Bhoomi

This movie with a message went unnoticed because either our society is becoming immune to constant messaging about India’s rape “culture” or they see enough of it being shared around on social media that they didn’t care noticing this mirror of Indian society.

This is the story of a daughter and her father in a small town whose life gets turned upside down by one man’s inability to handle rejection of his one-sided love. What follows is a sequence of abduction, gang rape, an unsuccessful attempt at seeking justice through the legal system, humiliation by law and society and the eventual revenge by father and daughter.

If you can ignore the non-sensical last 10 minutes of the movie it’s a pretty well made film, with great context setting, moving plot line, just enough detail to invoke anger, disgust and pain. Aditi Rao Hydari and Sharad Kelkar have acted brilliantly. Sanjay Dutt conveyed more with his eyes than his emotions. (8/10)

This movie is sadly far too relevant this week in light of what happened to little Asifa and unfortunately thousands of other unnamed girls and women across India. Expressing your anger through social media is one thing but thinking through solutions is another. There is so much psychological cause and effect and an unsettling level of voyeurism going on that it begs the question if the way to address this problem needs to be solved with the same weapons.

I strongly believe that crime and resource scarcity cannot just be curbed by patches like better education and better infrastructure. They are important but shouldn’t be the only focus. To nib the issue in the bud you have to solve for population growth control. Just like that rapes cannot be stopped by raising awareness on social media and candle marches. It’s time to nib the issue in the bud!

I am no psychiatrist but here is my very simplified – but not simplistic – attempt at understanding this situation:

Monsters rape because they are either mentally ill, have a desire to execute power over someone who is weaker than them (also a psychological disorder), are influenced by wrong interpretations of religion or its centuries old manifestation that men are a superior species. All of these causes are tightly related to the emotional centers of a human’s brain. Let’s park this thought for a second.

Many women’s plight never comes to light because of fear of repercussion, what will society say, the fear of their families being ostracized, the fear of living a life pinned by painful stares and if someone is so “benevolent” accompanied by some pity. Fear of all of this is also tightly related to the emotional centers of a human’s brain. These women have already endured the utmost test of physical cruelty. Now their neurons become hyper-sensitive to emotional cruelty. Let’s park this second thought too for a second.

Clearly, the sharing of such crimes on social media, television, newspapers, documentaries is not doing anything. I have no insight into statistics but I doubt the number of rapes are going down. And dare I say the Indian legal system is not (yet) equipped to handle these cases with the seriousness that they require to create consequences that are harsh enough to deter criminals.

Let’s go back to the two points I made earlier. If the perpetrators are driven by causes related to their psychology and the victims are put to silence by consequences related to their psychology — isn’t it high time this issue be addressed with a psychological war?!

There is a saying and a fact: The only way to cut a diamond is with a diamond.

The only way to end this psychological disorder is through psychological warfare!

Again, this is far more than two hours of my thinking can solve but this movie made me think how much more effective it would be to give these monsters a taste of their own medicine. Killing them by death penalty would be too easy of an end to their lives and likely not a shocking enough deterrent to future criminals. But killing them with their own weapons of fear, isolation and mind torture a little every day is worth a thousand deaths by execution.

bhoomi.jpeg

Advertisements

The Shape of Water

I am the last person to go watch a science fiction movie but I am so glad I took the plunge on The Shape of Water. This isn’t the first movie made on alien creatures but certainly one that clearly shows it’s made for the art of moviemaking and not to fill the coffers of the producer – though hopefully that will happen too.

An amphibious alien creature, believed to be a water God is being held captive at an American lab in the 1960s. The director of the lab is every shade of cruel one can imagine, both in his professional and personal life. He is up against the Russians to gain intelligence on this creature even if that means killing and dissecting it. Meanwhile, a mute girl, Elisa, who cleans the lab uncovers this alien has the propensity to understand language and has emotions. When she finds out the director is about to get him killed she plans a successful escape from the lab and nurtures the alien in her bathtub with the help of her neighbor, her colleague and the Russian doctor who under disguise of being an American was taking care of the alien at the lab. Elisa and the alien grow fond of each other and connect on levels beyond the spoken word. There is a generosity of spirit at display that comes from being a misfit in society with Elisa being a mute person and the alien, well, being an alien. The day Elisa is about to release him back to his natural habitat of open waters the director finds out their whereabouts and tries to kill them. However, what would an alien God be without healing powers? They both live happily ever after – under water!

There is something about the making of this movie that is almost zen like despite some gross bloody scenes. Characters are well built out, they are given purpose, there is tension to resolve and as a viewer you feel along with the happenings on screen. (8/10)

SoW

The Glass Castle

No matter how much we wish and sometimes talk ourselves into believing our families are perfect there are bound to be struggles we are trying to overcome. For some the extremes are highly pronounced with the good times being better than one can imagine and the worst times being worse than you’d wish upon your enemy.

This is a story of a family that precariously lives within that spectrum of extreme love and extreme neglect. A family that inspires and inhibits its members at the same time for sometimes remarkable beauty comes with deep imperfections.

The Walls are a family of father, mother, four children living the hippie life. There is no money but there is an abundance of love – except on days the alcoholic father drowns himself in his addiction and leaves his children hungry. With the mother slowly losing it too one of the elder sisters, Jeannette,  becomes the de facto caretaker of her younger siblings. A particularly chilling evidence of it is when the youngest sibling, Maureen, wakes up her sister in the middle of the night because none of them have had food for three days. The only thing left in the house is a bowl of butter and some sugar which Jeannette stirs up and feeds the little one.

As the children grow up they slowly start leaving home to become independent but deep down the love for their parents and the knowledge that their father’s neglect was not his intent but the result of his addiction they try to stay in touch and take care of each other. When Jeannette, the daughter closest to her father becomes an accomplished journalist and gets engaged to a successful banker in NYC the chasm between her and her parents inevitably widens but she can’t let the burden of that break the strings of her heart firmly connected to her family. The drama culminates in a beautiful ending that’s testimony of Jeanette’s strength and her undying love for the people that she depends on as much as they do on her.

Be warned: This movie will leave you sobbing and hurting but it’s beauty will stay with you for years to come. (10/10)

The_Glass_Castle_(film)

Tiger Zinda Hai

Tiger kabh marega? … was the thought looming over my mind as I was exiting the movie theatre at 1am in the morning. I can understand why the audience erupts into whistles and cries (the happy kind) when Salman Khan takes over the screen – shirtless – and out of nowhere procures a kalashnikov to singe-handedly finish the whole Syrian army troupe on the scene. But somewhere deep inside, where I lock up my brain before I embark to watch a Salman Khan movie, my logic is rebelling and letting out suppressed cries of pain. I know movies are meant for entertainment yada yada but after being spoiled with quality action thrillers like Baby and Airlift this Tiger business doesn’t measure up more than a meek meow.

For the first time ever I felt Katrina did a half-decent job. Guess why? She didn’t need to speak much. She was fully consumed by fierce-fully slaying Syrian goons. Quite the power packed sight.

Now if you have to – like me – see every movie whether it’s worth it or not by all means drive yourself over to the next theatre but if this is not a vice for you stay at home and spend the time doing something wiser. (3/10)

TZA

Half Girlfriend

I have never read anything from Chetan Bhagat but if this is how he writes stories I don’t really regret it. Or was it just Mohit Suri who made the story look terrible?

Saving grace is that no great actors were harmed in the making of this film. They took terrible actors like Arjun Kapoor and Shraddha Kapoor to begin with. Phew.

Clearly, there was a social message to this story, one that left me with a knot in my throat during the later half of the movie but the terrible acting and predictability of everything else made this a laughing stock. Extra big grin for someone’s creativity to superimpose a damn Snap filter on someone’s body with Bill Gates’ face. Come on!

Whoever understands the concept of a “Half” Girlfriend please enlighten the rest of us. (1/10)

hgff

Ittefaq

One ticket – Two stories

This mystery thriller is a remake of the 1969 movie starring Rajesh Khanna and Nanda. I haven’t seen the original but this is an entertaining watch with a good storyline that has reveals lined up as the movie progresses. Most of it takes place inside the apartment of Maya, a bored housewife indulging in an affair that adds interesting twists to the plot.

Akshaye Khanna’s acting chops are to watch out for. He’s found his genre and I hope to see him doing more of what he does so well.

Abhay Chopra tried to please too many audiences at once and introduced humor that simply has no place in a thriller. Do one thing and do it well, sir!

Good one time watch but no sit-at-the-edge-of-your-seat experience. (7/10)

ittefaq

Tumhari Sulu

#MainKarSaktiHai

Every housewife is more – some of them far more – than just a housewife. While women in the workforce get to play out their personalities with a legit tag of a working woman, the ones working in their homes are often ‘discounted’ as bhenjis. Here comes Vidya Balan to show you that personality trumps title and ambition trumps education!

Never have I seen a non-body-conforming Bollywood actress carry herself with so much confidence on the silver screen. A housewife, married to a sales manager and with a 11 year old boy facing peer pressure she is living a middle class life. Her twin sisters rub in their success every so often on their visits and tell her what’s right and wrong for her but she doesn’t let herself be belittled and goes on to become a RJ for a borderline raunchy late night radio show. With her unique people skills she shows the owners of the radio show that a saree-clad bhenji has more to offer than meets the eye. She takes the vulgar out of the show and is fully enjoying her work when the typical Indian husband surfaces in her otherwise loving husband. The loss of authority in his job and the happiness of his wife in her job don’t sit well with him so she leaves her job for 5 minutes to join it back in a jiffy as soon as she finds him a tiffinwaala job with the radio channel. Yeah, the last 5 minutes of the movie were just as confusing as my previous sentence. Not sure what happened there and why all of a sudden she decides to rejoin when she just handed in her resignation – but maybe someone else can explain that to me.

Fabulous acting by Vidya Balan and Manav Kaur. Totally not important to this review but I have a thing for men with strong jawlines. 😉 (6/10)

TS