Sanju

Pack your bags Khan brethren! Today’s heroes are about to pull the rug out from under your feet because of their acting skills and not just their superstar cult following.

Mukesh Chhabra deserves a hat tip for putting together a cast that is sheer brilliance. Ranbir Kapoor dazzles in all his Sanjay Dutt avatars. What Ayurvedic dope was he consuming to draw out a performance this stunning? Not only his physical appearance but also his walk, talk, mannerisms, body tilts – he has really hit it out of the ballpark as Sanju. Putting yourself into someone else’s skin and life so convincingly is no easy feat. I cannot imagine any other actor emulating the complicated life of Sanjay Dutt so authentically.

For a movie this epic it wouldn’t have been enough to just have one character put in their heart and soul. The entire supporting cast was magnificent – Paresh Rawal as Sunil Dutt, Vicky Kaushal as Sanju’s best friend and many more. Vicky Kaushal, by the way, is one to watch out for. Same caliber and some hunger as a Rajkumar Rao to make it in an industry of Khans.

The only character that felt a bit out of place was Anushka Sharma with her head of curls and scary – almost sci-fi – blue eyes. Her character seemed a little less sculpted – sort of left between a writer, a detective and a relationship mender.

People are criticizing the lack of airtime for his wives, sisters and other friends but to portray a life as complicated as Sanjay Dutt’s the director had to choose what he was going to highlight to make it a taut overall narrative versus a sprinkling of all the flavors in his life. The spotlight is on Sanjay Dutt’s relationship with his parents – primarily his father – and his friends who influenced how he got into and out of drug addiction.

There is also critique about the authenticity of the happenings but movie goers can be very double-minded at times: On the one hand they demand bona fide details about every incident, on the other hand they want the movie watching experience to be entertaining. Duh! Rajkumar Hirani struck the perfect balance by not glorifying Sanjay Dutt to make him look like a saint and at the same time creating sympathy for his character through endearments.

The opening of Sanju states that “bad choices make for good stories” – I’d say shedding light on those bad choices made for an excellent story! (9/10)

Sanju

 

 

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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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