Super filmi week: Grace under fire!

Be it Oscars, Kareena Kapoor or Karan Johar, my super-filmi week is a study in grace for both the right and wrong reasons.

Monday

 

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My day began unusually early today to post a live commentary of the 89th edition of Oscars on rediff.

Whatever opinion one may reserve about Hollywood’s biggest party itself, there’s no ignoring its bombshell of a final act or what I like to call the Big Best Picture Bungle-up that’s bound to come up over and over.

It is bizarre to witness how quickly the tone transforms from predictability to perplexity when team La La Land, in the middle of giving their acceptance speeches, is rudely informed that presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway read out from the wrong envelope and the actual recipient of Best Film is Moonlight.

As unpleasant it all is, something heartening does spring out of the gaffe –extraordinary grace. La La Land producer Jordan Horowitz is the first to acknowledge the error and warmly embrace Moonlight director Barry Jenkins. Jenkins reciprocates in kind and goes on to give a speech he hadn’t planned. They could have all been very obvious in their displeasure but instead one side’s composure and another’s graciousness helped us enjoy the fulfilment of a ‘dream-come-true’ in more ways than one without any worry.

There’s another guy we must acknowledge and appreciate – the one who had to make sense and humour out of this nightmare – host Jimmy Kimmel. The TRPs may be on an all-time low but Kimmel’s ‘this is embarrassing but not end of the world’ position refused to allow the moment becoming as clumsy as the reality of it.

The show goes on, folks!

Tuesday

Success defined Rajendra Kumar’s popularity. They used to call him Jubilee Kumar after all. He chose his movies with care and had a good insight into the pulse of his audience. But I never knew the Mere Mehboob star could be such a dedicated method actor.

Watching an old interview of his, conducted two years before his demise in 1999, where Rajendra Kumar discusses the landmark films of his career, I realise there’s more to his achievement than super hits.

The man simply glowed up as he shared stories of his artistic endeavors and technical know-how, the commitment and passion it entailed along with a sincere appreciation for the contribution of his directors and co-stars.

Reminiscing about one of his earliest breakthroughs, the black and white love story Goonj Uthi Shehnai, directed by the legendary Vijay Bhatt and boasting of Ustad Bismillah Khan’s shehnai recital, the actor reveals how he would sit with ‘Khan Sahab’ during the recording, tape the music, make mental notes of his expressions, movement of eye, shoulder and fingers or the practical difference involved between playing a flute and shehnai. He even got the studio to make him a dummy shehnai, which he then used to rehearse in front of the mirror for hours.

This homework paid richly.

During a trial show of Goonj Uthi Shehnai, the actor nervously asked the maestro what he thought of his performance in the film. “Khan Sahab laughed and told me, ‘Arre bhai, aap to humein nazar hi nahi aaye. Hum toh apne aap ko dekhte rahe.’ I could not have asked for a greater compliment.”

Compelled by this interview, I look for a video of Goonj Uthi Shehnai. The movie may not have aged so well but its stirring shehnai and Rajendra Kumar’s soulful internalization of the one playing it lives on.

Wednesday

Often teen movies are about fitting in, cliques, heartaches and creating fashionable lingo or campus trends. The best ones are those that are sensitive to its protagonists in focus and acquaint us to their tender troubles most intimately, resisting the urge to label them.

Full of heart, humour and Hailee Steinfeld’s canny, energetic charisma, The Edge of Seventeen is about being a teenager and the self-doubt as well as possibilities that alternately hurt and heal.

Its fizzy and fabulous John Hughes aesthetic in underlining what matters and what does not goes a long way in turning The Edge of Seventeen into a movie that resonates whether you are or used to be a teenager.

Thursday

 

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Browsing through Kareena Kapoor Khan’s photos from an event, I make the mistake of reading the comments below. Pretty much every single one is an unflattering remark about her post-delivery body.

Looks are a big thing for movie stars. They want to appear sparkling at all times. No matter how long the flight is, how painful the stilettos, how uncomfortable a fabric, how glaring the camera flash, how temping the pizza, they do their best to look their best.

So when Kareena, the same Kareena who once turned size zero for a bikini ready frame in Tashan, shows up least bothered about her weight and exudes confidence and glamour whilst fulfilling her endorsement duties, it is a wonderful demonstration of empowerment for me.

Except those cruel jibes below bare the ugly face of misogyny. The Bollywood hero can never grow old. Only a few days back, there was a Govinda interview on the site and commentators gushed about the 53-year-old all rounder and his excellent comic timing. His talent supersedes the need to look young and charming all the time.

Why cannot they extend the same courtesy towards Bebo?

Friday

It’s one helluva action-packed Friday. Two trips to PVR, both action movies –only one is a cruel joke masquerading as cinema and another on its way to becoming a comic-book classic.

As I wrote in my Commando 2 review, “Unlike the 2013 Commando, which wisely focused on Vidyut Jammwal’s brawn and brawling skills to land a punch, comedian Deven Bhojani’s forgettable debut as feature film director confuses its crummy fickleness for a plot and, even more laughable, purpose. The upshot is bad, ridiculously bad.”

On the other end of the spectrum, Hugh Jackman’s brutal, brooding delivery in and as Logan lingers on long in my system. There’s violence that feels gratifying and sensational. But in Logan, it is urgent, turbulent and inescapable. A throbbing pain bleeds through its scenes and soul shattering the myths of superhero invincibility we’ve grown accustomed to and exhausted of.

Logan isn’t devoid of spectacle but without pandering to the blockbuster requisites that places industrial noise and mass-scale devastation above traumatizing conflict and profound ferocity.

Also, don’t remember the last time a superhero made me cry.

Saturday

Two action movies and some bad popcorn ensure Saturday is spent reeling from a nasty bout of food poisoning.

Bed-ridden, I take refuge in radio. It’s a Rahul Dev Burman tune. The song in question is Kaisi Lag Rahi Hoon Main from a Dharmendra-Rekha movie called Jhutha Sach. It’s a breezy, blissful melody; the kind RD never got wrong. Listening to it though, throws me in a slightly pensive mood.

It reminds me of a time when I was naïve enough to lap up everything silly happening in the movies. Mostly it led to much marvel and hilarity but, occasionally, to wishful thinking too.

In Jhutha Sach, Dharmendra dies in an accident and his wife Rekha finds a lookalike to pose as him for the benefit of their two kids.

Now this was a convenient Bollywood trope adopted in several films like Kasme Vaade to lend the narrative its quintessential twist. But as a kid who did not know better and lost her father under similar circumstances, I hoped for the same miracle.

Among the countless ideas I came up with, I also entertained the possibility of my mom finding my father’s clone and completing the family picture. In that brief time, it seemed like a reasonable request and comforting thought.

Had almost forgotten how soothing stupidity can be sometimes.

Sunday

 

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It’s nice to learn about filmmaker Karan Johar turning daddy to Yash and Roohi through surrogacy, especially after seeing how emotionally he spoke about his parental instincts kicking in.

Clearly though the brand new trend is how to outrage over celebrity newborns.

Be it AbRam, Taimur and now Johar juniors, it’s disturbing to see how as a society we’ve just lost the ability to feel happy for anyone unless there’s something for us in it. It’s like platforms that give us voice are turning us into wolves delighting in random criticism.

And to think my week began with the most touching display of grace!

This column was first published on rediff.com.

Previously:
More power to Anushka Sharma
Rishi Kapoor’s page-turning debut!
Picking Jedi skills from Amitabh Bachchan
Mera wala Shah Rukh
Ranbir-Ranveer, sigh sigh!
When Tabu struggled with a 500 rupee note
Of post-festival blues and toilet titles!
Finding links of life in Dhoni’s Ranchi and Madhuri’s Mujrim!
Inside Dharmendra-Hema’s intensely private world
Power of Pink
The irrepressible cuteness of Pooja Bhatt
Indradhanush was our Stranger Things
When Saif Ali Khan wore Rishi Kapoor’s sweater
Getting nostalgic about the 1980s, Winona Ryder & Kishore Kumar
Rediscovering Gulzar’s Ghalib & finding Free Love
Applauding NTR’s Superman on screen!
Tripping on A R Rahman
A millipede and Kimi Katkar’s monsoon romance
Udta Punjab, worst casting decisions, and naheeee…!
Of warring Khan bhakts and meeting Mogambo!
Ranbir’s forgotten romance in Bachna Ae Haseeno
Funnier than Aishwarya’s lips
Clashing superheroes and crying Khans
OCDing on Neetu Singh’s LPs!
Garam Dharam, Mantrik Origins, Rockstar Cruise

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