Daayen Ya Baayen Movie Review: Hills and Wheels Thursday, 28 October, 2010Posted by ~uh~™ in Bollywood.
Tags: Bela Negi, car, comedy, Daayen Ya Baayen, Daayen Ya Baayen movie review, Debut Director, debut film, deepak dobriyal, Manav Kaul, Movie Review, Review, satire, Uttarakhand
This was the first review of this movie to be published on PFC [link], being cross posted here.
Written, edited and directed by: Bela Negi
Release date: 29 Oct 2010
I saw this movie during a private screening organized by the director, thanks to Kamal Swaroop. I had only read her interview [link] and did not have any clue about the story. All I knew was-
1. This movie is on and about Uttarakhand (temporarily named as Uttaranchal).
2. Bela Negi hails from Uttarakhand, is an FTII pass out and have worked with the legendary Renu Saluja.
3. This is the first movie where Deepak Dobriyal plays a lead role.
Before watching, I was intrigued by the title of the movie. The first thought that came to my mind that it must be a pahadi movie with a political subtext. But it wasn’t. The movie turned out to be much broader than that.
Plot Synopsys [Spoilers protected]
Daayen Ya Bayeen is a minimalistic contemporary tale of the people of Uttarakhand. The protagonist of our film, Ramesh Malija (Deepak Dabriyal) returns from a big city to his native village, Kanda, somewhere in Kumaon, for good. He is a day-dreamer, poet, visionary, husband, father and above all a messy loser. He returns to his roots, takes up a job as an English teacher in the local school and dreams of building a ‘Kalakendra’ right in the village, to nurture the indigenous talents. He is a ‘cool’ fashion conscious dude with his corduroy jacket, jeans, shades, cap et al, educated enough to carry books written in ‘simple English’ by Russian writers. He is welcomed quickly and ritualistically by the loving people- the motley bunch of villagers and his family. However, within no time he degenerates into a subject of ridicule, for his impractical ambition, poetic thoughts and radical ways of teaching his students. His wife has her own share of dissatisfaction on their general state of being, especially in light of her superlative brother’s urban success story. Things suddenly change when Ramesh’s entry in a jingle contest on TV, wins a brand new luxury car! Overnight, Ramesh becomes the village hero, the icon of triumph and epitome of bravura. Ramesh too flaunts his possession. But with the newfound luxury life becomes complicated for him. He quickly makes enough enemies to disrupt his otherwise mundane unexciting life and his dream of Kalakendra. Like the car, his life also rolls down in a bumpy road of twists and turns. He gets involved into a platter of problems involving a local political stalwart, his sister-in-law, huge financial loan burden and not the least, an absconding calf. The car, as a metaphor of life takes him to a juncture where he must take a turn towards the right direction, to salvage his dream and his identity.
Direction, Characters, Cast, Cinematography
It’s difficult to talk about this movie without revealing the plot spoilers, and there are plenty of elements to talk about. The prime subject remains as the people of Uttarakhand, their identity, aspirations and ambitions with the obvious backdrop being the picturesque Kumaon Himalayas. A simple tale involving an object of desire, a luxury sedan in this case, is then interwoven with earthy characters sprinkled with abundant ‘pahadi humour’ (if I can take liberty to use such term), a rocky version of dry humor tending towards malice. Some contemporary topics are part of this tale; education, television soaps and most importantly- identity of the people and their direction in life. The movie delves into few fundamental questions. What is achieved by creating a new state? Is such transformation, where girls aspire to be named as the much married bitchy TV serial women, kids walk and talk in English without knowing what they are learning, justified ? Where migrating to a big city is still the biggest aspiration ? Men gamble with cards and get drunk by sundown. How does this new state affect the people and boost their confidence ?
Bela, hailing from Uttarakhand, knows her roots, feels the dilemma and expresses it in cinematic medium. I have observed, when a writer directs a movie, there’s always a lot of attention to detail. Daayen Ya Baayen would be a treat to the observant audience, to gather the subtle nuances of the characters, the slick coordination of certain sound and visuals to create a humorous note, the framing, dialogues and at times, silent expressions. Quite laudable debut.
There are quite a handful of characters, each with their own idiosyncrasies and colourful traits. There’s a character called ‘Haruldi’. She is an octogenarian lady in sneakers who’s wealthy enough to disburse loan in thousands. There’s the bidi smoking mother of Ramesh. Then there are village bumpkins and yokels played by Manav Kaul (1971, Jajantaram, Mamantaram), Badrul Islam, local political stalwart Jwar Singh (Jeetendra Bisth) and his sidekicks. A veteran ‘Frosted’ school principal (Girish Tiwari) who invariably ends his speech with “miles to go before I sleep”. One of the most important aspects on this film is that it is also made with the local people. Other than three major roles (Deepak Dobriyal, Manav Kaul and Badrul Islam), all other characters are played by local actors and artistes. Reportedly, some of them have faced a camera for the first time. Large number of school students are featured in certain scenes and as I understand, shooting were conducted without any workshop or training. Ramesh’s family members, especially his little kid (Pratyush Sharma) and his wife (Aditi Beri) sourced from the region seamlessly merges with the household and domestic brouhaha. The wife, particularly in the scenes of her ‘outrageous housekeeping’ antics is hilariously natural.
Deepak Dobriyal is simply brilliant as the protagonist. His acting prowess probably comes from his theatrical background. I have always admired his work, irrespective of the character he plays. One of his best performances probably was in Gulaal, which was shot much before he was noticed on Omkara. Deepak is a powerful actor. For the attentive audience, he is a treat to watch on screen. Remember the paan shop scene of Gulaal ? Or the bridge scene in Omkara ? He has handled difficult roles with panache in films like 13 B, Delhi 6 and Shaurya. In this film, his character is a sublime combination of a poetic dreamer and an ambitious visionary, but unintentionally ending up being a loser or playing the jester. He teaches his son to hand stand, as that will facilitate blood flow to the brain. He makes poetry. He learns driving. He drinks country liquor. Still, he tries to impart basic values to his students and his son. He does it with intensity. This is undoubtedly, his one of the meatiest and finest performance on screen. His character is beautifully supported by Badrul Islam, a fanboy hopelessly sweet in his own way. Pratyush as Ramesh’s son radiates lot of potential who reminds of the kids in Majid Majidi’s films.
Like recent Udaan and Do Dooni Char, this film too makes way for filmmakers who, while trying to entertain, are also willing to create meaningful content on realistic themes. While the movie is predominantly based on the people and societal culture of Uttarakhand, it talks about certain values, identities and aspirations which is identifiable beyond geographical boundaries. However, one must not expect a somber Blue Umbrella here. Apart from some obvious similarities (people, mountain), DyB deals with is much down to earth issues and materialistic aspirations, but with lighter mood. The tone of the film is bright and upbeat, and it never loses its humour even at its darkest point.
Though DyB is a low budget film, the production value is high. The cinematography( Dop Amlan Datta), costumes (by Nikunj Vyas), music are elaborate, well detailed and very entertaining. The magnificent locales, panoramic views, bright sunny days, winding hilly roads, vivid hues are all part of the captivating storyline, all captured candid which prevents it to become a documentary. There’s a scene where, Ramesh with his son walks along the narrow stone steps and a rainbow shimmers on the horizon- absolutely stunning! The film is full of many such colourful occasions of happiness, sorrow and surprises. Arguably, films shot on picturesque mountainous locations are somewhat vulnerable to the landscape overpowering the characters. But it’s the good director’s panache to make them blend with the terrain, but to retain their own importance in the plot. Fine examples are Eric Vali’s Himalaya (aka Caravan), Ray’s Kunchenjungha and Shohei Imamura’s Ballad of Narayama. Bela, is quite successful in achieving a fine balance between the characters and the backdrop, interdependent but collectively complete. The BGM by Vivek Philip (Sorry Bhai, My Brother…Nikhil) is upbeat and pertinent with the visual setting. There’s only one song, a spontaneous upbeat one, sung by Zubin Garg on which the entire village makes merry !
The narrative is simple, believable, straightforward and chronological. Though in the otherwise logical narrative, absence of mobile phones or a gas filling station does feel a bit conspicuous. Remember, the car plays the pivotal role (also to some extent literally, by the end of the film). While almost all aspects of the car and driving was captured in detail and expressed with much humour, one or two instances of gas filling could have been added, keeping practicality in mind. In another scene against sunset where Deepak leans against his sedan, quite looks like an advertisement, probably of a car. Otherwise the screenplay is taut and at places emotionally involving. The films takes it own time to develop the plot, which some may term as a slow start, but once Deepak takes the steering, there’s no brake.
Overall, a high quality satire intelligently packaged within an entertaining cinema. Watch it, you may feel right after you’ve left the theater.
Love Sex Aur Dhokha Movie Review: Hide and Shriek Wednesday, 17 March, 2010Posted by ~uh~™ in Bollywood.
Tags: Amit Sial, Anshuman Jha, Anthology, Churchgate ki Chudail, Dibakar Banerjee, Digital Film, Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge, FO, Love Sex Aur Dhoka Movie Review, Love Sex aur Dhokha, LSD, Luki Local, movie, Movie Review, Neha Chauhan, Pre release, Preview, Raj Kumar Yadav, Review, scandal, Sex, Shruti, Sneha Khanwalker, spycam, sync sound, Urmi Juvekar, voyeurism
This review was first posted on PFC. [link]
This is also the very first “on screen” review to be published on the web as the earlier reviewers saw the movie on the DVD.
[Spoilers protected. This is review is written after watching the preview show (very first screening) held at Fun Republic preview theater, Andheri at 6:30 pm on 16 March 2010.]
Like every other new wave cinema starved junta, I too was eager to watch LSD, since I read about it and saw it’s highly intriguing and somewhat provocative poster, the very first time. Knowing Dibakar Bannerjee’s flair for dealing real-life subjects from a blasé perspective, penchant for creating believable on-screen characters, I expected something hitherto unexpected in Hindi cinema. Especially when the subject involved sensitive topics like sex, voyeurism, deceit and candid cams. To top it, the entire cast was kept secret for a long time from the media. The concoction is a potentially and dangerously explosive material and as there were no discussion anywhere on the content, which increased my expectation further. (I remember seeing one obscure Hindi movie sometime back, titled Agar Aisa Nahin Hota to Kaisa Hota (can someone tell me the right name please?) or something which had long monologues about sex, fart and one night stand. I slept off halfway)
Without divulging any plot details, the quick and dirty synopsis of the movie would be as follows-
Love Sex aur Dhokha is an Anthology of three short films with the basic pretext as love, sex and deceit. Each of the stories has certain element of love, sex and deceit in varying degrees. The characters of different stories are interconnected with some places and certain events, though the stories or the character’s lives are not affected by this interconnection. We have the story of Rahul, a film school graduate, making a diploma film and falling in love with her heroine Shruti. The second story is about Adarsh and Rashmi in a 24×7 departmental store franchisee, always under CCTV surveillance. The third story is about a loser sting operator journo Prabhat helping out frustrated model Naina, after she is ditched by famous Punjabi pop star Loki Local. All the three stories run simultaneously, but narrated separately.
I personally disapprove comparing one particular movie of a Director with his other works. For example, ”Oye Lucky was not as good as Khosla Ka Ghosla” or “Dev D was way better than Gulaal “ That beats me. It’s like comparing one dish of a master chef with another, each of which has a distinctively different taste & flavour, though cooked in the same kitchen. I am not sure how convincing the simile is, but my point is LSD is no way comparable to DB’s KGK and OLLO in terms on its content, treatment and aftertaste. Neither it has any similarity with Sex, Lies and Videotapes.
Aftertaste. That’s where some cinema affects the audience and matures them slowly. One movie at a time. You get out of the theatre, light a smoke and think about the movie. You have dinner and think about it. You sleep with the movie. Next day morning, you still walk with the movie. The movie gets on you, makes you think and affects you somewhere. LSD had a strong aftertaste and it was in one word ‘disturbing’.
Yes, LSD is extremely disconcerting, disturbing, involving, provocatively engaging, mind numbingly shocking. Was it entertaining? Entertainment is a blurred concept here. If you consider that a porn clip, a secretly shot mms or a voyeuristic video footage have more viewers than, say Tom & Jerry show, then what is true entertainment? It depends on the state of mind, maturity, taste and acceptability of the audience. LSD will create its own audience. For me, LSD appears to be genre defying. Was it a black comedy? Or a Satire? Was it a spoof ? A mockumentary ? Reality cinema? or a Shockumentary to make the audience realize about the helplessness and agony of the characters? The various emotions it portrays and evokes, smudges the fine line between morality and deceit, innocence and brutality, love and sex, agony and ecstasy, cinema and reality.
The movie takes some time to ‘develop and train’ the senses of the audience. We need our amateur eyes to get accustomed with the shaky cameraworks ( awesome job by Dop Nikos Andritsakis here), low lights and hazy footages, the movie prepares our ears to experience the sync sounds of heavy breathing, everyday noise in the background and most importantly moulds the mind to gradually drag us into the perspective, of being on the other side of the camera. There are weird angles, extreme close-ups, blurred footages, noisy breaks, low battery warnings and timer counters on the corners of the screen, throughout the movie. Once one is hooked to the narrative, the movie gradually gets under the skin.
Please do not expect a ‘regular’ glossy Hindi cinema here- no big budget, opening credit, celebrity star cast, pleasing cinematography, perfect lighting, seamless editing, beautifully composed background score in every scene and breathtaking locales, like we are accustomed seeing in Hindi cinema. In fact, there are least outdoor shots like the ‘Churchgate ki Chudail’ scene. That scene deserves to go to the spoof hall of fame in times to come. The entire movie seems to be shot with handheld camcorders, zoomable CCTV and hidden cameras for the three stories, respectively. I was reminded of the Blair Witch Project, in the first story where Rahul, the film student records everything on his camcorder, even when he is not shooting for his diploma him ‘ Mehendi lagake Rakhna’. As the names suggests it’s his homage to Aditya Chopra and Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge. Total gag bag.
Having said that LSD has, if I am allowed to use the term, all typical ‘Dibakar Bannerjee ingredients’. The movie starts with those cover page of Hindi crime novels with sleazy titles and each of the short story had such titles with suitable graphic and music to go with. There are enough laugh-out loud moments, hilarious dialogue exchanges, idiosyncratic and loud characters and threadbare detailing in set design. Shruti’s dad, the day time Punjabi departmental store chic, the security guard, the ‘hero’ of Mehendi Lagake Rakhna, the bhangra-pop superstar Luki Local are rock solid with their character performances. There are a good number of characters, each with short but extremely important role in the narrative. There are unconventional lyrics (written by Dibakar himself) like ‘ Tu nangi achhi lagti hai/ tu gandi achhi lagti hai’ and item girl saying ‘FO…FO…FO’ , peppy title song at the climax, voice of Kailash Kher and rustic take-it-or-leave it kinda music by Sneha Khanwalker (OLLO fame). The humour in LSD traverses from being spontaneous and subtle to dark and blurred.
Surprisingly, though the movie deals with such sensitive subject- it doesn’t have a single ‘vulgar’ scene. Practically, it doesn’t even show a proper cleavage. There’s nothing sleazy or explicit on screen, neither there’s KLPD type of editing- which frustrated our adolescence in the 80’s. LSD is not an erotica, if anyone is expecting so. The only reportedly sleazy sex scene is heavily blurred. The A rating of the movie is more for the contained profanity ( optimum usage of the hindi B word and English F word ) and less for exposure.
The entire movie is carried forward by a motley bunch of young character artists- Anshuman Jha (Rahul), Shruti (Shruti), Raj Kumar Yadav (Adarsh), Neha Chauhan (Rashmi) Amit Sial (Prabhat) were extremely natural in their ‘acting’. Arya Bannerjee (or is it Devdutta) as Naina convinced her sexy siren image, with a mindblowing siren yell- which will reverberate for long. Herry Tangdi as a loud (Mika type) personality had difficult sequences and make up to carry on him, which he achieved to the hilt. I must mention the standout performances by the actors who played Shruti’s dad (Sandeep Bose) and the store watchman (Premnath), the ‘Hero’ named Shahid Kureshi (Ashish Sharma) and the day time punjabi salesgirl (Namrata Rao- also, the editor of the film). They were complete show stealers with their dialogue delivery dovetailed with body language. I did feel the Prabhat- Naina sequences were little too garbled up and prolonged compared to other two stories, but at the end, I was not in a state of complaint. LSD started working by then.
The story by DB/ Kenu Behl had shockingly unpredictable twists. Urmi Juvekar’s (writer of OLLO, the creative director for LSD) concepts are visually enriched. The screenplay narrative is non linear at places, leading to a climax and a video footage, which when placed on the sequence of events jigsaw, is very unsettling.
LSD is a signal to change. It demands audience maturity to get shocked after a hearty laugh, strong nerve, and acceptance of cinema with some ‘real’ ingredient as we do in real life. LSD let’s you escape to the funnyland intermittently, but eventually drags you in the harsh reality and leaves you pondering.
Go watch it. Get matured.
Postscript: My very first film review was of Khosla Ka Ghosla in 2006, the debut of Dibakar Banerjee. Before that I never knew I can write (anything else other than answer sheets and reports), though I was interested in flims all along. Now, during the preview show, when I was watching LSD with him and his entire cast and crew I wanted to thank him for making Khosla ka Ghosla. Had he not made that film, I probably would never written anything in my life, never blogged, never wrote anything on PFC and never attended any preview show before a films release and never met the Directors like Anurag Kashyap, Pankaj Advani and spoken to Kundan Shah. Obviously, I couldn’t tell him while everyone thronged him congratulating and asking technical questions. However, I am happy today that I wrote that very first review.
Wake Up Sid: Serene Serendipity Tuesday, 6 October, 2009Posted by ~uh~™ in Bollywood.
Tags: Amit Trivedi, Anupam Kher, Bombay, career, entertainment, family, Iktara, Konkona Sen Sharma, life, Love, movie, Mumbai, Music, photography, Ranbir Kapoor, Review, Rom-com, Shankar-Ehsan-Loy, Supriya Pathak, Wake Up Sid
I know, I have developed a reputation of writing bad movie reviews. The interpretation can either mean reviews of bad movies or bad reviews of movies; depending on how much disgusted you are with my reviews.
The point is that, I find it much easier to write on bad Bollywood movies. I normally don’t write on movies I like. There are two prime reasons for it.
One- the movies I like are quite obscure, mostly non-bollywood, sometimes even non-hollywood, rare and unheard of [check this article], which restricts my readers putting any useful comment. I find, getting a paltry response and not adding any value (other than notifying handful cinephiles about the existence of such movies) is not enough motivation for me to write about them. However, I have the intention of writing about them in future.
Two- the other type of movies I like are already famous and have obtained a cult following. The reputation of those movies won’t change irrespective whether I write about them or not. Such movies are too popular and have been discussed to death in popular forums. Hence there’s little left to be discussed afresh. So there’s not enough motivation to write on them either.
That leaves me with a very rare occurrence- a new Bollywood movie which is also a Directoral debut, that I can’t resist writing about. Examples- Khosla Ka Ghosla (Dibakar Bannejee),Manorama 6 ft Under (Navdeep Singh), Taare Zameen Par (Aamir Khan), Barah Aana (Raja Menon), 99 (Krishna D K). I beleive a good debut deserves a good review.
I liked Wake Up Sid, the debut film of Director Ayan Mukherjee [writer and asst director of Swadesh and KANK]. Honestly, I kept my fingers crossed knowing it’s the first bonding between K-Jo and Yashraj, both I hate to the core for their overdose of romance, melodrama and uncommon nonsense.
The basic story of Wake Up Sid is an intelligent cocktail of the ingredients taken from the following successful movies, especially the ones by Farhan Akhtar -
1. Jane Tu Ya Jane Na – Today’s youth culture, electronic lifestyle, hedonism and confusion between love and friendship.
2. Dil Chahta Hai- A today’s perspective of urbane and jovial youth, living for the present, escaping from the future
3. Lakshya- Dilemma of youth towards the right choice of career, life, ambition and it’s repercussions
4. Luck by Chance- Tale of struggle and aspiration of a newcomer in Mumbai.
5. Life in a Metro- Relationship and stress in a big city life.
As it should be well understood, nothing in this script is ‘new’ at all- a young boy, college friends, parties, rich self-made dad, a sweet mom semi-blind with affection, hedonistic lifestyle, carefree friendship, defocused future and love disguised as friendship. On the other part we have a new girl in town, confident and aspiring, looking for independence and a future in the big city. They meet, they live together and the rest is formula. Like most rom-coms, the script takes some liberty of over-romanticizing of the situation.
Yet, the movie is a superior from the bollywood bandwagon in lot of aspects. Unlike other bollywood potboilers, it’s not an over the top, melodramatic family drama soaked in bucketful of emotion and impossibilities. Rather it’s a sharp, soft, suave, elegant, practical, colorful, joyous presentation of humdrum life sequences which involves the audience with its not so unexpected twirls. It’s simple, feel good entertainment.
For a change, I would keep this one short and list out my reasons for liking the movie-
Exceptional direction by Ayan Mukherjee with a difficult combination of fresh faces and veteran actors like Anupam Kher and Supriya Pathak. Like most Bollywood movies, there’s a radical and distinct change in ambiance in first and second half in terms of pace and progress, which would have different appeal to different viewers depending on which generation s/he belongs to.
Ranbir Kapoor is outstanding in his roles, with his natural and high coolness quotient, expressive eyes and just the perfect body language. Konkona heavily reminded me of her role in Luck by Chance and Life in Metro, especially for the conversations on overhead tank scenes of the latter. She is brilliantly ordinary and poignant. I think, this would be one of her best role in commercial Hindi film and one of the best on screen chemistry after Irrfan Khan in Life in a Metro. Anupam Kher’s rock-steady performance as affluent but unconventionally responsible dad, complements Supriya Pathak’s projection as a lovable mom, trying to bond the pieces of mother–son relationship with her broken English. Rahul Khanna did much better than Bobby Deol (Dostana) and himself (Love Aaj Kaal) in similar roles. In other short roles Namit Das (Rishi) and Shikha Talsania (as Laxmi, is she daughter of Tiku Talsania btw ?) did wonderfully well, the sparkle in Namit’s eyes and friendship in Shikha’s heart is too bright to be missed. Kashmira Shaw does her bit believably. However, the eye candy girl Tanya’s (Kainaz Motiwala- weirdly fair and fresh) story ended abruptly. The Amit guy (Munir Kabani- facebook profile) of the Mumbai beat magazine was prominent with his intellectual-photographer get-up ( something like Prateek Babbar in Jaane Tu, who was also named Amit)
Shankar- Ehsan- Loy’s music with Javed Akhtar‘s lyric is trendy, catchy and groovy. The title track is a potential chartbuster, but I liked the softer ‘Jaisa hai koi Iktara Iktara’ composed by Amit Trivedi ( Aamir, Dev D) sung by Kavita Seth/ Amitabh Bhattacharyya. The song and visual combo of “Life is Crazy” is probably the most conventional one, yet enjoyable.
The details in the movie is well thought out, the continuity objects are used very well, like the red Lamy used by Konkona or the DSLR of Ranbir. The production quality, camerawork, locations and overall theme is artistically vibrant, urban and contemporary. The set design of the Mumbai Beat magazine office resembled more like a Artist’s studio! Some part of the movie reminds us about the fading romanticism of Bombay (Mumbai, for some sick touchy retard whose a*shole is bigger than his brains) which most of us have lost, in the run. It talks about loving it’s people to love a city.
The movie talks about one’s choice of passion over convention as career, in Sid’s case – Photography. I could connect with him when he realizes that he inherited his flair for photography from his dad, and gives his first pay check to him. That was one of the most emotional yet life like moment of the movie.
This movie would definitely connect strongly to the generation of the achieved Ram Mehras and the generation of the aimless Sids, yet for us who belong somewhere in between, who has lost something to gain something, can pause to say ‘been there, done that’, before stepping into bigger responsibilities of life.
Overall, a clean cinema with abundant light humour, nominal drama about subtle sweet truths of life packed in a superior production design- a perfect treat for the family!