Posts Tagged ‘ Dibakar Banerjee ’

Titli

Titli Poster

Titli
Release date: October 30, 2015
Directed by: Kanu Behl
Cast: Shashank Arora, Ranvir Shorey, Amit Sial, Shivani Raghuvanshi, Sumit Gulati, Lalit Behl

Titli’ as we know, in Hindi, is the whimsical sounding word which translates to ‘butterfly’. The creature itself is often addressed with a prefixed adjective, ‘chanchal’ (fickle in English), in Hindi folklore and in a bazillion poems and lyrics over the years. In Kanu Behl’s debut feature, the title character is hardly ever chanchal. Titli (Shashank Arora) is mercurial in only a few situations. Some of these change the course of his life, and some affect others as well.

Titli is unflinching and uncompromising. The youngest son in a lower middle class family, down by the nullah on the other side of the Yamuna in Delhi; he admits that his name was originally meant for a daughter that his mother always wanted. The mother is dead, and there’s not a single archetypal photograph of hers with a garland on it in the house. The name lives on. Much like the name, Titli’s dream of owning a parking lot in an under construction mall lives on, no matter what hurdles lie in front of him.

It’s a unique aspiration in itself, even unclear at the very start. You’re then introduced to his family, a crew of hustlers and bustlers who moonlight as carjackers. They have respectable day jobs too, but violence and crime are long-accepted entities in their lives. Initially, there’s a scene where Vikram (Ranvir Shorey) has a stupid argument with a delivery guy, which ends in a bloody brawl laced with expletives. Titli tries to meddle and ends up with a bleeding nose. It’s hilarious to watch because you think of this instance as an exceptional burst of anger and deem it as outrageous.

The humorous appeal ends when you’re exposed to the violence in much greater amounts. They are bad and they are gruesome. Titli is perhaps the least apathetic of the three. His family frowns at his desire of getting out of the “narak” (hell) that his surroundings are. They decide that getting him married will get his mind out of having dreams and end up entrapped in matrimonial affairs. They also consider the aspect of inducting his wife Neelu (Shivani Raghuvanshi) in the gang.

The new bride has her own aspirations to fulfill, if not as convoluted, they can surely be labelled as “immoral” by the societal standards. Titli is a smart customer who tries to figure out a way to turn this abyss into a goldmine as well.

Sharat Katariya and Kanu Behl try to turn their story on to the path of resurrection. At a taut running length of 124 minutes, the film is perfectly compelling. You could replace the city with your own and still see all of it making sense. Where economic growth and development of real estate takes place at the expense of slums and farms, you can see the poor reeling and seething at the injustice meted out to them in their own eyes.

In their debut outings, Shashank Arora and Shivani Raghuvanshi perform extremely well. Arora, with his wiry frame and steely eyes that almost never blink, casts a grim fervour over the proceedings. He embodies his character’s small-but-tough persona. And yet, he’s relatively the least violent, even when he proposes breaking another character’s hand. It’s in this scene, where the reason for all brutalities becomes self-evident. It’s just a way of life, when things can’t be controlled, you slap/punch/beat the crap out of the person you can’t deal with.

Ranvir Shorey puts up a display of a lifetime. In a recent interview, he claimed to be a “struggler” for his entire career. He acts as if this is his first film, or potentially even his last film. He gives it all. Amit Sial’s Pradeep has the most secretive private life as compared to his brothers, like how Vikram is facing a divorce, their father is facing acidic burps and a lungs-propelling cough. Sial shows why he deserves more work in the industry.

Titli, on the lines of Khosla Ka Ghosla, NH10, and even Aurangzeb, depicts what it’s like to exist when the growth of an ecosystem threatens to leave behind its inhabitants; it forces them to, as the cliché goes, adapt or perish.

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

Detective Byomkesh Bakshy!

detective_byomkesh_bakshy_poster

Detective Byomkesh Bakshy!
Release date: April 3, 2015
Directed by: Dibakar Banerjee
Cast: Sushant Singh Rajput, Anand Tiwari, Neeraj Kabi, Meiyang Chang, Swastika Mukherjee, Pradipto Kumar Chakraborty, Takanori Kikuchi, Mark Bennington, Divya Menon, Arindol Bagchi

Formerly recreated as Rajit Kapoor’s middle aged adaptation is a satyanweshi (seeker of truth), and now brought back as a just-out-of-college youngster Byomkesh, Sushant Singh Rajput perhaps plays a younger personification of the character, who’s probably still to become a truth seeker. This same undercurrent is the constant throughout the film.

The young Byomkesh is approached by Ajit (Anand Tiwari) to solve the case of his missing father. He displays the socially inept mannerisms of the BBC’s Sherlock, and ends up coming across as a complete tool. Byomkesh’s charm isn’t as beguiling as that of a classic noir’s private detective. He isn’t even super-smart at picking up clues, yet he figures out there’s more foulplay to the disappearance than what appears on the surface.

Bakshy begins the search for Ajit’s father and ends up at a boarding house run by Dr. Guha (Neeraj Kabi) where an eclectic assortment of young and old Bengali men are put up. Ajit’s missing father had lived here for a healthy span of time and everyone, right from his paan-addict roommate Ashwinibabu (Arindol Bagchi) to Kanai Dao (Meiyang Chang), is a potential suspect. And similarly, every one of them is quite a quirky character. Puntiraam (Pradipto Kumar Chakraborty) is a domestic help whose hands tremble right until the gory end. Thus showing Dibakar Banerjee’s undying affinity towards detailing.

The same eye for detail, along with Nikos Anditsakis’s masterful cinematography, creates a picturesque composition of scenes and shots in the meticulously recreated Calcutta of the 1940s. The second world war is still on, and the Japanese and Chinese forces are eyeing infiltration on the eastern end of India. The foreigners don’t speak chaste Hindi, they interact in their own languages, unlike the ridiculous expatriates of the older Hindi films who were freakishly good at Hindi. Authenticity of the war period is never compromised even in this fictional universe.

The film is richly textured as almost a Hollywood film with the color palettes in use. There are hardly any real locations and thus there is an abundance of wide shots, often tracked through very long and short distances as well. The film’s dialogue is reminiscent of a bygone era, yet it doesn’t go overboard.

The pace of the film isn’t breakneck, and it is only fit for a story where the makers are going from creating a sense of mystery to making the viewers care to be seated in their chairs to patiently wait for what happened and who’s pulling the strings of a complex mob that’s probably in cahoots with Japanese forces. The mystery seems to be solving at the halfway mark, but our Bakshy, with a unibrow, isn’t the brightest detective in the world currently. There are a bazillion flashbacks to ease the putting-together of the clues for the protagonist and us, but this pattern becomes increasingly intolerable and plodding to watch.

Every suspect gets a special flashback of the clues, and the protagonist is trapped by the antagonists quite a lot more times to make the plot seem like a convoluted mess. The performances of Anand Tiwari and Neeraj Kabi shoulder the film tremendously well. Both of them put up a glowing display of their acting chops. My favorite music composer, Sneha Khanwalkar, collaborates with indie acts and renders a fresh new-age background score and theme to the film, which isn’t necessarily optimized to its complete potential.

The action sequences are limited and slickly choreographed, yet the antagonist never physically grapples with Bakshy. Hence, summing up the general apathy towards the climax of the film. The only silver lining in the survival of the villains and the constant silly pitfalls of the young detective is that this film is probably like a prequel for another film. Banerjee seems to be laying a foundation for a series of adventures and cases to be solved by Byomkesh in the future.

DBB, the film, is just like Sushant’s woefully flawed Byomkesh. Even if it doesn’t grow into another future installment, this film warrants a patient watch for its brave effort.

My rating: *** (3 out of 5)

Bombay Talkies

Bombay_Talkies_2013_Poster
Bombay Talkies
Release date: May 3, 2013
Directed by: Karan Johar, Dibakar Banerjee, Zoya Akhtar, Anurag Kashyap
Cast: Rani Mukherji, Randeep Hooda, Saqib Saleem, Shivkumar Subramaniam, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Sadashiv Amrapurkar, Shubhangi Bhujbal, Naman Jain, Ranvir Shorey, Vineet Kumar, Sudhir Pandey

To type a personal paragraph(s) on what I love about films or not to type: that is the question.

Indian cinema, since its inception in 1913 has come a long way. Be it technically or professionally, whether it has made advancement in telling contemporary stories in a hard hitting fashion is not to be passed upon here. Bombay Talkies tries going in for the latter parameter and that is why you should love the film in its entirety for.

There are four directors with their own separate films, not all of them exactly revolving around cinema’s impact on us, but taking on different characters’ struggles and individual tales of varying emotions. The first one is Karan Johar’s film hedlining Rani, Randeep and the fresh Saqib from Mere Dad Ki Maruti. It starts off with a pumped up confrontational opening and his camera chasing Saqib.

With a style uncharacteristic to his, Johar maneuvers a telling tale of dysfunctional relationships and the society’s collective inability of accepting things as they are. He operates in a urban setting with the idealistic middle class mentality and equates it to the high classes’ apparent double standards. The actors save the plot from becoming clunky at times.

Dibakar Banerjee explores the chawls of Mumbai, where his protagonist (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) has a pet emu named Anjali. Oh how I love his subtle comedy! Nawazuddin plays an uninspired actor and a failed businessman (sic) with limited means to support his family. It’s his apparent gumption and the inner battles that form this amusing feature.

Sadashiv Amrapukar comes out of his spiritual and literal dumpsters to give him a reality check, obviously laced with good lines. It’s the ending that simply transcends into another dimension of its own. It is divine, fulfilling and succulent. The detailing is so brilliant along with Nawaz’s simmering performance, you rejoice every moment of his swaggering presence.

Post interval, Zoya Akhtar follows up with her story of a small family whose patriarch wants his son to get ‘tough’ by making him attend football sessions in school by sacrificing the daughter’s allowance for a history trip. The boy is enamored by Katrina Kaif and wants to emulate her dance performances in his fantasyland.

The approach for establishing plot devices is a bit faulty and rushed at times, but what Akhtar captures beautifully is the sibling’s relationship. It’s a simple I-look-your-back-you-look-mine one, but it’s charming, delightful and uh, heartwarming! Kaif delivers a special message in a fairy outfit and that is an added incentive to the joyful end of this film.

Indians love their films and they worship their actors with reverence and treat them as an abstract family member. Kashyap’s film is just about that. A son carries a jar of Murabba for his father’s idol (Amitabh Bachchan) to Mumbai. The reasoning for this task is what crazy fan fictions are made up of. Vineet Kumar plays the Bachchan obsessed Sudhir Pandey’s son Vijay.

He makes his trip to Mumbai from Allahabad to realize there are just a two dozen strong other Vijays hanging outside Bachchan’s house, awaiting their chance to have a few moments with The Man. Again, the finish scene with Kumar’s return to his father is purely frolicky.

Karan Johar and Anurag Kashyap work a dark and cheery screenplay respectively; not their customary styles, which could cause some disappointments or surprise among their loyal viewers who could be expecting something more of the usual. I count it as one of the film’s strengths and a welcome change.

Altogether, Bombay Talkies is a great tribute that doesn’t focus on being one. And that is why it turns out to be so good.

My rating: **** (4 out of 5 stars) 

Shanghai


Shanghai
Release Date: June 8, 2012
Directed by: Dibakar Banerjee
Cast: Abhay Deol, Kalki Koechlin, Emraan Hashmi, Farooq Shaikh, Pitobash, Prasenjit Chatterjee, Tillotama Shome

Before I start this, as the film progressed in the second half, I heard a few carcasses mumble, “Kabhi experiment nahi karunga next time. Masala film hi dekhni chahiye thi.” (I shouldn’t walk in to serious films that revolve around a certain plot. I should have gone in for some song-dance rubbish.)
A minute later, one of them finally said, “Isse acha to Rowdy Rathore dekhne jaate the.” (We should have rather gone for Rowdy Rathore) That’s where I loudly grunted “Oh Bhenchod!” Five minutes later, everyone starts clapping at a line from the film. Vindication perhaps.

Let’s start rolling now. For a change, we see our frontal characters driven by a certain reason for what they do in this film. May it be personal vendetta, lust, love or simply anger. Shanghai goes on to show how actually how all of us become a part of a bandwagon, unknowingly, that could possibly steer into a dark abyss. The tone of the film remains subtle, right from the background score to the performances put in by the protagonists.

The editing is as crisp as a Sada Dosa. The characters’ self-reflective moments aren’t strapped with a thick voice-over, instead, there are pauses. The defining seconds that Shalini Sahay (Kalki) uses to think upon the foreseen deterioration of circumstances, or that small moment where T.A. Krishnan (Abhay Deol) goes back in his seat to take the morally right way or the idyllic path, this is how Shanghai works. Jogi Parmar (Emraan Hashmi) has perhaps one of the most layered and complex persona. You see him  dancing, videotaping and running. All with a blitzkrieg of ragingly different emotions.

Dibakar Banerjee assorts pieces of his script and puts together a boiling exclamation point, that could be deciphered as a question mark as well. The modern political debauchery is handled with the utmost irrelevance that it deserves. Nikos Andritsakis’s camera work and Namrata Rao’s editing get the hat-tips along with Abhay Deol’s perfect depiction of a South Indian. Again, he doesn’t go overboard, but he gets every detail right.

No bottom lines here, Shanghai is the winner.

My rating: **** (4 out of 5) 

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