Connect with us
Lockdown Blueschasers: Children Of War! 4 Lockdown Blueschasers: Children Of War! 5

Exclusive Premium Content

Lockdown Blueschasers: Children Of War!

Published

on

Children  Of War (2014):   In one of the many mind-numbing images in this exceptionally vivid work on the wages of war, the back of a truck is  jolted open and out falls a tumble of women one on top of another at a Pakistani prisoner camp for Bangladeshi women run by a despicable tyrant who could be the Nazi mass murder  Ralph  Fiennes in Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List.

 But no.It’s Pavan Malhotra, brilliantly evil and slimy as the man who believes that if Pakistani soldiers  rape and impregnate enough Bangaldeshi women  , the separatists and  freedom fighters would stop dreaming of their own home-land.

Advertisement

 This is the irrational,  blood-soaked ravaged Pakistan of 1971 when Bangladesh was born out of the most horrific violence perpetrated against humanity.Very often as I watched debutant director Mrityunjay Devvrat’s stunning film I was reminded  of the great anti-Nazi films, like Alan Pakula’s Sophie’s Choice ,Richard Attenborough’s A Bridge Too Far , and Quentin Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds. I  was also reminded of Nandita Das’s Firaaq about Gujarat’s 2002 genocide where a truckload of corpses had tumbled out. The difference is,the women who fall from the truck like trash from a garbage van in Children Of War are alive.

They might as well be dead. As these Bangladeshi women, played by actresses of various ages  from 12 to 40 who seem to live every second of the agony, are raped repeatedly you wonder how low human beings can fall when given unlimited power.Rape as a tool of oppression has never served a more brutal purpose in any other film except Shekhar Kapoor’s Bandit Queen. And you wonder why the man or woman who sits in the boss’ chair in the corporate organization  is no different from the leery neo-Nazi from the Pakistani concentration camp who supervises the mass rape of Bangladesh women.

Advertisement

Children Of War shows how and why absolute power corrupts absolutely. Revisiting the Bangladesh’s war of liberation in 1971 it recreates with nervewracking vividness the horrors of those times when suddenly a whole civilization was threatened with extinction.The director spares us none of the agonizing details.Why should he? When humanity suffered  first-world countries turned their faces away.It’s time to face the music.

 The unannounced midnight knock and the graphic rape that follows, the brutal slayings of refugees on the run as they are intercepted and shot pointblank(in slow motion) on a river bridge as they try to escape, the leery Nazi-like army man peeing into war prisoner’s face….War never seemed more like a personal and political violation.

Advertisement

This is not a film for the squeamish . But then war was ever meant for the civilized. The sheer incivility of a strife where one bully-section of a country decides to teach another  section of the people a lesson, is captured in layer after layer of unstoppered brilliance portraying the complete collapse of compassion.

 The film is littered with passages of unbearable pain  and, yes agonizing beauty. It is an indelible irony of all visual arts that human hurt makes for great visuals. The lush lyricism that Mrityunjay Devvrrat supplants to the suffering never takes from the powerful statement on pain and suffering  . Cinematographer Fasahat Khan shoots the chilling nights with prowling predators and ravaged women captured together to emblematize the essential conflict between sexual aggression and vulnerable victims.

Advertisement

There is no manipulation here in the merger of the murky and the magnificent. They have co-existed from time-immemorial. In this film the ugly and the cherishable are so close together you can touch both and come away a changed  film-viewer. The plot moves across several epic conflicts simultaneously. There is a teenager Rafiq (played with heartrending vulnerability by Riddhi Sen) who loses his entire family and his home and is left with only a sister(Rucha Inamdar) to flee from the brutality of his homeland to the relative safety of India. 

Rafiq’s journey becomes a metaphor of Bangladesh’s feral fight to freedom.

Advertisement

While the director has made extensive and telling use  of documentary footage(including Mrs Indira Gandhi’s rationale for Indian intervention in Bangladesh) , there are many passages of unbounded symbolism leaping out  of the screen. I was specially fascinated by a boat journey across a blood-soaked tell-tale river where a girl ‘sees’ ghosts and other casualties of  war violence as they jostle tell her, it is not over yet.

At times like these Mrityunjay Devvrrat seems to echo the pain-lashed operatic cinema of Sanjay Leela Bhansali.A trueblue epic of mind-numbing intensity Children Of War is the kind of cinema that David Lean would have attempted were he  a first-hand witness to the barbarism that went into the formation of Bangladesh. The film’s brutal brilliance and spiralling structure if dread  doom and devastation make you wonder how first-time director Mriyunjay Devvrat could muster such a masterly vision  of human oppression and resilience.

Advertisement

At heart this is a conventional lovely story of a couple(Indraneil Sengupta & Raima Sen) separated by sudden war. Standing forlorn  silhouetted by barbed wires in a concentration camp designed in Hitler’s twisted mind,Raima sometimes looks way too beautiful to be a victim. She can’t help it. Along with her every member of the cast rises above his or her  personality to become part of the director’s epic design. Special mention must be made of Pavan Malhotra,Tilotama Shome(playing a human bomb), Riddhi Sen(so young and so much pain!) and Victor Bannerjee in a memorable cameo as a traveling refugeem reminds us that humanism  and barbarism are neighbours.

Aiding the actors to achieve the acme of authenticity is the film’s mesmeric sound-design and music. In one harrowingly graphic sequence a rock-anthem reverberates across the skyline as drains filled with blood tell sagas  of the savagery that awaits just outside  our homes .

Advertisement

Genocide is not only history. It is what a country gets when intolerance is encouraged by political interests.

There are visuals and sounds of pain and anguish in this turbulent treatise on one of history’s worst atrocities that will stay with me forever. It is impossible to believe that this war epic has been directed by a first-time filmmaker.How can a virgin artiste conceive such a vivid portrait of the rape of a civilization?This isn’t really a film. It’s a work of art, tempestuous and terrific.Yes, this is a masterpiece.

Advertisement

Haider (2014) :  Shakespeare lives!  Seldom if ever, has a Shakespearean tragedy been given such a magnificent treatment in cinema of any language. Sure, the narrative is fractured and fatally flawed at times. But like the hero’s villainous uncle who lies limbless writhing in pain in the Kashmiri snow pleading for death at the end,the narrative dares you to end the pain of a people who wear their and brutal existence on their sleeves.

Haan bhai yeh Kashimir hai. Shakespeare never visited the Valley. But going by Vishal Bhardwaj’s film it seems the Bard pre-empted Kashmir’s political turmoil in Hamlet.

Advertisement

 Haider is a beast that just won’t be tamed by regular cinematic definitions.There is flamboyance and subtlety , both at once in the treatment. Elegance and earthiness rub shoulders in the execution of what is regarded as Shakespeare’s most complex of tragedies.

And to place Hamlet in militant Kashmir …what a masterstoke! Haider is the kind of  rarest of rare cinema that unfurls wave after wave of exquisite narrative fuel  into the frames, providing a  kind of compelling narration that is propelled as much by the passionate writing as the intuitive direction.

Advertisement

Bhardwaj understands his Shakespeare inside-out. He transmutes Hamlet into Haider with an unbridled fearlessness, tempered by a  restraint of treatment  that goes a long way in imparting an urgent sense of beauty to the work.

 The basic idea is compelling to the core. Freeing his narrative from the fretful freedom of excessive self-indulgence seen in his last film Matru Ki Bijli Ka Mandola(where even the title was a sign of showoffy unorthodoxy) Bhardwaj’s vision takes wings creating one of the most complex and compelling mother-son relationships seen before and after Yash Chopra Deewaar.

Advertisement

That Tabu and Shahid play the mother and son torn by the agonizing disappearance of the man they both love(Narendra Jha, a surprisingly well cast actor in a role that is more about absence than presence) is a blessing for Bhardwaj’s Shakespeare. I don’t think any other two actors could have better understood the political cultural and emotional complexities of their characters. Tabu and Shahid get a firm grip on their characters and pitch their emotional compulsions into  Kashmir’s tormenting tale of terrorism during times of  Oedipal  impulses.Their performing range hits the highest octaves without getting shrill. 

The narrative–so supple and strong it defers any dispute regarding its raison d’etre—openson a fateful chilling night in Srinagar when  a doctor accused of harbouring terrorism disappears. His wife (now a ‘half-widow’) shares a discernibly sexual relationship with her brother-in-law(K K Menon,credible and in-character).And the son who was forced to leave Kashmir by his militancy-paranoid mother returns, new an educated young man, to see his mother’s illicit relationship with his uncle.

Advertisement

At times Bhardwaj’s vision turns playfully towards Shaekespeare’s plays. There is the comic relief in the form of two Salman Khans look-alike running a video parlour in Vishal’s Kashmir in 1995. Salman’s films run playfully through the film like a prankish leitmotif, doing nothing to the main character’s pain-lashed lives. Towards the end three grave-diggers straight out of Shakespeare, sing and dance in and around the graves.

Really, now.

Advertisement

All the world may have been a stage for Shakespeare. Vishal Bhardwaj’s lyrical paean on the pain Kashmir won’t jest at scars  that never felt a wound. He prods and tears at the wounds, drenches the pristine snows of Gulmarg in blood.

Cinematographer  Pankaj Kumar who earlier shot the amazing Ship Of Theseus, penetrates and probes the brutal tragedy of Kashmir. Once there, the visuals insinuate a profound affinity between Nature and Man’s cruelty. Who knows what goes in the minds of politicians, poets and others nation builders? Haider looks at a grieving son’s search for his missing father(memorably enacted by Narendra Jha) with languorous affection. There are bouts of tenderness and brutality in the narrative which sometimes overlap without warning.

Advertisement

Above all, there are the performances…Towering  luminous actors  craning their  collective creative necks into the director’s vision to give it mesmerizing magical spin. While the supporting cast including Narendra Jha, Lalit Parimoo(remember him in Doordarshan’s Kashmiri serial Gul Gulshan Gulfam?) ,Aamir Bashir and a host of adept actors illuminate the edges of this darkly ignited revenge saga it is the three principal actors who pin Bhardwaj’s Shakespearean drama down to a level of cinematic lyricism.

K K Menon as Haider’s treacherous uncle is so wickedly subtle evil yet humane that you wonder where this brilliant actor got waylaid in his journey in cinema. As for Shahid Kapoor’s torn troubled tormented Haider, the actor brings out all the inner conflicts in a  shimmering rush of Shakespearean angst. With this one performance Shahid proves himself notches above all his contemporaries.

Advertisement

But it’s Tabu whose haunted face as the bereaved wife and the troubled mother that will stay with me for many years to come. To the role of the mysterious dramatic deceptive woman Tabu brings a kind of inner illumination that lights up the darkest corners of her character’s souls. Her scenes with her screen-son Shahid Kapoor are smothered in unpoken words and recrimination.Vishal Bhardwaj shoots one lengthy dialogue between the two in one single shot…and why not, when you have two actors who seem to have visited the soul of the Shakespearean play and transported it to to the pain of Kashmir?

The Oedipal suggestions between the two coil and uncoil out of the narration in smouldering balls of flames that ignite the very soul of Vishal’s narration.

Advertisement

As Haider’s love-interest Shraddha  Kapoor struggles to create space for herself in the mother-son saga.She has her brilliant moments towards the end  where we see her humming a Kashmiri folk tune in numbed grief  oblivious to the world that gave her that grief.

Irrfan who has a  capricious cameo also gets the film’s only funny line. “Kashmiris are so used to being frisked everywhere that they can’t even enter their own homes until they are searched.”

Advertisement

But this is not a film about laughter and humour . Haider looks at the grim reality of the blood-soaked Valley through a Shakespearean prism.Shahid’s Haider is one of Hindi cinema’s most tragic heroes ever created. He bleeds into the narrative’s heart without allowing a drop of blood to stain the surface. Vishal Bhardwaj’s third Shakespearean sojourn is his best yet. Haider is like a painting viewed from the road inside an art gallery….The vision is distant yet  vivid, layered life-like and yet exquisitely poetic. And yes,Vishal Bhardwaj’s background score rises and falls in swelling tides of bloodsoaked undulations. Besides Hamlet/Haider the other truly tragic hero in this cinematic marvel is Kashmir.Set in a fatally flawed paradise Haider screams silently to be recognized as a wondrous work of art.

To see or not to see? That isn’t a question at all. 

Advertisement
Continue Reading
Advertisement
Comments

Exclusive Premium Content

Nutella India signs Bollywood Superstar Ranveer Singh to promote the brand across India

Published

on

Ranveer Singh

Nutella, the original and popular hazelnut cocoa spread brand of Ferrero, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of sweet-packaged products, has signed Bollywood superstar Ranveer Singh as its brand endorser for India market.

By coming on board as a brand representative for India, the superstar will promote the Nutella brand across digital and offline marketing channels as well as be an active part of their various campaigns.

Advertisement



Nutella® India made the announcement in collaboration with the pan-India star Ranveer Singh’s social pages through an entertaining video, where the actor is seen engaging in a rapid-fire round on ‘what comes to my mind when….’ and proclaims his love for the brand.

 Ranveer Singh comments, “I am excited to announce my association with Nutella®. Nutella® has always held a special place in my heart. I’ve been a fan ever since I was a child and my love for it has only grown over the years. I am stoked to be part of the Nutella journey in India and help bring alive their vision of making tasty breakfast and desserts.”

Advertisement



The Bollywood star, whose love for Nutella is no secret, will be launching the World Nutella® Day celebrations this year with fans.

Advertisement



Continue Reading

Exclusive Premium Content

Rakesh Roshan: “Everything I  Know  About Acting & Direction, I Learnt From K Vishwanathji”

Published

on

Rakesh Roshan

The  mighty moviemaker K Vishwanath who  was to Telugu cinema what  Satyajit Ray  was  to Bengali cinema,  passed  away on February 2,leaving behind a luminous  legacy.

Acto-director Rakesh Roshan  who had  the  rare honour of working  in four projects  with  Vishwanath recalls him with tremendous respect. “Everything I know  about acting and  direction I learnt from  him. He was  a stalwart , an institution, and so passionate about his work. I had the privilege  of being directed  by him in two films Aurat Aurat Aurat  and Shubh Kamna. He would show  his actors  exactly what he  wanted, down to the minutest gesture.His  understanding  of the medium was  extraordinary.”

Advertisement



Rakesh Roshan remembers how  he  invited Vishwanath to make films for him. “I produced  two films that Vishwanathji directed. One  was Kaamchor, the other was Jaag Utha  Insaan.While the  first was  a runaway success, the second didn’t do well.”

Speaking on how Kaamchor happened Rakesh recalls, “Vishwanathji and I used to meet socially in Hyderabad.We  wanted to work together. But we had  no script.One evening when we met he  looked very depressed. When I asked him what was wrong, he  said his new release Shubodayam  (in Telugu) had  flopped. That  night I went to see Shobodayam  in  a theatre in Hyderabad. The  next morning I  told Vishwanathji, ‘We’ve  found our script’. I told him where  the  storytelling in Shubhodayam  had gone wrong.We corrected the script and that’s how Kaamchor  happened. Although the entire story revolved  around me,  it was Jaya Prada who benefited  from Kaamchor.”

Advertisement



About the beautiful  Jaag Utha Insaan , Rakesh Roshan admits  bluntly, “It  flopped because  of miscasting. During those days Sridevi was known  in Hindi cinema as a glamorous heroine. We cast her as classical dancer. Mithun Chakraborty had  the image  of  Gun Master G-9 and  Disco Dancer.We cast him as  a downtrodden  underdog. I was  known  for Kaamchor and  other citybred characters,I was cast as a Brahmin pandit.With other actors Jaag Utha  Insaan would have been a superhit”

Rakesh met K Vishwanath six years  ago. “We were shooting for Krissh in Hyderabad. He came on  the set several  times. We  had so much to say to each other. After that we lost contact. He was  very very busy with many projects. K Vishwanathji lived  for his cinema.”

Advertisement



Continue Reading

Exclusive Premium Content

As His Latest Work Faraaz Releases Today,  Hansal Mehta Speaks To Subhash  K Jha On The Exciting Times Ahead

Published

on

Faraaz

Hansal, Faraaz is  your fifteenth directorial  venture. How does it feel to have come so far  with so many  milestones behind you?

don’t count my films. Genuinely. Every film is a new beginning. Every film has its share of uncertainty and nerves. Perhaps it is also because of the choices I make. There is no scope for either complacency or me carrying a false sense of security. I’m not complaining,though. Living life on the edge keeps me going.

Advertisement



I  consider  Faraaz to be  a part of your great trilogy on  the dynamics  of terrorism, after  Shahid and  Omerta…where do you see Faraaz  positioned  in your creative ambit?

Thank you , Subhash.Faraaz is a film I’m very, very proud of. It was a challenge to pull off, a tough journey but creatively a very satisfying one. As Rajkummar Rao told me after watching the film , the Trilogy is complete now. Time to explore new stories and new characters. And finish post-production for all the exciting things that we shot for over the past eighteen months.

Advertisement



Out of curiosity which of your films  have given you  the most creative  satisfaction?

Almost every film Shahid onwards has been immensely satisfying , both in terms of process and the outcome. Save a couple that I need not name. But even those I own for all their flaws, failures, deficiencies and redeeming qualities. But Faraaz has been a great process. I’ve made so many new friends in this journey and found some of the most exciting colleagues that I’m proud to introduce through the film. Writers Raghav Kakkar and Kashyap Kapoor (who co-wrote the film with Ritesh Shah), Cinematographer Pratham Mehta, Sound Designer Mandar Kulkarni, Editor Amitesh Mukherjee, co-producers Sahil, Maz and Sakshi – all of whom have given their blood and sweat to make this film happen. And of course Anubhav Sinha one of my oldest friends in the industry who backed me in telling this story just the way I wanted it. So yes, Faraaz has been satisfying and also filled me with a deep sense of gratitude. I must have done something right, no?

Advertisement



Of course. Faraaz has a lot of young new actors in it. Tell me  about the  process  of  casting in this film? It couldn’t have been easy since there are dozens  of faces?

That was the challenge and the joy of making this film. I worked on the story during Chhalaang and I always knew that it would be a return to my indie roots for Faraaz. The film had to be made. And it needed fresh faces, bereft of image or trappings of stardom. A huge credit to Mukesh Chhabra who has a huge role to play in my filmography since Shahid. We constantly challenge each other and never ever give up. Casting is a process I really enjoy and finding the right talent to bring characters alive is something I thrive upon. Faraaz has an amazing ensemble. Right from Aditya Rawal , Zahan Kapoor, Juhi Babbar to every small character in the film including the officers, parents and the hostages this one is a triumph of honest casting , casting without an eye on profits, simply in service of the film, of the character.

Advertisement



Faraaz is  about a terror attack in Bangladesh?how  do you respond to those who want to know, why Bangladesh?

In our research of this dastardly attack we realised that here was a story that had a larger message and something very universal to share. Misguided youth taking up violence in the name of religion or a parent’s love for her child or the unexpected bravery from an unlikely hero are themes that cannot be limited by borders, nationality or language. These stories must be told. They must transcend the limitations of perceived local relevance – particularly when our polarised times need such stories to be told to a larger audience.

Advertisement



In 2020, your OTT series Scam 1992  proved to  b e game changer. Do you see Scam as a turning point  in your career?

I see Scam 1992 as an enabler. We did not expect its humongous success and to say it did not change things would be fake humility. It gave me back a lot of things I had lost in the years before it released. Including some money. And the courage to tell the stories I desperately wanted to. Also exceptional friends and collaborators like Sameer Nair and his Studio Applause.

Advertisement



Your films  and your  attitude to cinema has always  been fearless. How  do you  cope with the  threat of growing intolerance in our society  vis a  vis your  convictions as a  filmmaker?

It is not new to me. Remember Dil Pe Mat Le Yaar in 2000? The only difference now is that then I was deeply affected by the intolerance to a point of self destruction. Now I channelise my despair and anger into telling relevant stories and through them taking on those who have made it a business to be intolerant.

Advertisement



Continue Reading

Exclusive Premium Content

To Attend Siddharth-Kiara’s Destination Wedding, Karan Johar Preponed His Twins’s Birthday  Bash

Published

on

Siddharth-Kiara’s

For those  who are  wondering why Karan Johar hosted  the grand birthday party for his  twins Roohi and  Yash who will  turn 6 on 7 February,  six days in  advance  on 1  February  here is  why:  on the day of his twins’ birthday,  Karan  will be in Rajasthan attending the wedding celebrations of his dear friends  Siddharth Malhotra  and Kiara Advani who are  getting married on  February 6.

 Reveals   a friend close  to  Karan,  “Karan was in a dilemma. To him there is  nothing more important than his  children’s happiness.  How could he break their hearts by skipping  the most important day of their  lives? At the same time, how could he  not attend Siddharth and Kiara’s wedding ? They are  very close to him.”

Advertisement



Karan did the best thing possible to resolve the situation:  he put the dilemma before his children Yash and Juhi who happily  agreed  to  have their party  a few days in advance so their ‘Dada’  could  attend  his friends’ wedding.

Advertisement



Continue Reading

Most Popular