MEMORIES IN MARCH
(PVR Select CityWalk, Delhi, and other theatres elsewhere)
Our cinema hardly deals with life after human loss in close-up. Only Mahesh Bhatt's Saransh comes to mind. Debutant director Sanjay Nag here now captures it with a rare sensitivity and a simple story.
Arati Mishra (Deepti Naval) lands in Kolkata to collect the belongings of her son Siddharth, an advertising professional who died in a car accident. She is picked up from the airport by Shahana (Raima Sen), a very compassionate colleague of her son. Arati convinces herself that her son had finally found his match. She gets the shock of her life when Shahana tells her that though she was desperate to be with her son, Siddharth was deeply in love with his creative director Arnab (Rituparno Ghosh). The rest of the story is about how Arati comes to terms with her son's sexual orientation and the bitter-sweet relationship that grows between Arnab and Arati.
Though death is at the centre of the story, there is nothing melodramatic about the proceedings and Nag never manipulates emotions. When Arnab tells Arati that Siddharth's body was kept on ice for a few hours, Arati looks shaken. We slowly realise that Siddharth hated cold. Arati's stoic silence breaks when she opens the freezer of the refrigerator in her son's apartment. Choking!
Largely in English with some portions in Hindi and Bengali, the film has plenty of potential to clear a lot of cobwebs about alternate sexuality. The issue is handled with rare maturity without being pedantic, as a clever screenplay by Rituparno helps Nag to play hide-and-seek with us. Simply put, it is entertaining.
A lot has been said through symbols. Arnab says he doesn't want to take Siddharth's aquarium home because he doesn't like people to be boxed. But hours of conversation with Arati, an educated but conservative woman, a rare variety in our films, make him revisit his opinion.
Memories In March's balanced approach, enriched with meaningful lines, keeps you hooked though it is largely shot indoors and has only three principal characters. Soumik Haldar's camera captures the mood, while Debjyoti Mishra's music adds depth to the love angle.
Naval is as assured as we have seen her over the years. She brings out the pain, the perplexity of a woman who has to revisit her ideas about her son and alternate sexuality with a polished act. Raima is always a delight in her homeland, but it is Rituparno who is master class as he portrays a gay character with all its nuances.
Catch up with these uplifting memories if you can, because it might vanish before the word reaches the mouth!
(Delite, Delhi, and theatres elsewhere)
We know ad film makers have the remarkable ability to tell a complete story in 30 seconds. But this talent could become a liability when an ad film maker attempts a feature film, and that too a thriller.
Director Abhinay Deo had shared so much in the smart promos that his “game” got revealed much before the film's release. As a result, the smartness fizzles out when it is stretched to two hours. The debutant director doesn't have a strong enough screenplay to let the moments, little twists and turns cast their spell. The purpose of the whodunit is lost and it becomes a test of patience when by the beginning of the second half you can anticipate who is going to be the killer/mastermind. Deo does very little to surprise you apart from showing his flair for rich visual tapestry, which becomes a liability, a superficial cover for lack of clever plotting.
To give it its due, the premise retains its charm for it involves strangers, suspicion, reprisal and murder. However, script and screenplay writer Althea Delmas Kaushal lets his director down by opting for a clichéd narrative, which Bollywood used to play decades back. Even CID has moved beyond left hand, right hand and double role kind of stuff. The police officer's assistant is predictably dumb; the female journalist contemplates in a bath tub and the politician over a drink.
Four people of Indian origin from different parts of the world whose respective lives are on the boil are called to a gorgeous Greek island by a business tycoon (Anupam Kher). Boman Irani is a prime ministerial candidate in Thailand, Jimmy Shergill a superstar in Mumbai, Abhishek Bachchan runs a casino in Istanbul and Shahana Goswami is troubled journalist in London. As they come face-to-face, the quartet realise the business magnate's intentions are anything but friendly.
The flashback has a vivacious club dancer (debutant Sarah Jane Dias in a two-song-three-scenes kind-of-role), who also traverses cities. Completing the picture is Kangna Ranaut as the glamorous investigating officer, who seems to have more knowledge about the style scene than a crime scene.
No, one didn't go to watch this game for realism, but one can't cross potholes in an uninspiring script on the shaky bridge of styling. The locations overpower the characters with actors getting very little substance to play with. There is more to characterisation than choosing the right outfits and the shades. Not a single dialogue (by none other than Farhan Akhtar) packs a punch. Irani and Shergill manage to give the incoherent characterisation a degree of believability, but Bachchan fails to rise above the script and the director's proclivity for shooting everything like a fashion portfolio or a tourist brochure. His entry is solid, but after that he outlives his welcome. Sarah has a great screen presence, but has hardly been tested in terms of performance. Shahana is wasted as she repeats her kohl-eyed edgy look without any real purpose. Kangna, once again, gets hold of the shallow mood and plays along rather nicely and is pretty good to look at in this postcard!
(Golcha, Delhi, and other theatres)
An asinine adventure, this is a wannabe 3 Idiots, delivered by yet another choreographer-turned-director, Remo D'Souza. Remo makes a solid point towards the fag end of this endless frivolous party when his hero, who happens to be the producer's son, says our education system passes students at 35 per cent but only those who get 70 per cent or above get a passage to the future.
But it comes too late in the day to save this meaningless exercise and the way Remo goes about it defies even primary school logic. It seems to have been mounted to attract those who queue up for reality show auditions. Here three wastrels (Jackky Bhagnani, Angad Bedi and Pooja Gupta) who specialise in partying decide to open a college when they are denied admission in every college, hoping it will save them from the ire of their parents. Soon the college becomes a liability when hundreds of like-minded students turn up for admission.
After more than an hour of partying with endless supply of liquor, the hero becomes serious and comes up with a “path-breaking” idea that this FALTU college (scriptwriters seem to have worked overtime to come up with a name like Fakirchand Lakirchand Trust University) will help students pursue their hobbies and passion.
Remo is not concerned about the practical issues involved in setting up a college and goes the absurd way. The source of money is never addressed. A fixer (Arshad Warsi) is roped in to find a building and a primary school teacher (Reitesh Deshmukh) is hired as Principal. But the established actors have to make way for Jackky in every crucial scene, who remains as wooden as he was in Kal Kisne Dekha.
Inspired by Accepted, a similar theme was tackled a few months back in Admissions Open with disastrous results. Here, Remo's choreography, particularly the climax song and couple of peppy numbers, might keep reality-show enthusiasts interested for some time. For the rest, it is a complete waste of time.