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Old 12-12-2016, 01:34 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Review thread of movies I saw on TV or DVD

Before the rains

i bought this DVD because the movie is shot in some of india's most favoured tourist destinations in the south indian state of kerala---the hill station of munnar situated at the height of 5000 feet above sea level amidst magnificent coffee plantations , and athirapally waterfalls . and the photography and colours of the film are superb indeed , just as i expected .

so what conflict could be emerging in this sylvan bounty of nature ? in fact , it is not conflict but appropriately in the lovely settings it is love....love between a british plantation owner ( linus roache ) and an indian woman ( nandita das ) , during colonial times when the british ruled india . but the love itself is of the kind that inspires conflict , because both are married people who have spouses .

so an illicit affair is on between two lusty people , and it leads to some red hot kissing and love making scenes in the green settings of vegetation and waterfalls . but there is a difference between the positions of the two ; while linus is a scion of the master race the british , nandita is a servant belonging to a conquered race the indians . above all , linus is a man and can get away with anything but nandita is a woman and women are never forgiven for their perfidies !!

so nandita's husband discovers that she is cheating on him , and beats her up . she runs for shelter to her lover , but he proves to be a man of straw . he asks his loyal indian friend ( rahul bose ) to send nandita off and rahul does so , but she returns back . linus refuses to take her , fearing the wrath of his wife ( jennifer ehle ) who loves him dearly and dotes on their son . out of sheer dispair , nandita shoots herself dead with a pistol that linus had given to rahul . linus and rahul dispose off her body in a rivulet despite rahul's misgivings that not giving her a proper hindu cremation will force her soul to remain unreleased from her body .

linus and rahul return to their work of building a road that will help export their plantation's spices to the outside world , and they hope to earn enormous profits after that road is built . this even though whether the road will hold after the onset of the heavy rains that plague this part of india is open to question . however all is not placid in the world around them ; an independence movement is gathering storm to drive the british out of india , and rahul has to resist calls to join the movement . he is torn between his friendship with linus and the call to drive linus's people the british out of his motherland . rahul's father accuses him of forgetting the traditions of his motherland and becoming a slave of the british ways and customs .

the situation comes to boil when nandita's brother asks his villagers to search for her , and her body is found with the bullet that matches the caliber of the gun that linus has given rahul . the villagers drag rahul in front of the elders because they suspect him of having killed nandita . and they ask him to undergo trial by fire to prove his innocence .

so will rahul come out of the trial by fire unscathed ? will he blurt out the truth of the affair of linus and nandita which led to her suicide ? will the real culprit ( linus ) be brought to book ? as the whole drama is being played out just before the onset of the rainy season ( hence the name of the movie ) , will the coming rains destroy the road that is being built or will the road survive ? watch the movie for the answers....

the movie is brought to life by director santosh sivan's great cinematography of the lush greenery of kerala , and some stupendous acting by rahul bose and linus roache and nandita das and jennifer ehle . linus roache particularly has a difficult job to do---play a person committed to his wife but also unwilling to be able to let go of his sexual attraction for nandita for whom he has begun to care , and being forced to dump nandita because he does not have the guts to face the consequences of his actions . music is beautiful too , though there are no songs despite the film being set in india ; it is an english movie after all and not a bollywood film , though some dialogues are in malayalam which is the language of the state of kerala .

the climax has some real meaning but will be disappointing for some viewers ; it will be liked only by those who like art films . the director has managed to create drama throughout the film and help maintain audience interest . but again the drama will be of interest only for the art film buffs .

verdict---decent .

three stars .
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Old 12-12-2016, 02:38 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Memoirs of a geisha ( 2005 )---

The setting is Japan , where Geishas have their own place in society .

Narration of the film is done in the wonderfully old voice of a Geisha who has been through the ups and downs of life . And as is typical in the life stories of fallen women ( and a Geisha IS a fallen woman , no matter how sophisticated she is ) , she has been sold as a sex slave when she was a child along with her sister by her father who desperately needs the money .

The first 45 minutes of the movie are tragic and are filled with heart rending moments , like the moment when the leading actress and her sister are separated from each other permanently to go to different brothels . And as is inevitable in these stories , their attempts to escape from the hell they are in are unsuccessful .

To be honest I can't make myself see these stories of women sold into sex slavery for giving pleasure to men , for to me human trafficking is the worst crime on the planet . But something made me hold on to seeing the rest of the movie---maybe it was the atmosphere of the mystical orient that the movie creates . Even though I am an oriental myself ( I am from India ) , this was a different variety of orient I was seeing---the Japanese form .

And the film certainly recreates the society of Japan on celluloid , and it also wonderfully recreates the era of the 1930s in Japan . Photography is good too , though the film looks like it has forever been shot in the dark ; maybe that is because it deals with ladies of the night....

Or maybe that is because the film deals with a dark theme---the life of a Geisha , which is filled with many moments of sorrow and others of despair....

But our heroine ( here I revert to the Indian practice of calling the character played by the leading actress as 'heroine' ) is a lionheart , trying to survive through all the heartbreak and trying to triumph against the odds . And heartbreaking moments are many , brought about by a jealous rival older geisha who fears that our heroine may outclass her in the profession one day , and also brought by those whose ambitions are destroyed by our heroine's march towards success .

However in her march towards success , our heroine breaks one golden rule of a geisha---that as woman born to give pleasure to many men she cannot fall in love . For love demands fidelity to one person and her profession is such that she cannot remain loyal to one man .

Instead , our heroine has one outstanding desire in among all the trials and tribulations in life---to get as close to and be a part of the life of the man she has fallen in love with . And she is ready to strain her wits and renounce her pleasures to reach her goal . But her enemies come to know about her secret desire too , and use it to give her further heartache . How long will she hold on to hope....??

The second world war interrupts this world and temporarily the life of our heroine is turned upside down . And at the end of the war comes a new phenomenon---the American occupation of the country . Along with the occupation come American soldiers flush with dollars and also flush with unbridled lust....

So how does our lovely geisha cope with the new situation ??
Does she get the love of the man she has dared to love for so long ?? Does he even know about it ??
Does a woman of her profession and in her situation have the right to fall in love at all ??
Can a woman sold as a sex slave in childhood ever dream of happiness ??

Watch the movie for the answers....it will be a good watch....

The whole world loves a lover.....
And like a hopeless romantic I found myself rooting for the heroine to get her love and her happiness .

Or maybe that was the effect of the film....
.....For the director has woven tapestry of romance wonderfully over the setting of the film in the magical orient . And he has created a bygone era peace and war with practiced ease on the silver screen . It would be hard to resist seeing such a tale on celluloid....

Verdict---Very good .
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Old 12-14-2016, 09:40 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Rajjo ( 2013 )

Rajjo is the love story of a prostitute---and as expected , it is full of problems for her and the man she loves and marries . But the problems are more the ones created by the director rather than the expected ones . In fact sympathy for the love story pours from the ones who are least expected to be in favour of it---the ones who control the brothel of course . They actually solemnise the marriage between the couple and allow the girl ( who had been sold to the brothel owner in her tender age ) to go !! The movie seems far from real at this point ; why would a brothel owner let go of a girl he has bought without asking for his price ? It is upto the director to prove that he can make a real story beyond this point , and surprisingly he does make us empathise with the love story for a while , failing only at the end .

Paras Arora plays a young boy who comes from a marathi brahmin household . Once on winning a sports event he is taken to the fleshpots of Grant road in Mumbai for seeing a dance by prostitutes . And on seeing the dance by a beautiful girl named Rajjo ( played by Kangana Ranaut ) he is simply mesmerised . To be honest I was mesmerised too....Kangana's exposed belly looks so deliciously delicate , her navel so attractive , her cleavage oh so inviting , her soft back in backless blouse so fair and lovely , and her movements while dancing so lascivious , that I kept on looking at her slim white body that is so perfect for dancing....

With the brothel owner being paid to allow him to meet Rajjo , Paras strikes a rapport with her and soon it develops into love . Encouraged by a politician's speech asking young men to come forward to marry sex workers and liberate them from their profession , Paras decides to marry Rajjo especially because the politician promises a job and a house for doing so . But the politician's promises are false , and his own parents predictably throw him out of his house for marrying a prostitute . To make things worse , another politician and his thugs are after Rajjo because that politician ( Prakash Raj ) lusts for her . Even though the couple flees away to a village , the politician and his goons rentlessly harass them there . The brothel where Rajjo grew up also is destroyed by property developers...in short trouble strikes everywhere . How the couple manage to extricate themselves out of this forms the rest of the story .

Paras Arora really looks innocent enough to not know the consequences of marrying a whore . But it is Kangana whose charms as Rajjo are delectable enough to make us watch the movie . Many actors in the movie are marathi because the director is marathi . But the ending is disappointing , even though the saga of the couple does hold out interest midway in the movie . Colours of the movie are good , and songs are okay . The highlight of the movie are the three dances by Kangana in sexy clothes .

The movie majorly flopped at the box office , but interestingly scored at the box office at one theatre even after other theatres had stopped showing it . That theatre was situated in Falkland road , the heart of Mumbai's red light district . Even in failure , the movie was honoured by the people it depicts---some cold satisfaction for the makers of the movie....

Verdict--okay .
Two stars .
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Old 12-14-2016, 09:49 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Jigariya

Agra---famous for the world's most iconic monument for love , the Taj mahal built by mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory for his lost wife Mumtaz mahal....and therefore a fit setting for some old fashioned no holds barred romance that seems to have happened in another age....

....But that age still lives in India , for this story is supposed to be actually inspired by true events that probably occurred in the 20th century....

So we head towards the state of Uttar pradesh where Agra is situated , to those backwaters of India where practical matters rarely rule young lovers' minds like they do in modern cities like Mumbai/Bombay and Delhi , and people are ready to do and die for love....

.....And where such stories exist , there ashdoc goes---for somewhere inside me there is the heart of a hopeless romantic....
I could not watch this movie in the theatres when it was released a few months back , and all my efforts to get a DVD/VCD of it failed for the simple reason that the film has not been released in that version....so I was forced to watch it in youtube , where a grainy video of the film exists....

So Shyamlal Gupta ( Shamu---played by Harshvardhan Deo ) is the son of the owner of a sweetmeats shop . He is a wastrel---fails in college repeatedly , does not help his father in the shop , and spends his time idling the time away with his good for nothing friends . His only passion is creating poetry , a talent in which he excels and in which he is really original---to the point of dreaming of becoming a writer . But one day he lays his eyes on Radha ( played by Cherry Mardia ) , the goodlooking daughter of a rich man .And he falls in love with her . Showing an enthusiasm which he rarely shows in studies and work , he chases her rentlessly with the help of his friends till he locates her , and then claws his way into her house by winning the admiration of her grandmother using various tricks . Radha is initially reluctant to befriend him , but he is helped by a stroke of fortune----she turns out to be a aficionado of poetry just like him , and she is so impressed by his poetry that she gradually falls in love with him .

And then life gets the soft and endearing glow of requited romance....a romance that is played out in the magnificent monuments that the city of Agra possesses ; historical monuments that are the legacy of the rule of mughal emperors who had made Agra the capital city of their sprawling empire . It happens in the shadow of the Taj , and in a fashion which the emperor Shah Jahan would have approved....Shamu sits on an imaginary throne with a rose in his hand in the fashion of the great mughal , and Radha dances in front of him as if she is a dancing girl dancing in front of a mughal emperor ; and at the end of her performance , the emperor of her heart bestows her with his rose....needless to say , such scenes are possible only when both lovers are fond of poetry....

Uptil now , the film had a lighthearted tone and was full of funny scenes ; but suddenly the movie became intense as reality strikes....and that reality is all too familiar to people in these backward parts of India---the girl's family comes to know of the romance , and predictably they are appalled by their daughter's love for a person of a status that is not equal to them....
To be honest , I must congratulate the director for not showing violence being unleashed at this point ; for the situation was ripe for that . Ultimately the violence does come however , though only towards the end....

So what happens to the romance of the two lovebirds ?? Can it overcome all the obstacles to fulfil it's destiny ??
Watch the movie for the answers....I waited a long time to see a pathetic quality video of this film on youtube , but still felt that it was worth it....
And unless the film comes on TV , only that video is available for watching it....but those who have yen for romance as well as poetry will not regret watching this film .

The director and the actors excel in showing passion of love , a passion that may seem far fetched for those with practical minds ; and passion that can make the lovers cross the threshold of the impossible....but that passion seems fit in the shadow of the world's most iconic monument for love---the Taj mahal , what else....
Photography and music is good , and acting by everyone is good too .

At the end of it all , my only wish was that the film should have had a happier ending . But the film is supposedly based on a real life incident , and reality is always grim....so sometimes is life !!

Verdict---Good .
Three stars .
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