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Two Netflix Feature Films You May Have Bypassed



Class Of  ‘83(Netflix): In how many  films from Prakash Mehra’s Zanjeer  and    Shimit Amin’s Ab Tak Chappan to Mahesh Manjrekar’s  Kurukshetra and Prabhudheva’s Wanted have we seen the  cop-hero  battling the dreaded ‘System’ from the outside ? In the  1971 game-changing cops film , Clint Eastwood throws his  police badge in the  muddy water and  deals with a rampageous  killer as he deems  fit.Things  are  not that  simple for  super-cop Vijay Singh(played with  suspicious stoicism by Bobby Deol). Unlike ‘Dirty’Harry Eastwood, Deol  has  to   play the  law enforcer  within  the rulebook. Also  he is  not a made-up  character  buoyed  by  flights  of  frenzy .What sets  Vijay Singh apart from all the other screen cops is  his identity. He is a real person.

Scripted from  a real-life  encounter-cop Vijay Singh, Class Of  83 adheres  closely to facts, discarding in  the  process all the  flamboyant heroics  of the way we look at  cop heroes in  our films. Vijay Singh is suicidal and troubled by the arrogance of  the lawless.  His  team of young eliminators  is  fresh young enthusiastic and  raring to act.And I do refer to both the young actors and the restless  characters they play.  Pramod Shukla (Bhupendra Jadawat), Lakshman Jadhav (Ninad Mahajani) , Vishnu Varde (Hitesh Bhojraj), Aslam Khan (Sameer Paranjape)   and Janardan Surve (Prithvik Pratap)  are  as impressive in their  anxious righteousness on-screen chraracters as they are  as actors.

Aslam’s murder in the hands of chain snatchers , shot with  a  Sam Peckinpah lunacy on a construction site, has one of the goons humming, ‘Chain  churake  laya hoon’ to the tune of  Gulzar’s Chand churake laya hoon. It is the only music you will hear in  this  film. No   melodic outbursts in  the  background, no  compromise with the  mood of no-compromise that the  protagonists wear like  badges.

 Bobby Deol is  more effective in his emotional  moments with his  dying wife(Geetika Tyagi) and  disgruntled son, than he is  as a uniformed  land-mower constantly  battling his red-tapism.

The  ‘encounters’ are staged with a feral fidelity and finality  that emblazon the screen  . The  crusty toasted-brown cinematography(by the Norwegian  Mario  Poljac) pins down the sweat nervousness of lives on the brink. Class Of  83 effectively  reflects the immediacy of  quick justice. It is a sharp-shooting drama ,lacking in  newness  but  making up for  it by making the familiar look furious fertile and  disturbingly futile.

Raat Akeli Hai: A death in the family  kills  a lot of  hopes and expectations built around the  life  of the person who is no more.…Or less.  Raat Akeli Hai,  a skillfully scripted whodunit that is  much more than just a murder mystery, opens with two deaths, both  connected to the same  famil.The patriarchal nightmare  of  the  Singh parivar, a feudal  kingdom where  kinks and  whims rule,where the men decide the quality  of  the air women should breathe  ,  is  brought to life in flickering colours of dark  furtive  suppressed emotions.

 Straightaway we must applaud Pankaj Kumar’s cinematography.A lot of  the  intended incandescence  of  seething hearts is lost on  the  OTT  platform. What remains is  still remarkable. First-time director Honey Trehan creates a  dark sinister  self-contained universe of  painful gender discrimination shaken up by the murder of  the patriarch on his  wedding night…His SECOND wedding night. The horny Thakur’s  bride is  a free-spirited libertine– or at least that’s how   she comes  across–who has been sleeping with the aged  man of the house and his robust nephew  Vikram.

 Enter Inspector  Jatil Yadav, a  hard  nut to  crack,and  known to crack open  difficult cases, Jatil(with an ‘l’) is a Mama’s Boy  attached at  his mother Ila Arun’s apron strings  and  probably  still a  virgin.This virgin cop is  sitting duck waiting for a …never mind! It doesn’t take  Jatil long to get attracted  to  Radha,  the  promiscuous  newly-widowed  second wife of  the newly-slayed Thakur.

It’s to writer  Smita Singh’s credit that she  builds a remote humour around Jatil’s struggle to change his marital status.  That he falls head over  heels in love with Radha  is  a providential for the plot. Not only does the  growing relationship between  the  quirky cop and  the wanton widow take the narrative  to  the level of a  Greek tragedy, it also propels the  whodunit  into a kind of  romantic  somersault where  love and  murder,  blood and  semen  mingle  into a stirring  often provocative  film. In a film as  complex and  compelling as  Raat Akeli Hai, the casting is  supreme. Casting director turned filmmaker Honey Trehan  gives  the  murder mystery the actors it deserves. Both Nawazuddin Siddiqui  and  Radhika Apte gather their considerable nervous energy into performances that constantly suggest there’s   more to  the proceedings than meet the eye.

Raat Akeli Hai is impressively  reined-in   about its rage  for a  society that  allows men to  treat women as objects  of lust. Every major  character, man or woman  is angry .But  none is given the luxury of  unchecked  expression. The  deep sorrow that  encircles us while watching Raat Akeli Hai is all well worth experiencing.It is  what  makes life bearable. 

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