#49 #Scriptors100BestFilms #Maachis
The year :1984: An year of actions and reactions !
A bold military operation to flush out terrorists from a religious shrine and its aftermath causing the assassination of the PM, a mindless backlash thereafter against the sikh community, isolation and victimisation of many a innocent youth : the revolt and violent reaction of this provocation and finally the inevitable politicisation of the issue.
Gulzar picks up all these burning embers and ignites a screenplay to create a no frill cinema which gets imprinted on the viewer’s mind right from the first to last frame.
The volatility of the youth to ignite into a fire when provoked beyond a point forms the crux of MAACHIS: it is not just a film commenting on the political onslaught of the 1984 riots: but also delves into the psyche of the angered youth who can be misled and used as easy targets to create strife and terror by elements who are out to exploit their vulnerability.
By hindi cinema standards, MAACHIS is an intriguing and smoldering subject. It hits the right spots: scratches at the nerves, raw and bare in its portrayal but also deep and touching in its content and emotions. Gulzar makes it all the more effective and poignant by casting new – comers in pivotal roles of wronged youth from Punjab. Each character has his/her own saga of anguish and tragedy . Sensitive handling is Gulzar’s hall –mark, so we have various shades of grey. The portrayal of these terrorists has a human face, they are insensitive and brutal at times but are also compassionate and tender at various stages as the film unravels .
MAACHIS features stalwarts : Om Puri, Tabu, Kulbhushan Kharbanda, Kanwaljeet who lend authenticity with their masterfully controlled performances.
Om Puri is a treat to behold here : He expels tinders from his eyes and bile from his breath when he disdainfully mutters : “Maachis ki seeli tiliyaan hain sab, ek ek ko phoonk phoonk ke jalaana padta hai ! “,a lively metaphor which sums up the film’s subject in a single line .
Quite evidently the presence of these epitomes of fine acting rubs off on the new comers: Chandrachur Singh, Jasjit Shergill, Raj Zutshi, Ravi Gosain ; who give equally enthralling performances: perhaps the best in their careers till now.
Tabu plays a complex character, her transformation from a shy, awkward lass from a decrepit punjab village into a bold, fearless rocket shooter who is forced by her circumstances to join the terror outfit comes as a surprise twist in the tale : very much underplayed and very touching and noteworthy With minimal dialogue, her stance and eyes speak volumes : Anguish, bitterness, disdain as well as tender love: Tabu executes it all within the tight parameters of the script which never lets her become loud or filmy. Her final scene is devoid of melodrama: yet leaves the viewer with a lump in the throat .
Although the film’s story did not require any songs : but those which are woven into the narrative are now Cult classics. All the compositions are unconventional, created with a passion which reminds one of R D Burman s penchant for detailing and experiments with various sounds,. Vishal Bhardwaj excels in his maiden score. The lyrics hit at the heart with their topicality and relevance to the subject. The solos by Lata Mangeshkar infuse sadness and anguish at right points in the renditions , and the picturisation does the rest in creating stark images of desolation.
MAACHIS is worthy of recognition as a pathbreaking movie in Indian cinema which does not compromise with filmi formula or try too hard to be a blockbuster. Its an honest attempt to show a mirror to the political fraternity and a lucid comment on policing tactics and its trials, tribulations , causes and effects that can make or break the social fabric of a nation .
Its as honest as sensible cinema can be to bear a sensitive filmmakers signature in exhibiting the seething anger within and disappointment with the System .
– Compiled in assosiation with our Reader Mohnish Bajwa