Super filmi week: Gulzar’s gussa, Sachin’s tears!

Christopher Nolan’s next, Gulzar’s gussa, Shyam Benegal’s Shivaji and RD’s Lawrence of Arabia connection, catch all this and more in my Super Filmi Week.


Christopher Nolan on the sets of Dunkirk

What should Christopher Nolan direct next?

My question on The New Yorker Movie Club’s Facebook page attracts unique responses — porn, zombies, anime, something without Michael Caine (or Hans Zimmer), you name it.

Many would love to see the Dunkirk director dabble in romance. Many feel it would be a complete waste of his high-calibre capabilities.

Some wish him to adapt Dante’s The Divine Comedy or Blake Crouch’s Dark Matter, but a whole lot is curious to see Nolan helm horror if not the next 007.

One fellow shares a bizarre synopsis involving submarine, pilots, explorers and cannibalistic crewmates in mind.

Though nothing beats someone’s suggestion of an intergalactic war involving time travel ‘where Hitler is a transgender-fluid-pan sexual fighting against a bisexual black man who’s best friend is a furry cisgender.’

I am pretty sure that’s not happening anytime soon. But it is fascinating to note the confidence and imagination he elicits in his viewers.

Fitting too, given Nolan’s extraordinary body of work: Following, Memento, Insomnia, The Prestige, Inception, Interstellar and, of course, The Dark KnightTrilogy.

Personally, it’s not what he’s going to make, but how he surprises me that is exciting. What do you think?


Naseeruddin Shah and Om Puri in Bharat Ek Khoj

I am celebrating India’s 70th Independence Day with an episode of Shyam Benegal’s magnum opus Bharat Ek Khoj focusing on Shivaji.

Benegal’s 53-episode adaptation of Jawaharlal Nehru’s The Discovery of India is an integral part of any kid’s nostalgia growing up on Doordarshan in the 1980s.

But I’d recommend revisiting the series as an adult to appreciate its finer nuances and filmmaking technique.

Naseeruddin Shah is most majestic as Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and duly conveys his metamorphosis from fledgling to master statesman and founder of the Maratha empire.

Om Puri pitches in as the shrewd, spiteful Aurangzeb and contributes to a dramatic war of words between the two over Swaraj and Sultanat.

Often historicals are so single-mindedly pompous and jingoistic in the portrayal of its most loved or loathed figures, they neglect to acquaint us to their complexities.

Benegal’s version is restrained in its drama and effectively brings out the bold strategies and open rebellion that made Shivaji so popular among his followers while also touching upon his anxieties as a leader.

Politicians may paint him as the face of a certain ideology, but watching this episode compels you to look at the icon differently.


Asha Parekh and Jeetendra in Caravan

Every time I hear the tune in the opening credits of Nasir Hussain’s 1971 musical Caravan, I rack my brains to remember where I’ve heard it before.

Finally, today, it’s come to me.

Rahul Dev Burman snitched a significant bit from Maurice Jarre’s Oscar-winning score of David Lean’s Lawrence of Arabia and cleverly camouflaged it in Usha Uthup’s stylish crooning.

RD also took obvious ‘inspiration’ from Abba’s Mamma Mia for a song medley in Hussain’s Hum Kisise Kum Nahin.


Kajol in VIP 2: Lalkar

I quite enjoyed the first VIP and its cheeky commentary on unemployment and resourcefulness and was hoping to see the same unassuming humour in its sequel.

But the difference of director shows.

Soundary Rajnikanth takes over from Velraj and turns the story from an unapologetic underdog’s coming-of-age into a brash, misogynist lout’s taming of a puffed-up shrew.

Dhanush and Kajol try to have some fun around an out-dated setup that’s too daft to exploit the charisma of its leads beyond slo-mo overkill.

VIP 2 attempts something interesting towards the climax, but everything preceding it goes downhill.

Although if anyone decides to make a biopic on the famously temperamental Balaji honcho Ekta Kapoor, Kajol is the boss.

Like I wrote in my review, ‘Kajol is a spontaneous snob and breathtaking bully.’


A still from Satya

Happy Birthday, Gulzar!

I cannot imagine anyone who’s as respected as this ingenious, illustrious, iconic artist in the industry.

When one thinks of him, one imagines exquisite poetry, sophisticated aesthetics, classical imagination but the poet-filmmaker is nothing if not versatile in his accessibility.

Be it Lakdi Ki Kathi or Yaara Seeli Seeli, Golmaal Hai Bhai Sab Golmaal Hai or Goli Maaro Bheje Mein, there’s no boundary to Gulzar’s fancy.

The mention of Goli Maar reminds me of an amusing anecdote co-writer Anurag Kashyap recounted in a television interview to journalist Rajeev Masand discussing Ram Gopal Varma’s underworld drama, Satya.

Apparently, the filmmaker and his crew preferred its composer Vishal Bhardwaj’s dummy lyrics Gham Ke Neeche Bomb Lagake Gham Udado to Gulzar’s original wording.

Kashyap was assigned the unpleasant task of telling the veteran how the other lines worked better compared to what he had written.

Gulzar put him in place saying, first learn to pronounce Gham.


A still from Bareilly Ki Barfi

Bareilly Ki Barfi is an easy-peasy confection focusing on three youngsters driven by little complexity and lot of indecision, which might not be exclusive to small-towners alone. But the language peppered in regional flavours and spontaneous humour sure celebrates its under-rated charm.

I just wish someone else had done the voiceover. Javed Akhtar’s voice isn’t as witty as his words.

Here are a few things I enjoyed in director Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari’s second offering:

Kriti Sanon’s Bitti Mishra is like all the Bennet sisters rolled into one. Her relaxed relationship with her dad (Pankaj Tripathi) and nok-jhonk equation with mum (Seema Pahwa) is what gives Bareilly Ki Barfi so much to smile about.

Rajkummar Rao provides the laughs. He brings the house down as the bakra turned badass. He’s a fabulous dancer too.

When it comes to burning the dance floor, he’s more mainstream than Kriti or Ayushmann Khurrana.

Despite a sketchy characterisation, Ayushmann turns what could be the most super cheesy climax into the most aww-inducing moment of Bareilly Ki Barfi.


Sachin: A Billion Dreams

Sunday begins on an intensely nostalgic note.

Watching Sachin: A Billion Dreams is a lot like looking back at your first love.

There’s a sense of contentment where you feel good about your choice and gladdened by the memories you made. But you’re sad too because that’s all it is now — memory.

I am just one of the billion voices that cheered ‘Sachiiin! Sachin!’ in that precise sur every time he came on the ground to bat. To be part of that joyous era witnessing the magic of Sachin Tendulkar at its peak feels special in itself.

The film is decidedly more ode than documentary of his Cricket God imagery, which itself is telling of how he is truly perceived. But then Sachin’s overwhelming celebrity is marked by performance, not antics.

At all times, he embodied hope and encouraged excellence. In a world filled with uncertainty, he instilled faith by doing his best, regardless of success or failure. It’s what makes us emotional around him and protective about him.

Sachin: A Billion Dreams presses all the right buttons and brings on the waterworks as we learn his state of mind through those crucial matches or the personal life he often missed out to become our champion.

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