Posts Tagged ‘ Yash Chopra ’

Celluloid Man

celluloid-man-poster
Celluloid Man
Release date: May 3, 2013
Directed by: Shivendra Singh Dungarpur
Cast: P.K. Nair, Krzysztof Zanussi, Naseeruddin Shah, Saeed Akhtar Mirza, Jaya Bachchan, Rajkumar Hirani, Jahnu Barua, Balu Mahendra, Basu Chatterjee, Mrinal Sen, Santosh Sivan, Kumar Shahani, Ketan Mehta, Shyam Benegal, Girish Kasaravalli, Yash Chopra, Kamal Haasan, Ramesh Sippy, Mahesh Bhatt, Gulzar, Vidhu Vinod Chopra, Hariharan

Celluloid Man is about Paramesh Krishnan Nair’s undying passion for preserving India’s earliest films and going to unknown extents to acquire that one particular print of a forgotten movie. His said love wasn’t limited to the smell of nitrate films, it was way more intimate.

As Nair walks into the opening frame with his walking stick, he describes the years that have passed on in terms of his cinematic journey. He calls his initial fascination as a wonderment at the magic of moving images; his working years driven by an obsession and how he’s learnt to understand people better with his knowledge of cinema. He cuts a soft-spoken yet no-nonsense figure. And that’s how his students/friends have always known him to be.

Interspersed with clips from Hindi film industry’s earliest marvels – be it Dadasaheb Phalke’s Raja Harishchandra and Kaliya Mardan, or Bombay Talkies features like Jeevan Naiyya, Achhut Kanya and Kismet or S.S. Vasan’s Chandralekha – all of these being his acquisitions for the National Archives, a visual evolution of Indian cinema is on display along with Nair’s personal course. Not only the specifically relevant ones, but also the “C films” find a place here. Just how the man says it, you can have a rich past only when you have a rich history.

Jaya Bachchan reminisces the time when she was the only girl allowed to sit for the late night screenings with a handful of others in FTII (Film and Television Institute of India) Pune because she was the only one who’d actually attend the screenings and not go around gallivanting. Naseeruddin Shah has more than just one tale to tell. Balu Mahendra cherishes the times when he got to sit for the early morning first viewings of the newly brought in world cinema reels, “I would be watching a Norwegian film with the toothbrush in my mouth.” The personal anecdotes and experiences by stalwarts and Nair’s admirers are numerous and beautifully interesting.

The biographical documentary soon turned into a relatable story for me as I have the same habit as that of Nair’s, that is of collecting movie tickets as souvenirs. Dungarpur uses a lot of scenes from various films archives to resonate the feelings of the situations and facts in his film. Echoing screams of “I want to live” in Bengali from Ritwik Ghatak’s Meghe Dhaka Tara superimposed on stills of cobwebs hanging around celluloid reels in a lonely section of the archives, thus creating a deafening metaphor.

The Heggodu Movement begun by theater activist KV Subanna for the purpose of making the disconnected rural audiences familiar with the magnificence of Bicycle Thieves and Rashomon is also vividly recalled by the members of the participating audience members. A short montage in the later timeline depicts major themes like song, dance, action, romance and brace yourselves, members of the self-righteous moral police, full frontal Kissing from the films of black and white days. The most grande scene is perhaps the one with Nair mouthing off lines from Citizen Kane while the film plays on the screen behind him.

Just like how Mr. Nair didn’t discriminate on any basis while collecting films for the archive, Celluloid Man is an important film from a historical and cultural standpoint. It weaves his larger than life affair with cinema, simultaneously painting a picture of the sorry state of archiving as a wholly neglected activity in India. May 3, 2013 marks hundred years of Indian cinema and this film makes for compulsory viewing from every person who’s ever enjoyed a moment of theatrical magic in any form.

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

Jab Tak Hai Jaan


Jab Tak Hai Jaan
Release date: November 13, 2012
Directed by: Yash Chopra
Cast: Shahrukh Khan, Katrina Kaif, Anushka Sharma

Placed in the midst of ginormous expectations and sour comments over the initial release of its videos, Jab Tak Hai Jaan had a lot of roadblocks as challenges in its way, even before hitting the screens. Did it live up to the expectations? Sure, read on!

Set in London around 10 years ago, Samar Anand (Shahrukh Khan) is a youngster who’s looking for a job to break his family tradition of being an officer in the army because his mother doesn’t want any more military deaths in her family. Or so he says. He does odd jobs and tries to earn as much as he can. And while doing one such cleaning job, he comes across Meera Thapad (Katrina Kaif) heading into a church. She’s got her own way with God where she asks for things and gives up a thing in return to please him.

After a song and a rare smoking sequence featuring our lead actress in her engagement dress, Meera and Samar have their first real conversation. Along the way they pull off the brilliantly captured dance sequence preceding Ishq Shava and the scenery around it. Katrina dances with much oomph and you are pretty much shocked. This is where the protagonists’  feelings get convoluted and the much obscure hurdles now start surfacing. There are no tyrannical fathers and uncles, but there are spiritual (?) issues.

Akira (Anushka Sharma) is a peppy, self-proclaimed ‘heartless bitch’ who bears a stark contrast to Samar and Meera’s approach to love and relationships. She’s not scared of jumping out of relationships and doesn’t care about anything beyond sex.  And she isn’t scared of jumping into ice-cold water for a dare too! Uh, okay. Akira is acquainted with a much calm and serious layer of Samar’s personality as now he defuses bombs without protective gear. But he has his reasons for that. She’s intrigued about him and decides to share this story of a fearless man who’s diffused 98 bombs so far.

What you see in this plot isn’t hunky-dory bubblegum material crap, you get to watch people in their actual habitats: cussing, enjoying, kissing and sharing private humor. Which is where the strength of the film lies, the women aren’t insecure about their man’s choices, and independent in their own element. Meera is grounded yet confident about her decisions, Akira flirts to the extent of picking up Samar to make him get into his element. Yes, there’s the part where Samar calls Akira by ‘Kurosawa’.

Anil Mehta’s cinematography is brilliant and so artistically pleasing that sometimes, you forget there’s also a floundering story playing on the same screen. More than the music, the instrumental theme of JTHJ is more catchy and melodious. Even Challa isn’t a video capturing London’s scenery, it serves a purpose and yes, Shahrukh strums the guitar when the guitar’s playing in the back, unlike the cutsized promos. Saans shows you immaculate chemistry between the characters and I’ve already praised the entire Ishq Shava sequence. There’s light witty comedy as well, but it’s only subtle.

Yash Chopra shows how he’s evolved since his last film Veer-Zaara, he doesn’t hold back from letting his characters cuss like youngsters usually do and making them unpretentious and more real. There is no dancing around trees in chiffon sarees for the heroines and no cringe-in-your-seat moment. Shahrukh shows the shift in his character’s evolution with charm, Katrina looks like a million bucks and retains the grace associated with quintessential Yashraj heroines. Anushka plays her chirpy and upfront brash character smoothly.

Finally, Jab Tak Hai Jaan is a love story based on the conflict between a woman’s beliefs and love, and a man’s undying passion. It’s a film laced with its own imperfections and pivotal flaws with the screenplay, although perfectly finished in many departments. Yashji’s final outing as a director is quite watchable.

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

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