The tunnel- a short by Ram Anand

“But everyone goes to the waterfall. Hot spring is where you get the pleasure.”

“I’m about to enter the tunnel now, should I?” he asked, standing right outside the entrance. It was a hot summer day, and he was enjoying strolling along the bright road, until this came along.

He was on the phone, patiently waiting for a response. An eagle flew above him, soaring in the sky, eclipsing the sun’s ray for a mili-second. He looked up, the phone still hooked to his ears. “Hello?” He looked down. His heavy bagpack, in which he had stuffed all his hygienic necessities, laid lazily on the ground next to him. “Hello?”

“A…b…far…jhas…” that was the response he got. He took the phone off his ears, and noticed that the connection had begun to fluctuate. He let out a groan. “Fucking tunnel, and fucking signal,” he sighed. He typed a message and sent it in a jivvy, before tucking the phone into his bagpack. He felt lighter, and looked back the road on which he traveled.

Five minutes ago, at that very bend some hundred meters away from where he is standing right now, he told himself- ‘I don’t know what’s the big fuss all about’.

He understood the wry smile that flickered on the tribal villager’s face when he had asked for directions to where he is now headed to. “All this for a fucking hot spring?” he grumbled to himself.

“Are you sure you are not talking about the waterfall?” that villager asked before he begun his journey.

“No, I am talking about the hot spring.”

“The waterfall is way easier.”

The waterfall is way easier. He carried his bag, and mumbled that sentence to himself, before setting his pace back on the very road he trudged.

“But everyone goes to the waterfall. Hot spring is where you get the pleasure of doing something different.”

That was what he had told the villager two hours ago. He stopped on his tracks for a while as the thought returned to him.

“What’s the point Jeff? Everyone goes to the fucking waterfall.” Oh, how he loved talking to himself. But nobody would understand why he loves doing that. That is why no-one has ever seen Jeff talking to himself.

He stuck out his tongue, and gently ran it unto his dry lips. He could feel the cracks on his lips. “Oh, dear waterfall.” He needed the waterfall more than he needed the hot spring. It was necessity.

I’m thirsty. I wish you are here.

He did not receive a reply for his earlier message. He excused himself to sit on the ground for a little while. His phone beeped, and he had only one thought in his mind. He was going to roast his wife for replying so late while her husband is busy draining himself physically in the middle of nowhere.

“Seriously, woman.”

But the thoughts fluttered along with the heavy wind the moment he read the reply.

Babe, which thirst is greater, the throat’s or the heart’s? You know I love you, regardless.

“Seriously,” he told himself again.

I’ll come home with a story to tell.

He tucked the phone away in his bag again, dragged along the dusty earth before heaving it up his shoulders. The wind was blowing in the opposite direction to the tunnel. He tied his shoelaces, and tested their firmness. He felt the muscles in his chest, he looked at his muscular arms, and wore his goggles. A moment of vanity- and took off in a sprint heading straight into the dark tunnel.

“Ussain Bolt you motherfucker,” he shouted as he kept running. He should see a light at the end of the tunnel anytime soon. In his imagination, one Jamaican in running tracks is running along arrogantly, his ego slowing getting shattered because Jeff is running faster than him.

“Aah.”

The next thing he knew, he has lost control of his dash. He was now dashing with his whole body, tumbling through rocks and sands, not knowing when it will come to a halt. When it did halt, it felt like he has been tumbling forever.

It was pitch dark. All he knew was that it was pitch dark. There was no light at the end of the tunnel, at least could see nothing as such. He groped on the ground nearby him. “Oh shit.” His bag was nowhere to be found, not with his current eyesight at least.

There was burning pain in some parts of his body, but he could not see any of the wounds thanks to the darkness.

“Ouchhh,” he frowned as another searing pain hit him, this time straight in his eyes. He clenched his eyelids, shouting as loudly as he can. Gently he guided his index finger into his eyes, removing his blue contact lenses. It must have been debris either from the earth or from his now broken goggles, which had caused the pain.

In an instinctive reaction, he let go of the lenses from his fingers. He needed to mend his pain first; he did not have the hands to secure the lenses at the same time. This time, he knew his eyesight would be affected even more. He gently placed his other index finger on his right eye and removes the lenses from there as well.

“I can’t see as it is,” he told himself. He surprised himself by not grumbling. He did not have his phone, did not have his beg, his first-aid kit, his goggles, and how his lenses. All he had with him was he, a thirsty throat, a wounded body that possibly can still walk, and a pack of cigarettes in the left pocket of his cargo shorts.

He was on his knees, starring down at God knows what.

“Ah, this is where my heart brought me to,” he whispered. He somehow loved the darkness and the vague uncertainty. A calm feeling seeped through him, until, an ant stung him on his thighs.

“Shit!” he shifted in a hurry. Another bite. “Argh!”

He felt panic for the first time since he started the journey. He was now inside a very, very dark place, without an ounce of light to indicate which is the way out or which is the way in. There can be snakes, or other venomous animals beyond his wildest imaginations. There can be bats. He can be devoured and his body never be found.

“Stupid Jeff.”

His muscles melted. His confidence waned. Suddenly his soft heart seemed to have grown larger. A tugging pain on his chest. He cupped his face into his palms, and slowly, started sobbing.

“I love you babe.”

He would have never done that in front of his wife. His ego would have never allowed him to do so. Not a single drop of tear would have come out of his eyes. He wiped his tears off his eyes. “No, Jeff, you are getting emotional because you are helpless.”

He stared blankly into the darkness, and his whole life flashed in front him. No, he was wrong. He was crying for his wife. He doesn’t want to leave her, yet. He loves her too much.

He tasted his tears in order to wet his incredibly dry lips, when he heard the sound of water.

He jerked and turned around, still not being able to see anything. But something flickered in his eyes. He thought he had seen water drop from somewhere above him and travel all the way below where he is now seated. What is there?

“You don’t have your lenses, moron.” It might as well been his hallucination.

But he had no other way out of this quagmire that he had gotten himself into. He decided to finally stand up and walk in the direction of where he had seen ‘water’.

Something struck his eyes from behind, and he turned around. Far beyond, somewhere in the direction from where he came from, there was a flicker of light. “I’ve come that far?” he asked himself, noticing that the light seems to be quite a distance away. If he heads back towards the light, he would find his lost bag, and he would be home safe and sound. He doesn’t have to cry for his wife anymore.

But he had promised her a story. He looked towards the ‘water’ again. He only needed to walk another five meters in order to reach and inspect that area. As if struck by a blind logic, he walked in that pitch of darkness, trusting only his instincts and his feelings, towards the water spot.

His eyes were not deceiving him this time. He saw a mass of water, in fact, it was a pond at the bottom of the cave. “I’m in a cave.”

He turned around and looked at the entrance of the tunnel. He envisioned Ussain Bolt clumsily grabbing his shoes and running back to the entrance, out into the ground and back to the comfort of the running tracks around stadiums. He felt his muscles tighten again.

“Ah, fuck it.”

He splashed into the mass of water, and the coldness took by him by surprise. His wounds exarcebated. He struggled to get back up to the surface, and when he did, he shouted loudly, the loudest he had shouted yet in this ordeal. And he saw a light under the water.

He looked back up and realized he had absolutely no way of climbing back up to the interior of the cave.

Slowly, he gathered his increasing courage. “Be proud of me babe, no matter what happens.”

He swam towards that small opening, located a couple of feet under the water. He held his breath, forced himself through it, and swam back to the surface. Silence.

The villager was smiling at him, laughing almost. Jeff noticed has his bag was in the villager’s hands. “Thank goodness,” he said. He wanted to desperately to ask why, what and how. But those questions mattered not to him now. He stopped clutching the dry earth, and did not even bother to collect his bag. He let himself go again.

He hasn’t found answers. He has found the hot spring.

“Baby, where are you? I’m worried and I miss you. A lot,” the villager shouted in his hoarse English. Jeff swam back to surface. The villager was holding a phone in his hands, Jeff’s phone. Intrusion of privacy. But Jeff did not bother panicking. The hot spring was irresistible.

“Tell her I’m coming home with an incredible story.”

He could almost hear a faint smile from the villager’s face, a satisfied expression.

You never know the taste of true success till you have tasted the bitterness.

Dancing with the Sword- 7

The sound of a slingshot reverberated in the now silent, almost ambient desert. The sword was perched on the ground, next to the weak, giant body.

The Prince, still considerably small compared to those of his age, looked up from his brazen balcony. He looked at his palms, which were smeared with dirt and wounds. “Aah,” he grumbled, as his glance stole away at the wieldy figure of that peasant’s son. He was well built, as soaring heat reflected the muscles that went along with the sweat.

A loincloth around his waist, that boy- one-year younger than the Prince- was flaunting his muscles. The boy wasn’t grumbling. There were scratches in and around his body; The Prince knew it. Because it was The Prince who minutes earlier had gotten into a brawl with the boy. The Prince knew he had no chance of winning that muscle-match, that boy was a giant compared to his own puny size. They fought at the far fields, beyond anyone’s eyesight. The Prince was trampled on the ground, well and truly beaten. He could still feel the taste of raw earth in his mouth. He should not have fell facedown. He fervently rubbed his nose, and sneezed, and he could almost see small particles of dust traveling in the thin air from his body as he did so.

And then he smiled. The memory that was coming to him now was the memory he wants to keep in his head for years to come. That boy was smiling, laughing actually. Laughing at the Prince for trying to beat him up, and not giving up after so many little shoves by the boy left the Prince on the ground helplessly.

And then it happened. The Prince tugged at those arm muscles, pulling him down. The boy threw a grain of sand straight into The Prince’s eyes in retaliation. The Prince was blinded. He could not recall nor envision what he did next. When The Prince finally managed to open his eyelids, the giant was defeated on the ground, and The Prince delivered one last kick straight into his chest.

The boy coughed out aloud, and crawled slowly, trying to protect his well-built body. The Prince took out his sword, which is now stands at half his height, and spun it around in the air.

The sound of a slingshot reverberated in the now silent, almost ambient desert. The sword was perched on the ground, next to the weak, giant body.

Minutes ago, the boy argued that size matters more than anything. The Prince said no, it does not. The Boy laughed.

“Size doesn’t matter,” The Prince said, realizing that his speech was slightly funny. His rolled his eyeballs down towards his lips, pouting his lips. They were swollen and bleeding. The Prince knew it was only the tip of the iceberg. They were countless of physical wounds on his body.

But it doesn’t matter. He hit the boy where it matters most- his ego.

The Prince’s moment though was almost ruined by the sword, which was perched so deep he could not pull out of the sand.

He almost sighed in utter relief as it came out in a gush, pushing The Prince a couple steps back and tumbling on the ground. He looked up carefully at the boy. He was still busy mending his ego on the ground. The Prince smiled. His enemy did not notice his moment of baboonery. He put the sword back into its place and walked off.

Ah, the feeling of glory, The Prince thought to himself.

The Queen stormed into the room. “What happened?” she screamed at the top of her voice. “I fell off trying to ride a horse,” the answer came out almost as naturally from his twisted lips.

He legs aren’t long enough to climb a horse without doing a summersault and falling at other side of the bewildered animal.

“Your legs aren’t even long enough to do that!” she said.

Yes, he knew that already. But he will not stop trying.

The Queen was forever on about playing safe and taking the safest route and taking the safest course of action. All he had to do in life, according to her, was to study well so that he could take over the administration when The King retires.

The Prince does not know what actually he wants to do, but he felt like doing anything but just study and take over from his father.

He looked out of his balcony again, as his mother desperately tried to make him look towards her.

“You are not going to ride a horse into a battlefield anytime soon, so stop trying,” she said, shaking his body as if to re-affirm her stand.

Oh, how he loved proving people wrong.

From Jessie to Priyas- Yearning for liberation

I have in the past championed the cause of more matured female portrayals in the film, and apart from VTV, no other film had the capacity of portraying a very real, next-door female character. But yet while Gautham was consciously trying to break those grounds in this film, he also seems to consciously have some convenient aspects of characterization.

Gautham Vasudev Menon’s Vinnaithaandi Varuvaaya has been showered with praises aplenty since the movie hit screens almost one year ago. The film particularly had a personal impact on me, just like how it did on thousands of other Indians who have watched this film the world over.

So I was pretty much unable to pass any in-depth comments when I first watched the film last year when it was fresh in theatres. It wasn’t until a television rerun recently that I chanced upon the movie and managed to watch it fully for a second time, and this time in a more detached manner.

But there was one thing that I agreed with a friend of mine (who is also a cinema connoisseur) when the film was fresh off the oven, and that is VTV (the abbreviation it goes by) is not a better film than Gautham’s previous film Vaaranam Aayiram.

It seemed though that for being more politically correct, VTV earned more approval from elite critics rather than Vaaranam. My friend somewhat unfavorably pointed out that the Indian audiences are so used to larger than life sentiments that they basically never find it appealing when a film tries to glorifies the subdued contribution of a father towards a son’s life. Both Abhiyum Naanum (though this film has a great problem of its own that I’m very critical of) and Vaaranam shared a similar fate in terms of its response from the audiences.

Believe it or not, many people’s grudge with Varanam is one major loophole in the film’s narration, whereby Surya travels to United States to meet his love even though it was well-documented prior that his family is struggling for complete financial liberty.

Vinnaithaandi Varuvaaya is, in its own right, a well-intentioned, perfectly suave, elegant movie that celebrated the beauty of love, even if the relationship couldn’t have a happy ending. In an industry where our audiences are so used either the fairytale triumph against all odds and barriers, or a rather morbid, blood shed, heartache ending, VTV treads in between both, it’s simply en ending that resonates life’s natural law and beauty.

It’s the kind of attempt that would please any Tamil cinema lover and critic like me, and be embraced with both hands by the same. The film also related greatly to many of the lovers outside there, and thus attained a cult film status.

This is probably owing to the fact that the film is a true story (according to some sources, it is the true story of one of Gautham’s assistants). It related greatly to real life situations, and it beautifully narrated how life sometimes doesn’t let two lovers unite. It is also arguable that Gautham drew inspiration from the cult Hollywood flick 500 days of Summer, which had a similar undertone and capacity of looking at life’s bad endings in beautiful way.

The film’s positives have been waxed lyrical about in the past, so I would not go there for a first. VTV has many positives, but also has its shares of shortcomings.

I have in the past championed the cause of more matured female portrayals in the film, and apart from VTV, no other film had the capacity of portraying a very real, next-door female character.  But yet while Gautham was consciously trying to break those grounds in this film, he also seems to consciously have some convenient aspects of characterization.

In 500 days of Summer for example, the female character isn’t your conventional one. She is deeply flawed, uncertain to a certain extent, very independent, and has been with men before prior to our hero here. In VTV, Trisha is yet another in the long line of heroines in the ‘naan entha ambalai kudayum palaganatha ille’ stereotype. We had had this kind of characterization countless of times in Tamil films, so much that it tires me.

We need to note that most ‘good’ films in this industry are set in rural backdrops, so it’s not often we get gems like VTV. In fact, like some point out, it’s probably the first film since Alaipayuthey to genuinely act as a story about two people. When some films charter the urban territory, filmmakers seem somewhat afraid of portraying the complexity of urban women and the history comes with it.

You have to admit that in the current urbane climate, even in Chennai, the ‘entha ambalai kudayum palaganatha ille’ types are hard to come by. Mani Ratnam’s Meera character from Aayitha Ezhuttu is probably the most in-depth female character in Tamil cinema, and yet it was short-lived.

And of course there is the whole love at first sight aspect. While the film presents itself as being so realistic, the way the two characters fall in love looks a tad out of place, though it can be forgiven thanks to a great song (Hosanna) and subsequent tempo.

Real love hardly happens in a similar way, and there is an element of disconnectedness about the movie there.

Probably I’m setting the bar too high, but it has been some ten years since Alaipayuthey hit the theatres, and we are somewhat at crossroads in terms of developing maturity in our films, and thus it is also a crucial time when our filmmakers can attempt to be a tad more bold. It’s time to push envelopes and test waters. If such hesitancy remains, it might take ten more years before we can take one more step forward, and thus wait ten more years for another genuine love story.

One of the best illustrations of female portrayal in regular Tamil films can be viewed through the films of one of the industry’s most recognized hit directors- Hari.

I had the chance of watching both Vel and Aaru in recent days and it dawned on me pretty quickly that the director’s perception of the female gender and his interpretation of ‘good’ to be as shallow as any.

In both films, one can witness countless of innuendos towards ‘skimpy dresses’ and interpretations that only girls who cover up as considered as ‘good’.

Vel flaunts most of this shallowness, where Surya’s character will charade with ‘pass marks’ for well-clad women while doing his supposedly ‘detective’ job. If that is the requirement in order to evaluate a girl’s ‘goodness’, one doesn’t need to be a detective in order to diagnose that fact. This mentality has already consumed our Indian culture like a vulture and any man with a half-baked brain would tend to make similar judgements when judging which is a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ girl.

It certainly doesn’t help that our film condone rather than trying to clamp down on this dangerously consuming mentality.

I don’t need to go very far aback in order to name two films that best epitomize the mentality that clearly exists within the film industry itself when it comes to the male-female dynamism.

As recent as last year, we saw Vishal play a Casanova in Theeratha Vilayattu Pillai. Only in our industry will we witness films desperately trying to glorify a Casanova act as being forgivable, and at the same time the heroine who gets the guy at the end of the film will be well-clad, well-covered homely girl who will forgive and accept because of the genuineness of the Casanova.

If this bias doesn’t convince you, then Manmadhan will. The 2004 film was a runaway hit. The film tries so hard to justify a man’s Casanova murder acts because the girls whom he beds and subsequently kills are ‘bad’ girls who ‘cheat’ on guys.

Let me ask this question- what about the very lead character? He too beds multiple women in order to murder them, what makes his supposed goal and ambition more ‘pure’ than the woman who cheats?

What then about the countless amount of guys (and obviously larger amount) who cheat on their women?

Could a female Casanova a-la Sharon Stone’s Basic Instinct come on the screen, strip, bed, kiss them and later kill this men. Would she be celebrated a-la a hero and have a guy genuinely love her because she is contributing to a pure cause?

Would our audiences make such a film as big a hit a Manmadhan-, which is an immature, shallow, one-sided film, made by a 21-year-old young adult (Simbhu’s age back in 2004) who is probably just bitter about one past failed relationship?

Unless a day comes when we have the maturity to reject an entertaining film because of its blatant chauvinistic attitude, our industry will linger with the same biasness that has haunted us for years.

Aadukalam- The rooster mark is one you can’t erase

When the central idea is so novel, you are almost excused to make flaws because it is a path that no-one had ventured into prior to you.

Places like Madurai have become a flavor camp for many filmmakers in the Tamil film industry of late. It all stared with Ameer Sultan’s Paruthi Veeran few years ago and since then we have witnessed a mushroom of films such as Subramaniapuram, Poo, Mynaa, Naadodigal and many more, all of which were set in rural and dusty backdrops- Films that were made, as some would put it, in naked India.

Aadukalam saw yet another venture into the Madurai heartland, albeit this time one can sit up and say the film is anything but another one in the long line of films mentioned above.

Of course, there is no pun intended on the makers and even the quality of the previously mentioned films, which were hits and acclaimed entertainers in their own rights, but with Aadukalam, Vetrimaran brings forth and explores a henceforth unchartered territory in Tamil cinema- and that is rooster fights.

A film that has a distinct Shakespearean smell, Aadukalam works and slumbers at different levels, but the core idea of the film is so engaging that the flaws are rendered virtually insignificant.

Karuppu (Dhanush) is the loyal rooster fight ‘jackie’ for Madurai’s most respected and skilled rooster fight mentor Pettaikaran (Jayabalan). The local police inspector Ratnasamy belongs to a rooster fighting clan in his own right and has been unable to beat Pettaikaran his whole life. This leads to Ratnasamy chirping in all sort of tricks to win a rooster fight with Pettaikaran, which he does not succeed in doing.

However, as Ratnasamy fails, he somehow manages to stoke jealousy in the eyes of Pettaikaran, who gets unsettled by the outshining brilliance of his own student, Karuppu. As Karuppu grows larger in stature in the rooster fight world, it is his own mentor who rears an ugly head, hell bent in turning his student’s life into a nightmare.

Shading away the typical black-and-white, hero and villain portrayal, the film renders a grey area for all the characters involved and that’s where it succeeds. The film’s biggest strength, and probably for some it’s biggest flaw, is its maintained pace.

Giving space to more characterization to take place, Vetri Maaran patiently sows his glittering product, and in the process makes next to no compromises. He doesn’t attempt to try and justify every death, or every turn of event that happens in the film, instead, lets the camera role as if its observing life unfold in front, almost in the form of a documentary.

Dhanush gives a lifetimes performance, probably standing next only to his brother Selvaraghavan’s celebrated Pudhupettai some four years ago, but this time Dhanush adds in invaluable maturity and assuredness into his performace.

He might not have the looks to die for, but he has matured so significantly that he is now able to cover the plugholes of the film almost single-handedly with his performance.

Having gone through a time when his fight or dance scenes would be greeted by sectional jeers from his detractors, it is amazing to realize that he can now carry the film on with the same filmy elements, even if his looks had stayed the same.

Taapsee Pannu is endearingly cute, and doesn’t attempt to show off any flesh in her Tamil debut. She takes the effort to get her dialogues right even in Tamil and that is a commendable sight in this age where the like of Shreya are celebrated as if they have acted their hearts out whilst they can’t even remotely lip synch appropriately. She seems to be a welcome change among debutants.

But flanking Dhanush in terms of performance is definitely Jayabalan, the Sri Lankan poet. His portrayal was so realistic that we never realize the fact that Radharavi was the person who was dubbing for Jayabalan throughout the film. Kishore as usual is highly dependable and commands any scene that he is part of.

GV Prakash is maturing in leaps and bounds in spite of his young age of only 23, and after a year where he had two masterful creations in the form of Aayirathil Oruvan and Madrasapattinam, he adds Aadukalam to his gallery. The songs Yathe Yathe and Ayyayo are both master compositions.

Aadukalam admittedly has its flaws, but the film packs a solid punch overall because Vetri Maaran, just like how he wowed everyone by developing a story using a motorbike as its central character in his first film, uses a much unheard-of rooster fight culture to move this creation of his.

When the central idea is so novel, you are almost excused to make flaws because it is a path that no-one had ventured into prior to you.

I need not go further than the film Ghajini to illustrate this, because even though the film were riddled with so many flaws it could make Aadukalam look like a timeless classic, the film turned out to be  hit as the people somehow oversaw the flaws.

But Aadukalam won’t need the audiences to compromise so much. The film is almost indefinitely realistic in every frame and that is enough to give you the satisfaction of watching an epic film based on a novel idea.

Very Good.

A Kamal life

Kamal Hassan has given a very expensive value to success indeed.

A few days ago, as I was watching Kamal Hassan’s 50 years in cinema commemoration event; Mamootty was giving a simple and straightforward speech about the man himself- stating that if so many people can praise and humble themselves in front of him, the sole reason that he is an actor, an artist of great caliber doesn’t justify all the praise Kamal gets, but instead, Kamal must have been a ‘great human being also’ in order to justify all that people shower on him.

I have read in various spaces how people constantly have waxed lyrical about Kamal’ s achievements and his credo that has taken him to great heights, and how his attempts influences and induces courage in some, and admiration in others. But how many of us had really given any kind of credit to Kamal Hassan for the man that he is, the person that he is?

It takes a very brave man, especially in an easily vindictive society like ours; it does take a very brave man to carve out his life entirely based on his ideologies. And that man was Kamal Hassan. One a many wouldn’t prefer to go to those areas which they consider ‘grey’ about him and discuss about it at any length, but I am more than happy to do so- and praise him with it as well. And the reason I had already stated above- it takes a very bold person to base his life upon his ideologies.

Kamal’s biggest point of controversy, as has been pointed out all these years- is that he was an atheist. First of all, let us acknowledge that fact that none of us, lest you or me, are aware of the entire truth as to what life breaks down to and what it is all about. All of us are travelers searching for that same faraway answer, and those hints we get, we keep them in our knapsack. Some of us have more hints (knowledge) than the others, but none, I can heartily and boldly state, knows the whole truth of it. Some find their calling and their purpose within the realms of religion, and Kamal finds his (as per his own words) in the society itself. There is nothing wrong in embracing those than you can see and attain a spiritual viewpoint based on that point itself. For the record, I’m not an atheist. But I will give all the credit in the world to Kamal for his ideas and his stronghold of them. I always say it takes a very strong person to be completely spiritual in a religious realm and also to be an ideological atheist. The former is because it takes a great man to be humble, non-assertive and completely submit himself to the powers that be above him. My friend once remarked to me that religion is a foundation and which we can fall upon, usually in times when life seems to be out of our control. All of us face hardships in life, but it does take a great man to discard that foundation so early in his life. What would that man fall back on? To entirely keep faith all by himself- that quality is as admirable as any.

His ideologies are universally adaptable- you can tell them to a Christian, a Muslim, A Hindu, and a Buddhist and it would ring true every time- Love is God. I have seen plenty of people who know perfectly well how to love God, but are the worst when it comes to loving those around them. Love each other- that credo is the same in every single religion in this world, and Kamal lives beyond the confinement that keeps us separated from each other with sensitive barriers. If everyone takes that credo and believes Love is God, will there be any terrorists left in the world? Will there be Any soul that would wield a knife and stab someone without being wretched by guilt for what he has done?

Some like to point to his family life as an indication of his imperfection- but which of us are perfect? The path Kamal has threaded was a path that he wants depending only on his passion and his ideologies. It wasn’t a familiar path- in fact I might say, he alone took up that road and travelled in it. He is bound to have made mistakes along the way- and lest I assert that he has paid the price and faced the consequences of his own mistakes. I have visited layman houses in India and find they do not think highly of that man just because he was married twice and at one stage of his life;was having children out of wedlock. But still for the young generation that would like to travel that same path, his journey is marked before us, so that we know what mistakes we could avoid to reach his heights. Normally we point at a loser and say- ‘Look, don’t do what he did, and you’ll be fine’. And yet today, we stare with such glaring amazement at the pinnacle of a mountain- despite stumbling, and being discredited along the way, he still conquered that mountain, and he has left for us the indication on what mistakes we could avoid, so that our journey is a much smoother one.

To those who still wish to criticise him, he still managed to create a family like this, and how many of the so-called flawless men have managed to create such a family?

There is a saying in English- Success is measured by how much others measure their success using you as a yardstick. Kamal Hassan has given a very expensive value to success indeed, and me, and many other who adore him, use him as a yardstick to measure ourselves.

A great person is someone who manages to inspire and teach one of his students; but what do you call Kamal when he inspired me and many other (among my friends), whom he had never seen or heard about in his life? The mark of his legacy lives on us, for we acknowledge that flawed human that he was, and the great pains he took to improve himself and come out of that rut and proceed to his destination. And we know that even if Kamal has already conquered that mountain; he is already setting off to conquer another, and we shall continue behind him. Whichever path we may take when our calling comes, we do not know, but lest assured a piece of him will live on in those paths.

What have I expressed here is my personal testimonial of Kamal Hassan. Some may have assumed that I am a wannabe actor, but lest you are wrong. I am only a wannabe director, and a novelist, but nevertheless in terms dedication to the profession you are involved in, and as the complete artist that he is, he is still my idol. As Vivek so rightly asks in his poem of Kamal- ‘Is there any department that you do not know?’

I apologize beforehand if I had offended anyone with my views, but nevertheless I felt the necessity to express my views. And I take my leave with another one of Kamal’s credo- ‘No pain, no gain’.

That, in as simplest as four words could do, sums up Kamal Hassan- the person, the legend, the actor and everything else.

Best works:

Legends are those you cannot describe in words of. Of course Kamal has several avatars, in terms of his acting, this has to be his best work. No matter how cheerful I am, this is the only scene that can ever make me cry, without the help of the whole movie.

Look up at 3:18. Can anyone act like that?

The Lost Genre- How good is Dan Brown?

It has been an awfully long time since I did this and being back in my hometown seemed to have done the trick. Even though it is not the most conducive environment to thrive as a writer (more like developing ideas in an idle, relaxed mind), it has proven to be conducive enough to read a book. Big time.

After all the hype subsided, I spent the final two days of 2010 poring over Dan Brown’s latest offering ‘The Lost Symbol’, which came out sometime last year. I know the book and Brown’s prose style has received overwhelming praise from critics, and rightly so.

As with normal routine, TLS sticks to Brown’s favourite plot timeline, events unfolding within the space of 24 hours, and in frantic pace. At around 600 pages, Brown delivers an absolute page-turner.

Robert Langdon is summoned in the face of crisis again, but this time rather unwillingly. Set in the American capital of Washington D.C, Robert finds himself running aimlessly all over D.C with a CIA officer insisting there is a national security matter of ‘unimaginable proportions’ that Langdon needs to give priority over the safety of his friend and mentor Peter Solomon, who is being held captive by a madman wanting access to the Freemasonry secret brotherhood’s greatest treasure.

First of all, Brown should be praised for the amount of research it would have taken him to fill in the details of this particular plot. Truth be told, there is nothing novel about the story alone, it is a tried and tested hostage plot. But Brown’s ability lies in the fact that he stretches a simple single-line idea into a book stretching at 600 pages, and fills the book with details of a secret brotherhood, and ancient mysteries that very few of us would ever heard of.

It took Brown six full years to come up with a new book after the success of the Da Vinci Code back in 2009, and the strains show in the amount of details and historical accuracy that spans through the book. Robert Langdon appears almost superhuman in his own way, as he seems to recall symbols and signs that relates to religions and cultures of ancient times across the world.

I know peanuts about Freemasonry myself, but reading the book, I could not ignore Brown’s rather positive and upbeat portrayal of the Freemason brotherhood (its all over the book of course). This one factor obviously is enough to gibe Brown’s critics a field day against him.

It also seems Brown had spent a good amount of time in Washington visiting its most famous monuments, and nearly a quarter of the chapters begin with skyline and scenic descriptions of few of Washington’s most historical buildings.

This is in fact the first Dan Brown novel I have read, and as a neutral, I have to say that he is neither. He is not a master storyteller like how his fans would claim and neither is he an overrated writer like how his critics would suggest.

He just writes books that sell. Reading the Lost Symbol is almost like watching a Hollywood thriller if you would picture every scene that occurs in the book, even the hanging chapter conclusions.

Brown leaves so many chapter hanging on their threads, yet predictably returns to explain the hanging threads a couple of chapters later. The book has a clear pattern, and Brown follows it in an almost uniformed manner. I do not know about other readers, but as the story sauntered towards its final act, no plot twists surprised me any more (with the exception of the villain’s true identity).

Brown also commits the very apparent little flaw of trying to recount old stories in bits and pieces. After setting such a small time window, he tries hard to give a peek into the entirety of the characters’ past lives with incidents recounted in bits and pieces. Sometimes they work for the story, and sometimes against it.

After setting such a high-octane thriller as the plot, reading sometimes gets tedious and the reader is urged to scan through a page without reading it properly due to the way in which the character recounts a past story at a time when the plot is hanging in utter suspense.

That said, the book has a solid idea that tries to drive into our minds, unlike the Da Vinci Code (I know the story), which was of a conspiracy theory-based book. But this plotline moves beyond the shallow conspiracy-theory mindset, and tries to go to the very bottom of existing mysteries and myths.

The Lost Symbol is Brown’s imagination of what it could be like if the myths and mysteries were to come any close to unveiling themselves in the current era. He puts across solid ideas such as the origins of Science and how our ‘evolvement’ in terms of science might actually be just a discovery.

These are no mere theories, but in fact a large slice of reality that we face today. However, it seems like Brown never really had the details of the scientific researches that ‘could change the world as it is’- just like how Katherine Solomon says it. In fact, in the whole book, Brown tries to get away with only a single nod of example.

Well, that is the risk you run sometimes when you have large imagination and try to drive home a point without any evidence as of yet.

Probably the book’s cardinal sin is that it hypes itself overtly at most times. When the plot thread is left hanging, it is left hanging with words such as ‘shock’ and ‘diesbelief’. I probably felt a jolt for only half of the threads when I finally knew the full story. The other half, I saw it coming.

I do not know whether I’m being too critical due to the fact that I’m currently writing a science-fiction thriller myself, and I know how tricky it is to navigate while narrating a detailed thriller that is creating completely within the realms of your imagination. It’s not easy, especially so when you try to merge fact with fiction. It’s easier to go to a separate magic world than it is to blend fiction and fact seamlessly.

But mastering that art is a difficult one. Dan Brown’s TLS is a great attempt. But not the best.

That said, I feel it’s a book worth reading and buying, but only once. There are no marbles to be found in re-reading. Read it that one time, and be engrossed.

To be honest, this particular thriller fiction genre has been long dead with the current rate of less than talented writers being given the right to write gibberish that are nothing but just an extension of what we already see on Hollywood screens.

Not to mention the boringly written self-help books.

Dan Brown brings life back to a dead genre. Just like how he ends the book, he brings back hope to the genre. If you are looking for a good modern fictional thriller novel, then Dan Brown is the best bet you’ve got.

He might yet perfect the art in coming times.

Manmadhan Ambu – Movie Review

Known for delivering laugh-riot hits such as Avvai Shamugi, Panchathanthiram, and Thenali, Kamal Haasan and KS Ravikumar have both teamed up for the fifth time, though this time they have returned to the light-veined rom-com genre after the heavy, yet below-par Dasavatharam.

I was among one of many who wailed in agony about Kamal’s decision to stick with KSR for Dasa a couple of years back. A script that was potentially worth weighing in gold seemingly got lost in translation as KSR was caught out of his depth trying to direct an utterly intelligent, meaningful movie.

The heavy dose of humor in Dasa literally saved the film from being a sinking ship, since it got the important elements all wrong. Dasa was not supposed to be a comedy film and yet it looked like one. And that’s a cardinal sin.

So I was questioning Kamal’s decision to go back to KSR instead of reviving his home production Marmayogi. I had taken Unnaipol Oruvan as the ‘light’ film Kamal often does after a heavy one a-la Dasa. I was not expecting another light venture from him, even though judging by the budget allocated for this flick it was anything but light.

MMA starts by piloting straight to the point. You get introduced to vital characters and one important element of the plot that would resurface later on flashes by without any time wasting. From there on, the story flows seamlessly.

Here is the crux of the story:

Madanagopal (R. Madhavan) is the ever-suspicious lover of Ambujakshi (Trisha), a film actress who goes by the pseudonym Nisha. After he suspects her having an affair with fellow actor Suriya, Ambu requests that her marriage with Madan be put on hold until she completes all her film commitments.

Some three years later, Ambu is on cruise ship touring Europe along with her childhood friend Deepa (Sangeetha), a divorcee and a mother of two.

Wanting to get her mind off her ever-possessive fiancée and decides to make this a get-away trip. However, Madan hires Major R. Mannar (Kamal Haasan), a retired army officer, to spy on Ambu during the trip.

But the turn of events soon bring Ambu and Mannar together, at the same time Mannar spins a lie in a desperate attempt to save his ailing friend Rajan (Ramesh Aravind)

One important factor of MMA is that the pace of the film is maintained throughout. Characters aren’t just thrown into a comedic mix like in the previous comedy films by Kamal and KSR, but instead Kamal, through his script, takes time to develop each character, and even the character charade is much smaller than the ones that came in his previous films.

Kamal as usual sleepwalks in his role as the charming, yet grieving Major. In the span of one song, he evokes sympathy for the man who had lost his wife. Every twitch of muscle in his face conveniently portrays emotion, and he doesn’t need too many scenes to move you.  Trisha is a fresh breeze in what is, in my opinion, her career-best performance. She is very likeable as Ambu and you end up wishing the real-life actresses did have another side to their character, like one that Ambu has.

Madhavan’s role looks like an extension to his role as the jerk of a lover in Jhootha Hi Sahi, and he delivers plenty of laughter with his dialogue delivery as the drunkard.

Sangeetha completely steals the show in almost all the comedic parts, especially in the climax. Ramesh Aravind’s shaven head itself evokes sympathy as he plays a cancer patient. Usha Uthup exudes a kind of coldness never seen before in mother roles.

However, there are myths that need to be solved about MMA. The film isn’t an out and out comedy, and there are actually more scenes that will try to bring tears to your eyes than ones that will make you laugh. In contrast to all other comedies, the love track is given importance in this film and Kamal takes his sweet time to develop the love story.

Even at 56, Kamal still manages to create chemistry between him and Trisha. But the film stands out because the story is realistic, and doesn’t proceed at any knee-jerk manner like many laugh riots do. The film doesn’t try to be a comedy; Kamal and KSR allow the story to take precedence over the laughter effect.

That said, MMA is technically superior to any movie Kamal and KSR have ever done together to date.

Hollwyood rom-coms have always been the flavor of lovers who go for such rom-coms so that they can relax. If you are looking for a rom-com in the Tamil language, you might not be able to exactly find one such film with the exception of MMA. That pretty much defines what the film is all about.

MMA is Kamal’s treat for Christmas. And yes, you do feel the cupid’s arrow in the film. I do not know why the naysayers of the film look for a ‘comedy’ flick. The film’s title is cupid’s arrow, and that is exactly what you will find here. Go for the cupid’s arrow and you won’t be disappointed.

The film is an absolute whiff of fresh air.

But that said, Kamal is too good to be doing these movies. This is good entertainment, but as a fan, I’d love to see him do a Marmayogi soon.

Top 10 Bollywood films in the last decade- Part 2

Continued from Part 1

7. A Wednesday (2008)

Cast: Nasseruddin Shah, Anupam Kher

Director: Neeraj Pandey

Writer: Neeraj Pandey

Brief synopsis:

It was a seemingly normal Wednesday when a common man walks into a police station, wanting to file a complaint, and at the same time plants a bomb in the toilet of the station. He proceeds to call Commissioner Prakash Rathod and threatens him to release four terrorists in exchange of the lives of millions in the city (he had planted four bombs across the city’s key areas).

As Prakash desperately tried to psyche and figure out the man’s profile and whereabouts, two of his trusted police officer board a van along with the four terrorists and escort them to the location named by the common man, only to have a surprise waiting there.

On face value, A Wednesday seems like a very regular movie with a very regular, Hollywood-inspired story. But the film offers a great surprise in the way it was narrated and presented, and even the issue it tackles on. Without trying to be preachy, the film effectively plays across the gallery a question so essential for the modern community.

Naseeruddin Shah and Anupam Kher both deliver inch-perfect performances in a film which takes place in a single day, and happens sans any duet, romance, songs, or any form of melodrama. An intense thriller requires great writing, and that was what Neeraj Pandey manages to do. His direction is equally impressive, as he ensures that tension runs high throughout.

The film is thought provoking and at the same time has a screenplay that doesn’t allow you to breath. Talk about a well-carved entertainer.

IMDb rating: 8.2/10 (after 4,000 odd votes)

6. PEEPLI (Live)

Cast: Omkar Das Manikpuri, Raghubir Yadav, Malaika Shenoy

Writer: Anusha Rizvi

Director: Anusha Rizvi

Brief synopsis:

Natha and Budhia are sibling farmers in the dry region of Peepli who are going broke due to their unproductive land. The brothers plot to commit suicide so that their family could receive the luxurious compensation that the government affords to the families of farmers who commit suicide due to overwhelming debt.

Natha decides to be the one who commits the act, and the pair unwittingly talks to a local newspaper reporter regarding their intentions. This sparks off a media frenzy and soon Natha becomes an overnight celebrity and struggles with the nation’s eye on him, asking questions as to when he will die. His statement also creates political tension between rival factions as election looms by in the region, causing chaos to reign in the otherwise silent dry land.

Peepli Live is another never-seen-before attempt in Hindi cinema. It is a dark satire that spoofs and mocks and ridicules all the practices in the world of journalism and politics, and also paints a damning picture of how the current day India is in the rural areas.

Peepli doesn’t try to become an emotional film at any point, and thus it works big time for simply observes of foolhardy way many people conduct themselves when they are pushed to certain limits.

Anusha Rizvi deserves plaudit for such an uncompromising view of India.

It’s bitter, but it’s the truth.

IMDb rating: 7.9/10 (after 2,000 votes)


To be continued in Part 3

Top 10 Bollywood films in the last decade- Part 1

As 2010 reaches a crescendo, I am doing this compilation:

10. Taare Zameen Par (Stars on earth)- 2007

Cast: Aamir Khan, Darsheel Safary

Writer: Amole Gupte

Director: Aamir Khan

Brief synopsis:

Ishaan is the 8-year-old son of a regular, excellence-chasing middle-class urban family in Mumbai. Often overshadowed by his elder brother who excels in his studies, Ishaan struggles to reach similar academic heights but instead indulges himself in his own world of imagination. He paints, he creates scrapbooks, and he has fondness for small creatures.

Disillusioned by what they perceive to be Ishaan’s lack of discipline, the parents send him off to a boarding school, where a newly instated art teacher Ram recognizes that Ishaan suffers from dyslexia.

The subsequent story centers on how Ram tries to help cure Ishaan and at the same time raise awareness among his ever-demanding parents and teachers.

This film was definitely the flavor of the year as it was sent as India’s official entry for the Academy Awards. Backed by Amole Gupte’s taut script and Aamir’s assured commandeering in what was the popular actor’s directorial debut, the film works mainly because of child artist Darsheel’s excellent performance and also Aamir’s willingness to take a back seat while allowing Darsheel’s character remain the focus.

Great lyrics and also a very good score by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy back up the film, where most of the songs manage to heighten the emotional experience of watching the film.

The film gives the viewer a fulfilling cinematic experience, and was also the first film in Bollywood to touch upon the topic of dyslexia. The film also explores another important element, which is the demanding nature of the current Indian education system, and how art is being ignored and often considered to be not important.

IMDb rating: 8.3/10 (after 10,000 odd votes)


9. Dev D (2009)

Cast: Abhay Deol, Kalki Koechlin, Mahi Gill

Director: Anurag Kashyap

Writer: Anurag Kashyap, Vikramaditya Motwane, and Sharat Chandra Chattopadhyay (the author of Devdas, upon which the film was based on)

Brief synopsis:

The film is a modern day adaptation of Sharat Chandra’s famous 1917 Bengali novel Devdas.

Dev is the spoilt son of rich man from Punjab. He has a childhood sweetheart named Paro, whom he uses at his own will. He flirts with other girls, and yet chides her hesitancy to engage in sexual activities with him.

When Dev hears rumors about Paro two-timing him, he believes them and ditches Paro within the blink of an eye. Enraged, Paro opts to marry an elderly man chosen by her family. It begins to dawn on Dev that the rumors are false, and it turns him into an alcoholic while trying to live with the fact that she is now married.

At the same time he runs into Chanda, who is a young prostitute who ended up in the profession after a MMS scandal with her boyfriend drove her to the cities.

The story centers on how Dev attempts to curb his alcoholism and also his drug addictiveness, and at the same time tries to make amends with Paro.

The film stands out because, just like above, it is an attempt never heard of in Indian cinema prior to that. Director Anurag Kashyap, already known for his outspoken and bold nature, takes his boldness to a new level by narrating the story of the Generation X and how a story like Devdas would be if it takes place in the present society.

Anurag dwells on prostitution, MMS scandals, school-time sex, lust desires, drugs and alcoholism in the current day society, all without compromising.

Abhay Deol looks the part as a lost, rich brat, as so do all the other characters. Dev D is the story of real characters that exist in our everyday life- real characters that we distance ourselves from, characters that are far from good.

Dev D is the story of people we love to hate.

Amit Trivedi’s 18 tracks and the catchy ‘Emosanal Attyachar’ remains a cult song to date.

IMDb rating: 8/10 (after 5,000 votes)

8. Chak De India (Buck up India)- 2007

Cast: Shah Rukh Khan, Vidya Malvade

Writer: Jaideep Sahni

Director: Shimit Amin

Brief synopsis:

Kabir Khan is a former Indian men’s hockey team captain. After missing a penalty stroke in the dying moments, allowing arch-rivals Pakistan to win a tournament back in his playing days, he retired from the sport and went back to his ancestral homeland.

Realizing that the Indian women’s hockey team is in a mess, Kabir senses the opportunity to redeem himself, by offering his services to coach the women’s team ahead of the forthcoming Commonwealth Games.

The film centers on Kabir’s struggles as he tries to find the right players and breed the right attitude among them.

The film was inspired by the true events in the 2002 Commonwealth Games, when the Indian women’s hockey team claimed gold medal against the odds.

The film’s strength is that it doesn’t stop at being a sports film and a film about national spirit. But instead, the film explores other issues such as religious bigotry, prejudice and most importantly sexist, chauvinistic mentalities in the country.

Jaideep Sahni’s script is almost immaculate, and the man Shah Rukh Khan himself proves his caliber as an actor with an excellent performance while carrying the film almost entirely on his shoulders, sans any of his renowned romancing or duets.

Shimit Amin directs without compromising nor exaggerating any of the film’s finer details, as the hockey scenes come across as the most realistic sports scenes ever shot in Indian cinema.

IMDb rating: 8/10 (after 5,000 odd votes)

To be continued in Part 2.

Peepli [LIVE]

Peepli Live is Anusha Rizvi’s way of showing us what we have become.

Aamir Khan has, over the years, developed an imitable reputation of being a name associated with quality films. Thus, expectations were high for the August release of Peepli Live, which was written and directed by debutant Anusha Rizvi, and starred a spew of small-time and theater actors- led by Omkar Das Manikpuri.

Make no mistake; Peepli Live definitely is not your typical commercial fare, or even a typical Bollywood fare. The film doesn’t have songs, nor does it follow a hero-heroine formula. The film explores the glaring issue of farmer suicides in India, where the government’s initiative of providing lucrative compensation packages to the families of farmers who throw themselves onto a dagger were exploited by the poverty-stricken farmers.

First of all, the story:

Natha Das Manikpuri and Budhia Das Manikpuri are good-for-nothing sibling farmers in a small dry village in the Peepli region of Mukhya Pradesh. The film begins with the bank announcing that their unproductive land will be up to auction as they have failed to repay loan debts. Driven out of the house my Natha’s fiery, disgruntled wife Dhaniya and having to constantly listen to the rants of their bedridden, foul-mouthed mother who keeps calling Dhaniya a ‘witch’ and a ‘slut’, the brothers start to entertain the hearsay that the government will provide Rs. 1 lakh of compensation if a farmer commits suicide.

Budhia, being the manipulative one, tacitly plays to the gallery by offering his life, only for the younger, often blurred Natha, to offer his own in retaliation. The brothers agree that Natha should give up his life, the reason being Natha is married and has three children, which means that the family would directly benefit from his suicide.

Rakesh, a local reporter from a small-time newspaper called Jan Morcha, happens to be in Peepli when he hears the brothers talking about the suicide scheme and runs a story of Natha’s suicide declaration. He unwittingly sets off the media circus, with major news channels making a beeline with their media trucks to the previously forgotten land of Peepli, and Natha becoming the topic of the day.

What follows is a comedic and often disturbing sequence of events that tells you the story of the real India beneath the cloaks of development, and the true failure of a democratic system that only feeds the rich.

To begin with, you won’t find better performances anywhere else than you would in Peepli. Aided by the fact that most of the characters were played by less popular actors, most of theater backgrounds, the actors pretty much live and breathe their characters throughout and do not look like actors at all.

Omkar Das Manikpuri delivers a somewhat staggering performance in the lead role, more so because he hardly speaks a word and looks his dumfounded, useless self for much of the movie and yet he creates great impact and conveys the kind of ridicule you would feel to get so much media attention over a matter so trivial.

Raghubir Yadav as Budhia and Malaika Shenoy as the TV reporter Nandita Malik back the film with great performances respectively. Not that others did any less of a job.

Peepli leaves you with a somewhat unfulfilling feel, and delivers a damning verdict of today’s India and the severe lack of intelligence that gets hold of the people when they chase for personal glories.

The film is best described through the final scenes when hoards of journalists abandon a Chief Minister’s press conference and run to a nearby barn, that too in a pitch dark situation- one man asks another man ‘where are you running?’ and they couldn’t answer.

Everyone were running around the barn without a proper direction, chaotic and without purpose, with the only aim being to get a story and boost their professional credentials. That’s what the film is all about. It is a social commentary about individuals who run around aimlessly in pursuit of what they think secures their survival in an unforgiving world.

The best part of the film is the tiny character of Hori Mahato, who amidst all the fanfare of Natha’s death, is seen digging his land fervently day till night so that he can sell the sand in order to save his land from being auctioned. The character doesn’t speak, and when it is found dead in the own pit he has been digging all the while, it paints a picture of how the important ones get ignored.

Take the scene of the chief minister announcing that he would provide Natha with a Rs.1 lakh compensation so that Natha would not commit suicide (after great political contemplation), only to retract after he gets bashed for anarchy. How often have we come across politicians who make ‘smart’ and ‘savory’ statements that obviously had very low intelligence in them?

There is also a scene where a reporter manipulates a couple of women and asks them to dance fervently as if they have been possessed by the lord, and reports about the Goddess delivering prediction through them that Natha will die. Worse still, that bit of news is flashed as breaking news. You find that dumb, but that is what happens. Even news gets dragged out like prolonged serial drama in Indian news.

Why, the police event escorts Natha whenever he attempts to answer nature’s call, fearing that he may commit suicide at any such time.

Anusha Rizvi handles the film like a veteran and proves herself to be a master storyteller when it comes to sattires, and its all the more amazing that in the ages of Farah Khan, we see the rise of a female film-maker who doesn’t get carried away with commercial elements, but rather proves to be a quality story-teller. It’s all the more amazing that Anusha did it in Bollywood- which is an industry where good, well-bred satire seems to be a bygone genre.

Peepli is an important social film, and has more impact on the issue than a documentary could have. But if you are looking for messages, then you are looking at the wrong place. You will end of with your mouth open in wonder and uncertainty if you had hoped the film would end in a way that Taare Zameen Par or 3 Idiots ended, no matter how much of quality films those two were.

Peepli doesn’t even generate empathy or sympathy with the lead character. You don’t cry for Natha, and the scene is cut short and doesn’t allow you to cry for Hori and Rakesh either. The film is not about crying or feeling pity for characters. It is a mere observation of a system’s failure to deliver, and also an observation of the individuals in relation to the system’s failure.

Peepli is categorized as a satire, and whilst you may laugh at certain scenes, it will never make you roll on your floor and laugh. There is a difference by slapstick acts of comedians getting them kicked for their stupidity, and the mass stupidity of many people that we witness in our everyday lives.

Just read the news and watch the TV. Or read our country’s Harian Metro. What makes news? It’s the kind of stupidity and feet-of-clay attitude that affects us all, that stirs laughter, but beneath that, stirs a pint of anger and dissatisfaction.

What have we become? – We ask that question with a sigh so many times.

Peepli Live is Anusha Rizvi’s way of showing us what we have become.

Anusha Rizvi is only 32 and she was a former journalist. And she had done through a film something many news channels have failed to do with their ‘news’ pieces. She told the truth, she told things as they are- Kudos to her.

Rating: 8/10