Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Movie Review: Uttarayan

There are films that try to tell emotionally complex stories and succeed in making an impact. The 2005 Marathi movie "Uttarayan" does just that. Adapted from the Marathi play "Durgi" by Jaywant Dalvi, the film remains true to the theme and concept for the most part. The film explores the concept of love and companionship in old age. 

The story is told through Raghuvir Rajadhyaksha (Shivaji Satam). He is a widower for the past 14 years and has been staying alone in Nagpur. He visits Mumbai for the wedding of his 30 year old son. He meets his teenage playmate Kusumavati (Neena Kulkarni), who works as a librarian. Kusumavati is now known as Durgi as her husband's family in Pune rechristened her name post marriage. She has been through a traumatic marriage because her husband, despite being a barrister, was an alcoholic and a womanizer. Durgi is back in Mumbai and is taking care of her aging mother (Uttara Baokar) and the film talks about how they rediscover their love in their fifties. 

Both the lead actors Shivaji Satam and Neena Kulkarni have acted well. Shivaji Satam almost identifies himself as a widower thereby bringing out the emotions with utmost ease and perfection. Neena Kulkarni, as always, is restrained and good in her role as a librarian. Uttara Baokar as Durgi's aging mother is competent though it's a fairly tiny role that she has in the movie. 

The music by Amartya Rahut is melodious. The direction by Bipin Nadkarni is engaging despite the slow pace of the movie and there are no dull moments throughout the film. The lyrics and storyline by Kaustubh Savarkar work wonders for this film. It received 12 nominations in various categories at the Alpha Gaurav Awards and bagged 7 of the 12. It also won the National Film Award for the Best Feature Film in Marathi in 2006 and was also in the contention for the Academy Award submission before Paheli was chosen. 

There is this song from the film called "Dhund Hote Shabd Saare" by Ravindra Bijor composed by Amartya Rahut. The other version sung by Bela Shende plays out during the end credits. The male version of the song is so perfectly placed capturing the time when Raghuvir and Durgi were teenagers and it almost tells you the story of the film through the song. The song plays here: 


Friday, 12 October 2012

Movie Review: It's All Gone Pete Tong

The 2005 Canadian film "It's All Gone Pete Tong" is an English film made by filmmaker Michael Dowse. The story of the film follows the life of a DJ Frankie Wilde (Paul Kaye). He is a pretty successful DJ playing music at the nightclubs of Ibiza, Spain. The film begins with the fact that he is bearing incompatible noise and one day goes completely berserk one night and is carried out from the club on shoulders. The initial part of the film focusses on his denial in accepting the fact that he is becoming deaf. It is later established that he went deaf due to high volume of music blaring through his headphones. The film follows his downward arc which is harrowing especially the way he loses his hearing ability. The inability to accept his deafness results in a lot of overacting. 

Frankie is a chemically imbalanced wreck and his wife leaves him once the money begins to run out. He then meets Penelope (Beatriz Batarda), a hard-shelled woman who can stand up to the wild side of Frankie. At the same time, also teaching him how to read lips and start life over again. 

The film follows the relentless pursuit of happiness. The story moves forward by exploring themes such as depression, insanity and alcohol or substance abuse. The story, beyond a certain point, starts becoming an effort to recapture the past bliss that he once enjoyed. There are multiple flaws in the storytelling style and yet many of the scenes with its well intentioned ideas. Scenes such as the ringing tinnitus and the conversion of sound into visible waves and the trimming of the treble and bass which produce an underwater effect is amazing and realistic.

This movie has been billed as a "mockumentary" but considering the impact and storyline of the film, it wouldn't be wrong to label this film as drama. There's an unexpected tenderness in the sincerity with which the filmmaker Dowse plunges into the disability mode without really falling into the stereotypes of disabled movies. The film has a false sense of authenticity since it opens with sound bytes received from several DJs. Summing up, this film is bright, noisy and surprisingly fulfilling which keeps the adrenaline rush under deceptively easy control. At the centre of all this is Paul Kaye, whose flat-out brilliant performance wins my vote! 

Monday, 8 October 2012

A Memorable Rush!

I have always been an adrenaline junkie and since I had done anything worthwhile to pump up the adrenaline in me, I read the notification about a blogger meet organized by IndiBlogger in collaboration with Vodafone and the deal was the Vodafone Speed Fest with Lewis Hamilton on 16th September. (Please pardon the delay!). I narrowly missed the Indian Grand Prix in Noida last year and was determined that I would not miss the Vodafone Speed Fest at any cost. I had watched Formula One races on TV and this was my first real chance to witness the event live. The thought of seeing Lewis Hamilton gave me a head rush and I had to get my heart to pump harder. 

Incidentally, it was only after the Vodafone Speed Fest that I actually found my appetite for F1 racing increasing. I had seen F1 races on TV before but I didn't know how fast these cars were meant to be. So, a 500 metre road was cordoned off for the Speed Fest and Lewis Hamilton literally burnt rubber on the roads with his car at 220 kmph. One of my former editors had told me that F1 cars were capable of hitting 370 kmph and I was just awed by the speed. Without wasting much time, here are the self-explanatory pics from the Vodafone Speed Fest:


Lewis Hamilton in conversation

That's me seated on a Vodafone McLaren car :) 

The invite for the Vodafone Speed Fest signed by the CEO of Vodafone India

Ah, empty Bombay roads!
How I wish Bombay roads were like this daily!

Indian performers with the Vodafone Speed Van

Anchors for the evening Mandira Bedi and Manish Paul in the Vodafone Speed Van

Framed Lewis Hamilton though at a distance!

A closer look at Lewis Hamilton driving his McLaren MP27 car.