Mainstream cinema-wise, we’re a bit left out here in Panjim. With just 1 Inox, that is very selective about what shows, and 2 smaller cinema halls to choose from, we do end up missing a fair bit of releases. Like Argo, for example, didn’t make it to Goa. Life of Pi ran in 2D. Most good movies that nobody usually cares for run for a customary 1 week or less, almost like they’re doing us a favour.
Several unfortunate misses have turned us into the worst kind of movie pirates ever. There is nothing that doesn’t get downloaded, passed around and sometimes even screened on a terrace on a full-moon night, or in a darkened office conference room for mass viewing pleasure. Our very own private cinema club of sorts. And in recent weeks, its how I watched Argo, Silverlining Playbook, Living in the Material World (a Martin Scorsese documentary on George Harrison) and Django Unchained (because we don’t want to stand the risk of it not releasing here.)
Yeah, if Inox isn’t going to entertain us, we’re just going to have to take matters into our own hands, I suppose.
After all the hullabaloo over Midnight’s Children and Vishwaroopam, I frankly wasn’t counting on it releasing here. The other one I have been waiting for was Kadal, and being a regional film and all that jazz, I totally didn’t see it making its way to Goa. The only other film I was really looking forward to was David. So on Friday, when I gingerly logged into the Inox website to see when I could go catch it, I was shocked, horrified and totally over the moon. Turned out that every single one of the movies I had wanted to watch was out and running multiple shows.
(It might have snowed here that night.)
In a happy coincidence, I had a weekend of nothingness ahead of me, and after asking around, some lame attempts to coax various people into watching some, if not all, of these movies with me, I decided going alone was the best way to go. I think deep down I wanted to go all by myself, and so I didn’t wait for company.
The solo movie-watching habit started young. I’ve done it many times in Bangalore, right through college and after. And several times in Goa. Just not recently, as most movies have ended up being group affairs with the whole jing-bang and their aunty joining in. It has its own charm, but lets just say since this weekend seemed to be all about owning my solitude, I went with it.
With no plan in mind, I went up to Inox bright and early on Saturday, with the hope of catching two movies. Back-to-back shows would have been ideal, but odd timing issues didn’t fit. I was lucky enough to get there when it was empty, practically 4 people at the counter and bought myself tickets for three movies in one shot: Midnight’s Children and Vishwaroop on Saturday; and David on Sunday. Chuffed, I bought myself some coffee and sank into my aisle seat (the same one for all movies, btw!) and thus began the weekend that was bound to be movied out.
That I ended up watching three movies on day 1, when I walked out of the exit at the end of Vishwaroop and right back in through the entrance with a bunch of people I ran into who had an extra ticket for Kadal, is another funny story. But let’s just say this was what I got for whining for weeks on end about how I probably wouldn’t get to watch these movies I had been looking forward to for weeks. This was karma giving it to me, no holds barred.
I think its something I need to do more often. Pack many films into a weekend and watch them alone. And while I thoroughly enjoyed myself, I can’t say I loved all the films equally.
Midnight’s Children was lovely in a slow, let-it-sweep-over-you-gently kind of way that is Deepa Mehta’s signature style. In fact, I enjoyed it the most and am now tempted to read the book. It was witty in parts, understated in parts, moving and bold too. Best of all it was wonderfully reminiscent of the 60s and 70s in India, a time that I have a lot of question marks in my head about. Because I only vaguely knew the storyline, it was only in the second half that I began to realise how acutely relevant the story is to where we are as a nation today. Deepa Mehta’s trademark cinematography, rich with symbolism in colours, poignant scenes that bring cultural stereotypes and truths to life, the film was successful in making it seem like it may very well be a reflection of our present time. I see now why politicians were so uncomfortable at the thought of releasing this film in India. If you are a Rushdie fan, watch it. I haven’t read the book, but from what I hear and have read it does a fabulous job of shrinking his magnum opus down to 2.5 hours of beautiful cinema. And if any of you have read the book, do you think I should give it a go?
For the first half an hour of Vishwaroop, I was completely flummoxed. In its silly, seemingly unnecessary and almost slapstick-humour, I was wondering what could possibly have offended this country so much! The first 30 minutes did nothing to help lay the plot of set the scene in terms of a story to come. Random events that have no real bearing to anything sort of occur in a scattered way, and just when I had written it off as a failed attempt at another blockbuster, highly-stereotypical Kamal Haasan, playing a Kathak Teacher (of course he had to sneak in a role that let him dance) gets all macho I’m-gonna-bust-your-brains-out on the bunch of Jihadis that have held him and his wife hostage. What follows is an intense back-story of Kamal Haasan’s time as an Indian spy who infiltrated an Al-Qaeda camp in an attempt to bring down deadly Jihadi Omar (played by Rahul Bose — with a perpetually downward smile and a glass eye – eek!). Full of loopholes and bad writing, in the moment, the story kept me pretty rapt. It was only when it was all over that I had a good laugh. It was entertaining, in a totally Bollywood masala timepass sort of way and for that I would say leave your brains behind and go watch it.
I have to admit my high expectations of Kadal are wholly blamed on the music. I have had the OST on loop for a few weeks now, because after what feels like forever, Rahman seems to have got it right. But this was one of those classic examples of music being great and movie falling horribly short. I am not one of those hardcore Mani Rathnam connoisseurs, so I can’t claim I know why my hopes were dashed, but they were. I can’t claim to have exquisite taste in cinema, because I can excuse most things and dismiss a film as a horrible film but an entertaining watch (heck I even braved and laughed my way through Race 2 last week), but I cannot excuse a good story that falls prey to bad story telling. And that’s exactly the issue I had with Kadal. A beautiful story, simple Good vs Evil story, made relevant to a small village of fisher-folk in Tamil Nadu, all was going extremely well until suddenly there was a drop and the entire film nosedived never to recover. I giggled through the second half of the movie because the only way to get through it and have fun was to mock it. It really seemed like MR was bored half way through and handed over the reins to some AD because the result is a schizophrenic film with no sense of continuity from where it began and where it ended up.
I thought I had saved the best for last by choosing to watch David at the end. Alas, that was not to be. I should have listened when Rajeev Masand gave it 2.5 stars, but I was lured in by the slick trailer which I didn’t realise depended heavily on just 1 of 3 stories. The only one that was a real story worth mentioning. I think its a misnomer to brandish this film as “3 stories. 1 name” because of the three, only the one featuring cardboard-face Neil Nitin Mukesh was worth watching. Stylish, sleek, perfectly directed, brilliant back ground score too, they pretty much nailed it. I suspect it was too short and simple to make a full length film, so Bejoy Nambiar resorted to this forced acrobatics of telling three entwined stories. An act that very few pull off with class. Better luck, next time maybe?