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Count your chillar before they change: Barah Aana movie review Saturday, 28 March, 2009

Posted by ~uh~™ in Bollywood.
Tags: , , , , , , ,

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.


1. bouncing-bubble - Sunday, 29 March, 2009

Crispy review. The title and the 75pct-25pct reference in the end were truly witty and interesting.

~uh~: Good to see you noticed the finer details 🙂

2. litterateuse - Monday, 30 March, 2009

Nice one, fe. The cliche of the storyline apart, what do you think of Firaaq from the directorial/movie-making perspective? The cast seems to be a good mix, and I’m curious to see Nandita Das as a director. Often I’ve noticed I take to movies which don’t have a particularly powerful script, but the editing, cast-dynamics, dialogs etc. are often the deciding factor in whether I want to add it to my collection.

Will look out for Barah Aana. I share your take on the low-profile cast – ditto to everything. I wonder if they’ll lose it if they ever go mainstream. I’m sure they themselves are averse to mainstream cinema, but you never can tell – and I don’t want to find out 🙂


~uh~: Firaaq is a visually superlative and detailed piece of work, the script apart. Especially the night shots were extremely well done. The major credit must go to Ravi K Chandran ( Black, Sawariya, Yuva). As I have mentioned, it was little too bland for me, but Nandita’s finesse on the medium is perceptible.
I am not sure about your movie taste, may be if you name few of your favorites are dislikes, I would get an idea.

I don’t think low profile actors lose their panache if they go main stream- Pankaj Kapur and Raghuvir Yadav is the glaring examples of sheer performance whether they are working in a art-house production ( Salaam Bombay) or a pure commercial venture (Gayab, Darna Manaa Hai). There was this recent movie called Halla Bol, which in my view was utter crap, but I would recommend the movie only for Pankaj Kapur’s outstanding performance as a ex-dacoit turned dramatist. Similarly actors like Rajpal Yadav, Ranvir Shorey, Vikram Gokhale, Vinay Pathak, Pavan Malhotra, Makarand Deshpande all started there film career with small roles ( in art films or indie movies) but created their niche in mainstream (commercial). They can virtually do any role – comic, sad or serious and add life to the movies. I think success of them lies in their theatrical background and the director’s skill to capture them rightly on the camera.

Glad you touched my fav topic 🙂

3. Rofl Indian - Monday, 30 March, 2009

No, I’ll not say ‘good post’ and all that. It is as a good review should be. A bridge between the characters on screen and the readers. With just the right amount of salt and pepper. But I do miss your ‘other’ genre of reviews. Like ‘Loo Chat’ on Aloo Chaat and things like that ;D

~uh~: Yeah, too much seriousness off late!
Lemme work on some of my long pending ‘Projects’ and see if I can do some justice to the ‘other’ genre….;-)
Btw- Great new ID & blog; surely corrupt the uninitiated 😉

4. rahul - Monday, 30 March, 2009

nice reviews!!

5. Abha - Monday, 30 March, 2009

a detailed review as always!

this was on the radar but we had to play catch with Gulal first.

sounds like a super movie. and my fav Vijay Raaz movie is Raghu Romeo! bleddy brilliant!

and you know just the other day we were discussing that we are so quick to complain about bad service, but rarely go out of our way to appreciate good service.

M has this excellent habit of always asking name, shaking hands and thanking the person with his name. I am learning! 🙂

sorry for the tangent!


~uh~: these days I end up watching movies which either no one watches or has a different views than me. Thanks for reading. More when you happen to see this, probably.

6. Ava - Monday, 30 March, 2009

Oh I read this one on PFC. Couldnt watch any movie this weekend. Was preoccupied.

~uh~: Happens.

7. gauri - Wednesday, 1 April, 2009

I’m still a bit wary of saying Pankaj Kapoor & Rajpal Yadav in the same sentence – well at least yet. (Was Raghuvir in Darna Manaa hai too?). Pankaj K, Supriya Pathak, Smita Patil, Nina Gupta (go on? 🙂 ) are in a different league altogether, and will remain unfazed, mainstream or otherwise.

Ranvir Shorey, Vinay Pathak etc. look very promising. But I’d give them a “wait and watch” status, if you know what I mean.

Nitin Mukesh got a good foot in the door with Johny Gaddar, and he was good – but it doesn’t say anything to me yet.

I could go on about this; you don’t want me usurping your comment space. But yes, we should take this up some day 🙂


~uh~: If you have seen a movie called ‘Chameli Ki Shadi'(1986) then remember who played the role of Amrita Singh’s dad. It was Pankaj Kapur ! And his name was not even mentioned in the main credit ( though he was already popular in TV because of Karamchand). My point is one actor may be good in other medium like TV, Stage etc but it takes time to get fame on silver screen and PankaJ Kapur is one big example. Rajpal Yadav had great potential but he chose to do movies left right and epicenter of Priyadarshan quakes, which probably degraded to a jumping monkey. But from his movies like ‘Main Meri Patni Aur Woh’ and ‘Main Madhuri Dixit Banna Chahta Hoon’ he clearly shows he is more than a comic relief.

Raghuvir played the bewildered school teacher in the 3rd storey in DMH.
On the ladies please add Dipti Naval too.

Ranvir & Vinay both run a chance to get stereo typed. Some are already saying that about Vinay after his Dasvidaniya, Oh My God and Straight.

Nitin Mukesh- I am yet to see ADZ, so can’t update my first impression from JG (i liked the movie). He is bit too cold (even with Rimi Sen!) and need to check what genre thaws him 🙂

Yes, this deserved a separate discussion ( good to see i can talk to you on movies) 🙂

8. Wake Up Sid: Serene Serendipity « AEIOU ¿ ® - Wednesday, 7 October, 2009

[…] 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 […]

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