Warmth, accolades and endless cheers; writer/director Motwane deserves everything for Udaan

If you have ever watched Lootera and made this silent wish to meet Director Vikramaditya Motwane and laud him personally, you cannot imagine what you would end up feeling once you’re done watching Udaan.

Dreams, respect and everything in between.

This bewildering statement that I just made is assuming that you haven’t witnessed this gem of a film, yet. There’s a great chance the joke’s on me as unlike me almost everyone else has experienced it long back. 

But since I have quite recently become part of it, here’s my obvious take on it: Masterpiece!

Before I expand on my comment, let me lay down the plot. Udaan is the story of a teenager named Rohan (Rajat Barmecha) who is a budding writer and is expelled from boarding school. To his dismay, he now has to live with his overly strict father Bhairav Singh (Ronit Roy), who not only rejects his dreams of becoming a writer, but instead forces him to pursue engineering.

This Motwane directorial encompasses the journey of a teenager in his prime towards breaking free and realising what true responsibility is.

Now, talking about the film in depth, Udaan isn’t just narration of a story. It is held together by so much more, the most important of which is Amit Trivedi’s background score and all the songs composed by him. The first song of the film, Kahani Khatam hai ya Shuru shows Rohan coming back to his town Jamshedpur post getting expelled, and it is so liberating to see him take that simple journey on a train, all because of this powerful song about life brimming with opportunities and choices in teenage years.

Jo lehron se aage nazar dekh paati toh tum jaan lete main kya sochta hun

Woh aawaz tumko bhi jo bhed jaati toh Tum jaan lete main kya sochta hun..

– Rohan, Udaan

Anurag Kashyap co-wrote and produced Udaan alongwith Motwane and the writing is so impactful especially Bhairav Singh’s character, strongly enacted by Ronit Roy, who despite being of gray shade, leaves a potent mark on screen. Never have I ever experienced such brutality and sternness in a main character before.

In the final scene of the film, when Rohan escapes with his half brother Arjun, we see Bhairav the least affected, just like so many people we come across who are barely bothered by anything to change their stand point in life. 

Even though such brutal and pathetic, Bhairav’s atrocities and stubbornness is so relatable at some level and that says a lot about being parents and children in a society.

Overall, Udaan in itself seems like a journey and not a film. Rohan’s liberation feels like one’s own. 

Zodiac; If you think the film is open ended, look out for the intricacies

When David Fincher promises a film, it is sure a feast. Well, at least that is what we expected with Zodiac too. 

To see Robert Downey Jr. And Jake Gyllenhaal in one frame is a seperate comfort zone.

Based on a true story, Zodiac tells the tale of a self proclaimed serial killer called Zodiac who is highly untraceable even after he himself sends letters to the city news publication. With an ensemble cast of Robert Downey Jr, Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo and others, the film turns out to be quite different than how it opens up but still doesn’t disappoint.

The film would have been any ordinary open ended flick that would have left the audience in splits about it’s end. But Zodiac isn’t one of them. It narrates the tale of a killer who existed in real life and made lives of the police and press of Southern California collectively tougher years on end. This makes it all different. When endings attach themselves to realism it doesn’t matter whether the question was answered or not.

Fincher really hits you in the gut with this one. The direction is such that as the audience you totally invest yourself into finding out Zodiac’s identity so much so that think like a detective and Fincher all at the same time and what is presented to you is surreal and not even close to your imagination. I for once, thought that I exactly know who the killer is but man was it disappointing to be let down! 

One can never confidently take one stand on how he/she found the film to be, but nevertheless if you’re sitting to watch the film, you’re in for a very smooth ride. 

Benevolent, gloomy and real; A Separation is all throughout aware of what it wants to signify

Literally the second A Separation begins, you link the title to what you see on screen and begin to draw obvious inferences of what the film holds for you, but that is exactly where you’re mistaken. 

Broken or almost broken, the portrayal of any troubled relationship cannot be just unless you feel for both people involved.

The Asghar Farhadi directorial is the story of what happens when a married couple Simin and Nader decide to stay separated for a few days until they draw a conclusion about their relationship state. During this time, Nader hires help to look after his demented father, and what follows is a series of unfortunate events where you can’t look at one character and take a definitive toll on their innocence.

The film doesn’t seemingly focus on the relationship between Nader and Simin for almost half of the film, but it is only later that you realise why was it important to show what an internally broken marriage does to everyone involved.

There’s a reason why the film is called A Separation and not A Divorce, and not just because the former sounds fancy. The style of narration is quite different from other films on problematic marriages. 

Every element in the film initially introduced is later made sense of to its fullest and it feels like a jigsaw puzzle falling in place.

Before this, my personal favorite in the genre of representing toxic relationships/marriages, was Sam Mendes’s Revolutionary Road. Even though there shouldn’t be a comparison between the two, but the realism quotient in this one, surpasses my love for Revolutionary Road.

When you show problematic marriages on different levels in a society, you provide greater depth and make people face the truth of how financial aspects affect everything in some classes of the society. And it gives me immense pleasure to see it happen in A Separation.

It is possible that some might argue that the climax is open ended but it is not. The point of the story was met all along.

All in all, the film can be best defined as dark, real, intriguing, overwhelming, compassionate and considerate of all marital flaws.

Little Women; an absolute delight, that will make you long for sisterhood like never before

If you have read Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, because I haven’t, you’re going to absolutely enjoy the 2019 film adaptation, and further into the review, I’ll elaborate why.

Little Women tells us that happy endings aren’t always necessary/the definition of a happy ending is essentially subjective.

It is well known that the book is considered one of the most classic novels ever written and rightfully so, was way ahead of it’s time, given that it came out in 1868.

When one thinks of women empowerment, understanding womanhood, understanding why feminism came into the picture and why is it still so relevant, Little Women shines bright with all the answers.

Though pretty known by now, after four films adaptations and over a century’s existence of the novel, here’s the plot of the film. Little Women is set in the early 1800s America and depicts the life of four sisters coexisting with love, warmth, resentment, care and all that sisterhood represents. They struggle to make amends with life and adulthood and the constant struggle of having dreams and being a woman, when only one of them could be feasible.

Jo, Meg, Beth and Amy belong to a middle income family, with their mother Marmee March and are living examples of vision, warmth, kindness, and belonging.

Prior to this, I was fortunate enough to watch the 1994 adaptation starring Winona Ryder and considered it the best one. But this one, surely changed my mind for the better.

Now, coming to the part where I said reading the book would do greater wonders for the viewer. Since I haven’t gotten the chance to read it, I feel at lack of drawing comparisons between the two and hence, find it almost impossible to find any flaw in it.

The film is the answer to all the questions by people who refrain from calling themselves feminists. It looks you in the eye and almost speaks to you in subtle narratives that it has been impossible for a woman to feel privileged at any point in her life, given the absolute difference of measures for men and women through all phases of life, and at the least, feminism only asks for equality.

I’m so sick of people saying that love is just all a woman is fit for!

– Jo March, Little Women (2019)

Some might find the film too feminine, but here’s my claim to why they would: It’s impossible for some to watch women making total sense and accept that it isn’t a recent phenomenon. 

The film brags an ensemble of the likes of Soarsie Ronan (Jo), Florence Pugh (Amy), Emma Watson (Meg), Meryl Streep (Aunt March), Laura Dern (Marmee March), among others.

My personal favorite was Florence Pugh, with her screen presence making statements of authority and willingness to do big.

Also, if you’re a F.R.I.E.N.D.S fan like me, you already know one big spoiler from it.

Vivid, well-directed and a stern reminder of the power of good writing; Pataal Lok won’t fail to grab eyeballs till the end!

So far, surviving in the lockdown was mostly about binging tv shows, and watching films on various streaming platforms (for millenials at least), but if you already think you might have found a good show to stream, you’ve definitely not come across Paatal Lok,  an Amazon Prime original that will change the definition of brilliance two-fold.

Even attempting to present a strong, gripping writing on current politics, societal bigotry and crime at a time like this, deserves respect

This production venture by Anushka Sharma’s Clean Slate Films, is like a breath of fresh air in the indian world of web series that almost every time bases itself either on a good story line or the use of violence or exposing society’s reality, but never on all of three of them together, in measured and well-researched quantities. 

Based on Tarun Tejpal’s book, The Story of my Assasins, Pataal Lok is the story of an underachiever cop posted in Delhi’s Jamuna Paar Station, Hathi Ram Chaudhary (Jaideep Ahlawat), who wants to make it big by cracking a proper case for once and is served with the opportunity post the capturing of four suspects accused of plotting the potential murder of a liberal left journalist Sanjeev Mehra (Neeraj Kabi).

Why was it necessary for me to mention the journalist’s political inclination here, will be disclosed once one delves deeper into the series.

Hathi Ram clearly bifurcates the city and it’s jurisdictions into Swarg (heaven), Dharti (earth) and Pataal (hell) Lok, and explains how grave criminal cases cease to solve as they always fall in the Pataal Lok, that always essentially gets overlooked. The show begins with this little monologue quite like the evident distribution of characters belonging to either of these three at all times.

The show has written “POLITICS” all over it, with inclusion of primary elements like the media,  a political party, regular revelations of the discriminatory side of the society, mention of major political movements from India, and a police constable stuck among it all, hoping to make it big! But even as the show ends, you realise that it never took any one political stand as it’s key narrative. For every point spoken in one direction, there was a counter argument later into the show. 

Director Avinash Arun has earlier directed the critically acclaimed Marathi film, Killa and along with co-director Prosit Roy has managed to pour beautiful narratives and work meticulously with writer Sudip Sharma.

After NH10, it wasn’t a surprise to see another vivid project drop out of Anushka Sharma’s production house.

You wouldn’t fail to notice the amazing cast of the show from the likes of Jaideep Ahlawat, Neeraj Kabi, Anindita Bannerjee, Ishwak Singh and Akash Bannerjee. 

The ending might or might not disappoint depending on what character were your bets placed on. Either way, the ending isn’t predictable or stupid, so be ready for a refreshing ride, that will promise engagement and bundles of intriguing subplots all the way!

The Lift Boy will make you appreciate the intent, but would seriously stop seeming realistic as it unfolds

If you are an absolute lover and follower of everything new on Netflix, you might be well aware of The Lift Boy, a Netflix original film. If not, I’ll just lay out the plot here to intrigue you into it; The Lift Boy is the story of Raju Tawade, a young Engineering student in Mumbai, who is temporary filling in for his sick father working as a Lift Operator in an apartment building. 

Heart warming, yet a bit unrealistic as it unfolds.

The film showcases his journey from being an entitled, spoilt kid, disrespectful of his parents’ jobs to learning a thing or two about hard work, empathy and more, pressing buttons in a lift.

Just like the plot goes, the film does give you a sense that it is headed at eventually making Raju realise the importance of all jobs and considering them all important in the functioning of a society as a whole, but instead the film ends up justifying his hatred towards menial jobs by making the climax a tad too dramatic in terms of financial shift.

The film is trying very hard to lure the viewer with it’s intent for the first half of the film, but sadly it isn’t enough. A story of this kind could’ve used a lot more aesthetics and lesser obvious turn of events, and most importantly, depending totally on the goodness of some characters to helm the film up.

Interestingly, the apartment he works for is named ‘Galaxy Apartments’ with expected residents like a supermodel and her family, a painter owning all three floors and a man in his mid 30s whose profession isn’t clear but he says things like “teen mahine se biwi ne kuch diya nahi and now she’s asking for diamonds”, so take a random hint.

There is some symbolism in the form of the picture of a lollipop in the lift, that is also explained, later into the film, but doesn’t quite do justice to the view of a lollipop in frame for almost the entire length of the film.

Assessing cinematically, even a naive viewer could recognize the lack of depth in Raju’s character and quite frankly, Moin Khan’s acting too. The amount of characteristics assigned to Raju, be it black,white or gray, do not come out properly owing to his visibly immature acting and portrayal.

Five years of Piku; To love, parenthood, old age and constipation!

Five years of Piku..

It’s been five years since Piku came out and Shoojit Sircar blessed us all and told us how important the intention of any film is. And it’s been five years since I first saw this film, and have been watching it every time I missed home, regretted a mistake, felt heartbroken, or was just simply not okay/completely okay.

Kolkata and the chaotic calm!

Viewing this film is like remembering what life feels like, how simple joys transform your life. But more than anything else, this film is an ode to Kolkata!

I visited the city 3 years back and only to recall how it seemed in Piku and unknowingly, I happened to stop at the same Kachori Stall Amitabh Bachchan’s character Bhaskor Bannerjee buys kachoris from at the end of the film. There was a picture of him outside the stall in his iconic pink kurta and the cycle he drove across the city. 

I couldn’t believe I came to the city looking for traces of Piku and ended up staying in a hotel right in front of that stall.

As I roamed around the city, I could feel how Piku felt, the sense of being at home. The peace amongst the chaos.

I was with my parents at the time and I remember catching glimpses of my father time and again only to realise how much our bond resonates with Piku and her Baba, and how every parent-child relationship is like that.

CR Park’s legendary family gatherings

It is difficult to choose one iconic scene from the film but for me, the best one has to be Bhaskor defending the idea of staying single and not getting married for Piku. He says, “Humne Piku ko padhaya, likhaya, bada kiya toh take care of me, shaadi karke kisi aur ke parents ka dekh bhaal kyun karna”

Marriage isn’t bad, but it should have a purpose! All a husband wants from his wife is food during the day and sex at night! Is that what a women is for?

– Bhaskor Bannerjee, Piku

The film really makes you think how selfless parents can be and how much we take for granted. Bhaskor unapologetically demands his daughter’s time and attention and it feels like every father should. 

The sarod theme missing from the playlist..

If anyone is as big a fan of the film as I am, you must be well aware about the Sarod theme that pays visit every now and then throughout the film. I never kept count but I might have watched Piku for more than 50 times by now and I still watch the opening credits every time, only to hear the Sarod theme and weep!

Motion se hi emotion..

Coming to what the film is based on, Constipation! Nothing is more relatable to old age as much as constipation! Every household has an elder who can’t stop obsessing about his stuck motion and Bhaskor isn’t the first to be obsessed with his medical reports and is low key sad when reports are normal.

Last but not the least, Irrfan Khan as Rana Chaudhary (not Bengali) and his constant urge to make sense with Bhaskor! 

How will I ever get over the purity behind the film, Kolkata’s streets, Piku missing her mother every step of the way, Rana’s kleptomaniac sister and crazy mother, and Bhaskor’s dying wish to have the best motion?!!

I will not and I should not.

Films like Piku should exist to remind you what filmmaking is about: the intention and sincerity!