Posted in AR Rahman, Movies - General, Uncategorized

Tamasha – Don’t let go of that child in you!

tamashaImtiaz Ali’s scripts can be regressive, if you are not attuned to his skillsmanship of dealing with romance in his movies. In all his movies, except Highway (which till date remains my favorite from his lot), he has a reflexive nature to look at love between a man and a woman through a broken prism. His love stories have always been only about love. And I don’t mean that in  a less than complimentary manner. If Jab We Met and Love Aaj Kal were more about struggling souls finding true love, Rockstar perhaps was the first shift in gear from the Ali stable, which really drove the search for true love through a deeply disturbed psyche which went looking for a broken heart, all in a quest to create good music. Now in Tamasha,  Ali returns to a similar terrain, one that of a disturbed soul looking for true love, but only this time he carefully maneuvers the search and transforms his story into a simpler and perhaps a much more relatable/accessible version of what that disturbed mind is looking for.

The problem with Ali’s transition from being a simple romantic storyteller in Jab we Met to a more intricate and a complex one, the one we get to see in Rockstar and now in Tamasha is that, you either get on with the journey or not. It depends on where as a movie watcher you are able to connect with the characters or with the plot. If you missed the connection early enough, Rockstar and  Tamasha are two rides that could end up spinning you down through a tube with bumpy stops, thus putting you through an ordeal, you otherwise wished you had avoided. But if you catch on to the angle that Ali wants us to see through his characters, then, notwithstanding a few slightly stretched out scenes or overdoing of a theme or two during the course of the journey, Imtiaz Ali simply stuns you with his nuanced characterizations and dialogues. And I think that’s where Imtiaz Ali scores big with Tamasha. The characters and the way Ali makes you connect with them, fall for them and feel for them – that is if you get on with the journey early enough.

Why always the same story? 

Through Ved (Ranbir Kapoor), the boy who would steal money from his father’s wallet just to listen to stories narrated by this small town storyteller, Imtiaz Ali intricately layers his script (and you) with a well conceived screenplay & images of how epics from all around the world, including India’s own are pretty much woven around the same story. The beautiful overlay of Chali Kahani with this background at the beginning of the movie, pretty much sets the tone for what the viewer should expect in terms of narration for the rest of the movie. Very little has been said about Tara’s background (Deepika Padrone) in the script and I guess that’s because Ali didn’t think that was necessary because his protagonist is Ved. And the broken prism through his narration happens is the one Ved holds.

After setting the backdrop for his protagonist, Ali quickly switches to Corsica, where probably the movie’s breeziest few minutes take place. Even if you end up not liking the movie as a whole, those 15-20 minutes of the movie set in Corsica alone is worth your trip to the movie theater. Be it Rahman’s brilliance in Parade de La Bastille which smoothly transitions to Matargasthi, or Ali’s brilliance in etching out the carefree moments that  Ved and Tara need to be in their ‘role-played characters’, I can’t but imagine how every guy wanted to be that Ved for a few minutes and every girl wanted to be that Tara for those few minutes, Corsica or not. Yes, it may have gotten a bit stretched out – those role playing moments, but if you simply gave into the flow, which is exactly Ved wants to do, one would understand how those moments in Corsica build up Tara’s expectations for what were to follow.

As Tara lands in Kolkata, the song Heer to badi sad hai (with some enjoyable lighthearted lyrics by Irshad Kamil) is played. Much like Wat Wat that comes later on during Ved’s epiphany sort of a moment, I couldn’t quite connect the jazzy or loud juxtaposition of these songs, although I loved the total abstractness of the same. Tara’s persistence eventually leads her to Delhi where she tracks down Ved, who contrary to what Tara was imagining, is caught in his own spiral downfall of living his life, playing by the rules set by others on how life should be lived. This is when Ali tries too hard to have his audience connect with Ved and his internal struggle to come to terms with the distance between his heart and the world. Ved takes time to realize why Tara is in love with him and what he needs to do. But those moments of epiphany, both when he talks to his dad about it and when he randomly connects with that auto driver and his roadside restaurant pedestrians through Wat Wat, somehow didn’t stand out when compared to those simple flashback images of his childhood.

In Ali, Rahman has a reliable ally, a filmmaker who respects his music and weaves his scenes around his music. Ali has so much reverence for his movie’s music and what Rahman does for him. It was evident in Rockstar (of course), but in Highway and Tamasha, Ali takes the most difficult path to show his reverence for Rahman. Except Matargasthi, none of the other songs have a true bollywood setting and yet, they all fit in perfectly. As if the songs were fit in first before Ali wrote his script. Chali Kahani and Tu Koyi Aur Hai were very artistically spliced to spruce up Ali’s narration and they worked so well. I hope Rahman continues to derive creative satisfaction doing projects like these because there aren’t too many filmmakers like this anymore who can stay current with the trends in moviemaking and yet, stay true to their beliefs on songs being an integral part of movies.

With Tamasha, Imtiaz Ali once again tells the  same story. The story of a disturbed male protagonist getting lost in a maze of love and his struggle to reach his lover, who makes him realize who he really is.

The last few seconds (when both the lead characters are shown listening to music with their headphones on, while we don’t get to hear anything) just underscores that as much of a heavy romantic story this is, in the end, Imtiaz Ali’s Tamasha is all about not letting go of the child in you.

Posted in My Music, Poem, Uncategorized

Maanudaa

No. I am not trying to promote world peace through this song. But something I felt like saying.
Here are the words:

மானுடா உன்னைப் பாரடா

கோடி கோடி கோடி கனவுகள்

அதை ஓடி ஆடித் தேடும் பருவங்கள்

மானுடா உன்னுள் தேடடா

தேடித் தேடி போகும் ஆசைகள்

நம்மைப் பிரிக்க நினைத்து விழுங்கும் பகைகள்

அன்பே!!

Posted in Miscellaneous

After thoughts, but no prayers…

Killers/Terrorists have a religion and an ideology. They always have. Right throughout the history of mankind. As it is obvious now, the religion of the killers involved in the latest attacks on innocent civilians in both Beirut and Paris in the last couple of days is Islam. And let’s be clear. There is absolutely no ambiguity in that.

But can muslims defeat the ISIS threat by disowning it?
No. I don’t think so.

Also, looking at it as a civilizational conflict could just mean, we are actually laying a road that would lead us into a path of long lasting and perpetual wars.

And all good, regular muslims have nothing to apologize for. They don’t need to be pushed into a corner to defend their beliefs, as they aren’t the culprits here. Not at all. But please, please let them not deny that they have a problem within. That extremist Islam is like cancer. They need to acknowledge it. Early detection is better than any alternatives. Else, they and the rest of the world will literally run out of cure.

Why are the Islamist extremists so annoyed with the western world, especially with Europe right now? Is it something to do with how many European countries handled the muslim refugee situation unlike what they were expecting?

For the most part, Europeans were fairly open to immigrants from these terrorism torn muslim countries. Some even went as far as embracing the immigrants with genuine warmth. May be that shattered the worldview of many Islamist extremists and may be this actually incensed them? After all, the caliphate extremist worldview is that we are different, we hate each other and that we are eternal enemies.

An ideal response to these extremists is to show them that we aren’t different at all and we certainly don’t hate each other. And more importantly, show them we can be eternal friends.

Easier said than done huh? Because when we look at the smaller picture – like how we, within our own country, can’t tolerate one another for things that are really, really trivial in comparison to the religious extremism that is pushing humanity to the brink today….Yes, it certainly isn’t easy. Almost impossible.

And this sadly makes me very less hopeful of our ability to tackle the gravity of religious terrorism and all things bad with religions in general.

Posted in Miscellaneous

Sigh for Paris

I opened this blank page about 90 minutes ago. With a hope that I would be able to outpour my feelings, raw and quick, as I followed the dastardly acts in Paris as they unfolded.  I switched between TV news channels showing  live footage and my twitter timeline, where people were pouring in their emotions, opinions, and breaking news & what not. I have to say, I am shell shocked. Still. That’s understating it.  I am at complete loss of words. Still.

What’s going on in Paris is beyond my comprehension. Enough to stir my anger and sadness.
I am truly sad and exhausted. I now realize it is actually easy to be optimistic about the future because we all have been trained to do that. I can switch my optimism mood in a flash. May be because I am an eternal optimist.

But not now. Not today. I feel there is no rational solution that could bring an end to this in the near future. I know the ideal solution. But no pragmatic and rational solution. None at all.

If we look at the history of the world and our society in the post world war II era and not bother to extrapolate things based on cause & effect conclusions drawn  from historic events that happened before this era,  it is clear we lost control of this problem about 3 decades ago. The beginning of the cold war was indirectly the beginning of what we are witnessing now. And it is just getting worse every decade.

I was in Paris a couple of weeks ago. Not too far from the 11th district. Sigh!

To think that innocent citizens who were enjoying their Friday evening at restaurants, football game and a music concert would never go back home for no fault of theirs makes my stomach churn. And to imagine what their families and friends must have to endure when they receive the news…Damn.

I sigh for Paris.

Posted in Movies - General

Birthday with a message – Kamal Haasan

One has to listen to Kamal Haasan’s birthday celebration speeches at these events organized by his socially conscious welfare associations to get to read the real man, his angst for society (not just local but global), his quest for knowledge, his rationalism, etc. Because these speeches are delivered for an audience who almost in a self-questioningly silly & an ironic way, idolize him. So he delivers these speeches not in a “preachy lectorial” manner, not in a rousing demagoguery manner to stir up emotions, not in a “Holier than Thou Spiritual Guru” sermonic manner..but in a “good friend who takes liberty to admonish you and advise you” kind of manner. So you could feel the anger, disappointment, embarrassment and guilt, all with a heavy dose of optimism for future.

This year’s speech was no exception.

From politics to Dawkins to the beef controversy to the science behind eating insects to the ‘in vougue tolerance’ debate (and of course a sly dig at the AwardWapsi movement and the silliness of it all), he covers it all with an underlying powerful rationalistic theme – delivered in a simplistic way, so his audience could get the core message. His mastery of the language ensures that if you don’t follow the speech careful enough, you would miss several gems (some hidden).

Part 1:

Part 2: