Posts Tagged movie
“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.
Netflix shares D&I data in its productions
What has entertainment got to do with diversity and inclusion? Actually plenty. As a Diversity & Inclusion training provider, I was thrilled to see Netflix keeping track and providing D&I data in its productions. Diversity promotes inclusion, appeals to a larger audience, and gives people a chance to learn about different cultures. Recently, the streaming giant Netflix commissioned a study to look at its own 2018 and 2019 productions. The study analyzed 126 movies and 180 series released during 2018 and 2019.
Findings are not only striking and breath-taking but inspirational. The study found that fifty-two percent of Netflix films and series in 2018 and 2019 had girls or women in starring roles and 35.7 percent of all Netflix leads during this time came from underrepresented groups, compared with 28 percent in the top 100 grossing theatrical films.
An example is #BridgertonOnNetflix that not only casts women and under-represented groups but also tackles race and gender in interesting and contrasting ways. In this period drama series, set in Regency England, a color blind society emerges in sharp contrast to a gender biased one.. Following a wedding between their white king and black queen, the society has achieved true racial equality. On the other hand, gender is left alone. So here, “a wayward touch or heaven forbid a kiss would banish any young lady from a society in a trail of ruin” and yet all the delicate issues pertaining to women’s honor are considered men’s affairs and it then becomes men’s duty to solve these issues, sometimes through deadly duels. Sarcastic wit is both entertaining and illuminating. My review is at link https://bit.ly/2KbVyzr .
Or consider Never Have I Ever, coming of age drama series. Fifteen year old heroine, Devi Vishwakumar (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan) is an insightful teenager. Stereotypes are tackled with sarcasm. When she tells her therapist that she wants to have sex with a hot kid in the class, in order to join the grownup world, her therapist assures her that he may be hot but he still has problems. To that Devi replies, “Hot people don’t have problems. I have seen people in your waiting room — they are mostly uggos”. Clever use of sarcasm in another netflix serial, Kim’s Convenience also helps break down stereotypes and stars as Korean family, Paul Sun-Hyung Lee, Jean Yoon, Andrea Bang, and Simu Liu.
And then there are other films like the movie “Sir”, starring Tilotama Shome & Vivk Gomber. With understated dialogues and masterful use of silences, the movie brings in the forefront crucial issues of class and caste in Indian society. Here is link to my review https://bit.ly/38NehLe . In Hillbilly Elegy, (link to my review https://bit.ly/3qgHEeR), light shines on the chief divides in the USA, poverty and its accompanying scourges, social isolation, lack of medical resources, drug use and religious and political divides.
Movies and serials on Netflix still do have glaring deficiencies in achieving better gender and racial parity. For instance, 96 percent of stories did not have any women onscreen who identify as American Indian/ Native Alaskan, 68.3 percent of the content evaluated did not include a speaking role for a Latina and LGBTQ characters were often marginalized.
What is interesting however, is that the streaming site is paying close attention to the issues of diversity and inclusion in entertainment and acknowledges the importance of its role in changing things in society. Netflix’s film chief, Scott Stuber acknowledged its importance and Netflix’s chief executive Ted Sarandos said, “the company is committed to releasing a new report every two years through 2026”. He further said, “our hope is to create a benchmark for ourselves, and more broadly across the industry”.
This is leadership. And I can’t wait to hear Netflix co-founder, chairman and co-Chief Executive Officer, Reed Hastings speak at #TiEcon2021. I hope he will speak to the issue of the importance of diversity and inclusion in entertainment. I hope he will also share how and in what other ways Netflix is taking this seriously in how it weaves in D&I internally. Register for www.tiecon.org for the virtual tiecon and May 6-8, 2021. With an exemplary lineup of keynotes, speakers and panelists, you will not want to miss the virtual conference.
Not only do we humans get used to an easier life with some comforts, but when we begin to get settled in a place where we begin to build our career in our youth and make friends and build aspirations then we’re simultaneously not planning an alternate lifestyle. However, students who come to study in the US are stuck in a limbo of uncertainty for years, and among them are over a million young people from India. Pulled between a sense of cultural displacement, strong familial ties back home and climbing the career ladder of success in the US, their dreams are just beginning to come into a sharper focus as they enter the world of work, after completion of their studies.
When the recession hit in 2008, young Vivek Pandit (Ali Fazal) with brilliant ideas for a tech startup, encountered problems with his visa renewal. Faced with the prospect of going home, his friends advise him that If the job is over then they have to be ready to leave. Life in a different society will call for different priorities and accordingly they say, “Go to the Golden gate, and take a few pics that you can also use for shadi.com (Indian matrimonial site)”.
Vivek’s accidental meeting with Shweta (Melanie Kannokada), a second generation Indian or ABCD as they are called by desi circles, results in a sprouting romance. However, Vivek’s uncertain future suddenly ends a relationship that looked promising. Vivke laments, “Temporary is not how you feel living here, it’s also how others see you”. Meanwhile, Shweta’s author father Vishwanath Prabhu (Rajit Kapur) is on a speaker’s circuit advising young Indians to return home and make a difference in India.
Vivek’s townhouse roommates include Sam (Samrat Chakrabarti), a gay co-worker Lakshmi (Omi Vaidya), and Amit (Amitosh Nagpal). Their innocent mistake or allowing a friend who is an illegal immigrant, lands them on the FBI’s watch list. Each of them is also navigating a set of cultural and practical challenges. Omi is reluctant to visit his family back home, from the fear that he may be pressured to get married and they will not accept his being gay. Amit has to present his passport to the FBI but has misplaced it.
As the movie progresses it begins to become clearer that among the blessings these young people have are their families who care deeply for their happiness and love and support of friends who are stuck in similar moral dilemmas and navigating practical challenges. Amit bring many lighter moments. Living in a shadow of uncertainty he says, Zindagi sirf guarantee pe nahi, umido pe bhi chalti hai (life doesn’t just run on certainly, it also unravels on the basis of hope).
Writer-producer Rishi S. Bhilawadikar’s script is fast moving and hits a range of diverse points that highlight the complexities of living a life of uncertainty. Director Rucha Humnabadkar has avoided over-dramatizing any of these challenges, while maintaining focus.
In the end, what you are impressed with is the quiet tenacity and adaptability of these bright young people. Vivek says, Akhir zindagi sirf umiddo pe nahi, apni nazariya pe bhi to chalti hai (after all, life doesn’t just unfold on the basis of hope, but also unravels as per your perspective and efforts).
Parasite is an incredibly awesome film. Winner of best picture and 3 more awards at Oscars; Parasite has also won numerous other awards including at Cannes Film Festival, Academy Award, Golden Globe, BAFTA, Screen Actors Guild and more.
Sometimes I don’t get the time to write a review and then I watch something else and then give up on the previous show. But I heard criticism that Parasite was selected at the Oscars to promote diversity (by few who did not watch it). In effect, such criticisms take away from the phenomenal masterclass movie it is.
So I decided to write the review. But how does one write a review of a movie that has already obtained a whirlwind of publicity, is already a box-office hit? And how does one write a review of a movie that is a tragicomedy mystery, without giving away anything? And how does one write a review of a movie that is an experience to be savored, an experience that touches the soul, broadens the perspective and offers moviegoer an opportunity to look at commonplace events with an alternative perspective than the one that we may be used to?
Not wanting to just add to the hype, I will not write a lot about the movie here. But briefly, this movie has a rich cast of characters and there is depth in their performances. It offers an opportunity to consider the impact of class differences in a way that is not preachy and without romanticizing the goodness of one class over the other. The movie offers an opportunity to consider the impact of global warming and climate change that affects people differently, depending on their station in life. And then there is a deep innate desire to protect one’s family from the ravages of poverty on one hand, to the discomfort of poverty associated sights and smells on the other hand. And if you choose to ignore all the messages, you can still enjoy the movie at its simplest level, where it is a mystery with many twists and turns, that keeps you on the edge of your seats and is insanely entertaining. The film is a masterful work of art that is also a mainstream crowd pleaser. It is simply impossible to pigeon hole the movie into any pre-determined slots. From the title chosen to the impossible ending, it imbues with meaning.
The Guardian describes the movie as the “cinematic equivalent of a Rorschach inkblot test” where you can decide to unravel the layers in the movie, at the depth that is comfortable to you. Kudos to director Bong Joon Ho for amazing direction in this Oscar winning tale with multiple messages. Entire cast is fabulous but specific mention to Woo-sik Choi and So-dam Park for truly phenomenal acting.
All I hope is that people not criticize the movie selection for the Oscars, until they see the movie. Lastly, there really is no point in reading the reviews because no review can do full justice to this soul-stirring tale of blended genres that is beautifully narrated, and is masterfully layered with depth and meaning. For a theatergoer, this is an experience, not to be missed.
The Hate U Give is a movie based on Angie Thomas’s award-winning book about the experience of Starr Carter, a black teen who witnesses the fatal police shooting of a close friend. Directed by George Tillman Jr. and written by Audrey Wells, the movie tells the story of race and racism, powerfully and without putting people into well defined buckets. It does not encapsulate “one black experience” of police suspicion and brutality towards black people, in a single story, and it does not summarize “one white reaction”, with a single story. Instead, in telling the story of a young black teenager against the backdrop of police suspicion of black people, father preparing his black children with stern lectures on how to behave during inevitable police stops; against the backdrop of white privilege, upward mobility, gang wars, poverty, and drugs, the movie offers a powerful portrayal of what it often means to grow up black in America.
Not all black people have a single story and not all grow up in poverty or in gang infested neighborhoods, or in dysfunctional homes. And yet, society often notices the color of the skin, before noticing the individual person, in that skin. Starr Carter (Amandla Stenberg) is a black teen. After a brief brush with criminal justice system and bad influence, her father (Russell Hornsby) owns and operates a store in a largely black neighborhood. It is on account of her mother’s (Regina Hall) determination, persistence, and relentless focus on education, and mom’s determination to change the circumstances and preempt the dysfunctionality in her family from affecting her children, that Starr’s future looks bright. Starr and her two brothers (Dominque Fishback and Lamar Johnson) attend the affluent, predominantly white prep school, and for a while appear to be completely shielded from the experiences of other black people around them.However, an unfortunate incident puts the family right in the center of it all. One evening, Starr is driven home from a party in her neighborhood, by her childhood friend, Khalil (Algee Smith). On the way home, they are stopped by a white police officer and unarmed Khalil is shot without any prominent reason. As the city erupts in riots, Starr has her own soul searching to do. Her friend Khalil is maligned because he was involved in drug peddling as he was taking care of his family while his mother was going through cancer treatments.
Amandla Stenberg is fantastic as Starr. This movie is immensely powerful because it focuses on the individual story of a young teen so well that it is through her experience, that we get a peek into the ignorance of some of her white friends as well as the openness of others. It is through her experience, that we learn, that it is not just a single major trauma of seeing a friend killed by gangs or by cops, that a young person is scarred. Instead, it is also the exhausting seeping of energy, drop by drop by drop. As an upwardly mobile person, Starr feels the pressure to hide her “blackness” from her non black peers, and her acquired “whiteness” from her black friends. Being half a person at any give time and living half the truth in each circumstance, takes an enormous toll and builds upon all the other traumas. It is through her experience that we learn how society has created two separate worlds, where even black cops are suspicious of black folks. In the end, this is a film about how one girl finds her own voice and opens the door to living a more authentic life. Not that it will be easy. But finally Starr finds the freedom to be her complete self, regardless of the context in which she interacts.
This is one of the best films of the year. On a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being excellent, I rate the film 4.9.
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.
Unlike a typical feminist Bollywood heroine, Sulochana or Sulu (Vidya Balan) in this movie, is neither excelling in athletics (Mary Kom or Chak De India), nor is she on a mission (Kahaani), nor is she fighting for a right cause (Mardaani). Instead, film “Tumhari Sulu”, written and directed by Suresh Triven, is about a typical middle class suburban “housewife”, beaten down by her more ambitious and traditional family, buoyed by her love for her husband and son, and occasionally dreaming of a better life and yet perfectly happy with her life as it is.
Sulu’s life takes a turn when her obsession with entering small contests and winning prizes lands her in the role of a nighttime RJ and catapults her to fame. Her husband Ashok (Manav Kaul) works as a manager in a small tailoring firm and puts up with inefficiency, disdain and insults from his bosses, just to bring home a paycheck. With his wife’s entry into the workplace and resulting fame, Ashok not only has to deal with his work pressures in a dead end job, but has to pull higher load of responsibilities on the home front, while he is forced to listen to judgmental comments from others about his wife’s career.
How will Ashok and Sulu’s family resolve the new challenge that is rocking their relationship? Vidya Balan is highly entertaining as Sulu and Manav Kaul has played a strong supportive role. The challenges faced by this family may easily mirror those faced by many suburban middle class families and their experiences when gender roles go through a ringer. With fabulous cast and excellent subject matter, this film had a huge potential to be one of the social blockbuster films. Instead with unnecessarily elongated time, useless songs, weak climax and slow meandering pace, it seems to lose focus and fails to leave a mark.
On a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being excellent, I rate it a 3.2 .
Posted by Darshana V. Nadkarni, Ph.D. in Hindi - Bollywood Movie Reviews, Hindi - Bollywood Movie Reviews-- Play Reviews-- NAATAK-- Poems-- Event Reports on August 24, 2015
Dum Laga Ke Haisha is a beautiful romantic comedy that offers the laughs amid touching, tender moments, as a young couple, forced into a marriage by the family elders, tries to find what is in their own heart, and in the process finds a way to each other’s heart. Brilliantly written and directed by Sharat Katariya, the scenes flow seamlessly, without appearing excessive or contrived.
Insecure young man, Prem Prakash Tiwari (Ayushmann Khurrana) has nurtured his own version of a perfect life partner, a beautiful slim girl. His family, led by his overbearing father (Sanjay Mishra), chooses a girl for him, based on reasons that are purely practical. An educated girl from a good family would help uplift the family economically by bringing in an extra source of income. After all, Prem is deemed a failure by his father. Their attention is drawn to Sandhya Tiwari (Bhumi Pednekar), who is educated and aspires to be a teacher. Sandhya is also plump but then looks are often relegated to the least useful category, when arranging a marriage.
Tiwaris and Vermas get together, through an intermediary, and arrange a marriage between their children, Prem and Sandhya. Prem throws a fit and refuses to marry a girl who is plump. His father scorns his lack of educational success and admonishes him that he is no better, “dasvi to nikal na paya, juhi chawla ke sapne dekh raha hai”. In the end, the unwilling groom is compelled to acquiesce to the marriage. Thus begins an awkward relationship, between a reluctant husband who despises being forced into the marriage and the girl who dreamed of love. Prem laments to his friends “mere ghodu baap ne zindagi barbad kar di meri” and later resolves, “mein kuch karunga aur apna astitv banaunga”.
Sandhya is educated and has plenty of spunk. When she found her husband mocking her in public, she leaves Prem and his family, and files for divorce. The clever girl, appropriately defines the problem for the judge, “ji prem ka vivah tha sandhya ke saath, lekin prem to tha hi nahin”. As the bitterness between the couple has reached the breaking point, much to the chagrin of the families, the couple is forced to look for deeper, more lasting meaning of love. After all beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, and sometimes, in the well groomed muscles, as you will find out :).
It is a fun, light-hearted comedy. Khuraana and Pednekar are fantastic, in their roles. Their life appears to evolve naturally, without feeling contrived. I rate the movie 3.7 on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being excellent.
Posted by Darshana V. Nadkarni, Ph.D. in Hindi - Bollywood Movie Reviews, Hindi - Bollywood Movie Reviews-- Play Reviews-- NAATAK-- Poems-- Event Reports on August 18, 2015
Director S. S. Rajamouli’s “Bahubali: The Beginning” is first part of two part series. Shot simultaneously in Tamil and Telugu, and released in a dubbed Hindi version, overseen by producer/director Karan Johar, it is a Bollywood version of Hercules/ Superman movie. South Indian actor, Prabhas, as Bahubali, with his sheer muscular physicality, can single handedly fight armies, while defending the helpless, whereas the gentler side in him is moved to lift a two ton Shiva lingam out of the earth and bring and position it under the waterfall, so his mother can fulfill her oath of pouring water over it 116 times.
In the history of Indian cinema, Bahubali, with a budget of reported $40 million, is the most expensive production, to date. Post release marketing has also been extensive. Bahubali boasts the largest film poster in the world (a 50,000 square-foot billboard in Kochi). Now Bahubali is expected to break box office records in India and around the world.
Believed to be orphaned as an infant, Bahubali miraculously survives a murder plot, and is found by a local village woman, who raises him, as her son. Growing up, Bahubali is pulled by the lure of the mountains that surround the village. Despite his mother’s admonitions, he keeps attempting to scale the high mountains ,and finally succeeds. High up, near the clouds, he meets the love of his life, Avanthika (Tamannaah) who belongs to a rebel group, seeking to overthrow a kingdom that is wrongfully usurped by its current king, and rescue the queen, who is held prisoner. Bahubali proclaims his love for Avanthika and promises to take on her cause. Bahubali is then called to fulfill more duties, than he might have bargained for, and the adventure will continue in part 2.
I rate this movie as 3.8 on a 1 to 5 scale, with 5 being excellent. It has action galore.
Director David Ayer’s “Fury” could have been a great movie. It moves at good pace and keeps the attention of the audience. Performance by WarDaddy (Brad Pitt), well its awesome, but then he is Brad Pitt, and his men gunner Bible (Shia LaBeouf), Hispanic lead driver Gordo (Michael PIna) and the mechanic Coon-Ass (Jon Berenthal), and the newcomer to join the team Norman Ellison (Logan Lerman) does not lack oomf. But it is the story and the character development that is coming up short.
Set during the final days of World War II, as the Allied forces were moving through Germany, they were finding pockets where Nazis were putting up their toughest resistance, including putting kids to fight and leaving hanging corpses of those who refused to fight. WarDaddy’s tank Fury along with 3 other tanks on a mission, gets caught up in an ambush that destroys all the other tanks, except Fury. On its way back, Fury happens to come upon a mine and breaks down. Before it can be repaired, the men notice that very soon close to 300 SS troops would come upon them.
One of the men suggests that they leave the tank and flee, saving their lives, but Mr. WarDaddy decides to stay and hold off the advancing Nazi troops for as long as he can, and one by one, the other men decide to stay and fight till the end. Now there are a few problems with where this is going. If it were a true story or was based on some real life events, this would become immediately interesting. On the other hand, if more details were shared about these men that would make us root for them, it would also make it imminently interesting. However, in the absence of both these conditions, one wonders why so much blood, gore and sacrifice of these men makes it a story worth being cast into a movie. We know nothing about them except that they are from the Allied forces. They are almost nearing the end of the war. Yes, these 5 super heroes valiantly hold off 300+ SS troops for a long while, and inflict heavy casualties, vaguely reminiscent of the Spartans. But why? If the war was coming to an end, it was only a matter of short time before every single Nazi soldier (including children and others forcibly recruited) would be surrendering. What happened to the promise WarDaddy made to make sure all of his men would go home?
Somehow I fail to see justification for severed heads, decapitated limbs, hanging corpses and more in a movie drawn out over 2 hours. The subject matter is not new, storyline is trite, and these men’s valiant sacrifice against approaching Nazi troops seems contrived and wasted. It hardly seems like a story that needed to be told. On a scale of 1-5, with 5 being excellent, I rate the movie as 3.0.