Thursday, March 19, 2009

Jaane Bhi do, a movie like this will never come again !!!!...

Very occasionally does it happen that some of the finest talents in any particular field (let alone film-making) come together to pitch in their collective expertise and create a product. Usually, such a collaboration leads to an outcome that falls way short of the sky-high expectations from it. However, in the rarest of rare cases, the outcome is nothing short of spectacular and becomes close to immortal. In 1983, a fresh batch of out-going students from the National Film Development Corporation (NFDC) got together, persuaded their alma mater to fund a movie on a less than shoe-string budget and came out with a movie that is universally regarded to be one of the finest ever to grace Indian cinema.

Surely, the names that came together to create that cult classic called 'Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron' is staggering. A bunch of remarkable actors (Naseer, Ravi Baswani, Bhakti Barve, Om Puri, Pankaj Kapoor, Satish Shah et al ) and equally adept technicians (Kundan Shah, Vidhu Vinod Chopra, Binod Pradhan, Sudhir Mishra and Renu Saluja to name a few) blended beautifully to carve out a masterpiece of a movie (am sure it will appear on any movie buffs top 10 movies of all times). And if ever can one movie define a whole genre, then surely JBDY epitomizes the black comedy genre. In fact, making subtle comedies (as opposed to the usual slapstick fare) is such a risky business than there have less than a handful of such movies that Bollywood has made !! . Which makes you marvel even more at the subtle references throughout the film to social life and the corruption therein. For me, the greatest beauty of JBDY is that while you are bursting at the seams with laughter one moment, the next scene immediately drives home the pathos associated with living life as a common man amidst a web of deceit and corruption. For example, sample this: the climax of the movie, as everyone knows, is that classic 'Draupadi-Vastraharan' scene from the Mahabharat (kudos to Kundan Shah and Sudhir Mishra for this gem of an idea and for its execution that led to a scene that is unparalleled in movie annals). Now this scene of course, gets you ROTFL (to use the SMS lingo ;-). But after that climax is the final scene when the two protagonists are shown walking on the streets of Mumbai dressed as prisoners with 'Hum Honge Kaamyaab' in the background !! . That scene causes a lump-in-the-throat moment, reminding the viewer that finally it is the common man who always ends up on the losing side while everyone else goes scot-free (in fact, kudos again to Kundan and Sudhir for ending the movie this way instead of the run-of-the-mill ending in which the conspirators go to jail and the protagonists become heroes).

The other endearing aspect of JBDY is the liberal references to real-life characters (Bhakti Barve's character named and modelled on Shobhaa De) and incidents (the flyover collapse in the movie mirrored the collapse of the Byculla flyover in the 80s). These make it easier for everyone to identify with the movie. Also the subtleties in the movie are impossible to ignore, for e.g. the corrupt builder bribing the BMC commissioner while high up on the pickup crane and looking down on the slums of the city, the dog peeing on the street in the opening scene illustrating the plight of the common man etc etc. The power of the screenplay along with the performances make Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron a must-see for generations to come !!.


** ROTFL: Rolling on the floor in laughter

Monday, March 16, 2009

India Shining Again ?????

Recieved an SMS some time back from none other than the BJP !!! Yes, this is the new-age communication channel wherein political parties (though only the BJP so far has latched on it) reach out to their voters through the cellphone. Anyways, the SMS informed the voter that LK Advani had unveiled 'BJP's grand IT vision for transforming India !!'. And what does it entail ?

- Rs 10K laptop to over 1 crore students
- Internet-enabled education in every school
- E-Banking for every Indian
- 1.2 crore new IT-enabled jobs in rural areas alone

Now these are some numbers !!! And using IT, the BJP is all set to transform India (if it comes to power that is). Forget even how they are going to set about achieving this grandiose vision, one can legitimately ask where this is indeed the solution to the problems that plague the country ??

- Does giving Rs 10K laptop to over 1 crore students really help when a sizable proportion of them have to drop out of school because either their fathers have committed suicide or they are sucked into the family occupation to support a growing family ?

- Of what use is Internet-enabled education in every school when we cannot even find enough teachers to teach at those schools (not because we lack quality teachers but because teaching itself has been made into a singularly unattractive career option)

- How can a person who has not even completed basic schooling ever get on the Internet banking website and enter his account number and password ??

But it seems nobody in our political class has thought of this. Of course, you will turn around and say that this is all pre-election mumbo-jumbo and come June, everything will be forgotten. But then if this is so, I cannot comprehend whom the BJP is trying to win over by these announcements. Surely not the educated urban elite, who do not get to benefit by this and who, of course, can see through them anyways !!. Or is it India's 60 odd crore rural population, whom this vision promises to transform ? But then, I can hazard a guess that a school-going child in any of the thousands of villages across India will be more relieved to find a good teacher waiting for him/her in school rather than a laptop and broadband connection !! And a farmer would also be happier to get credit with reasonable terms from his neighbourhood bank rather than an Internet banking kit.

Hope the BJP realizes this or this might end up as another 'India Shining' campaign that cost them so much last time around.