Tag Archives: Vijay Raaz

Exclusive Interview With Director of Photograph

An interview with Ritesh Batra, the writer and director of Photograph, where he kindly assures Geetika Pathania Jain three times that she is not being too fanciful, and discusses the characters and their motivations:

Geetika Pathania Jain: Thank you for this exclusive interview with India Currents. Excited about your upcoming film Photograph. I had the honor and the pleasure of reviewing The Lunchbox and I was struck by some of the authorial signatures that I’m starting to see in your films. Certainly Mumbai appears to be your muse (or maybe it’s Bombay) with its colonial architecture and its chawls and teeming poverty. Any comments on why Mumbai inspires you so much?

Ritesh Batra: I don’t spend a whole lot of time thinking about it myself. I do love the city. I grew up there. I was there till I was eighteen. I really loved how it used to be. And that kind of finds its way when I’m writing something. And especially with this movie, I wanted to get back to my own writing, to get back to directing my own writing. Yeah, so it also has a lot of nostalgia in it, just like The Lunchbox did, so I really come to it from a place of nostalgia.

You know when it used to be Bombay, when I was growing up, someone in the twenties now —  I’m in my late 30s — but someone in their twenties now would be able to make a movie about Mumbai now, but my movies are more about people who are going through the city with a certain degree of nostalgia, which sometimes blends in and sometimes stands out from what their journey is, but it had a big impact on who they are.

GPJ: I see a more positive view of the city in this film (compared to The Lunchbox). I’m not sure if you agree with me that even though we do have Tiwariji who has been crushed by the city, but can I recall Mr. Fernandez (Irrfan Khan of The Lunchbox) and how these individuals who have been crushed by the city but yet they seem to endure and find ways to carry on. A message of alienation in this film or am I reading too much into it?

Got ten minutes? Here is the complete interview with Ritesh Batra:

 

PHOTOGRAPH (2019). Director: Ritesh Batra. Screenplay: Ritesh Batra, Emeara Kamble. Players: Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Sanya Malhotra, Farrukh Jaffar, Jim Sarbh, Vijay Raaz. Hindi with English sub-titles. Amazon Studios.

Geetika Pathania Jain, Ph.D. is Culture and Media Editor at India Currents.

Female Anger Explodes in Pataakha

Boom. Female anger explodes on the Hindi cinema screen in full frontal glory in Pataakha (2018). Who other than Vishal Bhardwaj for the job? The writer-director tackles women’s energy head on, by exploring a tempestuous relationship between two sisters, Badki and Chutki, with black humor. The mad hatter concept suspends the viewer straight into disbelief, thankfully with no hint of an apology for the fights.

I was the only audience in an empty theatre. Years ago, it was Luck By Chance (2009), Zoya Akhtar’s fantastic debut, which she hasn’t been able to surpass since. No surprises there, that the box office has little to garner from angry female leads. Pretty much like Republican Senators, who ignored the anguish of Christine Blasey Ford and anger of female protesters to confirm Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination.

According to expert Taran Adarsh, Pataakha collected 7.64 crores in its first week. Sui Dhaaga (2018), which released the same Friday, crossed 62.5 crores. Hardly a surprise, that. Nothing gets the cash registers ringing better than a woman who radiates good old manipulation, docility, and subordination.

Walk in with a stash of popcorn and Coke then to experience the messy goodness of Genda ‘Chhutki’ Kumari (Sanya Malhotra) and Champa ‘Badki’ Kumari (Radhika Madan) who are fiery, gritty, and spunky from start to finish. The movie starts with a paisa wasool mud scuffle over a beedi, sparked by their neighbor Dipper Naradmuni (Sunil Grover) and doused by their single father Bechara Bapu (Vijay Raaz). The relationship is fragile and competitive as they battle over clothes, a sticky forced-marriage, a smartphone, and even television. Dipper, the meddlesome Naradmuni, regularly snitches and pits them against each other, with wicked glee.

Badki and Chutki are authentic, scruffy, and imperfect as much as they are wild, spontaneous, and unpredictable. They rule their surroundings with confidence and abandon. The fury of a woman, usually confined and restrained, finds a visual arena to manifest itself externally in color. Love, love, love. Without Ranjan Palit’s colorful camerawork, this would not have been possible.

A dynamic first half shows their childhood and young adult romance. They both find men of their choice in charming romances — Chutki meets Vishnu (Abhishek Duhan) in a field and Badki encounters Jagan (Namit Das) near the river. Meanwhile, a lecherous old man, Tharki Patel (Saanand Verma) tries to score one of them as his wife, in exchange for a loan to Bapu. The girls are in a dilemma; Dipper eggs them on, but also saves them.

Post interval and wedding, the pair is confined to the same house, after they unknowingly marry brothers. After a promise to their father, they also feel obliged to stop fighting and settle into the routine of domestic life. Until they don’t. Dipper sets them off again, this time they push their husbands into a family fight. The reason behind their combustible equation is revealed in the end.  

The story is fresh and straightforward, with crispy dialogue, laughs, twists and turns. Vishal picks Charan Singh Pathik’s short story Do Behnein, based on real-life antics of wives of his brothers, published by Sahitya Kala Academy. The siblings’ divide is even compared to that between feuding neighbors India and Pakistan. The songs Pataakha, Balma, Gali, and Naina Banjare adorn the narrative seamlessly. But why jar the flow with Hello Hello, the Malaika Arora item song?

The movie rests on the excellent performances. Saanand Verma plays creepy well. Namit Das and Abhishek Duhan make a mark. Sunil Grover is superbly layered with his grey shade character. Vijay Raaz scores perfect, balancing his daughters’ energetic fights with restrained ease.  Sanya Malhotra is back with a bang and Radhika Madan makes sterling big screen debut. The actors are flawless; they hold their own individually and are crackling together.

Pataakha is super fun and entertaining. It could have been more, and falls just short of achieving greatness. Yet the importance of the red carpet it rolls out to normalize anger in women is noteworthy. Pity the audience isn’t biting.

3.5 out of 5

Pataakha. Writer & Director: Vishal Bhardwaj. Players: Sanya Malhotra, Radhika Madan, Vijay Raaz, Namit Das, Abhishek Duhan. Music: Vishal Bhardwaj. Theatrical release: KYTA Productions, Vishal Bhardwaj Films.

Hamida Parkar is a freelance journalist and founder-editor of cinemaspotter.com. She writes on cinema, culture, women, and social equity.

This article was edited by Culture and Media Editor, Geetika Pathania Jain.

 

Soorma: For The Win

Diljit Dosanjh, who won acclaim for second lead roles, gets to play his first title role as international hockey player Sandeep Singh in Soorma (2018). The best thing about the actor is the softness about him, along with an endearing earnestness. Diljit adds quiet strength, finesse, and power to this ordinary-turned-extraordinary tale of a man who fought and conquered his paralysis.

Romance shadows the first half as Sandeep Singh is more set on doing somersaults for Harpreet (Taapsee Pannu) than hockey. It is love at first flick on the hockey ground as he croons Ishq Di Baajiyan. The song is lovely and Diljit works his magic despite the rough first-cut singing. In the movie, the first picturisation looks dreamy but is a distraction later in its multiple repetitions. There is also a bromance going on with his brother Bikramjeet Singh (Angad Bedi), also his mentor and part-time trainer. Although Sandeep’s sole motivation for playing hockey is winning Harpeet, he sets about making a name in the game for himself with the help of Bikram and coach Harry (Vijay Raaz) who is impressed by his drag flick. A shocking shooting accident pushes a roadblock on his way to success, and he loses his mobility.

The story is told with heart for sure, director Shaad Ali rightly chooses a linear format, co-writing with Suyash Trivedi and Siva Ananth. This works when the player is interacting with his family, but for the sport scenes, the sense of adrenaline on field hockey pitch isn’t captured as effectively. The hunger, and taste of victory is missing. Sandeep Singh’s recovery journey account on TED Talks, where he talks about being lonely in his rehabilitation, is better than the narrative here, which is a disappointment. It is rushed and stays in the sweet, tame zone. Shaad misses building and exploring the layers of Sandeep’s internal battle, leaving those painful moments out.

The movie picks up pace after he gets back with The Soorma Anthem, when he trains with his brother. It is the best inspirational song I have heard in recent times: the strings of my heart strummed higher with every thumping beat and Mahadevan’s booming voice. It is on my loop, and a definite top scorer for gym and running playlists. On the plus side, I loved the way Sandeep is shown wearing his heart on his sleeve, and Harpreet is shown as ambitious, and they resolve the love story without judging her. The authentic locations of Shahabad, Chandigarh, and Belgrade, are captured effectively by Chirantan Das. Farooq Hundekar does a smooth job with the editing.

Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy roll out the rest of the songs as superbly as the first two. Good Man Di Laaltain is fun, Pardesiya is soulful, and Flicker Singh is boisterous. Gulzar digs into his Punjabi roots to string innovative words like Ding Ding, Flicker Singh! and Padhariye. And of course, there is his quirky word play in Dhajji dhajji raat purani, chhed subah ki nayi yeh kahaani and Shaam aa jaaye toh, uth ke chaand ka maatha choom loon.

The real hero of this venture is the ensemble of rock-solid performances from one and all. It is a truism that good casting makes or breaks a movie. Here it saves it from falling into the average zone. Kulbhushan Kharbanda plays the sharp, supportive chairman, and lends his solid presence with excellence. Seema Kaushal is sincere as Daljeet Kaur. Satish Kaushik as his hopeful, weary, and proud father Gurcharan Singh is superb. Vijay Raaz lights up the screen with his natural penchant for splendid.

Taapsee Pannu balances the layers between her passion for sport, ambition, and love with a wonderfully sublime act. Angad Bedi conquers with his rawness, sincerity, and strong energy. Diljit Dosanjh absorbs the heart and quiet spirit of Sandeep with a superb performance. His own earnest personality merges with Sandeep’s to work perfectly whether at home, or on field.

This inspirational outing is definitely worth a watch for its authenticity, strong cast, and a story as incredible as it is admirable.

4 out of 5

Soorma (2018). Director: Shaad Ali. Writer: Suyash Trivedi, Shaad Ali, Siva Ananth. Players: Diljit Dosanjh, Angad Bedi, Satish Kaushik, Seema Kaushal, Taapsee Pannu, Vijay Raaz, Kulbhushan Kharbanda. Music: Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy. Lyrics: Gulzar. Theatrical release: Sony Pictures Networks India, C.S. Films.

Hamida Parkar is a freelance journalist and founder-editor of cinemaspotter.com. She writes on cinema, culture, women, and social equity.

This article was edited by Culture and Media Editor Geetika Pathania Jain.