Saturday, January 29, 2011

A MOMENT TO THINK


As the end credits rolled down on Dhobi Ghat, I leaned back in the reclining seat & pondered over the 90 minutes just gone by. This was cinema at its simplistic & realistic best, with some very competent work in every aspect being its enduring pillars. This was also a film that felt oddly incomplete. Yet, in its' paucity it remained poignantly beautiful in its apt casting, near-flawless acting, a lilting background score and the brilliantly shot visuals of parts of Mumbai that we might never get to visit in real life. When I moved to Mumbai 4 years ago, I wanted to explore all the tourist destinations without fail. The curious nomad in me even went to the extent of going it alone when friends came up with one excuse or another for not making it. Somewhere down the line, the eagerness has dulled, the excitement now a pale shadow of what it used to be and the fear of being clustered a cardinal deterrent. Was it also this reminiscence of my past in this city; some recent, some long traversed that moved me? Or the fact that I've always been a sucker for hyperlink cinema? Or that I'm finally falling in love with this city?

Some or all of the above could be true. But for all the nostalgia & respect the film aroused, it ended for me in the most filmy manner, undoing some of the good work that had gone before it. However Jolene, a good friend, an astute mind & a self-professed Mumbaiphile, had this to say to convince me otherwise:

The ending seeming filmy could be metaphorical really, a life-goes-on kind of ending; given that the central protagonist has reached a low point in life where he has suffered personal loss, is literally washing the megapolis' dirty linen, realises how bleak his possibility for becoming a movie star is, and is in love with a woman who's intrigued by someone else. So he runs onto the streets, hero-like, overcoming all obstacles, finds her and gifts her the means to drift away from him (a kind of resignation, and also a subtle way of telling her how he feels about her). The end symbolises the true spirit of Mumbai: whatever happens, we move on.

A friend rued the fact that he'd have to watch it again with his wife, another found the depiction of the locations in the film in bad taste. Yet others warned me not to watch it as it was too slow and were aghast to know I already had & had in fact, liked it. Whatever the true intent of the climax may be, the film succeeds in lingering inside you long after you've exited the cozy darkness of the theatre. As I sped on the now empty roads leading back home, something good from Dhobi Ghat remained etched within me. So I say, thank you Kiran Rao, for a real, unique and melancholy experience. May your tribe increase.

*****

Courtesy: Vergessene Traenen
An anonymous reader was irked by my last post, The Chinky Factor. This is what he/she had to say (abridged):

If you are offended by being called Nepali/Manipuri/Malaysian/Chinese, I am offended by the fact that you find it offensive for being mistaken as these races and nationalities. I found "DEROGATORILY", the word you used to describe your emotion for being called as such, unacceptable. How about the fact that you feeling such is not a derogatory remark to these races? You try to come out as a victim here but who is the victim of your words right now? Please think twice before you write such things in your blog.
Wow! I'm glad the post DID evoke this reaction apart from the encouraging ones (much appreciated). However, my dear friend, if you'd check the phrasing of my sentences again carefully, you'll realise that nowhere do I state that I get offended on being mistaken for another race. What I DO take offense to is the tone & intent of malice while being called as such. I'm sure you understand what I mean, being a Nepali yourself. We could make it so much easier by saying that we are human beings & not a clothing line to be differentiated by our origin or price tag after all, but we know it isn't all that simple. No one's trying to be a victim here.The Chinky Factor is a response to a question asked of me many times over, and a hope that someday, things will be different.

*****


And in conclusion, I'd like to thank each & every one of you out there who've showered encouragement for my current dancing stint on Jhalak Dikkhla Jaa. Deep within, post Indian Idol, I knew I would sing, host, act. But dance??? No way! November 2006 in Bangalore was the first & last time before Jhalak that I ever attempted to move my now-not-so-left two feet. Those six sessions of salsa were liberating but also a source of some embarrassment (I was the proverbial tortoise in learning & my partner was none too amused. Needless to say, I never returned for the next batch). Four years on, being pitted against the likes of Yana, Sushant, Krishna et al is surely daunting, but as my dad always says, “Do what you love. And while you're at it, don't forget to have fun!” I am having fun & learning so much, primarily that if you put your mind to it, nothing is impossible. So keep watching and keep the love pouring in :)