Bollywood and culture in an emerging India
(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not necessarily of Reuters)
A five-minute scene, sans dialogue, just before the interval. A shot of a man elated, reliving his magical day as the rest of the world goes about its own business – these five minutes alone make “Bombay Talkies” worth a watch.
Dibakar Banerjee’s segment, based on a Satyajit Ray short story, is evocative, sensitive, subtle and gets to the heart of why cinema brings magic into the most mundane of lives. And his film, dare I say it, is leagues ahead of the other three shorts in this portmanteau film.
Which is not to say the other three films aren’t gripping enough. Karan Johar surprises with his short film, avoiding clichés and extracting some great performances from his cast. Rani Mukerji plays the editor of a gossip magazine, in an arid marriage with her newscaster husband (Randeep Hooda, remarkably restrained). The presence of an intern (Saqib Saleem) in their lives alters it completely and brings to the fore uncomfortable truths.
After I finished watching the second and final part of Anurag Kashyap’s revenge saga “Gangs of Wasseypur“, I got into a cab and headed home. Except that, when I got in, I imagined the driver pulling out a machine gun and aiming at me.
On the way home, familiar roads seemed eerily silent and every passer-by suspicious. So ingrained and pervading is the violence in this film that you cannot help but carry a bit of it home.
Anurag Kashyap’s revenge saga “Gangs of Wasseypur” starts off in the most innocuous way — a shot of actress Smriti Irani opening the door and inviting the audience in with a beaming smile. It’s a scene millions of viewers are familiar with, thanks to the popularity of the soap, but definitely not something you’d expect to see in the first frame of a revenge drama.
Such incongruous scenes and unexpected surprises pop up regularly during the 2.5-hour-long film. Kashyap uses a tongue-in-cheek approach to tell his story, pairing it with searing imagery, a couple of history lessons and the edgiest characters you will see on screen for some time.
Anurag Kashyap’s “That Girl in Yellow Boots” is an unsettling tale of a girl in search of the father who walked out on her as a child. Kashyap holds back very little in his narration of this tale, portraying Mumbai as a ruthless city that makes her search even more difficult than it should have been.
Kalki Koechlin plays Ruth, a British girl who comes to India hoping to find her father. She struggles in Mumbai, living as an illegal immigrant, working in a shady massage parlour, living in squalid conditions, driven only by her quest for a parent she yearns for.
Director Bejoy Nambiar’s debut effort “Shaitan” is not your typical Bollywood film, so if you are the kind that enjoys that kind of fare, let me warn you at the outset this may not be the film for you.
However, if you keep an open mind and go into the theatre, believe me you will be rewarded. Here is a film that is unabashed, cool and made by a director who knows his craft.
Anurag Kashyap hasn’t slept in four days. He’s been writing his next film and doesn’t want to stop till it is done. When I walk into his suburban terrace apartment, Kashyap is beaming because he’s just finished writing the climax and he is very happy with it.
He offers you some tea, shows you clips from his new film “That Girl in Yellow Boots” which premiered at the Venice Film Festival, all the while chatting animatedly with his assistants about shooting schedules and movies.
“The free media serve as a mirror in which the public can see itself sans mascara and styling gel. From us you learn the state of your nation, and especially its management by the people you elected to give your children a better future. Sometimes the image you see in that mirror is not a pleasant one. But while you may grumble in the privacy of your armchair, the journalists who hold the mirror up to you do so publicly and at great risk to themselves.”
When I was watching Anurag Kashyap’s “Gulaal”, my mind wandered to this passage I had read some days ago, from the last editorial of Lasantha Wickramatunga, the editor of the Sri Lankan newspaper ‘The Sunday Leader’, who was killed by unknown persons.
Obviously watching him every five years or so on screen, as yet another filmmaker tries to “interpret” him, really tries my patience.