Sunday, September 30, 2012

Jhatakas and Matkas

I spent 25 years in India and have been in London for the last 2.5. (Oh wait, did i just give away my age? *horror, horror* in case you did not calculate it, please note that i will turn 16. Year after next.)

So now that I am in the UK, I have , for the first time in my life, joined dance classes.  No ordinary dance class, mind you. Bollywood dance class. In Londond. (I refused to touch dance classes with a bargepole when I was in India. Back home children are told stories of this one girl who waged war against her parents who wanted her to continue dancing but more on that later someday when i am more inclined towards embaressing myself)

Since a career, a house to manage, a book in the market, another as a manuscript I am working on, friends, movies, travelling and then just generally living life was not enough, I have joined dance classes as well.

My love for Bollywood is not something I try to hide. (The three line 'about me' at the back of my book talks about how much i love Bollywood. Sheesh, it is that bad)

Each time I walk out of a movie, I tell myself that i will make a movie one day. I almost always say that to myself. so while it seems increasingly unlikely that i will make a movie (ever!), I thought it best to do the second best thing. Bollywood dance.

So every Tuesday and Thursday, I haul up my yoga mat and trudge my way to the dance studio so that i can soon enough give the Sri devis and the madhuris of Bollywood a run for their money.

Only, unfortunately, i dont think i am that good.
Any good.

But then, does that matter? :)

And in my defense i am getting better by the second.

The jhatakas and the matkas come more naturally to me now. I  can finally do something that resembles bhangra- my version of a bhangra-ish jiggle, I can finally follow about 10% of the instructions and I can do most steps without blatantly staring at people around me to copy their movements. (and i can stretch my legs and make my head touch the floor! Yay!)

I love the two hours i spend dancing each week. I look at the watch when we start the class. 7:30 pm and when i look up at the clock again, it is already past 8:30.
Where did the hour vanish, i say to myself, amazed each time.

By the time I finish the class I am on some endorphin induced super-duper high that refuses to go away for the next 30-40 minutes. I simply cannot sit still.

So the next time you are in a tube in London and see that girl carrying a pink yoga mat in her cloth bag, standing by the door of the train because she has too much energy to sit down , doing mini versions of dance steps- yeah, that's me.

And yes, i highly recommend dance classes. Join one if you can.

Have a great week ahead.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Barfi! - A review

*some spoilers ahead, in fact I write this presuming that my readers have already watched the movie!*

Before Barfi Anurag Basu made 'Kites'.  While Kites was probably more Roshan than Basu ( I liked Kites as well though, very commercial yes, but nicely put together), it is difficult to believe that the same man was at the helm of Barfi.

I always feel that the movie speaks a lot about its director. For example, while I have never met Raju Hirani, (and probably never will) I like him as a person. I really really like him as a person. This is because I believe that a work of art speaks volumes about the creator. By that logic, Anurag basu is very very likable.

Barfi is a sensitive, warm, fuzzy film. When you set out to make a movie that depicts romance between a differently abled couple the easiest thing to do is to try and make the audience cry. Basu's brilliance is that he does not want his audience to go there.  He took the more difficult road- and has tried to make you smile. Not laugh ( though i did a couple of times) but mostly you will find yourself smiling, your heart all warm and fuzzy as you watch this movie. In fact it is one of those rare movies that make you smile even before the first shot appears on screen! ( Was not that little ditty super cute?). However, being the tissue wielding fan of Indian cinema that i am, i could not see a movie like Barfi and not shed a few tears. There is this scene in the movie when Barfi is at his death bed and Shruti has come to bid him a good bye. Jhilmil pats Shruti's arm and cheeks to comfort her. There was something about the autistic, touch phobic Jhilmil  comforting a fully abled Shruti that touched me.

ANyway, i digress. Lets go to the beginning and not jump times like Anurag Basu has in the movie.

When the first shot materialised on the screen-the hills of darjeeling- it was nothing spectacular really but it all looked so beautifully put together that every cell the creatively sensitive me was delighted. Ravi Varman, kudos to you for creating a believable 1970s (no, i was not on the planet in 1970 and have never been to either Darjeeling or Calcutta then but i believe you when you tell me how it all looked then).  I breathed a happy sigh and settled in comfortably expecting a lot. 

Thankfully i was not disappointed.

Barfi is a fable, a river, that meanders in a valley and you move with the flow of water taking in the subtle beauty that meets you at every turn.

The actors (lead and supporting) are excellent. Ranbir Kapoor can pat his back, he has truly arrived. While i am a true blue Khan fan but i have to say that Ranbir leaves all the three khans and the Kumars and the Roshans far behind.  He delights with the flick of his ponytail and he charms when leads the local policeman on Chplin-esque chases. He warms the cockles of your heart when he pretends to gobble up Priyanka Chopra's hand made aate ke toys. And does all of this without speaking a word.

(He does speak two lines, one is English and one in Hindi before the movie begins. 'Dhoomrapan karna swasthya ke liye hanikarak hota hai. Isse kark rog ho sakta hai  ie Smoking is injurious to health. Smoking can cause cancer)

Saurabh Shukla who plays the police officer is superlative.

I don't do reviews because sitting on my sofa , the fact that i watch most Indian movies does not give me the right to critique work done by people who have invested time, energy , skill, heart and soul into it. However, nothing is perfect. And the same can be said about Barfi.

The strength and weakness of the movie is the plot.  While the love story, whether Shruti and Barfi's or Jhilmil and barfi's- is a delight, the whodunit that crops out of nowhere was not needed. It confused me but i was very indulgent towards Anurag Basu because the rest of the movie was superb.

Priyanka Chopra excels. I do not know enough about autistic people to comment on how authentic she looked but i believed her. And that is all that i, as a movie goer who has spent x number of pounds for a ticket, really ask of an actor. Jhilmil as she doggedly follows Barfi who wants to get rid of her is endearing to say the least.And what is equally endearing is when Emraan Hashmi and his heroine would have kissed for 20 minutes, Barfi and Jhilmil just stand close, smiling, forehead to forehead.

Ileana, with her impressively large, eye liner rimmed eyes is expressive and confident in what she is doing. The portrays the conflict many of us identify with very well. There is this scene towards the end of the movie when Barfi has come hunting for Jhilmil. Not able to find her he is about to leave when jhilmil materialises behind him and shouts his name repeatedly. Barfi, obviously cannot hear and is walking away dejected but Shruti (Ileana can). Without saying a word he expression tells speaks of her dilemma. She could just continue walking and Barfi would never know. She could stop and Barfi would never be hers. It is a beautifully done scene.

The movie is made intelligently, each shot put together with love, care and attention to detail. There are a couple of scenes that stayed with me long after the movie finished (and that is very rare, given the number of movies i watch). In particular, the one where at first it seems that Ranbir is making a portrait of Illeana made me laugh loudly for a long time, then the way Ranbir topples over and stays like that for some moments when he realises that he has kissed the hottest girl in town was hilarious, frustration written large on ranbir's face when he sees a man leer at Priyanka's bare legs was a classic and finally my favourite moment in the was movie when Rabir meets Jhilmil who has seemingly disappeared. All is hunky dory till Illeana materialises, the way in which Jhilimil comes and stands infront of Ranbir protectively keeping him away from Illeana, who she perceives to be a threat is touching in its own way.

The movie as you can see, stole my heart.

Barfi, in my opinion is a must watch.Watch Barfi if you love a good story, if you enjoy a master story teller weave his web around you, if you want to believe in love. All over again.