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Tumbbad Movie Review (2018) | Can’t Stop Thinking About It

What an extraordinary piece! Tumbbad movie is a consequence of superlative imagination. It blends with mythology to create a tale of horror to teach us life’s most valuable lesson. Tumbbad is reflective of exemplary human nature, of how greed swallows a person alive, that one should know better when to end it or it ends up ending you.

For a movie that took a difficult course of time, Tumbbad does remarkably well for itself releasing in a forefront that feels like its very own. Yes, times are changing in India. People are beginning to witness and appreciate this ingenuine paradigm shift in Indian Cinema, giving opportunities to intelligent movies like Andhadhun and shunning dumb mainstream cinema that has forever acted as an underlying inescapable root. It just feels great to be thriving in such times.

The Theme of Tumbbad movie

Tumbbad movie impregnates in such a womb as it takes down the perspective of a common man high on greed. What would you do when you discover a full proof way to earn infinite gold? Wouldn’t you be, I don’t know, all over it? The theme of Tumbbad movie drives itself on it, never losing sight of the mission it wishes to accomplish. Greed is a curse and we are cursed to feel it gnawing into our soul. It is a decision we have to make to look past it, if we really want to have a shot at living or we end up digging further into a web that swallows us whole.

Goes without saying, it is an ingenious thought to have imagined Tumbbad . To bring it to the big screen is an effort per se. Don’t get me even started on its casting or even finding Sohum Shah as the producer. Tumbbad movie was brilliantly crafted with all the resources at hand.

One could not appreciate its writers Mitesh Shah, Adesh Prasad, Rahi Anil Barve, and  Anand Gandhi enough. Rahi, Anand, and Adesh who have helmed this concept into cinema did us all a tremendous favour by never letting this story go. Even though it took a lot of time to reach us, what matters, in the end, is that it finally made it.

The Plot of Tumbbad Movie (Spoilers)

The plot of the story primarily explores a man Vinayak (Sohum Shah), who brings gold coins secretively from a village called Tumbbad.

Where is the gold coming from? How is he getting rich?

The cardinal story is kept under the wraps for a majority of its run, mentioned only in passing in its prologue. It keeps you riveted so as to prepare you before dropping the bomb on you.

Tumbbad movie sohum sinha

Vinayak leads a prodigious life, so grand that he even begins to loan money to his loaner Deepak Damle. Curious as to how Vinayak has been coming up with all that insane amount of ‘mudras’, one day Deepak tracks him down to Tumbbad to the dilapidated palace where Vinayak’s secret lurks. Unaware of the fact that Vinayak has already figured out that Deepak is onto him, he decides not to warn him (or the audience for that to matter).

Vinayak, in his brazen contempt for others, so as to keep his secret safe from the world, lets Deepak figure out the big secret himself. He wishes to teach him a lesson. At the same time somewhere deep down he is aware of what’s going to happen.

The Curse of Hastar

So the A-bomb gets dropped on us in sheer pizzazz as we figure out how Vinayak has been ending up with the golden mudras all this time. The lore mentioned in the prologue is of a firstborn of Goddess of Prosperity named Hastar. Even though 16 crore Gods and Goddesses were born after him, Hastar remained to be her favourite.

When the Goddess of Prosperity offered him the ownership of either of the two:

  1. food
  2. gold

Hastar chose gold. Ergo, he is always hungry. His greed, however, was insatiable as he tried to fight for the ownership of food as well. A fight ensued as all of his 16 crore brothers and sisters united against him. Hastar lost in the end. When they were about to kill him, Goddess of Prosperity intervened and asked for mercy. An agreement was made that he was never to be worshipped and that his name should cease to exist.

How to Trick Hastar

Hastar found refuge in her womb where he was banished to stay forever. So we know that there’s a God (here a demon) named Hastar who is eternally hungry who would literally do anything for food. He has a bag of gold that is forever full, you know, as a metaphor for everlasting fortune.

Now, getting to gold is tricky. Somehow a circle of flour made strong with mantras cannot be broken by Hastar. It is this disadvantage that can be leveraged. So you have to basically walk in with food and offer him so that it distracts Hastar.  Then you can grab as many gold coins from his bag as you can before making a run for the exit, as Hastar stays distracted.

Understanding the Beginning

So there lived Hastar in a womb as Vinayak tapped into his existential secret from a certain cursed caretaker who had ended up becoming Hastar’s fodder. The so-called “Dadi” or Grandmother played by Piyush Kaushik tried to bring in horror aplenty to the story right in the very beginning of the Tumbbad movie.

It is assumed that the old man, who we saw being masturbated by Vinayak’s mom in the very beginning was one of those guys who knew about Hastar’s secret. He must have been regularly going down the well and into the womb, to take out coins until one day his body might have failed him.

Why was the grandmother brutally contorted and appeared like some kind of witch?

The answer to this question is that if Hastar bites you, or eats you, you end up becoming a part of Hastar’s curse. You become eternally hungry just like him, also you don’t die. For it is clear when we see Grandmother still alive after 15 years when Vinayak returns to Tumbbad to the same place where he had babysat the Granny. So you are conscious, at the same time, in eternal pain. The only way to escape that hell is through death which can only happen through fire.

Victims of Hastar

There’s a scene where we witness the face of Granny up close. There are nails on her face. People must have tried to kill her in many ways but have failed, later might have accidentally come up with the saying:

Sleep or Hastar will come.

That’s one way to make cursed victims dormant. The mere mention of Hastar scares the bejesus out of its victims and they end up going to sleep at once.

As is obvious, the grandmother might have been saved by the owner of the house, who would have then asked for a caretaker to feed her regularly (here Vinayak’s mom). Thus saving her eventually in the process.

Greed Supersedes Life

Young Vinayak is shown greedy right from the very beginning of the movie. Even after an unfortunate event takes away the life of his brother, he still doesn’t see past his greed. That he has lost something huge doesn’t affect him.

Yes, his mother too wanted to have those golden coins, but she understands it the hard way that greed is not everything. That the presence of fortune in one’s life doesn’t matter if it comes with a horrendous cost like that of losing a child.

Tumbbad movie rain

To ensure Vinayak understands the very concept of it, she makes him promise her not to go back to Tumbbad as they leave it. Breaking that promise after 15 years, after her mom dies of course, Vinayak ends up being drawn by greed once again. Some people don’t change.

As is depicted earlier despite being afraid of the Granny, young Vinayak still goes to her to garner knowledge about the coins. Even after he is grown up, he revisits the Tumbbad village all by himself. That just goes on to prove there is nothing in the world that could scare a person if he has greed written all over him.

Greed Beats Fear

Greed has blinded him so much that he fails to see the sheer horror that he brings the coins from. Literally tricking a God, a demonic entity, to serve his purpose. He is fighting for his life as he barely escapes making an exit in the nick of time via a rope. The sheer horror of it all! And yet he does it religiously without failing. What makes him do that? Greed is the answer.

So he has been asking his wife to make some dough, add some stones to it so it becomes harder for Hastar to chew upon, and then makes a circle in the center of the womb so the demon doesn’t enter it. He then throws the dough, Hastar goes after it, and as he stays distracted, he grabs as many coins as he can before making a run for it.

It’s like a regular regime and we see him getting insanely rich in no time.

Vinayak’s Son

Tumbbad movie becomes all the more interesting as it paces forward. Your head is already trying to reckon what would happen in the long run. What if Vinayak grows old? Enters Vinayak’s son into the equation as he is being trained right from the very beginning on how to steal coins from a statue that looks like Hastar. The child has no idea what he is getting into but is being prepared nevertheless, trained to be a part of someone’s greed.

This part makes you wonder how we subject something similar to our kids. You know, prepare them upfront to fight a battle they have no idea about. Honestly, we prep them up for the sake of our own benefits. We are moulding them, training them through schools and institutes so that one day they become good enough to earn us money.

They have the faintest clue of what they are getting into. They are just bothered about that look of satisfaction in their parent’s eyes the only reason they do what they do.

The Analogy of a Job

There’s disappointment in his father’s orbs as he tries his level best to prove his worth. His innocent eyes are constantly thinking:

How would I make my father happy? Why am I not good enough? What is good enough for father?

Finally, that dreaded day arrives when Vinayak goes low on resources, that it becomes important for him to acquaint his son to the job he does, in order to continue the inflow. The obedient child follows, still hopeful and without a clue about the horrors, he is about to witness.

I can’t help but imagine a child being asked to grow up and start earning for the family. Doing what his father does, make a living. There’s an apparent simile here that cannot be overlooked. Little does he know that he would be slaughtered and butchered by his bosses, a ruthless punishing world that would swallow him whole, and yet he is being thrown into the pit as the real intent is to make a man out of him.

Son’s First Run

His son’s first run happens then as Vinayak fills him in on the details about Hastar. Even though he hasn’t seen the demon in person, the son is pretty hopeful he wouldn’t disappoint his father. Vinayak keeps the first run as practice and so hasn’t brought any dough with him, but his smart ass son ends up sneaking some dough. In his defense, he had no knowledge about the life-threatening ordeal inside.

They narrowly escape as his son grabs up some coins to make his father happy. But is thrashed badly for not listening to his father in the first place. However, the son is a huge hit later on as the father-son duo keep making visits for the golden coins.

tumbbad movie vinayak and son

Vinayak finally acknowledges his son’s worth appreciating his efforts and the intelligence he retains, even admiring his avarice and lust for it reminds him of himself. The madding desire that he sees in him is like a self-reflection which is appreciated only till the day the son sets his eyes on Vinayak’s girl.

Shortcuts in Life

In midst of one fine day thrashing, his son comes with a brilliant idea of taking enough money all at once instead of scrounging for few coins every now and then. He suggests they go with plenty of dough balls so as to buy enough time to steal all the gold coins from Hastar’s pouch.

Acting upon it instantly the father-son duo reach the womb with a lot of dough balls. But to their surprise, the plan backfires. Hastar multiplies and takes as many forms as there were dough balls. It was something they didn’t foresee and they end up getting stranded in the womb.

The Symbolism of the Multiplication

It is almost as if it is saying that just like how greed multiplies, its consequence too multiplies accordingly. And it’s a neverending cycle of rapacity that only satiates when you decide to get out of that circle. If you don’t, it keeps on spreading its wings as you spread yours.

There are no shortcuts in life. You have to go the hard way sometimes even if it appears punishing. The plan to outsmart Hastar ends up outsmarting them, as the duo end up stranded inside the circle to a leering cavalcade of Hastars.

On seeing no way out, as the son goes for a quick nap, Vinayak ties all the dough on himself and makes a run for it thus diverting all the attack towards him. He gets devoured even though he ends up killing all the Hastars in a single go by forcing them to cross another circle he had created outside the well.

It’s a sad end for Vinayak as he pays the price for his greed at the same time goes for penance eventually. As a lesson learned, we see Vinayak’s son destroying Vinayak’s cadaver with fire after he has turned into one of those cursed disfigured victims of Hastar. The disfigured Vinayak offers gold but the son finally sees past it and for the first time does the right thing.

Sohum Shah as an Actor

It would be hard not to finish this account without talking about Sohum Shah’s acting in the Tumbbad movie. He is hands down brilliant. There is so much confidence seeping through him in his portrayal of Vinayak that he brings to mind an image of Ranveer Singh from Bajirao Mastani. Extraordinary acting by the bloke. He makes his character that of a tweener, something you can hate and love at the same time.

If you take a good look at Tumbbad movie, Sohum is one of the major driving forces that take the movie forward. His acting is really intense and sets a benchmark that’s hard to beat. Lost in his character, he brings just the right expressions that dictate the mood. He is impactful with his words and executes them in a deafening roar. Just the right actor who could have done a character like that of Vinayak justice.

tumbbad movie still of sohum shah

Some Issues

Places, where the Tumbbad movie fails to score, is the creation of its characters. They are all paper-thin. You sense of a lack of emotions in a lot of places. It is as if it is all happening in a different world, away from this one. Most of the shots are very close to the body forcing you to see only what needs to be shown.

Then there is that being afraid quotient. Even when we see them facing real horror none of the characters in the movie are really scared. However dreadful the milieu was created, it ended up becoming not so. There was something missing in the child’s perspective that the filmmakers failed to understand.

For instance, you take Vinayak’s son into account, he is only terrified for a moment. For a kid that age it would have been absolutely heart-numbing or even next to impossible to face a demon. Yet he does so as if he weren’t a child. Same goes for young Vinayak when he was about to face the Grandmother. The horror in that portion, even though had a great build up, wasn’t leveraged to the maximum.

Music and Cinematography of Tumbbad Movie

Tumbbad movie hires Jesper Kyd, the legendary composer for its music. The score produced is absolutely ravishing. Horror finds a direction owing to Jesper’s brilliant compositions. They are terrifying at times, so powerful to jump scare you out of your seats. At the same time, they are also very soothing when it is gelling up with the story and helping it to move forward.

At every juncture, however, you feel it play. Kyd’s music is so prominent that it aggrandizes the story giving it a palpable form that it needs.

Then there is the stunning cinematography of Tumbbad that is top-notch throughout. Some of the scenes are so brilliant that it picks you up and places you directly in the village. They are quite coarse and exhume a naturalistic feel.

The Final Verdict

Tumbbad movie is part horror and part mytho woven gorgeously to teach us a lesson. Apart from being what it already is, the movie forces you to think how it relates to our lives so much.

The period thriller compels us to compare it with our lives. It is hard not to tack it against reality. With the chore of getting a gold coin, being a pain-inflicting job one has to go to every day, the movie forces you to reflect on what we are doing on a day to day basis.

If we strive for more, we will have to face its repercussions. There should be no greed dictating our gait. Our primal focus should be not on the materialistic world but on all the things that supersede it. Be it be a life, emotions or health. Hold them close together and let go of this yearning to have more. Coz nothing remains!

Tumbbad movie is one of a kind, a rare original gem that Indian Cinema has produced. It has a plot that would forever play in your head and you would be constantly finding yourself discussing it with your peers. It’s just that powerful!

Check out the trailer of Tumbbad movie:

Andhadhun Movie Review (2018) | Artistry at its Best

Epic deliverance! Andhadhun movie has been written beautifully and directed just so. The director, Sriram Raghavan, has done a fabulous job filling it up with thrill galore as it embroils and leverages the blind situation to the maximum. The story of Andhadhun movie is layered with wild ups and downs having plenty of twists to keep you riveted. You are constantly wondering what’s going to happen next as the improbable keeps giving you mini-heart attacks.

The writing credits go to an ensemble of artists who have cooked an extremely scrumptious meal. What a well-woven plot by Sriram, Arijit BiswasYogesh ChandekarHemanth Rao and Pooja Ladha Surti. You can’t applaud them enough for plotting such a brilliant storyline where adventure barely stops to breathe.

Andhadhun leaves a lot of questions open, compelling you to think about which part of the story being narrated by the protagonist is true and which parts are fantasized for vindication. As you keep brooding about the plot, you can’t help but wonder there are countless elements in the story that could all well be the protagonist’s creation, that only some part of what was being shown could have been true.

In doing all of it, Andhadhun movie goes on to justify what it had ambitiously decided to scour for in the first place. Its primal tagline:

Every artist has a secret.

Tabu as Simi

What hits you almost immediately is Tabu’s acting! She is simply superb as Simi. Blows you right away! Reeking of villainy she is one of those cardinal antagonists who stand out as necessary, literally driving the story forward with such wild innocence on her face that she feels gorgeous and venomous all at the same time.

She walks in with these realistic vibes that you forget who she is in reality, and start believing her to be this twisted character who is willing to do anything to set things right.

andhadhun movie still

Tabu gets completely lost in this new character of hers with a rare innocent charm that you almost feel like forgiving her for being diabolical. She gives the story exactly what it needs and remains the driving force of Andhadhun Movie. Wouldn’t be wrong to call her, hands down, the heart and soul of the flick. Without her presence, the movie wouldn’t have been as much fun.

Ayushmann Khurrana as Akash (Spoilers)

Standing with his claws open on the other end is another winner portrayed by Ayushmann Khurrana. His character of Akash is an interesting piece per se. He is an artist who poses as a blind man who seeks to draw inspiration from nature’s sounds with hopes to complete a musical piece. In doing so he gets entangled in part of a murder mystery, him being the only witness to it. As guilt gnaws on his soul, he becomes torn between doing the right thing and keeping up the ruse.

His character is one that you relate with the most. Primarily because it doesn’t appear to do any harm in the first place and it’s the perspective of a hero that you are witnessing. You have secretly placed yourself in the shoes of Akash wondering how unfortunate of him to be caught in a situation like that.

But then you realize that the movie primarily starts with a narration. That it is a story being told by Akash and is basically his perspective, chugging the engines of storytelling, giving it a direction. Then the question becomes which part should be taken for real?

Other Characters

Manav Vij is another great actor bedecking the ensemble with his presence. He brings this crooked masculinity to the story by posing as Simi’s lover, Inspector Mahendra, never dropping his guard as a powerhouse of corruption. You are at all times scared of what he might do even though there is a comic element housed in his acts.

Then you cannot forget what characters of Manushi (Chhaya Kadam) and Doctor Swami (Zakir Hussain) drill in at a time when you are thinking that maybe the adventure is about to get over. They bring their very own taste of greed to the already messed up story proving once again how fickle money can make you.

They play people without a conscience those who are so well engulfed in a money deprived society, you know, the unlucky ones who are corrupt owing to their big dreams and with little resources to turn them into a reality.

still of Ayushmann Khurrana and Radhika Apte in Andhadhun

Then one that wasn’t that memorable was that of Sofie played by Radhika Apte. Given her past records, this role didn’t demand much of her. She ended up being sidelined here since any other actress could have done her part. It was a small role for a big actress like her.

The Editing of Andhadhun Movie

There are moments when you feel editing to be desperate. Like there has been unnecessary chopping of frames where sentences don’t feel finished. Even so, the movie trundles on brushing things off your head, making you focus on what’s ahead. Once the story begins unfolding and you become engaged, every trivial shortcoming obliterates in thin air. That being said, at times the editing is great too, getting straight to the point wobbling towards the finish where it merges with the prologue.

Some building shots filmed are constant as if the director had asked a particular scene to be filmed in a singular succession. Like an empty shot from the top of the floor, that was later filled with a dead body.

Then there are some scenes that make you wonder how much amount of effort might have gone into it, that a cavalcade of fans might have tried to disrupt. Those are the best ones!

You cannot ignore the fact that the movie becomes badly in need of a direction at a later stage where the adventure seems to come to a halt all of a sudden. You are forced to wonder out loud whatever happened to the lives of all those crucial characters in the story? There is no finish line visible as it goes on to rant without revisiting its characters.

The final moments seem to be taken straight from La La Land where Sofie finds the big shot pianist Akash playing in a restaurant for an English crowd. Even though Sriram decides to let him complete his rendition, and insinuates that the unfulfilled artist is finally fulfilled, it ends up slaving away a lot of effort. You could argue he did it so that he could let things sieve in waiting for the ending which was imminent.

Some Issues in Andhadhun Movie

Amongst some drawbacks, I would say, you can say our CGI still needs a lot of work. In the prologue section, we witness a poorly animated bunny (so no animals were harmed in the making of this movie) that doesn’t feel is in the same screen as its predator. We are still a mile behind when it comes to CGI and it’s evident during such shots.

Then you can’t help but talk about the chemistry of Akash and Sofie which seemed to be tight early on but then loses its charm midway. She ends up becoming a forgotten affair for not being a part of the narration.  The movie tries to cash in on it earlier but you could tell it was never about the love story. It was so fake that even when Sofie sadly remarks that she was leaving, you could sense that their relationship was a goner the moment she had discovered Akash with Simi, which again brings back the question did Akash really not sleep with Simi? After all, what we saw was the perspective of a fallen lover trying to acquit himself of the one crime he had committed. To what lengths could he go? That remains the main question.

The fact that the police can’t be trusted remains one of those boldly flared issues in a corrupt setup where the lawless is the law. Where would you turn toward? What’s really right? Even though the movie does so for its story, you are secretly wondering what would you do if you were put in a position like that? Can you really take all the risks that Akash took? Or approach someone bigger in the chain of law to deliver a finisher to a corrupt cop and his girlfriend who couldn’t stop committing crimes.

Leaving Dozen Threads Open

The ending of Andhadhun movie is akin to Hollywood style finish where the viewer is thrown into a fierce whirlwind of questions. Akash hits a can away resting speculations as to whether he is really blind or not. It is almost shouting out loud that he has seen so much that it is better to voluntarily choose blind.

But then you can’t help but wonder about the symbolism of a rabbit? Through the head of the probing cane that Akash forgets in the restaurant, Sriram tries to make a subtle remark. That the rabbit part could have been Akash’s creation, (why rabbit? maybe he had a thing for rabbits) and that there was no accident and that since his corneas matched with that of Simi’s he went on to get his eyes back sacrificing Simi in the process.

Andhadhun movie wallpaper

Buying Akash’s Story

Then you cannot help but wonder if one could really go blind with a medicine, can you? Really? Why buy into that story? I like to personally think that none of it happened and Akash created the whole story to win Sofie back that he did really sleep with Simi who was on the lookout for a quick sympathy sex.

Characters of doctors and Manushi seem far-fetched, and Akash posing as a hero feels unlikely too. It is highly probable that Akash could have accidentally or deliberately (you never know) killed Simi, then informed Mahendra’s wife Rasika (Ashwini Kalsekar) which he actually did to punish the corrupt cop to stop his wild pursuit.

Then there is the question of Pramod Sinha (Anil Dhawan). Did he really shoot himself? We had just taken the word of Simi who had said that it was an accident. How do we take her for real?

Bottomline – Andhadhun is a good movie since it forces you to think all such theories.

The Final Verdict

Ayushman chooses his projects carefully and so far the Midas touch has been checking out. Andhadhun movie is one such gold. Even though it doesn’t give you a satisfying lawful end, and it doesn’t answer a lot of questions it leaves plenty of things to the audience’s imagination.

The backdrop is set in Pune. If you have lived in the city, it feels great to identify places shown in it. If you know about what Magarpatta has turned into today, you already know about how tightened its security is. It is highly improbable that a crime of such levels could get committed today. A gunshot and nobody would hear it? Hmmph….They don’t even let the food delivery people enter the gates nowadays, it’s so bad. Anyways that’s just a perception.

Do watch this great movie for a thrilling experience. Andhadhun movie entertains you to the core.

Check out the trailer of Andhadhun movie:

October Movie Review (2018) | Falling for the Fallen

October movie is a perfect paragon that reveals how every movie is a director’s easel and that its actors only constitute a part of his/her storytelling. While Varun Dhawan has been known to make brainless movies in the past, I don’t know if it simply implies the kind of image he wishes to be associated with, but doing a Shoojit Sircar flick turns out to be a fair makeover.

It’s a pleasant change even though the role Shoojit had in mind for him was apt for a guy like Varun. It requires him to be innocent and naive which he already is. The fact that he aces it all is a wonder given his past record.

Shoojit paints him crude as Varun ends up becoming quite natural at his expressions. They seem very involved and oblivious to what’s going on. It’s good to see him in a super-realistic avatar that quite frankly suits him the most.

The Theme of October Movie

October movie is poignant. That being said, I would say it is not for everyone. If you are expecting a budding romantic love story to entertain you, then this movie is not for you. Do not go if you consider yourself a part of that audience.

The flick cashes in on crushing selfless love that depicts a one-sided love story mocking somewhere at its pointlessness, the very futility of adhering yourself to a regime, to a lost cause. What is the very definition of love? It forces you to think hard as you try to place it inside a connotation. The perspective you have grown so fond of that you don’t realize that it has become something else altogether.

Above it all, October movie places itself precariously on the edge of doubt. It builds itself on a big maybe, but isn’t that what most love stories today have been reduced to? A one-sided affair that keeps doing something for someone selflessly whilst the other one fails to acknowledge.

The Plot and Cherishable Moments (Spoilers)

Serving as the nub of October movie, in a contemporary backdrop, is a story of a 21-year-old Hotel Management trainee Danish ‘Dan’ Walia (Varun Dhawan), who isn’t good at whatever he does. Placed in a contrasting image is Shiuli Iyer (Banita Sandhu), who is the ideal student of his batch.

Everybody knows Dan, for the rebel he is, trying to mess things up, screw things up, talkative, yet with dreams to make it big. While he is just one of those friends who might come to help you when you need something, but you still can never take him seriously for the reckless image he has built in your mind, he still remains very relatable. Like that guy who is quite absent at everything for whom you never care to care about.

Shoojit cares for that guy as we see him holding the perspective of a hero. Shiuli meets an accident falling from a slippery roof that puts her in a coma. As the world begins to forget her, that same guy whom we thought was not worth much, simply can’t. He is by far the most sentient of them all. In just about two visits Dan begins to realize how badly she was affected. It kind of grows on him quickly as he begins to feel for her.

Dan slips in hope for those who begin to despair. He chooses to give a dwindling life precedence over a pointless job. Dan is one of those rare breeds who we are missing in this world. A world has come shattering down for Shiuli’s mother and the rest of her family, yet the rest of the world keeps moving on. How is that fair? Why don’t they stop? Dan stops with them and literally becomes one of them.

The Optimism

The optimism in a 21-year-old Dan is brutal when you see him hurt when Shiuli fails to recognize him. But the fact that he coherently makes it a secretive reward is just commendable. He turns it around and makes it into something good.

It is something that’s so rare. We get hurt by little things. Even when we know what to expect, and when we get it, it still crushes us, so much that we often just leave. But Dan just chooses to stay. He is always there eyeing a stranger or maybe just an acquaintance with hope.

How much world is he yet to discover? How much of it is he yet to see? Yet he chooses to be, playing his age like it ain’t a number but something very important.

Dan tries to remember what Shiuli was psyched about – night jasmines that only grew in the month of October. He brings them to her and suddenly she is resuscitated. She begins to respond even in a coma. Although it fills you with hope, October movie isn’t akin to some old Bollywood flick where the actress would spring to life owing to something the hero would do.

Instead, it is forever bolstered on all the lines that the doctor produces. It simmers in pandiculation around reality, saying this is what happens. It’s no miracle. The way the flick looks into your eyes, it is simply bold.

Painting the Reality

I loved the reality of it all, that places us directly into the world of a young trainee.

Shoojit depicts a regular 1 RK flat and how things are sieved in it. How bachelors compromise with everything while they are trying to earn a living. Why the system is deliberately made hard and how no one has the power to change it. How people can only complain about things! The occasional smoke breaks to abate the pain of a punishing livelihood. The colossal import of a small tea stall which is commonly known as tapri. Despite the revolt and the hatred, that brotherly care which seeps into your heart for the people you see regularly. It is all in there. You just have to notice.

Unable to cope up with the life he had chosen to ignore, Dan gets fired for spending too much time at the hospital, for being absent too many times from the Hotel. You can feel how much he has invested himself in something which is not his. He is fighting all those who are not doing their parts in the life of Shiuli. He points that out in his frustration when he realizes that the friend who used to accompany Shiuli all the time doesn’t even bother to visit her. Even though that friend might have been right in choosing to lead her own life, it is killing for him to see people move on so easily and forget. To leave something important from their life on a bed – still and unmoving.

Dan’s Mother

Yet another important part in the story of October movie is located at the juncture where Dan finds his estranged mother in the same tapri he used to visit. She announces her arrival with the relieving letter saying Dan has been terminated, that she is forced to pay the remaining charges to the hotel because of his incompetence.

Once again with that, she unknowingly points that Dan wasn’t good enough. Even though her story isn’t revealed, it is implied, and you understand why Dan hasn’t been going home all this time. She rushes to judgment immediately, probably her usual wont, when he refuses to answer her mother on being asked if Shiuli was her girlfriend. He deliberately lets her believe what she wishes to believe.

There is a rare beauty in not answering, in not explaining something to someone who would fail to understand. He lets her come to a conclusion, the way a majority of people who don’t understand often do. Now, she will never know. He lets himself become that talk that women often have when they are surrounded by their friends. That demeaning and degrading litter that would never sum up to anything. He doesn’t mind being a butt of the criticism and is least bothered about his image in front of his mother’s eyes.

Even better is the part where a mother to mother talk happens. Dan’s mother has always felt distant to her child. Even though she has been one of the major reasons for that, she fails to understand it. When she sees how fond Shiuli’s mother is of Dan, and how well they interact, she chooses to leave. Primarily because it crushes her to know that she would never have that with her own son.

Camera Work

One of the intriguing moments of the flick’s camera work happens when Vidya Iyer (Gitanjali Rao) is shown talking to Dan’s silhouette. The director deliberately chooses to not capture Dan in the same frame. It is her moment, it is her shot, her realization of the fact that Dan has been around for too long. In her selfishness to get Shiuli as much help as she needed, she has completely overlooked Dan’s life. She decides to do the right thing and commands Dan to leave, and lead his own life and amount to something.

Never for a second do we see Dan in the same frame, but we can only imagine from the calmness of the silhouette of what emotions are playing on his face. Of how hard it is for him to let it go, and yet he chooses to do that because he was asked of, ordered too. He obeys like an obedient child listening to ‘Shiuli’s’ mother.

The Eventuality

October movie takes a shot at hope, plays along with it, but eventually slips into despair again. If it makes you sad, and you are thinking it’s not fair, let me just quickly dab the reality throttle once again. That’s life. Life is unfair. One moment you are thinking you have got it, the other moment it surprises you and shoots you down.

There is a scene right before the end that makes you ponder. When Shiuli is looking at Dan as he is putting her to bed, you are thinking all that hard work has finally paid off, since she has accepted Dan’s unrequited love. That she has begin to see him in the same light as Dan’s.

still of banita sandhu looking at varun dhawan in october movie

But then the unthinkable happens when he begins to leave and you realize that Shiuli is already feeling that void even though nothing shows on her face. The next moment is a precarious dream where Shiuli is in the front-yard staring at Dan as he wakes up. It feels like a final goodbye, and so it is.

The Fallen Flower

Dan crashes as he was supposed to, or maybe how things were destined to. In an epilogue of sorts in the conversation between Vidya and Dan, the import of flowers in the life of Shiuli gets discussed, and the real comparison between her life and the flower is made. Maybe Shiuli was like the same flower that comes and goes spreading momentary love.

This makes me want to take you to the name of the movie all over again. The night jasmine flower is also called Shiuli. It is a rare breed that blooms for just a month (October, you guessed right) before withering away. It is a flower that you see only when it has fallen. You barely stop to notice it, if it’s not in your path. They take away the barrenness of the earth and turns it into something beautiful. That’s what compels you to notice – the beauty and the smell.

Shiuli Iyer, the fallen girl, is just like that flower that Dan failed to notice when she was around. He only began to pay attention when she fell, to observe her when she played dead.

Basing a Justification on a Lie

Probably the most infuriating feeling in the flick is that of Dan’s concept of love. But if you think of it, that’s how and what love is to a kid that age. He bases his life and what comes after on a lie, that Shiuli was in love with Dan, which was so not true.

But was it just it? Even if Shiuli would have woken up and explained that she was just asking about him casually, Dan would have still found optimism in her statement, would have still done everything that he did, primarily because he was more people than people. More humane than everything that calls itself that.

Where is Dan?

The aforementioned line is just a trigger that gets him to look at her in a way he had never looked at her. He had overlooked Shiuli all along, and then with that one-liner and her fallen fate, just like a fallen jasmine flower in one’s way, he begins to look at her. When he watches her closely and imagines her life, more love ensues.

It was intentional and subtly crafted, and I revere Juhi Chaturvedi even more for thinking that through.

The Final Verdict

October movie oscillates with hope and despair. Even though it evokes a sense of pathos, you realize that you can’t feel anything for Shiuli since you don’t know her for that long. So, the tides somehow feel unjustified. It is one of those aspects that stops the movie from becoming heart-rending.

Yes, if you think about how intelligently and how poetically it has been fabricated, October movie hits a home run. Absolutely loved it, but then again it is not for everyone. Definitely not for mainstreamers.

Check out other movie reviews from the Indian Film Industry.

Padmaavat Movie Review (2018) | You Can’t Sunder a Movie From Its Audience

What could you possibly say for a movie that’s dying to be seen? Trying to breathe in a world that is not of its time. Padmaavat movie tried hard to be seen, finally battled its way to fruition and was successful in slapping itself on the big screen, to the very place where it belonged. A movie should be watched because it is meant to be, just like a book that always manages to find a reader. We understand the very purpose of it, the very essence of its creation. You cannot stop what’s destined.

Padmaavat was a fully flawed movie with plenty of mistakes. It housed issues aplenty but did it deserve all the hate even before it made its way to the theatres? All I could remember is resonance. People who did not even know the supposedly esteemed woman, resonated at the same frequency of the mass. A perfect paragon of what our society is – a brainless resonating blob. Incapable of thinking their own minds out loud. We are not afraid of what we might say, but how one would react to it. And if we are on the same pedestal then we have a means to rise up strong.

Deepika Padukone as Rani Padmaavati in Padmavat

Why does it affect us? Why does any of it affect us? If a person whom we haven’t seen is revered so much, why not a person who we see deserve our reverence? Are we supposed to wait for our veneration, say about a generation? Are we supposed to wait for our voice to echo and be effectual, about a lifetime? Can we only talk about the dead when they are gone so that they don’t have a say in what we do?

It goes without saying that a billion of us wouldn’t even know who Padmavati was unless someone either wrote about it or made a movie on that topic. I think to remember is to pay tribute, and that should be it.

The Brilliance of Padmaavat Movie

Before getting into what issues Padmaavat movie had, I would like to celebrate it, not only for coming out strong from a place of death and destruction but also for standing tall as a victor. There are no Senas capable enough to fight the educated part of the country, who are aware of the rights, and who stand by the constitution and respect it more than an unfortunate story. Those who have watched it despite the threats are the true victors. You showed ’em, alright!

What truly stands out in Sanjay Leela Bhansali‘s movies is its screenplay and its dialogues. I was looking forward to that bit in particular. And must I say, I wasn’t at all disappointed. They were extremely well written by, apparently, a poet who understands what it is to bind a word. His words have been well converted and they feel music to the ears. They are very descriptive and poetic in nature.

Ranveer Singh as Khilji

SLB scores yet again in theatricalization of even a normal conversation. But sometimes he overdoes it, which I would talk about in the next section. The next big thing about the flick was, hands down, Ranveer Singh as Sultan Alauddin Khilji. He recreated the magic that he had created in Bajirao Mastani. His acting is by far the best we have seen, and it is amazing that he has fallen under SLB’s stamp. He is one of the only great things about Padmaavat movie. He literally makes every scene lively.

Ranveer has been branded and presented as a mad dog whose hunger for winning wars was peerless. If there was a better actor he would have probably failed to give Khilji that touch of finesse that Ranveer so brilliantly aces. He has that natural knack for it, that getting into the skin of Khilji didn’t seem like much of a problem for him.

still of Ranveer Singh as Khilji in Padmaavat movie

One cannot also overlook his energy which is simply hard to match. Even with its songs that play as celebrations, he is so committed to the role that you don’t see him fidgeting at all, even when you realize that SLB has deliberately asked him to look at the camera while dancing. A well-choreographed move to instill immediate intimidation and admiration for all those frantic moves. (Okay, they were maybe a tad funny!)

Funny reminds me of Jim Sarbh‘s performance as Malik Kafur. Somehow his being out of place fitted him extremely well in the Padmaavat movie. He aced his performance as a man trying to find his ground despite being invariably close to Khilji.

Then there is the presentation which as a matter of fact stands precariously at the edge of good and bad. There were some epic scenes that make you marvel at SLB’s creation. But then again there were some scenes that you somehow know could have been shot better.

Issues with Padmaavat Movie

While there were a lot of things to mesmerize you in Padmaavat movie, there were many that leave you pointing fingers at the filmmaking. Cinematography, for instance, wasn’t that great, to be honest. You don’t see the cinematographer panning with characters, or experimenting with the edits. It is kept fairly simple and distant. The latter is something that is quite frankly miffing. Like a scene at the beginning where Ranveer walks in dancing, the camera has been kept really far that takes away the life from his dancing. Sadly, that has been done throughout the movie. Bottom-line, the judgment of cinematography was really poor.

Then there is that bad VFX that literally pops out and pricks your eyes. I mean how hard is it for a widely popular director to hire someone from Hollywood to get it right? Don’t tell me he was running low on resources. That ostrich looked like an unreal animated snake!

Then you cannot overlook the evident set in the first meeting of Padmaavat and Maharawal Ratan Singh (Shahid Kapoor). You could literally feel the floodlights illuminating the make-believe jungle. A laughable mistake is that Deepika Padukone has been deliberately “painted” white by the VFX team. In every scene, since the talk is about how beautiful Padmaavat is, she has been intentionally shone like a star. It is alright to stay human, you know! 😀 There is one scene where there is a fire burning in the room which is clearly hitting Shahid’s face but not a flame of warmth or light hits her face. She appears dead white! Ah! the obsession with being fair continues.

Lack of Chemsitry

While there is something really soothing about watching Padmavati slap colors on Ratan Singh in an unearthly artistry and fashion, what you cannot overlook is how hollow it feels. It appears as if there was someone watching them do it and they are supposed to be as presentable as they could be. They cannot be themselves. In doing all of that, both the actors miss out on their chemistry. They look not in love rather like robots put in a scene to enact the presentable. In their endeavour to remove the uggos, they become unnatural.

Shahid Kapoor as Ratan Singh in Padmaavat

Then it was Shahid Kapoor himself who felt like a robot Ratan Singh. He was impossible to believe. Apart from the parts where he had had sudden outbursts at Khilji and Padmavati, you don’t see him acting really. He was just standing there trying hard not to screw up and mess his perfect mustache.

Misplaced Poetry in Padmaavat Movie

The final moments where Padmaavati decides to burn herself along with hundred others, that scene I think ended up losing its gargantuan import. There is something huge about voluntarily putting yourself into the fire. Not only does it take balls to do that but it also walks in with apprehension. The audience couldn’t feel their skin tingle as she made her way into the pyre, I think the whole point was lost if you fail to elicit gasps.

You have to make them believe it is fire. (VFX guys you screwed it up again!) What it could do to you, despite that knowledge you are plunging into it, it is something inexplicable. With SLB’s version of showing Padmavati walking into it with Khilji failing to catch a glimpse, felt all theatricalized for cheap thrills. The whole point of the end, the real substance in it went missing. It should have torn us apart, but unfortunately, it didn’t.

Like too much of theatrics at times messed with the flow. Like how the figurative became literal when the Pandit picked up the fire (weird looking fire of course) and swallowed it. It was like….whaaaaaaat? Why do you have to actually do it to prove the heft of your words?

Prior to the final war, when Khilji couldn’t sleep and he decides to wait for Padmaavati to show, there was something poetic about that scene that unfortunately wasn’t milked properly. That wait, that imaginative wings Khilji might have fluttered for an unseen face, I felt a poetry lingering in those frames. To put a face to a name, to paint a picture in your head of a beauty one has only heard praises about. I think that were some of the important junctures that were overlooked.

Wars Taking Lives Forever

How hard is it to see that war was never good? That nothing of value ever emanated from ashes. The very hypocrisy of it drapes all those who have decided, influenced by the brainless, to not watch a movie. They chose to pick their weapons as if war is still a solution to everything. Those who don’t have a voice, they are the ones who pick a sword because it is easier to pluck one out of their time-loop than to go through all the trouble and embarrassment of facing them. Isn’t that right?

The reasons on which wars were fought were never fair. It isn’t still. Why should a soldier fight for a cause that’s written on something so petty as one’s desire? How could one possibly fight for something so trivial?

Ranveer Singh as Khilji in Padmaavat

Was Amir Khusrow just a poet who did not understand the pointlessness of war? Or was he just as rabid as Khilji who chose to suppress his emotions for the crushed? Padmavat isn’t interested in that answer. It is just interested in how a man was unable to see a woman, as he lived unfulfilled. That she chose death over becoming someone else’s plaything.

The Final Verdict

Padmaavat movie is a victim of time. It could have been just in its own period. Maybe if they recreated a scene from it back then, maybe it would have made the mob happy. But why are we concerned about what a group of people think, right?

Why is Padmaavat so revered into the heads of the people that they have decided already to severe heads of those who even tried to project a mortal as a mortal? Then why is the Ramayana still celebrated through Ram Leelas all across? Why are heads not rolling for that epic story? Is it because it’s not a victim to groupism?

India is a land of constant struggle. Was that just independence that we craved for? Or was it something more? Maybe a little bit education to understand what’s beneath us. What’s beneath us is just ground. You think we have learned to think broad, but we haven’t. It is just the attire we copy from the West. Our minds are decadent, still reeking of stories from the past. It wasn’t our time, and yet we live it as if it were. That whatever happened, whatever mistakes people, who roamed the earth like dinosaurs, committed, were all just.

They were wrong, maybe in their time they would have been right, but they would still be wrong in choosing to take lives even if it wasn’t theirs to take. The flick lives you with a dozen questions until you start questioning your very own conscience.

Qarib Qarib Singlle Review (2017) | Keeping Up with the Gifted Irrfan Khan

Tanuja Chandra‘s Qarib Qarib Singlle places Irrfan in a light we love to see him in – the ballsy carefree reckless man who doesn’t hold back from talking his heart out. The flick is built on romance but the chemistry, unfortunately, doesn’t have the right spark to make you really feel it. On one hand, Irrfan simply mesmerizes you with his realistic performance. On the other hand, there is Parvathy who fails to impress you as much.

Qarib Qarib Singlle is subtly put on the building block of moving on. It tries to pass down the message of how important it is to move on even though things from the past still cling to you. If you don’t let go, you end up chafing your present. The biggest strength of Qarib Qarib Singlle is that it is laconic where it matters the most. It allows the silence to do most of the talking. While it is a virtue well played by Tanuja Chandra, I believe, it might have also baffled some of the audience.

On a personal level, I felt the climax was brilliantly pulled off. That every movie should learn from the subtlety that went on in its ending. It leaves you brooding, speaking a thousand words without actually saying anything. It is a beautifully painted picture that tells us how a reconciliation scene should be properly theatricalized.

Direction of Qarib Qarib Singlle Movie

While Tanuja Chandra has garnered experience aplenty throughout her 22 years of cinematic run, she has forever kept herself on the learning curve. She is open to experiments, a fact evident through her work. She has literally grown as a director.

But still a lot of ground is left to cover, so you can tell by the unwanted shots she has ended up nodding to.

qarib qarib singlle movie wallpaper

Like some deliberate shots where you literally feel the pointlessness of placing small bulbs in front of the camera to deliberately milk the bokeh. You can picture her cinematographer asking her – “How about I take this shot like this?”

She chooses to mess with the “fourth wall” as in a way letting the protagonist talk to the audience. Although it isn’t intended for the audience in reality and is a bold decision per se, it just doesn’t feel right. What makes the work on the fourth wall really shoddy is Parvathy’s disconnect. She seems conscious when she talks, not to mention the slight camera zoom in, which appears to be clearly done on a software.

If we look at the bright side of Tanuja’s direction, she has learned to curtail the obvious from her frames, a strength which a lot of directors today are still struggling with. It is with time people move towards becoming better versions of themselves. Qarib Qarib Singlle is like a conch blaring of her arrival nay her revival, in a country that’s learning to revere the changing face of Cinema.

Irrfan Khan as Yogi

It is hard to cover Irrfan in words. He has become this peerless dome of perfection who is hard to keep up with. You put anyone against him, if they are not good enough, it simply shows.

The character Irrfan plays here is that of Yogi. He plays a lot of him taking liberty with his acts and creates this endearing character that is quite candid in his ways. Yogi’s superlative strength is in the way he treats the people he meets. He is a down to earth bloke who truly enjoys life as he lives it. At the same time, he is clumsy too as he makes a dozen mistakes in the wake of his existence.

Qarib Qarib Singlle Movie Irrfan Khan Still

The best thing is that he doesn’t take things as seriously as we often tend to. There is no problem in the world that’s so huge that it doesn’t have a workaround.

Yogi is literally ogling us to be like him, to sport a carefree attitude even when things go south on you. To appreciate little things in life, to talk, really talk with people, with strangers as you bump into them, making them forget all their problems. To tag people along your ride making life less miserable for them and to keep smiling and appreciating people despite how bitter life might become.

Parvathy as Jaya

While we have a man so relaxed and leading an uncomplaining life, we have the exact opposite Jaya, an uptight girl who is drowning in the sea of her insecurities. She has a past she is clinging on to. Moving on doesn’t feel right to her. She has been pushed so much that she has learned to compromise with everything, listening to right about everything.

Jaya keeps talking to his dead hubby breaking the fourth wall on us occasionally in a way asking for his permission in everything she does. Opening up to finally let someone in, she decides to do what the world around her is doing – finding a partner. That’s how Yogi happens.

still of Parvathy as Jaya in Qarib Qarib Singlle

To be really honest, there are a lot of times you feel disconnected owing to Parvathy’s performance. The way she is supposed to react to a thing sometimes feels not up to the mark.

However, good, she looks onscreen alongside him, in the end, you are left feeling, maybe Parvathy wasn’t the right choice for the flick. Since Jaya was the protagonist, her role demanded a heightened sense of charisma, so that one could start relating to her character almost immediately. But somehow it was difficult to stay on the same page with her. You fail to empathize with her emotions because she clearly doesn’t appear to be having any.

The Ending Explained (Spoilers)

The melodrama has been smartly pushed to the end of the flick so that the audience is allowed ample time to fall in love with the characters just as the characters fall for each other. It is written in emotions as you begin to feel how both Jaya and Yogi aren’t ready to move on with their lives. Even though they secretly want to, they are happy with the way things are. Grown accustomed to their usual way of living.

Yogi, the guy who has issues moving on, still carries tokens of memories from his past girlfriend in his pocket. He is okay with the life he has chosen to lead by keeping things from his past, occasionally bumping into them and letting his past take a piece of him. Then there is Jaya, who still talks to her dead husband, still uses his name on her password. Both of them are struggling with it unknowingly.

They are yet to understand what they have been doing. In the finality of meeting their exes, both of them end up hurting each other, only to realize the real value of moving on. They have no clue whatsoever of how things would pan out if only they chose to come to terms with the good things in their past, and chose to move on.

Exes Messing with Your Life Since Forever

In an uncaring theatrical display of emotions, Jaya bursts out losing it at Yogi, for making everything about him. That the whole trip was intended just for him, when in reality Jaya had agreed to come with him only for the sake of meeting her ex in Gangtok. Yogi’s terse reply forces her to see her own flaws too. The good in all that venting is that she becomes what she was unable to become – bold!

Irrfan and Parvathy in Qarib Qarib Singlle Movie

Meeting with an ex isn’t easy, and is a downward tumble. Whilst we see Yogi noticing how he has influenced all his girlfriends so much that they were unable to forget him, he comes to terms with himself, impressed by how good or bad the life had turned for them. The whole trip in his head was to see how the people he had affected so much were faring in life. Even though he realizes that some were fine, some weren’t, there were elements of him in every life nevertheless.

Happy and content with the bottom line that people never really move on in reality, that they keep the good things close to their heart even when they move on, Yogi ends up finding out how he had influenced Jaya too, who had clearly fallen in love with him, from the blog she had made about him. It should be well noted that Jaya had finally stopped clinging on to her dead husband as well when we find her coming to terms with him in a final goodbye after which she stops to look at the fourth wall.

In the Gandola Lift

Yogi then pursues her eventually running into her in a Gandola lift that he doesn’t miss this time. It, in a way, depicts how serious he has become about the relationship. That he is keen on loving her back and not letting life decide his fate this time.

We see Jaya in tears in the lift. It is fathomable that things didn’t go well for her either. As stated before, meeting an ex isn’t really easy. It’s headed nowhere, but the good news is that the lift they are on, is definitely going somewhere. With that, the movie ends.

The Final Verdict

Qarib Qarib Singlle might have been a play at a dating app, but what it becomes eventually is something huge.

It is like almost shouting at us that everyone in life is “Qarib Qarib Singlle” only. Everyone is having a hard time moving on. While we can’t really do anything about the past, one must choose to take the good from it and move on. That’s one lesson that the flick hides in its alluring storyline.

I am pretty sure Tanuja Chandra finally feels validated in today’s feminist era. It is great that time is doing justice to her at last. Watch this flick for its humour, for Irrfan and for its intense messages.

Check out our other Indian Cinema Reviews as well.

Check out the trailer of Qarib Qarib Singlle movie here:

Secret Superstar Review (2017) | A Mind-boggling Drama about Dreamers

Bewitching! Another gem pares out from the enthralling and artistic Aamir Khan Productions. Secret Superstar is a spellbinding tear-jerker of a drama that shouldn’t be missed for the world. It is a movie about a dreamer who dreams for the stars draped under a burkha of fetters. It is a flick about hope and despair that constantly resonates between the two. The good news is that it is outstandingly done.

The story of Secret Superstar deals with a girl and her mother trying to beat the monstrosity of societal arrest. It’s a revolt for those who have been giving up on their dreams owing to “hard to beat” circumstances. At the same time, it speaks of hope in a tone that’s definitely going to leave you with goosebumps. The movie packs messages aplenty. It addresses countless issues in its wake and leaves you immensely satisfied.

The Theme of Secret Superstar Movie

Words fail me as I try to put this movie into words. It feels personal on so many levels that it’s hard to explain how.

still of Secret Superstar Insia dreaming

The fact that Secret Superstar isn’t just limited to one theme makes it outright exceptional. There are so many issues lingering in the movie and it addresses all of them magnificently. Right from the issue of domestic violence to saving a girl child, to the issues people face nay…Indians face trying to live their dreams. It acknowledges them and portrays them in a way that racks your heart.

It is also educative when it shows you the wonders of the internet in a montage of frames. The fact that it shows the exact way of following your dreams through a simple medium like Youtube is something that is bound to open a lot of eyes. It is winning in every sense.

Since Secret Superstar revolves primarily around a singing dream, the inclusion of songs was inevitable. The gorgeous thing about the songs that were included in the flick is that their lyrics are so beautiful that they will tear you up. Complementing scenes from the movie, these songs help elevate the theme further. And it’s hard not to marvel at the creation and then of course, at the people who combinedly manufactured something so touching and impactful.

Zaira Wasim – The Secret Superstar

Such a lovely child Zaira Wasim is. The world saw her perform in Dangal last year which she aced like a true artist. Her role was limited and we couldn’t see much of her there. In Secret Superstar, being the protagonist, she gets a screentime she deserves, and boy does she deliver!

Zaira plays the character of Insia quite convincingly. She acts with a confidence many artists still struggle with.

Zaira Wasim in Secret Superstar movie

With time she is going to end up being a huge star, a bright future one can already foretell.

Dream dekhna to basic hota hai.

Her portrayal of Insia instantly becomes a relatable character. She feels forever connected, and that’s where her true strength lies. All those thoughtful things that she does for her mother, worrying about little things as if she is no longer a child are some of those things that force you to erupt at odd moments.

Meher Vij as Najma

To call Meher Vij cute would be an understatement. She literally becomes one of the songs “Meri Pyaari Ammi”.

You can hear it here:

In those fleeting frames of the song, you get the whole picture of how her portrayal of a mother was one of the most befitting portrayals that Indian Cinema has ever seen. She is flustered just the right amount, as pain literally writes itself on her face.

You can’t help but feel sorry for her character all the time. She literally epitomizes every mother in the country who chooses to suffer in silence until she doesn’t.

The Villainous Angle

Packing in arrogant perversion galore we have Raj Arjun who plays Insia’s father Farookh Malik. There is a certain aura about him that makes his sheer presence intimidating. That goes on to say nevertheless what a convincing actor he is.

still of Raj Arjun as Farookh Malik in Secret Superstar

He brings in those catastrophic elements that literally frame the story, making it clink glasses with reality.

Despite his extraordinary portrayal, you realize his true potential as a diabolical father often doesn’t make it all the way up there. Sometimes you feel the apparent lack of energy. Maybe it is the Anurag Kashyap in us that secretly wishes films to be depicted in their utter crude state.

That being said, Ronit Roy‘s portrayal of Bhairav Singh from Udaan comes to mind. The fear was more real and terrifying there or was it all amplified owing to Kashyap’s ravishing direction?

Getting into the Skin – Aamir Style

It’s amazing how Aamir Khan creates new personas out of scratch. He creates this fun character of Shakti Kumar that is not only hilarious and admirable, but also very deep. Shakti does things that people often frown upon, but the good thing is that he does it in a way that manifests that there is more to people than what shows.

still of Aamir Khan as Shakti Kumar in Secret Superstar

Talented children are like these bubbles. Nothing can stop them from going up.

Shakti Kumar is blunt in his ways, dismissive of people who do not play according to his books. But at the same time, he is a man with a golden heart. He plays that positive mentor, a guy who can actually make things happen, helping Insia wherever he could. In an emotional dramatic movie, he is that fizz of hope that brings smiles to faces even though he chooses to become a tad lewd.

Other Characters in Secret Superstar (Spoilers)

Another great perception comes from the eyes of a silent hero played by the child actor Kabir Shaikh. A child so innocent who once eavesdropped on a conversation about people leaving him behind. He does something so thoughtful that it melts your heart. The poor child who had been watching cruelty and misery upfront, sneaking behind a door, had so much heart in him that it brings tears to your eyes just looking at the colossal import of his intentions.

The movie has another beaming superstar Chintan played by Tirth Sharma, the once annoying brat who turns into a pleasant company. He insists on following the cliched adage:

Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.

The lad literally epitomizes the phrase through a fun catchy song as he witnesses the sweet nothings of his love. With an ease that’s hard to brace, he makes an inevitable break up, a fun final jovial joyride. While I know a generation that still scorns at scholastic love, I am so proud of the moviemakers who boldly defy them by showing such a cute exchange. It shatters conventions and opens eyes.

Direction of Secret Superstar

While budding directors choose to experiment with their frames and choose intense angles to mesmerize you, Advait Chandan chooses to stay with the basics. There is nothing subtle about him, as he picks areas that fail to tingle you.

His evident simplicity, or call it failure to incorporate visual stunners, end up staying under the wraps, owing to the excellent storyline of Secret Superstar. People fail to notice the contrivance in his frames, and cliched angles owing to the sheer fact that they become too busy “feeling” for the characters in the movie.

still of Zaira Wasim as Insia in Secret Superstar

The way the emotional angle comes into play right from the very first frame lets you get into the story immediately. Peerless performances by the cast elevate all the shortcomings that might have bothered some as the movie commences. Things sediment soon enough and then you are no longer worried about how theatricalized everything looks and feels.

Editing is a tad questionable too, since the movie ends up running for a whopping 2 hours 30 minutes. The fact that it doesn’t bother you is all thanks to its exceptional plot and that there is something poignant in every frame. You are too busy brooding and feeling that you overlook the minutiae that makes a film.

The Final Verdict

Secret Superstar insists on hope. That not everything is lost even when you give up. There are people who you influence too and they matter. If they take a stand, at the end of the day, something wondrous might happen.

The movie is sure to leave you in tears. I cried throughout the movie for the very fact that it connected so much on a personal level. There are tons of scenes that you can’t escape empathizing and when you do you become a sob story yourself.

The struggle is real. I know because I have my very own Youtube Channel “The Hidden Pea“. I could even feel the pain in the eyes of Insia when she was rooting for likes and comments. It was hard not to be on the same page even with her insane elation when the response became massive. It was like the universe was helping her out paving ways to hammer those dreams into fruition. Something that we should take from it and pursue our dreams.

At the end of it all, you can’t help but think about all those people who stop you from pursuing what you aspire to be, and layer you with their own ideas. To them I am just gonna say:

I am not your life. Don’t try to live me.

You can check out the trailer of Secret Superstar here:

Newton Movie Review (2017) | A Man Doing his Job the Right Way in India

What a beauty! Newton movie brings us up to speed with the cryptic reach of corruption in India. You thought you knew where subversion lies, wait till you watch this flick. It thrives in a place that is neglected. No one has a clue how elections get conducted in a populace that prefers hiding to coming out in the open in order to understand things. They are not to blame. It is the miscommunication, the misconduct, the neglect and the disregard that has left them where the primitives used to be.

It is all so shattering to watch that you can’t help but feel pity for your untended brothers and sisters, who never saw the light because they weren’t hit with it in the first place. They are cut off from the world, they are reeking of ignorance and content in their own land just because they don’t understand the ways of the world. There is no one to make them aware of the wonderful things that we are constantly brimming with. They are deprived of them, and the worst thing is that they don’t even know it.

The movie is directed by Amit Masurkar who marked his debut with Sulemani Keeda some three years ago. He has written the screenplay alongside Mayank Tewari for the flick just like he had back then. It’s a beautiful script about a guy Newton Kumar (Rajkummar Rao) trying to do his job the right way based on his education. Little does he know, nobody follows the things they are taught. It is about his struggle to do the things the right way, as he faces some of the country’s biggest enemies – lethargy, hacks, idiocy, and ignorance.

Rajkummar Rao as Newton Kumar

Newton garners some of the best theatre actors we have ever had the good hap of coming across. Sentinels of parallel cinema, people who are really serious about making films, giving their best in every frame. You put them together and you know you are going to get something really extraordinary.

Newton movie still of Rajkummar Rao

To begin with we have the insanely talented Rajkummar Rao playing the protagonist Newton Kumar with a flair that leaves you mesmerized. He wears the skin of an honest man who plays everything by the rules. Newton is the voice of the youth, the voice that speaks of derived wisdom. He has learned from the best – books written by the wise who have shown us a way that gets things done. He abides by a discipline that he has taught himself and has learned to live by it. Newton is a perfect paragon of what you might call as a student keen on applying his knowledge to a pragmatic field.

It is quite obvious during the conversation he has with a girl he is arranged to marry, how serious he is about the rules and regulations that define a person. Then there is that evident generation gap when his father shouts at him for being obstinate about his beliefs. Remember, you are going to get a lot of people in your life who will be uncomfortable with the new things you will learn, and your very idea of and for a society that is merely run by conventions. It is at that time you must not give in or you will end up becoming one of them.

Pankaj Tripathy as Aatma Singh

Then there is the extraordinary actor Pankaj Tripathy who plays Aatma Singh, a CRPF officer in charge at an unsafe Naxal prone area of Chattisgarh, India. The contrast he brings to the table is next to that of a villain in a movie. He is everything that is wrong with India today, and an exemplary procrastinator and sloth who will never move unless ordered.

Pankaj Tripathy as Aatma Singh in Newton moviePankaj plays a smartass who tries to bend the law to suit his needs, uses his power to show the meek who is the boss around. If you are an Indian, you have already come across such characters at one point in your life. With Pankaj doing us the honours of getting under the skin of one such man, it is hard to tell them apart. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that Pankaj Tripathy’s acting prowess is hands down one of the best we have in the Indian Film Industry today.

Aatma’s negation and pessimism fail to break the spirits of Newton. We get countless ravishing conversations therefrom where the clash of opinions become the driving forces of the flick. They drive the movie forward until Aatma does something really despicable that gets a fitting rebound from Newton.

Other Brilliant Characters in Newton Movie

Sanjay Mishra, another great actor plays mentor to Newton. He is intrigued by this guy who asks the right questions irrespective of the slapstick and whacky replies he gets. Even though he makes fun of him, deep down he knows the system. How things work and have always been working in the country. However, it piques his interest too when he comes across Newton, a guy rock solid on his beliefs.

Then we have literally the paragon of persistence – Raghuvir Yadav who plays Loknath, the guy who adds a little bit of humour to the gravitas. The actor is one of the most underrated gems of the industry, whom people always fail to celebrate. His delivery is quite alluring.

Anjali Patil plays Malko a mistreated tribal girl who speaks the local dialect, making things less difficult for Newton. She reflects a ballsy girl who knows the place and the people. Her act’s equally brilliant too.

Anjali Patil newton movie

Important Messages (Spoilers)

Newton movie hides a thousand messages in its countless frames. Whilst it forces introspection on us, it does so without going preachy. It brings us up to speed with a situation that requires our immediate attention – voting in a technology deprived place.

The worst thing is the acceptance. When you are trying to change something and you come to believe it is the accepted way, and you accept it as is yourself, just so you don’t have to face all the inconvenience of a ground zero change, that’s the root cause of downfall. Aatma Singh is one such element. He fails to understand that change cannot be brought in if you yourself won’t allow the change to happen. To make things happen you have to get your hands dirty which is everything Newton aspires to do.

Aatma Singh is one such element. He fails to understand that change cannot be brought in if you yourself won’t allow the change to happen. To make things happen you have to get your hands dirty which is everything Newton aspires to do. Characters like Loknath and Malko know well the conventionally accepted way, and they are okay with things being wrong and unjust. It is killing to watch Newton the only person trying really hard to understand the ways this country is currently dealing with.

The Politics

How can one possibly vote for someone when they are looking at their faces for the first time? Newton movie is a slap to those politicians who never even visit the place they wish to obtain votes from. There is contempt in the hearts of all those people who have turned into Naxals and we see that via writings on the wall of a razed school. War is easy to learn. How do you make them understand that war isn’t the only solution? That the other solution requires them to vote, again something that they don’t comprehend.

Newton movie is a slap to those politicians who never even visit the place they wish to obtain votes from. There is contempt in the hearts of all those people who have turned into Naxals. We perceive that via writings on the wall of a razed school. War is easy to learn. How do you make them understand that war isn’t the only solution? That the other solution requires them to vote? Again something that they don’t comprehend.

All we can see a piece of neglected patch of land where the voting is supposed to happen. The problems Newton’s team faces in order to set up booth is beyond compare. Yet they somehow manage, all in a room without a door, with open see-through windows.

Then comes the wait. The punishing wait where the team sits doing nothing. Your mind begins to wonder why doesn’t anyone come? And if the conditions are really that bad owing to safety issues, will they ever show up in the entire movie?

Ill-Treatment

In a single display of power we see a bigger authority show up with a foreign reporter, who, by the way, has no clue as to what is going on just because we are good at painting pretty pictures to hide all the ugliness. We see all the clouds of lethargy parting then. However, to the poor innocent villagers who only understand the language of either peace or intimidation, CRPF soldiers roughhouse them, bully them to show up in order to put on a show. They are mistreated beyond limit. One of the instances clearly shows one of the old women being ordered to cook chicken to ease up their stay.

How much money will we get?

All the ill-treatment makes the villagers believe that there is something going on and the government (hitherto which they believe to be a scary thing) has commanded their presence. They might get paid too if they do something.

The Curse of Ignorance

The part in Newton movie where Newton realizes the ignorance of people, where they don’t understand what needs to be done in a voting booth simply shatters you. Amidst all the corruption stands an unheard voice trying to do the right thing, to make them understand why it is important to vote, and how it could help them to bring change in their place. While not even trying is a guy like Aatma Singh who coaxingly calls the voting machine a toy, and asks the villagers to press any button they like.

It is so heart-rending to watch when that insanity actually begins to happen. Ah! the ignorance, the sheer ignorance of the people, as they show their voting fingers not knowing whether they have voted, or what voting even means for that to matter. There is no way for a single man to educate them in a day, but Newton tries nevertheless in hopes to make them fathom what’s really happening.

It kind of reminds me how we used to be back in school. Not knowing the ‘why’ behind anything, not knowing why we studied what we studied, simply mugged things up only because it was asked. And that quotient’s still extant today in a lot of places. Ignorance is a curse. We need to educate people so they start asking the million dollar question – why.

The False Alarm

Just when you think the movie is focused on showing the plight of the ignorant alone, Newton movie proves us wrong as we actually hit some action in the backdrop. It is believed that an attack has happened and the team is instantly put on a rescue mission for extraction. But soon Newton figures out the real ugly truth behind the alarm. It was Aatma Singh who had asked his men to fire empty shots to curtail the waiting period so that he could force Newton’s team back home. Newton’s obstinacy bothered him, and the fact they would be forced to wait till evening for the voters seemed like a tiresome idea to him.

Rajkummar Rao as Newton in Newton movie

How do you reason with a man holding a gun? So, Newton does the unthinkable. He snatches the gun from one of the men and points it at the men in arms. To get a job done, he takes matters into his own hands.

The Last Scene of Newton Movie – Ending Explained

Ultimately he comes out a victor which is probably one of the most satisfying things to watch in the movie. It is shown subtly when we see Aatma Singh shopping with his family, as his wife suggests to remove a product from the shopping bag, implying that they are indeed going through a tough time. That Newton might have written a thorough report about the misconduct, and ill-treatment, and probably got him fired.

Eventually, we see Newton busy behind a desk as Malko pays him a visit. It is great to see that he hasn’t changed a bit. He casually shows her his punctuality certificate.

Clearly they think it’s a big deal when I show up at the office at 9 AM sharp.

It is a dig at all those Indian officials, nay, everything that’s Indian, who never show up anywhere on time. Being punctual is so much crucial and yet we take life for granted.

The curtain closes at an apt moment where we see Malko waiting for him to complete his work before leaving for coffee. We are left to wonder about a happy ending that might await him in moments to come.

The Final Verdict

Newton movie justifies its apt tagline that says “Seedha Aadmi Ulti Duniya” (Right Man Wrong World). It eats you from inside when you witness the plight of the villagers living in terrible conditions. The fact they are okay with it shatters you even more. They don’t even know how much we have progressed. How would they? They don’t even have a TV in their ramshackle houses for crying out loud!

Newton movie should not be missed for the world. It is packed in with powerful performances by some really good actors. It addresses numerous issues and tells us a little bit more about the country we live in. Newton movie squeezes out sympathy for a character that resonates with a lot of us. I think of a lot of you will like this flick for the powerful message it sends out loud.

Read my other movie reviews and analyses too.

Check out the trailer of Newton Movie:

Toilet – Ek Prem Katha Review (2017) | Addresses a Major Issue in India

Toilet – Ek Prem Katha is not intelligently built but it tries to address some fuming questions nevertheless. It is manufactured around one of the worst problems that India still faces today, and tries to bring awareness in a way the rustic may understand.

Raising your voice causes repercussions. It is evident from the way the conventional multitude begins to fight our protagonist in the movie. Then there are words, the parochial outlook of people who stand against you when you have something to say. Oh! the things they say don’t even make sense, and yet they say it because that has been the way. The movie captures that in a light of how one would really react to something revolting. Our country is abounding with such idiots and they are getting away with it too.

I am happy that Toilet – Ek Prem Katha tries to change that perception by acknowledging us with men similar in context to Bauji (Sudhir Pandey) or Sarpanch (Rati Shankar Tripathi). I guess it is only fair we see what we have become that we understand our pointless obstinacy that tack against old societal rules.

Sudhir Pandey in Toilet - Ek Prem Katha

Scraping off Conventions

No matter how progressive you call the country, or how much pride you feel swelling up your chest, deep down you know we are still light years away from getting there. We are nowhere there where we ought to be by now. And it’s all because of the little things that hold us down. Scriptures, religion and culture, you name it, they are all well blended in our idiocracy. People of now, they don’t even have to try. They just make sure their thinking stays driven and unfortunately we are all reading the same book without raising a voice. They will be here, even when they are gone. That’s the sad amount we pay for blindness and ignorance.

Toilet Ek Prem Katha tries to address that very issue in a fun light way. It is a satire that tries to bring us up to speed with the many scams India hides in its bosom. It also shows us that the very reason it does so is because of our indifference. We don’t want change. It says loud and clear:

“You can only bring a horse to the water. You can’t force it to drink.”

It also jostles with us head-on with the apparent reasoning that rings in the head of every Indian. It questions our empathy quotient and makes a mockery of it:

“A problem isn’t a problem unless we face the problem ourselves.”

Direction of Toilet – Ek Prem Katha

Unfortunately, the brilliant concept of an issue that still percolates in villages all across the country doesn’t find the director it deserves. We have Shree Narayan Singh directing this flick.

You get the feel of contrivance hitting you in the face right from the very first scene of the movie. Forced laughter, forced energy, and unrealistic reactions are a big bummer. Nothing appears innate and you know at once that it is going to be one of those movies where there’s no serious filmmaking involved.

The director chooses to place the camera right at an angle that shows an apparent cleavage of a dispensable character for cheap thrills. It almost seems the director is trying too hard to get a closure on an unwanted scene when there are plenty of other important scenes worth experiments.

To make matters worse, it is preaching all the wrong things as well. That too in a movie that is trying to address the wrongs? For instance, is it alright to flirt around and be done with it when your parents force someone else down your throat? Then if it weren’t enough, what about all the stalking that happens between Keshav (Akshay Kumar) and Jaya (Bhumi Pednekar), its lead actors? How do you justify it as a right thing to do?

Other Concerns

You get a feeling of being on set at all times, be it be a shoddy scene of Keshav trying to steal the toilet talking loudly right next to a sleeping guard, or the pathetic rain effects, or the easy to make out color layering effects to aggrandize Holi. The filters are an easy make-out which raises questions why it was so hard to walk that extra mile to get the perfect shot.

With the content of the story, you feel that it actually had the potential to become something huge. It is just that it doesn’t find a director like Anurag Kashyap or Tigmanshu Dhulia who have been known to ace India’s rustic scene.

Another concern one might have is about the length of the film. We could have whittled a lot of things out, but the movie chooses to keep all of them intact, raising questions on the editing front as well.

The Chemistry

The movie is trying to sell its story line as a “Prem Katha” (a love story). I believe it isn’t wise to write a story about people who are being treated as heroes and frame them as stalkers that nobody should look up to. The movie does that which could have been a tad acceptable if it were trying to paint things as is. But the absence of reality and the layering up of theatrics make it appear otherwise.

still from Toilet Ek Prem Katha

Toilet – Ek Prem Katha doesn’t feel like a love story at all, when the foundation itself isn’t strong enough. It is not fabricated to appear like a love story when the roots are so weak that it fails to stand on it in the first place.

Although as you move on, plenty of chemistry gets established eventually. In scenes where we see Keshav coming up with insane live hacks to manage around Jaya’s toilet problem, even though hilarious establishes him pretty nicely in the husband shoes. Times he goes out to reach her, to meet her, and to face her without a positive solution are all well taken, and flickers up some genuine concerned vibes.

But all of it disappears somewhere on account of the issue at hand. You sense something really missing in the ways they meet. There is an apparent lack of energy there, that we see taking a promising shape only when the movie songs flare up.

The Drama

Most brilliant lines of the movie get delivered once or twice when the anger meter explodes. It comes from Keshav when his own father drops the villainous bomb by getting the toilet he so diligently and tenaciously built demolished. That shot is one of the best the movie has and lets the actor speak his heart out. All that frustration and pain lingers on his face, and the director chooses not to cut it.

A similar revolting line is given to Jaya too who nails her part when given the opportunity. Sadly the way it is allowed to happen seems really unrealistic. Sadly there aren’t many moments where Bhumi Pednekar’s character is allowed to be as gutsy as it was supposed to be. She becomes meek when it matters the most. She is flamboyant only when the director or the story wants her to be, irrespective of how her character was supposed to be in actuality.

Divyendu Sharma sounds really preachy at times, owing to his crispiness when it comes to enunciating dialogues. Some of them he aces, some of them feel unfunny. It makes you miss the presence of a natural comic like Deepak Dobriyal in such movies.

Sudhir Pandey does a fine job as a recalcitrant father, and so does Rati Shankar Tripathi as Sarpanch. Atul Srivastava and Anupam Kher try to blend in with the flick’s humour and they do a good job too however limited their screen time is. Rajesh Sharma delivers once again with limited lines; his role is more like a cameo.

The Final Verdict

In terms of direction and screenplay Toilet – Ek Prem Katha doesn’t score much, but the issue it tries to scale is worth every applause. To those who don’t really care about the meticulous creation of a film, the movie is a mere “will-do” notion, as it hits just the spot. Its satirical humour and dozen one-liners even though not subtle and cliched, at the end of the day, end up being very effective.

Toilet – Ek Prem Katha does the job, even though it doesn’t do so to make you fall in love with it. It puts its case in a file that is worth giving an eye, and I think that’s where its real strength lies. That being said movies that address issues should be commended for what they are.

There are still many underlying daunting issues that need our immediate attention and despite how mucky or dirty they might sound we need to make the Orthodox aware of what wrongs they have been doing all this time.

A movie not to be missed by the orthodox, if you have a country to change. Make sure your parents watch this. 🙂

Check out other Indian Cinema Reviews as well.

You can check out the trailer of Toilet – Ek Prem Katha here:

Lipstick Under My Burkha Review (2017) | Hidden Lives Behind Societal Veils

Bold and ballsy! Lipstick Under My Burkha was already narrating a dozen brave tales via its revolting moniker. The good news is this movie is a perfect paragon of it. It is the second big screen project as a director for Alankrita Shrivastava and she delivers it to perfection. She has also written the story for Lipstick Under My Burkha. It is a complete joyride of ups and downs in the lives of four trapped souls who are trying to breathe six feet under societal expectations.

The actors Aahana Kumra, Ratna Pathak, Konkona Sen Sharma and Plabita Borthakur do a fabulous job playing their respective characters evoking plenty of pathos. You can’t help but feel sorry for them. The fact that it lets you feel so is an achievement per se. The intent of the movie is to bring awareness and to leave it at that. That’s what we find the movie trying to say it loud.

Fuels Women Empowerment

Lipstick Under My Burkha is yet another exemplary product of parallel cinema that shows you the plight of different types of women trapped in a thriving secular community.  In a patriarchal society of India, women are yet to find their ground even though they have been fighting for it in hushed voices. It’s a voice that fails to scream for the fear of being blemished or the fear of upending the lives of all those who are rooted in them.

India is yet to register women as souls worthy of equal rights. It is a shameful picture that the movie so gorgeously paints. It forces us to acknowledge the blunt display of hypocrisy when Indian constitution dictates one thing whilst people shackled by their cultural chauvinism turn their faces away.

The picture takes the form of “things you do not do in plain sight”. If you pay attention that’s what the title of the movie too dictates. It is a metaphor for things that women are forced to hide under what seems as their societal idea of a veil. They have turned their cultural veil into a place under which they could hide, titillate and water their aspirations from.

All these veiled things are reflections of what women have been reduced to. They are stealing things to buy themselves a dream, they have dreams they wish to pursue but their lives have been upended by forced marriage, they are really good at something that they can’t pursue because it might make their husbands feel bad about it, and they have sexual needs at an old age which the society deems as outright criminal and unacceptable.

Stories of Lipstick Under My Burkha Movie

There are four storylines running parallel in Lipstick Under My Burkha. They intertwine under one roof and whenever they do, they are always beaming. But when they are out in the open, in the field, where the real action is, that’s where life gets shitty.

Rehana (Spoilers Ahead)

Rehana is a young college girl with her own aspirations and dreams. She is shown stealing products using her Burkha as a veil that security doesn’t mess around with. But these products are all tokens that she thinks will help her get there. She has become so numb in her life that conscience eludes her. Blame it on the way she has been forced to live like. Her life has been reduced to a mere diatribe when she’s home. Her parents are strict maniacs who impose their idea of living on her poor shoulders. She has an idea of herself that she lives when she is in college. She too wants to be cool (copies Miley Cyrus) wishes to live unfettered. And all that revolt becomes evident when she distorts her identity at both places.

still of Plabita Borthakur as Rehana in Lipstick Under My Burkha

Shashank Arora who plays Dhruv in the movie becomes her love interest. That angle of her senior getting pregnant was a dispensable addition to her story to show that Dhruv wasn’t the right guy for her. It contrasts with her getting into trouble with all the stealing.

Shirin

Shirin plays a saleswoman when her husband isn’t looking. She is good at the job and she knows it but there’s only one thing she fears the most – her husband (Sushant Singh). Shirin’s husband forces himself upon her every night despite there being complications with Shirin’s body. His blunt disregard of her wants plays an ugly symphony that a lot of men in the country still hum to. For instance, not using a condom for sex just because it takes away the pleasure, overlooking the price, of course, something helpless women end up paying.

She wishes to be something in her life, also to take care of her family but she can’t do that unless her husband approves. So she lives this hidden life trying to earn some money on the sides to support her family during hard times. When matters become worse when her husband begins to see another woman, and she tries to confront him, surprisingly we see the hubby still winning. You can’t help but feel immensely sorry for her. What has she become in her exercise to please her husband? She has become a man’s mere plaything and is tossed around like an ungrateful choice. It is really shattering to watch her plight.

Leela

Another aspirational tale comes from the perspective of Leela the wildling who has dreamt of a plan alongside a photographer (Vikrant Massey). They don’t leave out an opportunity to have sex ever, even though she is promised to some other man as part of an arranged situation. Though deliberately put to have some fun, her life is a tumble in her eyes as she is being sent off. The photographer boyfriend is the only good thing that closes in on her dream to make it big, but that too begins to slip away with the arrival of a new man in her life.

The angle of her mother posing nude for painters seemed like a stretch for the tale although it tried to swing in a deeper meaning to how she too had a secret of her own. That she needed all the money and there was nothing else she could do about. Being a widow she too had expectations but stranded at a juncture with a judgmental society that doesn’t eye you good when you are trying to get back on the saddle had left her no choice.

Leela ends up getting sandwiched between both the men in her life, who both end up leaving her in a theatrical display of emotions. Vikrant once again does a brilliant job especially after his extraordinary performance in A Death in the Gunj movie that released last month.

Usha

One of the most fun elements of the tale is brought to you by Ratna Pathak’s character Usha. Her diegesis as she reads a cheap sex thriller for most of the parts of the movie gradually gives us an insight on her life. Ratna Pathak nails her role as Usha who falls in love with a swimming trainer. It is that part of her life that she is ashamed to share with the world and hence creates another identity, the one that comes straight from the book Rosie. Fancying the trainer and fantasizing him based on the story she reads, she calls him up with ulterior motives.

Her life in the limelight as the powerful Buaji is the one that is impactful and is revered everywhere. She gets things done around the house. But it is also in perfect contrast with the one she ends up becoming every night. She becomes this vulnerable woman who has her needs to satiate.

With a bit of misunderstanding, and a series of bad luck Usha’s secret comes out in the open. And like a suitcase that’s too packed up to hold clothes in, her life upends out in the open losing all its reverence in a matter of seconds. People who used to respect her for what she stood, instead of understanding her, end up throwing her out of the house.

Final Bit in Lipstick Under My Burkha

The final scene is like a time of the reckoning for all the women although the movie ends leaving everything that might happen or might not for viewer’s imagination. We see all these revolting women or the women who had been leading a double life all this time, come at one place, smoking (a sign of being rebellious), trying to piece together torn pages of Usha’s secret books. All those words reflect on those dreams they couldn’t get to sew.

The only problem with that scene being, people other than Usha seem to know the story too which is like one major issue with the movie. Rehana reacts as if she knew the story well, on being asked to read the ending, as she drops in a line to make Usha understand what the end meant. Other than that the movie holds taut at all junctures.

still of Konkana Sen Sharma in Lipstick under my Burkha

I liked the way Lipstick Under My Burkha ends too, leaving all the threads open. Will the women remain bound by what society asks of them, or will they choose to fly free. It is a question that we have the answer to. These ladies are all currently living examples in the Indian society. So many dreams crushed, so many lives lived, and we know only a gist of it, and that too from Alankrita’s movie. So what’s it’s gonna be?

The Final Verdict

Lipstick Under My Burkha has been brilliantly presented. The story of the four protagonists is created such so as to reflect the lives of women in the country. The movie leaves a lot of things for viewer imagination in the end, but ends perfectly at a climactic point.

India is prudish when it comes to matters related to sex, and the movie’s got plenty. It flows unabashed to make a point, and the point resounds well. Even though the image of women plight is gradually changing all thanks to cinema and media, I think it would take more than an era for things to start making a difference. But it’s a great start and it’s all such intelligent efforts that count in the end.

Do not miss this movie for the world! Let the change, change you.

You can check out the trailer of Lipstick Under My Burkha here:

 

A Death in the Gunj Review (2017) | Diary of the Neglected

Konkana Sen Sharma’s debut A Death in the Gunj is a beautiful take of the neglected. It is so realistic and uncontrived that it makes you wonder why Konkana didn’t pick up direction in the first place. There was a director in her all this time, and it is so darn good that it instantly places her amongst the elite.

A Death in the Gunj also gives us an opportunity to see the very talented Late Om Puri onscreen once again. His acting is so relatable that it makes you miss him even more, now that he is gone. To constitute the primal plot of the movie, we have a family trying to spend a week’s holiday at their parent’s in a small town in Jharkhand. The backdrop is set in the year 1979 and Konkana Sen does a fine job to bring that period feel to it.

Direction of A Death in the Gunj

Whilst the Indian Film Industry is abounding with bad directors, it is going through a hopeful change. People are getting more focused towards making serious movies, and the educated audience has been responding well too. There are talented budding young directors showing up every month or so, who have their eyes set on parallel cinema to helm really good movies, and they are doing a fine job at that too. With people like Konkana Sen Sharma, that hope further solidifies making us cocksure of this revolution.

She started her career as an actor, which gives her an upper hand to witness story building up close. I am so glad that she has taken up all the good things. Her direction literally screams about her genius. She is outright brilliant for a feature film debutant. Her frames roll with a purpose, and she doesn’t omit the essential minutia worth capturing. Few minutes in her movie and you can feel the beautiful direction literally oozing out.

Konkana pays apt attention to the build up, giving us a proper insight into the story, introduces the main plot gradually unfurling it just how it is supposed to be. I think she needs to keep on directing. She is going to become a great director.

Plot of A Death in the Gunj Movie (Spoilers Ahead)

Death in the Gunj starts with a prologue of two people recklessly and unfeelingly talking about a dead body, so we know there’s a murder on the cards. It builds up its fair amount of suspense as it lets us introduce ourselves with the characters first.

It is a family who is visiting their parent’s Anupama Bakshi (Tanuja Mukherjee) and O.P. Bakshi (Om Puri) to spend their holidays. We have Gulshan Devaiah as Nandu who is the angry guy calling shots, Tillotama Shome playing his wife, Kalki Koechlin as Mimi and a litte one Tani played by Arya SharmaVikrant Massey plays the young protagonist Shutu as the cousin of Nandu. We also have Jim Sarbh playing Brian and Ranvir Shorey playing Vikram as Nandu’s two childhood friends.

vikrant massey in a death in the gunj movie

Shutu is always the butt of the joke, being younger, gullible and vulnerable. He is pranked upon, scolded and scorned by everyone. What the family forgets is his tendency to feel unloved in a place that is smothering him every second. And all of that begins to take shape owing to just one week of family time.

Shutu’s Mindset

Shutu is still trying to get over his dead father, wearing his father’s sweater all the time, crying himself to sleep. His pitiable emotional state is considered as a childish behaviour by Nandu who frowns upon him all the time. At one point he even hits him while teaching him how to drive.

Tani being the youngest is the only company he enjoys. They spend time together trying to pass time in a place that doesn’t have anything for entertainment. Shutu is constantly condescended by Vikram and Nandu who never miss out the opportunity to boss him around.

He has lied about his results to Anupama, who goes on to figure it out through a mail from Shutu’s mother. Shutu wishes to be away from home, and is going through a real hard time. But to fuel that fire we have this family constantly nagging him into doing things.

Mimi is in love with Vikram who is now married. She tries to rekindle the spark but fails to do that ending up drunk one night, and then having sex with Shutu playing him as a rebound guy. Shutu, too young to understand the situation, ends up falling for her hoping to continue the fling. He is rejected in an abject sense of disregard.

The Lost Soul

With hopes to win Mimi, he ends up overlooking Tani at one point. Tani becomes furious and ends up getting lost somehow. As Nandu and Shutu go into the woods to locate Tani, Shutu becomes a victim to a trap. Nandu ends up driving away leaving Shutu in a pit without even bothering to check for him.

Spending hours in the pit in the precarious woods, Shutu is discovered by their servant who then helps him out. On returning Shutu realizes Tani has been found and on seeing everybody on the dining table unbothered by his plight, it hurts him a lot. He goes to apologize to Tani, the only person he cared about in the whole house, but she refuses to talk to him as well.

Shutu realizes nobody cares about him. He feels like a neglected soul, constantly being hammered by the family, pushed around to get their own job done. Owing to all this neglectful buildup, he ends up taking his own life. It is hands down one of the saddest bits in the flick.

Evoking Pathos

A Death in the Gunj compels you to relate to the character. It evokes a sense of poignancy. It will have you thinking for hours about the neglect Shutu faces all along. And it isn’t just one person to blame for that, but the entire family. Sometimes we get so lost in our lives that we forget to pay attention to the people who need it the most.

The height is when in an attempt to find Tani the family forgets entirely about Shutu. His encounter with a wolf, the very paragon of death itself who chooses to leave him alone (nobody kicks a dead dog), is so beautifully captured that you feel like showering all the love to the poor fellow. And when he returns nobody bothers to even ask where he was, and in what perilous fate he had found himself in. They were busy dining forgetting him unknowingly.

shutu in a death in the gunj movie

It is just downright terrible what humans could do by simply being themselves.

There is one remark by Tani who is busy reading names on their family tree and wonders why Shutu’s name is not there. I loved how in the end Konkana decided to let his blood paint that same tree as if finally Shutu too makes it there by being dead.

You can watch the movie from here:

Minor Issues

A Death in the Gunj has this strange thrilling vibe to it that belies its original theme. For a second the movie has you duped into believing that it is a semi-horror flick. But you realize that it isn’t what it tries to sell through the trailers. It is something more entirely.

If the writers were keen on hiding whose death we were going to see in the end, I think it became quite clear in the prologue itself. While some couldn’t guess it by the vague frames, it was easy for the rest to crack the code. The sense of neglect Shutu faces even when he was sitting in the car, gave it away that he was nothing but a ghost sitting behind, looking at his drivers and wondering how could be a person still be so arrogant and neglectful towards him even after death.

The Final Verdict

I think A Death in the Gunj is a profound gem that needs to be celebrated. All of the characters in the movie did a fabulous job playing their roles with conviction. You can’t even sense a teensy flaw in their acting. They are absolutely natural in their ways.

The movie is really deep for a thriller and shouldn’t be placed in that genre, I feel. It keeps you constantly rooted, lets you enjoy all the family letting you relate to its characters. The movie also becomes successful in making you feel extremely sorry for its protagonist for ending up in such colossal sense of abandonment.

It makes you question your actions and tries to make a bold point of keeping your eyes open for people who need your love. Every soul needs your attention and you shouldn’t get so much lost in your life that you forget to notice fragile living beings around.

Konkana Sen Sharma has proven herself to be extraordinary with the camera. I hope we get to see more of her films in the long run.

Check out our other Indian Cinema Reviews too.

Check out the trailer of A Death in the Gunj here:

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