We spent about five hours of our life yesterday appreciating talents from the good old Bollywood. It started with the long pending task of watching Nagesh Kukunoor‘s Dor [IMDB link], and finished with the new flick from Rajkumar Santoshi, Halla Bol [IMDB link]. A nice blend for a lazy sunday – lacking proper exercise, one of those helps you exericising facial muscles through the techniques of laugh, and the other one makes your adrenaline rush.
Let’s start with Dor. One of those directions where the director doesn’t think the audience is stupid, so that he has to explain each event from 10 different camera angles and 20 flashbacks and 30 monologues. The story unfolds slowly in the beginning, and when it catches on, it’s really interesting. The plot is not very complex – a single storyline with a single goal. A story of two families, drastically distinct, coming together for a purpose dear to one and repulsive to the other. And then slowly we see a second thread emerging – a story of a poor young widow whose life is crushed between the demands of a male-controlled society and of a father-in-law who only cares about his long-lost family-pride – a story of her getting-into-terms-with-the-world, of rediscovering her own self and esteem. The two threads merge perfectly, and the goal is met. The finishing was bit impractical, but wonderful nevertheless. Nagesh gets his guest appearance and has his whiskey with Girish Karnad. Gul Panag gives an admirable performance and carries the movie almost alone. But one cannot ignore the performance from Ayesha Takia, who does dare to do this off-the-beaten-track film and proves her capacity as an actor convincingly well. Shreyas is a charm, as usual – especially the dance sequence on the sands can hold its position within top 25 YouTube videos for a month or so I guess! The overall impact of the story and movie is such that it may not move you disturbingly, even when the social issues are quite grave, but like Nagesh’s other films, it lingers on your mind for long and makes you think. Soothing for the eye, filling for the mind – Dor is a must watch for those like us who didn’t manage to watch it earlier.
And that was the afternoon, which slowly faded away into the evening getting its way through some samosas and chicken dippers. And since there was nothing interesting on tele, Halla Bol seemed to be the choice for the night. We weren’t aware of the storyline – that’s often the case. So discovering every element of a movie always seems more enjoyable. And luckily this time we were not disappointed. Even if it’s a so-called “commercial” Bollywood movie (I guess), but there was a distinct storyline for a change! The theme was many-a-times-reused one of political corruptness and police’s indifference towards the suffering of the masses. Probably nothing new. But one can still like the movie because of some uniqueness of subplots and convincing acting. Ajay Devgan was somewhat perfectly fit for the role he played – because he looks exactly like the same in real life. Both in Shikhar and in here, I like his performance – his appearance suits the role to the tee. But everything fades in front of Pankaj Kapoor. I am a fan of his perhaps since the Karamchand days – and he never fails to convince the viewers in any character portrayal. Be it a famous pundit in Dharm, or be it the lonely-and-a-child-at-heart-shopkeeper in The Blue Umbrella (Chhatri Chor) or be it a dacoit-became-actor in Halla Bol – if he is cast for the role, consider it done. Overall the movie tackles a serious socio-political issue of corruption within police, government and business domains, and does a good enough job of it. The end is extremely ideal – I wonder how many such cases our country has seen in reality when the court reopens a case on its own to do justice. But we have to remember this is a movie, not a typical hindi-tele-soap where the evil continues to win and still audience continues to watch it with a hope that one day the good will be victorius. So here the good has to win, however marginally, at the end, for the dropscene. And not only the court, but the public also – do they really “wake up”? Ever? And when they do, what exactly happens – things like Nandigram, West Bengal or things like what happened just yesterday itself? [Refer to the newclips: The Telegraph (Kolkata) and Anandabazar Patrika (Bengali Newspaper)] If this is the reality what we read in the newspapers, what do we hope to accomplish by making movies like these? It is supposed to carry some social message to the mass – like did Rang De Basanti and many such movies from time immemorial, but our people have seen too many instances of even stonger evils around the very place they live to even think about reacting to injustice. Statements like “the mass cannot be stopped once it wakes up” advertised in the movies have been violently disproved. And that’s the country we live in – that’s the country we long to go back to while staying far. Paradox? No, love and hope. Silly things – they die hard.