Monday, October 25, 2010

'Autograph' vs 'Angshuman er Chhobi'

Well, we've just finished watching 'Autograph' and 'Angshumaner Chhobi' back to back. A happy coincidence, since both films deal (although in drastically different ways) with the Bengali film industry and the inner lives of its fraternity. I am not planning a comparative review of the two, though. Just jotting down a few things that struck me while watching each of them.

'Autograph' was technically sound. Not that I'm the last word when it comes to the former. But yes, being an avid cinema-goer since God knows when in the past, I can distinguish a good film from a mediocre one. Mediocrity being a relative term and one that in my dictionary, deals exclusively with the gulf between the potential and the actual. The treatment also matters. I watch from a layman's viewpoint and often think in a similar manner. I only note the tightness of the story, the smartness of execution and the ability to involve the spectator. Not too much to ask for, what say ?

Well then. 'Autograph' scores everywhere. Simple storyline. Great music, meaningful lyrics, poetic thought. Well-etched characters, solidly structured, effectively executed. The inner life vis-a-vis the outer life reflected in dialogues, dreams, sets, songs and the cinematography in general. Sharp editing, leading to a slow exploration of the characters' minds and emotions, without any painful slowing down of the pace of the film. A great homage to Ray's 'Nayak', as it claims to be.

'Angshumaner Chhobi' is inconsistent. There is enough to make a good story but the treatment is flaccid in parts. There are bits and pieces that don't hold the fabric together tightly, after all. Places are unnamed, incidents half-heartedly depicted and a lot of things never logically accounted for. Who is the supposed gym health-products salesperson after all ? Is Neel's love really perversely intense enough to kill Madhura's husband ? Why is the CID lady dressed like a corporate executive. with bizarrely heavy eye make-up ? How does the film direct the course of its director's life ? Where is the development in the Neel-Madhura relationship portrayed ? And the worst part is the stilted, hesitant acting of most of the characters. It is as if they are into an episodic understanding of the scenes but never able to weave everything together into a consistent whole because of an inability to grasp the director's totality of vision.

And if you are someone to whom music is the food of love, you must listen to the songs of 'Autograph'. They inspire. They bring back the poet in the Bengalee.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Ayodhyas et al

K came home at 4 pm yesterday . He informed a stupefied me that IBM had even declared a holiday for their employees, fearing the worst that might result from the Ayodhya verdict.

An English daily doesn't mince words today when it comes to Advani and the BJP. Apparently, they have invited the Muslims of the country, out of sheer pity, it seems, to help in building a grand temple for Ram on the disputed site. Apparently other parties like the Congress are too embarrassed to even react to their celebratory ardour and ridiculous press releases.

Hello ? What's happening ? I must be very dumb if I am one of the minority who, after scouring through several news channels and reading the newspapers from end-to-end, feel that the verdict of the three judges is mind-numbingly indecipherable. They seem to differ on quite a few important issues pertaining to the whole case and that's only quite natural, the three being three individuals of varied background and education.

Then why the urge to invite more trouble by making irresponsible statements ? If political parties don't show restraint, then how will this country ever heal from the horrors of its past ? People like Advani pose a menace to society. I'm ashamed on his behalf.

On the other hand, it has been a refreshing change to read Aveek Sen's article in The Telegraph, where he recounts first-hand how the Jama Masjid, on the day of the verdict, inspired all gathered within its premises to behave with maturity and dignity. Although the article itself ends with dark undertones, the optimism remains to haunt. Thank goodness we have sensible people too around us.


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