SECTION 375 : A muddled perspective


Surprisingly the thing that lands the most in Ajay Bahl’s Section 375 is its gaze towards the ‘Me Too‘ and ‘Men Too‘ narrative. It is sensitive & balanced, and even though it does take a final side, it does not humanize or demonize the accused or the victim with unidimensional broad strokes. Bahl infact succeeds in creating an engaging courtroom drama, where both versions of a reported rape play out in a Rashomon style. And the narration has enough meat and logic for the audience or the judiciary bench to not take sides blindly at any time, or feel terribly compromised on wokeness, even if one may want to accuse the film of an unreasonable conscience. In fact, the film does well to lay out the distinctions between law and justice, and how both of them (especially the later) can get muddled by personal perspectives and biases.

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JUDGEMENTALL HAI KYA : Does Not Raise Itself Above Judgement

Bobby Batliwala Grewal in Judgementall Hai Kya is almost like a reel embodiment of the real life actor trying to make a statement – “Don’t judge me with my on the surface psychic and narcissistic behaviour, I can often see things that you can’t, and all you need is the right perspective to sense what is more dangerous around.

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ARTICLE 15 : When Change Begins with Each of Us

In one of the most impactful scenes of Article 15, Anubhav Sinha wants to expose the caste hierarchy deeply rooted within the system even amongst the protectors of law of our country. Most of them are not corrupt police officers per say, but they are just conditioned in a way since birth – so unconsciously aware not just of their castes, but even of the subdivisions within the highest and lowest stratas of that hierarchy. This is the team who have switched themselves off to a part of India that co-exists with them, but they turn a blind eye to ‘their‘ life and death problems, even without realising that their own life will become a dumpster without ‘their‘ help. This non-chalance and convulated thinking is baffling for their privileged and idealistic officer, and his extreme frustration shows up as he is at a loss of where to start cleaning the mess from. This is the India that has become.

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TEEN AUR AADHA : Memoirs of a Room

Ukranian filmmaker Dar Gai‘s (Daria Gaikalova) first Indian film (released for festivals in 2017, but finding its wider digital release only now in 2019 on Netflix) Teen aur Aadha has an interesting film premise when a house, more specifically a room, becomes a constant character across three different stories along its maturing timeline, with almost a common theme of central characters in each story wanting to break free off the confines of the same room. It becomes even more interesting when the each of the three stories are shot as continuous forty minutes long shots each without any cuts, as if trying to follow the arc of the protagonists up close.

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MUSIC TEACHER Review : Echoes from the Past

The new Netflix film Music Teacher reverberates with echoes from the past that scream about regrets, incompleteness, and pangs of unrequited love in its silences. Directed by Sarthak Dasgupta, and co-written by Dasgupta and Gaurav Sharma (dialogues), the film tells a visually lyrical story about how a failed music teacher confronts his demons from the past at every step, and is torn up internally by his realities of not getting anywhere in life while being bogged down by the astounding success of his own protege against her will, and losing her in the process.

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KALANK : An Epic Scale Botch Up


In one of the defining scenes of Kalank, Roop breaks the fourth wall and throws a question back to the audience to know “To aapne is kahaani me kya dekha – Kalank ya Mohabbat? ” I wish she could hear me saying “Kaash kuchh to dikh jaata..

And that in a nutshell is Kalank for me – a colossal disappointment as grand and as empty as the world it creates.

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PHOTOGRAPH : Capturing Poetry in Moments


If one has studied the filmography of Ritesh Batra over the past decade, one would know what to expect out of Photograph. Like The Lunchbox as well as his two other previous films, Batra is interested in telling his story through a minimalistic plot, and rather find magic in moments framed in eternity. He is constantly in search of poetry – in evocative city landscapes, in internal moments of truth of his characters, in the calmness of the unstated, and in suddenly found connections between the most unlikely individuals. With Photograph, he has challenged his own template to extreme ends, taking his most sketchy plot to date – of an uneducated, struggling, aging, Muslim photographer trying to please his grandmother with a story that he is in a committed relationship with a brilliant, middle-class, pretty, young, Hindu girl from another world – and then creating an album sprinkled with moments of warmth, tenderness and understated charm between two strikingly different worlds.

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BADLA : The Faltering Stories of Vengeance


Sujoy Ghosh‘s Badla is an official adaptation of the 2016 Spanish film Contratiempo (English Title – The Invisible Guest). Written and directed by Oriol Paulo, the original film in itself had a convoluted screenplay, with quite a few screenplay loopholes to arrive at the end, which by the way, could be seen from a distance even in the original writing. Add to it the gimmicky execution of the final ‘twist’, and the experience of The Invisible Guest was rather average. It is unfortunate then that an immensely talented and original screenplay writer like Ghosh draws his inspirations from the tepid material and then decides to adapt it almost verbatim to make Badla, well other than swapping the genders of the protagonists and their immediate surroundings.

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SONCHIRIYA : The Redemption Remains Elusive


Let me begin by stating that I am highly disappointed by the makers of Sonchiriya at this moment – in large parts of India, they simply decided to release a hindi dubbed version of the film, and didn’t bother to use any indicators in the show listings for the audience to decide whether they are willing to watch the dubbed film, or should scout for theatres and shows where the original bundelkhandi version is possibly playing with subtitles. It is a strategic blunder on the makers part – they should have realized that their film is anyway niche and the biggest thing that had caught the audience attention since the trailers was the authenticity of the setup, and the edginess of the dialect. By robbing the film of that edginess in order to make it more accessible, the makers have just put off a large section of genuinely interested audience by not giving them the experience they came for, and haven’t necessarily attracted a large additional viewership for that hefty price.

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GULLY BOY : Simmering Symphony of Rousing Rage and Dazzling Desires


“Kalakaar main, kal ko aakaar doon…
Yehi hai mera dharm.. Meri doosri koi jaat na…”

Nothing else can possibly better describe Zoya Akhtar and her relentless passion for narrating the most heartfelt and moving tales of life. And that she does that through wholesome entertainment without compromising one bit on art, is what elevates the experience of her films. She sucks you in to the worlds she creates however alien they are to you, and makes you a part of them – whether they are the elitist cruise lines or the dingiest ghettos of Dharavi. With Gully Boy, she only raises the bar of her craft even higher to possibly create her most complete and near perfect film. It has an unadulterated beating heart at its core, daring to dream and rousing with rage, that wants to break away from all societal norms and harsh realities of life which often limits one’s desires (murad) to attain their potential.

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