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Kaminey: A Ballad Darkly Tuesday, 25 August, 2009

Posted by ~uh~™ in Bollywood.
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This review was first published on PFC [link]

Sweety, Guddu and the Acid Rainbow

Sweety, Guddu and the Acid Rainbow

For me there will always be a difference in experience between watching a film on big screen, on the immediate weekend after its release compared to watching it after reading many reviews, seeing it on DVD. Because of my lack of knowledge, experience and panache to observe the nuances and minutiae of this medium of art and expression. Unfailingly, I tend to form an opinion from others viewpoint, build-up expectations or more detrimentally, become biased.

Thus, I normally try to avoid reading many reviews before watching a movie just to keep my mind free from any bias or expectations. However, for Kaminey it was entirely a different trip. I have never had the privilege to witness any Director’s perspective on his movie before watching it, leave alone attend  a discussion between two Directors, who have imprinted their style in contemporary Indian cinema, in person, in real time. So, when the two directors started discussing the film in animated excitement, I gulped it down like a greedy pig. Because, having missed the discussion, I would have now been writing the script of Flashbacks of a Fool- Part Deux.

Evolution of ‘Hindi movie’ has always been based on certain modus operandi, saving a handful of exception, which rather proved the norm. Movies which were not formula based were a copy/ lift/ inspiration or termed as ‘Art film’. So Commercial Hindi cinema, also known as ‘Mainstream Bollywood’ or ‘Escapist Entertainment’, always typified the certain formula, albeit modernized with time.

The formula broadly delved on love story, family drama, twin siblings/ reincarnations, political drama, cop/ gangster/ terrorist, horror/ comedy (of late it’s difficult to distinguish between them).  With the winning formula combined with muscular hunks, foreign locations, underdressed zeroines, numerous song and dance sequences, they were sure to entertain a section of the audience. The other kind of audience drooled over Tarantino, Ritiche and Rodriguezor, to satisfy their appetite for dark wit and flamboyant violence. Then happened Kaminey and things did not look the same anymore.

[This para is not in PFC review] The basic plot revolved around separated twin brothers Guddu and Charlie (Shahid Kapoor), Guddu’s girlfriend and mother of his child Sweety (Priyanka Chopra), her headstrong regionalist politico brother Bhope Bhau (Amole Gupte). A huge consignment of coke deal goes bad and Guddu and Charlie gets entangled in a nexus of corrupt cops, international drug peddlers, Bengali race fixer Mafioso and henchmen of Bhope. A bloody chase for power and money ensues while love and blood bonding floats above all.

Kaminey to me is an absolutely desi and dark director’s cut of our times, which does justice to the medium of art/expression as well as makes commercial sense. Vishal Bharadwaj uses elements of the time tested formula and imbues them in the film in his unique way. The story is a not so subtle statement on Indian politics and corruption at the metropolis underbelly, under the subtext of classical vulnerable romance. What is subtle is how he interweaves dream like sequences within harsh reality and creates a ballad, wrinkle free and acid washed.

Charlie without the Chocolate factor

Charlie without the Chocolate factor

The aspects of Kaminey which made me see the movie once again-

Political undertone- The statements on politics, corruption and exploitation may not be new in intent but surely in presentation. In a necropolis, neither the criminals are glorified nor are the cops. At the end of the day the people are constituent of a symbiotic scum, corroding the moral values to the core and celebrating it with vada pao and modak. When values are traded and negotiated like vegetables, it’s the kaminey who walks up the victory stand.

Childhood memoirs- The guns in the hands of Bhope Bhau and Mikhail seemed like toys, when they play the  game of death with innocent ‘dhishkaon’ to each other. The mention of Bela-Bahadur and champak immediately took me to my days of Indrajaal Comics. Violence was a child, once upon a time. That’s why the eccentric Bengali dadas not only refuse to grow up, but chose their lethal weapons with childish ecstasy.

Black Humour- Now this is not everyone’s glass of blood. How violence becomes comic and death brings a smile, are illustrated in this movie. Picking up the humorous killing scenes and describing them would be a criminal offence and killing of the humour itself, so I refrain. Those who love comic books may get the drift.

Dialouges- Each and every sentence uttered by the characters reflected the idiosyncrasy, humour and the strata of the society the characters represent. Usage of original mother tounge by the characters further makes it a treat for the audience, who understands it. I can vouch that the Bengali dialogues were one of the best in the movie, not just because it’s in Bengali but the contextual sarcasm in which they work. For your information, ‘Sonamoni’, mukhta ektu kholo dekhini’ [ o my sweetpie, open your mouth please] and ‘O amar Sontumunu pushuta’  are the sweet nothings a Bengali mother affectionately uses to nurse and cuddle her baby.

Influences- Some of us, who are little overdosed with international films, tend to seek the ‘inspiration’ or ‘tribute’ to a context, or a scene, and then analyze it so deeply, which probably even the Director never had any clue of. Just because a film is structured as non-linear narrative and talks about a wristwatch doesn’t mean a simile with Pulp Fiction, similarly to El mariachi because of a Guitar and Guy Ritchie because of multiple gangsters chasing a large booty moving. However, I must confess, some of the elements used, did remind me some films of foreign origin. For example the masked figures in the song Fatak reminded me the death procession on Once Upon  A Time in Mexico., the climax shootout reminded me of Desparado, Mikhail’s long hair  and sniffing style reminded me of Banderas of El Mariachi and Pacino from Scarface.

Symbolism and Surrealism- The delirium of Charlie and the jump cuts to his childhood and Mikhails deadbody in his father’s place was subconscious acceptance of guilt, which , in most probability was intentional. But Guddu’s walk along the railway track over the corpses while half-dead people are trying to grab his feet was surreal to me- I was simultaneously surprised, shocked and disturbed, but ‘felt’ the scene in my psyche. Quite an anarchist poetry in celluloid.

Bhope Bhau- Politically corrupt, brilliantly evil

Bhope Bhau- Politically corrupt, brilliantly evil

Characters performances- Priyanka Chopra , Amole Gupte, Chandan Roy’s performances are etched in stone. Rajatava Datta and Deb Mukherjee as the Bengali dadas are brilliant too. I liked Tenzing Lama as Tashi too, he had the right attitude to like bitches over dogs.  Shahid Kapoor’s dual role as Guddu and Charlie gives us some hope, that stars may not need to build up a image of romantic or action hero but can do character roles. Our cinema needs characters, we have seen enough heroism.

Overall, a superior and entertaining cinema with masala plot, great music, fabulous casting, cult characters, brilliant cinematography and a new flavour which sets the Hindi film standards up there, that would change the meaning of ‘average’.

However, I did have my feeling of discontent with Kaminey, even being aware of the director’s thought behind certain elements.

Dilution/ comic reliefs- The high standard of twisted humour, though fairly consistent does degrade a bit at places, especially with that Lele character at the climax.

Make up- looking at it from pure practical point of view there should have been some marked difference between the twin brothers, representing their upbringing. Atleast, Guddu would have been given a shorter hair cut.

Climax- The climax was a big letdown and it was clear that it’s been brutally edited to fit the film into a time limit. Such climax, panned with wide angle camera, rendered with the number Rasta Hai Jo Sasta Hai Wo would have been a masterpiece, a metaphoric epic like end. The silhouette against the setting sun and the gunfire sparks looked like a painter’s canvas and I wanted more. But, it ended like a rushed up 80’s potboiler, with a clichéd message – Alls well that ends well. The ending clearly disappointed me. It was like the fragile David of art was defeated by the commercial Goliath. The ballad gets asphyxiated.

Certification- Was that A certification some kind of joke? Some contemporary movies get released with an U certification which feature cleavages as deep as ATM slots, display human flesh like PETA adverts, item numbers that would enable premature ejaculation to coma patients, leave alone the Sulabh Sauchalay grade  innuendos, while  I cringe into my seat, as my 9 year old son doesn’t even find them funny. But Kaminey gets a big A, because our respected censor board does not want to talk about condom and thinks Kaminey is a bad word, so is Pilibhit.

I sincerely request the film fraternity to give censor board another chance, by making Ch*tiye.

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Comments»

1. spikeace - Tuesday, 25 August, 2009

I knew it! The blog text is all compressed in IE!!! once again!

I have read it in the blog surfer – The bengali dialogues left me scratching my head.
For me, the bhope-tope exchange was the best scene in the movie and the best 1 line was – “dang dang dang dang” by the kiddo… The A certificate was valid as there was some drug use shown in the movie. I feel its not wrong to say that the plots and characters in K were too similar to those in the movies you have menaioned. I wouldnt say they were lifted, but they were too similar to not make a mention. At the sametime, comparisions to QT is absurd. The movie is not at that standard! I wish the movie would have also picked up on how everything is named after Shivaji in Bombay and how it causes confusion… 😀
……………………………
~uh~™: Agree on Bhote tope scene. Mindblowing ! The total screen time of Mikhail was 17 minutes starting from the convertible chase till vada pao.
There was drug usage but it was far from explicit- if you have seen Trainspotting you’ll know what am saying. Kaminey should have got U/A. VB clearly pays his tribute to his favourite directors from the west 🙂
BWSL is named after RajiV Gandi for a change in Mumbai.

2. alok - Tuesday, 25 August, 2009

dada… took two days to completely read and understand your take on the movie…..justice done i say :P, first at the PFC now here…reading ur filmi reviews remind me of preparing “bhaang” 🙂
peesing and peesing and peesing finally the taste and aroma
enjoyed drinking it 🙂
…………………….
~uh~™: Now drink some foochka water to bring down the peesed off feeling 😉

3. couchpapaya - Tuesday, 25 August, 2009

wow, how did u watch the directors discussing? another preview show? not bad, uh, not bad 🙂 anyways, am unsure if i’ll like this movie … i’ll probably catch it on dvd some day! as for the certifications, arent they always inconsistent. i’ve seen movies where i’ve been cringing in the seat and wanting to cover every child’s eyes in the audience (eg: race) which have a U.
……………………..
~uh~™: I was invited for dinner at one director’s place while the maker of Kaminey dropped in. Drinks and discussions followed till morning.
I think you will like this movie, from whatever i know of your taste. Don’t miss this on big screen.
Like Race , Tashan & Kambatq Ishq belong to the same league of indecent certification..

couchpapaya - Wednesday, 28 October, 2009

you were right, i did like it, even though i started watching thinking that i was tired of gangster movies and i think much has to do with the crazy dialogues. tho the climax scene tried too hard to get that guy ritchie-esque confusion theme going on. i think shahid kapoor’s twin role was very well played tho, there were subtle differences in the twins, the aggressiveness of charlie’s manner even to the way he stands and guddu’s shyness.
………………………………………………..
~uh~™: Great to see you back with a well formed opinion ! I agree with you on the climax. Hope the DVD has a bonus of the uncut version. Shahid is the next big star for sure.
Also, did you watch Wake Up Sid ? You wont be dissapointed either…..

4. Nil - Tuesday, 25 August, 2009

this review kicks ass.
…………….
~uh~™: Sounds like a compliment, hope its not my ass.

5. sujata - Wednesday, 26 August, 2009

HI FE,

That was a really good take – something that a movie like Kaminey deserved. I have read many reviews – was looking for something but did not find it. And now I find it here – the mention of symbolism in this movie. You bring out points tht are usually ignored by others – thats why i was waiting for your review 🙂
…………………..
~uh~™: This is your first comment on my blog, so welcome to AEIOU !
I took me quite sometime to organize my thoughts on this one. I still think I have missed couple of points- the male bonding between Mikhail and Charlie, which might be confused as a gay gesture, the interpretation of the romance between Guddu & Priyanka etc.
Good to know there’s a taker for my review 🙂

6. kaushik - Wednesday, 26 August, 2009

Excellent review …. but, I found your style of your narration a bit different from your usual style (where you share more information on the plot / story line) – is it a deliberate attempt of not disclosing any “spoiler” as you mentioned at the beginning?

You had a discussion with the Director before the release of the film? WOW!!!!

I have now decided to go and watch the movie ….
…………………
~uh~™: It is a deliberate attempt to generate curiosity to the reader and make him watch the movie. This was a learning from the discussion with the directors. I think the few lines I have mentioned about the plot is good enough 🙂

I did not have the discussion before the release. The movie released on Friday and the discussion was on Sunday night. The theaters were closed due to swine flu so i watched the film on Tuesday night.
Did you not get my pic on mail ?
You must watch it, for the betterment of cinema !

7. kaushik - Wednesday, 26 August, 2009

yes … will do!

I saw the pictures but thought that it was a party where you had been invited … never guessed that you had a 1-on-1 with VB himself! this is just too impressive!
……………………..
~uh~™: It was a house party not in a very big scale, if you notice the pictures behind you can guess who’s house it was.
One of the very few advantages of being in Mumbai and enduring the hard life.

8. nursemyra - Wednesday, 26 August, 2009

the guy in the v necked t shirt is HOT
……………..
~uh~™: hmmm……Lynn found this guy’s ex girlfriend’s present boyfriend as hot.

9. GirlNextDoor - Wednesday, 26 August, 2009

Excellent review! Loved the captions too!
I used to work in a building which also housed VB’s old office (the very filmy Andheri-Lokhandwala vicinity). So this guy joined my company as a content writer (although he had a masters in Science) just so he could sneak into VB’s office (you guessed it – so he could show him his script)! And one fine day, he went out and stood guard outside VB’s office during lunch break….and actually managed to get into his office. He never showed up at work after that lunch hour. Wonder if he got his lucky break!
…………………..
~uh~™: Thanks GND. I like people who like captions. It’s like copywriting, sometimes it comes as a flash, ssometime it never comes.
That was a nice short story material…:)

10. abhishek - Wednesday, 26 August, 2009

Exhaustive is the word that comes to mind.

I think the ‘A’ certificate may be partly due to the exhaustively long smooch scene. Wouldn’t want to put ‘bad’ things into children’s mind…would we?

Aakhir sanskar sanskriti bhi to koi cheez hai. 😛
………………….
~uh~™: You must be kidding? Jhoom Barabar Jhoom, Guru, Tashan was all ‘U’ rated, Ghajini, Kambaqt Ishq was ‘U/A’. You get the drift.
About smooch scene, its does’nt fall under sexuality ( unless done nude) but under sensuality which deserves U/A.
The point it film certification in India dates back to 1950’s and like everything in India the people who run it are not willing to change with time.
I agree on the Sanskriti part- ghomtar tolai khyamta, as they say in Bangla.

11. abhishek - Wednesday, 26 August, 2009

btw how did you format TM to be the superscript after ~uh~

I tried something similar at my place and failed.
………………………
~uh~™: WordPress has a ‘Special characters’ tab for posts. For comments, I use simple html codes, which are available online.

12. Bedazzled - Thursday, 27 August, 2009

A great review of a great movie ! .. kaminey was unnervingly dark with flecks of masala .. Though i wouldnt say i enjoyed every frame .. its good cinema, by any standards
………………….
~uh~™: Thanks for the reciprocating visit and the comment. The movie is a treat for lovers of that genre.

13. whatsinaname - Thursday, 27 August, 2009

~uh~ oh, what a review! Superb one.
Am I glad that I saw the movie before reading your review since I could relate to a lot of what you wrote. A great analysis I must say and like you mentioned, if you read many a review before going for a movie, your view gets all skewed and biased as it happened to LAK for me!
Contrary to you, I loved the ending! I dont like cute herores dying :p I could not find a single negative point in the movie. Or maybe yes, that bengali scene was a tad too long. I mean 1 sentence in a diff language is ok but that scene lasted for almost 3-4 minutes which went over my head. There could have been subtitles!
The flashback et al is fine with me. After all why mix real and screen world?
And you are right on one more account. This movie requires a second viewing. 1 time is too less to grasp the details.
…………………..
~uh~™: Are you saying my article can’t be treated as a review and won’t be helpful at all for readers who hasn’t seen the movie? I was conscious of being analytical, but when I was posting after 2 weeks of the film’s release i had considered most of the starving cinephiles would watch it anyway.
Like you probably 90% of public would love the ending. That’s what is called ‘Escapist Entertainment’. Anyway, that’s not harming anyone, except for leaving a degree of discontent to a handful of us.
If I meet VB Next time, I am going to suggest him to put subtitles for Bengali/ Marathi dialogues, to do justice to all viewers. Only the essence would be lost in translation.
Why don’t you right a review of the film, it’s always interesting to read various perspectives of the same film.

14. Girish - Monday, 28 September, 2009

hi the climax was the highlight for the movie
…………………….
~uh~™ : Exactly the reason I was dissapointed with it’s treatment !

15. hama - Wednesday, 17 March, 2010

i love you shahid kapoor

16. rohan - Thursday, 2 December, 2010

hi .


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