This past week, I managed to watch three movies. All very good. As opposed to the usual one shitty movie. How did that happen? Quite simply actually. At the risk of sounding like a snob, I’m going to just come out and say it: this year, the number of times I have walked out of an English film disappointed, has been grossly outnumbered by the number of times I came out of a Hindi movie ready to pull my hair out. Hopefully the fact that I’ve watched pretty much every movie that was worth talking about, that came out this year — good, bad, ugly and everything else in between — will mask the extreme snobbery of that statement.
There were a few Hollywood fails (I’m looking at you, Olympus Has Fallen), but still not near as many as the number of Hindi movies that left me gagging, or wanting to pull my eyeballs out, as some sort of self-punishment for choosing to watch that particular movie. I am now convinced that 2013 has been an especially bad spell for Bollywood (peppered with a few good things — Gangs of Wasseypur, Kai Po Che, The Lunchbox — to name a few). I’m not going by box office figures, reviews by celebrated film critics and the like. I’m judging this purely on my experience of being entertained by a memorable movie vs feeling annoyed/frustrated and having nothing to remember a film by.
This weekend presented a rare and almost forgotten sight at Inox in Panjim. Empty parking lots, scarcely populated grounds with a few lazy people ambling around and the incredible luck of walking in 5 minutes before the show, buying tickets and entering the theatre painlessly. On a weekend, no less. Something I once bragged about, has become a long forgotten luxury in the last year. And here’s what made it happen this week. A low number of Hindi movies on show. And the few that are running this week, seem mostly crappy. I’m talking so crappy, even I wouldn’t risk watching them — and I voluntarily subject myself to everything.
The kick of finally being able to have a painless movie experience contributed in some part to wanting to catch all three movies. Also the point about the likelihood of coming out of an English movie disappointed being low, compelled me to try. (If only I were as dedicated to applying such impeccable logic, and committed to slotting my time so wisely towards finishing work on time, as I am to catching every single goddamned movie that hits town, I’d really be going places. I really would.)
Looking at my to do list wouldn’t perpetually feel like I’m entering a losing battle. I wouldn’t have to carry around this nagging feeling that my home is in need of some attention, but isn’t getting it. I wouldn’t be leaving grocery shopping till the very last moment when I want to make sambar and I open the box of dal to find the spotless bottom reflecting back at me. Maybe, maybe.
I wouldn’t say Shahid was a brilliant watch because it was slow and a little too dragged out for my liking. Given the sombre, macabre nature of the story, I felt it could have had the same impact even if it were 60 minutes shorter. But as a story of an unsung hero belonging to a religious minority, it covered all bases that made it a gripping, telling story. Without going into details, I’ll say it was an eye-opening revelation of events and the chilling truth about so many situations that our countrymen endure and continue live with. Things that we only realise when we read about them in books and newspapers or see them in movies. Forget riots and hartals and the like. I’m talking about everyday existence. Where coming out of your home and trying to find a job is hard because you are a Muslim living in a backward area of a sensitive part of town.
With all the hooplah about NaMo vc RaGa going on, I’ve found myself more and more drawn in to the opinions of friends belonging to non-Hindu communities and I am turned off by the open hatred, relentless mindless NaMo propaganda I see even within my own friends’ circle. A movie like this is what is needed every now and then, to give us smug lot a dose of what we probably may or may not experience ourselves, but is such a harsh reality of our time.
Captain Phillips was an out and out entertainer. The story of the abduction of a commercial liner, by pirates off the coast of Somalia. I didn’t know piracy was such a serious issue, and I’m a bit ashamed that it took a movie like this — where America overcomes all, by sending out a mini army, three defense liners, a SWAT team and a whole back-end operation to take down three somalian pirates to save ONE American captain — to know how real piracy is.
The Fifth Estate is a good watch for anyone who wants to quickly get to know the Julian Assange and the Wikileaks story. Quite a revolutionary character of our times, Julian Assange is at times eccentric, crazy, scary, but through it all he is driven by a purpose and that mission to give people a transparent platform to share the truth, with the protection of never being outed. At times, the oddball of a personality that Assange is makes his intentions seem suspect, but isn’t that the case with anyone revolutionary? There’s always room for suspicion, a conspiracy theory, and enough people to prove him/her wrong. I thought this movie was especially well shot and picturised, maybe largely shot on DSLRs, because of the tightly cropped frames and play with depth of field.
At some point over the week, it struck me that all the three movies I had watched were rooted in true stories. That is probably the true reason why I enjoyed them all. As much as I like a good heavy dose of fun and games, nonsensical impossible to believe situations and slapstick humour, I like a story that seems real. I like a story that is real, even more.
Speaking of “reality” and real entertainment, there’s this other embarrassing show my otherwise completely-uninterested-in-television self is totally addicted to, at the moment. Ahem, and don’t go about guessing what this show might be. It’s my yearly dose of guilty pleasures in the form of unadulterated Idiot Box crap. But I say “reality”, in quotes, because almost none of it seems real anymore — I don’t know why we call it reality television. And more importantly, I don’t know why I persist and watch it. Day after day. Killing a few hundred braincells with every episode. More thoughts on that soon, because it makes for a whole post in itself, I think.
And while we’re on the topic of addiction, here’s what I have on loop, all the time these days: