Sunday, February 18, 2007

Majaa ni life

Ahh... majaa ni life !! :D

Well, what more could one want. A lazy Sunday afternoon, which slowly, with overhanging clouds turns into a pleasant evening, bringing along with itself the first sweet smell of spring. Add to that a late lunch (plus a kettle full of tea) with close friends, and you have the perfect setting for a wonderful day.

'Nirma thali' at the next-door 'rajvadu' restaurant: Rs. 55

A kettle of tea: Rs. 18

Carefree Sunday afternoon, with A. R. Rehman singing 'Tere Bina' on iTunes: Priceless


Day before yesterday, I went to see 'Eklavya'. And contrary to what appears to be the popular opinion, I loved the film. The only review that echoed what I felt after seeing the film was this.

The film is definitely not for the masses, who may go rushing into the cinema halls drawn by the names of Vidhu Vinod Chopra, Amitabh Bachchan, Saif Ali Khan and Sanjay Dutt (and Vidya Balan, of course).

The cinematography of S Natarajan Subramaniam is, in one word, brilliant. The screen is resplendent in the royal colours of Rajasthan and the film is a visual treat. The scene just before the interval, where all that is visible is the dark silhouette of a dying Rana breathing his last in the arms of a royal bodyguard, with the sun setting symbolically in the background and throwing its last rays of glorious orange sunshine on the royal fort, is a classic...It leaves a deep impact as the lights of the cinema-hall slowly come to life.

The editing, by Raviranjan Maitra, is fantastic. Not one scene seems to be out of line. Scenes which apparently have very little or nothing to do with the story, come back later with a sweet after-effect; be it the explanation of what the young rajkumar was punished for early in the movie or the scarf that the maharani accidentally drops from the fort ramparts. Kudos to both, Raviranjan Maitra and Vidhu Vinod Chopra, for such crisp editing.

Amitabh Bachchan is par excellence. Not once do you see the typical expressions that you might associate with the Bachchan of Karan Johar films. Amitabh gets into the skin of the character and one is convinced that he indeed is Eklavya, an aging bodyguard who must guard not only the occupants of the palace but also their deepest secrets. Watch out for the scene when Eklavya is asked, nay, ordered to leave the fort and go back to his village. Bachchan is what he is because what he does in the scene; he emotes pain and shock without uttering a single syllable.

Saif Ali Khan was powerful in essaying his role of the prince. In a film where he could've easily been overshadowed by Bachchan's performance, all credits to him for putting in a memorable portrayal. This is the third time after the eponymous 'Being Cyrus' and Langda Tyagi of 'Omkara' that I realised that there is more to him than just the actor with a wonderful comic timing (be it Sameer of 'Dil Chahta Hai' or Karan Kapoor of 'Hum Tum').

Boman Irani shows why people say his best performance was not as 'J Dot Asthana' of 'Munna Bhai MBBS' but as the 75 year old Dhunjisha Batliwala in Rahul Da Cunha's play 'I'm not Bajirao'. Vidya Balan brings grace and, ahem, sexual chemistry to the film. Sanjay Dutt with his portrayal of the rustic DSP adds the much-needed humour from time to time. Jackie Shroff and Jimmy Shergill do well in their short roles.

And finally, the best part of the film, the story. The film, while harking back to the legend of Eklavya from The Mahabharata, keeps asking questions about 'dharma' and right and wrong. The film also offers an interesting answer in the form of the definition which the grand old man of The Mahabharata, Bhishma, gives for 'dharma'. Then again, the film provides good food-for-thought with issues such as 'the young son helping an aging father' and 'a son's duty towards both, his foster and biological parents'.

Armed with this script, a play would perhaps have been much, much more powerful. I was also reminded of a play titled 'Durgesh Nandan' (Son of the Fort) that I had seen many years ago in Calcutta.

Okay, perhaps there's just one other review that I agree with. And what strikes me the most about this review by the New York Times is that this film 'has a heart for the classics'.

Vidhu Vinod Chopra, take a bow.

My ratings: 4.5 out of 5 stars

[Okay, okay... I give in, but this was a review that I found after writing the post. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Subhash K. Jha's review.]


arpana said...

when will I get to watch it !!! I havent read any of the review links youve posted, cod I wanna read them after Ive seen the movie :)

PS - does your blog know my present state of mind? :O the word verification reads this - boreeqm

ani said...

i skipped the eklavya part coz i hate readin abt the movie before i go n see it n i really really wanna see it!!! :-D

the sunday afternoon part made me go right back into bed on a monday morning!!!!!!!

(and now i read arpana's comment - c shekhar!! its not jus me!!)

Rose said...

Didnt read the post.. Coz I hate reading abt movie reviews esp b4 iv seen it.. Anyways Eklavya never caught my attention..

But dnt miss on 'Parzania' and 'Black Friday' if u v not seen them alrdy..



Shekhar said...

arpana: Do make it a point to see it. I'm sure you'll like it. :)

As for the word verification thing, you never know what levels of intelligence Google might have fed into the machines. ;)

ani: OH!! My review doesn't have any spoilers, so there....

//go right back into bed on a monday morning!!!!!!!

Mission accomplished, 'coz I was trying to capture the mood of the beautiful afternoon. :)

rose: I hate reading reviews which include spoilers. But I do usually like to read/hear unbiased reviews about a film before I decide whether to watch it or not. :)

[psst...'Parzania' ain't being screened in Gujarat :( but should manage to watch 'Black Friday' over the next weekend. :) ]

Nerd in beta said...

I saw Eklavya last friday.. and I must say, a layman viewer needs to make an extra effort to understand the complex characters..

On the performance side, Saif delivers a powerhouse, Amitabh is good and so is Jimy Sheirgill. Vidya Balan is wasted though, I feel.

Trailers of Munnabhai III and Talisman are added bonus. :)

Shekhar said...

nerd in beta: He he.. eagerly looking forward to Munnabhai Chale America, and Amitabh in the Talisman trailer reminded me of Gandalf from LOTR. :D

arpana said...

Good you'd already linked this post to a newer post of yours - else I would have dug it up to put this comment.
Breathlessly I declare - after months and more months after its release I watched the movie.

Breathtaking ! absofuckinlutely breathtaking. The questions it raises the answers it searches, the emotions it grapples with, the intensity with which it surges ! Omigosh! brilliant. Add to it the imagery that the camera creates ... Not sure for whom its not - but definetly for people like me - who live in questions day in and out. Totally beaut. 90 mins of concentration like no other this piece demands :)
Hmmm ... almost written a post here - instead of a comment - so I'll stop for now.
Oh but then
PS - The other movie I loved as much which Ive seen in the recent times is Pinjar. Totally woman oriented , totally weepy ( something Im not too good at handling or doing) but despite all its faults - awesomely gripping - thats pinjar.

arpana said...

//Not sure for whom its not - but definetly for people like me
- I meant it IS for people like me - a reading of the comment gave a contrary view there ....

Shekhar said...

arpana: :)

Didn't see 'Pinjar' 'coz I was torn by the thought of being put through 'torture' by a good movie on both, women issues and partition - both have this habit of leaving me terribly upset at times.