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The Story of Latpat Desi Friday, 31 December, 2010

Posted by ~uh~™ in Stories.
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This is the story of Latpat Desi.#

Those who have met Latpat Desi could never remember him as he doesn’t have anything special to remember. Latpat is one of the million common men in the crowd with no unique quality, no special talent. He was one of those daily commuters who owned a car but could not afford to use it. He took local train to work everyday. He was working on the same company for the last 16 years where he joined before his marriage. But because he was neither smart not good in office politics, he was left behind as a manager while his colleagues climbed the ladder of growth much faster. Latpat was afraid of change. After leading a mundane life for years he was afraid to break his routine. The only adventure he has is when he takes his daughters to the suburban shopping mall’s gaming arcade and collide each other’s cars. He was afraid of spiders, beautiful women, smart colleagues and new technologies. He used a primitive mobile phone. He has not changed his Maruti Zen since last thirteen years though he could easily afford a bigger car. He did not drink or smoke regularly, but kept a bottle of Johny Walker Black label received as gift, waiting to open it for want of a suitable opportunity like a promotion at job or India’s qualification in the football world cup.

Being the only earning member of family, he always wanted to limit his expenditure on unnecessary luxuries and save for his daughters’ education, marriage etc. While planning for the future he forgot to live in the present and always waited for something good to happen to feel happier. His wife on the contrary was a very outgoing and jovial personality. She used to dance before marriage and was fond of movies and music. Now her only entertainment is plateful of assorted food in the food court of the suburban shopping mall and a movie or two. They had two daughters, aged 8 and 14 who studied in the neighborhood school. When they completed 10 years of marriage Latpat wanted to gift her something of her choice. She asked for a DVD player. Latpat did gift her one with two DVDs, namely Titanic and Hum Apke Hai Kaun. Her wife gifted him a set of aroma therapy candles with aphrodisiac oil.

On the eve of their tenth marriage anniversary, Latpat’s wife wanted to have a good time eating out and spending time together. She found out from her friends about a lounge bar in downtown and convinced Latpat to take her there. In exchange she offered to keep the lights on, wear the translucent negligee at night, which Latpat gifted her on their 5th anniversary. So, after they make arrangements to keep their daughters with a relative for the night, Latpat took his vintage Zen out. He felt little distracted and he could not decide if it was because of the squeaking noise from the car or the thought of night with his wife in that negligee.

Being a weekday, they reached the seaside lounge bar quite fast and chose to settle on an open air table for two by the beach overlooking the sea. The food on the menu card was mostly unknown to Latpat, so his wife took the responsibility to order. She ordered two exotic cocktails and some finger foods to start with. It was only nine in the evening. The lounge played nice contemporary music which Latpat never heard, but with the fusion of fine alcoholic taste and relaxed senses, he enjoyed it. Her wife was looking beautiful with the dark tinted lips and a hint of dusky eye shadow. They made small conversations, mainly about what they did in their earlier anniversaries and how they have forgotten to spend time with each other, over the years with responsibilities of children taking the top priorities. Latpat kept looking at his wife for ten years, and pondered how their love gradually transformed into a series commitments and responsibilities. Tonight he will rekindle the long lost passion, he thought.

By the time the sizzlers arrived, Latpat downed two more drinks. After long time he was feeling relaxed and happy. For once, he was relieved of all his anxieties of life, savings for his daughters and office politics. The music changed to a soothing saxophone, the stars above the open deck was shining bright. Latpat was never so happy.

At that point someone called her wife’s name, a female voice. It was an old friend of Latpat’s wife from school, they saw each other after ages. As it happens, the two women started talking relentlessly, trying to catch up with all that have happened in their lives. With nothing much to do Latpat sipped his last drink for the road, while gazing at the stars, enjoying his high. After all, this was a special night.

*******************************************************

He could not remember how long it was, but his wife woke him up from his state of trance. It was little past midnight and only few patrons were left in the lounge. Latpat settled the bill and waited for the valet to bring his car. Looking at his wife’s sparkling eyes, he just couldn’t wait for the excitement awaited for the rest of the night. As soon as he hit the road, he pressed the accelerator hard, took a screeching turn. His wife cautioned him’, what’s the hurry dear, drive carefully”. With his blurred vision and the dimly lit road he saw some silhouette figures on the road, a hundred meters ahead. When he realized it was a group of cops with a ‘naka-bandi’, it didn’t take him long to realize what he is driving into. There’s a group of cops on their routine drink and drive check-post and there he is behind the wheel, alcohol filled up to his neck. The next thing would be a breath analyzer on his mouth which will ensure suspension of his license, a quick trial and atleast three days inside a jail, the least being the fine of couple of thousand rupees. He read in the newspapers how stringent cops have become these days, especially after few fatal accidents by drunken drivers. He trembled inside, by the thought of him being inside jail with all those rapists and criminals, while his wife facing humiliation from the neighbours, colleagues and relatives. How will he face his daughters? He will be degraded in front of everyone known to him. Forever.

He looked at his wife, who had turned pale, probably from the same thought. Latpat slowed down. There was no way to get out of this. The cops have already noticed him and one constable on the bike started approaching him. There was not a single moment to lose. He looked at his wife again, who tried to say something, but then he had already decided what to do. He took a deep breath, pressed the accelerator as hard as possible and released the clutch pedal. With a shrieking noise the Zen sprang towards the iron barricade set up by the cops. A glaring light from the standing police vehicles blinded his vision as he drove in breakneck speed. The cop on the bike shouted and waved before Latpat hit his bike, which flung on to his bonnet, shattering his windshield. His car ran over the constable, felt from the bump below the tires. Latpat tried to brake and turn towards the gap between the barricade just wide enough to let him pass through it. He could see a mosaic of blinking lights through the thousand pieces of glass of his windshield. To his horror, he found the brake is not functioning. His unused vehicle has given up at this moment of emergency. As a last try as he pulled up the hand brakes, the car turned clockwise with a screeching sound. Smell of burnt rubber engulfed his olfactory before the car hit the first barricade sideways, hit a police van and rammed the second line of barricade before coming to a halt.

Within police siren blaring, smoke and acrid smell of burnt rubber and metal, Latpat sensed a stream of hot fluid oozing out of his nose. Another stream tricked down his forehead over his eyes, making it difficult to open. He could gather a blurred image of his wife on the front passenger seat, her head bowed down while her motionless body is hold by the seat belt. He could see her lips, dark and red, gently dissolving and dripping on her arms, flowing over her fingers reaching toward her nails. As his senses plunged into putrid darkness, he tried to stretch his numb arms towards his wife. But he could taste the salty thick decomposed fluid on his mouth and a worm like creature running over his head, shaking it gently.

*******************************************************

“It’s not even ten minutes I was away and you dozed off?” Her wife looked at him while running her fingers through his hairs, “ How are you going to last the night?” Her eyes sparkled. Her lips shimmering with a naughty smile.

Latpat looked at her, smiled and said ‘Don’t worry darling, night is still young. Let’s make love. Let’s start in the taxi that we are taking home’.

# (Law Abiding Tax Paying And Typically   Disillusioned  Endangered Subliminal Indian).

PS: The picture was shot by me, on Mumbai road and digitally altered.

Daayen Ya Baayen Movie Review: Hills and Wheels Thursday, 28 October, 2010

Posted by ~uh~™ in Bollywood.
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4 comments

This was the first review of this movie to be published on PFC [link], being cross posted here.

Wheels on Hills- welcoming the luxury

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.

Village yokels- Manav kaul, Badrul Islam & Deepak Dobriyal

Deepak Dobriyal and Badrul Islam (Basant)

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.

 

Girish Tiwari ( School Principal) and Deepak Dobriyal

Deepak Dobriyal & Badrul Islam

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 as Ramesh Majila

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.

 

Colourful natural settings

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.

 

Scenic Uttarakhand, well framed

BOTE Art Friday, 8 October, 2010

Posted by ~uh~™ in Art & Literature, Graphics.
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1 comment so far

A back of the envelop (BOTE) representation of a state of mind, done with ball point pen.

state of mind, emotion, bleeding, heart, pain, agony, frustration, hurt bird, smokePlease feel free to ponder, interpret, use or ignore.

Sorry, no humour this time.

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