Saturday, February 21, 2015

Review of Qissa – The Tale of a Lonely Ghost

The Official Poster
Cast: Irrfan Khan (Umber Singh), Tisca Chopra, Tillotama Shome (Kanwar Singh), Rasika Dugal (Neeli), Faezeh Jalali, Sonia Bindra
Genre: Drama with a Social Message
Direction: Anup Singh
Production: Johannes Rexin, Thierry Lenouvel, Bero Beyer
Written by: Anup Singh, Madhuja Mukherjee
Cinematographer: Sebastian Edschmid
Music: Beatrice Thiriet, Manish J Tipu
Release Date: 20th February, 2015 (Initial Release: at Toronto International Film Festival - TIFF on 8th September, 2013; Germany on 10th July, 2014)
Language: Punjabi

Duration: 1 hour 40 minutes

A still from the movie

Qissaan Indian-German film, directed by Anup Singh in Punjabi. It is a 2013 film, first released in Toronto International Film Festival - TIFF, followed by its release in Germany in July, 2014 and now in India in Punjabi Language. Perfect timing for the release of this movie, since it resonates with what India declared this year: Beti Bachao, Desh Bachao. Do we understand the gravity of this slogan? The movie portrays the obsession of many households, where people feel that the son is the saviour of the family, as if their slogan is “Beta Jano, Vansh Bachao / Vansh Badhao”. What a sad discrimination between genders. Today also, there are many households in our country, where the birth of a boy child is celebrated whereas a girl child is not welcomed. India’s rural as well as urban lives face with this non-acceptance of diversity. Education has definitely made lot of difference, still, many people are trapped in the very same old thought that a son is required, son is the garur (pride) of the family whereas daughter is a liability. But, don’t they forget that they are violating the balance of the universe visualized by the creator. Even the biological fact is ignored that the very female is required to give birth to a child – whether a boy or a girl. This beautiful and intriguing plot is projected in Qissa (Qissa in Punjabi means ‘folk tale’ or ‘epic legend’). Qissa could have been a masterpiece with such a strong contemplative message, but somewhere, the theme ignored certain intricacies, adopts supernatural path to tell the story which creates some confusion in the minds of the viewers? Director also leaves certain vital information for the audience to infer and assume.    

The backdrop is the partition which happened soon after declaration of independence. Umber Singh (Irrfan Khan) is displaced from Pakistan and he has to migrate to Punjab in India. Amidst riots and violence, which emerged due to partition, Mehar (Tisca Chopra) gives birth to her third girl child. This scene is very painful, since on one side, lots of dead bodies are lying and on the other side, a baby is born. Umber doesn’t even want to see the face of the girl child, since he wanted a boy child. Umber moves to Punjab along with Mehar and three children. Though he lost everything due to migration, he works hard and resettles himself and family very well. Mehar is again pregnant for the fourth time. Umber strongly believes that they would be blessed with a baby boy this time. But to Umber’s despair, Mehar gives birth to their fourth girl child. Umber doesn’t accept the same and declares to himself and others that it is a baby boy. Mehar tells him- “Don’t do this to the baby”. But Umber is in no mood to accept it and ensures the upbringing of the child as a boy. ‘He’ grows up as Kanwar Singh, dresses as a boy, is trained for hunting, driving truck etc

But can Umber Singh challenge God’s creation? Can Umber defy biology? What happens when the female hormones start working? How does Kanwar deal with the inner conflict of the sexuality, a female heart but forced to behave as a male. How does the forced suppression of the gender identity impact Kanwar? Tillotama Shome as Kanwar Singh has beautifully expressed this pain.

The trouble starts when Neeli (Rasika Dugal) falls in love with ‘him’. How Umber deals with the same? What happens thereafter? Is Neeli able to accept the sexuality of Kanwar? To what extent Umber goes to make everything look perfect for the world? How the society deals with the same? How Umber deals with his own obsession of carrying the family lineage forward come what may? How Mehar, Kanwar and Neeli bear the brunt of the unreasonable ways of an oppressive patriarch

Certain incredible moments are projected in an excellent manner: Kanwar is just trying to look at mirror and trying to deal with the inner conflict of gender. Kanwar wants to go and celebrate Lohri along with ‘his’ mother and sisters and other girls but is not able to do so. Mehar’s helplessness and restrained manner in front of husband Umber Singh. Mehar’s emotional outburst, when Kanwar questions her that why didn’t she protect ‘him’ the way she protected her other three girls. Neeli’s pain of falling in love with another woman and her not-to-give-up attitude till the last moment are very touching.

I just hope, the story should not have shifted from the core of Kanwar’s identity crisis struggle. It shall have avoided its surreal tone, though it can be considered as a symbolic representation. The music would touch your soul. The movie has been recognized in various international festivals for the direction, script and cast.     

Qissa (although has been abruptly dealt), is a painful, thoughtful and unconventional folk tale, with which you would certainly resonate.

Rating: 3/5 (Good)

Review of बदलाPur (Badlapur)

Cast: Varun Dhawan (Raghu), Nawazuddin Siddiqui (Liak), Huma Qureshi (Jhumli), Yami Gautam (Misha), Vinay Pathak (Harman), Divya Dutta (Shobha), Radhika Apte (Koko), Ashwini Kalsekar (Private Detective)
Direction: Sriram Raghavan
Produced by: Dinesh Vijan and Sunil Lulla
Written by: Sriram Raghavan and Arijit Biswas
Music: Sachin Jigar
Cinematography: Anil Mehta
Edited by: Pooja Ladha Surti
Production Company: Maddock Films
Distributed by: Eros International
Release Date: 20th February, 2015
Duration: 135minutes
Language: Hindi

बदलाPur, Sriram Raghavan’s movie, a story of revenge. Its tagline says – “Don’t miss the beginning”, but I think, it should have been – “Don’t miss the end”. The last five minutes make the movie different from the usual revenge dramas. Definitely the style of presentation of Badlapur has been done in a different manner altogether. The movie has its own moments of darkness, grief, sadness etc. Kudos to Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Varun Dhawan for their performances. Yes, there are moments, when one gets in touch with Varun’s sadness, grief and inner turmoil. Also, there are moments when one ends up loving as well as hating Nawazuddin.

A Distraught Raghu
The movie begins with Misha (Yami Gautam) and her son becoming the target of unfortunate circumstances which occurred during a bank robbery. Liak (Nawazuddin) and Harman (Vinay Pathak) did the robbery together, threatened Misha and used her vehicle to flee. Misha’s resistance resulted in two deaths – hers as well as her son. Broken and grief stricken Raghav aka Raghu, Misha’s husband (Varun Dhawan - a successful ad professional), finds it really difficult to cope up with the unfortunate incidents. Liak asks Harman to run away with the money. Liak is nabbed but he doesn’t open his mouth about the partner’s name and whereabouts. Raghu himself goes to meet him, but is not successful in extracting the information from him. Liak appears to be harmless, but puts the blame of the murder on his accomplice without actually disclosing the name. Raghu chooses to go to Jhumli (Huma Quershi -Liak’s girl friend) and exploits her to get the information, but all efforts in vain. Finally Liak is convicted for the bank robbery and gets punishment for 20 years in prison. Frustrated Raghu, in his failure to understand the real culprit of his family’s murder, shifts to a place called Badlapur. And then the wait starts. The movie moves further to explore what happens to these characters after 15 years

Liak at his best...

Is Raghu able to understand, who is the real culprit? Does he take his revenge or is he able to forgive the culprit along with the passage of time? How does Liak move forward? What happens to Harman, Liak’s partner-in-crime? Does Liak get back his money from Harman and also Jhumli in his life? Watch the movie to explore the unfolding of this revenge and transformation saga.

Plus Points: Superb performances by Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Varun Dhawan. Varun has experimented with a different genre and he has excelled in it. Nawazuddin is simply brilliant, what a body language. Huma is also very good. Radhika Apte as Koko (Harman’s wife) and Divya Dutta are also good.

Violence erupts only intermittently in spite of the fact that the name of movie is Badlapur.

The song Jeena Jeena by Atif Aslam is too good.

The last few frames are also very good.

Minus Points: Lot of scenes are inserted without any specific logic. Raghu establishing physical relationship with Jhumli: How can a man who lost his wife and kid in an unfortunate incident get the strength to humiliate another woman, that too within few days? What is the justification of Sriram for this scene? How can Raghu assume that he can torture Jhumli in this manner and extract information from her, who already is a prostitute and who might have suffered a lot earlier? Why did Raghu choose to deal with women badly, and what was the logic behind Raghu getting intimate with Shobha (Divya Dutta, a NGO activist)? I wish, Yami’s screen time was a bit longer. A detective Ashwini was introduced in the plot but her contribution in trying to get the details about the killer were limited to short scenes (rest of her job was handled by Raghu himself).

Badlapur, is definitely not meant for everybody. It is a pretty descent effort by Sriram in this genre of action-crime-drama movies. If you like such intense dark films, you might anticipate keenly for the story to unravel.

बदलाPur, a revenge saga with a difference. Watch it for Nawazuddin and Varun’s performances.

Rating: 2.5/5 (Average+)

Monday, February 16, 2015

Preview of Barefoot to Goa

Genre: Social / Humanitarian Drama
Director: Praveen Morchhale
Producer: Praveen Morchhale, Satyajit Chourasia
Cast: Farrukh Jaffar (Grandmother), Saara Nahar (Small Girl Diya), Prakhar Morchhale (Brother Prakhar), Ajay Chourey (Typist), Purva Parag (Mother), Kuldeep Dubey (Father), Sharad (Biker), Guarav Patel (Police Officer), Pankaj Mali (Farmer), Sangita Mali (Farmer’s wife), Rajendra Bhatia (Truck Driver), Arvind (Tempo Driver)
Screenplay: Praveen Morchhale
Music Composed by: Jack Francis, Farrukh Jaffar, Rohit Sharma
Banner: Barefoot Pictures
Duration: 80 minutes
Language: Hindi

Release Date: 10th April, 2015 (Showcased at various film festivals worldwide, mentioned later in this preview)

Farrukh Jaffar
Barefoot to Goa would definitely give one a reason to think. We are living in a world, where relationships are turning to be just a formality. The concept of family has evolved (or de-evolved) from big joint families to nuclear families to ‘nano families’. Relationships are suffering in this fast paced society. Gone are the days, where a family used to sit together to have meals. We idolize ‘values’, but are we actually living any of those ‘family values’? I think, these days, it is the story of most of the households, where the aging parents have become a liability, the beautiful relationships between storytelling grandparents and grandchildren are somewhere lost in the hustle bustle of complexities of life.

A Still from Barefoot to Goa
Barefoot to Goa is the story of two siblings (school kids), who run away from their house to meet their ailing (and abandoned) grandmother and start their road trip from Mumbai to Goa to get her back. It explores the nuances of loneliness. Its subject is both the futility of life and the pointlessness of death. It also celebrates the innocence of the young, mocks the indifference of the adults. It also portrays the children’s experience of urban life versus rural life, the different mindsets, perceptions of people. Reviewers who have seen this movie at various festivals say that this heart-wrenching story has been conveyed in minimal words, which definitely creates a strong impact. It is a mourning of the death of values and beliefs without being mournful. It is a bright film about sadness. 

Barefoot to Goa is releasing on 10th April, 2015. The best part about release of this indie film (a film by independent filmmaker) is that lot of Proud Funders (240 people) have contributed fund through its Proud Funding Campaign so that this movie reaches the theater. I am sure, this is going to be a meaningful movie with strong social message. Please block your calendar with its release date. 

Praveen Morchhale (Director)

What Praveen Morchhale (Director) has to say:
Barefoot to Goa is original view of today’s India with its contradictions. A kaleidoscope of modernity, economic expansion and traditions.

In today’s nuclear family era and race of materialistic achievements, aging parents are being ignores and they are assumed as burden. It might be due to the pressure of city life, space constraints and economic limitation. All these lead to the disintegration of the family and old age parents are left to fend on themselves at the fag end of their life.

Barefoot to Goa in Festivals Worldwide:
It has been invited to many national and international film festivals and continues travelling. The various festivals, where it participated are as mentioned below:

  • Mumbai Film Festival : International Competition Section, October 2013,
  • Columbian International Film Festival, Bogota: International Completion Section, 2014
  • Chennai International Film Festival: Indian Panorama, December 2013
  • Peloponnesian International Film Festival, Greece : International Competition Section
  • Bengaluru International Film Festival: Indian Cinema Competition Section
  • Indian Film Festival of Melbourne: May 2014
  • London Indian Film Festival: July 2014
  • Indian Film Festival of Hague: October 2014
  • Indian Film Festival, Montreal: October 2014
  • CMS International Film Festival: May 2014

Official Trailor

Links to Media Coverage / Reviews: It has received wonderful reviews from all across the globe mainly because of its soulful subject. Many reputed world cinema critics are comparing it with well known films. Also, it is being considered by critics in the league of Lunchbox, Ship of Theseus etc.

  • Review by Hindustan Times – ex film critic Jugu Abraham on world cinema blog: “Movies that make you think”

  • A UK based magazine has listed “Barefoot to Goa” as one of the best indie films of 2014 from India along with Ugly, Qissa, Margarita with a straw, Citylights etc.

  • Review by Murtaza Ali – a film critic of world cinema: “Barefoot to Goa is the crowning jewel of this new avant-garde movement in Hindi”

  • Review in Hardnews Magazine

  • Review in a blog “Passion for Movies”

Do you want to become Proud Volunteer: In case, you feel intrigued with the theme of the movie, please be a proud Volunteer for Social Media Promotion Campaign for this movie.

Barefoot’s offer to Proud Volunteer:
  • You may promote this movie on social media by posting, sharing and making comments on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Blogs, and engage and invite the people and friends for these two months period. Barefoot expects their posting on social media be further shared by you.
  • You can independently post in various FB groups about this movie / trailer / posting.
  • Barefoot can create FB group for your city for the film and invite people.
  • Inspire your friends and people to be volunteer for the film.
  • You can share with Barefoot any interesting innovative online activity / idea of yours.
  • Barefoot aims to make people aware online, promote the film, and inspire people to go and watch it in theaters when it releases in April 2015.

Rewards for being the Proud Volunteer:
  • Special Invitation to you (maximum 2 tickets) for film’s special screening in your city
  • Barefoot will ‘shout’ your name with a photo (banner) on FB / Twitter / its website as “Proud Volunteer for Social Media Promotion” (You may visit to understand how they have shouted about their proud funders before).
  • At the end of campaign, a souvenir and a letter for appreciation for being this film’s “Proud Volunteer”
  • Barefoot will provide you material / topics / posting everything ready to share / promote etc.

Barefoot wants film making, distribution and promotion / publicity participative. Visit their website

The few first steps:
If you feel inspired to be a Proud Volunteer or atleast promote the movie in any possible manner and henceforth create a new environment for good cinema, please do any or combination of the following:
Barefoot Pictures,
1604, Sejal Tower, Off Link Road,
Goregaon (W), Mumbai – 400104
Mobile: 09820240940

Come and be part of campaign of a meaningful and soulful movie. I am a Proud Volunteer for Social Media Promotion Campaign for the film Barefoot to Goa.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Review of Roy

Cast: Arjun Rampal, Ranbir Kapoor, Jacqueline Fernandez, Anupam Kher, Rajit Kapoor
Direction: Vikramjit Singh
Produced by: Bhushan Kumar, Divya Khosla Kumar, Krishan Kumar, Freeway Pictures, T-series
Written by: Viramjit Singh
Music: Ankit Tiwari, Amaal Mallik, Meet Bros Anjjan
Background Score: Sanjoy Chowdhury
Cinematography: Himman Dhamija
Edited by: Dipika Kalra
Distributed by: AA Films
Release Date: 13th February, 2015
Duration: 147minutes
Language: Hindi

Roy, Vikramjit’s debut movie, seemed to be a promising movie when its trailer was released. It hasn’t received very good reviews from different corners. The main challenge with the movie is that its pace is hyper-slow. There are lot of pauses in between dialogues. Also, first few frames are not introduced with lot of clarity. Still I felt that the director has experimented a new style of storytelling through this movie. You may not like this movie, if your parameter to define a movie is on the basis of its entertainment quotient or laughter quotient. You may like this movie, if you want to watch a movie with a different presentation style.

Arjun Rampal plays the role of Casanova film-maker as Kabir Grewal. He is in news for his films as well as girls (had 22 break ups). His two movies Guns Part -1 and Part -2 on Roy (Ranbir Kapoor)- a thief’s story were very successful and now he is on his mission to write the sequel to these and complete the trilogy on the same. According to Kabir, the film is the dream of the filmmaker which is there in his mind and has to put it in words properly. In search of a story, he goes to Malaysia, where another filmmaker Ayesha Aamir (played by Jacqueline Fernandez) is also there for her film Malacca Diaries. He finds a story in Ayesha, and starts shooting for his movie. You may get confused with the initial frames wondering and struggling to understand whether Kabir is shooting, narrating his story of Roy or he himself has become part of his own story. One needs to make out who is Ayesha and who is Tia- the double roles of Jacqueline.

Kabir and Ayesha’s story moves parallelly with Roy and Tia’s story. Further frames of the movie talk about how a rude, obnoxious (as defined by the world) Kabir falls in love with Ayesha, how a thief Roy falls in love with Tia. What happens to their love? Do they manage to get their love?

It is also the story of a filmmaker who makes extravagant movies, full of colours, is actually a loner.

I was wondering why Kabir has still to use his typewriter in this hi-tech world. Why so much of gravity to introduce such a beautiful concept of love? Light moments are not there in the movie. Kabir makes his protagonists also appear very serious. Malaysian FM channels are full of bollywood grapewine, which seemed a bit misfit.  

Certain frames are simply beautiful with its vintage feeling. Certain minute details are covered very nicely. Hoarding projecting the image of a successful filmmaker, and with passage of time, another filmmaker takes his place. Yes, it is difficult to retain success, unless and until, we consistently and continually strive to excel. Father (Anupam Kher) & his son- Kabir’s informal friendly relationship are projected nicely, though I wish, Anupam played a bigger role.

Though dialogues are less, certain dialogues have very much deeper meaning. Khamoshiyon me bhi shor hota hai (There is noise in silences as well). It is difficult to bear the noise of silences. Ayesha’s ballet on the beach is classy and has impeccable styling. There is a scene, where Kabir, sitting in a restaurant, finds lot of happy people around him enjoying, and he is wondering why all these people are happy, what actually is making them happy and are they actually happy at all? Another situation where Roy expresses to Kabir that if Kabir has lot of questions, then the answers are also with Kabir himself. Yes, we have answers within us for the questions which we have in our lives. Another special mention by Roy: Sawal vahi hote hain, lekin waqt ke sath jawab badal jate hain (Questions remain the same, but answers change). Kabir is amused with the noise in silences of his life and shares with his colleague that he is confused whether he left people or people actually left him.

Though I wished that the movie was paced at a better level, I could see a different aspect in this movie – the struggle of an artist, a creative person to tell his story to the world. And it also happens that, trying to get over the writer’s block and in search of a story, he / she becomes part of the story knowingly or unknowingly. I could also feel the lonely journey of a successful person, who just wants to retire to his own shell away from the glamour of fame, and success. One needs to feel secure in love and also wants to have a ‘wanted’ feel by the other. One expects to be asked for, and another feels that what if, the other person said no. How wonderful it would be to atleast try to one’s own satisfaction to get back the love before actually bidding good byes or vanishing into oblivion.

The last scene is very beautiful, where two halves of a picture is combined to give the complete scenic beauty. It is important to combine the broken pieces together.

I don’t know, how to rate this movie, some of you may not like it, but I am sure, some of you may like certain shots of the movie. A treat to music lovers.

On Valentine day’s eve, Roy conveys to us to complete the portrait of our love life. Seek the answers within for the questions as well.

Rating: 3/5 (Good)