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Here Are The Ones I Would Send To Uncle Oscar



Here Are The Ones I Would Send To Uncle Oscar 13

So it’s the Malayalam Jalikkattu for  the Oscars this year.  Many feel it’s not  the correct film to represent us on  the international arena. Watching a bull being chased by bullish  villagers for 90 minutes may not be the Western audiences’ idea of  kindered cinema. Here are  the 3 films  from the last one year that I  thought held  a global sway.

1.     Moothon(Malayalam):  In her sophomore film the  Malayalam masterpiece Moothon  which should be on everyone’s must-see list of  films, director Geetu Mohandas(whose debut film Liars Dice is an undiscovered  gem) has actually yoked two  films together into a work of  stunning  impact.On the surface  Moothon is a  travel tale  of a  15-year child’s  search for his missing elder  brother . Nivin Pauly is  a revelation. With this one  performance—actually it’s two  performances so seamlessly fused  together that  they become  completely  unified—Pauly  joins the elitist  circle  of the  most accomplished  actors of our country. His Akbar is  force  of Nature. Thundering against  the humanity that he has buried under the rubble of roughness,  his  performance epitomizes that musk of  machismo that men are supposed to flaunt to be  considered  “man enough”.Miraculously, and  with a fascinating  fluency, Geetu Mohandas  flips the coin,and takes us into a ravishing  romance captured  by the splashing seawaves  of Laskshadweep  in a flashback between  Akbar and his  mute soul-mate Amir(Roshan Matthew).This is a love story so  freed  of gender restrictions that I  wanted to stand up and applaud not just the supreme  sensitivity   of  the  director  but also the  indomitable bravery  of  the two actors.In scenes  that are reminiscent  of  Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight, the two actors  portray love with spellbinding  immersive intensity. When  Nivin Paul  and Roshan Matthew  look at  each other they see neither man nor woman.They see only love. We copy that.

2.     Sonechiriya(Hindi):  The  film that Sushant Singh Rajput will be remembered by. Sonechiriya  is  the  most anguished plea against injustice and oppression since  Bimal  Roy’s  Sujata.  The deep silences in  Abhishek Chaubey’s clenched narrative  reminded me  of  Roy’s film about a  Harijan  girl(Nutan) looking for an identity. We don’t have Harijans  anymore  as targets  of   exploitation. We have Dalits, and  gosh, so  many variations  of oppressed communities  in  this  film, I  began to wonder  if there  is any section of  the  society that is  not  traumatized and brutalized! Director Abhishek Chaubey  uses eerie silences in the stunning  Chambal landscape  to punctuate  a sense  of excruciating  oppression.  Besides Sushant  and Ranvir Shorey  I came away  with two heroes in Sonechiriya. The  little brutalized girl  from whom the  film gets its title, whose  devastated eyes still secrete a smile after all she has gone through.Some hope!And cinematographer Anuj Rakesh Dhawan whose lenses  render bleakness  into myriad shades  of  life lived on  the edge.Raw  gritty and compelling ,Sonechiriya conveys  a  clandestine  narrative  style  that never impinges on the  violent disarray  of  the characters’ brutal  unpredictable lives.It is  as Indian in spirit as  cinema can  get, and yet as international a films on oppression as Spike Lee’s BlackkKlansman.

3.     Kaithi (Tamil)  is  as original  a yarn  as it can get . The  challenge here  is not to keep the proceedings  original  but to  maintain a breakneck momentum as  the  plot  and its  frantic characters   hurl towards a  nemesis that is  at once pre-decided and  yet  unpredictable.The  film is  written as  a tribute  to  all  the celebrated  cops-and-criminals actioners  you can  think of.And yet it is like none  you’ve ever seen.  It  embraces  the  tropes  of  an action film and at the same eschews them. There are  no songs , not even a couple tucked away  in the  background.And  there is  no leading lady for Karthi to romance and sing songs with.But we do get one of the  best car-chase sequences  in  recent times.And  more  importantly, we  get a  plot about a police-station under siege and a prisoner  who  turns  into a saviour .Scarcely  do  we get a chance to wonder where all this chaos is leading  to.The narrative doesn’t allow  space for  questions.The  stakes are high . The   director, only one film old, takes us  on a journey  into   night out in city that never sleeps, and the momentum and morale  never  slip. You  don’t have to be a Karthi fan to get immediately and irreversibly immersed  in the  goings-on. Because the person you see on screen  has  no resemblance  to the actor you know. This  is something else.

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