Indianized Hamlet – Haider

There are innumerable remakes and reproductions of Shakespeare’s novels that have happened, but to use it in a very sensitive context with a sensitive background (especially now that there is some disturbance going on in that place i.e. the story is set in Kashmir) is a very tricky thing indeed. Since I never discuss politics, I am going to go only with the story of the movie I watched yesterday. Its Haider, an Indian adaptation of the Shakespeare play Hamlet. Vishal Bharadwaj is known to make good reproductions of Shakespeare’s novels and plays. Even though I haven’t seen his earlier adaptations Omkara (from Othello) and Maqbool (from Macbeth) (did you notice that he uses the same starting letter and the number of characters of the name of the  play and that of his movies match?) I have heard only great reviews of the same. I did want to watch Haider even though its been three weeks since it release and had some mixed reviews. Overall, it was a very good movie, inspite of it being a tragedy and almost everyone dying. It was slightly slower during the second half than the first half, and I felt that a couple of songs weren’t necessary, but except for that it was done very well. Lot of references to the Shakespeare play was done very well. For e.g. the Ghost is shown as a person with the name ‘Rooh-daar’ where Rooh in Hindi/Urdu means soul/spirit. Even the other names like Haider (for Hamlet), Gazala (for Gertrude), Hilaal (for King Hamlet) all sort of matches. And all the actors have done their role to their best of their ability. Especially Shahid Kapoor as Haider and Tabu as Gazala. They just light up their screen with their presence. I loved the song Bismill, where he performs at his mother’s and uncle’s wedding ceremony is the best of the lot for me. There are other soft numbers, but I like this more. Cinematography was breathtaking. Some places look so heavenly. Art direction also is very good. Tightly interweaving it with politics and touching upon a very sensitive subject and yet bringing the very essence of the Shakespearean play – it is no easy thing. And this movie has done it very well and for that the director and the write gets all the credit. A very good movie.         

Finding Fanny

Went to watch the movie Finding Fanny today. The trailer itself showed that this movie is not the usual run of the mill kind. And its a very short one too. Even less than 2 hours.

It’s about Ferdie who gets his letter one night, which was posted almost 36+ years ago to his love Fanny in which he proposes to her. Since he doesn’t get a reply he lives his life waiting for his love. And when he sees the letter in his door step one day he is confused and upset that she didn’t even know about his love for her. There is Angie who is a young widow living with her mother in law Rosie (another widow). The guy who loved Angie (and was her friend) but never had the courage to tell her, Savio comes to town after 6 years. Another ‘artist’ Pedro who is a little crazy and wants to paint Rosie follows her everywhere. Angie decides that Ferdie’s love story should have a proper ending and convinces everyone on a short journey to find Fanny. What happens in the way, how each of them find their peace, their love, their rest is what the story is all about. Lot of wits and humor and sarcasm and one liners make you laugh, snicker and guffaw alternatively. Lot of cliché’s too. But overall it was a fun movie to watch. One of my friend wasn’t very happy with our selection. But the other two (including me) liked it and had fun. Definitely not everyone’s cup of tea and will only run in Multiplexes. But a very different one.

Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania

I was sort of emotionally blackmailed to see this movie ‘Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania‘ to give company to a friend. The things we do for friendship 🙂 I had totally a very bad perception about the movie. And I teased my friend by calling it the Humpty Dumpty movie. But after a sumptuous brunch / breakfast in another nice and untried restaurant (pictures will come later) we went to this movie and I sort of ended up having a good time. I am not going into the story here because there isn’t much to say and it sort of mimics Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (DDLJ) except that the girl does everything in this which the guy does in that movie.

Don’t go looking for logic and if you go without any expectation (may be just one: it is a very cheesy rom com movie) and you will enjoy the comedy in it and some emotional elements too. The hero of this movie Rakesh Sharma aka Humpty Sharma is a total emo sort of guy who sheds tears at the drop of a emotional scene. He falls in love at first sight with the girl Kavya, who is already engaged to an NRI and is in Delhi (her town is Ambala) to get her perfect designer wedding dress. They get to know each other, he helps her friend from a tight spot , she starts having a soft spot for him..and you know how the story goes until the intermission. After that the story shifts to Ambala where he goes to win her back. Sometimes during the movie, we could even recite the next line of the dialogue. But some really took us by surprise. And the gay angle to the story. That was a welcome change. Not done too cheesy and not at all offensive, it shows how people are becoming open minded about it. But too many references to the DDLJ’s movie dialogues. Songs were OK OK. Nothing really stood apart except for the ‘Saturday song’ (which is below and which gets played during credits). Alia Bhatt is good looking and the place where she has to act to seduce a guy, that was so hilarious. Varun Dhawan, not my favorite up coming actors, but he did the job for this movie. I thought his friend Shonty (Gaurav Pandey) looked much better than him. If you don’t have any expectations of what the movie would be about and how the execution or the logic of the story is and all, you can have a good laugh and good time pass.

English Vinglish – Close to heart

All these Mother’s day talk and I am somehow writing and watching movies related to it and feeling very very emotional. Shucks!!! I had to go and watch this long withstanding movie , of which I had heard nothing but very good reviews. In fact, one of my friend was almost selling me this movie every weekend. He was like ‘Haven’t you seen it yet? You will love it. I saw it more than twice and everytime I love it more’. So finally, just before mother’s day I did choose to see this movie, English Vinglish.

A daily life of a lot of Indian housewives I know of. I am not sure if this will be applicable to any other language too, but it is highly probable. Here is this woman, Shashi, who makes laddoos at home and sells them (sort of a mini-entrepreneur by herself) but is not good with English. In fact, she can hardly speak a few words. And her daughter disrespects her, not that she is aware of it but she does it to save her face among her friends, about her mother not being able to communicate in English. And her husband, a typical Husband of the previous generation (I am saying this because I have seen so many of them behave exactly like that and I have seen the current generation changing a lot from the typical husband behavior of those times). He needs everything to be given to him by his wife, he can’t even go to the kitchen to get his coffee from her. And he sort of stereotypes her like she is good enough only for cooking and taking care and nothing else. She is hurt lot of times, but she stands by her family always.

Then comes a change in pattern where she has to travel alone to NewYork to her sister’s daughter’s wedding. She sort of manages with her minimal English (and a guest appearance by Amitabh Bachchan here during her first flight to help her out). But an incident in a coffee shop she visits to get herself a cup of coffee spooks her. When she sees an ad for learning English in 4 weeks she decides to give it a try so that she can learn something by the time her family joins her. The class consists of a group of a people from different background (a Pakistani guy, a Tamil guy from India, Mexican nanny, French cook who sort of helps her in the cafe initially and falls for Shashi in due course, an African gay guy, a South Asian beauty parlor girl and then the teacher a gay American). She sort of sneaks herself to her classes in between the wedding preparations and one of her niece finds out and helps her too. The group warm up to each other teaching each other not only the language but also a few things about life. Shashi is not able to understand the reason why the French guy is after her. He compliments her in the class once and she panics and runs. They at times communicate in French and Hindi telling each other something which the other person cannot understand at all. But every now and then her family sort of puts her down even though she tries very hard to not reciprocate and tell them how mean they are. I really would have slapped my daughter if she was to tell me something that this girl tells Shashi. Thank God, I did not disrespect my mom like that. That doesn’t mean I was holier than thou, but still this was too much.

And then finally the dramatic even of the wedding (Indian girl marrying an American Guy and the wedding itself is typically Indian with all song and dance routines and with lots and lots of colorful dresses and flowers decorating the venue) where she gives her final speech , as part of a toast to the newly married couple, about marriage and life teaching her daughter and husband a thing or two.

It is a little dramatic but the essence of the movie is very unique and treatments is fresh and Sreedevi has done wonders. God , she still looks so beautiful. Age does show on her, but she still can give some youngsters a run for their money. I had tears during her final speech and it was definitely intended by the director (a woman). A very lovely movie to watch. I could see my mother in Shashi a lot of times. My mom can read the English newspaper from the first word to the last but ask her to speak and she will shy away. One cab driver , on my way to airport, asked me how the lady in the saree who was standing outside the airport survives the cold weather wearing that thing 🙂 I hardly wear saree so I told him I have no clue. But I do a lot of people wearing saree even in the extreme weathers. In fact I couldn’t get my mom to wear a churidhar when we went on our trip to Singapore. She indulged me for just one day and I took so much photos to show it back to my brother and sister who were shocked to see my mom wearing it 🙂

We can teach a lot of things, but to humility and respect cannot be taught – Shashi says. But then she does teach her family just that by example. There is no drama about how she doesn’t feel loved by her family and is happy that a French guy showers her with his attention. She tells that she doesn’t need love, she needs respect and it starts with her respecting herself first. I did feel a little for that French guy, he sure was cute and attentive towards her. I enjoyed this movie a lot even though it made me cry at the end.

2 States – Cómico & emocional

I had wanted to watch this movie, 2 States, because I have read the book and I actually liked it a lot. This is a love story (sort of autobiographical) about two people from two different states belonging to 2 different culture and community and how their union, which includes both the families, goes through so much of transition in terms of understanding each other’s culture, in terms of humanity, in terms of love and in terms of family.

The girl is from Tamil Nadu, South India, a Tamil Brahmin and the boy is Punjabi and is from Delhi, North India. They meet and fall in love in IIM Ahmedabad (Central India). Their love story sort of goes through the same first-as-friends-then-becoming-lovers style which is common. The problem starts when they decide to get married once they get settled and decide to use the convocation to introduce their families. Being from two totally different cultural background they start off on a wrong foot. And their effort to smooth things between their families goes awfully wrong.

And when Krish had to decide on the place of job he wants to choose Chennai to be near Ananya, but his mother is afraid to lose him and so begins the game of mom trying to guilt tripping her son to make him stay close to her. But he chooses otherwise and goes to Chennai and slowly invades the girl’s family and wins their heart, irrespective of the number of times he is scorned off by that family. Once he gets their approval, he and Ananya come to Delhi to try and make her part of his family. After a local stunt she performs in a relative’s wedding, she gets the nod. But when the two families come again to finally talk about it, things go wrong again and in the process both Krish and Ananya also get into a misunderstanding and they sort of take a break. But the person who sort of is non-existent in Krish’s life, his father, patches things up between them and finally we have the happy ending. This story is not only about Krish and Ananya. It is more about the two families, the drama and melodrama that is always a part of it, especially with such love-cum-arranged marriages and also the on going troubled relationship between Krish’s parents. That is the reason it seems like a slightly long movie. But I felt that the book was much better in delivery than the movie, even though the movie did a good job of sticking to the story to the maximum. I liked all characters, but the heroine , Alia Bhatt, who is definitely very pretty and looks South Indian enough for this movie, didn’t do much justice to the character , at least that is what I felt. Because the book shows her as a little powerful , emotional and yet strong character. I felt Alia didn’t deliver the emotions that well. Arjun Kapoor was good and so were all the supporting characters of both the families. It was sort of seesaw between funny moments and emotional tear jerking scenes.

It reminded me of a lot of scenes from my own life and of course I got a little emotional. I am sure my sister and mom loved the movie because they can easily relate to it. It took me two years to convince my parents and mine was an inter caste and inter community marriage (only difference was that we spoke the same language). But unlike the movie, mine did not have a happy ending. In fact, the marriage destroyed a lot of things in my life. OK, let me not go that route. I might end up ranting a lot. So coming back to the movie, I felt the book was the better among the two, even though the movie was worth watching with all that laughing and tears at the end.