Movie Reviews, Movies and Others

Khuda Kay Liye – Pakistani Movie

I had earlier heard about Pakistani drama and had seen one or two of their dramas.  But not tried or heard about any movie from Pakistan.  But the movie “Khuda Kay Liye” directed by Shoaib Mansoor sprung up as a surprise due to its rave reviews.  Making movie on a controversial topic is really a bold move by Shoaib Mansoor.  And my taste is for controversies.  This is the first Pakistani film officially released in 2007 in India.

So I “rented a DVD” and I came away truly amazed after watching this movie.   It’s not only the most important film to come out of Pakistan for as long as one can remember, it is, more importantly the most relevant mainstream film on Islam that you’ve possibly seen.  It addresses pertinent issues like Islamic fundamentalism, the status of women in contemporary Islam, erroneous interpretations of Islam, the consequential effects of 9/11 on Muslims in America, and the divide in Pakistani society between the liberals and the extremists.  The film also features a few subtle digs at India like when the older brother meets a white student in Chicago, he says “We built the Taj Mahal!!”, what?! “We mean Muslims”, oh ok! So what about Indian Muslims? ……..  It also shows what the Pakistanis think about Indians.

The film follows two brothers who are musically inclined.  The younger, Sarmad is brainwashed by a radical Muslim cleric into believing that music is against Islam. Distancing himself from his art, he abandons his family and joins a fundamentalist group in a village in the outskirts near Afghanistan.

Misled into believing that he’d be upholding the honour of Islam by doing so, Sarmad agrees to be married to his London-bred cousin Mary against her wishes, and on the insistence of her hypocrite father who wants to end her relationship with an English boyfriend.

On the other hand, Sarmad’s older brother Mansoor, a liberal, signs up for music school in Chicago where he finds his soul mate in an American girl. All’s going well for them until 9/11 happens and Mansoor is wrongly accused of having terrorist links only because he’s a Muslim.  While the entire principal cast has put in a fabulous performance, its Naseeruddin Shah in his brief appearance in the climax as the long bearded progressive Islamic scholar with his dialogues (‘There is beard in religion, but no religion in beard’ and ‘Two men who did the greatest service to Islam in Pakistan, Mohammed Ali Jinnah and Allama Iqbal, did so without a beard and out of the so called Islamic dress code, in western dress.) who literally steals the thunder. It is learnt that, he had liked his part so much that he even did the role for free.

The music of KKL struck the right note considering the theme of the movie.

However, the movie did not do well in India, well, in my opinion, due to the fact that the issues in the movie are not pertinent in India.  Our audience cannot identify with these issues.

However, despite the above and the amateurish acting, the film will hook you till the very end.  Way to go!!

Movie Reviews

“Natarang” Marathi Movie Review

Been hearing about this Marathi movie “Natarang”.  Heard that it is a different movie in the Marathi language genre.  So I thought maybe it would be a good idea to shell out some of my money and actually watch the movie. And I was not at all disappointed.  I have earlier watched only a few Marathi movies, but only a few packed the right punch like Dombivili Fast, Zenda, Harishchandrachi Factory etc..

This movie has a serious storyline, unlike most other popular Marathi movies which are mostly of the slapstick comedy type or in-law brawls.  There has been a welcome change in Marathi movies in recent years, from some cheap comedies to sensible movies like this one.

Atul Kulkarni plays the lead role called “Guna” in the movie.  He is a farm worker and wrestler (Pehalwan), avid Tamasha (Marathi folk dance) fan and lavani writer.  Due to automation in farms he is working, he is out of work along with his fellow mates, and then they choose to form a “Tamasha” group, despite opposition from peers.  It becomes evident to them that they at least require a female performer to attract crowd to watch their Tamasha.  They find a female dancer, played by Sonalee Kulkarni (not the “Dil Chahta Hai” fame) whose condition is that there should be a feminine homosexual “Nachya” in the troupe and only then can she join them.  Despite hesitation, Guna, who wants to play the part as a King, undertakes to become a “Nachya”.  The dedication shown by Atul Kulkarni in this movie shows his professionalism.  He had to build up his body for the wrestler part and then shed kilos to become a nachya in the troupe, and all that in one movie!!  His acting stands out in the movie.

Thereafter the troupe achieves fame and some money, but what follows is the societal prejudice and the POV of the society at how they look upon a nachya.  He is deserted by his wife, teased for performing feminine roles, abused and declared a eunuch and gay by the society that fails to understand the creativity involved in the art form.  But Guna never gives up and he continues to pursue his passion.  However, this outburst could have been portrayed much intensely, but then again, it would have attracted smaller crowds due to intensity.  Atul Kulkarni will now be more remembered, not for his role in “Rang De Basanti” but for his role in “Natarang”.

The music / soundtrack of “Natarang” by Ajay and Atul was incredible.  It gave the movie the right direction and it never felt that it was moving away from the essence of the movie.  Man! Love the sound of the “Dholak”!  And here’s a big thumbs up to Ravi Jadhav, the debutant director, who has shown that he is no amateur in directing this movie.

This movie has changed the course of Marathi movies and movie goers have also shown that they need change from the usual slapstick comedy, and Natarang has given them a breather.  Watch out! More to come from the Marathi movie stable!

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Movie Reviews, Movies and Others

“Zenda” Marathi Movie – Timepass??!!

After the unwarranted political censorship, Zenda was released on 22nd January 2010.  I made it a point to watch the movie on the first day.  So there I was, alone, coz Shantala doesn’t like political and serious movies (not that I like them very much).  The Movie was based on the splitting of ShivSena into MNS and the aftermath that follows viz: the dilemma faced by supporters to stay in ShivSena or join newly formed MNS.  The intention of writing this post is not a review, but an incident that i faced in the movie theatre.

In the interval, i met a rogue like looking person aged around 30-35 years.  He asked me my opinion on the movie half-way.  I just replied “Timepass”.  He was shocked and perturbed and hated my reply.  He was accompanied by three other accomplices, equally rogue like looking.  He asked me, “Why did you find this movie “Timepass”?, did you ever go to Mumbai and see the plight of Marathi Manus.  Mumbai is being taken over by non-Maharashtrians.”  I did not say anything.   He also told me that he will reimburse the ticket fare if i saw the movie from the point of view of Marathi people.  He then said “You are not Marathi”.  I said “I am Marathi but from Karnataka” to which he further got agitated.  He told me that he will report me to Mr. Raj Thackeray directly.   Man! You should have been there!!  It was as if I am a terrorist stalking the theatre to blow it to smithereens.  I think he and his mates were drunk, but can’t say.  He called other unconcerned onlookers and started to insult me in front of the crowd.  When the movie resumed, he was talking over his mobile and telling his friends to come to the theatre.  But i continued to watch the movie.  Just 10 minutes before the movie finished, i got up from my seat, came out of the theatre without watching the ending and drove back home.  I thought after the movie, i will be beaten up.  Such was the situation!!

The movie is just plain simple.  It doesn’t take anybody’s side nor does it try to justify Marathi Manus’ side.  It just goes to show that the whole issue of Marathi is simply political and nothing is present in the movie which should arouse hatred in the minds of the people for non-Maharashtrians.  So much ado about calling the movie “Timepass”.

Jai Hind!!

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