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Lockdown Blueschasers, Continued

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Lockdown Blueschasers, Continued 6

1.     Honeymoon Travels Pvt Ltd(2007):  Reema  Kagti’s  debut film  has enough chutzpah  to keep you purring at the blend of parody and pathos . Once you get  into the narrative  groove of these imperfectly matched  couples riding into a hectic horny  hilarious honeymoon in Goa, you’re in for a minor treat. The   six couples are  joined at the hip and the lip by some commanding inflexions that bind the  people in a tongue that’s easy to  identify …provided  you’ve ever been married. Even if you haven’t been  on a honeymoon, get a  load of these feisty honeymooners, feasting on the first flush  of  love romance sex and bickering on a trip  that  makes us smile  for a  mile and chuckle  for a  brief   way too.What  really holds  the  film together   are the  players.  Everyone from  the commanding Shabana to the sassy  Raima  are out to have fun. And there’re some picturesque whispers  about  how  a marriage  can go wrong at  its startling start. Watch newly married husbands Vikram Chatkwal and Karan Kapoor getting attracted  to  each  other while their respective wives scratch  their  heads wondering why the bed seems so dead. Sassy, savvy and  sometimes slippery….Deftly written scenes and lines  carry  the  narrative forward with nimble   savoir faire.    Debutant  director Reema Kagti knows  her cinema  with  a  prideful originality.  The  performances are all   almost uniformly   believably and effervescent . Every actor works within  his or her limited to create a   portable universe  of credible emotions.  Kay Kay Menon  and  Raima  as  the timid husband and  bindaas wife are particularly endearing.  And you simply  HAVE to see Abhay Deol and Minissha  Lamba   do the Lambada to  know they are  made for each  other…at  least in this  film.  But you wish Kagti hadn’t turned  this made-for-each-the pair  into  Superman and Supergirl. For Chrissake,  if Kagti wanted F-X she could have made Boman’s wig fly into Amisha’s  fast-moving mouth.Shabana and Boman create  their own magic. Though considering their histrionic stature, you wish  there was more space for them.The  nimble  editing  allows no  space  to miss anything beyond  the pace. Not  breathless  but  brisk, Honeymoon …  moves  on confident feet . It doesn’t purport to make serious statements  on the  quality  of  life and marriage. Instead  it  tells you to loosen up  about issues that  would generally  address  large  amount  of tissues.And  you can  start looking  for  a pun  in that last sentence only  when you stop having fun  watching this  breed-easy  satire.

2.     The Namesake(2007):  Sometimes an absence is  also a   kind of presence.   Take  The Namesake.  Irrfan  Khan  as   Prof Ashoke Ganguly   suddenly  dies  on  his wife, leaving what looks  like stretches of aching silences in  the bereft   Ashima’s life.And  yet, look at  life’s ironies…the death  of the patriarch  in   this malfunctional Bengali family  in  New York   triggers off  a stretch of   mending  and nurturing  that   culminates  in  a  kind  of   healing that signifies  a  beginning born  out of  an end.Mira Nair’s  film is  so tender at heart you often forget these are actors enacting scenes  from  a well-known  Pultizer-prize  winning  novel.The  actors lose their plumes  so completely  , we don’t even get  the  chance  to be astonished  by  the  subtle craft  that  underlines  almost every moment  in this mellow migratory  drama  .The  cross-generational  conflict between  a  first-generation Bengali family  in  the US and  their culturally  confused kids is aligned  by  a soft  hyphenated humour that  propels  the  poignant plot  without making  the  highlights  in  the Ganguly family’s journey from Kolkata  to  the  US seem   like an ostentatious  migratory pilgrimage.Mira Nair  stays wedded  to a muted  emotional  expression even in  the  strongest moments of drama.  When Ashima,  now  a Bengali housewife fully acclimatized  to  the often-peculiar and  savagely funny  cultural contradictions  of America, suddenly loses her  husband,  Nair takes  her actress Tabu  into  the  deserted  but brightly lit streets  of  the US  for her  breakdown scene.The  changes  in  the climate  are  never  underlined  to punctuate  the  drama.  Instead  Nair lets the snow and the sun swathe  the  film’s moistened canvas  . More than anything else Mira Nair’s film is a homage to  the   apparently dwindling family ties in  the    strangely  selfserving social structure of modern times  where self-gratification   almost invariably  outdistances  the  needs  of  the larger familial unit.The   cutting often  savagely  satirical  dialogues slice through the lives  of these dis-oriented characters defining their  geo-political insolvency  in scenes that accentuate  the quirky ethnicity  of  a Bengali family ensconced  in  the American Dream.Such  is  the  lyrical simplicity  of   Mira’s  storytelling that we  are  frequently left with a  feeling that sequences should’ve gone a little  further,  a little  deeper  into the  characters’  collective   and individual  predicament. Yes, the  end-game  is  slightly stifling  in  its celerity. The  episode about Ashoke and Ashima’s son Gogol’s Bengali  wife’s  extra-marital affair with a  French  lover seems a trifled hurried and  out  of pace  with  the  gentle swaying movements  of  the  rest  of  the  narration.It’s almost as  though  time  was running out  on  the people Mira has so lovingly carved into  living entities  on screen.  The sense of  unhurried lives  moving away from the breathless impulses  of a  civilization  that  has  no  patience with  lyricism  and  literature imbues  The Namesake  with  a  feeling of prideful  dramatic exploration, equally remarkable  for  what  is  said and what remains  unsaid.Scenes  between  Tabu  and  Irrfan are  outstanding in their  correct  unhurried  manoeuvres  signifying  the  long-term  momentum  of an arranged marriage  culminating in  a  quiet  unstated love between  the  couple.Both  Irrfan and Tabu are  exceptional.  Irrfan replicates  the  body language and  the spoken words  of  his Bengali NRI’s  character  less strenuously  than Tabu. But her expressions of wifely  devotion and motherly anguish are  to die for.  Here’s an actress who proves there’s  more to  acting than meets  the  eye.Kal Penn as  the  plot’s fulcrum of cultural displacement  gets the gait and  the  eventual  poignancy  of  historical reclamation  right. And so does  the  rest of the vast cast of seasoned and professional  actors who  get together  to celebrate  the  rites  and rhythms of cultural  reclamation.Suffused  with  a  superbly  sensuous  supporting  performances and  steeped in an ethos  of  enormous cultural  reverberation   in The Namesake    the acutely lyrical   camera takes us   from  the  quiet streets  of New York to  the  picture-postcard bustle  of  Kolkata,  creating in the journey a passage  into  a world where hands reach out  across colours and continents to caress the soul.

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3.     Life …In A  Metro(2007): What’s the   root- cause  of  Anurag Basu’s obsession with heights? In Murder, Gangster and  now Metro, characters are seen hanging down   or just lounging from the ledge of vertiginous boundary-less skyscrapers.In Life..In A Metro he even gets his resident rock band to climb atop a building and strum   those guitars.  And when it isn’t the music from the strings it’s Irrfan and Konkona playing a mess-matched maritally-challenged couple, getting on a rooftop to scream  their lungs out. It’s meant to be therapeutic.  We’ll take Anurag Basu’s word for it. God knows, the man knows what he’s doing. Metro falters  only in parts. Some of the narrative’s  punctuation marks are over-emphasized. And  the  spiral of human relationships  often seems to  replicate  Mike Nichols’ Closer.    And  yes, Billy Wilder’s romantic comedy The Apartment serves as a direct reference point for  the Kay Kay-Kangana-Sharman  Joshi triangle.But make no mistake, this  is a highly original film with a voice that  seems to  reverberate across a limitless canvas of feelings  derived from the juices  that flow and irrigate the people  in  the  concrete jungle. You know you are being sucked into  the lives of characters who are largely  losers in the garb of white-collar dreamers  , looking for love and warmth in a cold heartless city.  Rather than go for a fiery  flow, Anurag harnesses his narrative into a fiesta  of reined-in   feelings , all indicating  the birth and  growth  of a damnation in a city that cares  a  damn about  your  sensitivities.Basu has an incredible eye for  performances. Every  actor is nearly-flawless  in  his or her appointed place in the chaos of corroded commitments  in the city without pity …Always pithy and witty  Metro moves through a laconic labyrinth of laughter and  some stifled sobs.Sanjeev  Dutta’s dialogues are so  indicative  of  the character’s inner world,  after a while you aren’t listening  to  what  the  characters are saying. The dialogues  slice right into  the  characters’ hearts  and  give  us an   insight  into  the  machinations  of  a people so  busy realizing their dreams , they forget  to  sleep. On the  negative side, Metro  fails  to  connect us with   the  characters beyond their  love relationships. If they have a  life beyond   their heart and below their belts, we don’t  see it.Metro should be seen as a mellow melancholic  sly and  sharp  look at  love and sex  in  the city.   The  characters  move in and out of some skillfully written scenes.  But  sometimes  you wish they wouldn’t invest their emotions  in  thankless un-productive spirals of bed and break-heart.In spite  of  a frail chemistry with  the  over- earnest  toy-boy Shiney Ahuja, Shilpa Shetty gives a nuanced and ruminative  performance. Bobby Singh’s  camera captures Shilpa  in agonized  silhouettes   whispering  the ultimate flaks of  life.  Kay Kay as her insensitive husband has a thankless role that he performas with rare  understanding.While Sharman and Konkona(the latter, disappointingly pale in spite of her chic styling) are  surprisingly  chemistry-less in  their screen relationships, Irrfan and Konkona come across the warmest and  most cuddlesome couple  of this gamboling jigsaw of  life and a ‘dearth’. Watch them in the seashore  sequence , and savour  the rites and wrongs  of  out their outstanding emotive faculties.Metro is  maneuvered forward   by a melee of  delicious ideas…. like composer Pritam and his rock band appearing as sutradhars  to  sing  ther songs. The rain-motif pelts down  on  the plot creating pockets of pain desire and longing. Umbrellas never seemed  to hide so much .Ear firmly  to  the ground, Metro could’ve done with better editing. Akiv Ali cuts  the material  brutally …but  not deep enough. 

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