Friday, November 13, 2015

Q& A: Why you don't need to be told that Domestic Violence is Un-cool?

Q. This is a response to an article published in The Ladies' Finger titled


A. This is a difficult question to answer if you identify with a political view, say for instance chauvinism, patriarchy, and conservative or let’s say socialism. (I am really resisting from putting one very obvious ism in there!). However if you don’t, then it is simple, of course not! Just like cigarette smoking, alcohol consumption, sex, drug intake, violence and so on, the list of bad things in films is endless and is not cool! (Du-h)
Over time it appears, we have become more comfortable with watching all of the above in films in increasing doses. From glimpse of just closed doors to naked feet and hands and finally the entire act, with sounds et al, we have come a very long way. Of course, now the trouble here is that all of a sudden domestic violence, somehow, just sticks out like a sore thumb in these “social issues”. It is bigger than those up there, more serious, less understood, more accepted and more often than not misinterpreted.

On one hand by not showing, we are denying knowledge and existence of such a practice. We are shunning it, playing it low key because it is a shameful secret, just like not being a virgin or smoking a cigarette or even housing a family member with a mental illness. Domestic violence seems to be more fitting in this particular range of social issues, the more private kinds that can stir a lot of moral confusion.

While on the other hand by showing it we are acknowledging its existence which is the first step in resolving crimes of such magnitude- acceptance. Yes, a large number of good looking, unsuspecting men do beat up their wives. Moreover an even larger number of wives, girlfriends, daughters, sisters and other female relatives accept it because it’s the norm. Like nobody talks about it, nobody minds it’s so therefore it does not happen. The next step is the turning point, do we accept it and go ‘it happens, what to do? shrugs shoulders and moves on or do we suddenly notice how unusual and not okay , in fact I should beat him back, kind of unusual it is?

In the film, as pointed out in the article there is an anchor of the ‘bhabhi’ who does file for divorce and its obvious (that she is going to) the minute you see her husband thrash a man for not being able to fit a glass table through a small door frame. So it has been established early on it’s bad, in fact anyone who has watched the trailer to ‘Titli’ knows everything in the film is bad! From axing a random person to stealing a car, to possessing an unlicensed gun and so on.

Back to the question, domestic violence is a character trait, and is cool in a dark, morbid and edgy way. One would use to explain a villain, an antagonist but not a protagonist, an anti-hero if you must; but never a hero, the star lead, the one narrating the story, the one teaching the lesson. The same applies to the first list of social evils. All of those are stylistic tools in literature and art, to express negativity, darkness and the evil side of the human society. So no it is not cool, it does not need a label or a line to accompany it. We don’t need a dying Mukesh, or years of research to prove that domestic violence can be injurious to health. 

Thursday, January 1, 2015

A smell you can't forget: Blue Jasmine

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An adaptation of Tennesse Williams’ Street Car Named Desire comes unsurprisingly from none other than Woody Allen.

Jasmine French or Jeanette “whatever she calls herself” (in words of Oggy, Jasmine’s sister’s ex-husband) is symbolic of the many questions the world often finds itself asking. Is marriage meant to be a social climb as well, as way to ensure security for a woman? Especially if this woman falls oh-so-madly in love that she drops out of college, not like she knew what she wanted to become anyway. Being a wife made sense. Drawn from William’s play, the story of a Southern conservative belle who lands up in a working class side of town, comes a story on social class and finding one’s place in the world. However the film covers more than just that.

The choice of theme is extremely relevant to both modern woman and man, who must take notice. It not only addresses the silent strains in relationships, but also speaks of stereotyping, prejudice, class divisions, self-discovery to a small extent and mostly the life of a woman. It re-phrases and poses question a modern woman frequently finds herself asking: what do I want from life? Can I be more than just somebody’s beautiful wife?

Allen takes each character to the next level by giving each of them depth and individual charm. All his characters are not only stereotyped by also fairly progressive and what one would call mature. You have Chili, a very masculine member of the working class. He has his priorities in place and is waiting to move in with Ginger. Meet Ginger, Jasmine’s sister who lives at the not so well of end of the world. She works at the Super Market is raising her two sons by herself; a brave and kind hearted woman who takes Jasmine into her home when she becomes a wreck. Finally Jasmine the star of the show, is broke and having a nervous breakdown. She obviously disapproves of her sister’s choices. Each character not only gains depth because of their acting but also because of the chemistry between the actors. They point out features which sometimes are not reliable straight from the horse’s mouth.
The filmography is like a novel, unfolding fragments of the story one chapter at a time. It answers every question that comes to mind, one back story at a time. The camera does not glamorize anything. It just films; the setting and the characters speak for themselves.  Simple filming, which treats the audience like critics. The film offers its viewers the gift of hindsight as it takes you through so many feelings and situations not foreign to us.

On a final note commendable dialogues and lastly the director leaves the protagonist’s fate to the imagination of the viewers. It gives you all you need to know about the story and then gives you reign to give it an ending. To make the story your own, pick the battle most relevant to you rather than give it a cliché happy ending.

A few parting words: 

Picture A

Picture B

Contrary to what you imagine, she actually goes from Picture A to Picture B during the course of the film


What are you waiting for? You already missed it in the theaters, so get your hands on the movie already!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Art for Art's Sake: PK


*spoiler alert* 

So I never EVER thrash books, movies, music and other forms of art for one simple reason- its art for art’s sake, which means it has been created out of a desire to express a view or feeling; as a result making it a subjective topic to judge.

This PK was a completely different story.

To begin with the plot stitched together completely random story ideas that ranged from romance to sci-fi to religion to corruption (I swear!), and used terrible humor, totally unnecessary innuendos to glue it all together.

A mysterious trailer, which if you look no-so-closely reveals the non existence of a real plot combined with a pretty stellar cast of Aamir Khan, Boman Irani and Anushka Sharma. So what went wrong?

A few minutes into the movie I wanted to sink into my seat or run out because I was cringing with every horrible attempt at humour made or every time they let the camera collect way to many details in order to dramatise the plot. The plot traces the journey of a very naive alien, so naive that he loses his only way home and takes the long way around to finally recovering his property and going back to his planet of nude people and too-cool-for-yoga relaxation techniques. Yes, that is what I paid to watch for 3 hours.

Let’s talk theme: so I imagined that if Aamir Khan was in it, it must have something to it. I was wrong. It was basically the Bhakti movement from 6th C all over again, with a new leader spearheading the movement 1500 years later. Let us reform religion so we can reach out to the larger disbelieving numbers! This was followed by some not so subtle mockery of headline hungry, very desperate and shabbily dressed TV journalists. OH, the horror! The big finale- a love story which was trolled from the start! It took an alien to point that out. 

In conclusion PK was like one of those propaganda cartoons/storylines aimed at brainwashing the public about uniting the masses and standing up against corruption. 

A few parting words:

Look you are a great actor and your social activism is effective and all but just stick to Satyamev Jayte okay, don’t mix it with Bollywood: it is counterproductive! 

And Anushka that haircut is a terrible idea; it brings ALL the attention to your very Miley Cyrus meets Kesha lips. 


Forget the stars just plain advice for you: unless you live in Chennai or have amazingly fast internet, save your money and don’t watch PK.

Meanwhile in other more important news, Rajasthan is a great location to film in and Lido has some very yummy Cheese Popcorn and (according to my brother) decent coffee.