Posts Tagged Bollywood
“Guilty” is a Hindi Bollywood movie directed by Ruchi Narain and written by Ruchi Narain, Kanika Dhillon and Atika Chohan. Released in 2020, it focuses on the events that transpired at the peak of the #MeToo movement, in 2018.
Nanki (Kiara Advani) writes lyrics for a band in which her boyfriend, VJ Pratap Singh (Gurfateh Singh Pirzada) is the lead singer. While the upper class, English speaking hot couple inspire jealousy and admiration from their classmates, Tanu (Akanksha Ranjan Kapoor), a Hindi speaking girl from Dhanbad, who openly hits on VJ, then accuses him of raping her as his friends watched on. The accusation comes via a tweet that leads to a social media storm with appropriate hashtags.
As is often the case in Indian society, everyone gets involved with half baked partisan opinions and judgments. The college students are divided; with many accusing Tanu for her flirtatious come-ons and revealing clothing, while others stand by her and participate in protests in her defense. Same is true in VJ’s case and he also has support of his politically connected parents, powerful politicians and socialites.
At no point, has the film lost sight of the fact that this is a complex matter. Even as you get manipulated into judging the characters and as the story begins to unravel you change sides several times, you also begin to realize how nuanced gender power issues are. You grapple with issues such as, should a girl be judged for being flirtatious, accused of inviting unwanted sex; could she have sex with someone she craves and then cry rape; can an upper class young man who has the attention of hottest girl on campus force himself on any other girl, could he have had consensual sex and then be accused of rape for profit and attention; could these issues be quashed with money and pressure?
The film focuses on the crucial subject matter, very pertinent in Indian society and it certainly brings forth some key issues into the forefront like this is a subject matter for the society to tackle, instead of putting entire responsibility on women and slut-shaming or blaming women for clothing choices, and treating women with paternalistic condescending advice on how to protect themselves. However, as much of the movie focuses on he said, she said narrative, it does not move the dialog forward with confidence. While it covers the intellectual and moral basis of arguments, it does so with some trepidation, not with authority.
Despite some of its flaws, Guilty inspires discussion on an extremely pertinent subject, deeply interwoven with culturally prescribed gender roles. I rate the movie 4.2 on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being excellent.
Posted by Darshana V. Nadkarni, Ph.D. in Hindi - Bollywood Movie Reviews-- Play Reviews-- NAATAK-- Poems-- Event Reports on March 27, 2021
Majority of Bollywood movies used to have a lot of fluff (silly song and dance numbers and silly dialogs to fill up time). But Pagglait movie written and directed by Umesh Bist is a work of genius. Almost everything gives a deep insight into something; there’s family gossip, financial wranglings and machinations, religious dogma and casteist beliefs and rituals, and a recently widowed woman who had not known love in her marriage but was left with more questions and confusion, after the death of her husband. All of this is packed into one story.
Heroine Sandhya Giri (Sanya Malhotra) is brilliant in her understated emotions and dialogs. She lost her husband Astik Giri soon after their marriage. Sandhya confesses to her friend Nazia (Shruti Sharma) “बचपन में हमारे पास एक बिल्ली थी. कार के निचे आ गयी. हम बहुत रोए थे यार. वैसा कुछ भी नहीं लग रहा है. रोना भी नहीं आ रहा है. मगर भूख बहोत लगी है”. Sandhya is not even able to pretend to be grief-stricken.
Every character has a well earned place in the film. Sandhya comes to meet her departed husband’s colleague Aakanksha (Sayani Gupta) and an unlikely bond develops between two young women who would have been sworn enemies in most traditional movies. Sandhya’s in-laws and departed Astik’s grief stricken parents (Sheeba Chadha & Ashotosh Rana) find themselves at the mercy of their extended family’s manipulation, in their moment of heartbreak.
Sanya Malhotra’s acting is subtle, yet sharp and the movie is complex, yet focused. The story that begins with the tragic death of a man, leaving his confused wife a young widow, ends with her finding life and reasons to live. I rate the movie a high 4.9 on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being excellent.
Inspired by the steamy bestseller “Fifty Shades of Grey”, the movie “Book Club” offers for the fainthearted, the best comedy, minus any actual S&M action. A group of senior women, Vivian (Jane Fonda), Diane (Diane Keaton), Sharon (Candice Bergen) and Carol (Mary Steenburgen) choose to read the steamy bestseller and the result is a superbly funny comedy. These women are not the only high profile star cast. The men who enter their lives also make a fine cast and also deserve a special mention; they are, Mitchell (Andy Garcia), Bruce (Craig T. Nelson), Arthur (Don Johnson), George (Richard Dreyfuss), Tom (Ed Begley Jr.).
The desire for intimate companionship for seniors and perhaps for women more than men, is often relegated to the trash heap, in the channels of intimacy. While in some cultures, desire for intimacy among women may be a matter of amusement or may be discouraged in the espoused interest of safety, in others, it is actively frowned upon, banned and even punished.. (Watch my review of a similar Bollywood movie “Lipstick Under My Burkha” http://bit.ly/2p5b2Xm ). Cold showers is a remedy often prescribed in India, for any “wayward thoughts of intimacy”.
But it is not just in the realm of physical intimacy that this film delivers. Loneliness and craving for a companion who may be at similar stage in life, is often one of the most significant need among senior citizens. The film scores on addressing both of these issues, the significance of companionship and the need for physical intimacy, and shows how they sometimes (but not always) go hand in hand. Very likely these women have been doing book club for years. Maybe the right impetus, right circumstances did not arrive until this moment when all of them are intrigued with the thought of exploring the idea of intimacy and provide mutual encouragement. It matters but little, as long as they seized the moment.
Using the steamy book as a stepping stone, these women explore the aspect of physical intimacy; and at first kicking and screaming and later gently, glide into the cozy realm of emotional intimacy. They all at first, seem to concur with Vivian that “emotional connection is highly overrated” and make a pact “we shall not go gentle into the good night”. Brilliant and witty use of metaphors supplies an endless stream of humor. These feisty, fearless, independent women who provide companionship, solace and support to each other, fight the focus on softer, gentler aspects of intimacy with the opposite sex, for as long as they could. But in the end they find that physical intimacy is that much more satisfying and joyous when they are or if they are also able to find emotional connection. Even those among this feisty group, who can’t find intimacy, get it. Sharon sums up about love (and it is rephrased here), love does not happen because the person is intelligent or pretty and it’s not the sun or the moon or all the meaning we load onto it; love is just a word, until someone gives it meaning, and you find that someone when you put yourself out there. \
It is a beautiful movie and on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being excellent, I rate it 4.7 – in theaters now.
Posted by Darshana V. Nadkarni, Ph.D. in Hindi - Bollywood Movie Reviews-- Play Reviews-- NAATAK-- Poems-- Event Reports, Movie Reviews on May 23, 2018
Directed by Meghna Gulzar, Razi is a spy thriller mixed with personal relationship drama. It is a fictitious adaptation of Harinder Sikka’s “Calling Sehmat”, a novel he was inspired to write after he tracked the woman who spied on Pakistan, during the 1971, Indo Pak war.
Sehmat (incredible Aliya Bhatt) was born to a Kashimiri Muslim father Idayat Khan (Rajit Kapur) and a Hindu mother Tej (Soni Razdan). From her parents from an early age, Sehmat not only imbibed the lessons of patriotism towards her mother nation India, but was also a devoted daughter and felt compelled to continue in her father’s legacy of intelligence gathering for India. She was unaware of the vital role her father had played in establishing a spy network and gaining trusted close relationship within Pakistani military’s inner circle. When she learned of her father’s activities, at the same time, she and her mother also learned about his illness and how it remained upto Sehmat to help her mother country and take her father’s place in the spy network.
Sehmat is young, determined, devotedly patriotic and unafraid to take on the challenges. Alia Bhat truly shines in her role and does full and complete justice to her character. She is at an age where she may be as yet unable to comprehend the deep and devastating impact of what she was about to do on herself and others, embedding herself with the enemy in a much deeper way than her father. Also other characters including her Pakistani husband Iqbal Syed (Vicky Kaushal) and father in law Brigadier Syed (Shishir Sharma) are fantastic and give a memorable performance to make this a gripping film.
My dissatisfaction is not with superb performance of the cast and Gulzar’s direction to bring the story to life. It is undeniable that the indispensable information received from a young woman, at great risk to her own life, helped India save lives, and ultimately control seas around both sides of Pakistan and save INS Vikrant, that was Indian pride. In the end, Indian Navy’s superiority on the seas allowed a naval blockade that was vital and led to the liberation of East Pakistan, now Bangladesh.
So why does the storyline and Sehmat’s role and character as they are portrayed gnaw at me? Here are all the reasons. This is a conflicting film and I have conflicting perspectives. See below.
- First of all, I cannot come to terms that her own father enabled his innocent young daughter to put herself in such perilous harm and that her mother would not put up a strong fight against it. As Sikka himself had once said in an interview, “I am yet to fathom how Sehmat’s father, a rich businessman in Kashmir then, could push his daughter to do such a dangerous thing”. Remember it was not the same goal as gaining independence and throwing the enemy out of the country, this was done to gain military superiority in a war.
- Secondly, I feel this is a human story with multiple perspectives but this is not primarily a patriotism story. This movie is different from movies like Chak De! India, Bhag Milkha Bhag, Lagaan, Mary Kom etc. where we don’t know anything about characters on the other side. In this movie, we see characters on the Pakistani side and learn about them and are touched by their own dedication for their country and their extreme kindness to Sehmat. Once a director does that then there is a responsibility to make it a human story where audience walks away with compassion for all, not just for one side. After all everyone was doing what was best for their country.
- Crucially, while intelligence gathering is a significant mission for any country, it is one thing to establish some trusted relationships to get the intelligence from. The complexity of this business of trust building and then crushing is goes up when it is between two trusted friends but it multiples when a person gets involved in an intimate relationship, gains access and lives within the family and spies on the members who shower the individual with infinite kindness and love. The best dialog I liked was a simple one. When General Syed learned of his own daughter-in-law’s role, he was berating her and his son said one simple sentence that whatever she did, she was doing for her country. If he can try to understand her, we have the same responsibility to feel empathy for them.
- And that brings me to my most important point. While as an Indian, I am proud and grateful for Sehmat’s role in the war, as a character in the movie, it is the character of her husband Iqbal Syed that I admire most. He was infinitely kind to her, respectful to her, was mindful of the different circumstance she grew up in, made efforts to make her feel at home, tried to understand her ties to her birth place and understood that she could be hurt if anything negative was mentioned about her birth place. He was a patriotic man who was also a good husband and son to his parents. Sehmat, on the other hand, like a snake, destroyed the lives and happiness of those most kind and closest to her and yet at the end, she audaciously engaged in a tirade accusing her mentor of doing unscrupulous things while beseeching him to take her back to India, before she became like them. Really? Her character had already proven to be worse.
- Lastly, this is infact a human story with great significance. And anyone who is put in a position or chooses to do what Sehmat did, does take an enormous toll. In real life, she suffered from severe PTSD.