Posts Tagged Movie Review

Lipstick Under My Burkha – Movie Review


Directed by Alankrita Shrivastava, 2017 Bollywood film, “Lipstick Under My Burkha” gives an intimate, powerful glimpse into the lives of four women; Rihana (Plabita Borthakur) draped in burkha at home, helps her parents in sewing burkhas, but outside she does a quick identity change and steps into her jeans and sings Led Zeppelin songs; Shireen (Konkona Sen Sharma) lives the story of a submissive wife with her chauvinistic husband at home and excels at her secret job as a saleswoman during the day,  Leela (Aahana Kumra) works as a beautician and finds solace in sex, and Usha (Ratna Pathak Shah) is the respected Buaji to her family but in the lonely hours of the night, dreams of men and has clandestine phone sex.

Image result for lipstick under my burkha movieStories of these women unfold in the midst of a background narrative of Rozi, a fictional heroine in one of the racy romance novels that Buaji hides in her religious tomes and reads in her spare time. These four women live their lives on the the thin line between reality and dreams. They have to routinely lie, cheat and steal to rob few moments of joy from their unbearable lives.

Their stories are poignant and touching and at the same time, ordinary. For the most part, Indian society exhibits a great deal of hipocrisy. While hipocrisy in Indian society extends to practices and observances around religious rituals, behavior around elders, and observance of class and caste, most prominent and often shocking hipocritical norms and double standards are observed in expectations and prescribed rules of behavior specific to each gender. While a man lusting after a younger woman or having an affair outside his marriage may be looked down upon, it is considered much less severe than if a woman may have committed these offences; and how a society punishes a woman for the same offense if often far more harsh. Similarly, while most boys and men have freedom to wear clothes they choose, and have wide degrees of professional freedom, it is simply not so for women.

Image result for lipstick under my burkha movie

This movie offers a window into the lives of ordinary women who strike deals with societal restrictions on a daily basis with alternating periods of acquiescing to the norms and restrictions and determinedly enjoying periods of bliss when they can. But the beauty in this movie is that it is also poignant in where this journey ends for these women, in the movie. While it is unclear how life will eventually unfold for each of these women, these ostracized women come together as comrades; they talk, laugh, and read and discuss Rozi’s fictional story. What is abundantly clear is that it is not the system that will change to accommodate them. The change will have to come from them and from their greater understanding and support of each other; that change only begins with dreams but it will take enormous commitment and courage on the path to greater fulfillment of the promise.

As Rihana reads last few pages of Rozi’s story, she comments
ye story bhi juth bolti hai, hamari life kharab ka deti hai
Translation: this fictional story also tells us lies
and Usha responds ……………
juth bolti hai shayad sapne dekhne ki himmat deti hai
Translation: It tells lies but gives us courage to dream
And  narration continues……….
Khidki ki salakhe ab rozi ko rok nahi sakti. Rozi ne bar savare, aansu ponche aur chokhat ke bahar kud padi.  pinjde me bandh sapno ki chabi akhir rozi ke dil ke andar hi thi.
Translation: Bars on the window can’t stop Rozi any more. Rozi combs her hair, dries her tears and jumps out. Photo of dreams locked inside the cage was after all inside Rozi’s heart.

Sometimes dream is a genie that is hard to push back in a bottle. As Dr. Martin Luther King famously said, “I have a dream” that started the process of change in the American society. Dreams help us imagine the possibilities and pave the path for courage and commitment required to change what has been until then normal.  This is a beautiful movie and on a scale of 1 to 5 (with 5 being excellent), I rate it 4.8. This review is slightly late for women’s day but still in the window of women’s history month :).  Wishing all warrior women who drive the change on a daily basis and all courageous men who dare to dream of fair and inclusive society, a very happy women’s month.

 

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Badshaho – Movie Review


Image result for badshahoDirected by Milan Luthria, film Badshaho is set during India’s emergency era of 1975, about 27 years post independence, when a few laggard prince and princesses were still struggling to hide their collections of gold, silver and other precious artifacts. During that time Rani Gitanjali’s (Ileana D’Cruz) palace in Jaipur is raided and she is arrested for withholding gold without declaration.

Rani Gitanjali is a political maverick and she understands how the game is played in politics. She believes that despite government seizing her gold, it is more likely to fall in the hands of corrupt political leaders, especially the one she has spurned. She gets the news that the gold is to be transferred via road to Delhi in a truck. Gitanjali arranges with her trusted prior bodyguard Bhawani Singh (Ajay Devgan) to intercept the transfer and seize it back from Major Seher Singh (Vidyut Jamwal), the officer in charge of the transfer. Bhawani Singh recruits help from Gitanjali’s trusted friends and helpers, Sanjana (Esha Gupta) Guruji (Sanjay Mishra) and Dalia (Emraan Hashmi).

Image result for badshahoThe journey between Jaipur and Delhi is marked by many twists and turns, obstacles, and revelations of heart thumping secrets. Emran Hashmi has done a fabulous job and keeps us riveted with his banter and jokes. Esha Gupta and Sanjay Mishra also give great performance. As always, Ajay Devgan’s performance suits the role of more serious, slightly angry, goal focused hero. So focused he is in serving, he says, जुबान और जान सिर्फ एक ही बार जावे. Ileana’s performance is also good. Specifically telling is her slightly awkward, distant stance every time she interacts with her subjects. Story is fast moving and holds the interest. Unfortunately, it seems like the budget ran out before this riveting drama can be brought to a meaningful climax. The end feels abrupt and takes away from what could have been a thrilling end where not only corruption meets justice but trust and friendship are rewarded. Perhaps the waiting airplane could have been put to good use to create such an end!

On a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being excellent, I rate this movie 4.2  

 

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2014 in review – Blog summary — Gift from WordPress!


The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 19,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 7 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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“Foxcatcher” – Movie Review


The movie directed by Bennett Miller, from a script written by E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman, is based on actual grim events, surrounding the story of eccentric multi-millionaire John du Pont’s life.  Award winning and nominated cast includes Steve Carell, Channing Tatum, Mark Ruffalo, Sienna Miller, and Vanessa Redgrave.

Although painfully slow in the beginning, the movie slowly builds a rhythmic air of suspense.  John du Pont (Carell) is desperate to gain the respect of his stern, disapproving mother and begins coaching an olympics-worthy team of wrestlers.  Among his early recruits is Mark Schultz (Tatum), a former Olympian, going through a rough time and living in circumstances of dire poverty.  For du Pont, as may be the case with SOME super wealthy people, riches are not enough, he wants his team to win and he seeks to get immortalized in history.

 

 

 

Du Pont wants to bring in Mark’s brother, Dave Schultz (Ruffalo) to coach his team, but Dave refuses to uproot his family and join him.  At first, it is Mark who joins du Pont on his estate and becomes his new “best friend”.  Underneath immense wealth, Du Pont’s is a life of loneliness and despair and possibly of extreme ups and downs, resulting from his mental illness.  Du Pont buys his friend, expensive things, also lures him into his drug habits, and confides to Mark that while growing up, his only best friend was the son of his mother’s chauffeur and when he turned 16, he found out “my mother was paying him to be my friend”.

Ultimately, du Pont does manage to lure Dave to come and work at Foxcatcher Farm.  Carrel’s performance is so low key crazy-like, that a sense of dread is already beginning to seep in the film and you almost hope that something would make Dave leave du Pont.  At this point, Mark is already disappointed, has fallen out with du Pont, and leaves the Foxcatcher farm.

When the violence comes, even though we know the events as they unfolded, it makes you feel incredibly sad, not only because there is no reason for it and it is totally incomprehensible, but deeply loving, loyal family man is the last person you want to see being hurt.  This is also a story of deep brotherly love.  Upon seeing the movie, Mark Schultz recalled that when he first received the news of his brother’s death, miles away, he trashed his office in anger and spent weeks in mourning for his brother.

The film struck a chord for me because I have an experience with highly eccentric person, in my multi-generational, extended family network.  The tragedy is that he is immensely wealthy, and therefore gets away with incredible number of insane actions that ordinarily people would not get away with.  It seems, society gives a very long rope to someone with wealth and power at their disposal, to behave crazy, ruthless, mean, mad, and sometimes to do things that are immoral or illegal.

Unfortunately, the movie misses an opportunity to invoke any ideas beyond portraying real-life events.  Especially given that this story had extremely lethal combination of immense wealth and slow burning mild insanity, along with Mark du Pont’s relationship with political extremists, it would have provided a perfect platform for further exploration.  It is nevertheless a fascinating story with excellent acting, and based on my rating of 1 to 5 with 5 being excellent, I rate the movie as 4.6.

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Kahaani – Hindi Movie, Review


Kahaani is a Bolywood film that opens with a terrorist poison gas attack, in Kokata train compartment, that kills all the passengers on board. Two year after the incident, there arrives Vidya Balan, as a London-based pregnant software engineer Vidya Bagchi, in search of her husband Arnab, who she claims was supposed to have recently arrived in India from UK for work, and then suddenly disappeared. A young police officer Rana, supports her in following the leads that take her to National Data Center, where an HR Director trying to help her trace another employee, Milan Damchi, who she claimed closely resembled Arnab, from the photo that Vidya showed her, is suddenly shot dead. Another lead takes Vidya and Rana to a hospital where a doctor might have treated someone with similar and rear blood group as Milan Damchi, is shot dead, after Vidya made some inquiries. Vidya is relentless in her search for her husband and after couple of attempts on her own life and some information she discovers, she comes to realize that Milan Damchi might be the terrorist responsible for the gas attack and because of her husband Arnab’s close resemblance to Milan Damchi, Arnab’s life might be in danger. She steps up her efforts to find him, with the help of the police officer, Rana. Vidya is unaware that Khan from higher echelons of the investigation bureau has asked Rana to use persistent Vidya as a bait, to lead them to the terrorist, Damchi. As the plot thickens, there is more shoot-out, other deaths, computer hacking and towards the end the story takes an unexpected turn.

This thriller film is directed and co-produced by Sujoy Ghosh, Vidya Balan’s acting is once again superb, and not surprisingly the film has been a “super-hit” at the box office. This is yet another film that strikes a chord among people, who have endured terrorist attacks and often find the efforts by the government, lacking in ensuring safety and effectiveness. Most of the police officers, with the exception of Rana, demonstrated callous attitude to the plight of the pregnant woman initially, and when Khan arrived to investigate the issue, on behalf of the federal bureau, the callousness intensified. Khan felt little compunction in using Vidya as a bait, to lure the terrorist, even if it might endanger Vidya’s own life. Lack of compassion on behalf of the keepers of the law and safety of the citizens, clearly renders them less effective. When the force cannot preserve and protect goodness, then it becomes less effective in fighting against the badness, as people have less trust in them and are not willing to communicate with them, and share early signs of trouble.

This was an interesting thriller that keeps the viewer engaged and riveted as the plot thickens and the story takes many unexpected twists, with the trump card revealed at the very end. Highly recommend it and on a scale of 1 to 5 (5 as excellent), I rate it a 4 – simply because I like movies with social themes, better.

 

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