Monthly Archives

February 2020

Movie Review: Thappad (Day 1758)

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Changing Mindset

Film: Thappad

Release: 28.02.2019

Writer: Anubhav Sinha, Mrunmayee Lagoo

Director: Anubhav Sinha

Cast: Tapsee Pannu, Pavail Gulati, Kumud Mishra, Ratna Pathak Shah, Tanvi Azmi, Dia Mirza

Ratings: 4 stars

Every time there is marital abuse, the husband invariably has a justification for his action and this has continued for centuries. Lord Ram had justification for making Sita walk the fire path. He was the emperor and could not let down his subjects. In another century, king Dharamraj had justification for summoning Draupadi into the court. He was committed to Duryodhan and therefore helpless. Corporate executive Vikram/ Pavail Gulati in Anubhav Sinha written-directed Thappad has justification for slapping his wife Amrita/ Tapsee Pannu, he is under pressure, stressed out, angry and frustrated!

The question is does Amrita have the right to interfere in her husband’s professional altercation, was it appropriate for her to have trespassed at that moment or should Amrita have waited till the tempers cooled down? Is logic possible in moment of rage, probably not, besides is Amrita in any way disconnected from any dream or dilemma of Vikram? I don’t think so and in which case, how can Amrita keep out of the brewing storm? In a marital relationship who determines the boundary lines of private space and when does this change?

Ammu/Amrita represents the archetypal homemaker whose follies are familiar, she is devoted and she is efficient and most important, she is soaked in the fragrance of her husband’s dreams.

Mrunmayee Lagoo and Anubhav Sinha written Thappad tells the story of an impulsive slap and the varied reactions it triggers among people around the protagonist couple – Amrita’s parents/ Kumud Mishra- Ratna Pathak Shah are devastated, Vikram’s family, colleagues are concerned, their advocates/ Ram Kapoor and Sarao reflective, the house maid/ Ohlyan discovers she is not the only victim and Amrita’s 13-year-old students asks her mother/ Diya Mirza if her dad has ever hit her?

Disturbing questions, domestic abuse is rampant across class and age and we have over the decades watched innumerable films addressing the issue but Thappad is the most significant because it emphasizes on woman’s need for self-respect and even a single slap is unpardonable!

Superbly narrated with effective dialogues, believable characterizations, touching interpersonal relationships, soothing music, lyrics, real sets and sparkling performances from the ensemble cast there is not a false chord in the film where the message is the hero that to change society we need to change perspective to marriage, alter as individuals, as family because in the end it is about happiness, about self-respect.

When Lord Ram sends Sita to exile for the second time, it is Ram’s mother Kaushalya who breaks down and post Draupadi’s disrobing in the court it is Duryodhan’s mother Gandhari who is outraged by the audacity. In Anubhav Sinha’s Thappad too it is Vikram’s mother/ Tanve Azmi who bids an emotional farewell to her daughter-in-law, a terrific scene superbly performed by both Tapsee Pannu and Tanve Azmi that leaves you teary eyed.

Thappad is not a film that can be restricted to gender boundaries, it is a mindset that needs to be changed. In the 2016 released Pink Tapsee Pannu said ‘No is no’ and in 2020 Tapasee says ‘Not even one slap will be pardoned’.

Director Anubhav Sinha take a bow for three significant films in a row 2018/Mulk 2019/Article 15 and 2020/Thappad. Congratulations to the entire team of Thappad, a must watch film for all men/ women/ young/ old even kids and I’m tempted to add one slap for those who don’t watch it!!

I rate the courageous Thappad with 4 stars.

Bhawana Somaaya

A story is staged – Day 1757

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Shri Vighneshwar began cracking on Rim Jhim Barse Zindagi immediately and Hiten Anandpara kept me posted about the scenes in progress collaborated by Pritesh Sodha and him on phone and finally came the day when I was invited to attend the play rehearsal. I was excited to meet the artistic and the technical who were going to give shape to my story and waited with bated breath for the narrative to unfold. Director Jayant Bhatt told me that what you watch is only 20 percent because the effect of light/ sound/ music/ costume / sets is the essence of stage and I trusted him. A week later as I got ready to trek to Tejpal Auditorium for the premier of my debut play I sensed an adrenaline rush but it was different from the   anxiety I went through as an author on her way to a book release. As an author I am forever being judged and have to prove myself but as the story writer of a play I was calmer because the entire team put together was going to sparkle my brain child. And that’s exactly what happened.  What unfolded on stage was magical!

To be continued…

@bhawanasomaaya

A story is accepted – Day 1756

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Initially I was talking about Rim Jhim to a lot of people and a lot of them liked the idea but at the last minute changed their mind. Some asked me to change the protagonist, change the girl into a boy and make it a hero film but I refused. A filmmaker was keen but he wanted me to reduce the role of the parents and change it into a love story, I refused again. There were times I sat down to change the story, to reduce the sorrow but it was not convincing and shut the computer. Some more months went by and then one day, out of the blue, writer Hiten Anandpara phoned to ask, ‘Do you have an original Bhawana ben we are looking for a story for our new play. We met the following week and I narrated a story close to my heart. They heard me in silence and it was evident they were not impressed. ‘Do you have another story? They asked. I narrated Rim Jhim and their eyes sparkled, ‘This is it’ they said and disappeared for four years. In January they got back and they said they were ready to roll. I did not believe them but this time it was for real.

To be continued…

@bhawanasomaaya

A story is named – Day 1755

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Who are you talking to I asked my intern at home, she looked at me and said Rim Jhim. ‘Rim Jhim?’ I repeated making action of raindrops. Yes, she replied, ‘My cousin was born in the monsoons and her parents love the sound of the rain. I love it too and the name Rim Jhim reverberated in my head for days at end. I had decided that irrespective of the  course of the story the title of my film will be Rim Jhim  and slowly I had found my protagonist, a young girl who was going to take you through the story, introduce us to her parents, other characters, their back stories, interactions and attachments. When I penned the synopsis, it was meant to be a film script and then on the advice of a filmmaker friend, I wrote the character sketches, their past, their present, their fears and anxieties and finally the beat sheet – which is a scene break up. I was ready to write a full-length screenplay but not before I had found a director to own my story so I waited…

To be continued…

@bhawanasomaaya

A story is born – Day 1754

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It was in the early 2000 when I was walking on the road and found a poor woman sobbing on the street mourning the death of her six-month-old infant.  On my way home I kept thinking about her life, her husband, her parents, her in-laws. There was nobody around her and she was wailing unable to get a grip of herself. I kept thinking about her husband and his reaction to the tragedy, will he empathize with her that she had to handle this crisis single handedly or will he blame her for what had happened even though it was not her fault. Weeks passed by but the incident was still hovering in my head, unknowingly I began making notes. The subject had the potential of a dramatic narrative but the details were taking long to form a pattern. I was certain that it had to be the story of a family but what kind of a family I didn’t know and so I decided to wait till the story in my head was ready to lead me…

To be continued…

@bhawanasomaaya

Movie Review – Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan

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Unengaging

Film: Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan

Release: 21.02.2020

Writer/Director: Hitesh Kewalya

Cast: Ayushman Khurana, Jitendra Kumar, Gajraj Rao, Neena Gupta

Actor Ayushman Khurana was a radio jockey before he made his debut in films in 2012. In the last 8 years he has made 15 films out of which many have been superhits. What is commendable about his choice of subjects is that all these films have addressed relevant issues be it physical like obesity in Dum Laga Ke Haisha or alopecia in Bala, marital as in Shubh Mangal Savdhan which was about erectile dysfunction or Badhai Ho about parent pregnancy.

If Bareily Ki Barfi addressed small town complexities and Hawaizaada elaborated on professional aspirations, Article 15 enlightened us on our constitutional rights.

Dream Girl was about deception but more about repression and sexual fantasies while Vicky Donor unapologetically celebrated sexuality. In all his films, Ayushman Khurana wittingly or unwittingly played the victim who has his say in the climax. For the first time in Shubh Mangal Zyaada Savdhan which addresses homosexuality, Ayushman plays the aggressor egging on his docile partner to defy his family and come out of the closet.

In the very first scene the lead pair Aman/ Jitendra Kumar and Kartik/ Ayushman Khurana are established as a couple, boarding a train to Allahabad, Aman’s home where Aman’s cousin/ Goggle is getting married.

The following sequences are a replay of what we have watched in earlier small-town movie releases that is a large joint family with innumerable characters running up and down, shouting instructions. Shot inside a dilapidated ancestral home, the characters are forever venting frustrations. In short, a story of family problems, family conflicts, family drama and family bonding!

Clearly there is no dearth of excitement in the Tripathi household where the son is discovered to be homosexual, the daughter runs away on her wedding night and the to be daughter-in-law is nabbed by the police with the family jewelry. There’s more, the parents have a past, the family has a history and the brothers, the co-sisters are all fighting old battles, with so many complications the story should have got us hooked, it does not!

The pace is slow, screenplay unengaging, dialogues lack-lustre and narrative devoid of any surprises. Some scenes are meant to shock you like the prolonged kiss scene between the heroes beneath the windcheater a la Aashiqui irritates more than amuses. Some scenes are meaningless like Ayushman in superman costume delivering gyaan and some annoyingly regressive like Gajaj Rao performing funeral rites of his alive son and women of the house obsessed with Streedhan.

Ayushman Khurana and Jitendra Kumar make a drab pair devoid of any chemistry and nothing about their portrayal or interaction makes me believe that they are genuinely in love. On the contrary there is a sparkle though not as strong as Badhai Ho between Neena Gupta aur Gajaj Rao and they are responsible for you to sit through the utterly boring film.

I rate Shubh Mangal Zyaada Savdhan with 2 stars.

Bhawana Somaaya

Memories of Sai and Shabana Day 1751

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Were you disappointed that they killed you halfway through the fi
No, my exit was very clearly stated in the script and the film is fair to the script. A lot of
people felt that the film ended for them when I die in the hospital but I disagree because
eventually. Saaz is the story of Bansi and her traumas.
How was your interaction with Shabana Azmi and director Sai Paranjpye?
Shabana Azmi is an old friend. We have done many films together in the past. She starred
in my home production Anokha Bandhan. Our careers had traveled different destinations
but the warmth remained consistent. I didn’t know Sai at all and did the film because I
was curious about parallel cinema but I was not very comfortable. I have been around for
a long time, started my career as a chorus dancer then solo dancer, then supporting and
second lead roles and finally played a heroine as well. Over the decades we adjusted to
the multi-starrers then the Gujarati films but the art and parallel cinema is a different
culture altogether. For a long time now, I have been associated with television and now
waiting to explore the web series which are more realistic and addictive I am told.
@bhawanasomaya

Creating Mansi Brindavan Day 1750

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So what attracted you to Mansi Brindavan?
That she is mature beyond her age, that she is devoted to her family and also devoted to
her career. Mansi is ambitious but you cannot question her love for her younger sister.
Did it worry you that the story was controversial?
More than thousand films are made in a year in our country and every story is inspired/
influenced from somewhere – real life, books or other films. As an actress, it’s not my
concern to worry about the source of the story besides every story about a singer is not
related to the Mangeshkar family. There were some similarities but there were many
contradictions as well.
Your character was almost negative
That was the attraction, Mansi has so many shades – she is warm, sensitive and also
authoritative. She feels protective about her younger sister and is angry when she is
abused by her husband but is not as generous with her career. It was a terrific plot but
mishandled in the climax. I missed the aunt-niece relationship, I’m an aunt in real life and
while my sister and I have innumerable disagreements this has never come in the way of
my relationship with her daughter.

To be continued
@bhawanasomaaya