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1947: Partition Movie Review: Gurinder Chadha’s Partition Epic Serves Up Delicate But Powerful Drama!

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Starring: Hugh Bonneville, Gillian Anderson, Manish Dayal, Huma Qureshi, Om Puri

Directed by: Gurinder Chadha

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Rating: **** ½(4 and a half stars)

At the  end  of Gurinder Chadha’s breatakingly beautiful parable on political propensity , we are told that  the director’s grandmother was one  of  thousands of victims  of the savagery that followed the Partition  of India into two sloppy badly-cut halves.

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Thankfully 1947 :Partition (Viceroy’s House in English) is neither sloppy nor badly cut. Far from it. There is a delicacy and exquisiteness to the storytelling missing in Gurinder Chadha’s recent works specially  the hideous It’s  A Wonderful Afterlife.

And yes this tale of history’s anomalies is also whodunit. Winston Churchill did it. He  was responsible  for the Partition  of  India.

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There, I said it. Gurinder Chadha agrees.

There is a wonderful after-glow to this tale that lingers long after  it is over. Hugely  verbose and yet not the least weighed down by the constant exchange of political rhetorics, this is a film  that revels  in the its tender moments as  much as in its power subcontinental message on what happens  to a nation when  it is divided by the supposedly enlightened Colonists called in to save humanity from damnation.

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The elegantly-crafted saga  unfolds on two levels of political  intrigue. On one level we have  Lord Mountbatten(the judiciously cast Hugh Bonneville) and his sagacious  wife Lady Edwina(Gillian Anderson) arriving in India to sort out the mess that the Britishers have created over 300 years. On  the other native level, a fantasty-fuelled romance unfolds between a  Hindu orderly Jeet(Manish Dayal) and a Muslim girl Alia(Huma Qureshi) working for theMountbattens.They have a  history. So does the film.

While the  map-changing politics  of  the Mountbattens  conveys a certain strength and power of its own, it is the Alia-Jeet love story that had me gripped. The idea of love during times of  ravage and war is very David  Leanish. That Chadha manages to pull it off is entirely due to her closeness to the trauma that defined India’s division into two messy halves. Yet, Chadha is able to pull back from the trauma and give it  a hue of dispassionate humour and warmth.And yes, also a feeling of political correctness.

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The film is superbly shot by cinematographer Ben Smithard whose lenses explore the wide vistas not for impressive  visuals  but to seek out the human face of a political tragedy so immense that  it continues to resonate on the politics of the two countries.

One of  the many pleasures of watching Gurinder Chadha’s Partition tale—easily her best work since the career-defining Bend It LikeBeckham—is to take in the talented cast’s character-assuming expertise . Hugh Bonneville lacks the magnetic charm  of  the real Mountbatten. But he more than makes up for it with his understanding  of  the anguished dilemma that Mountbatten went through.

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But it’s Gillian Anderson’s Edwina Mountbatten who in many ways, holds the plot together. As played by this accomplished actress Edwina comes across as compassionate, caring and  politically well-informed.

In brief the perfect Lady Mountbatten.

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Can’t express the same level of satisfaction watching the actors playing distinguished political leaders . Specially disappointing is the  usually-brilliant Neeraj Kabi’s hammy Mahatma Gandhi. Every time he  opened his mouth I squirmed. Made me miss Darshan Jariwala’s Gandhi in Feroz Abbas Khan’s film. Darshan by the way, has a minuscule  role in this  film suffused with characters who walk in and out of a crisis that  not even God could resolve.

Om Puri in a relatively minor role is , his usual impressive self(God, how we miss him!).  But among  the Indian actors  it is Manish Dayaland Huma Qureshi who stand out with their supple  interpretation of  love over the religious divide. This is Huma’s best performance to date.

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Chadha is specially skilled at putting forward the sudden flare-ups of temper among Mountbatten’s staff .Specially shocking is Muslim staff member spitting on and hitting his elderly White senior. Chadha sees the  tragic waste  of  the Partition in such incidents.She waltzes over the  welters of history’s lessons  creating a  fabulous pastiche of pain and passion without tripping over into either emotional condition.

This is a history lesson well served and waiting to be seen.

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Pink Director’s Next  Featuring Yami As A Crime Reporter To Stream From February 16

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Yami

Anniruddha Roy  Chowdhury whose  Pink  featuring Amitabh Bachchan and Taapsee Pannu was one of  the  most important  films of  2016, is all set to  release his  next  Hindi film.

Entitled LostAnniruddha’s film , based on true  events, will see Yami Gautam Dhar(that’s  what the actress calls herself after her marriage)  as a crime journalist. LOST is an emotional social thriller that represents a higher quest, a search for lost values of empathy and integrity.

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Inspired by true events, Lost is a story of a bright young woman crime reporter in her relentless search for the truth behind the sudden disappearance of a young theatre activist.

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Lost

Says Aniruddha  “The shoot of LOST has been an incredible journey. I have been eager for the release of our hard-worked venture. The film is a realistic highlight of media in a social context and I am sure that it will give the audience a compelling watch. I am curious about its release and see the responses it shall get. I hope they will welcome it with open hearts.”

Yami Gautam Dhar  who plays  the lead  of  the  crime reporter  says,   “I can’t be happier and more proud of the film’s selection for the opening night at CSAFF. I feel like its one that the people will connect to and will be the one that you cannot miss, especially in the current age and time. I have loved playing this role because it was such a special experience, it allowed me to explore so many layers of emotions as an actor and the entire team has worked really hard on it. I genuinely cannot wait for the film’s release, especially to see the reactions of the audience to it.”

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The crime investigation  drama boasts a stellar cast. Along with Yami, the film will feature Pankaj Kapur, Rahul Khanna, and an ensemble of younger talent, including Neil Bhoopalam, Pia Bajpai, and Tushar Pandey, in pivotal roles.

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Jamuna Had A Love-Hate Relationship With  Bollywood

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Jamuna

Veteran  Telugu  actress  Jamuna who passed away on Friday, shared an uneasy relationship with  the Hindi film industry.She did eleven Hindi films including the iconic Milan in  1967 where Jamuna  agreed to play the  second lead, or the  supporting role if you will, to Nutan.

 Jamuna as Gauri was the Other Woman who craved for the hero Sunil Dutt’s attention whereas  he had  eyes and devotion  only for Nutan. In later  years  Aruna Irani played a similar  role in  Caravan.

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 In Milan Jamuna  was not keen to  do a supporting role. Producer L V Prasad tempted her with three chartbusting songs. Besides, Jamuna had played the same role in Mooga Manasulu, the  Telugu original  of  Milan. But it  was the songs composed by Laxmikant-Pyarelal  which convinced  Jamuna to  take up the second lead in Milan.

 While  Nutan had no solo songs  in Milan, she did have the chartbuster duet  Sawan  ka mahina . Jamuna on the  other hand,  had two  splendid Lata Mangeshkar solos: Tohey saawariya naahin khabariya  and   the magnificent Ghazal Aaj dil pe koi  zor chalta nahin.Not only  these, Jamuna  also had a  hit duet  with Mukesh  based on her character  Gauri:  Bol Gauri  bol tera kaun piya.

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But  then, fate  intervened. After the film released  one of Jamuna’s solos, the poignant and memorable  Aaj dil pe koi zor chalta nahin was  snipped  out of the film.

Here is what  happened:  the  Ghazal , one of Lataji’s all-time greats, was very much a part of Milan when  it released on 17 March 1967. But then  it was seen to hamper the  flow of the  film and  edited  out. The  beautiful song occurred right after intermission. Producer  Prasad, a shrewd  filmmaker, got to know that audiences prolonged their  loo breaks as there was  a song after the break. Hence the sacrifice  of  a seriously  sonorous melody.

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Jamuna hardly did  Hindi films after Milan. Her last  Bollywood appearance  was in  Raj Kumar  Kohli’s Raj Tilak  where she  was lost in a multistarrer as  the royal  queen.

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Karan Johar Moves Alia Song From Switzerland To Kashmir

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Rocky Aur Rani  Ki Prem Kahaani

The  romantic duet in  Karan Johar’s Rocky Aur Rani  Ki Prem Kahaani  which was to be  shot in Switzerland and which was  delayed  due to the film’s leading lady Alia Bhatt’s motherhood, is now being relocated to  Kashmir.

Purely out of  the  love for  new mom Alia.

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Says a source in the know, “Karan loves Alia  like his own daughter. He would do anything for her. He postponed  the  release of Rocky Aur Rani Ki Prem Kahani as the love duet could not be shot before Alia’s maternity leave. Karan had decided to shoot the song in Switzerland  after Alia’s maternity love. But now he has relocated the song to Kashmir  as Alia doesn’t want to leave her  baby girl behind for  long stretches.”

And as Karan Johar argued, snow is  snow. How does it matter whether it is  Switzerland or Kashmir?

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This  song would be Karan Johar’s tribute to  his  idol Yash Chopra. Alia would be dressed in chiffon sarees while  Ranveer, for  a change, would be seen in  formals.

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Bobby Deol’s Switchover To Villainous Roles

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Bobby Deol

After  Prakash Jha’s webseries Ashram where Bobby  played a sleazy  godman, and Love Hostel  where  he was a ruthless assassin,   he is playing the villain to Ranbir Kapoor in  Sandeep Vanga’s  Animal.

Bobby says it is not conscious career decision to play negative characters  but a conscious  decision to play interesting characters. “ I don’t look at  characters as positive or negative.When I watch  films there is always  one character  that stays  with you. I want to play that  character.”

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Prakash Jha’s Ashram proved a gamechanger for Bobby.  He admits finding  challenging roles is tough.  “I am trying. I  am doing Sandeep Vanga’s Animal with Ranbir  Kapoor , Parineeti Chopra. Then I am doing the family film Apne  2 which I am  very excited  about.”

 In an  earlier  interview with  this writer Bobby spoke  about his   long absence  from screen  before Prakash Jha’s Ashram.  “My fans   would ask why I wasn’t being seen on the screen.And I couldn’t tell them it was  because  I wasn’t getting good roles. But my fans  stood by me. They gave me  the strength  to  keep looking for the right roles. Thankfully I found the roles I liked. My new  films have given  me  some new fans. I am  thankful  I am still here. Yeah , I am in a good space right now.”

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