Super Filmi Week: How about Alia and Bhumi together in a movie?

Savouring Spielberg’s fierce, fine, movie; salivating over MAMI 2017’s line-up; gobbling a Shrek cake; visualising a desi Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants with Alia, Bhumi and more in my Super Filmi Week.

Monday

Most people have late-night cravings for food. I have one for films. Of course,Saving Private Ryan is anything but a light snack.

I watched Steven Spielberg’s World War II drama in the late 1990s and don’t remember much except flashes of the viscerally staggering Omaha beach battle featuring a shell-shocked Tom Hanks and his momentary hearing loss.

On revisiting the 22-minute long sequence and its blood-splattered recreation of chaos and brutal atmosphere of mortality, I realise how much of it has got compressed in my memory.

Depiction of violence has intensified rabidly in the last two decades, but the intensity of Saving Private Ryan‘s prolonged assault hasn’t lost an ounce of its fury.

My friends have told me about people throwing up in theatre and storming out of the screening at the time of its release.

As I nervously absorb images of guts spurting out, dismembered arms and horrifying urgency, it’s easy to see why.

But there’s more to Saving Private Ryan (which fetched Spielberg his second Best Director Oscar and marked the beginning of a beautiful working relationship with Tom Hanks) than ingenious spectacle.

It’s both kinetic and moving, deafening yet quiet and endeavours to isolate the person from his predicament as transparently as possible to ‘earn’ its place in cinematic history.

Tuesday
On my flight from Delhi to Mumbai, I catch an episode of Black Mirror on the iPad — Netflix has this cool feature where you can download episodes on a device.

It’s a curious episode called The Waldo Moment concerning a small-time comedian and his facial recognition-equipped, animated alter ego, how his irreverent political stance gains unprecedented momentum in the election season culminating in the triumph of marketing over meaning.

Later that night, I turn on Apple’s LIVE iPhone X launch and what do I see?

The brand new emoji feature is exactly what Waldo is all about.

A cheeky tweet from Black Mirror‘s official Twitter handle (external link) doesn’t waste any time in taking some credit for its inspiration.

Remarkable how Waldo, one of the least loved episodes of an otherwise acclaimed series, is easily the most far-sighted of the lot, be its bizarre likeness to Donald Trump’s startling win or expression-capturing animojis.

Wednesday
Browsing through Bollywood’s Instagram accounts for a fashion listicle I bump into similar looking photos of two different actresses.

Besides its back-to-the-camera pose in European cities, both Shraddha Kapoor and Kriti Sanon are sporting identical floral shorts.

Idea!

How fun if Zoya Akhtar remakes The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants — a coming-of-age drama about four best friends with different body types sharing the same pair of jeans for a week each throughout summer whilst adhering to a set of rules — with these two alongside Bhumi Pednekar and Alia Bhatt?

Sounds promising, no?

Thursday
I hate press conferences, but my eagerness to learn what movies will play at the Mumbai Film Festival this year, which kick-starts on October 12, compels me to take the trouble.

At J W Marriott, the festival’s key players Kiran Rao, Anupama Chopra, Smriti Kiran and filmmakers Rohan Sippy and Anurag Kashyap (whose Mukkebaaz is its opening film) add to the enthusiasm with exciting announcements on what to expect and what’s in store.

Kashyap reveals he picked MAMI over the Busan film festival to share his story about a Bareilly boxer.

In a nutshell, Italian actress Monica Bellucci will be dropping by, John Madden is heading the international competition jury that also features Konkona Sen Sharma, a whopping participation of 220 movies from 49 countries includes keenly anticipated fare like The Square, Call Me By Your Name, On Body and Soul, The Third Murder, Spoor, Loveless, 24 Frames, Sweet Country and The Florida Project while the ever gratifying India Gold line-up includes Shlok Sharma’s Zoo, Sanal Kumar Sasidharan’s Sexy Durga and Ektara Collective’s Turup to name a few.

Besides a welcome break from Bollywood-prompted monotony, film festivals offer a glorious platform showcasing cinema’s reach and a world beyond ours most intimately, for better or worse.

I look forward to the MAMI experience. You should too.

Friday
No clue how the hyped-for-all-the-wrong-reasons Kangana Ranaut starrer Simranis, but the other Friday release Lucknow Central is watchable for biting off as much as it can chew.

As I mentioned in my review, ‘low-hanging ambitions and straightforward conflict’ in addition to some decent efforts by its cast of Farhan Akhtar, Rajesh Sharma, Ravi Kishen, Deepik Dobriyal, Diana Penty, Ronit Roy, Inaamulhaq and Gippy Grewal ensure it’s not a complete slog.

Lucknow Central comes alive in their combined chemistry and culminates fruitfully in Jee Karda, a spectacular recreation of the Monsoon Wedding original,’ easily the highpoint of this erratically paced movie.

Saturday
At my nephew’s birthday party today, I feel as celebrated as the two year old.

It’s the ultimate tribute to my cinephile sensibilities that every year his birthday cake is inspired by a character I introduced in his life.

Last year it was The Lion King.

This year it is Shrek, a film that I’ve watched so many times I’ve lost count and love beyond measure or reason. And I am glad to report, at this point, so does he.

And because everything about my life is bound to be super-filmi, the cake happens to be baked by filmmaker Ramesh Behl’s daughter Tania.

Tania worked on the production design of her brother Goldie’s Drona before dashing off to London’s Le Cordon Bleu for a diploma course in baking and now runs a successful bespoke dessert studio.

Sunday
There are all kinds of Web series floating on the Net, but I quite enjoyed the easy humour and cosy vibe around Dice Media’s What The Folks (external link) streaming on YouTube.

It has the believability of Doordarshan-day serials where everyday scenes and modest conversations depicting a family, its easily resolved tiffs and touching closeness mirrors our own.

Except it’s set in 2017 and speaks the language of a modern, middle-class urban household, one that is liberal enough to accommodate expletives but still getting a grasp on political correctness.

The theme of What The Folks is compatibility triggered by a young man’s stay at his in-law’s home during an extended work trip.

What ensues is a mild clash between old versus new values, temperaments and priorities over a series of droll misadventures.

Director Ruchir Arun deftly handles day-to-day problems as well as rampant stereotyping in the disguise of traditional expectations and social prejudices.

Whether he’s addressing the age difference between the couple or exasperating over the forced propriety reserved for the daughter’s husband, it’s marked by a refreshingly restrained approach.

Above all, Vipin Sharma and Deepika Deshpande Amin’s crackling depiction as the over fussing, diplomatic and well meaning in-laws lends What The Folks an effervescence that makes its 20-minutes long five episodes a breeze to watch.

This column was first published on rediff.com.

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