Sunday, August 16, 2009

Paifa vafool!

Yesterday we went to watch a movie. Which is news, under the circumstances. The missus was apprehensive of going into a movie hall. She's read somewhere that crowded air conditioned spaces are the ideal transfer points of H1N1. Thankfully nobody in the plex coughed, sneezed, or looked sick in any manner. Nobody was wearing a mask. Yours truly was the only person letting out an occasional cough and getting regarded with alarmed looks. I'm told young Ms. Ayushi is having a similar experience in school. These days their teachers are told to stay alert for probable cough and cold symptoms. And every morning at the assembly, under those observant eyes, our daughter feels a huge sneeze welling up inside her whenever she looks at the morning sun. She says the sun getting in her eyes makes her sneeze. I believe we are a family of nervous sneezers and coughers.

About what we chose to watch, I'm more than satisfied.

Kaminay is farp. Kaminay is ftark. (It even has a racy number called fatak, which, shock of shocks, is actually about Shahid Kapoor the goody NGO worker Guddu, extolling the virtue of safe sex with a bit of pomp and circumstance, inside a red light district. I'd never have guessed. But I get ahead of myself here....where was I? ) Yes. Kaminay has the the Vishal Bhardwaj stamp of quality. In extra bold letters too. The slight variation here is in the pace of events as they build up towards a climax. Were Mr. Bharadwaj playing cricket, this would be his debut in oneday matches. All them gangsters, the chase scenes, the arson and shootouts, this is territory often frequented by a fellow Tarrantino fan, Fanjay F. Gupta. But like they say, the proof of the effing is in the color of the baby's eyes. I'm quite sure if Guptaji were to make this film, a certain Mr. Dutt would be playing the kamina played here (with sublime panache', I must add) by Amol Gupte. And we all know how it would turn out, don't we? So there.

The triumph of scene and dialogue writing that was integral to Omkara and Maqbool takes Mr. Bharadwaj to new realms here. Unlike these earlier adaptations where the literary backbone demanded him to dispense the bard's famous monologues every once in a while, here he has more freedom over the original storyline (unless, that is to say, this is his take on The comedy of errorf. Just a thought). The result is spectacular. In Kaminay, Vishal uses the economy of words and subtle wordplay to perfection. It all starts to happen in the first 90 seconds of the film. When Charlie the lisper lays out the rules of the story and lets you know why he will call an f an f. That opening grabs one by the balls and fixes the attention squarely. From then on it's one rocking ride.

The gems of dialogue were discussed in great detail by Raja Sen on rediff. The only thing I might add is the one instance where the dialogue was left unsaid. In the early minutes of the film, Charlie says something like, "watt usse nahi lagti ki kaunsa rasta tum chunte ho. Balki watt usse lagti hai ki kaunsa rasta tum chhodte ho." Now I couldn't make much of it at the time (in any case, I have limited understanding of mumbaiyya language; in my opinion, agar CFL nahi jalaoge to bahut watt lag jayega). Not until towards the very end of the climax when Charlie decides to play proper and not pick up the two huge diamonds from a dead Tashi's hand, and gets shot at the back as a result. You are shown a tight close shot of the hand with diamonds and the dialogue is left unrepeated. Masterly!

Shahid Kapoor acts like he's the future of hindi cinema. Well, perhaps he is. He and Abhay Deol. But the refreshing surprises are in Ms Chopra's hurricane Marathi lines, the awesome ensemble cast of cameo players largely unseen in hindi screen (especially the bong brothers), and every character defined with nuances. From what one has seen in an otherwise drab year for Bollywood, surely this will be the one 2009 is going to be remembered by.