Posts tagged ‘bollywood’

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

2007, Best of

A little late but here goes.

Ahem.

Best films of 2007 and why I liked them:

Black Friday by Anurag Kashyap
Because never before have I seen a more honest film. Tiger was scary. Aadesh Srivastava as Baadshah shone again after Satya.

Ami, Iyasin ar amar Madhubala by Budhdhadeb Bhattacharya
This film is about chauvinism, feminism, voyeurism, fascism and nerds. I liked the scene where the computer guy talks to his computer.

Ratri Mazha by Lenin , Kaal Chakra by Vishal Bhandari
Refreshingly new attitude, to some very relevant social issues.

Manorama: Six Feet Under by Navdeep Singh
Small town life the way it is. Crisp dialogues. Great acting.

Johnny Gaddar by Sriram Raghavan
Anti hero protagonist was a killer idea. Gripping and unpredictable.

Ekti Nadir Galpo by Samir Chanda
Mithun’s performance. And the way the film wraps itself around a simple story.

Naalu Pennungal by Adoor Gopalkrishnans
Four portraits of women. Each part shot in a unique style.

No Smoking by Anurag Kashyap
I know a lot of people hated it. Not perfect but I’m a sucker for Alternative Reality films. And John Abraham rocked.
(more…)

January 1, 2008 at 10:10 pm 1 comment

Dharm and Samskara

I have no intention of watching Dharm. I am sure I will not discover my faith after watching any film. I am just not that stupid. Anyway, I have already read the spoilers and the story doesn’t look like it’s anything new.

Reading this article, I couldn’t help but draw comparisons between Dharm and Pattabhi Rama Reddy’s Samskara (1970). Padmaja Thakore writes:

“Chaturvedi is both a scholar of Vedic scriptures and other Hindu texts and also a karm-kaandi Brahman who ministers prayers and other rituals for his clients (usually these are two different tasks and not done by the same person). Talvar has also decided to disregard the codes and mores of the jajmani system in Hindu households of today where family priests cater to the common ritualistic needs of their patron households, and do not form the moral core of their universe. Instead, Pandit Chaturvedi is received like royalty in their house and is considered the last authority on dharma. In moments of doubt (his own and his client’s), the pundit is promptly seen referring to the written word, oblivious of real life’s experiences.”

Very much like Samskara, where the Acharya’s character had similar traits. But then, this is where the similarity ends :

“To suggest that violence happens because one interprets the religious scriptures too literally, and it will stop as soon as one finds the right interpretation, is to simplify the problem to the point of absurdity.
[…]
Dharm takes a similarly skewed view, where the only factor in communal riots is religion and how one interprets religious scriptures.
So I was left very skeptical when, at the end of the film, Pandit Chaturvedi successfully stops fifty-odd men, from further killing Muslims, by simply quoting two lines in Sanskrit and explaining that dharma does not allow this bloodbath. The men with bloodied swords are made to stand in statuesque poses while Chaturvedi takes away a child to safety (one suspects that after clearing a distance, Chaturvedi might have made a dash with the child before the stupefied crowd came to its senses and followed him).”

Phuss. And this is the movie everyone’s been going gaga about.

Compare this with Samskara. The film is based on the novel of same name by U. R. Ananthamurthy. Both the film and novel were deemed controversial, banned and then released. Obviously. Take the premise itself. A Brahmin has died, and the other priests in his village are debating over his last rites. Said person had broken from the order and led a deviant life which involved eating meat, drinking, gambling and a lower caste prostitute. He has also left behind a bag of jewelry, honorarium to the priest who performs his rites. The priests consult with the Acharya, their head priest who also happens to be younger than than others. Faced with this dillemna, he decides to delay his decision and consult the scriptures. At night he reads through the scriptures, but they yield no answers. The next day he decides to consult his goddess and begins a modest ritual. He prays for a day but the goddess does not answer. At this point it is quite clear how the Acharya is feeling. After he is failed by his most reververed icons, he feels the absence of spirituality within him. What follows is his descent, or rather, his ascent as he breaks every norm imposed by his religiousity. By following the path of the deviant priest he discovers the emptiness of his faith. Like Pandit Chaturvedi, the Acharya also undertakes the inner-journey transitioning from an idealized scholar to a human being with common indecency.

Samskara is an atheists delight. It speaks not only for Hinduism but for any religion and any book that people swear by. It calls on you to discover the horrors of faith. And it provides no comfort zones, no walls to put your back against. By contrast, Dharm appears to be a trivial piece of work. It doesn’t challange religion. Rather, it goads you to ‘discover’ it. It sings the same song that apologists of every religion sing all around the world. That our religion has been hijacked. That our book doesn’t say this. That our texts have been misinterpreted. Et cetera et cetera.

And I guess this is why it was accepted and praised. A mediocre film it might be, but at least it offended no one.

December 24, 2007 at 9:21 pm Leave a comment


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