Posts Tagged ‘ Ashish Vidyarthi ’

Aligarh

Aligarh-poster

Aligarh
Release date: February 26, 2016
Directed by: Hansal Mehta
Cast: Manoj Bajpayee, Rajkummar Rao, Ashish Vidyarthi, Dilnaz Irani

Two men walk toward a building in the dark of the night in the foggy town of Aligarh. They speak in muffled voices about the character of a particular woman. It’s difficult to make sense of it, and isn’t really a pleasant conversation to be a part of. The same men walk in from a distance to Professor Siras’s house, to bust his sexual relationship with another man. Two men with questionable integrity assume the position of authority over another man’s actions.

Their self-righteous vigilantism is intended at shaming the Professor throughout the university, and in the society as a whole. In the small-town Islamic community of the university and the city, indulging in acts of passion and lust with a person of the same sex is often shown to be called an “immoral activity”. Siras (Manoj Bajpayee) is relieved of his duties as the chairman of the linguistics department. His co-employee suggests that he write a small apology letter for his “mistake”, to which Siras questions what wrong has he done.

The supposedly minor incident’s repercussions don’t stop at the firing. As he’s just a few months away from his retirement, the after-effects of the entire fiasco begin to manifest in almost every aspect of his life. His sense of loneliness is only aggravated, his state of mind worsened at this great backlash from the university to which he’s devoted more than thirty years of his life. Amidst constant chaos, Siras tries to restore some sanity by, as they say in Hindi, Maahaul Banaanaa, or turning on some sweet Lata Mangeshkar with a little marketable whiskey in his hands.

The camera stays with him, as he rhythmically taps his feet, singing along Aapki Nazaron Ne Samjhaa in a trembling voice that collapses at times to give way to wistfulness. These fixed closeups divulge only as much as you can make yourself see, refusing to break into single person monologues just for the heck of establishing what’s going on in his mind. The pace of the film is deliberated, just like the general speed of time is, in a tier-2 city that strives to be a tier-1 metropolis during the day, and falls back to its cold and misty, thoroughly tamed, dull and uneventful darkness when the sun sets. Silences are powerfully emphasized, instead of resorting to mushy, background scores.

Deepu Sebastian (Rajkummar Rao) is a young intern at a newspaper publication who wants to follow Siras’s story. The professor doesn’t warm up immediately to him and their first meeting ends up in him almost breaking down. Siras’s struggle to get reinstated at the university gains national headlines as a lawyer, who got the Delhi High Court to decriminalize homosexuality, decides to take up his case. A greater conspiracy by university officials starts to unearth as the case is actually contested in the Allahabad High Court.

Manoj Bajpayee embodies his 64 year old’s character’s mannerisms beautifully. He sinks his shoulders in, clenches on to his objects tightly, blushes cutely when someone compliments him and inculcates an effeminate Marathi accent. The writing keeps Siras sane, composed, and even lets him retain a certain sense of humor. Though, with the dialogue, the film rarely scratches below the surface of the issues at hand. Cliched statements about love, poetry, and people’s need to label relationships and sexual orientations spring up, even in perfectly relevant situations.

Rao, as the young South Indian, drops only a single “Ayyo”, and a charming Hindi diction. The makers depict a camaraderie between Siras and Deepu which is engaging, but slightly contrived, so as to keep the dynamic as non-homoerotic as they can. Their conversations throw the most light on Siras’s traits and his ideologies. Props to the guys who did the post production VFX for keeping the breaking news section on a news channel contextual to the happenings of 2010.

Mr. Shrinivas Ramchandra Siras’s moving story makes for a very strong picturization for the level of isolation the minorities, of the sexual or any other kind, can be subjected to by our prudish “collective morality”. The film rises higher than just being a character-study or a biographical drama, yet the subtlety of it all stops short of making you want to let your eyes well up. Nevertheless, it’s an extremely important film for our times, when the Supreme Court has again criminalized homosexuality.

My rating: ***1/2 (3.5 out of 5)

Haider

haider-poster

Haider
Release date: October 2, 2014
Directed by: Vishal Bhardwaj
Cast: Tabu, Narendra Jha, Shahid Kapoor, Kay Kay Menon, Shraddha Kapoor, Aamir Bashir, Lalit Parimoo, Sumit Kaul, Rajat Bhagat, Irrfan Khan, Ashish Vidyarthi, Kulbhushan Kharbanda

Before you proceed to read this review, and try to form your opinion about the film, I’d like to give you three strong reasons to just get off your seat and go watch Haider. Except you’re in the theater waiting for the film to start.

“Inteqaam sirf inteqaam laataa hai, aazaadi nahin.”

“Jhuk ke jab jhumka main choom raha tha
Der tak gulmohar jhoom raha tha…”

“Chota na bada
Koi lamba hai na bona hai
Kabar ke dadab mein lambi neend so na hai”

If these three pieces of literary genius don’t propel you into the stratosphere of Haider, you should read on.

In a land struck with insurgency, and forceful counter-insurgency measures by the army, heavily under surveillance throughout all times, Vishal Bhardwaj replaces the conflicted land of Denmark with an equally conflicted region of Kashmir in his adaptation of Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

Haider could have simply been the story of the title character’s revenge against his Uncle Claudius from the play, i.e. Khurram (Kay Kay Menon) avenging the death of his father Dr. Hilal Meer (Narendra Jha); but it isn’t just that. Bhardwaj and his co-writer Basharat Peer choose to play up Hamlet’s mother Gertrude’s undecided nature about the men in her life, be it her son or her husband or her brother-in-law. Gertrude is called Ghazala in this universe and she’s vital right till the end.

Haider-Ghazala

Arshia (Shraddha Kapoor) is the hijab wearing lover of Haider, her brother (Aamir Bashir) much like Laertes from the play has traveled to another town for his studies after initially opposing strongly to Arshia’s affections for Haider. Interspersed with the Kashmeeri accent, every actor brings a certain earthy charm to the characters they are playing. Arshia dancing with gay abandon in Haider’s clothes is one of those moments which brings that earthy charm with a hip touch.

Haider’s ‘antic disposition’  starts off with the rattling of the provisions and powers of the Kashmir Pact from 1948, the Geneva Agreement succeeding that and the final nail in Kashmir’s coffin, the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and Section 370 of the Indian Constitution. Shahid Kapoor picks up the intensity of a fire-breathing dragon and never cowers down hence that moment. He picks up the bottled, and timid Haider and transforms into this all-knowing mad man. The faces that he makes, mixed in a potent combination of naive innocence and sheer viciousness when the moment asks.

Providing an emphatic social commentary on the state of affairs in the region, Haider is beautifully poetic in its dialogues, photography and song picturizations. Be it the melancholic Jhelum which sings of the blood soaked and the screams muffled by the river Jhelum, or Arijit Singh’s most soulful composition of this year ‘Khul Kabhi To’ in a Casablanca-ish setting, or the explosive puppet dance drama in Bismil, I have never enjoyed the traditional Hindi song-and-dance routine as much, ever before.

Khul kabhi toh...

Pankaj Kumar photographs Haider with a broadly extensive repertoire of angles. My personal favorites again coming from the continuous tracking of the camera during Shahid’s storytelling in Bismil, the shades and shots used to create a certain unease between Ghazala and her son, and also Arshi’s dementia. The red scarf, the red hood and the red knitting cloth are so eerie, you don’t need a vivid emotion to tell you what happens next.

How well is Bismil shot!

Bhardwaj retains the individual traits of the characters from Hamlet, yet refusing to dwell on a very far-flung climax sequence, and even the murders with said poisons that curdle a man’s blood, he utilizes the real-time scenario of his Hamlet’s geography. Shakespeare is present in spirit, with a constant Hindi rendition of “To be or not to be” which Haider refers to question the existence of the being. The background score plays the theme from Aao Na and is so tantalizing that you simply want the song to start playing with THAT powerful entry of Khan.

The film employs the services of many actors, some in bits and some in chunks, Kay Kay Menon and Shraddha Kapoor embody Khurram and Arshi to a fault, while Shahid and Tabu own their characters by customizing them. The film in its entirety is a surreal depiction of a revenge-drama which could possibly eclipse all of Bhardwaj’s earlier adaptations and creations. Haider is a telling story with political undertones, and a film that is perhaps the most bold and vivid attempt at integrating the gloom of Kashmir with that of a character as conflicted about his rage as the people of that region about their identities and the collective concept of mainstream nationalism.

Witty, smart, poetic, scenic, passionate, and relevant, I can embellish this piece with more adjectives for Haider all day long.

My rating: ***** (5 out of 5)

Barfi!


Barfi
Release Date: September 14, 2012
Directed by: Anurag Basu
Cast: Ranbir Kapoor, Priyanka Chopra, Ileana D’cruz, Saurabh Shukla, Ashish Vidyarthi

Amateurish mime, fun rides along the inner scenic regions of Darjeeling and tests of friendship are what Barfi! is laced with. The film moves from Darjeeling to mainstream Kolkata (Calcutta) in the ’70s, thereby creating a young independent India developing in its technology and outlook. But hey, this isn’t a lesson in history, Barfi! is an amalgamation of simple emotions contrived in a heartwarming motion picture.

Murphy or Barfi (Ranbir Kapoor) as he is fondly referred to, is a deaf-mute youngster who never falls short of ways to make his charm work. Murphy shares a pure connection with his father Rajbahadur which is nothing but purely frolic. Barfi asks his dad to stop guzzling on a bottle of Old Monk Rum and then sneaks the same bottle into his bed. He also has a unique way of ascertaining his friends’ loyalty towards him.

Shruti (Ileana D’Cruz) is an engaged young woman,  about to be married in the next three months but yet to grasp the arrival of a man in her life. In a fun encounter, she gets acquainted with Barfi and soon a friendship develops between the two. The pair of friends go on their own small adventures where Shruti tries to make the most of her single days by making late-night escapes to gallop on a horse. The loss for words between them never makes a short for feelings. But the inevitable fate doesn’t change its track and soon things go on their own predetermined paths.

Jhilmil (Priyanka Chopra) is the third generation offset of the affluent Chatterji household. She struggles with autism and that’s reason enough for her negligent wealth-drunk parents to avoid her. Jhilmil is admitted to a house for the disabled where she finds some real affection and care even though at a price. Circumstances force some things on all of our protagonists and now Jhilmil is with Barfi.

Barfi! (Here, the film) is what happens in the sub-plots and the overlaying sidetracks. There are so many powerful moments with a varied range of emotions casting their impact simultaneously that you simply cannot hold your tears or your smile. Barfi! plays on the disabilities of its main characters and concentrates on their special abilities, you almost never care about the dialogues.

The story shows how everyone deserves a second chance and how ‘unconditional’ love should be actually unconditional and oblivious of the repercussions: economic, social or whatsoever. Already much has been said about Barfi!’s melodious soundtrack, but the accordion-violin band players in the narrative of the film along with the silent comic scenes pay a tribute to Charlie Chaplin. For the casual viewer, the length of the film might prove to be a bit long. But if you live with the characters, you’ll never want to leave your seat.

Barfi! adds another accolade in Anurag Basu’s list and heavily decorating Ranbir, Priyanka and Ileana’s acting credentials. Barfi! is a must watch for its rich tribute to film making and textured simple human emotions.

My rating: **** (4 out of 5)

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