Royal Notes – My thoughts about Queen.


The midnight Phone Call.. Tring Tring….

The incessant ringing of the landline woke up the mother in the dead of the night. The daughter at the other end of the ISD call asked her, “hing ko english me kya kehte hai?”. The Rajouri street dogs outside kept barking away to glory. Probably they knew the answer. 

This was one of those slice-of-life moments that you get to experience with Queen, or Rani from Rajouri, India. Many more light scenes like these will keep you either laughing out loud, or smiling that slight smiling remembering the time when you did something similar.


The story of Rani takes us from the very real life of Delhi, with its numbu-pani and aloo-pakode stalls, to the bustling streets of Paris (Parieiiieeieiieieieiie ….. if you want to  say it like one of the Parisians ), all the way to Amsterdam, with its boats, booze and b**bs, and then back to Delhi where she finally finds her freedom.

A beautiful film all the way through, Queen can boast of a fantastic soundtrack by Amit Trivedi who continues to mesmerize with his music, and this time even decided to sing some. Of course some songs took me back to Udaan. Listen to the full songs on youtube, and let me get you started here. The camera work and edits are crisp, though during a few scenes I would have liked a little more clarity of what was going on. The scene when the friends leave a piece of their soul on the Backpacker’s Hostel wall would be one such. Though we can guess that Rani puts her wedding invite on the wall, I personally would have liked to see it more clearly. But that’s how the Director wants to push this film through I guess, sometimes in your face, and sometimes very subtle. For more reviews and spoilers, there are too many websites out there. Go look them up on the internet, or as its called in today’s tongue, Google them! I have just 3 things to say.
  1. Kangana proves her mettle with this role. As expected in all her films, she has the booze on her side, but just for a few minutes thankfully. She is raw & vulnerable as always, but also has those moments when her inner strength boils up to the surface, resulting in a scene soon when we see he smiling. And man, that’s a pretty face. Hoping, just hoping, that Queen is a beginning of a journey, and not just a blimp in the talent Radar that fades within a moment.
  2. Olexander, or Sikandar, well I hope both of you don’t show up in a sequel. Bollywood and Sequels don’t make good bed-buddies.
  3. Rajkumar Yadav/Rao – Boss, you nailed it. The bursts of english, the sense of achievement and ownership, and the sense of helplessness of failing to find your missing bride, well, as I said, you nailed it, Bro.
Go watch it if you haven’t yet. What are you, living under a rock?
Don’t know where and how? Here, Einstein! This should be helpful.

And remember the biggest lesson from the film. Save for your honeymoon, starting now. Only then can you afford a fancy one. Unless you are smart and marry someone overflowing with cash.

These were not the people you just read about!  These are some Hyppie type firangs 🙂
Postscripts: 
1. I have been getting fleeting glimpses in my head about another film, somehow related to this one. And finally it surfaced. Mahanagar, a 1963 Bengali film by Satyajit Ray, had a female protagonist with a similar steely determination.
2. The songs. These 2 have intertwined in my head somehow. 
From Queen:
From Udaan:

The Ship – filled with meaning!

Sugababes, one of the most successful all-female British bands of the 21st century, were formed in 1998. But one by one they left, till by September 2009 none of the founders remained in the band; each had been replaced by another member, just like the planks of Theseus’s boat.”
– Sam Jacob, Writing for ArtReview [source-Wikipedia]

This film, with 3 protagonists going about their lives in search of meaning, starts of on a idea which is a philosophical question version of the above paragraph. Filmed in a languid pace, sometimes focusing on blank landscapes, the imagery itself evokes a sense of peace, and of purpose.
Sample this:
-“A group of jain monks are seen walking through a landscape filled with windmills, the turning fans and their shadows reminding us of how time flies by. There are no sentences spoken here. We know one of the monks is ailing, maybe walking towards his own death. And the shadows of the Kal-chakra pass over his head.”
-“The sound of wind, a birds-eye view of a grassland, ruffled by the blowing wind. No characters in sight”
-“A valley. somewhere in the himalayas, a mountain stream gurgling through, a wooden bridge”

The actors perform their parts marvelously. The monk, transforming from a lean, yet healthy man – to a man on his deathbed, fasting, ridden with bedsores, and yet a steely determination in his eyes. The young stock-market player, with his empathizing selflessness. A admirable bewilderment and joy from the photographer who regains her vision. A supporting cast who fit into the puzzle marvelously. The banter between the monk and the lawyer, in the second story, bewildering, logical, funny. The daily laborer, once shell-shocked from the loss of his Kidney, and at the other time, joyous from a future filled with hope. The lovely fight in the kitchen about creativity, and our own vision of it.

The circumstances under which the paths of the protagonists cross is believable, and seems like an organic growth of the complete film.
Life of Pi left me with a lot of questions. Even now it creates discussions in our group of friends. It was splendidly made. This film, maybe doesn’t spellbind you with magical effect. But it does so with its completeness of though.
Slow, and yet crisp, a must watch “Ship of Theseus”.

Glad I watched in on the big screen.

Paan Singh Tomar – A Review

Just came home after watching this movie.

Yes, it is great.
The director kind of continues from where must have left of during his days on the ‘Bandit Queen’ crew. The vistas of Chambal ki ghati come out very similar to how it showed up in the older film.
Irrfan again packs a punch in his portrayal of a common man, though in this case, this common man is not just anybody of the street.
A son of chambal, a military man, who joins the military sports team just because there is no limit on the food ration for ‘sports people’. He’s not scared to say the right thing, and actually snubs his superiors calling them good-for-nothing. Punished and sent to the Military Physical Training facility, he gives up his pet event, the 5000 mts race 2 months before a Defense sports meet, because he empathizes with his coach. He takes up Steeplechase instead, a event he had never heard of before in his life. And wins the event in the 13th National Games, setting a national record. Cut to the Asian games, where he is handed spikes moments before the event, that he takes off halfway through his first lap, and eventually loses the race. His heroics though win him adulation and fans, one of whom even gets their picture taken. When he is not allowed to join his batallion during the 65 war, he tell his superior ‘take away all my awards and let me go to war’, such is his dedication to protecting the nation, his Dharti Maa. He convers this rage to efforts, and wins the gold in the International Defense Sports meet, competing with kids half his age. But this is just as long as the good times go.
A family feud for (what else but) land makes him quit his Military job, and return to become a agriculturalist in his village. But life in the Bihaarr is not peaceful, as  the family feud takes ugly turns, and after pleading help from the District Collector and the cops, and see his crops cut up, his son beaten up, and his mother eaten to death, Subedaar Paan Singh decides to take up the gun. As he reminds us many a times in the movie, “Bihaarr me sirf Baagi hote hai” and “Baagi koi khud se nahi banta”. He builds a gang, mostly members of his own extended family, raises money by kidnapping, trains his crew, and kills his enemies. Emotions run high in many of the scenes, and it is in these scenes, like the once in which Paan Singh kills his elder cousin, that we see the tormented man he has become. As the movie ended it left me with a lot of thoughts.
When does one cross the line between sanity and insanity? Something that a person wouldn’t even imagine ever in his life suddenly becomes his choice for way of life.
How a person goes from not caring a bit about a sport to a world class sportsman to a gun carrying bandit, hiding the angst of never fighting for his country and the bitterness of leaving a sport behind that gave him a name.
What’s right? What’s wrong? Who defines? Do the decisions stand the test of time?

But I digress.

The film is brilliant in its making. There are small details that are taken care of. The usage of music is great. And the dialogues, wow the dialogues. “Beehad mein to baaghi rehte hain, Parliament mein daaku.

Go watch this film to see a meaningful hindi film in a long time.

When it all Ended! And How!

The screen went black.
The audio came up.
The now-so-familiar tune (Hedwig’s Theme) started playing.
On screen, now the end credits rolled on – in bright and shiny golden letters.

And I sat there.
Never again? This is the last time?

~ Alright, this is my 4th Attempt to finish this post ~

1st Attempt:
The moment the Credits rolled and I uttered “I don’t want to go home!”
(I hate people who jump out of their seats the moment the movie finishes. I want to watch the whole thing dammit.)
I came home, but decided against writing it, as many of my pals hadn’t seen the movie yet, and I am not great at keeping the spoilers to myself.

2nd Attempt:
I came home, saddened all over again, after a second viewing.
It was like after you break-up with a long time girl/boy- friend. You just want to sit alone, and be sad, for a long time. I felt Melancholic.

3rd Attempt:
Tried again. Was at a loss what to write about. I don’t even remember the scenes. All i remember is the sadness I felt.

4th Attempt:

~ Here goes ~

Sad but true.
That was the last time I would have seen the trio of Potter-Weaslie-Granger on screen. (Magic please!)
The 2 times I watched the movie, I heard a lot of exclamations to the same tune as the above statement, some dripping with sadness.

One person even said ‘What will I do now?’
Yes the movie was different from the book.
Yes there were missing plot points(only 2 giants in the war?), and convoluted interpretations/changes (Molly Weasley’s sudden appearance).
But really, it doesn’t matter anymore.
All that matters is that its over.
Unlike the LOTR franchise, I don’t see a ‘The Hobbit’ type resurrection of the HP troops.
What will I miss:

1) Seeing the WB logo show up, among a cloudy-noisy-fading-out sequence that always mesmerized me.
2) Seeing the lush scenery in the film. (Yes I can watch many more movies and NGC for this, but where do I get the magical undertone? A steam engine-pulled train, a flying car, horcrux hunting, and what-not? )
3) Fred n George n Ron n Arthur Weaslie (I am partial to these 4)
4) Hogwarts – It has evolved and changed in the course of the books and the movies, adding many things to the Castle-next-to-a-lake established in the first book.
5) And last, but in no way in order of preference, Emma Watson. We saw her grow up on screen into the absolute diva from the li’l unruly haired girl from the first movie. I hope she goes on to do great things in life, and not have the same fate as Arun Govil.
Farewell my friends.

"Buddha Hoga Tera Baap"

Viju, as ‘Vijay Dinanath Chauhan’ of Agneepath is endearingly named in his most recent flick, is no Buddha, for sure. He may look a little old, in some scenes, he may even look a little(mind you, very little) tired, he still is no Buddha.
As he says in 1 scene, trying to explain who he is-
ye aj kal ke chhokre log mera gana gate hai, dance karte hai, original dikhau kya?

The film is just that. A reflection of what this man has been to Indian Cinema, if not to India at large.
He remains a figure almost every Indian praises and worships, and being from an era when the filmy people were so far-removed from the general public as if they were from another planet altogether, he has risen to the challenge of modernity and social media. His connection to his extended family on Twitter kinda woke up all the other silver screen baba- and baby-logs on FB and twitter, on which they calmly promote their or their pal’s flicks, while this man holds court like an Emperor, who is just and who will listen to as many people as possible.
But enough praising the grand old man(oops, I said it). He was the first superstar, the first one to bring KBC to our screens(wow, those 9 o’clock emptiness on the streets – I though only cricket could do that to India), and lots of other stuff to his kitty. But let me tel you my experience at the theater, twice, while I gazed at the screen and enjoyed my quality time with him on screen.

The movie is a bit tacky, if you go by definition. But did I think so while i watched it? No. Not even the second time.
It has a very imaginative and hypothetically impossiblistic Climax. So? Who gives a damn. Its funny, and apt.
The movie is about the return of Viju(+scarfs, floral shirts, designer jeans, stylish shades, leather jackets, suits, blazers, multiple watches, and what not) to amchi Mumbai after 20 years. Viju is a sharp-shooter(Watch Angelina Jolie starrer Wanted), no no, un sab ka bap, looking for a job, and trying to reconnect with his now separated wife and son who live in the city. There is a definite plot outline, some characterizations, some sub-plots(Kammo, aka, Kamini = Raavina Tandan; sonu sood & sonal chauhan’s love story; etc etc). Who gives a damn.
The music is good. The RAP/POP medley of old hits, or Sunidhi with ‘Chandigarh di star’, and of course, Big B crooning Haal-E-Dil.
Big B fills your senses and Puri Jagannath finishes of the film moments before you start to get a little distracted from the film.
GO watch it. Really.

ALERT: Big B, the big star he is, has attaracted all sorts of people to this film. The youngistan is in, to see what this man is made of. But there are also the 40+s, and the 60+s, maybe some 80s as well in the theater with you. And they have brought the toddlers along. So, noise alert.

AFTERTHOUGHT: Someoone said Makarand Deshpande is a talented actor wasted in the film. I disagree. There a not too many people around who can pull of his last scene in the film with such finesse.

A smelly corner on Bollywood street – Delhi Belly

When I generally sit down to write about a film, I would have already categorized the movie into good/bad/average, must watch/watch/time pass/leave it, … you get the drift..

It was last saturday that I watched the movie thats going viral on the silver screen, street corners, office cafeterias and class rooms – yes – Delhi Belly. The songs have made their presence felt everywhere, and some dialogs have crept into our sub conscious. I laughed and laughed and laughed some more all through the movie. Didn’t want to leave the theater at the end(when Amir was playing Dandiya with his handguns, dressed as the disco fighter). But still, I can’t figure out what to write here.

The film was non apologetic in its mannerism – the “diamond” delivery (you know what I mean if you have seen the movie), the excessive gastro-intestinal noises, the dry humping in the hotel room, and a lot more.
The music is innovative, as well as catchy. Ram Sampath was a name I had only heard on MTv Desi beats – and I had no idea who he was. Now I bow before thou, Mr. Ram Sampath. Well done. DK Bose was a hit from the day it was cenceptualized, and Amir khan promoting his next “Return of Disco Fighter” at then end of the movie – ‘Haye! Current marti hai’.. WOW.

There was a lot of sincerity in the comradrie in the gang, and a nice spunk to the character of Madam Special Correspondent. Laughter is drawn out easily scene after scene. Most characters held their own place in the narrative. Vir and Kunal have their space, and not overshadowed by the rising star Imran.
But for people who can’t stand cuss words in every sentense(sometimes only cuss words in a sentense), this is not a flick you will enjoy. STAY AWAY.

Read here for some more interesting stuff about the film – http://unboxedwriters.com/2011/07/st-happens-and-how/

Also, lastly, this movie featured a song which is a tribute to the groovy 80s of bollywood. On sunday, I watched Buddhah Hoga Tera Baap, a tribute to the man himself, Sr. Bachchan. A post about that colourful film up next.