Atonement: Invisible Characters and Narration by Stealth

The SOUND of a typewriter, irregularly struck, now fluent, now creating an urgent rhythm that forms the percussive element of the opening score.

This is how Atonement begins. The viewer is thrust into a childs room. The typewriter is being worked upon by a girl, a child. She finishes her typing with a dramatic “THE END” and tears off the sheet. She marches down the house to her mother’s chamber. A marching tune plays in the background, the rhythmic sound of a typewriter.

A few minutes into the film, Briony is shocked after watching the actions of the other two principal character; Cecilia and Robbie, who stand by a fountain in the grounds beneath. She watches from afar, as Robbie appears to instruct Cecilia, who takes off her clothing and dives into the pond, emerging soaked and angry. Whatever conclusion Briony draws are not revealed but she is clearly taken aback. Immediately after this the film cuts to Cecilia running through the woods with a bouquet of flowers clutched in her hand. (more…)

March 12, 2008 at 3:51 pm Leave a comment

Cool

This is cool!

[via]

March 7, 2008 at 12:16 am Leave a comment

TZP unbound :P

Great.

The Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan headquarters in New Delhi issued a circular to all KVs earlier this month recommending the movie. So, teachers have been leading students, batch-by-batch, to the nearby theatre to watch the world of Ishaan, where reality and fantasy are indistinguishable. 

The movie in question is TZP. Am I to undertand that there are people who haven’t seen the film as yet?

“Students have to be shown about their differently-abled counterparts. Even in a normal school, we may come across children with a slightly backward ability. Children should be familiarised with the not-so-lucky. It’s our duty to bring children with learning disability to the mainstream,” Ramakrishnan says.

Uh, yeah. Sure, it’s your duty. But I don’t see how this film is going to help you do that.

I liked TZP but I don’t think it’s a film about disability per se. Ishaan’s dyslexia is at most a plot device. It is used to expose his fathers attitude and to establish a bond with his teacher. It also simplifies things; academic success becomes a simple matter of overcoming dyslexia(shown in a quick montage with an upbeat song in the background). Nikumbhs meeting with Ishaan’s parents isn’t exactly a lesson on dyslexia. Yes, it is informative, but raising awareness isn’t the intention. It’s a revelation, especially for people who are not familiar with the term, intended to take the plot forward. Besides dyslexia isn’t the only learning ability or disability out there.

I do not quite see how watching this film could help sensitize children towards disability. For most of the film’s length, Ishaan is isolated from his peers. He makes only one friend and no attempt is made to explore this friendship. Nikumbh steps in a few minutes later anyway. The film ends with Ishaan being accepted by his family, not his peers. There are no lessons for children here, the lessons are for adults.

Does that mean that teachers can ‘learn’ something from the film? Nope.

Nikumbh cannot and should not be used as a benchmark. He is after all, a character, with the convinience of being in a work of fiction. Teachers in real life do not have the benefit of situtations dictated by writers and solutions scripted to make everyone happy.

I am not saying that the film is irrevelant. TZP is a good film, but it has it’s bounds. Many people are unhappy with this. Some critics have unfairly compared it to other films and demanded that the film transgress these boundaries. I see no reason why it should. The filmmaker chose a certain arc, and kept out unnecessary sub plots and rolled out a decent film. His treatment of the story is a personal choice, one that I admire. Why should he be expected to tread the line of other directors? Isn’t his message unique?

So, what is the message of the film? Yes, every child is special, but how? Many, if not most, people can relate to Ishaan’s predicament, the anguish of not being understood. It is this angle, that the film explores. In doing so, it holds a mirror to the Indian middle class. This honest treatment taht touched the audience most. Without being preachy, the film forces you to look differently at children, not because they may have dyslexia, but because they might be misunderstood.

There is another group of people who refuse to acknowledge the boundaries the film has confined itself to. These people have misinterpreted the message of the movie. Some of them are wrongly self-diagnosing themselves with dyslexia. Others think they ‘understand’ dyslexia or the needs of special children better. The good men and women at KVS think TZP is the ideal film to sensitize their teachers and students. Teachers in Vadodara are being made to watch the film(against their will?).

This is clearly an overreaction. At the end of the day TZP is a film and let us leave it at that. In my opinion, no film or story should be cannonised in such a manner. Isn’t it ironic that a film that encourages us to recognize a childs individuality is being shoved down children’s throats?

February 26, 2008 at 6:09 pm Leave a comment

Nihalani and Kashyap

Reacting to adverse reactions to No Smoking, director Anurag Kashyap  had this to say:

since i do not have the liberty, and i get banned everytime i am directly stating my opinions(we started shooting much before Black friday got the clearence), one has to wage a guerilla war.. no smoking is my guerrilla war..

Here’s an old interview with Govind Nihalani and Rakesh Sharma from 2005. The two filmmakers talk about the then new multiplex phenomenon and the state of filmmaking. Also some innovative ideas to reach a wider audience. The interview concludes with Nihalani saying:

Extra legal censorship is getting stronger. It’s a recognition of the power of art. So fight on. Go for guerrilla creativity.

February 7, 2008 at 10:22 pm Leave a comment

Ek Nadir Galpo (Tale of a River) review

A lot of people come here looking for Ekti Nadir Galpo or Ek Nadir galpo. If that’s why you came here let me assure you, it’s a good film, worth your time. A short review follows.

Ek Nadir Galpo (Tale of a River) is a Bengali feature film, by first time director Samir Chanda. The story is so simple that to reveal anything would give the film away. It is set in a small village in a remote area of Bengal. To step outside, a river needs to be crossed. The other connection to the outer world is a small post office supervised by the head clerk Mr. Bhattacharya. Mr. Bhattacharya’s daughter, Anjana, is about to begin college, the first person from her village to do so. This prospect is both exciting and frightening for Bhattacharya, who seems to have spent his entire life in his secluded village. Anjana’s brush with the outside world is not well recieved by Bhattacharya. This little friction, between a politically reclusive father and his budding politically excited daughter is beautifully essayed. An unfortunate incident leaves Bhattacharya shattered. The reality of it is too harsh for him to accept. He resolves to compensate his loss by making a bizarre request out of the government. Driven by his daughter’s ardor and energy, and his own personal grief, he campaigns, without the benefit of “public support”, to have this unusual request fulfilled. Will he succeed?

Besides being a touching story of a father and a daughter, the film is also a revealing commentary on the Indian citizens tryst with politics and the government. For instance, Anjana is both excited and cynical about the political activities at her college. It is clear that she desires change, but does not agree with the disruptive methods of her compatriots. Then there is Bhattacharya. His cynicism of public support is reversed when his demands are not filled. His request itself is symbolic. Lost in grief, he selfishly demands emotional gratification instead of corrective action. It shows us how deep the emotions of personal loss run, and how the law and its machinations provide no space for it. This idea is captured well by the character of a District Magistrate, who listens to Bhattacharya and resolves to help him out. Soon however he is frustrated by Bhattacharya’s stubbornness and his reluctance to pursue the matter with a logical approach. The conclusion makes us question the desiarbility of this approach for some, given its inability to satiate personal loss.

The film is powered by excellent performances by Mithun Chakraborty (veternan actor, National Award winner, B grade star, and Ooty hotelier) and the talented Shweta Prasad (previously seen in Vishal Bharadwaj’s Makdee). The visuals are stunning right from the starting credits to the beautifully shot climax. I don’t have much to say about the music, as it appeared very simple to me. There are some songs in the first half which seem to slow the film down, but otherwise the film is perfect.

January 31, 2008 at 10:03 pm 19 comments

Air

Pocket Symphony

What would my nights be,

without you.

January 27, 2008 at 10:31 pm Leave a comment

Two songs and a torrent index

Vampy songs, :-E

Annie Lennox’s Love Song For a Vampire. I like the imagery in the lyrics. And Lennox looks like a class A vampire.

Cry Little Sister, from the Lost Boys OST. Haunting chorus. Love the way it opens the film.

***

Let me begin, by warning you that illegaly downloading copyrighted content can get
you in trouble. It is not a nice thing to do. ; ). That said, a few days back I came across this fantastic torrent index called Freakyflicks. From their website:

“FreakyFlicks is a free and open community dedicated to preserving and sharing cinematic art in the digital era. Our goal is to disseminate such works of art to the widest audience possible through the channels provided by P2P technology.The FreakyFlicks collection is limited to those films that have played an exceptional role in the history of cinema and its progression in becoming a great art. Films that are usually described as classic, cult, arthouse and avant-garde.”

Cool. Do browse through their collection because they have some rare films in there. For example, two pre-Eraserhead films by David Lynch,  some Satyajit Ray including the Apu trilogy, Tarkovsky and basically a hell lot of directors I had never heard about. I am not providing any links here. Go google it yourself.

January 15, 2008 at 8:01 pm 1 comment

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