Badlapur to Raman Raghav 2.0-Anatomy of a murder

Badlapur tracks the journey of a simpleton consumed by his thirst for revenge, whose wife and kid become collateral damages to a robbery that goes astray. The perpetrator, Layak is nabbed and sentenced to a 20 year imprisonment, before the protagonist could get a piece of him.
The movie traces the diabolical transformation of this man musing on just one emotion- revenge over the span of the sentence.

He inflicts psychological pain on the imprisoned man by violating his girlfriend. 15 years later when he tracks the accomplice-who’s basking in the dividends of the booty, with his wife; now a reformed man- descends on them like a plague. He first feasts on the helplessness of this man from behind the closed doors of his own bedroom; from where his wife held siege is made to fake moan orgasmically. Later, he vents out his long held frustration on the couple, going on to hack them to unrecognisable parts.
Its at this very juncture, that the definition of protagonist and antagonist becomes a fluid concept to us, dichotomised by a delicate line.Who is more wrong-the “supposed” criminal who killed accidentally, while in a hurry to flee from the scene of crime or the “supposed” bereaved man who conducts a premeditated murder of a couple-like a funeral rite that was left behind-15 years after his wife’s murder?
While the former was clearly not personal, the latter is deviously so.
The film mocks at the righteousness behind revenges as it draws to its end, with Layak surrendering to the murders committed by his avenger, the wronged man.

 

If Badlapur was an antithesis of the revenge archetype; Raman Raghav serves as an antithesis to Badlapur.

 

Take Nawazuddin Siddiqui‘s Layak, replace the limp and Huma Qureshi; with an unsettling quiver and an iron rod, we have Ramana from his recent offering Raman Raghav. But the similarities stop there.Layak at least had a heart that skipped a beat at the distress of the damsel he was in love or embraced a consequence of a past sin. Raman on the other hand is a morbid being, who seeks mirth in the act of murder.

As he declares rather proudly, he doesn’t find the need to hide behind the veneer of an uniform, religion or humanity to kill. He kills because he wants to.
RR is not a euphemism of the anti hero template-like the Don or Dhoom movies; with the crimes committed in a scale and color schema of a carnival-instead it’s our worst fears inhabiting the darkest corridors of our heart, personified into two individuals- equally disturbed and disturbing.

The movie’s is a class apart as it manages to achieve macabre violence in the viewer’s head without much blood spilt, to which I doff my hat.A lesser movie would’ve resorted to showing the gruesome murders happening in graphic detail and the mutilated corpses. Here we get a cerebral excursion into a murderer’s head who kills devoid of a before of after thought.Imploding with intrigue,we get to witness the lead up to his murders-the cryptic monologues, the modus operandi, the victim’s vulnerable last moments-till he renders them still; lifeless.

The shock we get here is veritable, unlike the one we associate with a ghoul springing out from a haunted house tour in a mall, but closer to the vicarious pain of watching a prey being chased and hunted by a predator in a jungle.
But in the jungle at least, the hunting is a seamless part of the survival process to the predator, not an act of inebriating pleasure.

Starstruck by the serial killings of the despicable Raman Raghav from an impressionable age, Ramana is on the lookout for a yin to his yang-“Raghav”. In this aspiration of  his we get an interesting spin off to the Soulmate trope that would make Yash Chopra turn in his grave. He sees his soulmate in an unlikely person- the cop who’s hot on his trail.

 

The final portions of the movie see Ramana as a content man who brings himself into custody. In what happens to be one of the most defining moments, he breaks into a cryptic monologue during a one on one interrogation with the cop about how providence-that he likens to redemption dawning upon one after years of penance-had eventually brought him close to his soulmate- who completes and compliments him. The cop baffled by this man’s ability to look right into his soul-without being intimidated by its darkness- appoints Raghav to be his vindicated alter ego, his true self that he starts to wear like a badge of honour.

While leaving the theatre, when we surreptitiously find ourselves a touch glad at the unison of two heinous murderers- Raman and Raghav, we can’t help but appreciate the genius of the maverick filmmaker who had just managed to endear the act of murder as a catharsis, so palatably to our primal sides.

 

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Perils of being an Intelligent Salman Khan Fan

A friend shared an article that screamed at my face right from the title that went-Dear Intelligent Salman Khan Fan, It’s Finally Time For Us To Talk.

This friend sharing this article to me was an aftermath of a long winding argument from previous night about Salman’s recent comment belittling the act of rape by metaphorizing it, with characteristic disdain.
Her conundrum was not just about my insensitivity to his; but also about the coexistence of a fan of Kamal Haasan and Woody Allen’s oeuvre and a Bhai lover in the breadth of the same person.
Coming to think of it,its not the first time I’ve been condescended for my fondness to Salman.

“You speak and write in good english. You’re able to appreciate the nuances in the composition of Nadaan Parindey. Why would you be a Bhai fan?”

I laughed it out by continuing to watch Jumme Ki Raat.

“You’re a fan of a criminal who just bought justice on E-Bay. Doesn’t it make you a accomplice too? Next time think twice before mocking the corrupt netas on your timeline with sarcasm.”

I try reasoning it out with you, but after reaching a moot; I left it and continued tweeting about how awesome the Sultan trailer was,much to your dismay.

So dear Salman hater let me try demystifying the possibility of a being a Bhai fan, while being a connoisseur of art and a decent person at the same time.

True that I’m a huge fan of Kamal Haasan. I muse on his work when I’m not imitating him subconsciously. I would like to believe that I’m capable of making my own ambience with a playlist; I believe that I’ve got a decent taste of music. Loner by choice, on Saturday nights I’ve often ensconced on the warmth of Woody Allen classics over getting wasted in dingy clubs playing psychedelic music.
But I couldn’t help but get delirious like the euphoric crowd around me when Bhai broke into a neanderthal celebratory dance, lip syncing to “Saath Samundar“; while watching Kick on the day of its release.
It’s not like he’s a great actor or a great dancer, which he himself admits to not being. Then what is it that endears him to the masses(intelligentsia included) as a star to root for in cacophonous unison? There’ something strangely delightful about watching a star-fully aware of the prowess of his mojo-wielding it with the primal fluidity that Bhai does on screen. Which is the very reason why his goofy steps from a Muni Badnam or Dhinka Chika gets  imitated across demographies.

Bhai loves to take his shirt off; like we love to wolf whistle at the sight of it.
Bhai can say the weirdest of stuff  in an outlandish accent without making it sound like gibberish.(case in point being Baskar bas kar Baskar…monologue from Partner.) Torso flexed exaggeratedly, Bhai struts across the screen like a gladiator at the sight of his opponent even when in the service of a soft romantic number.
There are things that only he can get away with, plastering a smile instead of a smirk on our faces. For who else would we buy pleading in the name of Lord Hanuman  to the Pakistan army, while trying to trespass to the other side of the LOC?

Salman’s screen image is that of a man-child, who broods copious quantity of machismo without dissolving the underlying innocence. He’s the stud who captures the imagination of an entire nation with his style statements time and again, but would never once go beyond Base one onscreen because Prem wouldn’t do things that make families cringe.
Prem is Bhai’s alter ego-dutiful son, doting brother, hopeless romantic all rolled up into one endearing cliche-just like Bhai is ours.

So by being a Salman Khan fan, I’m catering to the side of me which likes to feed on mindless entertainment from movies having larger than life heroes. The side of me which loves junk food for the instant gratification of the tongue without having to think about the nutrition or the lack of it.I can find the gol guppas on the streets as fascinating as a formaggi pizza and continue to be a well rounded foodie.

My blood does boil as one news after another breaks about the heinous sexual violations perpetrated against the women fraternity. I’m born with a sister of my own and have a lot of women acquaintances, whose safety I wish for. I’ve at times felt like suspending a chauvinistic pig from his genetia that rightfully got provoked at the sight of women in modern clothes.
News of Salman taking up the word “rape”-discounting its gravitas-does not infuriate me as much as the very act does. A lewd analogy drawn out of a socially despised crime is in really bad taste. It shows the lack of finesse in the person at best. But it doesn’t make him an instant public enemy  who needs to be  brought to his knees by hypersensitive activists and self appointed torch bearers of feminism.
Ours is the same nation that uses the fuck word on dinner table conversations. So it’s not like when someone tells me to fuck off, he insults the very act of holy consummation that brings life on earth. Got screwed and screw you are other popular phrases of our common parlance.Neither do they serve as salt on the wound of a rape victim.

So why the fracas around Salman’s statement alone. Is it because he’s a soft target given his  perceived notorious image or the big bucks riding on him?

My fascination for Bhai’s films is not as much  an endorsement to his thought trains or offscreen ideologies as it is a reflection of my taste for a particular kind of films. Our relation is that of a superstar and a fan of his shenanigans. Our worlds don’t intersect beyond his movies. My love for Bhai movies doesn’t fashion my moral compass or conscience; which was alive and kicking last time I checked; even before Arnab Goswami tried pretending to be it.

So this Eid, I’m gonna watch Sultan. No; it doesn’t change the fact that to I continue to be a law abiding person;an animal lover who respects women and strongly condemns misogyny in any form.

Sairat-An endearing tale of romance

Sometimes, all it takes is the first few minutes of the movie to know if you’re to witness a masterpiece unfold or not. Take for instance The Godfather that opens with Brando’s Corleone in his tastefully lit cabin didactically talking about the virtue of friendship to a man who’s come to him for justice , overseeing his daughter’s wedding celebrations happening beneath. These first few minutes flesh out Vito Corleone from the pages of the boundscript-making it a bible for aficionados for time to come -giving us thus a memorable protagonist- from who’s shoulder we continue to watch the story.

Nagraj Manjule’s Sairat achieves exactly this, as the opening credits roll out to the running commentary of a local cricket tournament in the backdrop. We start sensing the spirit of the village even before the screen comes alive-as to how it sounds- with rustic jibes and roars from percussions inundating the palpable tension of the local team’s run chase; which seems to be an uphill cause with its captain(hero) gone amiss.
Cut to the chase, we’re shown the captain scurrying surreptitiously through the fields behind a speeding vehicle, that gets into a palatial house, islanded by the fields. From the vehicle gets down the “object of his desire”(devotion rather), whose face is not visible to him and us yet. He ekes out his tenure in his greed to see “her” face from the peripheries of her house, as his teammate comes to remind him of the match.
He’s in no hurry to save his team or play the sport, the whole village seems to be musing on with frenzied excitement. He’s blinded in his preoccupation- his own stardust laden sport.

He eventually does come to the ground and tramples over the bowling team. But he sleepwalks through his innings with his mind racing elsewhere. Afterall, this was not trophy he had set his eye on.

Bhitargaon is an parochial place with naive residents, who are not so naive about the caste system that regulates them. The lower caste constitutes a distant demography that the upper caste would solicitously provide for; without letting to partake.
Archana is the village top gun’s daughter, well endowed and from the upper caste. She’s even got a sprawling bungalow named after her. While Parshya is a fisherman’s son, with a hut to reside in and very modest fortunes;nurturing a not so modest dream.
He’s this moth attracted to the light- his love and destination-entirely oblivious to the detrimental effect the unison beholds. Sairat chronicles the lightmoth’s wild journey towards light and the light’s pursuit towards the lightmoth.

Love story of a rich girl and a poor boy set in the backdrop of a caste ridden village- not the most refreshing of plots one might think; for this is one lake that everyone has drunk from since the conjuring of celluloid romance in Indian context.But Sairat despite being constituted out of the same raw materials is a creature of its own.
Take for instance the sequence that Parshya ambushes the common well that Archie and her friends seem to having a gala time in. His jump into the well is the culmination point of the invigorating “Yad Lagla” song. In a state of trance, he walks through the village; circumventing in his head around her like a ardent devotee around his idol.

Wet he comes out, drenched in fulfillment. As he passes by her; she feels the first butterfly flap in her belly; their first unspoken conversation.The palpable tension and the resultant glance they exchange for the first time as he leaves the well is stuff that poetry is made of.

The film breaks ground in terms of the gender stereotype. The girl is the man in the relation. She serenades around the village in her enfield, when she isn’t intimidating the hoi polloi from the driver seat of her tractor. But its not just at a surface level, that she happens to be the male ego to the relation. She’s forthcoming to compensate for his lack of chivalry. She chides him when he makes fun of his friend’s disability. She takes the big decisions for the two of them, when he’s caught between being indecisive and incapable. She even saves his ass a couple of times.
All these little traits go on to lend a beautiful dimension to her character-that of dignity-which we don’t often come across in movies these days, without even going near the feminist bugle once.
The guy is more than content being the working bee. He quickly adjusts to a given ecosystem and domesticates to it like second nature.He mops the floor without an iota of contemplation. He sets up the kitchen and lightens up at the sight of grocery. He’s the possessive end of the relation-saddled in his own fear and insecurities- its in him that we get the disputes between the two.

The movie makes its field notes from the other end of the “happily ever after” part of love stories. So what happens when the goddess descends from her abode and chooses the modest life of her seeker to be hers, to only make him feel less disparate. Would he treat her with the reverence that made her come to him or would he mortify her to slay his inner demons?
Given the slum settings and the lurking sex offenders, any lesser movie would’ve been tempted to resort to “pain porn” to shock and shake, like having a sub-plot involving a graphic rape sequence or a blood spattering murder shown in painful detail, but what we get here are consequential conflicts, inner mostly.
The movie’s latter half is a fly on the wall account of this and more. The they both go through extended periods of taciturn. The wildness in their love has fizzled out, teaching them to hate each other as much. Hatred brings about indifference and indifference breeds in it insecurity.She’s tempted to regret and he’s left with fears that look bigger than the last time.

It’s through this phase that the movie sets itself apart in a league of its own. Their travel through this patch resiliently and the sweet redemption that ensues told through bullish montages, got me smiling widely; even if only for a short while.

The movie does end sadistically like every other cult movie before it, with irony wielding its serrated edges, literally and figuratively. Its almost like there’s an unwritten blueprint for love stories to turn cults. First establish external conflicts; followed by internal conflicts and appoint fate to have the last laugh. Its a bad habit to paint a canvas this beautiful with an endearing tale of romance, to only tear it apart in the end.Ek Dujhe Ke liye started this and Sairat toes this path like a faithful disciple.

I let out a sigh of relief  as the movie began to play with subtitles, for it was a marathi movie and I barely knew the language. On my way back home I realised as an afterthought that-after an hour into the movie- the bottom of the screen playing the subtitles had gone off my viewing perimeter subconsciously. It was not like I understood the language any better,just the fact that the movie spoke to in a language I knew-that of cinema; to which I doff my hat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Conjuring 2-fieldnotes from a movie hall

12.30 Pm

I had ensconced in my favorite space in my favorite place in Chennai-J1, Main screen, Satyam Cinemas on a lazy Saturday afternoon to see the what James Wan had done with the Warrens and their case files in his latest offering-Conjuring 2. I love to go for some movies alone to not let petty conversations water down the cerebral impact I hope to derive out of the viewing. Some movies interact. Some intrigue. And very few disturb.
Wan’s creations largely fall in this category. Take for instance the gut wrenching Saw series or the Insidious movies that seemed like a love child between Exorcist and Nightmare on Elm Street, they have a hand made quality to them despite being based out of an alternate space ruled by vanquished souls and twisted minds. His attempts are the most candid we get to a ghoul cracking experience within the syntax of mainstream movie making. So they are best, when watched in isolation.

Seated comfortably in the wall corner by the aisle break, I was hoping to be shaken out of my skin, yet again. The crowd was a motley of well dressed men and women, if the clothing and the small talk occupying the earspace was anything to go by. They were talking in well constructed sentences, polite and cordial sounding about the good reviews the movie had garnered and how pricey the popcorn had become. What else was I expecting from a crowd in an uptown theatre than good behavior I thought to myself.

Then lights went off as the screen came alive. Darkness befell as the title began to roll.

The crowd that seemed like the creme de la creme of the city that had gathered for an opera concert while the lights were on, suddenly started making noises that alternated from resembling mating calls of chimpanzees to a foul’s wail with the butcher’s knife about to swing as the movie started playing.

So much for the sophistication that went off with the lights.

It was not like the movie was a drab affair that didn’t engage; quite the contrary infact. The screenplay moved chronologically as it is based on true happenings-with shrieking sounds at first leading to disobedient furniture and appliances, to aberrations and finally the appearance of the spirit -culminating to the point the affected family was left at the mercy of the Warrens’s paranormal sleuthing prowess.

Then I started wondering as to what could possibly be the reason, the dude and dudettes who rinse in lattes-behave like neanderthals at the first sight of light-in a horror movie, time and again.
Probably is it from the fact that a dark room with no accountability is seen as a callout to the lurking primal self from within?( I can’t deny taking to the temptation myself, but definitely not in a theatre playing a good film.)

Or the bravado and the heckling are infact red-herrings to cover up being genuinely freaked out. Hence the funny noises let out in the place of a yell as an attempt to keep up the machismo.

I’ll have to wait and watch.

1.30 Pm

Somewhere near the halfway mark of the movie I got my answer; as the first yell came out of the boisterous crowd leading to applause. From this point, the crowd seemed vested in the proceedings. The fracas had made way for a state of genuine engagement. The theatre had begun to muse on the movie. A state very few movies manage to pull off in this part of the world, especially the ones that belong to this genre.
The theatre was functioning like the ersatz electrocardiogram of the movie-pounding along rhythmically from one development to another-screaming empathetically at times and applauding at a breakthrough; likes its own glimmer of hope;hopefully.

3.00 Pm

The movie ended with a standing ovation from the entire theatre. Ed and Lorraine Warren had officially become a part of popular parlance here, so much so that a 12 year old would understand a meme made on them.
To derive a standing ovation from a heckling crowd that had come to have a party at the cost of the movie is no mean feat; the cinematic equivalent of taming of a wild horse . Wan did it the last time around. He seems to have hit the bullseye with his sophomore attempt too.

Read somewhere that he’s hinted at the third instalment involving a werewolf theme during an interview. Bring it on, already!

 

 

 

 

 

 

A new beginning

Who knew a decade ago, when we were not as much a girl and guy as a bundle of spiked up estrogen and testosterone, that we would come here. You were the most beautiful phenomenon that befell me back then. You continue to be.
I remember us playfully charting our parental aspirations during late night calls, surreptitiously as kids.
It’s a wonderful feeling to know that we would soon be on the other side of the fence.My love for you, from being a feeling would soon graduate to having its own life.A new beginning-our love child.

Life is Beautiful.

Faces

So many faces, all of them separated and united by their loneliness.They brighten with day break in anticipation and sullen up like a blown off lamp in the night. The sun isn’t the only thing that rises and sets after all.
Some lost in thoughts; some ambitious; some anxious; some calm and some curious. All of them in a thought train independent of one another, yet unified by the direction of the journey embarked upon. Together, yet apart.
In this fair of faces, help me find one that I can endear to as mine.

 

Quality of concern

Sometimes all it takes to judge you is the way you feed your dog. You can hurl its feed from a mere distance, just about distant enough to be disrespectful. Or you can bend down to its reach and feed it from there. Both are ways to feed the dog. Both the ways the dog’s needs are met. Both are actions beholding your compassion to the mammal, with just one alone showing the quality of compassion. The former shows your inflexibility while being there for a loved one; probably a little amount of disdain even if subtly so. Your arching spine in the latter shows the tendency to be empathetic while chipping in for a close one.

I’ve got this friend, who likes to wear his devil-may-care attitude like a badge of honour. He is someone who would genuinely go off like an alarm, when a friend puts a wrong foot forward. A selfless trait I admire, but seldom possess. Notwithstanding the willful good Samaritan that he is, surprisingly-more often than not-I’ve seen him alienating his friends, who’ve felt shot down by his hurtful words;as well-intentioned as they were.

Most of us are sensory people. Intellectual as some of us like to flatter ourselves to be, we still need to get appeased at a sensory level by an impulse, to let it permeate into our intellectual realm. A song might be beautifully worded. But all it takes is a bad tune, for it to get rejected at the listening itself. Forming thus a veil of predisposition in our mind about every other aspect of the song including the meaning withheld, precluding the catharsis from happening.

Words of advise are like pale nutrition that need to dressed as a feast to allure one to consider a course of action, different from the one he’s resorting to from the confines of his comfort zone. If the feast exudes the stench of the giver’s ego; nutritious as it might be; the chances of it coming across palatable turns bleak.

We are bags of egos, that needs to be appeased once our sensory gates are forged for any subject matter to make sense. That’s why when a friend calls us fat, we take offense. It is our ego that is reacting from within. It becomes defensive when attacked by his words, that seem to originate from his ego. So what should’ve essentially been an advise that should’ve kindled the intellect; turns into a battle of egos. Probably even results in a war of words.
Instead had the same friend rephrased his intention to, “You’re capable of looking better with a few pounds lesser” he would’ve massaged the ego, leading to a conversation than a collusion.

Most of us as naive as we might be, operate from the vantage of our egos. Egos are competitive animals, who barely let go off an one-upmanship opportunity. A harsh word or a sarcastic remark often comes from a ego placed higher, enticing the impacted ego to rise up to its level or higher to hit back. Blinded by ego, the intellect loses path from here.
Which is why, it is paramount to sugar coat an intention with a kind word or two. For most of us wouldn’t fit into the sagely category of men who know to sieve an intention out of the spoken word, serrated as it may hit the ears.

Opinions are the lens that color our vision, which flow from the eclectic pool of our knowledge and belief.They often tend to be disparate from the opinions of others, given the individuality each one of us are bestowed with.Empathy and understanding form the bridge that brings about their coexistence.

It is just not with our love, but the manner in which we express it to our dear ones that we become the person they want to prove right or wrong.