Gangster (2006)

Gangster (2006)

The purpose or the objective of writing this blog was never to criticise, thrust my taste on the reader, or in any way preach about screen-writing. The reason, however, was to communicate my feelings for a piece of art with you who connect with my thoughts and sometimes initiate a conversation.
Film watching is such a personal experience. It’s so pure and impactful, if you let it control your senses. It’s almost like praying. A good film devours your conscience and makes it its. It leaves behind an impression on you, it makes one a more refined and intellectually aware soul. And hence, making a film is such a huge responsibility.

Last night, was one such mind-stimulating night. I was sleepless, restless and my joints ached. I laid in bed wondering what I wanted to do with my life, where I wanted it to go. And such existential questions. Through theseI reached a point where I questioned myself ‘WHY AM I SUCH A LOVER OF ANURAG BASU’S STORYTELLING?’
For the ones who know me, know I’m obsessed with Life.. In a Metro. That film changed my life! It changed me. It made me want to tell stories about love and loss, and so much more. But as I turned in bed ignoring the pain, I strained my forehead to think deeper and it occurred to me that I began looking out for Basu’s work almost after my favourite show on Zee, directed by him called ‘Koshish.. Ek Aasha’. Further racking of brains got me to ‘Gangster’. The only non-SRK film whose dialogue I knew by heart.
At the age of 14!
And so, I re-watched and reminisced Gangster!

You can stop reading now. This post may or may not get long, tedious and obsessive.

shSimran (Kangana) is lonely and suicidal. She hasn’t seen Daya (Shiney) , her soulmate who is a gangster in months. She trusts Akash (Emraan) and confines into him. Akash, a singer in a bar, claims to be in love with her. Daya returns begging for another chance. Madly in love with her, he can go to any extent to make her happy. What happens next affects these 3 lives abundantly and tragically.

I was 14 when I read the tagline of the film and it stayed with me – ‘She fell in love with him when she betrayed him.’

Gangster felt a little aged to me on my 7th or 8th watch after almost 6 years. Kangana was so raw and unkempt. She’s done a great deal for herself ever since.
But without being biased, I must admit that the emotions, the pain and the tears didn’t age. I was watching the film very objectively, at first trying to avoid my joint ache. But as the songs pulled me into their world of love and melancholy, I found myself yearning for Daya with Shruti. Understanding her selfish plight to want to have a peaceful family and her trust for Akash. And, I found myself hoping for her to protect Daya against all odds.

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It was the scene when Daya sends her a letter from prison telling her he understands why she did what she had to, and gives her some money and her passport to start afresh.
That selfless love, that fucking hurt!

Dialogue writing is poetic – trademark Basu. And the most obvious scenes like finding out one’s pregnant – the casual puking and realising – has been done with newness.
Make-up was campy in places, and Emraan was annoying in parts – some dialogues were too dramatic. But overall it didn’t feel like it’s been 11 years since Gangster released.  08sl3.jpg

Watch it on Amazon Prime, if you must.

P.S: Shiney Ahuja was the finest thing that had happened to Hindi Cinema, be it Metro, Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi or Gangster. Too bad whatever happened.

Gangster on IMDB

Hindi Medium (2017)

Hindi Medium (2017)

I had heard a lot of good things about the film. Of course, it has Irrfan, it has to be a smooth watch and Saba Qamar was my favorite actor, from that show on Zindagi called ‘Maat’. My mom and I used to obsess over it!
So when I watched the trailer I was excited to see her doing an Indian film. hm3.jpg

First, let me start with things that worked well, Deepak Dobriyal is so fine in the film, the only character who could move one. Irrfan’s comic timing lifts up the film to a significant level. Saba looks pretty and barring a few times she overacts, she’s decent to watch.

I can’t really get myself to reach a conclusion on whether I liked the film or detested it.
After discussing it at length, I came to understand that certain punches, or conflicts in a narrative take cinematic liberties (take us into a make believe world or exaggerate reality) but they’re limited to a few.
Or there are films/shows that create an alternate universe, or an exaggerated version of our universe. For eg: Sarabhai Vs Sarabhai has characters who are over the top judgemental, or naive, or silly respectively for the sole purpose of comic relief. I believe it when Maya Sarabhai starts insulting Monisha at the drop of a hat, because that’s the universe of the show.  hm1

What Hindi Medium does is the opposite. It tells you that our universe is actually exaggerated. The poor are kind and rich are evil. Ofcourse, they’ve used a lot of such instances for comic relief but with that they’ve jumbled up emotions ans drama as a ‘fact’ of life. Poor Deepak throws himself in front of a car to earn some bucks for his secretly rich friend Irrfan, coz poor people have big hearts.

Too much stereotyping and labeling happened by the end of the film. Saba’s character is so flawed. She literally uses her husband to get her way. She’s inconsiderate and selfish and has no arc, till somewhere in the end where the rich sponsor the poor coz they’ve seen poverty up close only to realise that paisa pairon ki dhool hai. 

If I keep aside how in your face the drama is in the film, I enjoyed Irrfan’s nonchalant personality. The kid is very cute. And some scenes are hilarious!
Don’t expect much and you’ll be entertained.

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Hindi Medium on IMDB

Birthday Blues

I’ve been awfully lazy, relatively busy (thankfully) and amidst all this binging on movies – here the worst part comes – I still haven’t updated my blog.  I apologise to me and you, and promise to be less lazy and more efficient this year.

This year?

I turned 25 on May 29th. I’m dreading my ’29 and 29th’. But I was also dreading my 25th. Mainly because like all of us do, I too began comparing my years of achievements with my age index. As if it’s a math solution, a tried and tested formula.
I was extremely low on the day, mainly because, I was older and felt the public gaze filled with expectations and disappointment stare right through my soul. My mother told me at my age she had had my sister, my friend’s mom told me that it’s high time to marry now. My boss told me that aww I’m still a baby. But it was I who told me things that affected the most.

I began pondering over how that 15 year old Sainee imagined a 25 year old Sainee to be.
She thought she’d be a super successful criminal psychologist (was obsessed with Maya Dolas) or a Vet , she’d be married to SRK (but in a platonic kinda way), she’d be loaded and would shop at the drop of a hat. She’d have boys all around her but she’d break their hearts instead of getting hers broken.

10 years since then, she grew up to understand that she wanted to write instead. She secretly loved acting but because the society judged one so heavily on their looks and body type, a then, overweight Sainee chose not to mention it.
She realised that money is a tough commodity to have and once you have it it’s tougher to let go. Plus, she isn’t a big fan of shopping.
And more often than not heartbreak isn’t in one’s control.

So to me and you, if you’re older and worried that you’re not wiser. If you ‘still’ hate your job, or ‘still’ don’t have one. If you’re ‘still’ acting stupid in your relationship and if you’re ‘still’ making up your mind whether or not you want that career option, or that dress or that piece of cake.

There is no such thing as a ‘still’. Because there’s no age limit and time limit to learn and grow and to suck and fail.

I’m going to promise myself on my 25th that I won’t compare my life with someone else’s. We’re all going through our own individual journeys and it’s silly to compare two completely parallel journeys with one another. Besides, who decides what achievement is the parameter of ‘achieving it all’. What’s that ‘all’ anyway?
The more we achieve, the more we want. I’m not asking to not want, I’m an overly ambitious girl too, but 25 isn’t too late, or too early. It’s just another year gone. Just time passing. *repeats to herself*

I’m going to run behind happiness and if my happiness is success, or lots of money or a rickshaw wallah not refusing to take me to my destination, I’ll have arrived!
One day at a time.

We’re all special. Despite of what the society says.
Hang in there and keep at it.

Age indeed is just a number.

 

 

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Moving on, here are the films I watched and you must too –

Angamaly Diaries (2017) (You’ll have the time and hunger pangs of your life)

Meri Pyaari Bindu (2017) (Hated and loved by equal people, I was in the latter group, ob)

A Death in the Gunj (2017) (It’ll leave you with a pit in the gut)

Chi Va Chi Sau Ka (2017) (Great scene writing.  Complete family entertainer!)

 

Thirteen Reasons Why..

Thirteen Reasons Why, is a show on Netflix, adapted from a book of the same name by Jay Asher.

This show isn’t for the weak. You know why? Because contrary to popular belief suicide isn’t a tool of the weak or ‘an act of cowardice’ as people fondly like to comment, while they casually turn their heads around to the unbearable pain one is feeling.

A couple of weeks ago, Arjun Bhardwaj, 24, jumped off the 19th floor of Taj Lands after recording a video ‘5 steps to commit suicide’. The steps were pretty simple – Drink enough to get high to get through it, write notes for your loved ones “because you don’t wanna leave just like that”, Eat, but that’s optional, and so on.
He said, “See you on the other side” moments before he jumped. He was casual about it. As if he were so sure that there wasn’t any way out of it. The pain of death seemed the least painful to him that moment.

And to Hannah too!

Arjun was mocked on social media (post his death), called names, ‘a privileged drug abuser’, ‘He had a room in Taj what could he be possibly going through?’, ‘Attention seeker’, ‘Loser’, ‘Coward’ – it didn’t stop here – some were happy that a coward like him isn’t breathing anymore. Because, of course, committing suicide is for the ‘weak’. Right.

If you’ve watched the 13th episode, you may recall, on her way to the post office Hannah bumps into someone from her poetry class who tells her they miss her at the poetry sessions and they even wrote a poem about how much they miss her – here, Hannah had a friend to help her – but by the time this help reached her she had made up her mind. An act of the weak, to be so strong willed? I think not.

You’ll say everyone goes through what she went through in her teen life, no shit, we have our own ways of bullying, fat shaming, slut shaming in India too. I’ve had a tough college life myself. I hailed from a modest school, I entered this big world where people watched what you wear, where you go, whom you kiss. I fucked up way too many times and I wasn’t spared. Although, I loved my years in college, a part of me couldn’t wait to get out and start afresh. Away from the tags, the name calling, the boys who were assholes to me, but I was slut shamed instead – and you know who shamed me more than others? My own mind! My morals and my principals, which were so different from how I was being perceived.
You say Hannah could’ve moved on? No she couldn’t. And she shouldn’t. She should fight! But she needs us to do that. She needs to speak to us and we need to trust her.  She has the right to be heard without being objectified and judged. Or rather, had.

Just to think how many people I must’ve hurt. How many of them probably in some way or the other asked for my help and I shut them out, thinking they’ll ‘move on’. How many friends I have judged and called names.
But you know, to be extremely honest, I don’t know how much of that concern stems from ‘wanting to help’ and how much of it comes from ‘I hope I’m not on their tapes.’
And that’s what’s fucked up with us humans. We offer help but we keep the best advice for ourselves. And it’s never enough. Sure, Hannah was depressed, a series of things didn’t work out for her and she didn’t have it in her to pull through. But your explanation that she’s weak, is not enough. We, as a society, are a bunch of depressed people trying to pull one another down fearing that if we don’t then the world will be a better place to live in.

Clay sent out that picture of Tyler to get back at him for what he did to Hannah and how’d it end? A bully is afraid of being bullied too. A bully also, as they call it ‘has a weak heart.’

I’m sure Arjun didn’t jump off Taj to make a fashion statement. To show other people wanting to end it, that, this is how you go in style! Insensitive much? Go see the ton of haters on social media shaming him for being depressed. I don’t know what happened to Arjun, why he didn’t wish to live but he didn’t have help, he couldn’t find it at the right time. Sure, he did drugs but these are means to pull through for longer, the issue is deeper. We’d know if we’d ask, instead of judging from afar.

Hannah went to the Counsellor, she went to her parents, she went to Clay – what’d she get in return? I know, I’m not blaming these people for not identifying her pain. We’re all in pain, we’re all going through shit. Her parents had to fight business competition. Clay’s massive ego blinded him to see her sadness and the counsellor was a judgemental male who thought he’d seen enough teens have consensual sex and call it assault, so the best thing to do was to move on. Hannah was bent and broke, one episode at a time.
Yes, she was touchy and sensitive and she cared a bit too much. So what?
Instead of asking the likes of Hannah to move on, instead of shaming an unhappy boy, why don’t we start being good to others instead? Why can’t we be kind?

I took home a great lesson from ‘A death in the Gunj’ when I watched it recently. Intellectuals stood outside nodding their genius heads, congratulating Konkana Sen Sharma on being a wonderful story teller. Some more nodding. Discussing how great the film is (which it is) and ‘moving on.’
The film talks about depression, and the act of kindness, that we all unanimously lack. WE do. I do. I lost a friend at 21, he was my classmate. He didn’t end his life, he incurred a fatal illness when we were 19. I wasn’t there for him. Maybe in the beginning, for a while. But I wasn’t there for him. I meet his mother now, I justify it to myself that I was going through a ton of my own shit, I was just 19 – scared and confused. And I ‘move on.’ But I hate that I do. When my friend was breathing his last, his mother tells me, he looked at her with a certainty that he won’t wake up and he seemed content, he seemed happy about the last few breaths he was taking.

He was going to a better world. I believe him.

A couple of years ago I was diagnosed with mild clinical depression. I wasn’t suicidal, because I am weak. I’ve been asked questions like ‘Are you depressed, did you break up? It’ll go away in a few months.’ I stopped telling others after this incident. I didn’t share it with my family, friends, colleagues. I knew no one would understand. Because I look ‘normal’. We all do. And we shouldn’t. Because we’re not!
A number of things hit you hard and you just can’t bear it any longer.
Break up was a heavy player in my life, but when I look back it started many years ago. Every male gaze, every stare, every comment, every failed attempt, every snide remark on being fat, every rejection, every replacement – it all built and built and added to a pile on my shoulders that was way too heavy to carry.
I applaud the ones who bounce back, but some don’t. I couldn’t. And I feel no shame in saying I couldn’t. Do I deserve to die then? Am I asking for it? I think not!
I think it’s time to blame others. It’s time to say sorry for your actions. Just how Clay said, ‘we could’ve saved Hannah.’

I thankfully found support within my family and things got much better. It’s a great feeling to bounce back, something Arjun couldn’t experience.

So here’s this small thing I wanna do (small because I don’t know how many people would read this), if you want to talk, just random stuff, you wanna break away from your routine, make a friend. Here’s my email id – sainee1@yahoo.com

I’m here to listen and share. No judgements.

I want to do my thing to make this world a better place to live in.

Help me?

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Swiss Army Man (2016)

Swiss Army Man (2016)

I intentionally skipped this one at MAMI this year. Everyone said it’ll release eventually, but it didn’t. Yesterday, I finally chanced upon this film.
I’m somehwhere between ‘Leave me alone, can’t talk right now’ and ‘WHAT DID I JUST WATCH!’

I’m mindblown!

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Swiss Army Man touches layers and layers of the human psyche. Your deep, hidden worries about life and death and being lonely and living like a loser – the worse, dying like one. A hopeless Hank (Paul ) meets Manny  (Daniel), the dead body, while he’s stranded on a deserted island and is about to commit suicide. In the first few minutes, you’re convinced Manny is dead. A plethora of questions start hoarding your head. Where is this story going to head?
Oh man! It heads on this surreal journey where Manny, the multi-purpose-tool- dead body, gives Hank’s existence a meaning.

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The beauty of this film is that it can be interpreted in so many different ways. When I look at it from the POV of society, I see a manic depressed, hallucinating because of lack of food and energy, slipping towards necrophilia?
But when I see it the way Hank sees it, it’s pure and unreal. It’s beauty in its rawest form.
And I prefer to see it the way Hank does!

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Man-O-man! Daniel Radcliffe is a dream to watch! He’s picked up the nuances of a corpse SO WELL! He’s surpassed any great performance of his from the past. He isn’t a tad bit Harry. You won’t even think of that. All you’ll know and see is Manny. Manny who has absurd special powers, my favourite being where he uses his bodily gases to ski in the ocean.

sa4Paul Dano is always a treat to watch! He’s your unconventional guy. The one who could easily suit the role of a lost, beaten down young guy. The challenge for him was to deliver beyond that image. He’s nailed it to perfection. Paul made me laugh, cry and feel so so so much for him.

My favourite moment of it all was when this girl he’s been in love with for a long time, but has no guts to confront, asks him, what is her photo doing as his phone’s wallpaper?
He says, with utmost honesty, ‘I was sad, and you looked so happy.’

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Swiss Army Man is easily amongst my top 10 favourite movies of all time!
It’s delightful and it’s deep and touching, and it’s gross in parts too. Each time I re-watch it, it’ll have a new meaning for me I’m sure.

Written and Directed by Dan Kwan (as Daniel Kwan) and Daniel Scheinert, don’t miss out on this experience.
Too many Daniels have killed it in this one. 

Swiss Army Man on IMDB

Rangoon (2017)

Rangoon (2017)

I crave for the mesmerising trio of Vishal Bhardwaj, Gulzar Saab and Rekha Bhardwaj on the big screen, but even their greatness couldn’t save Rangoon for me. Nope, nor did the gigantic sets, elaborate costumes and scenic locations. rangoonf-min

It’s a Vishal Bhardwaj film, so yes, expectations were high, but it’s a different kind of feeling. I, for one, *want* his films to do well. I have too much love for him and his cinema to criticise it, but as much as I tried Rangoon kept falling apart. The final blow were the last 20 mins. The movie escalated from illogical to bizarre. As much as I want to discuss the last 20 mins (because THAT bizarre) I wont, as I want you to watch the film. You may like it and show me why I should too!

The first half, the essential half, the one where you introduce characters, their motives and set the pace of the film – went by in a jiffy. Edit cuts were abrupt. There was barely any time spent with characters for me to feel for them. Can you believe it, I’m saying this about a VB film? The master of love and loss, unfortunately, couldn’t make me feel for his characters. Logic compelled me to understand what the writer wants me to feel for the character but not even once did the characters pull me into their world of love, war and deceit. I watched like an outsider.

Gandhi’s ideals, the INA’s goals, people for and against it, British India – all these concepts are simplified and explained very well. Saif Ali Khan aka Rusi is a film producer with a prosthetic hand that opens up on the press of a button. That added to Rusi. I’m glad that was thought of, because besides that very little thought was given to him. Saif, with whatever little he got to do, did a fine job. Specially in the second half, he’s evil, cunning, kind, helpless all at once.  rangoon1.jpg

Julia is the most annoying woman ever! I’m sorry, I love Kangana but her dialogue delivery was highly difficult to comprehend. Oh Julia looks gorgeous but that’s not enough. She dances weirdly, and what was sad is that she causes some serious damage to the narrative due to her stupidity. I hate it when women characters are made to do something silly, like while the goons are behind her in a chase sequence she stops to stay with her lover. I am a woman and I would have ran to save the country over a guy! Stop making women look so dumb!
The film is set on her, and she isn’t one bit likeable. 06rangoon-lead

Shahid Kapoor aka Nawaab Ali is the only man I’ve seen who makes a moustache look hot! Shahid has caught the part of being a soldier really well, he’s strong and soothing. I loved him the most. Unlike Saif’s character which is underwritten, Shahid’s character has no character of his own.

I’m going to mention a hypothetical story, you tell me if it seems weird to you too – Two people met at their work place. A boy and a girl. The boy’s job allotted by his boss- the girl’s boyfriend, is to constantly overlook the work of the girl. Obviously the girl doesn’t like him because he’s constantly on her back.
Now one day, the office goes for a picnic and this boy and girl get lost with a Japanese chef (for some reason). The girl wants to go back to her colleagues but is stuck because there’s a cake fight going on and they have to hide. The next day, the girl and boy get drunk over way too many rum balls made by the chef and start making out. The girl in a jiffy forgets that she has a boyfriend, she hated this guy 2 mins back, she met him 1 day ago. Just like that! ran3

Now Rangoon to me, felt just like this hypothetical story. It was superficial and boring.
The British guy who played the British Officer Barry delivered eye-twitching monologues in Hindi. There was no way I’d take a man seriously who spoke like that! He was so annoying that he even annoyed death and came back. He and the Japanese soldier were given way too much screen-time.

Look, I enjoyed the songs specially Bloody Hell and Yeh Ishq Hai. Sunidhi Chauhan’s cameo was cute. The acts that the troop performs to keep the crowd entertained were well done. Making of films in 1930s to the high-society parties, it all felt so vintage and classy.

But nope, I’m not buying that just because Julia does her own stunts, she’ll jump upon a fast moving train and do dangerous, out of character stunts.
Characters appear and disappear from no where.
But what got to me, was the sheer audacity with which Julia got away for her unfaithfulness. Rusi got no closure and the woman was far from apologetic.

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Watch it for the large sets, VB’s visionary India during the times of British Raj and the fascinating ways of film-making and entertainment back in the days.

Rangoon on IMDB

89th Academy Awards- My Predictions (And Winners)

89th Academy Awards- My Predictions (And Winners)

This year (2016) has been better! For me, and thankfully for the Academy Awards. There were a variety of films nominated from every walk of life. I was running behind time, and just about 5 hours before the ceremony managed to finish watching all of the major films.
Hacksaw Ridge and Manchester By The Sea have my heart!

So just like last year, here is my wishlist of Oscar predictions (P), these are the ones I really wish win. I’ll also mention the ones which won in reality.

Writing (Original Screenplay) P – Manchester By The Sea
Winner: Manchester By The Sea

Writing (Adapted Screenplay) P – Hidden Figures
Winner: Moonlight

Visual Effects P – Jungle Book
Winner: Jungle Book

Sound mixing P – Hacksaw Ridge
Winner: Hacksaw Ridge

Sound editing P – Arrival
Winner: Arrival

Production Design P – Fantastic Beasts
Winner: La La Land

Film Editing P – Hacksaw Ridge
Winner: Hacksaw Ridge

Direction P – Kenneth Lonergan (Manchester By The Sea)
Winner: Damien Chazelle (La La Land)

Costume Design P – Fantastic Beasts
Winner: Fantastic Beasts

Make up P – Suicide Squad
Winner: Suicide Squad

Cinematography P – La La Land
Winner: La La Land

Animated Feature P – My Life As A Zucchini
Winner: Zootopia

Actress in a Supporting Role P – Naomi Harris (Moonlight)
Winner: Viola Davis (Fences)

Actor in a Supporting Role P – Mahershala Ali (Moonlight)
Winner: Mahershala Ali (Moonlight)

Actress in Leading Role P – Emma Watson (La La Land)
Winner: Emma Watson (La La Land)

Actor in Leading role P – Casey Affleck (Manchester By The Sea)
Winner: Casey Affleck (Manchester By The Sea)

Best Picture P – La La Land
Winner: Moonlight

This year’s Oscars was no less than a well scripted thriller with an underwhelming ending.
None the less, we’ll wait to see what happens next year.

P.S: I couldn’t write about any of these films because I realised I had to finish watching them first. I will skip them but if you’re reading this, please watch – Hacksaw Ridge, Hidden Figures, My Life As A Zucchini,  Sing (Short film), O.J: Made In America (Documentary) and Manchester By The Sea. These topped my list!