SIR – And the ethos of love!

At the outset, SIR appears to be an unconventional story about the romance that blossoms between ASHWIN -a wealthy Architect and his housemaid -RATNA. But dig deeper, peel off the gloss of the class, and you will realise that the textures and ethos of romance have always been the same -oblivious to and transcending social, economical, physical and other constructs. 

The journey is from platonic to romantic, unrequited to requited. Sometimes, unconditional and sometimes unspoken!

PLOT:
The plot underlining doesn’t come until the 3/4th of the movie. However, the implicit-obvious kicks in right from the 6th minute, the moment we see both of them together in the same frame for the first time in the movie.

What follows is the occasional pleasantries, daily chores, compassion towards each other and then there’s a lot of silence. It’s platonic! But in our hearts, we know!

Ashwin is healing from a broken engagement and his housemaid Ratna is a widow.

He has quit his writing aspirations, his US life and joined his dad in the construction business ( I don’t know the nitty-gritty). 

She is shuttling between her maid job and 2-4 tailoring classes, trying to wing her Fashion Designer dreams. Yes, she knows the word!

Even Ashwin frowns upon hearing the word, but it’s only because he is surprised. She reprimands, but then from him comes the much-needed reassurance – ‘Everyone is entitled to dream’.

We know that Ashwin is considerate. His dad doesn’t want him to go green at the cost of the business ending up in red. We see him walking by the construction workers’ sheds. (wrongly labelled as the ‘labour camp’ by the art department). And since we know he is empathetic, we foresee his inclination towards her.

She stitches a shirt for him and gifts him on his birthday. Her mind knows that he wouldn’t appreciate it, but in her heart she believes and hopes that he would. And when he chooses to wear it! Well.. that certainly painted a wide big smile on my face!

PERFORMANCES:
The heart of ‘SIR’ lies in its protagonists, who are alien in each other’s world. And the magic of it lies in the way the actors have not only managed to ‘look’ the characters, but also eat, speak and breathe like ones. 

This without any deliberate attempt to paint any of the worlds in superior or inferior colours, but the by-product of their immersive performances has only upped the contrast.

Vivek Gomber playing ASHWIN has sophistication ingrained and Tillotama Shome playing Ratna has delicate nuances imbibed. The way she severs the thread after finishing stitching or chooses to sit on the kitchen floor for her food doesn’t appear to be a conscious play. It’s because of this, we begin to believe in them as characters.

And once we believe and invest in characters, rooting for them is inevitable.

My eyes were moist every other minute – sometimes out of sadness, but many other times because the sweet smile permeated.

Rohena Gera is the director and has kept it all simple. And this simplicity has made it more real and the romance sweeter than the sugar-coated Bollywood romance.

There is no complicated writing, but the conflicts and social commentaries are strong enough.

Personally, ‘SIR’ has been one of the most satisfying and beautiful romantic movies in the past few years (along with October). After all, there is a thing about the words unspoken!

-CHAN

PS: A special shout out to a couple of moments, where things were kept off-screen (like the climax line), and it only added to the emotional value of the moment.

SANJU – An ode to Sunil Dutt

It was 2013. The release of Yeh Jawaani hai Deewani had marked the 3rd straight successful year for Ranbir Kapoor – commercially and critically.

The previous 2 years had seen him sweeping major awards, including consecutive Filmfares for Rockstar and Barfi. Both the movies had earned great returns, with the latter breaching the coveted 100Cr mark.

YJHD was his 10th movie and it went onto become one of the highest grossing Indian movies. Ranbir catapulted himself into the league of bankable stars. He was touted as the next big superstar of India. He was living his dream.

……..and then came the slump.

2013, the year that had witnessed his most successful film also marked the beginning of his losing streak –Besharam, Roy, Bombay Velvet (lost around 60 -80crores) and Tamasha. Films continued to fail, year after year. Producers lost whopping amount.

 Ae Dil Hai Mushkil came as a relief, but then came Jagga Jasoos, for which Ranbir had turned a producer. Jagga lost around 40 -60Crores at BO.

When you see Ranbir Kapoor in his recent interviews, you can’t help but notice the melancholy in his eyes. Is it melancholy or is it the metamorphosis that he has underwent while reprising the role of Sanjay Dutt in Sanju?

Dutt’s life is filled with unbelievable tales of ups and downs, where he has hit more troughs than peaks. Did Ranbir take a leaf from Dutt’s life?

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What is SANJU – the movie all about?

It’s the tale of Sanjay Dutt – son of famed Sunil Dutt and Nargis. It’s a tale of his tryst with drug addiction and his fight against it. It’s the tale of a man who was charged under TADA act for his role in Mumbai Serial Blasts case and his acquittal. It’s about a man who was jailed under the ‘Arms Act’ and served 1400 odd days in prison.

Above all, it’s a tale of a father, who stood by his son in all his hardships. When the movie ends, whom do you fall in love with? Ranbir as Sanju or Paresh Rawal as Sunil Dutt?

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RANBIR as SANJU

In a career spanning over 11 years, Ranbir has largely played similar roles – a man in his soul searching journey. That makes Sanju a tailor made role for Ranbir. It’s his comfort zone.

However, the role has brought in its own baggage of hurdles and challenges.

When you are acting in a biopic, irrespective of the magnitude of your role – lead or just a supporting cast, you are bound to invite comparisons. The challenge intensifies, when you are reprising the role of someone living.

Sanjay Dutt is a star who has acted in over 150 movies. We have seen him through years – young, old, in his teen cheeks and in his silver beard. Hence, our subconscious continues to draw comparisons. There was always a danger of loss of ‘empathy’ for the protagonist, because the mind is too busy playing the game of comparison.

However, Ranbir hasn’t blindly tried to ape Sanjay, rather he has transformed himself into Sanju. He has picked few mannerisms that look more implicit than explicit imitation.

As a result, barring few segments, we live the experience of Sanju – the character and not Sanjay Dutt on whom the character is based on. That’s where Ranbir’s success lies. He becomes increasingly convincing. He makes us cry, he makes us laugh. He makes us cringe and gets us upset. He earns the empathy of the audience that lasts until the credit list rolls.

Sanju is not only the redemption of Sanjay Dutt, but also of Ranbir. He has regained his lost sublime form. The film is not only going to set the cash registers ringing, but will also fill his drawing room with few more awards. He is back into business.

(With the much hyped ‘Brahmastra’ on cards, he could be the next superstar that everyone wanted him to be)

Paresh Rawal has played the second fiddle, rather beautifully, making us fall in love with the endearing and much revered Sunil Dutt. (After watching the movie, I ended up spending few hours reading about him)

Vicky Kaushal’s would be another noteworthy performance.

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RAJKUMAR HIRANI – The man with the Midas touch

5 movies in 14 years looks a strained effort. It’s the fact that all of them have been blockbusters, which transforms the stats into an enviable track record. Sanju is looking in all good shape to extend his blockbuster streak.

He along with his writing companion – Abhijat Joshi, has retained their entertainment formula. Every scene should either make audience laugh their lungs out or make them empty their tears (joyous tears most of the times).

Hirani movies don’t exist in real plane. It exists in a dramatic space – filled with larger than life characters that look more real than fiction.

Despite being a biopic, he does no different in Sanju. The real characters look larger than life, yet so real. There are places where you feel things going little over board and growing dramatic, but then that’s the space in which the movie is set. You might call it flaws, but they are the flaws that you could live with.

He appears to be certain about the kind of movie that he wanted this one to be – a Bollywood film. He didn’t want to make an “Aviator” for sure. He has used all the right ingredients and to its perfection.

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BOTTOM LINE(s)

Apart from his drug addiction and his jail episodes, Hirani hasn’t delved deep into other aspects of his life. He has not touched upon all his love episodes, his childhood, his film career, failed marriages etc.

Well, there’s too much drama in Sanju Baba’s life to accommodate in 160 minutes, isn’t it?

Few episodes look exaggerated. Few look fabricated or should I call them ‘exercise of creative liberty’? But who cares, as long as we have 160 minutes of pure entertainment on plate.

At the end of the movie, we can’t help but sympathize with him.

Sanju is perfect monsoon gift from Hirani. Watch it for the remarkable performance of Ranbir and the unbelievable life that Sanjay has lived.

Watch it for the beautiful tale between the father and the son.

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BOTTOM LINE

Sanju is Hirani’s ode to Sunil Dutt. It’s redemption of Sanjay Dutt and that of Ranbir.

-CHAN

October and “Where’s Dan?”

(Analysis of October movie, With Spoilers Ahead)

Dan (Varun Dhawan) – A Hotel Management trainee, working in a 5-star hotel has a long standing affair with reprimands. His child like demeanor and discipline issues keep earning him rebukes from the management. While his co-trainee Shiuli (Banita Sandhu) continues to earn admiration from the management, Dan is made to hop from one department to another viz. housekeeping, laundry, pest control and every other department except for the one which he loves the most – Kitchen.!

The year end arrives and along with it comes the long extended weekend, which would mean only one thing to the hotel staff – tight, hectic, tiring shifts. Dan slips away from the demanding schedule, as he goes home to attend his parents’ anniversary.

After a tiring day at work, the trainees gather on the terrace floor for some merry making. Shiuli makes a causal enquiry about Dan’s absence. “Where’s Dan? Haven’t seen him since yesterday” she asks – a casual enquiry indeed! A moment later, she tries sitting on the parapet, but only to slip down with a deadly fall. The accident pushes her into coma.

Dan returns from vacation and visits Shiuli at ICU, where she looks more equipment than human. The machines that are supporting Shiuli in her battle for life and their intrinsic details piques Dan’s fancy than her sorry state.

A dinner conversation with his roommate makes him learn about the events that preceded the accident. His friend makes a casual mention of Shiuli’s final words – “Where’s Dan?”

In spite of the attempts by others to write off her question as a casual one, Dan believes that it holds significance. He wants to know the reason behind her enquiry. He is in need of the answer, but the one who could answer his curiosity is living on ventilator, lost her conscious and showing no signs of recovery.

As rightly described in the trailer- “It’s not a love story, but a story about love”.! Dan doesn’t cry, neither does he laugh. He doesn’t say the magical words ‘I Love you’! Never once Dan tells us that he is in love with her. We see the love that a mother has towards her kid, siblings towards her sister and we see a Young adult whose pursuit for an answer evolves into an unconditional love.

Written beautifully by Juhi Chaturvedi, the script has transitioned into its absorbing visual form thanks to Shoojit Sircar and an exemplary cast.

In October, Shoojit doesn’t rely on heavy doses of background score and movement of Camera as much as he does on the performance of Actors. Rarely does the camera ‘dolly in’ to enhance the emotions and rarely does the Background score play to amplify the emotions. Isn’t that how it works in real life..? That’s one of the reasons why ‘October’ seems more real.

It also seems real, because the frames look extremely beautiful only when it has to and we don’t see actors mouthing deep philosophical dialogs garnished with metaphors. If any metaphor exists, then it exists in visual form – The flower Shiuli(Night Jasmine) being one.

The faith that Juhi and Shoojit have bestowed on ‘Keeping-it-simple’ coupled with his unorthodox methods, seems to have paid off, as the movie begins to appear more and more real, draws you into its world and puts you into perspective.

We have seen Varun Dhawan in his innocent avatars even before ‘October’. However, no other movie premise has been benefited by it, as much as this movie. The actor in Varun Dhawan ‘expresses it all, without really expressing anything’ and his restrained performance has only accentuated it.

Before the release of the movie, in one of his interviews he had said “I have never been so vulnerable on a film set. After a while, it stopped feeling like shooting. When you know that this is acting, it’s a film, there’s a block, that it’s okay. But when it stops feeling like acting and feels like real life, then the floodgates open”. After watching this movie, you shall know the significance that it holds for him.

Banita Sandhu speaks it all through her eyes and Gitanjali Rao has emotions written all over her face.

Casting of the movie is spot on! Shuttling between Hotel and Hospital, the movie has a plethora of characters that set up the perfect emotional ecosystem – roommate and his girlfriend who looks after Dan’s expenses, seemingly rude but silently caring boss, hostile colleagues, strangers, worried parents, friendly nurse and the list goes on. The cast appear to have slipped into their roles with an effortless ease.

The album has four plus songs, but the movie has none. However, the background score which plays only when needed stays with you!

I often compare movies with food. Probably ‘October’ is like the red wine. Few might love it at the very first go. For few others it’s an acquired taste. The fact that the movie is earning extreme reactions is disheartening for sure, but is quite understandable.

“Where’s Dan?” isn’t the central question of the movie. For Dan the central question is ‘Why did she ask about me?’ and hence the central question of the movie is – Whether Dan will be able to get an answer to it and whether his innocent attempts to revive her pays off or not?

And once you watch the movie you shall know that the movie is indeed about ‘Where’s Dan?’ – The answer to which lies in his self-discovery.

October is Juhi chaturvedi’s ‘Last leaf’, Shoojit’s best one yet and probably Varun’s ‘Where’s Dan?’ – As the actor in him appears to have made a self-discovery in this movie. Watch it if you want those emotional strings of yours to be tugged.

-Chan