Archive for the ‘Movie Reviews’ Category

Review of ‘Shukno Lanka’

Posted: January 16, 2011 in Movie Reviews

Watching a Mithun-da movie is a pleasure, except of course if it is a Bengali movie. Call it stereotype, but quality is not the first (or the last … or the ones in between) thing which comes to my mind when I think of Mithun & Bengali Cinema together. Well, this was until I saw Shukno Lanka. A movie which made my admiration for Mithun-da go beyond the “Disco Dancer” and the philanthropic traits.

As a movie Shukno Lanka has uncharacteristic complexity, reminding me of the Ray and his works. Each telling multiple stories through the subterfuge little nuances say the inexplicable acerbity of lawyers, the simplicity and happiness of adivasis and the intuition and love of a lady in the movie Agantuk; Lets keep this for some other time.

Shukno Lanka is like the proverbial onion with many layers of themes capsuled in the life of an “extraordinarily ordinary” movie ‘extra’ Chinu Nandy, played by our ex-disco dancer Mithunda; the life of the dry red chilli (which is what shukno lanka roughly translates to). Something which is very much a commodity in Bengali kitchens, with little to no differentiation (one from other), shriveled, deformed, not the sumptuous rich green looks of its younger counterpart but still packing quite a punch; something which is the foundations of a good ‘tadka’.

The movie talks of how someone who lives a pedantry life as a Rs. 250 per day daily wage paid support actor or one of the ‘extras’ could protect his dream and talent from daily scars of insult and humiliation. It tells the tale of how the neighborhood boys are the only one who want to really see him act, how his loving wife (played wonderfully by Angana Basu) has little to complain and as little to desire as a cup of tea while taking a mid-night ‘tanga ride’ through the city and how the daily rigmarole and hardships only embalm and soothen the pain that the self-believed capability to excel in acting would remain just that … self belief.

In contrast is the life of a critically acclaimed, international award winning director Joy Sundar Sen (Sabyasachi Chakraborty) who lives the reclusive life committed to his passion of quality movie making, something which have never done (or for that matter never will do) well at the box-office. Someone for whom commitments could only be towards art and work, much has his wife struggles isolation and neglect. The warmth in the marriage is long replaced by a civility which borders cruelty, reminding us of the heavy price of such creative eccentricity as Joy Sundar.

There are other side (under-the-skin) tales, one involving the warmth and respect and platonic (debatable!) relation between Joy Sundar and a successful Australian actress; One which talks of the almost militant ‘grounded’ and yet highly self-respecting personality of Chinu Nandy juxtaposed against the arrogance and individuality of the maverick genius, Joy Sundar. Another which talks of the self-indulgent lifestyles of the mainstay film heroes and their idiosyncrasies. And another which talks about the regimentation of the ‘elite’ and their self-created belief of being exclusive in generating ‘high quality’ work, when Chinu is repeated reminded (not so much in words) but in actions and warms of him being at the end of the day a Junior Actor by Joy Sundar Sen, which Chinu finally revolts against. Finally the love story of the old and un-shapely (they are ‘aesthetically challenged’, middle age, middle class, low educated) couple of Chinu Nandy with his wife, the love which comes from being considerate and facing the rigmaroles of life which tends to wear out the hope and optimism from the best of us.

Mithun Chakrabarty as Joy Sundar Sen is remarkable. So is his wife, played by Angana Basu (an unheard of name in the movie industry). The music is soul-stirring and meaningful. The script and cinematography are bang on spot.

This is absolutely Satyajit Ray marterial. My recommendation to all who read is then, MUST Watch (even if that means you bribe me with a popcorn & soda to translate the Bengali into whatever language you understand!)

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They say that the honeymoon period begins in reverse order in IIMs. So to say it peaks the month before the course ends and starts somewhere midway, i.e. with the start of second year.

My prolonged absence from what used to be one of my frequent pit-stops, my blog, is due to the unforeseen academic load that has viralled in. This unusual load is not a matter of chance or of co-incidence, as most people believe. The talk doing rounds is that a two-pronged approach was taken by the PGP (Post Graduate Program i.e. MBA Program) office to curb this infidelity to their sacred subject, ‘Academics’. Firstly, they brought all the important electives in this term, so if you have even an iota of hunger for learning you got nowhere to run to pal! Secondly they squeezed a normal 3 month term into a 2 month ‘crash-course’. I don’t know where crash course got its name from, but from my end it looks to be inspired from the fact that there is a very high probability that the course will end up in a crash!

Anyways looking into the various aspects after my previous blog, here goes.

  • Summers was a fantastic learning experience. Got a feel of an Investment Bank though the workload will almost quadruple when I finally join one. I finally decided on the first stroke in the white canvas in the post-MBA employment scenario. I was decided on Investment Banking, but was not sure which branch would it be. Now I know which one it will be and more importantly the difference between them. Private Equity has become a long term career goal and Hedge funds the intermediary one.
  • Delhi was a welcome change. It was great to be back in my home-town for a longish span after almost 7 years! It was hot as a furnace, even in the nights when on one day it was 43 degrees Celsius! It was home though and that made all the difference!
  • Went for a visit to the school of ‘Babus’ in Mussoorie: Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration. This is the place where newly minted IAS officers are polished before they take chair and officiate as Babus of India! The systems in the institute were actually generations behind what we have in IIMs and it was without doubt that it wasn’t faring half as well in living up to its mandate! In fact, the IAS Cadre Students (Officially called Officer Trainees or OTs) were so reckless with government property that they actually opened all taps of their hostels before they left for their postings at the end of their training. As a result the institute was parched for water for one full day! It’s sad that these people will be undertaking the nearest equivalent of management of government machinery.
  • Back in Campus the weather was sheer Bliss! The clouds and the rain drops laden breeze seem to be romancing all day long. The campus is so picturesque that I almost felt a pang of sadness that next year this time I will no longer be here! Our section went to a beach party one day. We all packed off early afternoon and off we went to Kappad. After many rounds of Ocean-water dumping, sand ball flinging, beach football, drinks songs and merry making we made our way joyously back to campus. The photos came out superb the next day and flaunt my flickr account now!
  • Juniors are a primarily work-ex laden batch, however they are still being treated with kid-gloves by the system. They are having a very merry time and the euphoria of having made it to IIM hasn’t collapsed yet. Probably the Mid-term examinations will do that for them. We pray that they have a soft landing so that they aren’t crippled and can rise again!
  • Our classes have started on Turbo mode from day one. I averaged 8 hours of classes till yesterday and today as I write I have chosen to conveniently skip two hours of classes that will be stretching to 23:30 hours! Management of Banks is proving to be more that living up to its precedent of being morbidly loaded, but the nice part is that the facilitator is a very nice and understanding person. Securities Analysis and Portfolio Management is by far the best course I have taken till now and the facilitator, Dr. Uday Damodaran is no way the lesser cause of that. UD sir is sheer music to ears, his classes are like listening to a maestro play Mozart or Beethoven! Financial Derivatives is a steep learning curve and the terror of Black & scholes model with their option-pricing model has already taken grip of students!
  • Finally, booze parties have been allowed in the campus, and with that it brought back the sparkle to the freshers party and to the numerous hostel parties. Hostel ‘G’ods is recreating history and truly adding glitter to its illustrious reputation as rambunctious and happening hostel. Junies have taken to watching movies and competing in all frivolous competitions in true earnest. Academics has taken a backseat for them!
  • After a lot of fanfare the Doctoral program was rolled off this year. We finally have Fellow Program in Management students in our midst! Surprisingly quite a few of them are rank freshers (what in IIM lingo is called ‘Bloody Fresher‘). They are provided air-conditioned cottages and a princely stipend of Rs. 12,000 per month for studying. The first year is common for them with the MBA students and thereafter theirs charters its way to thesis and doctoral research. Met two guys from them, nice people with an academic bent of mind and a steely resolve to achieve their goals! Wish them all the best as the flag-bearers of Doctoral program of this IIM!
  • Watched two movies (even in this academic load!), ‘Corporate’ and ‘Life in a Metro‘. Of them, the later was easily avoidable and a typical bollywood quasi-masala contemporary genre movie. Corporate on the other hand was a very nice movie and threw up many questions of business ethics and its importance in the life of professional managers like us.

Léon The Professional

Posted: September 20, 2006 in Movie Reviews

Watched this movie, after a long search for it in all the nearby and/or accessible video rental shops. The search began with me watching ‘Bichoo‘ a hindi remake of it featuring Rani Mukherjee and Deol Junior. though this had bombed in the box office, the story line was powerful. The casting was as loose as it could get, with Rani resembling a hooker more than a spoiled brat.

The original movie however is a class apart with Jean Leno rendering a classy performace in the act as Leon the ‘Cleaner‘ as he likes to call himself. His rendition has the perfect mix of sutlety and power, encapsulating with its depth and yet touching the finer aspects of it. Leon tries to keep his emotions completely suppressed, yet Matilda (in an extraordinary performance by a young Natalie Portman) brings out in him a new-found joy for life that accompanies his growing paternal instincts.

The film follows the story of Léon, played by Jean Reno, a professional
hit man for an Italian Mob crew run by Danny Aiello. He lives next door
to a ferociously independent 12-year-old girl named Mathilda – played
by then newcomer Natalie Portman, whose father is involved in drugs and
crooked cops. One day, a crew of the cops – lead by Gary Oldman in an
over-the-top performance – kills her entire family while Mathilda is
out buying groceries. Taking pity on her, Léon hides her in his
apartment when she returns to save her life. Mathilda learns of Léon’s
hit man profession and decides to follow in Léon’s footsteps as a
“cleaner.” She then falls in love with him and manages to reawaken
emotions within Léon he has kept locked away as part of his profession.

The most dynamic element of this film is undeniably the complicated relationship between Matilda and Leon. With adolescent Matilda more tha onece identtifying her saviour and her hero as her lover, there is an occasional low-key hint of sexual attraction, however as becomes evident from the character potrayed as Leon, for him this is basically a father/daughter or mentor/apprentice relationship.

The less traditional role belongs to an impressive Natalie Portman, yet
another member of the highly-talented, recent group of youthful actors.
Portman portrays a victim of society’s ills, the perfect example of
innocence corrupted. There are likely some viewers who will be
disturbed by Mathilda’s predilection for profanity.

Because of the non-American flavor brought to this film by Besson, The Professional
is anything but typical fare. It is stylish, darkly humorous, and
almost artsy in its approach to the genre. Nevertheless, it delivers
what viewers want from any thriller: lots of action. With some
surprisingly strong character interaction, there’s a lot to like about
this movie, at least for those willing to look beyond all the
bloodshed.

At one point, Leon comments to an attentive Mathilda that “the closer
you get to being a pro, the closer you can get to the client
.” Through
the intimacy of the link forged by Besson with his audience, there’s no
doubt that he’s as much the consummate professional as his implacable
title character.

A point important to note is the follows:
The film was released in two versions: as Léon  in USA with about 30 mins of footage clipped off and as Léon The  Professional elsewher. The later is the longer and complete version containing a lot of senes which dwelve deep into the relationship beween Matilda and Leon. this contained certain sexual overtures which was considered promiscuous considering the fater-daughter external relationship by the US Censor board. The most ironic thing about the International version of the film is
that with the inclusion of the missing scenes, the film becomes
primarily a heavy, emotional drama punctuated with big action scenes at
the beginning and the end of the film. The film betters reflects the
serious drama of French cinema but is laced with pieces reflecting the
brutality of American cinema.

HANNIBAL – Movie Review

Posted: April 4, 2006 in Movie Reviews

Cover

Hannibal begins with a lengthy prologue detailing Clarice's fall from grace within the FBI. Just when her career seems to be over, a mysterious benefactor comes to her rescue. He is Mason Verger (an uncredited Gary Oldman), whose "family's political contributions aren't enough to buy him a senator, but they are enough to rent one from time-to-time." Verger was one of Lecter's victims – he survived his encounter with the doctor, but at the price of a horribly disfigured face. Now, he wants Clarice back on the case because he plans to use her as bait.

Picture

Acouple of other observations as made from the movie are listed below in bullet points.  

  • Relation of Clarice Starling with Hannibal Lecter, the mental chess between evenly matched players drawn together by a perverse yet fatal attraction. This relationship, the most compelling aspect of the movie silence of the lambs, is absent in this sequel
  • Dr. Lecter is witty, urbane, suave, of exquisite taste, and yet unnervingly cold blooded as usual; making him a one of the most fascinating villains; a role played with riveting force by Anthony Hopkins.
  • Dr. Lecter is undoubtedly the most powerful character in the story with the role Clarice reduced to that of a mere side role. The absence of the intense and endlessly fascinating tussles between her and Dr. Lecter in a eye to eye mind game is conspicuously absent.
  • Jodie Foster was sorely missed in the movie, but one can understand her refusal to do a compromised and severely undermined Agent Starling’s role.
  • Anthony Hopkins, delivers another one of those knock-out punches, all through the movie putting life into the character
  • Particularly loved the last couple of scenes, smelling of intriguing levels of emotions and crystallized by powerful characterization
    • The part where Dr. Lecter asks Clarice if she would ever ask him to stop with love. And on the answer ‘Not in a thousand years’ he enigmatically replies, ‘That’s my girl’
    • Then when he continues to kiss her and in the process gets handcuffed by Clarice; tears streaming down her eyes. And the fact that the flames are kindled both ways evident when Dr. Lecter says ‘This is really going to hurt’, a tear trickles down his hand and he proceeds to chop off his wrist (implied). Somehow reminds me of the movie Gone with the Wind, where love is depicted so cryptically complexly especially when seen through glasses of reason.
    • The part where Dr. Lecter explains the cuisines in his box to the curious kid and on his insistence on having the human brain preparation, exclaims ‘You are an Interesting Kid’. Further when Hannibal finally accedes to his request telling that ‘Like your mother has told and my mother has definitely told me, we must always try something new

At end of it it was a move worth watching, though a tad bit of lower profile than its predecessor, 'Silence of the Lambs', thoroughly enjoyed watching it, especially with the performance of Anthony Hopkins and the powerful role of his character. Will give it a rating of 7.5/10