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Finally meeting Detective Byomkesh Bakshy

Anyways, I happened to come across “Detective Byomkesh Bakshy”. I have had wanted to watch this one for a long time but for some reason, this detective movie eluded me. That was until last night when I came across it on Amazon Prime Video.

A click and I got to finally meet Bakshy Babu.

Detective Byomkesh Bakshy
Source: Bollywood Mantra

Byomkesh Babu

The movie is based on charachters invented by Sharadindu Bandyopadhyay and mainly taken from the novel Satyanweshi. In many ways Byomkesh Bakshy is inspired by Sherlock Holmes.

The movie is set in the 1940s in the city of Calcutta (now Kolkatta). India was still under British rule and was hence by extension part of the war effort on the Allied side.

As Calcutta was an important port for shipping supplies to the war against Japanese forces in Burma, Japan had tried it’s hand by bombing Calcutta. Many of the bombings did not cause much damage. That said, Calcutta as a city, lived in fear of falling to the invading Japanese forces. This historical backdrop of Japanese threat and Chinese migrant population is beautifully weaved into the movie plot that is mainly a murder mystery.

The music varies from rock to heavy metal and for some reason it fits into the movie almost perfectly. The movie also takes a loving, caring look at the city of Calcutta of old. The characters are all odd, interesting and cannot be taken very seriously.

Sushant Singh, as Byomkesh Bakshy does not disappoint. The cast is talented and work well. Their costumes, their look are impeccable. The sets are wonderful and a lot of detailing is near perfection.

There is also a healthy dose of dark comedy in the film. The story has it’s moments of mystery, twists and turns but honestly at the end of it, I sat up researching more material to read on Calcutta during the second world war.

This is probably the first movie I have seen in Hindi which I really hope to see become a franchise.

I won’t give much of the plot away, watch it for yourself.

PS: I don’t like rating movies. I suspect, I will only write about movies that I personally recommend you watch.

Recommended:

Trailer

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The Anurag Kashyap Effect!

Anurag_kashyapIf I had to list my favourite Hindi films from recent times, they would be Black Friday, Satya, Rang De Basanti, Dev D and a few more. But the name of Anurag Kashyap keeps floating about in most films I have liked. Either as a script writer or director or even as producer.

I am not a fan of Anurag Kashyap the person, as much as I am a fan of films he has been involved with. I do not know about his philosophy or his struggles. I have never really tried to search for such information nor have I easily come across it.

Another actor I am a big fan of is Robert De Niro; again people hardly know much about his private life. But he still manages to have millions of fans. They are not exactly his fans but fans of his work.

These are not people who are celebrated but these are people who choose to have only their work celebrated.

The point here is, this sort of popularity has nothing to do with talent or ability, but to do with choice. In other words, being a private person is choice and not necessarily an achievement or a personality quirk.

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Black and Iqbal

The other day when I was flicking channels I caught a scene from the movie ‘Black’ starring Rani Mukherjee as a deaf, mute and blind charachter (a take on Helen Keller) and Amitabh Bachchan playing her eccentric teacher.

I saw this scene in which Rani Mukherjee walked like Charlie Chaplin and apparently there was nothing wrong with her feet but I guess it was a nice way to get the audience to feel sad about a poor girl. It got me thinking about the movie and names like Hellen Keller.. hmm
I remember reading about her in some school text book. She was quite the inspirational figure. Rani Mukherjee’s character looked just about tragic at best. The acting was good I guess. It won the Naitonal Award of the best film but when I first saw it and even now its always felt like going into a French Restaurant where excellent Italian cuisine was served. The movie has everything going for it.

Great cast, renowned director, great photography and a inspirational story. Hmm that word inspiration again. If you really thought about Helen Kellers life she was a person who acheived a lot more than just centering her life around a teacher and sitting on a bench feeling snowflakes. She campaigned for the Socialist Party, stood up for women’s voting rights, assisted in the founding of the iconic ACLU and travelled the world. She wrote 12 books and several articles. She did more than most people do in a life time and all this inspite of being deaf and blind.
‘Black’ was that cesspool of pity which is lauded over this girl’s charachter in the movie where all the movies ends up showing is life is tough for a deaf, mute and blind girl. I mean what the fuck? Doesnt common sense say that anywaysl? The movie shows her as a outcast who doesnt fight back or live her life on her own terms. It shows her as a outcast who clings to her teacher and thats it. The movie is melodramatic, visually brilliant piece of an excuse to be a tear jerker. It seems all the director wanted were great award winning shots, the story be damned. All the director wanted was us to feel sorry for a disabled girl. Worse the creators say Helen Kellers life was a inspiration for this movie.

Now really wiki Helen Keller again and youd go wow !! I mean heres a person who did stuff.Right through the movie there is no friend, no family member who cares about the charachter. If the family cares its only through dinner dialogues to prove that they probably care a little bit. The years of disgusting behaviour is balanced with a couple of scenes of repentence by the family and lifes peachy again.

All this makes me think about another Hindi movie called Iqbal. Its about a deaf and mute boy in a village who resists family pressure to play cricket. It ends with the kid in India colours as a fast bowler. The boys disability is never shown as a problem. You are never made to feel sorry for the kid, atleast not too much and he’s moving along towards his goals without melodrama. Yeah I rather think ‘Iqbal’ is more representative of Helen Kellers life than ‘Black’

Frankly people with disablities have it tough and we all know that. Why make them feel worse by pitying them and feeling sorry for them. Help them out if you think you can or watch how they help themselves out. Most times we have a lot to learn from them anyways. So dare I say learn from them.

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Déjà vu – Motorcycle Diaries

Was on my motorcycle late in the night when the cold wind hit my face in a precise manner. It was a strange night, one of those not so cold and not so hot ones. Looks like winters gone without making much of a fuss. Back home from work and spending time in front of the Computer Screen and then the television screen, the TV caught my attention. The screen flickered images of a wheel driving along a endless road. That image was enough. It fired some neurons in my brain like a jolt and I got a sense of déjà vu. Before the next scene cut and showed up the two men in leather skull caps on a motorcycle I knew it was the Motorcycle Diaries playing on one of the channels.
Had seen this gorgeous Spanish movie with its very witty subtitles over two years ago and I was taken into the past. It felt familiar and pleasant. The memories associated not so important or impressive but peharps it was a easier time in life or perhaps because it was not such a incredible time in life when I saw this impressive movie on the road trip taken by Che Guevara and Argentine in his final year of medicine with his charmingly rougish friend Alberto Granado. Its not often you see a movie which inspires you to be a kid again. Its not often that you see a movie and feel like sitting on your motorbike and scoping an entire continent.  Hmm maybe its because you feel you still have something really outrageous and stupid left to do in life that you feel a déjà vu watching the movie.
A smirk which everytime the duo struggle with the wire to repair their La Poderosa.
Maybe next time I am on my motorcycle Ill hear that distinct bass guitar playing in some corner of my mind a distinctly latino tune.
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Slumdog Millionaire

Came back from work and switched on the TV and tuned into News. The news is full of Slumdog Millionaire at the Oscars. Ive seen the movie, felt it was shot, edited brilliantly and the music is pretty good even though AR Rahman is the same as ever which only means he has kept up his good work. 
The movie did have its blood curling moments like the scene in which a small boy gets his eye removed so he can be a better beggar. But frankly I expected it. As a kid growing up in a Mumbai suburb I grew up with stories about how children were forced to beg on the streets and how they would be disfigured or disabled for life to be more effective to extract pity. Ofcourse anyone growing up in Mumbai has always had a time when youve looked at a street urchin and wondered. Wondered if youd survive in their hard, cruel and at times brutally tough world. I would always feel ashamed to be an Indian, to be part of a society which allowed children to be used in such a way. I mean these kids were pretty much living withing the 10 squre km area where you lived all your life and yet what a different life I lived compared to a slum dweller. 
But as one grows up Ive realised that these guys have dreams and dare to follow them with a lot more guts than the average middle class guy. Inspite of the fact that life has been harsh and unfair to them. Probably the generation  before mine did need to be validated by foreigners. Western validation was needed to be called First World. I guess that attitude still exists a little bit. But honestly why am I ashamed to be an Indian because of its poverty? Why should I be? When even the children who grow up in such poverty are proud of themselves why do I need to be ashamed ?  I guess being ashamed about the poor is a nice way for us to feel we have our moral fibre in place. But this is not a moral issue, it actually is an economic issue. We tend to compensate what gets us angry with sadness and sense of pity. Pity is a horrible word, because it seems like a escape clause. Fact is most of us would not think twice striking up a bargain of Rs 5/-  from your local bhaji wala or fruitwala who live in poverty. Fact is we pity them and most of them wouldnt care for your pity. A fruitwala who earns Rs50 a day could sure do with Rs55/- a lot more than pity which only serves the one who shows in and not the one who is being pitied upon. No, being a person who loves Mumbai, I am not ashamed of its slums. I am angry about the fact that they exist, but not ashamed. Slumdog Millionaire was a movie which wasnt showing India’s poor as people who were ashamed of themselves. It was a unabashed movie of a underdog. And no need to pity ourselves and feel outraged that see how India’s poverty is being sold abroad. I rather see a movie in which  a slumdog becomes a millionaire than see a movie where millionaires tell you how its all about loving your parents.