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Two Netflix Flicks You Might Have Missed

Extraction It’s that not-so-old and certainly not forgotten  feeling of sitting at the edge of my seat in a movie theatre, that this high-fidelity  Netflix  actioner brought back right into  my  home. And it’s  the most  gratifying feeling to be  swept into Chris Hemsworth’s  incredible  action-adventure as he  rescues a 14-year old boy  from  a vicious crimelord in Dhaka, played with  chilling menace  by  Priyanshu Painyulli.

The  film , as we all know, was originally titled  Dhaka, for obvious reasons. But then,  for not so  obvious reasons(dial  ‘r’  for redtapism) Mumbai  was  turned  into Dhaka, the  underlining premise of this  geopolitical  liberty being, all   thirdworld Asian cities  exude  the same  stench of  sweaty  bustle and   underworld crime. Painyulli’s  army of underage criminals  could be those slum boys from Danny Boyle’s films.

 Foreigners  always have a fixed way of looking at  India  and its metropolis. And   Extraction is no exception. There are  numerous top-shots  of vehicles  stranded mid-traffic, of pedestrians  in  bright clothes negotiating  the  blaring horns and speeding vans…But wait!  This  is  not  the  firangi  film that  exploits  and  misrepresents  us poor natives.

As  a matter of fact  Extraction gives ample room to the Indian actors specially Randeep Hooda who is in fine form  in the second  lead  and young Rudhraksh Jaiswal who is  in almost every frame with Hemsworth who in the truest  sense  of screen heroism, decides to  protect  the  boy’s life from the   rush-hour  menace, even as  Hemsworth’s female  partner(Iranian stunner  Golshifteh Farahani, wasted )  and his  friend (David Harbour who makes a very unpleasant guest appearance)  warn  him to get rid  of  the  boy and run for his life  from a city that is controlled by criminals(not Mumbai, Dhaka, so  relax).

But is  Tyler Rake listening?  Hemsworth dives into the  mind and action of  Tyler  with a swimmer’s  gusto. I  bring up the swimming analogy with reason.Water and its  meditative  purposes play a   big hand  in the    plot  .The plot is a simmering cauldron  of  discontent, designed  to exhibit  its leading man’s  muscle power.Hemsworth  does  an exceptionally  competent  turn as an action star,giving his all to the stunt scenes, and then some more.

The  kid who accompanies Hemsworth everywhere through the hellish journey  that takes them from  sewage  to foliage, should have made a stronger emotional impact, considering he is the  reason why everyone is  at risk. Somehow Rudrakhsh Jaiswal  is unable to  imbue his part with the  volume of  immediacy and charm  it requires. I just saw My Spy two nights ago where a  little girl Chloe  Coleman co-stars with  Dave Bautista. And she is  a natural-born scene stealer. Can’t say the  same  about Jaiswal.

  Tearing a  page  and a limb out  of Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky  and  Arnold Schwarzenegger’s  Terminator one-man-army theory  of celluloid heroism, Extraction keeps  us engrossed  through   its predictable plotting. That we  know  exactly how this  kidnapping saga will pan  out does not deter our interest. There is a delectable  hint of  a sequel at the end.And I am  agog.

Yeh Ballet: Sooni Taraporevala who has written many  of Mira Nair’s works , made  her  directorial debut with  Little  Zizou  was at  best, an oddity.  Ten years later she returns  with Yeh Ballet which is not about  the Parsee community (though there are a couple of Parsis in  the picture) and is very much in the league  of  Danny Boyle’s  supremely touristic Slumdog Millionaire. But lacking Boyle’s sizzling synergy. In fact the foreigner’s gaze on Indian slums is  so prominent here ,this could well be a part of Danny Boyle’s slum-porn franchise. The  poor from the Mumbai slums(who are not the  poor in thessense of say, the poor on the streets of Chattisgarh) are shown to  be goodhearted blustering busybodies who  have accepted their  economic deprivations with the  joy of a woman who decides to enjoy  the sex with her alcoholic brutal  husband.There are repeated evocations of  the poor-are-noble premise while the  rich are often  shown to be mean and  insensitive.  Check out the  snooty mother of one  of  the female  ballet dancers who  looks at our slumboy hero like  something that the cat dragged in and  wonders  if ballet has a reservation  quota. The  film   wallows in its own selfrighteousness, portraying the slum kids as bindaas, and what have-you.

Subtlety is a  leading casualty  in the flurry to  project the two  protagonists in all their aspirational glory. Nishu(Manish Chauhan) and  Asif(Achinyta Bose) come across well  as two squares in a  circle. These  actors clearly enjoy their  dancing far  more than the  trite narrative  allows them  to.

Their  initiation  into ballet has a quality  of crude irony to it.I mean, who associates ballet  with slumboys?  It’s like feeding caviar  to urchins,champagne to hooch drinkers,  or whatever.  Ms Tarapore never really gets over the irony of it. Almost every frame is  clothed in the glow of wondrous amusement. The tone  suggests a kind  of  incredulity we feel when we fund our house help’s child’s education and can’t stop feeling saintly about it.This is  the  coming-of-age   story not just of two underdogs  but also their  American  ballet coach who is wary  of  all things Indian when he lands in Mumbai. By the time the film ends, Saul is like  a Mother Teresa  of  the  ballet world.Ms Taraporevala’s  insistence on ceaseless activities  in  the narration is mildly annoying and exhausting. But when the two  young heroes get  on the floor to dance they make us forget all the  discomforts  perpetrated by the hyper-active script. There is  too little dancing and too much pontificating and verbal venting  in Yeh Ballet. If  you can  live with that then this film will leave  you  teary-eyed at times.

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