Thursday, 13 June 2013

Indian Films and Rituparno


When Rituparno's death was announced last week it saddened me. He was 49. But he had lived his life to the full. Isn't that what we all aim to do?

Rituparno lived -- some would say -- a lonely life. Highly sensitive, he was the androgyne. As an epitaph he is will now be remembered in film history as telling his own stories through his leading ladies.

Some of his films:
Unishe April (1994)        Dahon (1995)           Asukh (1999)
 Bariwali (2000)     Titli (2002)       Shubho Mahurut (2003)
Choker Bali (2003)   Antarmahal (2005)      The Last Lear (2007)
Arekti Premer Golpo (2010)  Naukadubi (2011) Chitrangada (2012)       
Inspired by his work I cobbled together a few films for my weekly column. I was aghast I had not seen even one of Rituparno's films. He accomplished so much in so little time. I was wondering why it was not possible to seem more parallel cinema like Rituparno's in the multiplexes in town. Why was mainstream usually so drivel-driven? Could Konkani cinema come up with an ouevre like this in the future? Perhaps the only reference to Rituparno is Aakanksha's comment in my article below.
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                    Coming For a Movie?
                                                                                                                 -Brian Mendonça

What better way to take on the rains, than to watch a movie.  Recall those dreary afternoons when you ensconced yourself in a movie theatre to beguile time? Here are some reasons why I watched these movies:

1.     Othello  in Meerut? How would Shakespeare translate in the Hindi heartland? Vishal Bhardwaj – one of the new age filmmakers --directed Omkara (2006) with elan. Seething Saif Ali Khan plays a superb foil to the brooding Devgan. The raw dialogue in Khariboli dialect splattered with swear words has perhaps never been heard on screen before. Jealousy,  mistrust, desire – they are all here. Even Billo Rani’s frenzied ‘Beedi Jalaile’  (Lyrics by Gulzar).

2.     When farmers were committing suicide across the country I was curious to know how a film would tackle the issue. Peepli Live  (2010) was a directorial debut by NDTV journalist Anusha Rizvi. It centered on Natha (Raghubir Yadav) who decides to commit suicide so his family can claim compensation and his land can be saved. It exposes the ruthless competition between rival TV channels to cover a sensational suicide – notwithstanding the human cost. The comic treatment turned the film into a parody rather than evoking sympathy for the farmers.

3.     Would you bring ‘fresh flowers and fruitables’ from the market? Ajay Devgan just did in Bol Bachchan (2012) directed by Rohit Shetty. Apart from the literal translation of the Hindi idiom into English – with disastrous results! -- the movie’s gay act by Abishek Bachchan almost went unnoticed. ‘Filmakers in popular cinema here continue to use characters of alternate sexuality seeped in stereotypical images as crutches to provide comic relief,’ writes Aakanksha Naval-Shetye.

4.     Feeling depressed? What’s it like to attempt to commit suicide, be rescued at the last moment, be rehabilated and learn to live once again? This is exactly the plot of Nautanki Saala (2013) directed by Rohan Sippy. Of course, we went to see this one, because of Gaelyn Mendonca.  I had to see my namesake in a movie! Sadly the web portals are already commodifying this lissome debutante as a ‘hottie’ irrespective of her talent (which, it must be said, she has to work on.)

5.     A car chase in Goa? No, this is not Go Goa Gone (2013). It’s Ameer Sultan’s Tamil film Aadhi Bhagwan (2013) which we saw in Thiruvarur, Tamil Nadu. I went to see if I could follow the movie from the action – which there is plenty of. Jeyram Ravi in a double role in Tamil gangster land and his moll Neetu Chandra keep the action oscillating between Chennai and Mumbai.

It is curious that reviews of 100 years of Indian cinema often take Indian to mean Hindi (Filmfare). This is unfair to films in languages other than Hindi in India. The recent Golden Goa Konkani film festival in Panjim was a good step to showcase classic Goan films. Nirmonn (1966) directed by A. Salam, starring C. Alvares and Shalini Mardolkar led the charge. But there must be more such initiatives to uplift contemporary Konkani cinema.   
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Published in Spotlight, Gomantak Times Weekender on Sunday 9 June 2013, pg. 2; Pix. from annavetticadgoes2themovies.blogspot(dot)com; Premankur Biswas, 'Female Gaze' Indian Express Eye, 9-15 June 2013: 14-15.

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