#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

Yohaann Bhaargava
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Yohaann Bhaargava

Head - Business Development at SCRIPTORS
Movie Buff. Yohaann is a film critic with Jagran Prakashan Limited. He has been associated with Print and TV media as a branding professional. Presently he is a screenwriter trying to bring in some good scripts up for Bollywood. At Scriptors he works as a writer and handles business development.
Yohaann Bhaargava
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