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Stories from a MUMBAIKAR…

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Once he completed his graduation, Alber had caught hold of one verity he was not guilty of – His dreams were too big to be detained within the one-room workshop of Kareem Tailors; the epiphanic sounds within his self-proclaimed insane mind were meretriciously louder than the continuous paddling rhythm of his Abbuu’s sewing machine…

“A wonderful fact to reflect upon, that every human creature is constituted to be that profound secret and mystery to every other” asserts Charles Dickens in his novel A Tale of Two Cities. How could he possibly know that?

It was a dusky compendious evening in the laggard town of Latur (eastern Maharashtra) when I first came face-to-face with a mystery. The dust-cloaked greasy face of ALBER MASHAYAK was surprisingly and unassumingly glittering with delight. Mystery Man.

I had never seen a man, 6 feet tall, an unsubtle physique, a pedestal nose, in his early fledgling twenties and in my acquaintance, to be wondrously excited about selling movie tickets outside a single screen theatre, infamously named Sapna. I would refrain the readers from getting into the legal sense of Alber’s act. For he, an enduring movie buff, was in divine happiness over the Friday release of the movie Hum at Sapna.

Jumma chumma de de (read “Jumma, give me a kiss”)” he hymned as he passed dexterously across the thick crowd of youth brigade, presumptuously dressed in an unbuttoned black shirt knotted at the ends to mimic a film star from the movie.

And Yes, it was a hymn for Alber. An ardent passion can turn a flimsy movie song into a hymn. For the Man. Mystery. Again.

“You are a commerce graduate. Second class passed! How could you resort to selling movie tickets illegally? Have you no sense?” Alber’s father – his non-condescending Abbuu, confronted him as he arrived home for dinner.

“Hmmm,” Alber’s sonorous voice could only come up with this. His efforts were mostly concentrated gulping the rice he was served by his mother, his Ammi.

Alber finished his swigging act and rushed back to his room, a small under-the-staircase arrangement that hosted a charpoy and a small lamp; emblazoned posters of film stars surrounding him all along the cracked walls of his personal den. –  Dreams. Uncanny.

Alber had been a good son for his parents. Mostly. His academics were pertinent. Not in a way that his parents boasted his achievements aloud, but they weren’t ashamed of their underachieving son either. His Abbuu, usually dressed in stark white pyjamas and a befitting white kurta, intermittently recalled his son’s, young Alber’s hullaballo whenever a new movie released in the town.

“He used to drag me from my tailor shop, holding my kurta with his tight grip, pleading me to take him to the movie theatre,” Abbuu’s words had a sense of fatherhood when he narrated Alber’s stories as a kid to his friends at his tailor shop. Kareem Tailors.

“May Allah show him the right path. Once my son gets a government job, I will be free from my worries.” Abbuu’s usual ending remarks of a conversation were more an appeal than an asseveration to the Almighty.

The maniacal euphoria the city of Mumbai breathes is veritable and does not exude any scientific or psychological validation in the regard for that matter. ALBER MASHAYAK could not agree more.

Once he completed his graduation, Alber had caught hold of one verity he was not guilty of – His dreams were too big to be detained within the one-room workshop of Kareem Tailors; the epiphanic sounds within his self-proclaimed insane mind were meretriciously louder than the continuous paddling rhythm of his Abbuu’s sewing machine.

MUMBAI was the destination. Alber’s elusion was orchestrated with the inclusions of robbery – Ammi’s Dabba savings, as she referred it; and a late night eloping with one’s beloved dreams. His train travel among the vegetable vendors seated near the toilet door of a passenger train was eventless. The stink around was an ironic signal of the impediments to come.

The journey of ALBER MASHAYAK within Mumbai was multi-folded and jolty – being a spot boy (helper) on the sets of films, television soaps; being an official ticket-window employee at Galaxy Cinema, Bandra; then gradually moving to the role of production assistant on T.V advertising engagements; to leapfrogging to second campaign manager for Parag Sarees – He was unstoppable as the wind. AND RAMBUNCTIOUS TOO JUST LIKE A TWISTER.

Finally at the end of the 6th year of his exile, Alber made that one call he was planning for years – “Hello, Abbuu, Salam Alekum! Alber bol raha hoon. (Read – “Hello, papa, this is Alber”)

The next day the Mashayak family received an invitation to the opening of a company Kareem Film Distributors Pvt. Ltd. Accompanied with it were 2 AC-Tier train tickets to Mumbai.

Alber had proved himself instrumental in the generational metamorphosis of Kareem Tailors to Kareem Film Distributors Pvt. Ltd. Today the distribution company handles most of the distribution business in Mumbai and North India territory for the most prominent film producers in the Indian film industry.

‘UDAAN’ of Parallel Cinema, and Parallel Careers

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“O memories mine, pieces of reminiscence that art gone,

A touch, thy sense still prevails,

On the timeless grounds from life to death I walk,

That I feel not for the barefoot me, for I ail.”

….my translation of a verse from the 2010 film ‘Udaan’, written and directed by Vikramaditya Motwani.

Why Udaan? I asked myself. Why not? I replied. I have watched it 47 times already and the 47th instance being a recent one, 10th Feb, 2013 post-midterm.

The film has been an integral part of my movie-studying experience since its release in 2010. Though it was a flop show at the box office, grabbing a meager 3 crore in its lifetime, it did include itself into the lives of a handful of those that value the script part of a film more than the industry numbers.

A young, rebellious Rohan amidst his desire for creative possibilities and his nettlesome choler for the one person in his life, he comes across as his ‘father’, forms the crux of this artistic workmanship from Vikram Motwani.

A countable number of filmmakers in India have tried to weave a story around a strained ‘father-son’ relationship. The Elizabeth fame crossed-over director Shekhar Kapur and his Masoom is worthy of a mention.

What is it that makes Udaan strike differently than others? Whilst I was digging for an answer since 2010 – read the script and watch the movie; read the script, watch the movie again – repeating this exercise 47 times to this day, I found myself attending a talk by the ad filmmaker Prahlad Kakkar during MANFEST 2013.

Risks or risk-averse MBAs, nose-browning or individualism, creativity or run of the mill – could form the list of keywords plucked from his talk. It hardly took any time for me to correlate Mr. Kakkar’s dysphemistic conveyance to Udaan’s standout appeal.

Vikram Motwani’s attempt at a simplistic play of scenes – be it the father-son jogging schedule to portray their mental rift; be it Rohan’s puerile yet assuasive poetry narration to his benumbed school friend or the innocence in Arjun’s (stepbrother) day-to-day actions – is rarely epitomized in Indian film arena. A Risk. Individualistic? Yes, and without any nose-browning to adhere to the precedents. Left a mark? Ofcourse.

So, is “run-of-the-mill” (in cinema or in careers) now an overrated cliché??? Or is it still your way of life?? Hasn’t individualism hit you yet??

The answers and the interpretation to this abstract write-up are left to the readers.

The Amazing Spiderman, from Lucknow

“With great power, comes great responsibility!” The byword has become a bit of a cliché with the sequential release of triplet Spiderman films from Columbia pictures.

And now THE AMAZING SPIDERMAN has returned. Not in the form of a sequel but in the form of a REBOOT!

Being crazy is not something Columbia Pictures is good at. But, then who would reboot the same old spidy-story and bring out a product in the market (MM-I is having its language effect! J)  that has already eaten up consumer speculation and lacks an element of surprise for the film-goers.

We all would agree to one fact that the Marketing team at Columbia pictures would have definitely prepared their CP sheets (no pun intended!) and brainstormed on this case study – “The Amazing Spiderman : A product repackaging”

And after getting through the ISSUES, ORGANIZATION, PRODUCT, PRICING, SALES, PROMOTIONS, (Am I sounding too MM-I or is it the headache tablet I just had that s dizzying my thoughts??? ) they must have narrowed down the main issue, tried for alternative solutions, made a decision..blah blah blah.

But, on a serious note, if I really come to a self-evaluation as to why I would want to travel 10kms to the city, amidst all the Nirdosh and Biocorp and Haaris’ outstanding address to the class in CFM (I wanted to put that somewhere 😛 a PLUG!) and quizzes and committee interviews,  and watch the new flick, I would come down to saying – “Its Cool..The Amazing Spiderman is cool..”

What the Marketing team at Columbia Pictures ingeniously figured out is – The new product would sell if we make it look Cool!! (This may or may not fit any concept in Kotler.)

Casting Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone is cool.

Garfield has turned into a female eyecandy (read female fantasy) post ‘The Social Network’ and is catching up with the so-called female heartthrob Robert Pattinson.

And Emma Stone is hitting the scene hard these days. (I loved her in ‘Easy A’)

The 3D magic too works in favour of this new spidy-avatar viz-a-viz the old Tobey Maguire flick in action. All in all, the ‘COOL’ factor might actually sell!!!!!!!!!

So, would I be able to make it this weekend for a SPIDY show? Only time will tell.

Coz, with an admission to a great college, comes great responsibilities (read ‘activities that eat the hell outa your time!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!’)

Categories: MovieTalk, Story

‘Black Swan’ – My View, My Thoughts, My own Language..

February 26, 2011 1 comment

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A fragile young princess, Odette, is entrapped into the body of a White swan by a villainous sorcerer. Her only key to freedom is ‘Love’. She eventually finds it, yearns for an endearing prince anticipating her independence from the captivity.  But, hostility spreads its shackles, masquerading as the lustful Black Swan. The Black Swan, an indomitable, sensuous being, bestowed with perspicacious evil-intent seduces the prince. Notwithstanding the feelings for the white swan, the prince capitulates himself along with his charming paraphernalia to the playful, coquettish Black Swan. Implausible for the secluded grieve-struck lonely still-trapped Odette, the white swan – the lonely princess – throws itself from a cliff, embracing death. Death, thus, sets the fragile, young soul free from the entrapment.

…A Russian folklore that was proffered as a piece of art, as a ballet ‘Swan Lake’ first performed in 1877.

 

Thomas Leroy (Vincent Cassel) in ‘Black Swan’, the movie, plays a ballet director dreadfully earnest to bring the ballet ‘Swan Lake’ for the audiences. The lead role in the ballet, a ‘Swan Queen’, demands of a ballet dancer proficient and dexterous not only in the modus operandi of the ballet to epitomize the White Swan but also proportionally free-flowing in her embodiment of the intense lustful Black Swan. A NO-EASY UNDERTAKING.

Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman) is one of the aspirants. A dancer with the New York City Ballet Company, Nina dreams of dancing as the Swan Queen which composes the opening scene of the movie. <Nina’s delicate yet agile personage is manifested by Natalie Portman with tranquility> Nina auditions for the role along with many others.

Whilst Nina’s perfect portrayal of white swan is applauded by Thomas Leroy, he gets inkling that playing out the antagonist Black Swan with a sensuous fascination is a far-fetched venture for Nina. The Black Swan is required to be imperfect yet passionate, vulnerable yet lustful, uncontrolled and deceitful. Nina’s control, her mastery over the dance, her keenness for the perfect moves work against her. She well-nigh loses the role.


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Nonetheless, at the last moment, Leroy, getting a glimpse of Nina’s concealed rage in the form of a bite, changes his view of Nina and casts her for the lead. In consequence begins Nina’s endeavor.

The movie culminates with Nina lying wounded and probably dying after the opening performance of the ballet. She stares, with content, to the stage lights and whispers “I felt it. Perfect. I was perfect.”

The core of the movie encompasses Nina’s encounters with the people around her. Be it the ballet director whom she adores for his craftsmanship. Be it her despotic mother, a ballet dancer of yesteryears and now full of resentment for her past. Be it Lily (Mila Kunis), her self-assumed rival who, as claimed by Nina, is determined to grab her role as Swan Queen. Be it Nina herself, copiously obsessed towards perfecting her technique of the art, eventually turning into a self-destructive persona cognitively crippled with hallucinations.

Darren Aronofsky, as the director of this movie, is sensible in presenting a watchable psychological thriller with the right amalgamation of elements that are bound to attract the Academy.

Natalie Portman delivers a performance of a lifetime. She is real, hard-hitting, reaps sympathy from viewers at times, and makes people believe Nina on the nail which in itself is a huge achievement.

Natalie Portman shed 20 pounds for the role which is evidently visible in the movie. A CRUEL PERFECT BALLET ESTHETIC. She also learned the dance form for a year, her trainer being her on-screen dance partner in the opening scene of the movie, Benjamin Millepied.

As an  addendum, a trained ballet dancer was used as a body double for Portman for a few of the scenes.

The ballet performed in the movie mostly constitutes the Neo-classical type developed in the United Stated by the legendary George Balanchine, a Russian dance master who dominated the field of ballet for more than 50 years.

Some elements of the movie depict, beautifully and within the confines of the motion picture, the irrefutable starvation diets, dance injuries the performers pass through and the tendentious idiosyncrasies of the dark underside of Ballet.

Oscars are on the way and I, a fan of Natalie Portman, am keeping my fingers crossed for the Best Actress Oscar to come her way.

 

Way to go Miss. Portman!!

 

-Rahul Nilangekar

 

P.S: IMDB rating for the movie – 8.5/10

 

Phir Dil Chahta Hai..

February 10, 2011 3 comments

A covetous ray of light is finding its way in through the half-opened window making the room’s reticent dignity more obvious at the time of dawn. A large canvas supported by a tripod lies at the heart of the room portraying an affable painting of a woman. There are spurts of color spread on the white marble floor around. The painting is semi-dry giving an impression that it was brought to life a couple of hours before the sunrays added luster to its beauty.

Scrubbing his sensitized eyes, Sid <a.k.a Siddharth Sinha> tries to comfort himself on the couch. It’s been just an hour since he decided to take a break from the vicinity of brushes and color tubes and catch some sleep. But the uneasiness creeping over him has overpowered his impulse indulging him towards sleep. He gets up from the couch, moves towards the kitchen room just beside the bed room and opens up the fridge to grab a bottle of water. After gulping down half of the bottle, he starts to feel grounded. 

Finally after striding his way through the kitchen, he is back to his room; staring at his painting and trying to assay the sumptuous colors put into action. He feels the painting is missing a streak of curled hair appearing at the left side of her face just covering her ear. He picks up a brush and gives the final strokes of excellence. It’s been four years since she left him. But Sid has kept her alive in his paintings. Each one of it impersonates Taara in an extremely impeccable way.

Sid has permanently moved from Mumbai to his Uncle’s farm house in the outskirts of Pune. It’s been a pretty lonely life for him over here. He doesn’t favor intrusions by any visitors. Whenever he feels like talking to someone, he diverts this urge on a canvas with each stroke of his brush manifesting a thousand of thoughts.

He is still sitting relaxed on the couch contemplating his creation on the canvas. There is no one around to admire his work of art. There was Taara who was able to apprehend his creativity. But she has forsaken his life and found a place for herself in his paintings. There is no one, not even to animadvert his efforts. Sometimes this onus was taken care of by Aakash and Sameer.

A one sided smile has become apparent on Sid’s face the moment a thought about Aakash and Sameer stroke his mind. He is getting into a trance; hovering into the memories of the past when he had delineated a woman revealing her back and called up Aakash and Sameer.

 

 “Hello…”

“Hello, Sameer… come to my place. Come here right now!! ”

“Hello… Sid…Hello…”

Though it was almost half past one, Aakash and Sameer hastily turned up at Sid’s place.

“How is it??” Sid asked as he saw both of them.

“Are you crazy?? You called us in the middle of the night for showing your painting!!” Sameer replied annoyingly without having a look at the canvas.

“It’s beautiful…” Aakash said raising his eyebrows.

This aroused Sameer to approach closer to the canvas and look at what Sid was up to.

“Wow…that is beautiful.” Finally Sameer was chilled down.

“Hey guys, don’t you think she resembles someone.” Aakash said.

“I think each one of us has a resemblance with someone or the other living in some part of the world.” Sameer replied after giving a thought to the question raised by Aakash.

“I think this is a perfect sculpt of Miss. Kashyap.” Aakash said as he noticed the confused faces of his friends.

“Miss. Kashyap… our economics teacher???” Sid asked.

“Yes… my dear.” Aakash said with boost of confidence in his tone.

“I know Miss. Kashyap very well. Tutions… I used to attend her tuitions.” Aakash continued.

“Were there any others students attending the tuitions?? Or it was a private one with only you and Miss. Kashyap …” Sameer asked as got into an investigative mood. He was eagerly waiting for a positive reply.

“It was totally a private affair.” Aakash replied with a devious smile on his face.

“That’s great, Aakash. You dog… you never told us.” Sameer got excited.

“But you know what… Sid has made a blunder while portraying her figure.” Aakash was unstoppable.

Tujhe kaise pata unka figure kaisa hai???” Sameer was envious.

Before Aakash could reply a word, Sid picked up a painting brush and walked towards Aakash.

“You know what… I hate economics!! ” Sid said as he brushed off some color on Aakash.

A mess was definitely triggered. Aakash grabbed a bottle full of colors and was ready to color up Sid.

“No… Aakash…please don’t do it… Aakash… No…”

 

 “No.. Aakash… No” Sid has returned to consciousness. He realizes that he’s alone in his room. Sameer and Aakash are nowhere around. It was just a hallucination.

Sid grabs a telephone lying beside the couch. He dials a number connecting to Australia.

“Hello… Hello… Aakash… Sid bol raha hoon…”