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.

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Anaarkali of Aarah

Some believe that every legal means of earning your living is respectful. Some judge the worthiness of a person by their profession. Too often we jump to conclusions about someone based on their work when, really, all that should matter is their character, personality and their core values.

If a girl is born to a village dancer what are the realistic chances she will become anything else but a village dancer herself? Very few make the rags to riches stories. Reality looks a lot more different. This is the story of Anaar, a girl who sees her mother being shot at an early age and fends for her life as a village singer for male entertainment.

One particular man of power misbehaves with her thinking that women like these will go to any length and won’t mind it, but Anaar – despite facing severe repercussions – plots to set this man straight.

It was interesting that Avinash Das introduced characters that not only ogled at Anaar but also some that actually revered her and treated her with utmost care and respect.

Swara Bhaskar’s and Sanjay Misra’s acting is mind-blowing as expected. Small town story with a big message and simple execution. (8/10)

AofA

Trapped

Low budget. High thrill.

A story can barely get any simpler than this yet here is a one hour 45 minute movie keeping you glued to your seat. Love story turns into urgent housing situation turns into desperate apartment search turns into unfortunate lock in turns into a mind-boggling thriller.

There is barely any dialogue in the movie and yet you feel so attached to the protagonist’s fate. After all, you could have been Shaurya.

What would you do if you were trapped in an apartment on the 35th floor of a completely empty building without electricity and water? (8/10)

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Kaabil

Same story. I lost the draft that I wrote on the plane but in this case it was actually regretful. I watched this movie with very little expectations knowing that Hrithik Roshan mostly acts like a five year old in the body of a very – umm, handsome – adult. But buckle your seats because Hritik Roshan takes you on a surprising ride with his outstanding acting in Kaabil. Even more so because acting to be blind is likely more difficult when you can actually see.

Sanjay Gupta crafted very likable characters for Hrithik and Yami. They were underdogs to begin with but there was an ease in their personalities that instantly drew me to them. As the story unfolds they meet with an evil fate and their world turns upside down. It becomes a story of revenge in absence of justice by law.

Some of the dialogues stuck with me as they were unexpected and quite thoughtful, delivered flawlessly by our hotter-than-legally-allowed protagonist and a very skilled Ronit Roy, who is one of the finest underrated actors Bollywood has.

Yami, too, fit her role of a delicate girl full of grace and positivity well. She looked particularly gorgeous as a simple bride.

Glad to see Indian cinema bringing awareness to differently abled people even if in ways that are uniquely Bollywood. (8/10)

Dear Zindagi

Before I get into the review let me blurt out my first three thoughts:

  • I sympathize with the cotton and indigo industry because after watching this movie 1.2 billion Indians will want to wear jeans that are technically not jeans but more like a collage of holes.
  • Psychologists in India will either be rejoicing because Alia and SRK have made that profession “cool” or they will be sad because SRK shares quite a few “funde” that are widely applicable and less people will be looking up Psychologists now.
  • Last, but certainly not least: Only Aditya Roy Kapoor can look hot and cute despite (yes, I purposefully chose ‘despite’) his curly hair.

What starts with yet another entitled, spoilt, thinks-too-much-of-herself, imbalanced tween character – one that simply leaves your mental eye rolling – slowly over the course of the movie explains why she turned out like that. A majority of the movie is shot as a conversation between Alia (the patient) and SRK (the Psychologist). While I am all into this mushy stuff the first half really dragged itself and lacked the tempo that would allow the audience to associate with the characters. The second half improved quite a bit with the pieces falling together and the Psychologist’s advice getting more pointed.

Time and again Alia Bhatt surprises me with her acting skills. I wasn’t expecting her to be such a natural. Even SRK didn’t annoy the brains out of me this time. In fact, I loved that despite being the star he is he took on a role that was important to the movie but didn’t overshadow the main character, which was the patient’s. Had this been Amitabh Bachchan he would have demanded the entire screen time for himself.

It’s hard to stomach a pretty intense transformation rooted in deep causes over the period of a two and half hour movie depicting a handful of therapy sessions but the lightheartedness and humor of it all makes this an entertaining watch. (8/10)

 

dz

M. S. Dhoni: The Untold Story

Cricket moves India like Football moves Germany.

A true testament to a movie well made is when you can make someone – who doesn’t normally follow cricket – cry in their seat and grasp for air because their heart is filled with excitement for the protagonist.

Without going into how much of this story actually represents Dhoni’s life, it is a real fine piece of cinema worth every dollar in exchange for the entertainment it provides. Neeraj Pandey knows how to tell a story, make you relate with characters and root for them.

I liked Sushant Singh Rajput from his Pavitra Rishta days. With Kai Po Che and now this movie he has really proven his mettle. One to watch out for!

At times the movie feels a little long and there were opportunities to cut it here and there but hey I am not going to complain as I was entertained out and out. (8/10)

Pink

Perceptions. Assumptions. Judgements. Opinions. Inferences. Expectations. Women, particularly Indian women, carry the weight of all of these on their back. She wears x, hence she must be y. She works in x, hence she must be y. She grew up in x, hence she must be y. The causal logic of Indian men – and not only Indian men – but Indian Society as a whole needs some much required interception.

I am not always a fan of Amitabh Bachchan’s acting but in Pink he shows great poise and his face says more than his words. The newer crop of Taapsee, Kirti and Angad also impress with their acting.

All come together in a court case that is a long discourse on morality. I hope everyone can learn a lesson from this – men that think of women as objects and women that exchange safety for coolness. (8/10)

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