Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Hazaaron Khwahishen Aisi

Saw Hazaaron Khwahishen Aisi. Loved it. Though first things first. The movie has now moved to matinee slot and I was expecting the ticket rates to be lower. Well, at the Movietime Multiplex - Goregoan, they just hiked the peak show rates (Rs. 130). And for matinee, you have a choice of neck breaking Rs. 80 or ring-tone disturbing (more of that later) Rs.100.

Anyway, I had waited too long to catch this movie (refusing to pay Rs. 130 once at Fun Republic). Anyway, the movie is a must-watch for any movie-buff. In spite of being heavy in it's subject and having all the trappings of an art movie, it's a very sensitive, poignant film with some hilariously comical moments.The story is set during the turbulent times of the emergency when "India was pulled in a thousand directions". But the strength of it is that, it doesn't want to be all encompassing saga of the revolution, but just an intimate tale about the lives of its three protagonists - Siddharth (K K Menon), Geeta (Chitraganda Singh) and Vikram (Shiny Ahuja). In fact, there in lies its strength. You feel for the characters - understand their anguish, rejoice in their fleeting joys and comprehend their bewilderment at being caught in perplexing and dangerous times.

For me, the story works best as a love story (in spite of its potent political message). Vikram pines for Geeta all his life and she keeps finding different men - either as husband or lover (Siddharth). You know that Vikram is nasty unscrupulous wheeler-dealer, "amassing wealth at rapid rate". Nevertheless, he is a lovable rogue who is ready to use his connections when his friends are in dire need. So, the rejection he faces from Geeta is heart-breaking. The scene when he sees Geeta and Siddharth making love during the college party captures his pain perfectly. He is shattered. The quawwali plays in the background (not part of the party music though, just an overlay), the other couples jive slowly. Vikram stands on the lawns staring blankly. Nothing said, but somehow deeply moving. Also, the best climax in recent times, where Geeta reads the words "I Love you...Geeta" scrawled by a now mentally incapacitated Vikram. It's almost the same spot where Vikram has had an argument with Siddharth about their ideologies and Vikram asks Siddharth to sure, go build a mental institution there. There's the bitter irony to it all - about how fundamentally Vikram loves Geeta (to be able to express the feeling in spite of his handicap), Geeta, a UK return and a neo-convert-by-just-being-the-other-half decides to stay back and Siddharth, the revolutionary begs off after suffering the worst of the emergency and goes abroad.

The other aspect I loved was the humour. Of course, it's a serious movie. But the light moments are hilarious. Esp. when Vikram is hitch hiking in a van to Bhojpur(?) to save Siddharth. The driver falls asleep at the wheel and the van just tumbles into the river. The scene is just hilarious. Followed by bandaged Vikram's outburst at an even more bandaged Siddharth in the hospital for getting him in that mess. To the scene were Vikram is about to be shot (you are laughing and terrified at the same time). Then there are quips and one-liners scattered throughout the film, that just lead to some crackling screenplay.

I am not sure if the lead players talking in English all the time is such a good thing. And I wonder if use of Hindi would have brought the same spark (as we seem to lack of good Hindi writers). Yeah, sure the lead players are a privileged lot (Vikram turns into one), but excessive usage smacks of elitism and also mars a very good film's mass reach (surely you want the aam voting junta to catch a film as political as this one).

Anyway, acting front. K K Menon, reliable. Chitrangada Singh looks so much like Smita Patil. As beautiful and a good actress with amazing voice. Shiny Ahuja shines (still haven't caught Sins). Plays his part with great aplomb. Wish he does something about his curly hair though.

The audience also seemed to lap it. The theatre was half-full (more than that for Lucky at the same venue, yipee!). The cell phone rang only twice (as against during Lucky, when people were shamelessly chatting away into it. That's why I find it better to sit away from the main audience to avoid their murmur and cell-talk.

Also, the film was surely censor certified during the earlier (BJP) government's tenure. I wonder, if the current govt. would have. Even though the references to Indira Gandhi and Sanjay Gandhi are veiled, still anything to do with the emergency incriminates the Gandhi family all over again.
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