Latest posts by Baljeet Randhawa (see all)
- Karwaan- Delightful Example of “3 Layered Story Telling” - August 2, 2018
- 7 Contemporary Quotes about Love, Life and Vulnerabilities - November 30, 2016
- Omkara: Othello at its Best - February 24, 2016
Okay! So first thing first. As a millennial, it’s quite impossible to miss the sappy quotes of Rumi shared by your overtly romanticizing friends on social media. But still, if you haven’t taken the pain to google “Rumi” let us do that for you. In Brief, Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī aka Maulana was a 13th-century Persian Poet and Islamic Scholar. Later in his life, he met a dervish (a member of a Muslim (specifically Sufi) religious order who has taken vows of poverty and austerity) – Shams which changed his life completely. The meeting of two often considered as the meeting of soulmates and even though the end tragic, their love for each other is later become the inspiration of poetic work of Rumi. At the present day, Rumi is one of the most read poetic across the globe, even in a country like the USA which has prevalent Islamophobia.
Coming to Imtiaz Ali. His cinematic work is majorly confined to love and self-discovery. His movie “Tamasha” is not successful at the box office in churning numbers still manages to have quite a number of followers who loved the movie and its subtext. This includes me too. Though Imtiaz Ali’s all films are somewhere based on Rumi’s Philosophy, Tamasha stands out because it kind of depicts the love story of Rumi and Shams. Let’s decipher the connections.
The Names – The name of the character played by Ranbir Kapoor and Deepika Padukone in Imtiaz Ali’s Tamasha was Ved and Tara respectively. As we all know Ved means old Knowledge laden scriptures written as a guide to a “Perfect” Lifestyle. Rumi was a Maulana also and used to teach his pupils about Holy Quran and the way of life according to it. In Hindi, Tara means Star. In Persian, Shams means Sun which is a star. Okay, so this may sound a bit forced connection to you. Let’s move to next.
The Story – Rumi was a famous Maulavi in Iran, who used to live by the rules and books and even used to interpret that for others till the time he met a dervish illiterate mystic – Shams, and everything changed after that. Shams sensed the real “Rumi” inside maulana and forced him to question on whatever he was believing for decades. Now the story of Tamasha. It’s not a mere coincidence that the lead of “Tamasha” – Ved was living a rules-abiding life till he meets Tara ( Shams means Sun in Persian, that is also a star). Remember the first scene of Tara when she traveling to a far land Corsica and had no money. She was begging for life. Isn’t that a dervish lifestyle just like Shams. Tara eventually re-evokes a deep desire in Ved to find his own story.
Self Discovery- In Rumi and Shams story, Shams leaves Rumi and disappears for a while forcing Rumi to start a journey in his search but eventually Rumi discovers himself and becomes of the mystic and poet he always destined to be. In Tamasha, Tara also leaves Ved saying that I thought you were someone and but you are not that person. When Tara leaves Ved, Ved loses his mind and start questioning everything and eventually discovers his calling – He also becomes a storyteller too.
The Creation – We all know the famous Dervish Dance whose adulterated form that we have seen in many Hindi Films. That dance was originally created by Rumi and Shams as the “Whirling Dance of Sema”. The creation of something spiritual and artistic also results in the Imtiaz Ali’s story in the end when Ved creates Stage Show!
Imtiaz has always been inspired by Rumi and hence even the in the “Rockstar” he clearly used the couplet of Rumi’s poetry – “Far away beyond the ideas of right and wrong, there is a beautiful land- I will meet you there”. Recently in Harry Met Sejal the tagline of the film itself was – “What you seek, Is seeking you!” again a Rumi Quote.
Still Imtiaz quote Rumi in an interview – “ Appear as you are and become as you look.”Tamasha is definitely ahead of time if not flawless. Tamasha defies the norms of society which always kills the artist inside us who is no one else but a child survived.
I remember clearly long back when I first looked at the book of Rajneesh Osho titled as the -“Sambhog Se Samadhi” – From Sex to Superconsciousness at a bookstore, my father immediately stoped me from buying it and said that it’s not for kids to read and somewhat it increases my curiosity about Osho a multiple times. Later when I actually read about his teachings, this was the first thing which I completely co-relate. “The more you try to repress something, the more you get curious about it. The expression is life and repression is suicide!”
Since then once in a while, I keep reading about Osho’s thoughts on various things. Though never feel an urge to follow it. (PS- I never ever feel an urge to follow any ideology) but the subtle curiosity about this man remains inside me and maybe that’s the reason when I get to know that Netflix is coming with a Documentary series on Rajneesh, His Time in States (Which is less known to Indians) and his relationship with Maa Anand Sheela, the subtleness of the curiosity vapours up and the eagerness replaces it very soon. I binged it as soon as possible, my jaw drops countless times and now I am writing this. These are my first thoughts and I am expressing it as they are coming to me, so bear with me if they are incoherent.
How international media reports this series –
Rajneesh came to fame in the late ’60s and ’70s as he attracted followers from all over the world to his ashram in Pune, India, which was known for intensely liberating group therapy and meditation sessions, as well as a free attitude toward sex. (He was nicknamed the “sex guru.”) In 1981, when the documentary begins, Rajneesh is relocating to rural Oregon to build a massive community on 80,000 acres of ranchland.
While it all began with peace and love, it ended with attempted murder, the exploitation of thousands of homeless people, and cult leaders who ordered the poisoning of an entire town by spraying salad bars with salmonella.
So here are my reasons on why you should binge it right away.
THE LESSER-KNOWN PARTS – There are certain other documentaries on Rajneesh/Osho before this one but being a millennial Indian I was mostly read his thoughts and teachings but majorly unaware about his whole time in Oregon, USA. What I knew before watching this that Rajneesh had a quite an eventful stay in the United States where even the more progressive country on the planet finds his teachings and commune a threat to the social structure and later he got deported to India. Also about Maa Anand Sheela who was the secretary to Rajneesh and some way responsible for the rise and fall of Rajneesh. But “Wild Wild Country” goes way deeper than the usual information. After almost 35 Years to the whole set of events the makers able to trace down the key people and bring to us the various aspects of the events. The events which were so surreal and bizarre that if I start telling you now you will either disbelieve me or you will hate me to give spoilers just like in the case of “Game of Thrones”. But with giving much of the spoilers, Just a small info can raise the curiosity bar about this documentary. The city of Rajneeshuram which the follower of Osho built in the area of 64000 acres which has its own police and own airlines named as “Air Rajneesh”. Rest is you to explore through this documentary.
ROSHOMON TREATMENT – After the 1950 cult classic of Akira Kurosawa’s Rashomon, there was a term arises named as ” Rashomon Effect” where when the same event is given contradictory interpretations by different individuals involved. The makers of “Wild Wild Country” maintained Rashomon Effect while telling the whole story. The various contradictory perspectives of people will make you indulge in the whole story so much that you want to know more and more. Maybe because we as a human being are very judgemental creatures and hence we need to categorize everything and every person into our own sets of “Rights” and “Wrongs” but this documentary will not let you do that till the very end. When you start to believe that it was the fault of power-hungry woman – Maa Sheila, something will make you think that she was indeed the one who was actually was holding the fort against all sorts of problems. When you start to believe that the whole commune is actually doing something great, the truths that get revealed will make us question on each and everything. The makers don’t even show any mercy on the Federal “So-Called” Democratic US government. They, directly and indirectly, points out that how insecure they were from the rise of Rajneesh. Especially the post-climax 15 minutes of the last 6th Part of the documentary where all the key people concludes the whole story in their own way. This reminds me of how beautiful a documentary can be if it doesn’t try to take sides.
THE BETTER THRILLER THAN FICTIONS – We always heard this- “Truth is always stranger than fiction.” but the real-life story of the Rising of A Guru, Rise of a new religion, A disciple’s obsession, the crazy things happen as a result of insecurity, the differences and the fall of all of it is no less than a thriller having unbelievable twists and turns. Over here I need to mention the score given by Brocker Way and the editing done by Neil Meiklejohn simply heightens the thrill and drama factor to another height. No doubt some may find it a bit long but believe me the six hours that you gonna spend watching this is gonna be so satisfying at so many levels that the length will stop being an issue. Though they focus majorly on the US episode of the Rajneesh and Maa Sheela’s life you will still feel that this story had so much more to explore and as a viewer, I want to know more. Like I felt that I missed Rajneesh’s version of the whole thing. Rajneesh was so unapproachable that we barely get to know what was going on in his mind. I wish he would have given more interviews and somehow we could have depicted his thought process about the events like Maa Sheela’s version.
THE DEPICTION OF US – Somewhere “Wild Wild Country” connects to each one of us. With so many different perspectives you may find yourself on the screen at least in one of them. Either you could be Maa Anand Sheela was in love with her Guru and the power she got with him but eventually, not only her love became an obsession. Or you can find yourself to be a normal citizen of Antelope who just wants to live the life inside the set parameters without questioning it much. You can identify yourself with the Australian Woman follower of Rajneesh who came for the search of this peace and ultimate happiness but then eventually lost her path and but the end of the day find happiness in the world she was always running from. Or you can be that ultimate follower who just never loses the faith in his Guru or believe till the very end like the Lawyer of Rajneesh. Many such characters somewhere reflect our desires and conflicts in this docu-series and you unknowingly become a part of it. Though somewhere they could have indulged a bit more on Rajneesh’s teachings I guess that was a conscious decision so that they could have maintained the neutral viewpoint.
So here we are recommending you to watch binge this and let us what do you think of it. To make you more curious here is the trailer for it.
So Yesterday Guilmero del Toro’s “The Shape Of Water” won the Best Picture Award at the Oscars. Where everyone is going gaga about this cinematic story of a mute girl falling in love with a creature which can be called as an “Amphibian Man”, I was wondering whether the writers Abhishek Banerjee and Prosit Roy can actually see the similarities with the Oscar Winner?
Before you jump to conclusions, I want to make it clear. I don’t think both films inspired each other. They are completely separate and independent piece of art developed without knowing the content of each other. The production of “Pari” started in June 2017 so it must have been written/conceived almost a year ago. Whereas “The Shape Of Water” released in December 2017 (In India it got released very recently). But Why am I thinking so in the first place? Well, you may or may not agree with the idea of “Creative Co-incidence” in this case but there is no harm and in thinking that “Yes! It’s not that complex a story which can’t be conceived by two creative minds at the same time?”
Here are my points (SPOILER ALERT) –
1. The “Monster” or “Creature”– Both the movies have a creature which is not a human being. In Pari it is Ruksana played by Anushka Sharma who is the daughter of a “Jinn” and in “The Shape Of Water(TSOW)” it is the asset or the Amphibian Man captured from some remote area. In both movies, people are considering these creatures as “Monsters” whereas they both have a loving and humane side to their personalities. They both require certain things to survive. One needs water and one needs to take out her own poison. They both have some unique powers too and they both love food. Though in “Pari” this monster looks like a normal girl whereas in TSOW it looks like a Fish-Man. They both fall in love with fellow humans and even have sexual intercourse with them. Too much similarity? Well, let’s move ahead.
2. The Human- In TSOW- Sally Hawkins plays this mute girl Elisa who works as a cleaner in a Scientific Research facility have quite a lot common with the Parambrata Chatterjee’s character- Arnab in “Pari”. In the movie, Arnab plays a guy who never had friends. Who used to speak so less that his mother used to fear that one day he will lose his capability to speak. Sally Hawkins just does not has the capability to speak. She is already mute. They both play underdogs and loners and they both have soft corners for the misfits. That is the reason that they both give space to the “monsters” in their house and eventually falls in love with them. Though Elisa turns out to be braver than Arnab and hence goes an extra mile to save the creature.
3. The Human Antagonists- The antagonist TSOW Richard Strickland played by Michael Shannon and Professor Qasim Ali Played by Rajat Kapoor have striking similarities. Qasim Ali’s eye was damaged by the mother of Ruksana (Anushka Sharma) whereas Strickland’s fingers have been damaged by the amphibian man. They both are quite strong headed in their thought process and they both want to torture this creature. They both believe that the creature has no rights for the sympathy of humans. Their way of working is also so similar. Torturous and unethical. They both face the same fate in the respective movies.
4. The Story- Though the storyline is not that similar. One starts from a scientific facility and other starts in Jungle nearby Kolkata. The similarity lies in the fact that the humans try to save and nurture the creatures and the delicate bond that develops between them. Though the end of both the movies is far apart, this one thing covers the major screen time.
One can call this comparison absolutely absurd and it may be. But what I would love to call it is – Synchronicity or Creative Co-incidence, which is not that uncommon in our day to day life if we see. One may not be able to like Pari as much as The Shape of Water but the reason for it is simple. Pari is portrayed as a “Horror Flick” and has its pros and cons attached to the genre whereas “The Shape Of Water” is more like a drama with a happier ending in comparison to it’s Indian counterpart. “Pari” may not be a perfect film but it is definitely a film which pushes the envelope just like Shape of Water. It tries to bring the “Other” side. Anushka could choose a more commercial story and Prosit could have utilized the glam attached to the actor but they choose otherwise and hence the makers (Anushka & Prosit Roy) should be appreciated for this effort.
2017 is over with too much of disappointment from the film industry. Still few out of the box films made a mark on box office and in our hearts too. Among these movies we found many amazing characters who made us laugh, cry and inspired too. We relate to them as they belong to us. Let’s just go through few special characters from Bollywood we saw on screen this year.
1. Jagga & Tooti Footi – (Ranbir Kapoor & Saswata Chatterjee – Jagga Jasoos) – He may have resemblance with Tintin but the no one can deny that this Indian Version of Tintin played by Ranbir Kapoor is not any less adorable and lovable than the original. After creating Barfi, Ranbir and Anurag Basu had this huge expectation of creating something far more lovable. With Jagga they might have failed at the box office but they are pretty successful in creating a character who is in search of his foster father played by Saswata Chatterjee. With speech disorder and singing all along while solving the teeth clenching mysterious, Jagga and Tooti Footi were one of the most adorable couples on the screen this year. Best Moment was when Tooti Footi teaches Jagga about the Right and the left side of the brain.
2. Sulu / Sulochna : (Vidya Balan – Tumharai Sulu) – “Main kar sakti hai” – When Vidya Balan who was playing, “A Happy Enthusiastic housewife Sulu” says this on screen, we all feel like doing things which we always wanted to do from so long but never got that amount of bravery and courage to pursue that. Definitely, this one character that writer and director Suresh Triveni built for Vidya Balan and the honesty that Vidya delivers on the screen uplifts the half-baked screenplay wonderfully. Whether the movie stays with you for long or not, this saree clad late-night Radio Jockey Sulu is definitely going to stay with us for a longer time. Best Moment – When Sulu don’t give a damn about the race but wants the lemon not to fall from the spoon in the lemon race. She doesn’t mind coming second but she wants to do it right!
3. Bua Ji ( Ratna Pathak Shah – Lipstick Under My Burkha ) – Though it was the year of strong female characters and this out of the box film itself have 3 other distinct female characters, Bua ji played by Ratna Pathak Shah just stands out of the league. She is not a rebel neither she is revolutionary, what makes you feel what she feels is the simplicity of her desires. Writer-Director Alankrita Shrivastava can’t deny that might be Bua ji was the best part of the whole film. What makes this character one of the most unforgettable characters? Well now you will start looking at Bua Ji’s around you and you will be more sensitive towards their loneliness.
4. Newton & Aatma Singh – (Raj Kumar Rao & Pankaj Tripathi – Newton) – Nutan Kumar picks the gun of Aatma Singh and waits for last few seconds of the voting hour to finish. In those few seconds, You are also standing there and deciding in your brains, where are these two characters flawed and where are they not? Well to me, Newton was not just the story of Newton but about these two characters which were played so honestly that it reflects on the screen. No doubt when you leave the theater, the song – “Chal Tu Apna Ka Kar” keeps going in the loop in your head but that’s because of the writing by Amit V Marsurkar and Mayank Tewari which justifies the two side of the coin just like that only.
5. Preetam Vidrohi (Raj Kumar Rao – Bareily Ki Barfi ) – This Year can easily be tagged as “The Year of Raj Kumar Rao”. But the success of this brilliant actor relies on the roles written for him or the roles he chose. This was definitely a year for writers, if not so- Why would producers but writers name (Nitesh Tiwari and Shreyas Jain) at the very start of the trailer. Believe me, this is a rare thing and happy to know that the makers realized the power of writing here. Though this cannot take away the marvelous almost split personality performance by Rajkumar Rao who single-handedly stole the whole show in the second half of the movie. Pritam Vidrohiis amazing but still somewhere not justified between Bitti and Chirag’s love story. Can we have a spin-off of Preetam?
6. Shyam Prakash (Deepak Dobriyal – Hindi Medium) – Saket Chaudhary’s Hindi Medium was definitely one of the most surprisingly entertaining and successful films of the year. Where you love Irfan Khan and Saba’s chemistry one thing that just can’t leave you for a long time was Shyam Prakash’s character. A simple struggling common man with dreams and aspirations who just jumps in front of an expensive car to get some money for his friend – This guy steals your heart and then breaks it too. What Mr. Irrfan Khan has achieved after so much of struggle in the industry, Deepak Dobriyal deserves no less than that.
7. Anarkali ( Swara Bhaskar – Anarkali Of Aarah ) – A year ago only we saw a brilliant film about consent – PINK and this year it was Anarkali of Aarah but this one stands out more for the character and the performance of Swara Bhaskar as Anarkali. She just disappeared in those flashy attires and transformed into Anarkali who is okay to sing double songs and even sleep around with other men but only when she likes it. Her voice is crystal clear when it comes to her consent. Swara as Anarkali is definitely one of the most powerful performances of the year.
8. Najma (Meher Vij – Secret Superstar) – We have so many outrageously brave women on the screen so far but that’s not a reality. There is still a big number of females who find it difficult to find their voice in the environment they are living. Still, they never let their ambitions and dreams to go in the vain. Najma of Secret Superstar represents this majority of the females in our society beautifully. Finding the right balance between many a thing they are juggling with Meher Vij portrayal of this mother who is torn between the husband and the daughter is definitely one of the most relatable characters for the majority of the audience and that’s what I think transformed into the unexpected success of this movie.
9. Praful Patel ( Kangana Ranaut – Simran) – Though there was a huge fight for the credits of the screenplay of this film between Apurva Asrani and Kangana Ranaut before the film, I am more interested in knowing who has actually shaped the character of Praful Patel. How much it was written by Apurva and how much was improvised by Kangana? Because that’s the best part of the movie. Praful is unapologetic about herself. Her definition of success is not defined by society but by the achievement of the things she wants to achieve. Yet she is fun even in her darkest times. Creating such character is not easy because as an audience one may tend to dislike her or stay apathetic towards her but no! You like Praful and you want her to be successful. Though you also want her to stop doing silly things at the same time, you never stop rooting for her. That’s where Simran was a successful film for me.
10. Justice Surendra Lal Tripathi ( Jolly LLB 2) – We have seen Justice Tripathi in Jolly LLB earlier and we loved him. Writer-Director Subhash Kapoor knows this fact and hence in this installment even though it has superstar Akshay Kumar playing Jolly, he gave an ample space to Justice Tripathi’s character flourish. From Showing the typical human side of Tripathi to be the stubborn voice of reason Justice Tripathi, in my opinion, going to be one of the most echoed characters of the decade and the reason doesn’t rely completely upon the writing. It’s Sourabh Shukla’s class act which takes this character to another height. Best Moment – When Justice Tripathi sits on an Anshan in his own courtroom.
11. Shutu (Vikrant Massey/ A Death at the Gunj) – Last but definitely not the least! Shutu is that one sensitive guy who is always there around us but always effortlessly and unconsciously able to disappear in the rude and cruel insensitive world. Vikrant Massey brings out the nuances and insecurities of Shutu so palpable that without even saying many dialogues you feel what he is feeling. No doubt the writer Konkana Sen Sharma picked up this unusual tale of Shutu to debut as Director and then chose Vikrant as the lead among the sea of fabulous actors as an ensemble.
Let us know which one stayed with you. Have we missed any other character?
We all know that our Film Industry is struggling with the lack of original ideas and concepts. Even India’s official entry for the Academy Awards – Oscars for this year – Newton is facing charges of plagiarism as it has a lot of similarities with Iranian Film – The secret Ballot. In the industry where writers are at the lowest of the food chain of filmmaking, it is very difficult to find original stories but India is a country of more than a billion and if we just try to pick real stories like – “Neerja” and “Dangal” there will be enough original content to conquer the invasion of International Entertainment.
So let’s find out what we can do –
1. APJ ABDUL KALAM- The story of a Newspaper boy from Rameshwaram to the President of India is definitely is a story that needs to be told. A man, his determination, his passion and his simplicity is something that inspired and transcends to every Indian and even to the people outside India. This is one story we would love to see coming alive on the screen.
2. SATYENDRA NATH BOSE – was an Indian physicist from Bengal specializing in theoretical physics. He is best known for his work on quantum mechanics in the early 1920s, providing the foundation for Bose-Einstein statistics and the theory of the Bose-Einstein condensate. A Fellow of the Royal Society, he was awarded India’s second highest civilian award, the Padma Vibhushan in 1954 by the Government of India.The class of particles that obey Bose-Einstein statistics, bosons, was named after Bose by Paul Dirac. Can we expect “A beautiful mind” sort of science drama here?
3. MAJOR DHYANCHAND – Though Shetty Sisters (Aarti & Pooja ) have acquired the rights of making the movie on this sports legend of India Major Dhyan Chand long time ago, the development of the film seems dicey and looks like it’s still a dream to see some one playing this great sports person on screen. We all know that National Sports Day is celebrated on the birthday of this forgotten hero of our country who face to face clash with Adolf Hitler was one of the most dramatic incidents of his story. We all are waiting for this story to be told soon.
4. RAVI SHANKAR- World Class Musician. The face of Indian Classical Music. 2 Marriages, Failed Relationships. Father of famous world-class musicians and their rivalry. From Grammy to Bharat Ratna, Pandit Ravi Shankar’s life story is definitely a story of a true artist. But can we get the rights from his daughters?
5. ISMAT CHUGTAI- Ismat Chugtai popularly known as Ismat Aapa was a fierce Urdu writer who was not afraid to talk about female sexuality at the repressed times. Surrounded by the controversies of her writings, Ismat Aapa was never apologetic about her work. We all know the famous case of “Lihaaf” and the proceedings of it. This liberal Muslim woman was a voice that definitely needs to tell again on the screen.
6. GURU DUTT- We all say that screen is inspired by the real life, but in case of Guru Dutt, his life imitates his own film “Kagaz Ke Phool” and “Pyaasa”. The legendary filmmaker had a successful career but failed love life and he finally ends up his own life. What leads to that? Why he also said -“Yeh Duniya Agar Mil bhi Jaye toh kya hai?” Aren’t we all still curious about him?
8. CHAVI RAJAWAT – You may not be heard of her but her story is no less. After doing MBA Chavi left her job and came back to her roots, her village Soda in Rajasthan and fought the election to become the youngest sarpanch ever without getting affiliated to any political party. The development work that she has done on the grass root level is really inspirational. Can we see this as a “Swades 2” but this time with a female lead?
9. RANI KARNAVATI – Again a story very few people know. This brave queen of Gharwal region fiercely protects her kingdom from the invasion of Mughals. It was pretty famous that she used to cut the nose of anyone who used to intrude. Her folklore is pretty famous in Uttrakhand. Sanjay Leela Bhansali / Kangana Ranaut – Are you guys thinking for a collaboration? This might be the best.
10. KISHORE KUMAR – A singer, A comedian, an accidental Actor, a flamboyant personality, romantic and extremely moody, quirky and talented. Kishore Kumar was a true artist but an amazing human being. Her relationships and friendships were always talks of the tinsel town. Last we heard that Anurag Basu wants to make this biopic with Ranbir Kapoor. We just hope that Jagga won’t disturbs this collaboration.