Thursday, 28 May 2015

Chaar Cutting Movie Review: Small in size, yet highly entertaining

So far, 2015 has been a difficult year for the film industry. Most of the “sureshot blockbusters” have had a bad run at the box office. Relatively smaller films like Dum Laga Ke HaishaPiku and TWMR have shown the biggies that they can bring in the audience too..
In hindsight, Jamurra ( has nailed the release of its first feature ( a collection of 4 short films) perfectly. All four films, having won awards in international film festivals, narrate stories that would immediately strike a chord with you.
Chaar CuttingThe anthology begins with Anuj Gulati’s MANILA RUNNING. Of the four shorts, this is the only story that doesn’t feature Indian artists, nor is the story set in India. Despite that, you are completely drawn into the story immediately. While the movie may be set in Manila, Philippines, it does remind you of Mumbai. The crowded lanes & alleys, suspicious taxiwallahs & cops, shabby hotels & lodges do make for familiar viewing. After having come to Manila, for a nose job, the protagonist finds himself caught in a series of high tension & embarrassing situations. I found myself smiling throughout the 15 minute film, as I could relate to each of the situation & emotions, thanks to some brilliant performances.
Written by Vikramaditya Motwane & directed by his Assistant, Hardik Mehta, SKIN DEEP, the 2nd short in the lineup is probably the “biggie” of the lot. Set in Mumbai, Skin Deep is about a young couple’s first “adventure” of wanting to make love, tested, when the guy discovers the extra piece of foreskin that hinders them. The film follows what happens when he decides to undergo a circumcision. What starts off as a slice of life romance quickly turns into a dark, shocking and deeply moving story.  Revealing anything more would be a huge disservice to the short film. It entertained & shocked me equally.
Post interval (Yes, there was one!), we go from Mumbai to the hinterlands of Rajasthan. Produced by Whistling Woods, BAWDI, is the weakest of the lot. Set in a village in Rajasthan, this story is about a boy who is torn between having to make a choice between taking a stand with his father & choosing a life in the city with his to-be-wife. The story of “City dwellers & large COLA companies are evil” is something we have seen far too many times to really care about it. While the short film manages to get the setting right, it has too many glaring flaws. The dialects mouthed by the characters are inconsistent, the production values are bad. One consolation is the background score that sort of makes up for the otherwise disappointing fare.
The fourth & the last, BLOUSE more than makes up for the dip. Directed by Vijayeta Kumar, this one has the wackiest plot & some fine performances. Set in Rajasthan, this story is about a teacher who makes a promise to gift a blouse to his wife. Simple plot, eh? What follows is a madcap journey of the teacher, going through what not to get the gift his wife desires.  It is the most charming film of the lot & each character in the film is a delight to watch. This is one of the finest love stories I have seen in a long time. Again, anything more on the story would rob you of all the fun. This is the film that elicited the most laughs, claps & whistles, and why not? It indeed was the right way to finish off this delightful presentation.
Nobody would have dared to touch these short films a couple of years ago. Thanks to films like Bombay Talkies, such presentations are getting made. What would have directly (and only) released on YouTube, is getting released in theatres tomorrow. I sincerely hope that these features create a minor (if not big) ripple that would result in bigger production houses to appreciate & help such films get the limelight they deserve.
Thanks to Jamuura and PVR, we are getting to see these small, yet important & relevant works getting released & noticed.
Go and watch Chaar Cutting in a PVR near you. It will make you laugh, charm you, entertain you in equal measure.
*Note - This blog / review was first published in

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Mad Men -The end of an era

A man enters his cabin, puts down his suitcase & everything goes downhill from there. The room collapses, and he goes tumbling from the window of his office. We see him take a fall through a chasm of diamond rings, Happy American families in American ad hoardings, martini and women in stockings…

We have seen this for a few years now, but do not know (for a fact) who this man is? Is he one person? Is he the man living inside all of us?
 Is he DON DRAPER? Well, we shall get an answer to this question on Sunday (Monday 11 am, IST)

Anyone who has followed Mad Men knows that Don Draper is like none other. He is one of a kind. A man who has it all : Fame, status, money, career, women, admirers / followers / worshippers. He is everything a man tries (and fail) to be. Every man wants to be him, every woman wants to be with him! He is tall and handsome, dresses impeccably and always in control, rules  people & commands respect.  

So what is wrong with him? When everyone wants to be him, why does he want to escape from himself?

As if this was not the single most important question for Matthew Weiner (The show’s writer) to answer, he needs to bring the characters / stories to a justifiable end in the last episode. Huge task, indeed. After all, we want to see Roger & Peggy (if not everyone else) get a fitting goodbye.

It has been a fine ride. Mad Men entertained & shocked me equally. The ideas & themes it explored in each of its episodes were fascinating. Sometimes too much for a fiction TV show, but all of it was packaged in a beautiful & entertaining way.
The acting is routinely excellent, the dialogue sparkling & the stories amazing. The attention to period detail is astonishing, and the art direction alone makes the show worth watching even with the sound off.

I might not break into tears or miss Mad Men the way I did after Breaking Bad got over, but what I am weary of is the absence of  another crazy yet creative package te Mad Men was. It was a mix of some sharp writing, it embraced some bold themes and never confined itself to any particular genre.

Here are some key numbers that make Mad Men special:

#  Don Draper (Jon Hamm) has been to bed with 18 women through the series
# 942 cigarettes were smoked on screen
# 369 alcoholic beverages were poured in the office. (Yes, in office!)

And it all comes to an end Sunday night, as the 92nd and final installment shall be aired. No more Don Draper or Peggy Olsen. No Roger, Joan, Betty, Megan, Pete, Ken.

All eyes will be on AMC Sunday night as the network airs Mad Men's series finale. To make sure of it, AMC’s sister networks (BBC America, IFC, Sundance and WE) will suspend regular programming for an hour beginning at 10 p.m. ET on Sunday.