Theater Watch: Nothing Like Lear

After Hamlet, the Clown Prince, the expectations from Rajat Kapoor and Atul Kumar’s combo (Cinematograph and the Company Theater) were high. Nothing Like Lear starts with a similar setup, but hardly anything similar in execution. Unlike the theatrics, the collective effusion and humor in Hamlet, Lear depends on the brilliance of Atul, since it is, but, a monologue.

I consider myself reasonably well read, but not enlightened in equal proportions. So, yes, I had read shakespeare’s dark work quite some back, but of course, I do not remember quite a few fine details and all the underlying tragedy. So, the first fifteen minutes were tough on me. I was trying to remember just as I was trying to be in the moment. The point where I let go of this trying to remember, I drew the same conclusion as I did the last time I saw Hamlet – these guys are brilliant. What an interpretation! For Rajat and Atul to merge so many characters, right from Lear to Edward to the fool to the sisters, into one actor and so beautifully, I fail to imagine what level of intellectual and theatrical brilliance would have been required.

This play is not the funny and hilarious kinds that Hamlet was. So don’t expect a laugh riot. There are the usual pepperings of jokes and fooling around with the audience. Bu this play is tragic. And there are times when the drama gets you.

I must mention here how effortlessly the clown moves from being just a clown to being a set piece in that epic tragedy, and Atul right now, would probably rate as one of the finest theater actors we have. Right up there with a Naseer.

I dont want to speak too much, for the real joy of the sunrise is in seeing it, and not just hearing telltales about the round burning globe of fire in some poet’s soliloquy. Go watch it. You may compare it with Hamlet, and say that Hamlet was better, but that does not make this one be nothing.

 

This, to me, is what theater should be – brilliant intrpretations, great execution, and out of this world performances.

 

4.5 on 5 for me. Hamlet was a 5, of course.

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Movie Review: Khoya Khoya Chand

I watched Khoya Khoya Chand on Friday. Its a different matter that I am writing the review now.

 To me, its a brilliant movie that would fail to make its mark. Reasons – to be honest, I dont want to dissect the this and that of the movie and kill a dream in the process. I see KKC as Sudhir Mishra’s tribute to his time in the Hindi Film Industry (pardon me for not referring to it as Bollywood yet). And I can tell you what I liked about the movie. Its brilliant in its canvas, cinematography, characterization. The music is quite awesome.the thought behind the movie is quite profound. The imagination vivid. The use of cinema within cinema is a novel way of showing the reality that cinema is supposed to present. And for that, I would like to give full marks to Mishra.

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The place where the movie fails is its editing. Its too slow and too disjoint at times. Everything makes sense, everything fits, and yet, you are fidgety in your seat at times. At times you wonder, for how long has this thing being going on? And then, the twist happens. The twist in the personality, emotions bring you back to whats happening on the screen. Its a wait and bait game that the movie plays with you. If you fish for fun, waiting can be too boring. If its your bread and butter, you know that for a bigger catch, you may have to wait longer. The movie will not appeal to people who prefer spending 150 bucks on an Om Shanti Om, where every minute of the movie is supposed to be explicit, entertaining, and exciting. The movie will appeal to theatre enthusiasts who like the use of sets, dialogues, imagery, limited words, multiple interpretations, the play between characters, the way the story buildds for 10 minutes to give you an ephemeral kick. None of the characters is a “hero”. None of them is a villain either. They are all playing their part in the gray zone. The shot where Zafar (Shiney) is mad at Nikhat (Soha) for not having tried her best in getting his way with a producer is an exquisite display of the real side of people. We all lose it at times, say things that we dont mean in general, but we do mean them in the spur of the moment. The shot where Prem Kumar (Rajat Kapoor) asks Zafar and Shyamul (Vinay Pathak) “sirf main hi itna haraamzaada hoon? ya sab aise hote hain?” is again a reality check. In another shot, zafar asks Nikhat – “hum to yahin hain. aap kahan hain? aap kahan they?’  and in another zafar tells shyamul – ise chod ke jeena bhi to mumkin nahi hai! The movie is a gem. Its a gem that some people will appreaciate on DVDs. But its bound to bomb at the box office. It may get an award somewhere, but most likely, it wont get any financial rewards. I live with a hope to be proven wrong on this.

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Shiney, Soha, Rajat, Sonya,  Vinay, et al shine. And you can see the effort. At times, shiney does go slightly overboard, but only slightly. Soha is a find. There are shots where she looks exquisitely beautiful, and there are shots where she looks like an ordinary girl. Isnt that what cinema is? A make believe world.

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And thats why you should see it. Its abotu all the things that make Cinema what it is. Glamorous, yet painful! Inviting, yet indifferent!!

One of my all-time favs

A ghazal that I dont have the MP3 of.. and I have been desperately searching for it..

Movie: Mammo (1994) Director: Shyam Benegal

Farida Jalal is awesome in this movie. and this song is just pure simple awesome!

 

Lyrics –
ये फ़ासले तेरी
गलियों के हमसे तय न हुए -२
हज़ार बार रुके हम
हज़ार बार चले -२
Ye faasle teri galiyon ke, humse taiy na hue… Hazar baar ruke hum, hazaar baar chale…

ना जाने कौन सी मट्टी
वतन की मट्टी थी
नज़र में धूल, जिगर
में लिये गुबार चले
Na jaane kaun si mitti watan ki mitti thee, nazar mein dhool, jigar mein liye gubar chale
हज़ार बार रुके हम
हज़ार बार चले -२

ये कैसी सरहदें उलझी
हुई हैं पैरों में -२
हम अपने घर की तरफ़ उठ
के बार बार चले
ye kaisi sarhadein uljhi hui hain pairon mien, hum apne ghar ki taraf uth ke baar baar chale
हज़ार बार रुके हम
हज़ार बार चले -२

ना रास्ता कहीं ठहरा,
ना मंजिलें ठहरी -२
ये उम्र उडती हुई
गर्द में गुज़ार चले
na raasta kahin thehra na manzilein thehrin, ye umr udti hui gard mein guzaar chale..
हज़ार बार रुके हम
हज़ार बार चले -२
hazar baar ruke hum hazar baar chale…

ये फ़ासले तेरी
गलियों के हमसे तय न हुए
हज़ार बार रुके हम
हज़ार बार चले
ye faasle teri galiyon ke humse taiy na hue, hazar baar ruke hum hazaar bar chale

Courtesy: link

Movie review: Bheja Fry

After a long time, a completely comic movie. Even if its a lift-off (as I was told by a friend) of a French movie, lets give it to the director. What a novel concept – a modern age upmarket guy who loves his Fridays like anything. Why? Because that’s when he gets to enjoy at the expense of a simpleton! Even the thought is funny (Yeah Yeah! It’s a little mean! 😉 but funny nevertheless!)

Anyways, back to the movie. Its an extremely inexpensive movie which uses some of the most amazing actors (except Milind Soman, who cannot be put in the same category) that are inexpensive (they are not the ABs, Shahrukhs of the world) in an inexpensive setup (only a couple of rooms/houses where the entire movie is shot!) and in the most involved manner. The movie’s biggest plus point is that it doesn’t require you to think a lot, but cannot be called mindless either.

Talking about the story, as I expressed, I loved the plot. Just look at the tagline- When was the last time you met an idiot? Well, the movie is about Bharat Bhushan (Vinay Pathak), an Income Tax clerk hopelessly in love with singing and hopeless in terms of abilities as well. Add to it the fact that he is a talkative and dumb simpleton.
Thadani (Rajat Kapoor) and his friends meet every Friday to enjoy at the expense of a dumb simpleton. And Harsh Chaya is winning the race for having introduced the best (the most hilarious simpleton) till now, a guy who can spit spot on (into a glass placed several yards away!). Rajat’s friend chances upon Vinay on his bus journey from Pune, where he is subjected to his antics. From that point onwards, the movie is about the interaction between Vinay and Rajat with the additional elements being Rajat’s relationship with his wife (Sarika), a mistress Suman Rao, and Sarika’s ex-interest Anant (Milind Soman). How things turn tables on Rajat when he meets his golden simpleton is what the movie is all about.

The movie moves (I like the sound of it) on at a rapid pace, and is a very short movie (all of 1 hour 40 minutes or so). All the actors are chosen carefully (with the twin objective of performance and economics). The set is simple, consistent and carefully chosen. I don’t remember a single shot of the movie where I could have said why did the director have to get this in. So, full marks to the direction, editing and scripting side of the movie.
But, as some of the unworthy critics (like Khaled Mohammed who directed Fiza once upon a time, and Rajeev Masand) point out, the director should not get points because the movie is a lift-off from “The Dinner Game”, a French movie.

Vinay is the soul of all situational comedy in the movie – be it the shot where is gradually shifting while talking to Suman Rao on phone even when Rajat Kapoor is shouting at him, or his innocent “Its Ringing”. (I can actually imagine some people pulling this on their bosses) The way he opens the briefcase everytime to take out his “Bharat Bhushan ki kahani, geeton ki jubani” is just hilarious. That multicolored polybag which makes an irritating ruffling noise every time he folds it, the way he holds the thread between his teeth, his conscious upward look when is changing the number combination on the lock, everything is a masterpiece.
Rajat is good in his role. He has mastered these roles of urbane middle/upper income class guys with a nice subtle sense of humor. He comes across as the quintessential theater artist who take their body language, movements as seriously as their facial expressions. However, the flip of the movie is when his broken aching back suddenly becomes fine with no explanation given.

Sarika place a nice little cameo (in terms of performance). But nobody bothers to tell us why she is so frustrated with Rajat, a husband with whom she was seen buying a new car the previous week. Surprisingly, the only reference to a fight is the one regarding the Friday sessions.

Milind Soman is not asked to do much. And that’s what he does. He does not spoil the movie with his wooden acting. And so, he is good!

Ranvir Shorey is a little disappointing, and not an iota because of his acting. The disappointment comes from two separate facts – one, he is asked to carry an elongated face. In a movie which is so natural, that was not needed. Two, he is shown as a muslim character who wants Pakistan to win cricket matches against India. Its such a negative and unjustified typecast to be kept in the film. Moreover, in the same vein, he is shown as a tax official of highest integrity and impeccable knowledge. Tch Tch!

Suman Rao (played by Bhairavi Goswami) is a name that you would want to remember as Suman Rao (quite like Baby Doll volume 3 – Sophia of Pyar Ke Side Effects). The actress is pretty hopeless, even though she has one of the most comical moments in the movie. The point where she asks what a thurkey means, and the sheepish response of Vinay is a big comic high point.

And two more scenes that definitely deserve a mention are –
1. Ranvir Shorey, when he realizes that the guy he is auditing is sleeping with his wife
2. “Aayega Aayega mein kitni baar aayega?” (reference to the song “Aayega Aayega” from Mahal)

Extremely simple, but amazingly funny movie. Must Must see!

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