2) Gulabo Sitabo Shoojit Sircar grows slowly on me. It’s fascinating, funny and profound. The film creates a world that is rooted and real. In a hilarious scene Baanky asks his neighbour: Abki dinon baad tapke, Pandi ji. Rooster, piki oni tapak gay – comes the answer with a picture of a representative of Lucknow culture. There is another big scene at the end, when Mirza returns from Begum’s birthday party with a balloon in her hand. After all he’d done for Hali, he only had one balloon left. He lost both Fatima Mahal and the Begum. One of the songs in the film advises him to do it: Kya leke aayo jagme, kya leke jaayega. Rooster sab yahi chhod jayega. What use is Hasili at this stage of his life when he is already 80 years old? He doesn’t see life passing him by. It is an appropriate message for a year that has made us aware of what we take for granted.
3) In Chapaak, Meghna Gulzar Malti and her colleagues celebrate a ruling of the court that amended the Indian Criminal Code (IPC) to give acid attacks a clean chapter. Amol, the usual negative person or, as a colleague calls him, niraashaavaadi, is annoyed by the jubilation and doubts the need to celebrate while the acid is still freely available. Malthy fired him and said acid was thrown on them, but he claims acid was thrown on him. She wants to have fun, and she will. Amol pretends to have the whole world on his shoulders. Malti won’t let anyone blame her for being sad. If she’s happy, why would she pretend she’s sad? Aur mujhe party karni hai. It is a beautiful moment that reminds us to celebrate small victories, to take ourselves less seriously and never to be afraid to admit our true feelings.
4) I loved the Tapad of Anubhav Sinha, but I did not love him. It’s appropriate, but too cautious. There are two scenes I remember from the movie. The first is the day after the party, when Vikram hit Amrita in the face. He comes down and talks about the emotional investment he’s made in his company to get higher up. He tells Amrita that he plans to stop because Mujee wahan rehab hai nahi hai jahan meri value nahi hai. Same goes for Amrita. She has supported Vikram in every possible way for years. During this scene, Amrita and the maid Sunita are shown side by side on the screen. Amrita is watching Sunita and she agrees with the film. Sunita was confronted daily with her husband’s domestic violence. Amrita’s no different than her husband beating her. Even if it’s just a joke, violence is violence, that’s the theme of the film. In another memorable scene in the film, Amrita’s mother Sandhya makes her husband understand that she had to give up her desires to take care of her family. She gave up singing, which she loved very much. Her husband was sedated because he believed he’d never stopped her from doing anything. But she told him he never encouraged her. He motivated his daughter, but never did the same to his wife. The scene reminds well-meaning people that it takes much more effort to become an ally.
5) Talk about allies: Anwata Dutt’s lightbulb has a striking color palette in which even the moon turns pink, as if she were becoming a feminist ally in helping the lightbulb on its mission to save the women of the village. There is a beautiful scene at the beginning of the film in which a young light bulb sits on a branch and swings its feet in the air. Pakad Leah, said Pishi Maa to him, grabbed her by the legs and brought her back to the wedding. Pishi Maa disguises herself as a light bulb and wears toe rings at her feet. When Bulbul asks her about her needs, she answers that there is a nerve in her legs which, if not pushed down, makes the girls fly away. Chidia ke jesus, the miraculous light bulb. Nahi, let me karne liye hote hain bichhun, answered a hesitant Pishi, his eyes downcast. You have to control women. The legs of the light bulb represent his desires and become the motif of the film. At every stage of her life, she is confronted with violence, which represents the oppression and slavery of women’s desires.
6) The introductory sequence of Alok Kumar Gupta alias Alu is hilarious in the anthology Anurag Basu Ludo. Alu runs a small restaurant and tells his customers about the menu in a scandalously funny way, imitating Mithun Chakraborty of Disco Dancer. The best part of the menu consisted of dishes based on mithun jallad ki jalebi, gunda ka gujiya and maa kasam malpuas. It’s even more fun with subtitles. But I also felt a little sorry for Ala. Out of love he omits everything that belongs to his do-chucka-pancho Pinky, including his identity. He’ll be a second-hand Mithun Chakraborty. Love does that to some people, but I don’t think it should happen. You can’t lose to love.
7) On the first day of the year 2020 another anthology of Ghost Stories was published. I just liked Zoe Akhtar’s short film about abandonment. The film has all the characteristic elements of Zoe Akhtar and Rima Cagti’s cinematic universe. In Talaash, Rosie said: Ek ladki gaayab ho jaati hai. Aur koi puchne vala bhi nahi hai. It’s the same theme as his short story in Ghost Stories. The old mother was left alone by her son to die. The orphan nurse was left alone by her boyfriend. There’s no one to take care of them. The authors also add other interesting details. The nurse who left is called Mamta, which means motherhood, and the son is called Armand, which means willpower, to pick up the theme of the film. The old lady says a few lines from William Wordsworth’s poem Ode: Allusions to immortality in which the poet remembers a lost time, something that is part of history. What I saw, I don’t see anymore. Elsewhere, the old lady Samira urges her not to wait for anyone and to live for herself. Although there is no Talaash meditation in the film, the pathos of the film is always touching.
8) Kaamyaab Hardika Mehta is a tribute to the characters of Hindi cinema that we have seen but did not know. In the last scene of the film, the most remarkable, Sudhir is asked to play the role of filler because the main guest is too late. He performs on the stage where he belongs. But soon the star rises, the curtain falls and everyone forgets – a fitting metaphor for the lives of many Sudhers in industry. Kamyaab also gave an example of a mantra for a difficult year 2020. Bas enjoys life, aur option kya hai.
9) The scene offers another remarkable moment in the meta-thriller of Vikramaditya Motwane, AK vs AK. Anil Kapoor is looking for his daughter Sonam, who has been kidnapped, but no one believes him. Wherever he goes, people first ask him for selfishness. Even the cops want to share his image. At the beginning of the film, Anurag Kashyap says that the actor’s medium is the stage. They can do whatever they want with it. Later we see that Anil is tired, battered and bloody and yet he enters the stage and takes his steps signed My name is Lakhan from his film Ram Lakhan. There’s a saying in the world of entertainment: The show must go on. Whatever happens, whatever is planned, it must always be staged. William Shakespeare wrote a similar saying in one of his works: Do the game. AK vs. AK will show this again. We wonder about the private and public personality of the star. Does the star have to perform all the time? In this hyper-connected world where the distance between the stars is getting even smaller, is everything a spectacle? The film doesn’t always work, but some of the ideas he presents make it one of the most interesting films of the year.
I haven’t seen Eeb Allay Ooo! of Prateek Vats and Sir of Rohena Gera yet and I will try to see them soon. I really hope that the coming year will be good and that we will be able to see more and better films. In the meantime, I wish all readers a Happy New Year. We’ll get through this together.
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