba, powerful and savior of all. One can’t think of anything more apt. The lyrics go…

ખમ્મા, ખમ્મા મારી માવલડી
તું છે જગની તારણહાર
હે, ચોટીલા ના ડુંગરવાળી
ચંડી ચામુંડા બિરદારી

Item number by Huma Qureshi is also fantastic. Ajay Devgun as underworld Don and Seema Pahwa as brothel madam are fantastic. What is guaranteed to make the entire movie a memorable experience is Alia’s masterful performance during the speech she gave towards the end of the movie, where content meets creativity, actor becomes the character, words hold deep meaning and performance manifests it. 

As the person introducing her is about say Shrimati and then stops, apparently struggling how to introduce a brothel owner, Gangubai takes the mic from her and begins,

“कुंवारी आपने छोड़ा नहीं, श्रीमती किसीने बनाया नहीं”

She ends with, “लिख देना कल के अखबारमे, के आज़ाद मैदानमे भासन देते वख्त, गंगूबाईने आँखे झुकाकर नहीं, आँखे मिलाकर हक़ की बात की है भाई”. Looking straight ahead, Gangubai told the women gathered to protect women’s rights, “A few handful of women who cater to the physical needs of men are actually protecting all of you from being attacked. These women help blunt the bestial male aggression and they deserve legal protection and their children have a right to get education and other opportunities”. 

On a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being excellent, I rate this movie 5.

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Gangubai Review in Gujarati: ગંગુબાઈ કાઠિયાવાડી ચલચિત્રની સમીક્ષા

 હુસૈન ઝૈદી ના પુસ્તક માફિયા ક્વિન્સ ના એક પ્રકરણ ઉપર બનેલી ફિલ્મ ગંગુબાઈ કાઠિયાવાડી મુંબઈના કમાટીપુરા વિસ્તારમાં વસેલી ગંગુબાઈ કોઠેવાલી અથવા ત્યાર પહેલા ગંગા હરજીવનદાસ ના નામે કાઠિયાવાડમાં જન્મેલી બાઈની જીવનકથા ઉપર આધારિત છે. આ ફિલ્મ બર્લિન ઇન્ટરનેશનલ ફિલ્મ ફેસ્ટિવલ માં ફેબ્રુઆરીમાં રિલીઝ થયેલી અને તાજેતરમાં તે થિએટરમાં રિલીઝ થઇ છે. આ ફિલ્મના પ્રોડ્યૂસર છે સંજય લીલા ભણસાલી અને જયંતીલાલ ગદ્દા અને તેના ડિરેક્ટર  છે સંજય લીલા ભણસાલી. 

ગંગા હરજીવનદાસ નો જન્મ સાન 1938માં કાઠિયાવાડ માં થયેલ અને ત્યાર બાદ આશરે 16 વર્ષની ઉંમરે તે રમણીક નામના છોકરાના પ્રેમમાં પડી. કુટુંબની મરજી તેમના વિરુદ્ધ રમણીક અને ગંગાએ મંદિરમાં લગ્ન કરીને મુંબઈ તરફ પ્રયાણ કર્યું. 16 વર્ષની પ્રેમમાં ઘેલી ગંગા મોટા શહેરની જાહોજલાલી વચ્ચે પોતાનું ઘર વસાવવાના સપના સેવતી રમણીક જોડે મુંબઈ આવી ત્યાર બાદ રમણીક તેને શીલા નામની યુવતીને ત્યાં કમાટીપુરા લઇ આવ્યો. તેણે “આ મારી માસી છે” કહીને ગંગાની ઓળખાણ કરાવી અને ત્યાં ગંગાને બે દિવસ રહેવાનું કહીને તે ચાલ્યો ગયો. અને ત્યારે ગંગાના જીવનનો માર્ગ બદલાઈ ગયો. માત્ર રૂપિયા 500માં લલચાઈને રમણીકે ગંગાને વૈશ્યાવૃત્તિના માર્ગે ધકેલી દીધી હતી. ખુબ માર સહન કર્યા બાદ ગંગાની સમાજમાં આવ્યું કે હવે તેને આ માર્ગ અપનાવ્યા સિવાય છૂટકો નહોતો. 

ગંગા આખરે ગંગુબાઈ બની અને સમય વીતતા તે એક શક્તિશાળી મહિલા અને મોટા વેશ્યાલયની માલિક બની. એવા સમયે જ્યારે નારીવાદનો ક્યાંય ઉલ્લેખ પણ નહોતો થતો ત્યારે ગંગુબાઈ વૈશ્યાવૃત્તિના માર્ગે ધકેલવામાં આવતી મહિલાઓ માટે શક્તિનો આધારસ્થંભ બની અને તેણીએ વૈશ્યાઓ સમાજ માં માથું ઊંચું રાખીને જીવી શકે અને તેમના વ્યવસાયને કાયદેસર બનાવવામાં આવે તેમજ તેમના બાળકોને સમાનતા માટે તકો અને ભણવાની સુવિધા મળે તે માટે ચળવળ શરુ કરી.  આલિયા ભટ્ટે આ ફિલ્મ માં ખુબજ સુંદર અભિનય કર્યો છે. બાયોપિકમાં અભિનય કરતી વખતે, અભિનેત્રી પાત્રના જીવનમાં બનેલી ઘટનાઓની વાર્તાથી પરિચિત તો હોય છે. પરંતુ તે પાત્ર જિંદગીમાં વિકસે ત્યારે તેની લાગણીઓ, ભાવનાઓ ને ધ્યાન માં રાખી તેને જીવંત સ્વરૂપ આપીને તે પાત્રને વિકસાવવું જટિલ કાર્ય છે અને આલિયા એ તે ખુબ સુંદર રીતે કર્યું છે. 

ગંગુબાઈ ખુબજ શક્તિશાળી વક્તા હતા અને તેમના એક એક અર્થસભર વાક્યને આલિયાએ યાદગાર રીતે વાચા આપી છે. 

સ્થાનિક ચૂંટણીઓમાં તેની સ્પર્ધકને પડકારતી વખતે, પોતાની સંભવિત જીત વિશે કોઈ શંકા વિના, ગંગુબાઈ કહે છે, “ज़मीन पे बैठी बहोत अच्छी लग रही है तू, आदत दालले, क्यों की तेरी कुर्सी तो गयी”.

તેની નીચે કામ કરતી વૈશ્યા છોકરીઓને ઉશ્કેરતી વખતે તે કહે છે, “इज्जत से जीनेका, किसीसे डरनेका नहीं, ना पोलिस से, ना मंत्री से, ना MLA से, ना भड़वो से, किसी के बाप से नहीं डरने का”.

ભણસાલીએ કહ્યું હતું કે કપરા સમયમાં ખુબજ કપરી પરિસ્થિતિમાંથી પોતાનો રસ્તો કરીને બીજી સ્ત્રીઓમાટે રસ્તો કાઢતી આ મહિલા ની પોતાના હક અને ગૌરવ માટેની લડાઈએ મને આ કહાની સજીવન કરવા માટે આકર્ષિત કર્યો”. પણ ત્યાર બાદ તેમનો પડકાર તેમના કલાકારોમાંથી તે વાત સજીવન કરવા માટેનો હતો. ભણસાલી કેવા જબરજસ્ત અને તેજસ્વી દિગ્દર્શક છે તેનો ખ્યાલ આપણને તુરંત આવી જાય છે. દરેક ઘટના અને દ્રશ્ય ભાવનાત્મક અને દૃષ્ટિની રીતે સમૃદ્ધ અને અર્થપૂર્ણ છે. જ્યારે ગંગુબાઈને તેમના પ્રેમીને  મળે છે, ત્યારે તે પહેલા શંકાસ્પદ રહે છે અને તેનો પ્રેમી તેની સીમાઓનું સન્માન કરે છે કે નહિ તે જાણવા માટે તેની કસોટી કરે છે. અને પછી અચાનક ગંગુબાઈ તેના પ્રેમીના ખભા પર માથું ઢાળે છે અને તે ક્ષણે પુરુષો પ્રત્યે શંકા અને વિશ્વાસઘાતનો ભાર જે તેણીએ તેના ખભા ઉપર વર્ષોથી વહન કર્યો હતો તે ઓગળી જાય છે. તેમજ આલિયા નું ગરબા નૃત્ય ગંગુબાઈને તેના કાઠીયાવાડી મૂળ સાથે તેમજ તેના વર્તમાન સાથે જોડે છે જાણે કે ગંગુબાઈમાં સાક્ષાત દેવી અંબામા પધાર્યા હોય.  હુમા કુરેશીનો આઇટમ નંબર પણ લાજવાબ છે. અંડરવર્લ્ડ ડોન તરીકે અજય દેવગણ અને વેશ્યાલય મેડમ તરીકે સીમા પાહવા ખુબ સુંદર અભિનય આપે છે. આ ચલચિત્ર ને યાદગાર બનાવવાનો જશ તો આલિયા ભટ્ટ ના ઉત્કૃષ્ટ અભિનયને જ જાય છે અને ચલચિત્રના અંતમાં તે જે અદ્ભુત અને શાનદાર છટા થી ભાષણ આપે છે તેમાં ગંગુબાઈના શક્તિશાળી શબ્દોની સામગ્રી સાથે આલિયા ભટ્ટની  સર્જનાત્મકતા નો સમન્વય પરિપૂર્ણ થાય છે. 

શાનદાર છટા સાથે ગંગુબાઈ કહે છે “लिख देना कल के अखबारमे, के आज़ाद मैदानमे भासन देते वख्त, गंगूबाईने आँखे झुकाकर नहीं, आँखे मिलाकर हक़ की बात की है भाई”.

વાહ ગંગુબાઈ, વાહ આલિયા ભટ્ટ, વાહ દિગ્દર્શક સંજય લીલા ભણસાલી – શું આલીશાન, યાદગાર ફિલ્મ બની છે – જોવનું ચુકતા નહિ!!

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Eeb Allay Ooo! – Bollywood Movie Review

Movie Review for #EebAllayOoo! #Bollywood Film

In his Directorial debut film, “Eeb Allay Ooo!” Prateek Vats manages to tackle an odd subject that has also become an increasingly annoying problem, with some serious consequences; the overwhelming presence of the monkeys in the bustling India’s capital city of Delhi. These primate cousins of ours have multiplied over the years and are corrupted by humans. Due to Hanumanji (the monkey God who helped Rama in the EPIC story Mahabharat), monkeys are considered sacred and revered. Being fed by humans, the monkeys become bolder. When they get hungry, instead of foraging for food, they attack humans and steal food or even snatch their bags when they can.

This movie is a satire on blind religiousity so prevalent in India, that in the practice of archaic beliefs and customs, people often forget the impact these rituals cause on the society. In fact, very recently in January, 2022, when a monkey died of cold, 1500 people attended his funeral and chanted prayers and mantras and a few men even shaved off their heads in reverence towards the dead ancestor.

The film begins with the protagonist Anjani (Shardul Bhardwaj) walking around the city of Delhi, making funny noises to chase away the monkeys. It starts as a common story of a migrant worker who comes to the city chasing big dreams and gets a job chasing the monkeys. He lives in a small hut with his sister, far beyond the city limits. Even as he attempts to chase away the monkeys, he sees people coming and feeding the monkeys. 

Even though he needs the money and the job desperately, the absurdity of futile effort in this ridiculous job is not lost on Anjani. And to top it off, the monkeys get used to the sounds and stop being afraid and then they don’t look kindly on being chased. These monkeys then become aggressive and attack the workers who try to chase them away, while they are enticed with food by other humans.

Also interesting is the poignant contrast between the lives of the poor and the wealthy. The poor work on silly and often dangerous jobs and live on the outskirts of the city, in crowded slums, while trying to hang on to the periphery of society. While the wealthy live luxurious lives with pomp and circumstance. Poor people are deeply aware of the contrast between their lifestyles, but the wealthy are completely ignorant of how people live on the edge of the city in crowded slums. These poor workers are sometimes saddled with responsibilities by their superiors who have no idea of the havoc they sometimes cause. For instance, Anjani’s brother-in-law works as a  security guard and is issued a rifle, which should supposedly make him feel important. However, now that poor fellow has to balance and carry that rifle on his bicycle to and from work, and keep it safely and securely in his hut, which lacks all kinds of basic amenities and neighbors and others can easily walk in and out.

This is an excellent low budget film with Bhardwaj giving a masterful performance that shows the entire range of what life represents for him and others in his situation; clinging on with desperation to his futile job, interspersed with moments of mischief and affection towards his bossy elder sister.  This film is a valiant attempt to lift a migrant worker out of obscurity and give him personality and a sense of identity. On a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being excellent, I give the film a rating of 4.7. I loved it.

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પ્રેમચંદ મુન્શી ની વાર્તા નિર્મલા ની સમીક્ષા – #Gujarati & English Review of Premchand Munshi’s Nirmala

પ્રેમચંદ મુન્શી ની વાર્તા “નિર્મલા” ધારાવાહી ની સમીક્ષા

Munshi Premchand: a prolific Indian writer – EDUpub

પ્રેમચંદ મુન્શી હિન્દી સાહિત્યના ખુબ મોટા અને જાણીતા સાહિત્યકાર રહ્યા છે. તેઓ એક નિષ્ણાત અને વિશેષજ્ઞ વાર્તાકાર છે અને તેમની વાર્તાઓ ધારાવાહી સ્વરૂપે યૂટ્યૂબ માં જોઈ શકાય છે. વાર્તામાં બોધ હોય તે બાળકોને ગમે પણ મોટાઓને તેવી વાર્તાઓ પસંદ ન પડે. પરંતુ મુન્શીજી એ પ્રકાર ના વાર્તાકાર છે કે તેમની વાર્તામાં બોધ હોય પરંતુ તેઓ ક્યારેય તે બોધ ને સમજાવતા નથી. વાંચનાર પોતાની મેળે અને પોતાની સમજ પ્રમાણે પુરેપુરો બોધ તારવે કે થોડો તારવે કે જરાય નહિ તે વાંચનાર ઉપર છે.

નિર્મલા કરીને તેમની વાર્તા છે જેમાં એક 45 જેટલી ઉંમરના વિધુર એક નાની 17વર્ષ જેવડી કન્યા જોડે વિવાહ કરે છે અને આર્થિક મુશ્કેલી માં પડેલી મા તે વિવાહ કબુલ કરે છે. આ સાન 1925માં લખાયેલ આ વાર્તામાં તેમની સુધારાવાદી કાર્યસૂચિ દેખાય છે. લગ્ન કરનાર વિધુર ના 5, 8 અને 15 વર્ષ જેવડા ત્રણ છોકરા છે. નિર્મલા વિધુર જોડે ખુબ વિનયથી વાત કરે છે પણ તેમનાથી અળગી રહે છે. ત્રણ છોકરાઓની તે ખુબજ સંભાળ રાખે છે અને ત્રણેય છોકરાઓ તેને મા કહીને સંબોધે છે. છોકરાઓ જોડે નિર્મલા નો સબંધ ઔપચારિક નથી અને સરખી ઉમર ને કારણે તેઓ એકબીજા જોડે ચર્ચા અને મસ્તી મજાક કરે છે અને 15 વર્ષના છોકરા પાસે નિર્મલા અંગ્રેજી શીખે છે. પોતાના 15 વર્ષના છોકરાને નિર્મલા સાથે જોઈને વિધુરને ઈર્ષા આવે છે અને તે છોકરાને હોસ્ટેલ માં મોકલે દ્યે છે જ્યાં પૌષ્ટિક આહાર ન મળવાથી અને બીમારીમાં બરોબર સારવાર ન મળવાને કારણે છોકરો જીવન મરણ વચ્ચે જોલા ખાય છે. ત્યારે વિધુર નિર્મલા ને આજીજી કરે છે કે તું છોકરાની જોડે કૈક વાત કર અને હોસ્પિટલ ના કાર્યકર્તાઓને કહે છે કે આ તેની મા છે. વિધુર ના એ બે વાક્યમાં કરુણા વહે છે અને વાચકો તારવી શકે છે કે વિધુર છોકરો ગુમાવવાની અણી ઉપર આવ્યા છે અને તેમને પોતાની ભૂલો સમજાય છે.

1920 થી 1940 ના સમય દરમ્યાન ભારતીય સમાજ માં સુધારાવાદી પરિવર્તન ની જરૂર હતી તે મુન્શીજી ની વાર્તાઓ માં દેખાય છે. બોધ આપ્યા વગર, સામાજિક માન્યતાઓ, ધોરણો અને સામાજિક વાતોને મુન્શીજી એ પ્રમાણે રસિક રીતે રજુ કરે છે કે તેમની વાર્તાઓ આજે પણ વાચકોને પસંદ આવે છે. તેમની વાર્તાઓમાં ગામડાઓના ઠાકુરો અને બ્રાહ્મણ પંડિતો દ્વારા થતું ગરીબ ખેડૂતો અને કામદારોનું શોષણ, અસ્પ્રુશ્યોની સાથે થતો અન્યાય અને ઉતરતી ગણાતી સ્ત્રીઓની સાથે થતી કરુણ ઘટનાઓ જોવા મળે છે.

Short English Synopsis Of Premchand Munshi’s Nirmala on Youtube

Premchand Munshi has been an incredible and excellent storyteller. He wrote in Hindi, during 1920s to 1940s time frame. In his stories, Munshi shined a light on subjugation and plight of women, exploitation of poor farmers and daily wage workers by wealthy landowners and learned Brahmins and holy men in the villages and inequities and abuse suffered by the untouchables.

In his short story, Nirmala which is available on Youtube, Munshi shines a light on plight of women. About 16 or so years old poor girl is married off to a widower of her father’s age. Widower has three boys, ages 5, 8 and 15. Nirmala is very respectful towards her husband but she is uncomfortable with intimacy, is formal with him and maintains some distance. She takes very good care of the three boys and they are also respectful towards her and address her as a mother. However, being of similar age, the boys are also close to her and joke with her and she is also trying to learn English from 15 year old. When the father sees his own son with his young wife, in jealous rage, he sends his son away to a hostel. Due to non-nutritious food and illness, son falls ill and is on the verge of dying. At that time, the widower requests Nirmala to talk to the son in the hope that maybe he may respond to her and he explains to the hospital personnel that Nirmala is their mother. In two simple sentences at the end, uttered with distress and shame, one can see the regret that the father is feeling due to his various mistakes, when he is on the verge of losing his beloved elder son.

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Hindi Review: Premchand Munshi’s Tehrir Godaan गोदान

प्रेमचंद मुंशीजी की गोदान पर आधारित “तहरीर” धारावाहिक की समीक्षा 

“गोदान” मुंशी प्रेमचंद का एक प्रसिद्ध हिंदी उपन्यास है। सन १९३६ में प्रकाशित हुआ यह उपन्यास हिंदी साहित्य के महान उपन्यासों में गिना जाता है। यह उपन्यास की बात करने से पहले मुंशीजी के बारे में थोड़ी बाते करते है. हिंदी साहित्य की दुनिया में मुंशी जी का स्थान बहोत उत्कृस्ट लेखकों में है. उन्होंने लिखे हुए उपन्यासमे गोदान, कर्मभूमि, गबन, मानसरोवर, ईदगाह जैसी प्रसिद्ध और लोकप्रिय किताबे शामिल है. उन्होंने १२ से अधिक प्रसिद्द किताबे लिखी है और ३०० से ऊपर छोटी कहानिया लिखी है और उनकी किताबो का अंग्रेजी और कई विदेशी भाषाओंमे अनुवाद किया गया है.     

सन १९६३ में “गोदान” के ऊपर हिंदी चलचित्र बनाया गया था जिसमे राज कुमार, कामिनी कौशल, महमूद और शशिकला ने अभिनय किया है. 

सन 2004 में, मुंशीजी की गोदान के ऊपर आधारित,  गुलज़ार द्वारा निर्देशित, टीवी श्रृंखला, “तहरीर” दूरदर्शन के ऊपर पेश की गई थी जिसमे पंकज कपूर और सुरेखा सीकरी ने अभिनय किया है. 

Nature, Kokan, Sindhudurg, Goa, Farmer, Green

यह 1930 के दशक के ग्रामीण भारत में बस्ते हुए किसानों के जीवन पर केंद्रित एक उत्कृष्ट कहानी है। ये गरीब और बड़े पैमाने पर अशिक्षित किसान गरीबी और कर्ज के चक्र में फंसे हुए हैं। जमींदार, ठाकुर, पंचायत के सदस्य और ब्राह्मण पुजारी सहित उच्च वर्ग के विभिन्न सदस्य इस तथ्य का लाभ उठाते हैं कि किसान उनकी बड़ी इज्जत करते हैं और उनका गहरा सम्मान करते हैं। वास्तविक और काल्पनिक अपराधों के लिए, किसानों पर जुर्माना लगाया जाता है, उनके जानवरों (और कभी-कभी उनके खेतों) को अत्यधिक ब्याज दरों पर दिए गए ऋण के बदले में जब्त कर लिया जाता है. इस प्रकार पीढ़ियों से गरीबी का चक्र जारी रहता है। कभी-कभी ये किसान ईर्ष्या के कारण अपने ही वर्ग के सदस्यों का निशाना भी बन जाते हैं. और जब एक किसान पूरी तरह से कर्ज में डूब जाता है और उस गरीब आदमी से निकालने के लिए कुछ भी नहीं बचा है, जिसने अपनी युवावस्था खो दी है तभी उसे अपनी प्यारी जवान बेटी की शादी बूढ़े आदमी से कराने के लिए प्रेरित किया जाता है। 

यह धारावाहिक विशेष रूप से एक किसान होरीराम और उसकी पत्नी धनिया और उनके तीन बच्चों के इर्द-गिर्द केंद्रित है। किसान होरीराम की भूमिका में पंकज कपूर और उनकी पत्नी धनिया की भूमिका में सुरेखा सीकरी का अभिनय अति उत्कृर्ष्ट और शानदार है. 

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Tehrir – Premchand Munshi’s Godaan serial review

“Godaan” is a famous Hindi novel by Munshi Premchand. Published in 1936, this novel is counted among the greatest novels of Hindi literature. Before talking about this novel and the series that is based on this novel and is streaming on Youtube, let’s talk a little about Munshiji. Munshi ji’s place in the world of Hindi literature is among some of the most outstanding writers. The novels he has written include famous and popular books like Godaan, Karmabhoomi, Gaban, Mansarovar, Idgah. He has written more than 12 famous books and over 300 short stories and his books have been translated into English and other foreign languages. I have written reviews in Hindi and Gujarati and will post them as well.

In 1963, a Bollywood film was made on “Godaan”, starring Raj Kumar, Kamini Kaushal, Mehmood and Sashikala. 

In 2004, Tehrir, directed by Gulzar, based on Munshiji’s Godaan, was aired on Doordarshan, starring Pankaj Kapur and Surekha Sikri.

Farmer ploughing field Rural farmer of Indian ethnicity ploughing field using wooden plough which is riding by two bullock. Farmer Stock Photo

This is a masterfully told story focusing on the lives of farmers in rural India of 1930s. These poor and largely uneducated farmers are caught in a cycle of poverty and debt. Various members of the upper classes including, jamindars, thakurs, members of the Panchayat, and brahmin priests take advantage of the fact that the farmers look up to them and deeply respect them. For real and imagined transgressions, fines are levied on the farmers, their animals (and sometimes their farms) are seized in return for loans given at exorbitant interest rates, receipts are never given of loan repayments leaving it to their will how much to extract from the poor farmers and thus continues the cycle of poverty for generations. Sometimes these farmers even become a target of the members of their own class, on account of jealousy. And when a farmer is fully driven into debt and there is nothing left to extract out of the poor man who has lost his youthful spirit and is well into his middle age, then he is cajoled into marrying his beloved young daughter to old man, twice her age, but one who is not likely to demand a dowry and may help the family financially. 

The serial is specifically centered around a farmer, Horiram and his wife, Dhania and their three children. Performances by Pankaj Kapur as Hori and Surekha Sikri as Dhaniya are absolutely flawless. The serial is heart-rending, flawlessly made with superb performances and engaging story, beautifully told. I watched it in Hindi but since Munshi’s stories are translated in other languages, I highly recommend that you try and find it and watch if possible.

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Sir – Movie Review

Writer/ Director Rohena Gera’s Hindi, English and Marathi language movie “Sir” was released at Cannes Film Festival and at New York Indian Film Festival in 2019 and is released in theaters in November, 2020. 

Sir movie review: A courageous traverse into difficult territory |  Entertainment News,The Indian Express

Movie centers around Ratna (Tilotama Shome) who got married and widowed at a very young age and her circumstances boxed her inside a life void of dreams. However, in the hope of saving money in feeding an idle mouth, her family from the village allowed her to work as a maid in Mumbai. This allowed Ratna to both nurse her dreams as well as save money to help her younger sister complete her education. Ratna herself hopes to be a fashion designer. 

Ratna works as a domestic worker in the home of Ashwin (Vivek Gomber) who has recently returned from the USA, after the untimely death of his younger brother. Ashwin’s guests rarely see beyond Ratna’s status, though Ashwin is a kind man. Ratna may not be highly educated and may not be very articulate in her speech. But Ratna has pride, resilience and persistence that can generate respect in anyone, if only they see beyond her status and class. 

Here is a brief dialog between Ashwin and his friend that is rather ordinary from one angle and also extraordinary from a different viewpoint.

Friend: she is your maid
Ashwin: Put that aside for a minute
Friend: How? How can you put that aside?

I won’t say more about the film although there also isn’t much in the plot or the storyline to give away.  The beauty of the film lies in the masterful use of silence and understated dialogues between people divided by uncrossable red lines, considered sacred by the society. Equally understated ending is at the same time beautiful and brilliant. While to some extent, it may be up to luck and only time may tell what fruits are borne by romance and love, enabling someone to do better, to help them fulfill their dreams, to assist them in upgrading their status, is an undisputed act of love.

Sir movie is streaming on @Netflix and on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being excellent, I rate the movie 4.4.

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Bridgerton – Serial Review

How Bridgerton is poised to revolutionize romance on television |

“In a town filled with ambitious mamas and fortune hunting gentlemen, marrying above one’s station, is an art form indeed”. In the American TV period drama series Bridgerton, streaming on Netflix and created by Chris Van Dusen and produced by Shonda Rhimes, this art form has been raised to perfection. Based on Julia Quinn‘s novels set in the competitive world of Regency London high society‘s wedding season, when debutantes are presented at the court, the viewers have an opportunity to confront their perspectives on both race and gender, albeit in different ways. 

The drama centers on the Bridgerton family with Lady Bridgerton and her four sons and her four daughters. Also featured are the Featheringtons, with Lady & Lord Featherington and their three daughters and their guest Ms. Thompson. During the season’s balls when all the darling debutants of London are on display, “titled, chased and innocent”, their one job is to spark interest among good suitors and snag a proposal, “thereby avoiding the label of a spinster”.

While the rebellious among them find “affection and attachment trite and frivolous” or some prefer a diary to a dashing dude, others up the odds wondering “why settle on a duke, when one can have a prince”. And lest you imagine that all the investment of energy is among the parties to wed, it is in fact the society that is heavily invested and interested in speculations about who will wed whom, considering that weddings may splinter or consolidate power structures. In all the hoopla, this wedding season is creating a special stir on account of London high society’s secret writer Whistledown, who regularly writes a column detailing the most scandalous gossip from this coming out season. 

As if all this excitement is not enough, then there’s the issue of race and gender. Let’s tackle gender. Many are delicate issues pertaining to women’s honor where “a wayward touch or heaven forbid a kiss would banish any young lady from a society in a trail of ruin”. And yet these issues are translated into men’s affairs and it then becomes men’s duty to solve these issues and women are expected to leave the weighty issues to their fathers, brothers or husbands. 

But race……. Ahh that’s a whole different issue. Despite the mention of some prior history of a society divided by race, this society is a colorblind society. After their white king married a black queen, this society has managed to achieve true racial equality, as Lady Danbury explains simply, “love conquers all”.  This racial parity indeed brings an absolute breadth of fresh air and leaves you with a feeling of hope and possibility for our future.

Regé-Jean Page as Simon Basset, the Duke of Hastings, Rosheuvel as the Queen and Ruby Barker as Marina Thompson are fabulous along with vastly different Bridgerton sisters, Phoebe Dynevor and Claudia Jesse and their young friend Nicola Coughlan.  

bridgerton trailer

I love this television drama series and will look forward to its continuation. There is so much sarcastic humor and wit, yet it is classy and chic. Yes, it is raunchy too. All the subjects that can’t be mentioned, all the young girls who marry without nary a clue of what is to take place on the wedding night; all that can’t be mentioned is on actual display on screen. For all trapped in loveless marriages, there are others trapped in triangles and yet others enjoying abundance of romance and passion.  Portrayal of race and gender issues gives viewers an opportunity to imagine sharp contrast between a society that remains stuck in status quo versus one that may advance to embrace diversity and inclusiveness, in a year when these issues have risen to the surface.

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Hillbilly Elegy – Movie Review

Written by J D Vance, Hillbilly Elegy, set in late 1990s, is a memoir about life of his family and his people in the greater Appalachia. Vance grew up in Ohio and Kentucky amidst poverty and its accompanying scourges, social isolation, lack of medical resources, drug use and religious and political changes.  

A 'Hillbilly Elegy' adaptation, hold the politics | News, Sports, Jobs -  Morning Journal

When young Vance (Owen Asztalos) began getting into trouble, living with his single mother, his grandmother mammaw (Glenn Close) saw only one option; to take him in. Standing on the doorstep of rebellion, teen Vance yelled at her rules and her discipline, “Who are you? You’re not my mother” and mammaw shot back, “I’m all you got”. Vance grew to appreciate his mammaw’s sacrifices, stayed focused and ended up at Yale law and got hitched to a pretty girl of immigrant origin, Usha (Freida Pinto). Vance is asked to go home on the eve of his interview, right after graduation by his sister (Haley Bennet) on account of family emergency. His mother Bev’s (Amy Adams) reentry into the world of addiction, forced older Vance (Gabriel Basso) to confront the demons that plagued his family, with a fresh perspective. 

Hillbilly Elegy has garnered some bad reviews. It is challenging to tell a personal story where viewers want universal themes and generalized moral conclusions pertaining to the ongoing politics of the time. In my opinion, it is a beautifully sensitive story, artfully told with present happenings unraveling amid  flashbacks of the past. There are also sensitive and insightful themes that emerge. Older and wiser Vance manages to hold both truths together in his heart, his present life and his family of origin, with love. He concludes, “my family is not perfect, but they got me where I am” and going forward “it will be a shared legacy”.

J D Vance has contributed to the National Review and is now a principal at a Silicon Valley investment firm.  Kudos to director, Ron Howard. This is a beautiful film that focuses on family in a year when the entire world stopped and people took a breather and found the opportunity to embrace (physically or mentally) what and who they loved. On a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being excellent, I rate the film 4.4. It is not earth shattering but it will make you appreciate the people you love.

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