Monday, August 30, 2010
Cinema is a reflection of the society. And with so much of popularity as a powerful medium of information and entertainment, there is no doubt that it has also been reflected in the society. There are many things we did not know, realize or think about before we saw it on the silver screen. Things that we did not give much importance held a lot of importance after we watched the same in the form of a story in a theater or on TV at home. Crime in the society, roots of terrorism, corruption, and many other topics were introduced to us in a highly presentable way. We watched, learnt, and tried to get away from the evil after every cinematic experience. Cinema has done one more favor on us by introducing us to various forms of prevailing diseases – some of them we normally see around us and some of them are very rare.
Bollywood (Hindi Film Industry) has played a very important role in introducing us to some of the rarest diseases. Some of those diseases were never known to the common men before. “Lympho Sarcoma of the intestine”, said the doctor when the patient inquired about the disease he was suffering from in the movie Anand released in 1971. After knowing about the condition, the patient said “wow, what a big name?” and laughed. The movie teaches how a patient can make everyone laugh though he knows that there is a big tumor growing inside his stomach.
It’s when Amir Khan came up with his directorial debut ‘Tare Zameen Par’ in 2007, many people came to know that the inability to write and read can be a medical condition called ‘Dyslexia’. People who earlier used to force their children to read and write realized their mistake and people who have children facing the same problem learnt how to tackle the issue. The way to overcome the problem is through love, affection and exceptional care with intelligence and not avoidance or punishment is what the movie advises. Similarly, Ajay Devgan’s directorial debut ‘U, Me aur Hum’ that released in 2008 taught us about the ill-effects of Alzheimer's. The movie showed how a husband chooses a different style of life to take care of his wife who suffers from the disease. Leaving the patient in an asylum is not the solution but with utmost care, the issue can be tackled.
There are two movies which surprised the audience by highlighting two very rare diseases. Diwangi in 2002 highlighted the condition ‘Split Personality’ whereas Aparichit in 2006 documented the violent effects of ‘Multiple personality disorder‘. Audience were left spellbound with the way the consequence of the medical conditions presented in the two movies. One person starts behaving like another In Diwangi whereas Aparichit shows how a single person can wear multiple personalities in different times.
Mahesh Manjrekar’s first Hindi movie Nidaan released in 2000 described how a teenage girl suffered from AIDS and how she went through different physical conditions until death. On the contrary, Phir Milenge made in 2004 on the same subject of a HIV positive victim doesn’t talk about the miseries of the disease but highlights the negative social approach towards the patient.
Bollywood introduced many people to Progeria through the movie Paa (2010), Autism through the movies ‘Main Aisa Hi Hun’ and ‘My Name is Khan’. Starting with 'Dil Ek Mandir' in 1963 till 'Kal Ho Na Ho' in 2003, the industry gave us many movies on Cancer.
Sunday, August 22, 2010
I was shocked when I learnt from Alka that a girl from one of her neighbours was allegedly kidnapped and killed a child. The reason of the killing was cited to be the marriage of the accused. Yes, the girl who was only 26 years old was going through depression because of not getting married. Some witch advised that if she kills a child, she will overcome the bad-luck factor and then, marriage will happen soon.
Well, this is not a rare case as far as India is concerned. We come across many such crime stories that involve witchcraft and other superstitions related to marriage.
The questions that arise here are that “should a girl at the age of 26 be considered old enough to get married?” and “who will decide the right age for someone’s marriage?” I believe, virtually everyone who made the girl believe that she is old enough to get married is partly responsible for the crime.
The water goes over the nose when your own family members curse you because your marriage is not happening and hold your “bad-luck” responsible for this. Their concern is obviously contributed by the opinions of the people they are surrounded with, which carries them away; but that can never be presented as an excuse. Life should be how you choose to live and not following the footsteps of billions.
After crossing the legal age of marriage (18 for women and 21 for men), one can get married any time and there shouldn’t be any virtual social bar against it. After all, for marriage one doesn’t need to attain a certain age but he or she has to meet so many other requirements such as being financially stable, finding a perfect partner, mental preparation, getting ready to have a family, and many more.
This case was a pure consequence of the concept of compulsory marriage – the girl was convinced that she has no other choice but to get married one day and that too before attaining a certain age. Anyway, no logic of this sort can justify such a crime, and especially in this case when the accused is old enough to take decisions for herself.
Saturday, August 14, 2010
I went to school when I was five years old, to high school when I was ten, junior college when I was 15 and senior college after that, and then university. With all this, I haven't done anything new. I took admission in school when I was five because my father had done the same thing at that age, went to junior college after school when I was 15 because my eldest brother had done the same thing at that stage of his life, went to university after college to pursue post graduation because lots of people in the locality had done the same after graduation.
During graduation, I was a little inclined towards spirituality for which I had to get a lot of blasts from my mother. She said this was not what people normally do at that age. During the college days, I used to watch a lot of Hindi movies. My eldest brother used to catch me every time and blast at me; reason: this was not what people do at that age and I should study, study and study.
I was very depressed, thought only my family members didn't let me do what I want even though I was old enough to vote in the elections. However, after discussing with my friends about the matter, I realized the case was even worse with them. I felt that life had become so traditional. We had to live in a way because most people had lived that way, and that had become a standard.
As a result, inter-caste and inter-religion marriages are considered a sin in my dynasty. People are surprised when I tell them about the fact that I will not accept dowry in marriage. Forget about people, even my would-be-in-laws don't want to believe this. According to them, I have to accept dowry because it's a social norm. Hah! Truly, life is so traditional.
I have opted writing as a profession, and have many friends who always give me very good advises. One of those advises is that I should have long hair, because most people in this profession have their hair long. Some people in my family don't like me having long hair. Their logic is that none of the male members in my family ever had long hair. Ah! Why is life so traditional?
Apart from providing us with entertainment, cinema has played a great role in educating and informing the society. Though movies based on fantasy and romanticized topics reflect the height of imagination at a particular point of time, documentaries and realistic movies contribute a lot to the world of information. In addition, as we all know, every single piece of information becomes worthy enough to be added to our libraries, such movies have become a library with a whole lot of information.
Again, as far as information is concerned, we are mostly dependent on the Internet, newspapers, books, TV records. But if we talk about trends (both political and social), fashion, tradition, change of culture, and point-of-views, movies are our biggest assets as a library. Cinema shows us how cordless phones replaced fixed phones and how mobile phones replaced cordless phones in technology. It also shows us how sleeveless blouses replaced full-sleeve ones, and how trendy bras replaced sleeveless blouses in fashion. We also get to know how girls were getting impressed by straight-forward, shy, rebellious boys, and how the trend gradually changed and boys required to become flirts to impress girls. Similarly we come to know that a diplomatic clever man has replaced the straight-forward strong man as an ideal hero.
Movies like Tare Zameen Par show the trend of forcing children for studies against their willingness, whereas movies like Swadesh highlight the trend of Indians settling down abroad for a better future. Maybe after some decades when these things would stop to happen and we forget when all this used to take place, these movies can be taken for reference.
Moreover, movies made on historical subjects recreate the magic of the past on the screen. We get an opportunity to see a collection of events in front of us. Movies of this kind demand lots of research to be conducted. They show us the culture, tradition, attire, language, and many more of the old age. So watching a movie would give us the knowledge of what 10 books could give collectively - may not be in detail but an overall outline for sure.
Once upon a time in Mumbai seems to be a bollywood drama unlike many other flicks on the subject of underworld that looked like documentaries. Sultan Mirza, a poor boy who worked in the coal godown in his childhood, enters the underworld supported by his sharp mind and superb guts. He wants to earn lot of money and power, but on his own terms. He goes against the Government restrictions to meet his ends, but not against his own principles. When he was compelled to smuggle narcotic, he says, "maine woh kaam kiya hai jiski izzazat sarkar nahin deti, woh kaam nahin kiya jiski izzazat zameer nahin deti." Sultan is like a Robinhood for poor people. He teaches lessons to the sons who torture their parents, and says, "Jo apni maa ki izzat nahin karte, main unka baap banke aata hun". He considers Mumbai as his girlfriend and gives his level best to make the city safe. To serve his purpose, he calls a meeting of all the underworld dons and devides the city amongst them as areas of business. This is to avoid gangwars, animocity and violence. His simple principle is, "Jab dost bana ke kaam ho sakta hai, dushman kyun banaye". He also threatens the gangsters to accept his proposal and passes his message saying, "baat khatam karni hai, yaa kahani suru."
On the contrary, Shoaib is a very notorious guy who entered the underworld not because he did not have any other choice but because he was a power greedy person and very much fascinated about the crime world which could make him achieve his dream fast. Hunger for fast money and excessive power made him follow Sultan's footsteps. He had the guts to confront Sultan and say, "lahron ka saamna karne ki himmat to mujhme hai, ab aap socho sahi aadmi pahchaan ne ki nazar rakhte ho ya nahin."
The lives of these two different people (Sultan and Shoaib) in the crime world and how Shoaib takes over Sultan make the story of the movie.
Performance-wise, Ajay as Sultan is superb. With looks and attire (along with the attitude that he wears all through the movie) alone, he convinces us as a don, forget about the dilogue delivery which is just amazing. Once again, Ajay communicated through his talkative eyes in quite a many scenes - to highlight, the scene where he calls Shoaib (Imraan) to cross a distance to reach him and the last scene when looks into Shoaib's eyes sharply while delivering a political speech.
Imraan as the bad boy is quite effective. He has done all the justice to his role. He stands out in both as an adamant lover and a youngster who is hungry for power. Randeep Hooda as the police officer delivers a power-packed performance. Both the female leads (Kangna Ranaut and Prachi Desai) sizzle in the seventies' looks.
The dialouges, especially the one liners, remind you of the seventies' (Salim-Javed) touch with a refreshed avatar. Lines like "Kaam karne ka tareeka badla, tewar nahin", "kasti lahron se takrayegi, tabhi to kinara naseeb hoga", "Apni dukan me hamari ek tasweer laga lena Sohaib, kabhi zaroorat pade to dono me se kisi ek bhagwaan ko chun lena" sound old but do not seem repeatative. Some lines force you to clap and whistle - "Zindagi ho to smuggler jaisi, duniya raakh ki tarah neeche aur khud dhuyen ki tarah upar", "Raston ki parwah karunga, to manzil bura maan jayegi", "Himmat batayi nahin jaati, dikhayi jaati hai".
Scenes that stand out
The first train scene when Sultan puts his life at stake to save thousands of lives, young Shoaib's introduction scene, Sultan's first meeting with Rehana (Kangana), Sultan's first meeting with ACP Agnel (Randeep Hooda), Shoaib's entry into Sultan's crime world, and of course the climax.
Scenes that let down
Vardhaan saying, "tu daler bhi hai aur dariya dil bhi", sounds a line like that of a movie of seventies, fortunately there are not many of this kind..
Bollywood could finally give us an entertaining movie on the underworld. Once upon a time in mumbai is perhaps the most decent movie made on this subject till date - Milan Luthria has proved that a movie on such a subject can also look realistic without usage of foul words.