A romance for soul and senses...

Scene from "Possession" now showing at cinema halls across Delhi.  


(At 3 C'S, Chanakya and other theatres)

`I cannot let you burn me up nor can I resist you. No mere human can stand in a fire and not be consumed.'

`I am a creation of my pen. My pen is the best part of me... both charming and beguiling.'

WELL, THIS trip down to the Victorian era is not supposed to be a dispassionate examination of the poetry of a man never suspected of so much as casting a glance at a woman other than his wife. It is based on the "discovery" of a "novice" from America and the "investigation" of a scholar - you see, the beginners only `discover' things and it is for the seasoned pro to `investigate' - that a scholar-poet long upheld as the upholder of morality was actually devoted to a woman, not his wife. And when Randolph Henry Ash did indeed see a lady the woman who was hurt more was not his wife! His new `friend' was into a relationship, not quite well defined in an era when same sex preference was not non-existent but not talked about.

With this wonderful take on A.S. Byatt's Booker winner director Neil LaBute builds a film that talks of sex the way a creative artist talks of poetry, which deals with intimacy the way a reticent, seasoned man would deal with a girl half his age. There is no plumbing of depths here. In stead, most of the sensuality wafts through the spoken word of the poet clearly besotted with the lady who has not been near a man all her life. The effect is clearly on a sweet interplay of mutual admiration. And to the discerning, it would be more than just visually appealing.

Yet LaBute's film is not just about this poet and his passion. It is also about an interesting investigation by the young, half-apprehensive, half-curious Roland Mitchell and his partner, Maud Bailey, a young woman who thought she knew everything there was to know about the legendary poet in the year of his centenary celebrations. As they dig deeper to find evidence for the relationship nobody suspected the poet of having, they invariably draw closer. Yet, in a superb take on the other `senior' love story, the man withdraws. No, he is not the modern-day guy who wears his preferences like a badge of honour in public. He is okay. Just off-women.

There the director leaves everything unsaid. Did the poet have a child with the woman? Or what was it that `hurt' the investigators during their operation, so much so that the woman wondered: `what's the good of it all?' Watch this film if you are in a mood to unwind after a long, tiring day. Watch it even if you want your films with a dash of literary to them. Watch it if you are sick and tired of flesh show in the name of romance. Also, you can watch it for some fine performances by Jennifer Ehle as Christabel MaMotte, the Victorian lady, and Jeremy Northam, as the seasoned Ash. But don't go near this one if you want something, which would stay with you for a long time. As a character says, this film only scratches when it wants to cut, to hurt, to provoke.


(At Delite and other Delhi theatres)

IT WOULD be very easy to trash this one as a slow-moving film which tells us about innocent children in an age when many of them are no longer so. But hold on, this movie is not competing with "Spider-Man" or any such film. To begin with, it is Vishal Bhardwaj's first directorial foray. And for a debutant, it is not a bad shot at all. Its USP lies in that it treats children as children. Here, after God knows how long, we get a film where children do not speak like adults who refused to grow in height. To Vishal children are just children, now running after butterflies, now chasing goats, now finding ways to fool the school teacher, now playing pranks on those around. They are naughty all right but there are endearing. Never once here, unlike films like "Pyar Ke Do Pal", "Sapnon Ka Mandir" and many TV serials, are they called upon to bring screaming to adults to sense. Thank God!

"Makdee" spins its web as the story of two little girls in an obscure part of India. The village is home to two girls, Chunni, all verve and vivacity; and Munni, the mother's girl who won't put a foot wrong. Thus Chunni finds new ruses to avoid her home-work while Munni concentrates on topping the class - shades of "Seeta Aur Geeta" and "Chaalbaaz" here with the only difference being the girls here are just kids. The smart Alec that Chunni is, she passes off Munni's home-work as her own, leaving the latter to face the good old Masterji's wrath.

Scene from "Makdee" now showing at cinema halls across Delhi.

Scene from "Makdee" now showing at cinema halls across Delhi.  

All is fine until a distraught Munni runs into a mansion favoured by a witch. It has only one way - anybody who goes in does not come back. In stead, all you get is a kitten, a kid or a goat in lieu of the human being. A terrified Chunni undertakes the rescue mission and convinces the witch to return her sister - at a price. How she goes about getting the chicken and goats demanded by the witch before realising the truth about the witch makes for engaging viewing.

Shabana Azmi as the witch has a small role to play. She does it with conviction, often scaring the kids with her stained teeth and a wild thatch. But it is the little girls who are the real winners here along with Vishal Bhardwaj's background music and some fine lyrics, which will catch the fancy of youngsters. Watch "Makdee" with your kids, they won't complain and you won't mind.