Sunday, February 3, 2008

Yahaan .. "Som ewhere in between"

I was a kid, in Std 5th when I first time saw Maniratnam’s Roja. Greatly moved by the movie, I always wanted to be like Roja, the heroine in the film, who fights for the cuase to rescue her husnabd from the militants. Being a all time favorite of mine, Roja still remains as fresh as the first drop of rain in my mind’s frame. Based upon jeehadi, the cause of love and the issue of Kashmir, Roja was well set in the mind’s frame of every Indian by 1992 and after a gap 15 years came another Roja, with a slight change in the storyline and a more confined approach. Comparing both the movies, the feel is of course different. Roja well acclaimed while Yahaan not so accepted. Yesterday I watched Yahaan for the first time and the movie left a open page in the life’s book getting imprinted in my brain cells.

Gone were the days when Bollywood actor Shammi Kapoor used to sing, frolic and dance in Kashmir, singing “Chahe koi mujhe junglee kahe..”. The fact has been for past 55years, since independence the land of heaven, “the wadi” is terrified in the clouds of terrors .Now the Kashmiris live in fear and death visits them every day. On one hand they have the terrorists, who want an independent Kashmir, free from any interference from India and Pakistan; And on the other hand they have the soldiers from the Indian Armed Forces, who terrorize them into releasing any information they may or not have of any terrorist activity. Amidst this live Islamic Adaa and her family. She falls in love with Captain Aman of the Indian Army, a Hindu. They want to get married, but there are complications. It is said that you can get away with a lot of things in Kashmir - but when you marry someone from a different religion - you commit the biggest crime on Earth. Especially if you are young woman named Adaa - who has a brother named Shakeel Ahmed - a wanted terrorist.

Beautiful, well-made films are often ignored by the industry and public at large. Amongst the many such ignored films, Yahaan got listed. Debutante director Shoojit Sircar gives us a love story with intelligence and emotions, boldly defying norms to make a film that is surely one of the best pictures of the year. Stars Jimmy Shergill and newcomer Minissha Lamba are impressive in extraordinary performances. Sircar succeeds in doing what Vidhu Vinod Chopra and Khalid Mohommad fell woefully short of with Mission Kashmir and Fizaa - he makes no compromises in his script and avoids pitfalls and cliches of the genre.

Well-shot and intelligently mounted, Yahaan is not only a pleasant surprise, but a milestone in historically fictional films involving the conflict in Kashmir. Though the film revolves around a love story between a Hindu army officer and Muslim Kashmiri girl in contemporary strife-torn Srinagar, religious conflicts take are thankfully relegated completely to the background. The film instead chooses to embrace the universal theme of a desire for peace and a return to the near-paradise Kashmir once was. There are no frothing fundamentalist politicians and stereotypically fanatical Indians and Pakistanis. More apparent is the suffering of the Kashmiri people as a whole. The film brings to light the aching pain of the citizens of Kashmir and a universal desire to escape from the terror and pain of their daily lives.. A well composed Hindi movie released on July 29, 2005, focused on a very potent issue. Though Yahaan didn't manage big business mainly because of being slotted among much bigger summer releases, but critics praised the film for being warm and intimate. Adda’s role by the protagonist performance was considered one of the film's highlights.

The story is simple - Adaa (Minissha Lamba) is a Kashmiri girl torn between her army officer lover Aman (Jimmy Shergill - finally in a lead role and excellent at that) and her jehaadi insurgent brother Shakeel (Yashpal Sharma). Trouble ensues when Aman´s superiors come to know his involvement with the sister of a terrorist and implicate him as an accomplice. Thus, Adaa begins a valiant attempt to save her lover from the perils of a court-martial and Shakeel is torn between his former family’s happiness and safety and his own jehaadi cause
The performances in the film are excellent and award-worthy. Finally, Jimmy Shergill finds a lead role worthy of him after many missteps and supporting roles. Shergill has always been a superb performer and ever-dependable in his supporting performances. With Yahaan, he shows his acting chops and his ability to carry a film as a lead. His wonderful performance is bound to get noticed and will most definately lead to further successes, propelling him into the upper echlon of stars. He is charismatic and especially strong in his emotional scenes, a sure-fire contender come awards time. Yashpal Sharma adds a touch of humanity to what might have otherwise been a cliched terrorist role. His anguish concerning his sister is touching and poignant. A strong performance from an otherwise serviceable actor, he comes into his own with his work in Yahaan. Special mention must go to child-actress Juhi, who plays Siri, a mute orphan with permanent circles under her sad eyes from constant crying. The little girl is heartbreaking as she realizes she´s orphaned again after a bomb blast in her foster home.
Love stories set in Kashmir valley are rare to see in Bollywood. Shoojit Sircar, the famous ad filmmaker, has without doubt chosen an interesting subject for his debut feature film Yahaan .
The movie, set in the beautiful Kashmir valley, has Jimmy Shergill playing an idealistic army captain and newcomer Minissha Lamba a Kashmiri Muslim girl.Aman (Jimmy) is an idealistic army captain posted in Kashmir. During one of his patrols in the backwaters of one of Kashmir’s lakes, he comes across Adaa (Minissha), a beautiful local girl.

Emotions are stirred at the very first sight only, but not a word spoken. Destiny brings them together again and in no time love sprouts and blossoms. But this is the love that no one in the valley would accept. By an unwritten diktat, the girls in the valley are debarred from have any relationship with ‘outsiders’, particularly if they happen to be army guys.
But Adaa and Aman defy this diktat and face disapproval from Adaa’s family and from local community, apart from threats from militants.What follows tests their love. It tests Aman’s idealism and Adaa’s belief in the good. There is an attack on the family, a court martial, a militant deep-rooted in his fundamentalist ideas, a peace-loving freedom fighter, a near-death experience, a hostage situation and the nation challenged.Director Shoojit Sircar treads the middle path in telling his story – neither he toes the commercial line, nor does he make his movie look like an art flick, something with a strong element of realism.
The album begins with the instantly loveable "Poochhe Jo Koi" which is arguably the most beautiful love song of the year sung by Shaan and Shreya, The bubbly and catchy "Urzu Urzu Durkut" is an amazing blend of Gulzar's lyrical bliss with a haunting chorus line, chirpily rendered by Shreya Ghoshal. "Mele Chaliyan" by Shreya Ghoshal...And not to forget the song featuring the sparkling romance of the two protagonists, “ Naam Ada Likhna”.

Yahaan lies somewhere in between. The hand-held camera and its ensuing effect on the large screen lends the movie a documentary touch – something like a journalistic account – while the songs and colorful dresses, provide the dreamy, fictitious element.
The ambiance of the film is gritty and realistic, having been shot with a permanent dull blue-gray tint. The effect is the emphasis of the plight of the state and it´s citizens. There is a permanent atmosphere of gloom over the proceedings, even during the tender sequences between Adaa and Aman. The dialogues are well-penned and a suitably sweeping love score remeniscent of John Barry and Hollywood (unfortunately not offered on the soundtrack) help involve the viewer. Shantanu Moitra´s music is likeable as well, with "Naam Adaa Likhna" as a soft highlight. All in all, Sircar combines gritty realism with a sweeping, emotionally-involving love story with striking effects- Yahaan is moving and original.

In one statement, a worth watching movie with a clear cleansed message of peace, brotherhood and realism. A movie to be remembered once seen… like ROJA.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

A tear drop to roll down from the Eye

Once in a while such a script is written which shudders the viewer’s mind and the story makes a home inside the brain of the viewer in first hand shot. One such masterpiece in Indian Cinema is 1983’s SADMA.Directed by Balu Mahendra, Sadma is the remake of the Tamil movie Moondram Pirai. Story revolves around two main characters portraying the movie to be not only great in its own ways but also reflecting the complex human relations and emotions. Starring the maestros of acting world, none else than Padmashree Kamal Hassan and the diva Sridevi, the plot is about a young modern lady, in her early 20’s receiving a head injury in an accident and suffering from amnesia and behaving like a six-year-old kid and how a stranger helps her out to regain her lost memory..

A young, party freaked, out-going lady,Laxmi (Sridevi) receives a head injury in an car accident and is hospitalized in a critical state, in a coma ., Unable to recollect anything, Laxmi behaves like a six year old child after a few days of regaining her consciousness. She runs away from home, and ends up in a brothel and is saved by a kind hearted teacher Somu (Kamal Hasan). After meeting her, he just couldn't stop thinking about her and somehow managed to flee her from the hell.

Then after its all about how he rescues her and brings her back to his home, takes care of her and treats her like a child, without getting diverted in terms of human/ animal’s basic instincts, considering the beauty she has.

Trying from making her eat her daily grub to making her plaits (in such great long hair) to singing lullabies and dancing with her, not to forget the innocent creature picked up by Laxmi from the stinking loo’s tub , none else than the puppy “Hariprasad”, making her smile and even learn alphabets, Somu does everything as guardian or as parents do for their own kids. With the lapse of time, Somu feels for her and fall in love with Laxmi, accepts her the way he has found her and tries to make her normal so that she regains her lost memory without having any clue of her parents and moreover about the fact that the police is searching her. Finally he cures her and then the story takes a turn where Laxmi’s parents find her and take her back from the ashram where Somu left her for treatment thanking to the stranger (Somu) and without meeting him as person.

“Sadma means Shock and the movie justifies the name…
Laxmi getting a sadma and losing her memory, Somu helping her out and curing her and finally the climax where he himself loses this mental stability in trying to make her realize who is he been for her….

The movie doesn’t end with a conventional family drama with a happy ending rather the end is ends is tragic, heart touching and neverless leaving behind a question in the brains ....Kamal Haasan’s desperate antics to help rekindle Sridevi’s memory as he runs down the platform, even as she, cured of her amnesia, happily ignores him, with the train taking her away from Kamaal’s life forever. The last scene of Kamal Hassan at the railway station, trying to remind Sridevi of their time together, was simply heartbreaking and un-bearable. The climax is superb and the most watchable part of the movie...Kamal`s performance of life... One just can’t stop his/ her tears rolling down the cheeks and lips saying one word “Aaah” with a pain inside it ….

A worth watching movie, rated as 8.9/10, Sadma is a movie of a life time. It shows the psychological state of a mentally disturbed person and those who care for him or her. Well suited in hilly tracks, and eucalyptus plantations, in the south India, the place is Ooty only.

The soul stirring music score by Illyaharaja is as touching as the movie itself.. Its songs are well composed and well placed as per the plot. Not to forget the all time hit “ Ai Zindagi Gale Laga le” and “Sur Mayi Ankhaiyo mein” by Suresh Wadkar to the funny one “Ek dafa ek Jungal tha… and the excellent dance by Kameleon in the kiddo manner reminding me of my school’s annual function to the sensual tribal dance of Silk Smi and Kamaleon in “Oh Babua ..”.
The original choice for the lead role was Dimple Kapadia. Because she had committed to Saagar (1985) and couldn't allot bulk dates to the film, 'Sridevi' was signed instead and to me the role of Laxmi was well justified by this lady.

None other than Sridevi can ever manage to look like that and portray the character of an amnesic patient in that way. Her charismatic beauty, flawless acting rather depicting a 6- year’s kid isn’t an easy task. Perfection and justification to that role is only her cup of tea and she did the work to her par excellence. A 141 minutes duration movie, and nominated for National Award, Sadma, the remake of Moondram Pirai (1983), both versions are considered classics of Indian cinema with Moondram Pirai being considered as one of the best Tamil Popular films ever made. Sridevi has been quoted as calling Moondram Pirai for which she won the National Film Award for Best Actress 1983, her all time favorite role. Sri devi shows her prolific talent in the movie. We can laud Kamal Hassan for his eye catching facial movments. He really touches our heart with his gestures…

Not to forget two more characters. One , the Bad Man, Gulsan Grover , who tries to take the advantage of the sick Laxmi and the late Silk Smitha for her depiction as a vamp and for the sensual song “Oh Babua Yeh Mahua..” Though many may treat her role as vulgar but she really tried hard to act!

One of my all time favorites,
(For Kandapatty by Gandapatty)

Thursday, December 27, 2007

"The Revisiting Beautiful Moments...LAMHE "

Anil Kapoor and Sridevi starred,one of the biggest screens captured under the YC banner.. Yash Chopra's Lamhe though a known box office failure is a once in a while beauty captivating a viewer with moments which enthrall, moments of passion, moments of beauty, of love and all emotions connected to it. It's a beautiful story of great relationships between the protagonist players.

Why did “Lamhe” flop? I have still not known the reason. I feel the movie was way ahead of time. Released in 1991 and a modern India, the audience was still not ready to grasp the concept of love between an aged man and a young girl.The Indians still cant accept the age-gap.

The film span's two decades with Kunwar Viren Pratap Singh's journey from early 20's to early 40's ( from a tender 18 years age to a 35 years matured man). Viren (Anil Kapoor), a Thakur from Rajasthan, raised in London primarily by his nanny Dai Ja (Waheeda Rehman),on his first visit to India falls in love with Pallavi(Sridevi), at the first sight. This beautiful neighbour of the Kunwar is apparently from another Thakur family.Pallavi introduces him to Rajasthan,and it's culture,the land of captivating beauty and well-known folk songs and dance, gorgeous food and rich tradition. Mesmerised by her grace and wit, Viren falls in love with her, but the twist comes with the fact that she is older to him.

Even before Viren can express his love for her calamity strikes his love, Pallavi's father passes away and Viren discovers her love for an Air Force Officer, Siddharth (Deepak Malhotra). Viren helps them to get married. Himself with a very heavy heart that is bared out to Dai Ja and his friend Prem (Anupam Kher) returns to London, seemingly forever.

Tragedy strikes yet again with death of Siddharth in a car crash and Pallavi after her childbirth,leaving their daughter Pooja in Dai Ja's arms. Viren is devastated once again and asks Dai Ja to bring up Pooja in his ancestral Palace in Rajasthan. For the next 18 yrs Viren, still very much in love with Pallavi keeps visiting the palace to perform a havan for Pallavi, but fails to see Pooja each time on her birthday.

Pooja grows up in fascination of Viren and with the same values as his through the common thread Dai Ja. Finally on her 18th birthday Pooja reveals herself to Viren and time just stops. She is a splitting image of her mother. Viren enjoys her company and Dai Ja and Pooja hop over to London to live with Viren.

Pooja falls head over heals in love with Viren and strikes up a great friendship with Prem, together the foursome (Viren, Pooja, Dai Ja and Prem) have a rickrollicking time in London and without his knowledge Viren is drawn very close to Pooja in an intimate way and Pooja welcomes it. Dai Ja and Prem see it happen and welcome it too. Viren has a good friend in Anita who is more his age and madly in love with him, who Viren considers only a friend. Amidst all the fun and games Pooja admits her love for Viren to him, and Viren receives it as a shock and snubs her. He is forced to tell her the truth, and admits to his love for her mother rather than her. Unheeding, Pooja continues her fascination for Viren and due to his cold behaviour and decision to marry Anita, Pooja is forced to leave London along with Dai Ja. Prem resents this and tells him so.

Meanwhile Dai Ja persuades Pooja to get married, and Pooja refuses to marry until Viren actually does. A wedding invitation card arrives announcing Viren and Anita's knot but despite this Pooja refuses to marry. Just as she puts herself on the path as Viren had done 18yrs back, Viren arrives still single and with the dawn of realisation of his love for Pooja, as her own person and not her mother's look alike. Viren and Pooja begin a life together as moments of love begin.

The "Lamhe" of Anil Kapoor and Sridevi flows with the lapse of time and thoughts and memories.... letting this film to showcase many relationships in a well-blend beautiful manner as like the mother-child relationship of Dai Ja -Viren and not to forget that of Dai-Ja and Pooja are very well presented. Friendships are plenty, Viren -Pallavi, Viren- Prem, Pooja-Prem, Viren-Anita; bring out all the beautiful moments one can experience in friendship, one expects in his life.

The film is beautifully shot in Rajasthan and England with superb performances by each actor. Despite the otherwise serious story, it's a total comedy, with the best comic sequences in it. Anupam Kher, the mastero of serious comics as always, is brilliant in his comic timing. As of sridevi, the diva of acting, the role played in both female protagonists are overwhelming, as like a goddess in the film. As Pallavi she looks evergreen as ever and truly royal,with one of the best performances of her career. As Pooja,she looks not a day older than 17,with the effect of the bubbly dress, tunics, loose full-shirts,jeans and sorts. As mother, i meant Pallavi, with her langas, ghagaras, rajastan's beauty.. the peacock's beauty adorned and well reflecting the rich heritage of Rajastan.. As always she acts very well and is just great in her comic scenes and dance, not to overlook. Anil Kapoor can easily claim this to be one of his best performances. His performance is 'A' rate and he looks suave and chic throughout the movie, very truly a thakur. His attire is well-befitted and esp one cant forget he shaving his great masculine moustache for the movie... well rememebered in the Indian cinema's history. "what not a dedicated actor can do" types to give real look and enough justice for the role he just lived in the movie and for that screeny character, which he played, who knows in real society someone might be really existing...We cant forget the old divine model , the dance diva of "Guide"Waheeda Rahman ji, who has a central part to play and she manages it very well. Even dances to her hit "kaanton se khincke yeh aanchal" in the parody sequence.

The cinematography and direction are really the best. Music by Shiv Hari is very relevant with "morni baagan ma" being a rage during it's times. Shot aesthetically it truly takes you on a lovely journey and one enjoys every moment of the film, pure entertainment in it's most beautiful form. The all time favorite of mine the best song from the movie i feel and i do the humming is " Kabhi mein kahoon..". well sung my the "gazal mastero" Hariharan sahab and "nightangle of the voices" none else than Lataji.another of the great songs is "woh lamhe woh baatein..". The songs so well fitted into the sequences... enchanted into the mind and blood of real lovers of this movie.

To me it will always remain a mystery as to why the film could not break the box office craze as it has what it takes to be called a memorable film of Indian film history. A film that if one watches once will not forget, ever. Thats goes with the name "LAMHE".