Count your chillar before they change: Barah Aana movie review Saturday, 28 March, 2009Posted by ~uh~™ in Bollywood.
Tags: Aloo Chat, Barah Aana, Firaaq, Indie movies, Movies, Naseeruddin shah, Raja Menon, Review
The review was pulished on PFC and cross posted here. The PFC comments page can be checked for discussion with the Director.
Last Friday was a deluge of low budget low key movie releases. There were Firaaq (Directoral debut of Nandita Das), Barah Aana, Staright, Aloo Chat and Lottery (acting debut of the first Indian Idol Abhijit Sawant). Now, mentally I was still smeared with Gulaal and wanted to watch it again. After much planning and deliberation with wife, we settled for Barah Aana for Saturday afternoon show, Aloo Chat for Saturday late evening show and Firaq on Sunday afternoon show. Incidentally the percentage audience occupancy was highest in Aloo Chat.
Now, this review is on Barah Anaa, but let me tell you why I have decided to write on this movie and not the other two.
Aloo Chat- If Bachna E Hasino was a piggy back ride on DDLJ first half, Aloo Chat rides on DDLJ second half. Normally, the number of loo break my younger son (3) asks for, over and above the interval, is an indicator if the movie is boring or enjoyable. He asked twice for Aloo chat. The jokes in the movie were too tangential (mera to sade chhe baja hua hai, barah kab bajega) for my elder one (8) too. Though the movie has few moments and some good performances, the much told clichéd story hangs at 6:30 position (quoting the innuendo from the movie itself).
Firaaq- Was too weak and slow for me. The characters wasn’t able to wrench me, except may be for Deepti Naval. Sanjay Suri and Tisca Chopra definitely make a good looking couple suitable for a soap advert on TV, but I wonder if they could touch any chord with the clichéd ‘I- am- a- Muslim- so I-cant- tell- my-real- name’ symptoms. Movies like Bombay, Khuda ke Liye and Mr. and Mrs Iyer which have deeply dealt with the subject ( mob violence, fear, minority sentiments and the aftermath) and probably the shock value of Parzania, specific to the context of Gujarat violence, Firaaq doesn’t offer anything more than what we have seen and known. Moreover may be because the film is honest, it may appear somewhat biased by the majority. I think we should now give Nasiruddin a break from the ‘old sulking Muslim scholar sitting amongst the cobweb of his memories and truckload of antiques, thinking music will heal everyone and everything‘ role, he just does it too well. Was Paresh Rawal given the small role only because he speaks Gujrati? However, the contextual bc-mc lingo promises about Nandita’s realistic portrayal.
Now coming to Barah Aana.
Out of the 3 movies I could associate the most was Barah Aana.
The story is about three men living in suburban slums of Mumbai. Shukla (Nasiruddin Shah) works as a driver and is an officially dead man as per govt records. Yadav (Vijay Raaz) is a watchman for a cooperative housing society. Aman (Arjun Mathur) is a waiter on a desi cafe. What’s common between them is they stay in the same ‘kholi’, drink daru together and lean on each other’s shoulders, when in trouble. All of them are grossly disrespected by people from the so called upper strata during their daily chores. What’s worse after bearing the daily misery, they don’t even earn enough to meet their ends. Overall a bad life, they live. Yadav struggles to send some money for his ailing child back home. Aman dreams of being in love with Kate madam (Violante Placido), a regular customer in the cafe he works and ignores the line-maro attempts of Rani (Tannishtha Chatterjee). Shukla (Nasiruddin Shah) is just silent.
It was pleasant surprise to learn from Raja Menon that Violante is the daughter of the Sicilian beauty (whom Michael Corleoni married in The Godfather) and Michele Placido, director of the much acclaimed Romanzo Criminale !
Things look morbid and there tragic saga continues till one day, Yadav reaches threshold of his tolerance and revolts. His impulsive action drags him and his mates into a possible crime. However, things take different turn after Yadav gets successful in fetching a lucrative ransom and persuades his friends to take up kidnapping professionally. After various sequences of events, the movie ends at a conclusive juncture of the story, leaving the audience to ponder further, like a good movie should do.
Entertainment with a social message
Director Raja Menon captures a slice of life of these hard working men in Mumbai- the drivers, watchmen and waiters. People who have arrived to the maximum city for a living and to support their family back home. It talks about the daily compromise with their dignity as human beings, while they serve the malik. We all interact with them, how many of us call them by name, ask about their well being? A little good word is all that makes a difference in their lives. The movie gives a social message is simple and funny way. Treat everyone equal. Don’t push someone to his limit as you may not be able to handle the fury of the silent man.
Vijay Raaj– I have this tremendous affinity towards low key character actors since I have realized what ‘acting’ really means. Actors like Vijay Raaj (Monsoon Wedding, Delhi 6), Vijay Maurya (Bombay to Bangkok, A Wednesday), Sanjay Narvekar (Vastaav, Hathyar). Years back I had the similar feeling for Rajpaal Yadav, Deepak Dobriyal and Zakir Hussain. These characters remained memorable for their performances, even if the movie didn’t fare well. This guy delivers a superb character metamorphosis from a meek spineless ‘watchman’ to a leader of kidnappers. Watch his body language, mobile conversations and drunken escapades.
Nasiruddin– The veteran thespian is silent in 90% of his role. Still his unspoken language does what it is expected to- make us believe in his character. It is a great moment in the movie when he speaks for the first time. A memorable performance from him.
Among other characters Arjun Mathur (Luck by Chance) does a decent job. Tannishtha Chatterjee as the wicked over friendly Rani is suggestively conspicuous. Violanto Placio presence is refreshing with her sweet voice and accent. The scenes between Aman and Rani are very enjoyable. Short characters like the cutlet aunty and Mr. Mehta (Benjamin Gilani) add value to the simple linear narrative. Jayati Bhatia makes a perfect on screen bitch out of Mrs. Mehta.
I love Indie movies which work on details. Barah has some brilliant detailing, for the keen viewer to relish. The setting of the kholi, the morning queue for municipal water supply, the wreckage of a truck as the daru ka theka, the television set in Shukla’s room, The ‘Dragan Chinese Korner’ and it’s owner, the sunglass of Yadav, and many more. The most exciting part was the ‘wait’ for Shukla to speak-up.
There’s only one flashback at the beginning of the movie which shows Shukla’s past. The first half of the movie establishes the characters with beautiful panache. The second half interweaves the three characters onto the main story through a simple linear narrative.
The movie has great amount of fun and entertainment, even if the viewer choose to ignore the message. The humor in the movie is subtle and wry so it would caters to people with that particular taste.
Like a double edged sword, the underlying social message runs a chance to be misinterpreted. But that may happen if this movie is seen by the mass, which I doubt. Irony is, though this movie tells a story (lack of which in recent movies are complained about these days) and relates to the two social strata of the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’, I wonder who will watch this movie? Clearly the watchman or the driver can’t splurge on the ticket price. Barah aana ( 75%) is the chance that their ‘malik’ would go for ‘Aloo Chat’.
For the rest char aana (25%), will anyone sponsor their driver or watchman to Barah Aana?
Ps: The title is a bad pun attempt to contextualize the famous idiom. Chillar in Mumbaiya Hindi means ‘small change’ or coins.