Search This Blog

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

भिखारी ठाकुर

साल के आखिरी दिन भिखारी ठाकुर की सौगात। वीडियो भी देखें। इसे फिल्‍म रायटर्स एसोसिएशन के साइट से लिया गया है
The label ‘Shakespeare of Bhojpuri’ might sound like a tongue-in-cheek oxymoron to those who are unfamiliar with Bhikhari Thakur’s legacy, but it’s only befitting for a man who happened to be the sole vanguard of an entire cultural movement. Kamlesh Pandey calls him the Aadi-Purush (protoplast) of Bhojpuri (i.e. the language of western Bihar) literature and folk art.

Undoubtedly, the most popular Bhojpuri playwright, lyricist, singer, performer and theater-director Bhikhari Thakur continues to rule hearts after more than forty years of his death.


Bhikhari Thakur was born on December 18, 1887 in Qutubpur (Diyara) of Saran district (Bihar) to Dal Singar Thakur and Shivkali Devi. He also had a younger brother named Bahor Thakur. Bhikhari grew up learning his father’s occupation and went to Kharagpur to earn his livelihood as a barber. Within a few years he had started to feel a creative urge as his fondness for Ramlila kept on growing. He went to Jagannath Puri to imbibe the art and upon his return, formed a theatre group in his native village which started performing Ramlila.

Thakur was also drawn to blazing social issues and soon, started to address those in his freshly written theatrical pieces in his own innovative style. On being asked why he took to writing plays, Thakur had once answered in an interview - “I would watch Ramlila in which Hrishi Vyas gave sermons to people; I also thought I could give sermons to my folks!”

Bhikhari Thakur wrote plays on contemporary themes suffused with songs, dance and a lot of humor. What he learnt while doing Ramlila, along with his inherent histrionics, came handy in his new ventures. His plays would captivate thousands of villagers throughout the night. Thakur was on his way to create what today is considered as his biggest contribution to Bhojpuri culture - the folk theatre form of Bidesia.


The literal meaning of the term Bidesia is ‘the one who has become a foreigner’. In 1917, Bhikhari Thakur had originally performed a play about the agony and endless wait of a newly-wed village bride whose husband goes off to another city to earn money. The theme which portrayed migration as the root cause of misery found such an immediate echo with the social reality that this play, after minor variations, gathered the status of an independent folk form named Bidesia.

This form is heavy on elements like songs, dances and heightened drama which are characterized by ballad style singing, melodrama, comedy, regional wits and a strong element of poetry rendered on a high note. A performance starts with a dance aiming to attract a large audience and once the viewers have settled down, the actual play unfolds. Pathos is the dominant mood of Bidesia while all the female roles are played by the male cast. A show requires no more than three or four actors, who double up for several roles. Bidesia continues to be popular in the villages of Bihar, as its theme remains relevant, reflecting a reality of rural life where men have to migrate and families have to live in agony. It remains the most popular and refreshing relaxation for a big section of Bhojpuris.

Other Important Plays

Along with Bidesia, many of Bhikhari Thakur’s plays acquired widespread recognition and later, also got published. He wrote and directed about a dozen of plays including:

Bidesia, Bhai-Virodh, Beti-Bechva (Beti-Viyog), Kalyuga-Prem, Radheshyam Behar (based on Radha-Krishna love), Ganga-Asnan, Bidhva-Vilap, Putra-Badh, Gabar-Dichor, Nanad-Bhojai and Vasant-Bahar.

Here’s a quick summary of a few of these:

Beti-Bechva (Or Beti-Viyog)

Thakur sensitized his audience against the ills of the widespread custom of selling young girls by their fathers to older men for marriage. This custom prevailed in Bihar until quite recently. Mr. Kamlesh Pandey shares his own memories of watching Beti-Bechva and says, “I still remember the lyrics of a song from this play. It goes like this –

Rupaiya Ginaayi Lehala, Pagaha Dharai Dehwla, Chiraya Ke Cheraya Banaula O Babuji!

The girl is saying to her father – “You counted the money, and the way a goat is sold to the butcher, you sold me to an old man.”

In those days women were not allowed to watch Nautanki and whenever this play would be staged, while all the men would watch it, women would sit together somewhere close by and sob hearing these lines!”


Here the story is an extension to Beti-Bechva. The play portrays the seclusion a widow had to suffer for no fault of her own.


Three brothers are separated on the instigation of a conspirator before they realize the importance of togetherness only after a lot of harm has been done.

Kalyuga- Prem

Bhikhari Thakur exposes the ills of alcoholism when the lone wage earner of a family becomes a drunkard and his deeds run his family into troubles.


A man and his wife take a pilgrimage to the Ganges but are mean to his old and weary mother. At the banks of the river the mother goes missing while the wife is seduced by a Sadhu with the promise of giving her a son. In the end the man finds them both and begs his mother for forgiveness.


Galij returns to his village only to find his wife having an illegitimate son named Dichor with Garbari. After initial quarrels Galij, his wife and Garbari raise their individual claims on Dichor. The Panchayat decides that Dichor would be divided into three pieces. At the final moment the mother gives up her claim to save her son’s life. The Panchayat sees the light and Dichor is allowed to stay with his mother.

Literary Style

Through his plays, Bhikhari Thakur not only gave voice to the deprived woman but also provided a great relief to the poor migrants. He openly spoke against casteism and used satire to great effect to propagate his progressive ideas.

In one of his plays he writes - “Jati Hazzam More Kutubpur Mokam. Jati-Pesha Bate, Bidya Naheen Bate, Babujee”. Here he laments that people of his caste would distribute letters without knowing their true importance.

Bhikhari Thakur’s plays were not only popular in Bihar but also in big cities like Kolkata, Patna and Benares where there is a big population of migrant laborers. Thakur had also performed in countries like Mauritius, Kenya, Singapore, Nepal, British Guyana, Suriname, Uganda, Myanmar, Madagascar, South Africa, Fiji, Trinidad etc.

Sharing his thoughts on Thakur’s literary style Mr. Pandey says – “He had a keen eye for all that which went on in the surroundings. By profession he was a barber and lived in a small hut. What I have heard is that he would keep his razor and a notebook with a pencil stuck up in the canopy. That way he would switch between using the tool to serve his customers and giving shape to the array of thoughts running in his mind.

He was the first writer of Bhojpuri who acknowledged the truth of his times and aimed to bring down the evil customs of the society. It’s fascinating that he gained tremendous popularity despite working with folk art, which is essentially considered as an entertainment medium. He dealt with serious cultural issues through his plays.”


Bhikhari Thakur died at the age of 84 on July 10, 1971. One would not be wrong in calling him the founding father and flag-bearer of Bhojpuri music and storytelling. A film has also been made on his play Bidesia, by the same name (Bidesiya, 1963, Directed by S.N. Tripathi), which starred Sujit Kumar and Jeevan. Today, there is a drama institute in Patna founded in Thakur’s memory along with several awards and felicitations which are given every year in his fond remembrance. Talk about the songs of Bidesia to a lover of Bhojpuri theatre and his eyes would light up as he starts to hum. The great nostalgia with which Bhojpuri singers sing all those melodies also speaks volumes. Unfortunately, it’s been observed that since Thakur’s death his style is being continuously exploited by the Bhojpuri music industry for producing gawky songs.

Kamlesh Pandey sums up the issue with these words “Today, when films have presumably become a medium to shove out cheap entertainment, is it possible for Bhojpuri cinema to draw inspiration from Bhikhari Thakur and realize that even entertainment value can go hand in hand with social concerns. He set an example that even a medium of entertainment can be used to highlight important issues and thus, cause social awakening. The question which I pose is; can the Bhojpuri Cinema take up the challenge to produce an heir to the Shakespeare of Bhojpuri?”

Monday, December 30, 2013

Return of ‘Garm Hava’ - Nandini Ramnath

आज मिंट में यह लेख छपा है।

MS Sathyu’s ‘Garm Hava’, a New Wave icon, is being restored and is set to release in theatres. With it, a near-forgotten phase of cinema will be resurrected
Comment E-mail Print
First Published: Tue, Sep 17 2013. 02 55 PM IST
‘Garm Hava’, which captures the decline of the Mirza family
‘Garm Hava’, which captures the decline of the Mirza family
It was 1972, and the Indian New Wave was coming along nicely. The government-funded Film Finance Corporation (FFC) was handing out loans to directors who wanted to break away from the escapist and formulaic movies being churned out by the Hindi movie dream factory. Some film-makers were more interested in nightmares, among them M.S. Sathyu, who had earned a name for himself lighting and designing sets and directing plays for the stage. A script submitted by him to the FFC was rejected, so he handed in another one—a story about a Muslim family that chooses to stay back in India after Partition in 1947 but gets uprooted from within in the process.
Balraj Sahni plays Mirza Salim, the family patriarch, in Sathyu’s film
That script became Garm Hava, one of the best-known examples of cinema about Partition. Sathyu’s directorial debut is routinely included in “Best Films” lists, but its finely etched characters and deeply felt humanism have been largely hidden from public view since its theatrical release in 1974. The movie disappeared from sight—no VHS tapes or DVDs were made—surfacing occasionally on Doordarshan. All that will now change with the completion of a privately funded restoration process that started over a year and a half ago. A restored version of Garm Hava will be re-released in theatres within the next few months. The picture and sound quality in the close to 200,000 frames that make up the movie have been individually treated. The original negative has been cleaned up, and the sound has been digitally enhanced to suit the latest formats. “It’s like a new film now,” says Sathyu.
The rebirth of Garm Hava is the result of passion, doggedness, and deep pockets. The process was started by Subhash Chheda, a Mumbai-based distributor who runs the DVD label Rudraa. Chheda approached Sathyu a few years ago, asking for permission to produce DVDs from the film’s negative. The negative had aged badly and was damaged in many places. The idea then took root of expanding the scope of the project—to re-release the film in theatres and re-introduce audiences to its sobering pleasures.
“The film was visually corrected in consultation with Sathyu,” Chheda says. “We have also upgraded the sound. Dolby digital, 5.1, whichever format is there, the film is now available. People should not feel that they are watching a dated film.”
It marked the film debut of theare director M. S. Sathyu, Photo: Aniruddha Chowdhury/Mint
The project, which cost 100 times more than the movie’s budget, was bankrolled by Pune-based developer R.D. Deshpanday, whose businesses include the company Indikino Edutainment Pvt. Ltd. Indikino ploughed close to Rs 1 crore into the restoration, supporting its picture spruce-up by Filmlab in Mumbai and the sound quality improvement by Deluxe Laboratories in Los Angeles, US. “The voice enhancement alone has cost us a fortune,” Deshpanday says. “It’s like adding sugar to milk and then separating the milk from the sugar.” He wants to organize domestic and international premieres of the movie, and has approached Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles for a screening. A book titled History’s Forgotten Footnote, written by journalist Satyen K. Bordoloi, will be released along with the movie. Blu-ray discs and DVDs are also in the pipeline.
“We are keen on bringing other timeless Indian classics to the surface,” Deshpanday says. “The film touches upon a very live subject. If you show Garm Hava today, anybody will think it’s a contemporary film. It has that kind of depth and timelessness.”
The attention lavished on Garm Hava is a bit ironic, considering that the film nearly didn’t make it to movie halls. The Mumbai office of the Central Board of Film Certification rejected the film, citing its potential to stir up communal trouble. Sathyu used his contacts to approach the then prime minister, Indira Gandhi. She ordered the film to be released without any cuts. But even the all-powerful Gandhi—she was only a year away from imposing Emergency on the nation and revoking the democratic rights of citizens—couldn’t ensure a smooth theatrical release. “N.N. Sippy took up the film’s distribution, but he backed out when we showed the film at a festival ahead of its release,” Sathyu says. “I eventually approached a friend in Karnataka who owned a distribution company and a chain of cinemas, and he released the film first in Bangalore.” Only then did other distributors step in to ensure that movie goers saw for themselves the tragedy of a Muslim family that opts for India over Pakistan.
A poster of the film
Garm Hava is about choices and consequences. Salim Mirza, a shoe manufacturer in Agra, has elected to stay back in India after Partition, but his decision gradually tears apart his family. A prospective son-in-law migrates to Pakistan, while business suffers because lenders don’t want to advance money to Muslim traders who may up and leave without repaying their debts. His daughter, Amina, decides to marry a suitor, but has her heart broken a second time when he too migrates. The Mirzas lose the mansion in which they have lived for generations. Salim Mirza is plagued by self-doubt. Should he have left in 1947 itself? Where is home—and what does it mean to be a Muslim in India? The movie’s original title was Wahaan.
Shama Zaidi, Sathyu’s wife and the screenplay writer of several Shyam Benegal films, based the script on a conversation she had with Ismat Chughtai, the Urdu novelist who has written extensively on Partition. Chughtai shared with Sathyu and Zaidi accounts of her family members, including an uncle who worked at a railway station and watched Muslim families gradually leave India in hopeful search of a better welcome across the border. The couple showed the script to poet and writer Kaifi Azmi, who wrote the dialogue and added to the screenplay his experiences of working with shoe-manufacturing workers in Kanpur.
The movie was made on a minuscule budget even by 1970s standards—a loan of Rs 2.5 lakh from the FFC and Rs 7.5 lakh borrowed by Sathyu from here and there. Like so many movies produced on the margins of the Hindi film industry, Garm Hava was made possible by the kindness of friends. The film was shot by cinematographer Ishan Arya—also making his debut after working in plays and advertisements—with a second-hand Arriflex camera loaned to the crew by Sathyu’s friend, Homi Sethna. Sathyu’s involvement with the Leftist Indian People’s Theatre Association (Ipta) resulted in parts for many actors from Ipta troupes in Delhi, Mumbai and Agra. The only real star on the set was the venerated Balraj Sahni in the role of Salim Mirza. Sahni, whose immensely dignified performance is one of the movie’s many highlights, was paid Rs 5,000 for his efforts. Shama Zaidi doubled up as the costume and production designer. Ishan Arya co-produced the film apart from creating its memorable images, which include a lovely moment of Amina and her new lover, Shamshad, consummating their relationship on a riverbank opposite the Taj Mahal. “We were all in tune with the kind of film we were making,” Sathyu says. “Ideologically, we were all alike and that is important.”
Before: The film’s restoration cost nearly Rs 1 crore
The cast included Geeta Kak as Amina, Jalal Agha as Shamshad, Shaukat Kaifi as Amina’s mother Jamila, and Farooque Sheikh, also making his feature film debut as Sikander. Sheikh was 24, and was completing his law degree alongside appearing in Ipta productions. “We were the young and useless lot at Ipta—we used to act in small roles and shift backstage furniture,” he says. “The FFC gave Sathyu a loan that was inadequate, to put it mildly, and that too, in bits and pieces, so he was looking for people who would work for free or very little money. It was a real labour of love.” Sheikh was paid all of Rs 750 for his role as Sikander, Salim Mirza’s rebellious son—his signing amount was Rs 150. “The film made history, and my contract must have too,” he says.
Despite having a pool of Ipta actors to dip into, Sathyu struggled to find the right woman to play the small but pivotal part of Salim Mirza’s aged mother. He wanted to cast the Hindustani classical singer Begum Akhtar, but she turned down the role. Help came from unexpected quarters. The Mirza mansion, a symbol both of the family’s social standing and their fall from grace, was hired from a Mathur family. “The man who owned the house told me that previous generations of his family had patronized dancing girls,” Sathyu says. “I felt that these dancers must still be around in Agra, so I asked Mr Mathur to take me to a brothel.”
After the restoration
The brothel was run by an old woman who used to be a prostitute. After much persuasion—and vociferous denials that they were film-makers rather than customers—she opened the door to Sathyu and Mathur. Her name was Badar Begum. “When I asked her if she would act in my film, she started crying,” says Sathyu. Badar Begum told the director an incredible story of how she always wanted to be an actor. She ran away to Mumbai at the age of 16 to work in the movies, ran out of money, managed to wangle a part as an extra in a Wadia Movietone film, used her payment to return to Agra and eventually became a prostitute. “She did her part very well even though she was in her 70s and nearly blind because of cataract problems,” Sathyu says. Her voice, however, was dubbed, by the actor Dina Pathak. The dialogue and background sounds in the movie were filled in after the shoot at a studio in Mumbai. “The whole film was shot silent, and the sound dubbed in post-production because we couldn’t afford recording equipment,” Sathyu says.
Garm Hava was a personal milestone but also something of a millstone for Sathyu, who is now 82 and lives in Bangalore. “When you hit a peak with your first film, everything else you do is compared to it,” he says. He has made nine feature films in different languages, including Hindi and Kannada, and is trying to cobble together the finances to make a multilingual musical. He continues to work in theatre, and will stage a production of the Ipta classic Moteram Ka Satyagraha in Mumbai on 7 September. “Garm Hava is a sentimental story—it brings tears to people’s eyes, which is what people like,” he says self-deprecatingly about his debut.
Apart from showcasing a gem from the treasure trove of Indian cinema, the restoration refocuses attention on Indian New Wave cinema, which produced serious-minded, issue-oriented films against severe odds. The collective approach that made Garm Hava possible, the monetary sacrifices by its cast and crew, and the passion for creating cinema that leads to social change have all but vanished. The creative ferment of the time is nicely captured by Ipta member and actor Masood Akhtar in his feature-length documentary Kahan Kahan Se Guzre, which will be shown in Mumbai in August. Akhtar’s film contains valuable information about Sathyu and the theatre scene of the 1970s and 1980s as well as personal insights into the director (his real name is Sathyanarayan, he is a charming flirt, his daughters call him “Sathyu” rather than “Daddy”.) “I consider myself his assistant, and the film is my tribute to him,” Akhtar says.
The documentary ends with the dramatic but appropriate Latin words “O tempora! O mores!” Thanks to the restoration of Garm Hava, the times and the customs of a near-forgotten phase of cinema will return, if only briefly.
Separate lives
From Ritwik Ghatak to Yash Chopra, our leading film-makers have variously interpreted Partition
Ritwik Ghatak’s ‘Megha Dhaka Tera’
Indian cinema has focused on Partition deep enough to merit the subgenre “Partition cinema”. There are the movies of Bengali director Ritwik Ghatak, who confronted head-on the trauma caused by the division of Bengal into West and East Bengal (which later became Bangladesh). His debut Nagarik, made in 1952 but released only in 1977, deals with the misery of a family that migrates to Kolkata from East Bengal. The theme of geographic and spiritual displacement is further explored in Meghe Dhaka Tara (1960), Komal Gandhar (1961) and Subarnarekha (1962). In 1973, Ghatak revisited the country of his birth with Titash Ekti Nadir Naam, about fisherfolk who live on the banks of the Titas river in Bangladesh.
The division of Punjab has featured directly and obliquely in the works of Yash Chopra. Dharmputra (1961) spans the period before and after independence. Shashi Kapoor plays a Hindu fundamentalist who discovers that he is actually a Muslim who was adopted by Hindu parents at birth. In Chopra’s Veer-Zaara (2004), Zaara comes to India to immerse the ashes of her Sikh nanny. She falls in love with a Hindu pilot, who later crosses the border to find her. It is said that every Hindi movie about children or siblings separated from their family members is actually about Partition. Could the earthquake that splits the family of Kedarnath in Yash Chopra’s Waqt (1965) actually be an indirect reference to Partition?
There is no such coyness in Gadar: Ek Prem Katha (2001), Anil Sharma’s chest-thumping and eardrum-shattering movie about the romance between a Sikh man and a Muslim woman during the tumult of 1947 . A saner, and altogether quieter movie told from the Pakistani perspective is Sabiha Sumar’s Khamosh Pani (2003). Set in the 1970s, the movie recounts the dilemma of a Sikh woman who marries the Muslim man who abducts her, but is forced to confront her past when her son becomes a religious fundamentalist. Pinjar (2003), Chandraprakash Dwivedi’s glossy adaptation of Amrita Pritam’s novel, is also about the experiences of a Punjabi Hindu woman whose family rejects her after she is abducted by a Muslim man.
Literature has given film-makers ample material to work with. Pamela Rooks’ Train to Pakistan (1998) is based on the Khushwant Singh novel, while Deepa Mehta’s Earth (1998) is taken from Bapsi Sidhwa’s Ice Candy Man. Bhisham Sahni’s Tamas, a novel about pre-Partition madness in Amritsar, led to Govind Nihalani’s television series of the same name—one of the best ever works on the period.
Photographs courtesy MS Sathyu

Sunday, December 29, 2013

फारुख शेख : आम हैं, अशर्फियाँ नहीं

वरुण ग्रोचर का यह संस्‍मरण moifightclub से लिया गया है।

आम हैं, अशर्फियाँ नहीं

“अरे और लीजिये! आम भी कोई गिन के खाता है क्या? आम है, अशर्फियाँ नहीं.” फारूख शेख साब हमें अपने गुजरात के बगीचे के आम (जो बहुत ही कायदे से छीले और बराबर चौकोरों में काटे गए थे) खाने को कह रहे थे और मुझे लग रहा था जैसे मिर्ज़ा ग़ालिब कलकत्ता में हुगली किनारे बैठ कर, किसी बोर दोपहरी में अपने किसी दोस्त से बात कर रहे हों.
यह हमारी उनके साथ पहली मुलाक़ात थी. हम माने चार लोग – जिस बंडल फिल्म को उन्होंने ना जाने क्यों हाँ कह दिया था, उसका डायरेक्टर, उसके दो संवाद लेखक (मैं और राहुल पटेल), और एक प्रोड्यूसर. हम चारों का कुल जमा experience, उनके बगीचे के बहुत ही मीठे आमों से भी कम रहा होगा लेकिन उतनी इज्ज़त से कभी किसी ने हमें आम नहीं खिलाये थे. और जब मैं यह सोचने लगा कि यह ‘किसी ने’ नहीं, फारुख शेख हैं – ‘कथा’ का वो सुन्दर कमीना बाशु, ‘चश्मे बद्दूर’ का पैर से सिगरेट पकड़ने वाला सिद्धार्थ (Ultimate मिडल क्लास हीरो – थोड़ा शर्मीला, थोड़ा चतुर, थोड़ा sincere, थोड़ा पढ़ाकू, और थोड़ा male-ego से ग्रसित), ‘गरम हवा’ का छोटा बेटा ‘सिकंदर’ (जो कुछ नहीं जीतता), ‘जी मंत्री जी’ का वो बुद्धू-चालू मंत्री, और ‘गमन’ का वो ट्रेजिक हीरो जो चित्रहार में अक्सर उदास से एक गाने में भी मुस्कुराहट की कगार पर दिखता था – तो वो आम और उसके साथ की इज्ज़त बहुत बड़ी हो गयी.
अगले कुछ हफ़्तों में हम उनके घर तीन बार और हाज़िर हुए. हर बार वही सुन्दर कटे आम, और फारुख साब का खुश मिजाज़, जिसमें बहुत से पुराने किस्से और बहुत सी ज़हीन शायरी बात-बेबात निकल आती थी, हमें मिलते रहे. जितनी तमीज़ और तहज़ीब उनके सिनेमा किरदारों में २०-२५ साल पहले दिखती थी वो पूरी की पूरी अब तक मौजूद थी. उनके घर में, उनके आस पास रह के, लगता था किसी और सदी में जी रहे हैं. इत्मीनान और ज्ञान एक साथ, एक ही बन्दे में, और वो भी बंबई की इस कीचड़ से भी बदतर फिल्म इंडस्ट्री में मिलना जादू ही था.
एक दिन बात चली passion की तो उन्हें याद आया कि अपने ज़िन्दगी में पहली फिल्म शूटिंग जो उन्होंने देखी थी वो थी ‘मुग़ल-ए-आज़म’ की. वो बच्चे ही थे जब उनके पिताजी (जो बंबई में वकील हुआ करते थे) उन्हें ‘प्यार किया तो डरना क्या’ गाने की शूटिंग और शीशमहल दिखाने ले गए थे. उन्होंने थोडा उदास हो के कहा वो एक हद्द थी जिस तक हम कभी नहीं गए. फिर एक बार उन्होंने बताया कि कैसे जब अमिताभ बच्चन को पहली फिल्म की तनख्वाह मिली थी तो वो फारुख साब को ‘treat’ देने मरीन ड्राइव ले गए और दोनों ने Gaylord (जो अब भी वहीँ है) में १० रुपये का खाना खाया था. उनके इस किस्से को मैं ध्यान से सुन रहा था और इंतज़ार कर रहा था एक ठंडी आह का या एक bitterness की झलक का – लेकिन ना ये आई ना वो. Honestly, शायद उस दिन मैं थोडा disappoint भी हुआ था. फारुख शेख बचपन से हमारा खुदा था. सईं परांजपे हमारी सलीम-जावेद और मनमोहन देसाई rolled into one, और फारुख शेख हमारे बच्चन. बचपन से घर में ‘साथ साथ’ और ‘बाज़ार’ का combo-pack सुनते-सुनते और दूरदर्शन पे अनेक बार ‘कथा’ देखते-देखते वो दिलो-दिमाग में घुस गए थे. पता नहीं कहाँ से ‘आर्ट और पैरेलेल सिनेमा’ का कीड़ा लग गया था या शौक था दोस्तों को दिखाने का कि हम फ़ालतू फिल्में नहीं देखते. दिक्कत यह थी कि ज्यादातर पैरेलेल फिल्में उदास कर के छोड़ देती थीं. लेकिन जब ‘चश्मे-बद्दूर’ देखी तो लगा कि हाँ ये वाला पैरेलेल सिनेमा ज्यादा मिलता है हमारे temperament से. और इस तरह के, थोड़े हलके लेकिन फिर भी गहरे सिनेमा को फारुख शेख से हसीन brand ambassador नहीं मिल सकता था – भोलेपन और urbane-ness का ज़बरदस्त मिश्रण. ‘किसी से ना कहना’ का होटल हनीमून को होटल हनुमान में बदला देख वो subtle reaction, ‘पीछा करो’ का भयंकर वाला पागलपन, और उमराव जान का अति-ज़हीन नवाब – सब आसानी से कर सकने वाला achievable God.
इसलिए जब उस दिन देखा कि फारूख शेख को अमिताभ बच्चन से कोई गुस्सा नहीं है – ना comparison, ना ही वो हलकी सी टीस ‘वो कहाँ निकल गए, हम कहाँ रह गए’ वाली जो इस शहर में अक्सर टीवी एक्टरों को भी होती है बच्चन साब से – तो मुझे थोड़ा बुरा लगा. वैसा जब आपको किसी फिल्म में अन्याय होने के बाद भी हीरो के अन्दर गुस्सा ना देख के लगता है. लेकिन यही बात थी फारुख शेख की. उनके अन्दर बस acceptance था, और जैसा कि हमने जाना, उनकी दुनिया और बहुत सी दिशाओं में फैली हुयी थी. थियेटर, शायरी, सोशल वर्क, पढना और लिखना, खाना पकाना और खिलाना, और ना जाने कौन-कौन सी खिड़कियाँ होंगी जिनमें हमने झाँका नहीं. वही उनका सबसे बड़ा treasure और achievement था – इत्मीनान और contentment. अपने आप से, अपने career से.
फिल्म की शूटिंग के दौरान उनसे फिर २-३ बार मिलना हुआ. शूटिंग के आखिरी दिन उनसे डरते डरते नंबर माँगा और उन्होंने बड़े दिल से कहा – फोन ज़रूर करना जब कोई अच्छी स्क्रिप्ट हो.
उसके बाद मैंने २ स्क्रिप्ट लिखीं, जिनमें कुल मिलाकर ४ साल लगे. दोनों में ही फारुख शेख साब के अलावा कोई और सोचना मुश्किल था. बल्कि एक स्क्रिप्ट तो निकली ही इस वजह से थी कि मैंने सोचना शुरू किया कि अगर ये किरदार फारुख शेख साब करेंगे तो कैसा होगा. हर सीन, हर संवाद लिखते हुए वो दिमाग में रहे. यह कहना गलत नहीं होगा कि ४ साल मैं अक्सर उनके साथ रहा. २ फिल्में, जो मैंने अपने ज़ेहन में बनायीं, दोनों में वही स्टार थे. ये कहानियां मैं उनको कभी नहीं दिखा पाया. दूसरी वाली शायद अगले महीने ही दिखाता, लेकिन अगला महीना अब अगला ही रहेगा हमेशा.
उनसे आखिरी बार मुलाक़ात हुयी इस साल ‘चश्मे-बद्दूर’ की री-रिलीज़ पर. तो एक तरह से उनसे पहली मुलाक़ात (जब मैंने उन्हें बचपन में टीवी पर देखा होगा) और आखिरी मुलाक़ात दोनों एक ही फिल्म के ज़रिये हुयीं. उनको और दीप्ती नवल को एक साथ सामने से देखने का बहुत बड़ा सपना पूरा हो गया. मिहिर पंड्या की किताब (‘शहर और सिनेमा वाया दिल्ली’) उन्हें देनी थी क्योंकि उसमें ‘चश्मे बद्दूर’ पर एक बड़ा सुन्दर चैप्टर है इसलिए किताब लेकर उनके पास गया. उन्होंने कहा ‘आप घर पहुंचा दीजियेगा, यहाँ तो इधर-उधर हो जायेगी.’ मैंने उन्हें याद दिलाया कि उनकी एक बहुत ही वाहियात फिल्म के डायलौग मैंने लिखे थे. वो बोले ‘ऐसे कैसे याद आएगा यार. मैंने तो बहुत सारी वाहियात फिल्में की हैं!” मैंने कहा ‘नहीं सबसे वाहियात शायद. Accident on Hill Road.’ उसके बाद हँसते हुए उन्होंने एक बार और हाथ मिलाया.
थोड़ी देर बाद हमने बड़े परदे पर ‘चश्मे बद्दूर’ देखी. फारुख शेख और दीप्ती नवल और राकेश बेदी के साथ, एक ही हॉल में. वो दिन, उस दिन भी अद्भुत था, लेकिन अब जब फारुख साब के साथ दुबारा कभी बैठने को नहीं मिलेगा, उस दिन की याद और भारी हो जाती है. अब फारुख साब और रवि बासवानी साथ में देखेंगे जो देखना है. हम रह गए यहीं, उनकी उस मीठी मुस्कान और हमेशा ज़रुरत से आधा-इंच लम्बे बालों वाले चेहरे के aura में. उनके lazy charm, grace, और एक नए writer को दी गयी पूरी इज्ज़त की रौशनी में.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

फारुख शेख : जीवन और अभिनय में रही नफासत

-अजय ब्रह्मात्‍मज 
                उनसे मिलने के बाद आप उनके प्रशंसक हुए बिना नहीं रह सकते थे। शालीन, शिष्ट, अदब, इज्जत और नफासत से भरा उनका बात-व्यवहार हिंदी फिल्मों के आम कलाकारों से उन्हें अलग करता था। उन्हें कभी ओछी, हल्की और निंदनीय बातें करते किसी ने नहीं सुना। विनोदप्रिय, मिलनसार और शेर-ओ-शायरी के शौकीन फारुख शेख ने अपनी संवाद अदायगी का लहजा कभी नहीं छोड़ा। पहली फिल्म 'गर्म हवा' के सिकंदर से लेकर 'क्लब 60' तारीक तक के उनके किरदारों को पलट कर देखें तो एक सहज निरंतरता नजर आती है।
               वकील पिता मुस्तफा शेख उन्हें वकील ही बनाना चाहते थे, लेकिन कॉलेज के दिनों में उनकी रुचि थिएटर में बढ़ी। वे मुंबई में सक्रिय इप्टा [इंडियन पीपल्स थिएटर एसोसिएशन] के संपर्क में आए और रंगमंच में सक्रिय हो गए। उनकी इस सक्रियता ने ही निर्देशक एमएस सथ्यू को प्रभावित किया। इप्टा के सहयोग से सीमित बजट में बन रही 'गर्म हवा' में उन्हें सलीम मिर्जा के प्रगतिशील बेटे सिकंदर की भूमिका सौंपी गई। पिछले दिनों एमएस सथ्यू ने 'गर्म हवा' के कलाकारों के स्वाभाविक अभिनय पर एक महत्वपूर्ण टिप्पणी की थी। उन्होंने कहा था कि बलराज साहनी के असर से सभी कलाकारों ने अपने किरदारों के प्रति रियलिस्ट अप्रोच रखा। 'गर्म हवा' फारूख शेख की पहली फिल्म थी। उनके कई सीन बलराज साहनी के साथ थे। कहा जा सकता है कि बलराज साहनी की संगत उनकी शैली में चस्पां हो गई। नैचुरल एक्टिंग ही उनका मिजाज बन गया। हालांकि उन्हें इस तथ्य का मलाल रहा कि वे कमर्शियल एक्टर नहीं बन सके। वे राजेश खन्ना की लोकप्रियता का उल्लेख करते रहे, लेकिन उन्होंने इसे दंश नहीं बनने दिया। वे हिंदी फिल्मों के पैरेलल सिनेमा के योग्य और समर्थ अभिनेता के रूप में उभरे। रोचक तथ्य है कि 'गर्म हवा' के अभिनय के लिए उन्हें पारिश्रमिक के तौर पर सिर्फ 750 रुपए मिले थे और वह भी पंद्रह सालों के बाद।
              मशहूर निर्देशक सत्यजित राय को 'गर्म हवा' पसंद आई थी। उन्होंने अपनी हिंदी फिल्म 'शतरंज के खिलाड़ी' में अकील की भूमिका के लिए फारूख शेख को चुना। फिर मुजफ्फर अली की 'गमन' में वे गुलाम हसन के रूप में नजर आए। आजीविका की तलाश में देश में अंदरुनी विस्थापन झेल रहे बिहार-यूपी के बेरोजगार युवकों के दर्द को यह फिल्म बखूबी व्यक्त करती है। 'गमन' फिल्म का गीत 'सीने में जलन आंखों में तूफान सा क्यूं है, इस शहर में हर शख्स परेशान सा क्यों है' मुंबई शहर की हकीकत की चिरकालिक प्रासंगिक अभिव्यक्ति है। हिंदी फिल्मों के आम दर्शकों को वे 'चश्मेबद्दूर' के सिद्धार्थ पाराशर के रूप में पहचान में आए। सई परांजपे की इस फिल्म में उन्होंने दिल्ली के मध्यवर्गीय युवक की झेंप, शर्म और ईमानदारी को प्रभावशाली ढंग से व्यक्त किया था। 'चश्मेबद्दूर' के पहले उन्हें यशराज फिल्म्स की 'नूरी' मिल चुकी थी। पूनम ढिल्लो के साथ दर्शकों ने उन्हें पसंद भी किया था। मनमोहन कृष्ण के निर्देशन में बनी इस फिल्म की लोकप्रियता की वजह से उन्हें तत्काल 40 फिल्मों के ऑफर मिले थे, लेकिन फारूख शेख ने करिअर की आसान राह नहीं पकड़ी। 'नूरी' के दोहराव और ऊब से बचने के लिए उन्होंने एक भी फिल्म साइन नहीं की। सई परांजपे को इसलिए हां कहा कि 'चश्मेबद्दूर' नई शैली की आधुनिक फिल्म थी। सई परांजपे की ही 'कथा' में बासुदेव के रूप में फारूख शेख ने स्मार्ट और चालाक युवक की भूमिका को जीवंत कर दिया था।
फारूख शेख 'गर्म हवा', 'गमन', 'नूरी', 'चश्मेबद्दूर', 'बाजार', 'साथ-साथ', 'लोरी', 'उमराव जान', 'लाहौर' आदि फिल्मों के लिए याद किए जाएंगे। बीच में उन्होंने टीवी शो 'जीना इसी का नाम है' में मेजबान के रूप में अमिताभ बच्चन के समान ही भाषा और व्यवहार की शालीनता सिखायी। वे अपने मेहमानों को पूरे संदर्भ के साथ बाइज्जत पेश करते थे। उनकी बातचीत में आत्मीयता बहती थी। चुटकी लेते समय भी उनकी विनोदप्रियता के कारण माहौल खुशगवार रहता था। एक गैप के बाद 2010 के बाद वे फिर से फिल्मों में एक्टिव हुए थे। इसी दौर में 'लाहौर' के सशक्त अभिनय के लिए उन्हें सहायक अभिनेता का राष्ट्रीय पुरस्कार मिला था।
              इस साल उनकी तीन फिल्में आई। 'लिसन अमाया' में वे 25 सालों के बाद दीप्ति नवल के साथ दिखे। घोर कमर्शियल फिल्म 'ये जवानी है दीवानी' में रणबीर कपूर के पिता के रूप में उनकी मौजूदगी फिल्म का एक मजबूत पहलू था। उनकी आखिरी रिलीज फिल्म 'क्लब 60' रही। इस फिल्म में उन्होंने मुंबई में एकाकी जीवन जी रहे बुजुर्ग के अकेलेपन को उन्होंने संवेदनशील तरीके से पेश किया था।
                           फिल्मों की सक्रियता के बावजूद वे रंगमंच से जुड़े रहे। फिरोज अब्बास खान के निर्देशन में 'तुम्हारी अमृता' में शबाना आजमी के साथ वे मंच को रोशन कर देते थे। दोस्तों और फैमिली के लिए समर्पित फारूख शेख की छवि संयमित और शिष्ट अभिनेता की रही। सहयोगी कलाकार उनकी नफासत और मजाकिया स्वभाव के किस्से सुनाते हैं। दुबई में कल रात दिल का दौरा पड़ने से 65 की उम्र में उनका निधन हो गया। वे अपने परिवार के साथ वहां गए थे।

फिल्‍म समीक्षा : महाभारत (एनीमेशन)

साधारण कोशिश 
-अजय ब्रह्मात्‍मज 
एनीमेशन फिल्म 'महाभारत' की एकमात्र खूबी इसके परिचित चरित्रों को मिली पापुलर कलाकारों की आवाज है। अमिताभ बच्चन, अजय देवगन, मनोज बाजपेयी, विद्या बालन, सनी देओल, जैकी श्रॉफ, अनुपम खेर आदि ने विभिन्न चरित्रों को आवाज दी है। साथ ही उन चरित्रों को कलाकारों का चेहरा भी दिया गया है। 'महाभारत' कॉस्ट्यूम ड्रामा होता तो इन कलाकारों को परिचित चरित्रों के रूप में स्वीकार करने में दिक्कत नहीं होती। उनके भावहीन चेहरे मुखौटे की तरह लगते हैं। एनीमेशन में परिचित कलाकारों को कॉस्ट्यूम में देखना आंखें को नहीं रमता। इस फिल्म में एनीमेशन में अधिक मेहनत नहीं की गई है। संवादों में व्यक्त भाव चेहरे पर नहीं दिखाई पड़ते। ऐसा लगता है कि साधारण तरीकेसे फिल्म पूरी कर दी गई है। हालांकि आज की पीढ़ी से जोड़ने की कोशिश आरंभ और अंत के दृश्यों में दिखाई पड़ती है, लेकिन क्या 'महाभारत' सिर्फ दो भाइयों की लड़ाई की कहानी है? 'महाभारत' की परिचित कथा को संक्षेप में पेश करने में लेखक-निर्देशक ने ज्ञात और लोकप्रिय घटनाओं को ही शामिल किया है। फिल्म के तकनीकी पक्ष में अधिक मेहनत नहीं की गई है, इसलिए पूरी कोशिश साधारण रह जाती है। इस साधारण फिल्म में लोकप्रिय कलाकारों की आवाज का सदुपयोग नहीं हो सका है।
अवधि- 125 मिनट
** दो स्‍टार

Thursday, December 26, 2013

दरअसल : साल 2013-मेरी पसंद की 12 फिल्में

  -अजय ब्रह्मात्‍मज 
  पांच दिनों में 2013 बीत जाएगा। हम 2014 की फिल्मों के बारे में बातें करने लगेंगे। नई उम्मीदें होंगी। नए किस्से होंगे और आएंगी नई फिल्में। इस साल रिलीज हुई फिल्मों को पलट कर देखता हूं तो कुछ फिल्मों को उल्लेखनीय पाता हूं। मेरी पसंद की ये 10 फिल्में हैं। फिल्मों की चर्चा में मैंने कोई क्रम नहीं रखा है। सालों बाद जब 2013 की बात होगी तो मुमकिन है कि इनमें से कुछ फिल्में याद की जाएं। अगर आप ने ये फिल्में न देखी हो तो अवश्य देख लें। अभी तो डीवीडी पर पसंद की फिल्में देखना आसान हो गया है।
    मेरी पसंद की फिल्मों में छोटी-बड़ी हर तरह की फिल्में हैं। मैंने फिल्म के बाक्स आफिस कलेक्शन पर ध्यान नहीं दिया है। उस लिहाज से बात करने पर तो अधिकतम कमाई की फिल्मों तक सिमट जाना होगा। ऐसी कामयाब फिल्मों से मुझे कोई शिकायत नहीं है। उन फिल्मों के भी दर्शक हैं। उन्हें अपनी पसंद की फिल्में मिलनी चाहिए। सिनेमा की पहली शर्त मनोरंजन है। मनोरंजन के मानी सीमित कर दिए गए हैं। मनोरंजन का शाब्दिक अर्थ मन के रंजन से है, लेकिन इसके निहितार्थ पर विचार करें तो बाकी गुणों पर भी विचार करना होगा।
1 - काय पो छे - चेतन भगत के बेस्ट सेलर पर बन रही इस फिल्म से अधिक उम्मीद नहीं थी, लेकिन अभिषेक कपूर ने मूल उपन्यास का अद्भुत रूपांतरण किया। गुजरात की पृष्ठभूमि पर बनी यह फिल्म सामाजिक यथार्थ के साथ युवा स्वप्नों को भी जाहिर करती है। इस फिल्म ने हमें सुशांत सिंह राजपूत नामक स्टार और राजकुमार राव नामक उम्दा कलाकार दिया।
2 - लुटेरा - विक्रमादित्य मोटवाणी की दूसरी फिल्म ‘लुटेरा’ किसी उपन्यास को पढऩे का एहसास देती है। इधर ऐसी प्रेम कहानियां नहीं बनतीं, जिनमें मनोभावों की सांद्रता हो। पीरियड फिल्म के फील के साथ ही हमें सोनाक्षी सिन्हा की प्रतिभा का भी परिचय मिला। रणवीर सिंह ने भी इमेज की विपरीत संतुष्ट किया। फिल्म का कैनवास और उस पर बिखरे रंग सम्मोहित करते हैं।
3 - शुद्ध देसी रोमांस - यशराज फिल्म्स की इस प्रस्तुति को वास्तव में एक प्रस्थान की तरह देखना चाहिए। विदेशी लोकेशन की सपनीले रोमांस की दुनिया से निकलकर यशराज फिल्म्स ने देसी रोमांस का चित्रण किया। जयदीप साहनी की कहानी और संवादों ने छोटे शहर के बदल चुके युवक-युवतियों और प्रेम के प्रति उनके बदले दृष्टिकोण को सामयिक संदर्भ में पेश किया।
4 - बुलेट राजा - मैं इसे हिंदी फिल्मों का ‘पुरबिया न्वॉयर’ मानता हूं। हिंदी में मसाला फिल्में बनती रही हैं, तिग्मांशु धूलिया ने पहली बार थ्रिलर को देसी परिवेश और मुहावरा दिया है। प्रचलन से हट कर उन्होंने एक्शन में भी वास्तविक स्फूर्ति रखी। ‘बुलेट राजा’ पारंपरिक ढांचे में ही देसी कहानी और किरदारों को लेकर आती है। इस फिल्म की कल्पना उत्तर भारत से काट कर नहीं की जा सकती।
5 - मद्रास कैफे - शुजीत सरकार ने श्रीलंका के गृहयुद्ध की पृष्ठभूमि में एक राजनीतिक फिल्म बनाने की कोशिश की। हालांकि व्यर्थ के विवादों से बचने की कोशिश में फिल्म थोड़ी कमजोर हो गई, फिर भी जॉन अब्राहम और शुजीत सरकार की इस हिम्मतवर कोशिश को बधाई।
6; राकेश ओमप्रकश मेहरा की' भाग मिल्‍खा भाग' मिल्‍खा सिंह की महज बॉयोग्राफी नहीं है। यह देश के इतिहास,सपने,संघर्ष और विजय की कहानी उनके माध्‍यम से व्‍यक्‍त करती है। यह आशा और उम्‍मीद की फिल्‍म है।फरहान अख्‍तर के बेहतरीन अभिनय के लिए भी यह फिल्‍म देखी जानी चाहिए कि कैसे एक कलाकार किरदार में ढल जाता है।
 7 - लंचबाक्स - हम ईरान और दूसरे देशों की फिल्मों की संवेदनशीलता की बातें करते रहते हैं। ‘लंचबाक्स’ भारत में बनी ऐसी ही फिल्म है। यह मामूली किरदारों की गैरमामूली प्रेमकहानी है। फिल्म देखते हुए एहसास होगा कि हम ऐसे किरदारों से मिल चुके हैं। उन्हें जानते हैं। इरफान और निम्रत कौर के स्वाभाविक अभिनय से यह एहसास गाढ़ा होता है।
8 - बीए पास - छोटे स्तर पर सीमित बजट में बनी ‘बीए पास’ ने चौंका दिया। अजय बहल ने फिल्म की नायिका शिल्पा शुक्ला को संयत अभिनय करने का मौका दिया। बोल्ड विषय पर बनी यह संतुलित फिल्म है।
9 - शिप ऑफ थीसियस - हिंदी फिल्मों में दार्शनिक होने की बात नहीं सोची जा सकती। आनंद गांधी की ‘शिप ऑफ थीसियस’ जीवन के मूलभूत प्रश्नों को छूती है। हिंदी फिल्मों की नई भाषा और मुहावरा गढ़ रहे फिल्मकारों में आनंद गांधी शामिल हैं।
10 - शाहिद - हंसल मेहता की ‘शाहिद हमारे निकट अतीत के एक दुर्लभ व्यक्तित्व को पर्दे पर ले आती है। शाहिद आजमी के जीवन पर आधारित यह फिल्म हमारे समय का सच भी बयान करती है। निर्दोषों के पक्ष में खड़े व्यक्ति को समाज के कथित प्रहरी जिंदा नहीं रहने देते। ‘शाहिद’ परतदार फिल्म है।
11- रांझणा- आनंद राय की 'रांझणा' में बनारस एक किरदार के रूप में नजर आया। फिल्‍म में जेएनयू के चित्रण से असहमति है। यह फिल्‍म धनुष को हिंदी फिल्‍मों में ले आई। इरशाद कामिल और एआर रहमान ने फिल्‍म में मधुर और अर्थपूर्ण प्रयोग किए।
12 - जॉली एलएलबी - सुभाष कपूर की यह फिल्‍म अपनी स्‍वाभाविकता और जमीनी प्रस्‍तुति के लिए उल्‍लेखनीय है। कोर्ट के बैकड्राप में सामाजिक विसंगति को उजागर करती 'जॉली एलएलबी' न्‍याय प्रणाली को बेनकाब करती है। सौरभी शुक्‍ला का शानदार अभिनय तो दर्शनीय है ही।

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Irrfan Khan: Defying Definition

Irrfan Khan resists being labelled. It is limiting, says the actor, whose search for more meaningful roles continues despite the overwhelming affirmation from critics and audiences alike

Away from the hustle and bustle of mainland Mumbai rests a quiet stretch of land dotted with leafy palm trees that sway in the winter breeze and monstrous old buildings that are being renovated into hotels, resorts or residential complexes. Called Madh Island, the area is not only far but also far removed from B-town’s usual cacophony. Its famous resident, Irrfan Khan, is looking for just that.

Cut off from what he calls the corrupting influence of “a movie-city like Bombay” on an artist, Irrfan, 46, inhabits—and defines—a world of his own, just like in his movies. Dressed impeccably in a white blazer and slim-fit grey trousers, beard trimmed to perfection, hands gently rolling a cigarette—something he “got hooked on” at the National School of Drama (NSD)—he settles down for a chat with Forbes India.

The tranquility of the place is unmistakable and Irrfan’s husky-voiced intensity rips through it as he dwells on his craft, the soul-wrenching efforts that go into his effortless performances, and his never-ending quest for contentment as an actor. “What  I am looking for still eludes me,” he says. Even after a  host of unforgettable films, wide recognition and  multiple accolades, he is looking for “stories that can really engage me” and “take me forward”.

The cause of this lack of fulfillment, he says, “is a continuous struggle to find my kind of story… such a story where I have a great experience and give the audience a great experience. And for that you need a storyteller.” Is there a dearth of storytellers who can fascinate an artist of his calibre? “There are many promising new directors but it is time they were more ambitious and started telling stories that have resonance all over the world,” he says.
It is this need for a “universal” brand of cinema that he has stressed upon in his visits to a gamut of film festivals this year, including the prestigious event at Cannes where he was hailed for his compelling performance in The Lunchbox. He reckons Indian audiences are evolving and “they need different kinds of films and experiences”.

He wears the acclaim of The Lunchbox on his sleeve. “It is the first Indian film that was released like an English film [in terms of scale] across the world,” says Irrfan, who was a co-producer. But as an actor, not playing his age was “a tedious process”.

“To look like that, to think about it, how to age myself, I don’t sleep, I booze, I do this, I do that… you don’t want to do that thing [and] be in that zone,” he says. This isn’t the first time he has played an old man—and felt unpleasant about it.

In 2011, for the HBO series In Treatment, he played a widower paralysed by the grief of losing his wife and at the same time battling pangs of cultural displacement when his family brings him to the US for treatment. Irrfan says, “It was very difficult. I haven’t faced that kind of complexity in my life. I didn’t know from where I would bring that experience of pain.”

In 2006, in Mira Nair’s sublime celluloid adaptation of Jhumpa Lahiri’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Namesake—a film that established him as an actor of repute in the Western world—he played a professor who ages from a reticent young fellow to an unobtrusive old man. “I never enjoyed that phase… playing that age and feeling that age in your body when your agility is challenged. I hated it,” he says.


The actor has often felt “stifled” by the intense process of acting. “Earlier I used to look for a method. At NSD, they asked you to find a posture which would lead you to the emotion of a scene. It was among the various techniques they taught. But I could never connect to that,” he says.

He kept looking for triggers that allowed him to slide into a character and experience all its emotions to the fullest. He cites the example of Maqbool (2003), Vishal Bhardwaj’s adaptation of Macbeth and one of Irrfan’s most memorable films. “During that scene where Tabu is lying dead, something happens to me when I suddenly realise that this woman has brought me till here and she has left… she is gone!” he says. “I was going through grief as an actor. And because you are creating that grief, you start enjoying being in that state.”

In another Bhardwaj film, 7 Khoon Maaf (2011), Irrfan plays an effeminate poet by day who turns into a wife-assaulting beast by night. He struggled to determine the “emotional core” of the character. “I kept asking Vishal ki isme kya hai? [what is in it?]” he says. Right before a shot one night, he heard an Abida Parveen ghazal that helped him “find the contradictions, complexities and compulsions” of the man. “There was no connection between the ghazal and the character. It was just a trigger,” he says.


Irrfan believes there are two selves at work while acting. “The process of acting bifurcates and creates another person in you. One becomes the observer while the other is the performer,” he says. “You are losing control [as the performer] and letting yourself flow but you are still in control [as the observer].”

Rarely does one come across an actor who analyses his craft so scientifically and manages to deconstruct the process so convincingly. Time magazine puts it aptly in a 2012 essay: “By eschewing Bollywood frivolity and focusing on his craft, Irrfan Khan has won the right to be considered the finest Indian actor of his generation.”

Irrfan says he only attempts to give the character “a proper culmination and appeal”. But some roles are already complete like the one in Paan Singh Tomar, a film that won him the National Award last year. “For certain roles, you have to grow and find the character. But when Tigmanshu Dhulia [the director] narrated Paan Singh Tomar to me, it was just there. He was standing in front of me,” he says.

He finds it most rewarding when audiences are overwhelmed by his performances. “The way the audience relates to your work and the way it stays with them is the most precious thing. That is the reason you are an actor,” he says. 

But the fiercely self-analytical actor is irked when audiences praise him for a role in which he “felt nothing”. He says, “Sometimes people love your performance but you know that you never experienced anything. What is it they like so much?”

He also has an aversion to epithets even if that is of a “fabulous actor”. He feels “caged” by tags. He says, “The industry is eager to put you in an image so that they can use you. They want to define you as soon as possible. I feel claustrophobic when any definition is put on me.”

Nonetheless, unfettered praise has marked Irrfan’s journey. Oscar-winning director Ang Lee called him a “unique actor” after Life of Pi. Danny Boyle, who directed Slumdog Millionaire, said he is “beautiful to watch” and compared him with an athlete who could execute the same move perfectly over and over again. Legendary film critic Roger Ebert termed his work “subtle” and “engrossing”. Amitabh Bachchan called him an “incredible performer” in Paan Singh Tomar.


Today I don’t need to communicate to the industry that I can engage,” says Irrfan with a sense of pride. But the restless actor can’t wait for more “engaging scripts”. He has turned producer to play an active role in a transitioning industry. “I don’t want to keep waiting for good stories. If I see a possibility of making an engaging film, I would rather take charge and make my own,” he says.

Will he direct too in the near or distant future? “When I watch cinema what attracts me is people’s behaviour more than the story. My natural inclination is towards acting. I can’t direct,” he says.

His latest film Qissa, a “hard-hitting” Partition tale, was screened at the recently concluded Abu Dhabi Film Festival and Irrfan is quite upbeat about it. “This film has Indian, German, French and Dutch producers. So it gives us a kind of visibility in the European market,” he says.

While sections of the media are quick to anoint him the first truly “crossover” Indian actor who has found favour with influential Hollywood studios, Irrfan is keen to work with the new crop of desi directors who are making waves with non-formula films. “Dibakar Banerjee, Shoojit Sircar, Shimit Amin, Sujoy Ghosh, Sriram Raghavan… they are all promising. They just need to find their ground and their stories,” he says.

For an actor who is eternally hungry and hunting for “something beyond”, the sky is the limit. Perhaps Irrfan Khan won’t settle for even that.
This article appeared in the Forbes India magazine of 27 December, 2013

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

2013 Rewind – 15 Film Fanatics on 17 Terrific Films That Have Stayed With Them

5 Votes

The brief was the same this year. A mail was sent to the usual cinema comrades who write, contribute, and help in running this blog. It went like this – a) Close your eyes b) Think of all the films you have seen in 2013 – released/unreleased/long/short/docu/anything c) Think what has stayed back with you – impressed/touched/affected/blew d) Write on it and tell us why. Ponder like Jep Gambardella in right gif, and write about the joy you experienced like the left gif.
Almost everyone wanted to write about The Great Beauty. It has emerged has a clear favourite this year. But since the idea is to cover as many films as we can, so only one person was allowed to write on a specific film. Though we ended up having two writers on TGB. Finally, here’s the massive list of 17 terrific films picked by 15 film buffs, and they tell us why these films stood out from the rest. If they don’t look familiar, click on their handles. It’s linked to their twitter accounts.
(Our earlier post in the same series – 20 Things We Learnt At The Movies and 13 Unanswered Questions is here, Top 10 Musical Gems We Discovered This Year is here)
@kushannandy   on   I L O    I L O
What do you do when a bald, tipped-hat wearing character, straight-out-of-Jeevan’s gang, writes to you and his other Versovian gang-members an underground email in which he threatens to squash your sperms, a la Uma Thurman did to the eyeballs in Kill Bill, unless you close your eyes, think of your favorite film of 2013 and some such shit…?
You shit. And you sit on your laptop.
My pick: the best film that stayed back.
A spoilt schoolboy, his unemployed father and pregnant mother, who tries in vain, to survive her pre natal pangs and the annoying habit of the males in the house leaving urine on the toilet seat, form a small middle-class family of three in a quiet province called Ilo Ilo in Singapore. Well, not three. Actually four. Terry, a modern and resilient maid, walks into this family and battles the boy-bully, combats the mother’s territorial jealousy and earns the respect she deserves from the senior-most member of the family.
There is nothing innovative about the plot. No melodrama. In fact, zero drama. Yet, Anthony Chen’s debut film left me spellbound. The unbelievably realistic performances, the emotional nuances, take it right into Asghar Farhadi territory. And what holds the film together, is Angeli Bayani’s portrayal of the Filipino maid. Chen’s silent close-ups of Bayani’s deeply emotive face and haunting eyes stay with you, long after the lights come on.
@sudhishkamath   on   Q I S S A
I’m not sure we’ve seen a better film about the fluid nature of identity and sexuality, that too from India. And this complex question of who we are is explored through a simple nature versus nurture plot.
A story of a girl raised as a boy. Because the father (Irrfan Khan) has always wanted a boy and is in absolute denial about who she really is. Tillotama Shome is just the kind of ballsy woman for the role and casting an actress in the stereotype-defying gender-bending character is just one of the many triumphs of Qissa, which is full of twists that are introduced not to shock but to explore the question of identity, layer by layer. Saying anything more may just ruin the film for you. You might have issues with the titular ghost that pops up but that’s exactly the kind of ingenuity that makes you think about the question raised in the film. With Tisca Chopra and Rasika Duggal in the cast, this is as solid as an Indian film has got in ages, especially from the arthouse circuit!
@krnx    on   R U S H
Since, I suspect, no one is going to write on a Hollywood movie being their choice of best film on MFC, I will. And also because Rush was one kick-ass film that literally gave me a rush and had me applauding at the end of it: physical reactions that no other film in 2013 managed to evoke.
There really isn’t much to say about Rush that hasn’t already been said. I used to be a fervent F1 fan (less now but still enough to be in the grandstands of the first Indian GP) and for sure that’s contributed to my admiration of Ron Howard’s expertly crafted drama. He is a director, I admit, I find hugely inconsistent (only cared for Apollo 13 and Frost/Nixon besides epic television Arrested Development) but with Rush, the slate’s wiped clean.
Just unearthing the story – James Hunt vs Niki Lauda – must’ve been a moment of triumph for screenwriter Peter Morgan. But some scripts are expensive to tell and it was an arduous journey for Morgan’s spec(!) effort before Howard got involved.
Besides the incredible rivalry that Howard’s captured in moments of pure cinema, the authenticity of period F1, and spectacular visuals (especially those of the final race in Japan in high-speed rain) that haven’t made a home in my mind for all these months; Rush encapsulates everything that Formula 1 is about – adrenaline and utter disdain for subtlety. Not the usual qualities in, what we have come to expect, a “good” film.
@sukanyaverma   on    W A J D A
For someone who watches movies for a living, it’s very hard to pick ONLY one great movie from a pile of superlatives. More so, since 2013 fared rather well in my eyes and I didn’t ‘ummm’ even once on being asked for my pick of the lot. Wadjda, with its inspiring theme and touching simplicity, is that shiny gem from Saudi Arabia that gets my vote. Ever since I saw its first trailer among a hoard of others nominated by their respective countries, vying for a place under Oscar’s Best Foreign Film category, I was drawn to the beatific smile of a 10-year-old (an extraordinary Waad Mohammed) essaying the title role. Notably, Wadjda is the first film to be shot entirely in Saudi by filmmaker Haifaa Al Mansour who directed outdoor scenes from inside a van using a walkie-talkie adhering to the country’s stern filming restrictions for a woman/filmmaker and the first film from the nation to send an entry to the Academy.
 Right from the first scene where Wadjda steps forth sporting a pair of Converse sneakers in a crowd of Mary Janes, you know she stands out in a conservative, controlled society. Set in suburban Riyadh, Wadjda deals with a young girl’s determination to realise her dream of buying a bicycle after her mom refuses to do so. How she chooses to achieve her seemingly defiant goal by appeasing the same society and its doctrinal requirements is deftly portrayed in Mansour’s lovingly crafted feature. Also heartwarming are the interactions between Wadjda and her best friend, Abdullah. Unlike the grown-ups in the story, their friendship is untouched by the discrimination of their environment. Wadjda offers a palpable glimpse in Riyadh’s daily life, the anxieties and facades of its striking women, the deep-rooted conditioning of its self-engrossed men as well as the innocence of its blithe children without trying to be overtly cynical or judgmental. Through Wadjda’s mini triumph, Mansour astutely endorses a message of hope and her personal belief that change might be slow but it is steadfast and most imminent.
@varungrover     on    T H E    G R E A T    B E A U T Y
This was a year of turbulence for me. Lots of emotional ups and downs, fights, illnesses, personal and professional extremes, and a feeling of ‘ab hum bade ho gaye hain’. Mid-life crisis started hitting its opening notes this year, that slideshow of ‘80s/90s kids will remember this’ left me sadder rather than happier, some very good friends got separated from their better halves, some others got lost in the black-hole of their corporate jobs and/or parenthood, a favorite relative passed away, a cricketer I loved as a kid retired and I didn’t feel a thing, and a pet parrot flew away leaving me heartbroken.
And may be that’s why, no other film moved me as much as ‘The Great Beauty’ this year. A film about passage of time and people, relations disintegrating, dissolving into the great circus of bizarre the life is. Paulo Sorrentino’s latest, which I watched twice on big screen during this year’s MAMI (god bless Mister Narayanan, the festival director), had everything I would ideally like to associate my ‘end of days’ with –humor, acidic care-a-damn criticism of (modern) ideas of success and art, deep nostalgia, detachment, quest for beauty, spiritualism, and an affirmation that it’s all, after all, just a trick.
Films next year:
@varungrover   on   D I S A P P E A R A N C E    O F    E L E A N O R    R I G B Y    :   H I M    A N D    H E R     and    T I T L I
2 films that I saw this year (one at TIFF and another at IFFI viewing room) should be the most talked about international and Indian films respectively next year in my humble brag opinion. Ned Benson’s ‘Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Him and Her’ is a delicate, sensitive, brilliantly written and acted, mind-bending drama of a couple’s separation shown through the perspectives of him and her in two films of 90 minutes each. Think of it as Sam Mendes meets Asghar Farhadi. The layers of interpretation become thicker and mindboggling if you change the order of viewing from ‘him followed by her’ to ‘her followed by him’. And that, you’ll see, is a masterstroke.
The best Indian film I saw this year, and hopefully the whole of world will see soon, is Kanu Behl’s ‘Titli’. Seeing it on a desktop computer in IFFI, Goa’s ‘viewing room’ should be counted as an underwhelming, far from ideal setting, and still, this very dark very funny very depressing dastaavez on patriarchy BLEW ME AWAY like nothing this year. Stunning is the word. Breathless is another. Writing so sharp (Kanu Behl and Sharat Kataria co-wrote it) and performances so bang-on, not to mention excellent edgy-gritty cinematography (Siddharth Dewan), this is our best bet for world cinema honors next year.
@invokeanand   on   B O M B A Y    T A L K I E S
The Lunchbox made me long for the days gone by, Ship of Theseus made me feel guilty for merely existing, Chennai Express made me a philosopher, but the film that reached me this year was a story about identity and liberation -Ajeeb Dastan hai yeh (Bombay talkies). The film mainly dealt with identity – sexual and personal both, but what worked for me was the depiction of today’s charulata – hiding her loneliness and emptiness in sensuous saris wrapped in raw sexuality. It was her story, her struggle and in the end, her liberation. Trapped in a relationship moving slowly towards it’s end and feeling guilty for it’s eventual demise. Use of Lag Ja Gale was genius to say the least and felt like it was specifically written for this character. And in what eloquent ease does Rani Mukherjee carries herself throughout the film. And Johar, from loving your parents to hitting your parents has come a long way and we can only hope he keeps this bravado intact.
@diaporesis    on    T H E    H U N T
Before Midnight is the loveliest film I’ve seen all year but I’ve already written about it at length. My second favourite film this year stands in stark contrast to the occasionally sunny, sometimes stormy, yet entirely endearing story of Richard Linklater’s finest film. “The Hunt” is a little-known Danish film — despite it winning an award at Cannes 2012 — that stars the reliably excellent Mads Mikkelsen in a mesmerising performance as an upright schoolteacher, and occasional hunter, who is hounded and ostracised by the small community he lives in, after a child wrongly, but not maliciously, accuses him of a criminal act he did not commit.
Without talking about the accusation itself, nor of the movie’s very finely shot and acted scenes, it’s worth examining two key themes of the movie briefly. The first is banal but has several important interlinked parts — children are impressionable, difficult to understand, and can react unpredictably when spurned or angered. In the movie, the child is shown a porn clip by her brash teenaged elder brother. Later, when angered by the schoolteacher, she uses details seen in it to accuse him of an act he did not commit, without being aware of the fallout of her innocent anger. For some reason, while watching the movie, I was constantly reminded of another disturbing film in which an older child wreaks havoc on his family and schoolmates: “We Need to Talk About Kevin”. That movie should perhaps be watched in accompaniment to The Hunt for it sheer contrast in material. Second, perceptions and influence work in strange, and sometimes troubling ways. It is assumed that the child must obviously be speaking the truth while making such serious accusations. The teacher-in-charge, instead of trying to verify the story, literally puts words into the mouth of the child in her haste to get “justice” for the child. It must be noted that, in general, everyone knows that children are notorious liars; yet for serious accusations this is often overlooked. Moreover, the “epidemic” — of accusations of similar acts committed with other children — that breaks out soon after the initial accusation points to how impressionable children are, how vulnerable their minds and the paradox that must exist to protect them: to ensure their safety there must be inordinate power vested in their words. The hunt for truth and justice often leads to the bloodshed of those who only happened to cross the firing line at the wrong time. For a schoolteacher this lesson was hard to swallow; for the hunter, it could not have been more obvious.
@manishgaekwad     on    C H I T R A N G A D A
At the Kashish Mumbai International Film Festival this year, the closing film Chitrangada was also one of the festival’s most difficult films to sit through. Three days later, actor-director Rituparno Ghosh was dead. The film, which is inspired by a Tagore play, is about a transsexual choreographer undergoing sex-reassignment surgery. In a way, it mirrors Rituparno’s own battles, as he began to express himself more as a woman in the public eye.
This confusion in the audience to be able to identify with him, is also the moot point the film makes when he steps into the role of the agonising choreographer. Festival audience moved quickly; the deadweight of the film’s slow treatment, and watching this pouty, greasy, unattractive man blur the boundaries between art and life, freaked most people. By the end of the screening, the theatre was near empty. Which is clear how people do not want to see filmmakers indulge in self-flagellation. Keep your private parts, private, don’t turn it into something prosaic. Perhaps, Rituparno over-shot his license.
It is however, a film, one must return to, for the artist who holds a gun to his own head. The film bored me, made me uncomfortable, there were long and dull portions, but what never left me, was that in his role as ‘deus ex ghosh’, he was trying to say something really, really important; about gender and bias and fluid sexuality, and what films should do and tell us about ourselves (sometimes). As Aparna Sen wrote about the film, in his obit, ‘Without sending out a message, within quotes, as a lesser filmmaker might have done, Ritu managed to bring the hitherto marginalized into the domain of the mainstream, to an extent.’ His timing was right, his exit wrong.
 @nagrathnam     on    S O O D H U    K A V V U M
Every year there is ‘the’ Tamil film which crosses boundaries and turns out to be a benchmark. From previous years’ Paruthiveeran, Subramaniapuram, to Aaranya Kaandam and this year’s Soodhu Kavvum. This one shows how to do a Guy Ritchie-ish film with dollops of quirky characterizations, outlandish situations, kickass dialogues, and amazing usage of music. And the best part is that the film is made with no stars (unless you count Sanchita Shetty & Pizza’s Vijay Sethupathy- the Abhay Deol equivalent, as ‘stars’), and is a realistic, ambitious, sensible film with zero pretension, with a dose of commercial masala tadkas. Ambition needn’t be limited by a budget. One might argue that the 2nd half was more ‘plot’ & less character as compared to the 1st half, but still, no one can take away the fact that the film surprises you at multiple levels without insulting your intelligence.
[SPOILERS]- Ironically the only two ‘honest’ men in the film end up as losers and most of the bent characters end up victorious. This one also has the greatest subversive ‘stalker’ scene in the history of tamil cinema (the IT guy with the lover girl office situation). Now waiting and hoping the hindi remake matches upto the original.
@damoviemaniac     on     N E W    W O R L D
Who said the gangster genre is dead?
Trust the Koreans to make actors dressed in black suit and assaulting each other with knives and baseball bats look poetry in motion. The film explores the power politics within a gang, primarily dealing with structures and mechanisms. It has unusual emotional depth for a gangster film and often feels like a tale of bromance and loyalty.
It is the perfect onion, unwrapping one layer at a time as the film progress. The film teases the viewer to a game of one-upmanship, trying to outdo each other. And just as we think we have solved the maze, the climax flips everything upside down and we gasp at the sheer brilliance of storytelling. But the film does not rely on the last minute plot twist for the viewer to appreciate. It acts as the cherry on top.
@lordmeow    on    T H E    G R E A T    B E A U T Y
Jep Gambardella claims that he was destined for sensibilities, whereas his friends cared only for inner lips of women. He has walked a long path, arriving at a view of life that gives him a panoramic display of the human comedy, broad and unambiguous. He has lost love, but his nature hasn’t undergone a brutal upheaval. He has been at war with himself; he’s the man who has been different men at different points of time. He has emerged from the uncertainties of life, remade, and illuminated by new feelings. Now, whatever its worth, is fairly settled, and he knows how to express it clearly, facing the camera, without a shadow of doubt, in true Italian style.
Paolo Sorrentino’s The Great Beauty witnesses the decadence of Rome again, seething with tragic irony of a Gibbonesque spectacle. It flings literature giants at you so elegantly that you are waiting to be damned by its words. But unlike Woody Allen (whom you actually expect to pop up at any moment in the film) whose intellectual adventures merely give a half-formed philosophy in an autobiographical fashion, Sorrentino’s characters reveal the inner labyrinth of life, rather a satire of life, on life everywhere, the struggle of its aspirations to fructify, the madness that follows it, and the disillusionment that awaits at the far end of the journey. The observations are sharp, but it is not cruel, rather it looks at poor folks, baffled and lost, rarely comforted, with a distant sympathy. With a rhythmic rise and fall of images (that gliding camera), Jep is the voice of a time going by. He utters inconsistent wisdom, not because of the character’s infidelity with truth, but because he has outgrown his preceding selves. To know him, unquestionably one must know him entire, and I can only fancy the aching romantic pain that sweeps his memory. As 2013 is flying by, I would rather settle for his terrace party, swinging to ‘Mueve La Colita’.
@ghaywan    on    T H E    C O N G R E S S
“Nazis and holocaust bring awards” says the head of ‘Miramount Pictures’ as he convinces Robin Wright, an ageing star, to surrender her youth to a pile of codes.
Ari Folman’s The Congress is a dizzy concoction of commoditization of cinema, the dystopian bleakness of our future that is bereft of choice, the blazing bohemia of a century full of animated characters and our relentless questioning of where we came from. It’s a giant fuck you to the Hollywood’s studio system, an ode to animation and eventually, an allegory of what our future holds for us with all it’s decaying art.
Robin Wright plays herself as the star who has to sign a contract with her studio to sell her image to digital restoration turning her real self completely obsolete. 20 years later she is called to the futurist congress, a convention of an animated world, where she is forced to lend her image to the capitalistic franchise of Mirmaount Hotel. The studio boss asks her for an extension of her contract where she “can now be eaten in an omelette or a Crème brûlée… you’re now a substance”. He even suggests her of a world where people will pay royalty to fantasize about a star. More ambitious than Waltz With Bashir but limiting in it’s cohesiveness of a singular theme, The Congress, has to be devoured for it’s vision and craft. As it goes with life, you may not understand this film completely but it is worth the trip, with all its spot-the-reference moments. This is Sunset Boulevard on acid!
@fattiemama    on    B E K A S
Innocence is difficult to portray without sentimentalising. Much more difficult is to weave in that rare brotherly bond amidst poverty ridden circumstances yet steer clear of patronising. Using children as children and letting their light shine through requires talent, one which Bekas, a delightfully pleasing and touching film, does without fanfare.
The story of two orphaned Kurd children who dream of going to America and meeting Superman thereby uplifting their impoverished lives, Bekas keeps coming back to me as the most memorable film I have watched this year solely for its tone – bantery humour with controlled drama underlining the narrative. Cleverly drawing the line between sentiment, drama and comedy, Bekas turns a feel-good narrative into a story of familial bond while set in the harsh reality of war-torn Iraq. It has one of the most delightful and sharply written lines, warmly etched characters and deeply insightful social references of life in a small town in Kurd and the impact of the war with US. The ghost of US merchandise symbolising the ‘arrived’ life looms large in everything the two hold dear; Superman, Coke and Michael Jackson become much more telling symbols of US supremacy globally.
All its little joys and the wonderful child actor playing the younger, spirited brother apart, Bekas is dear to me for its one brilliant achievement – of letting children be children. From Majidi we have learnt, they tell their own story. All we need to do is allow them to speak. And then just sit back and listen.
@miyaamihir    on    J A I     B H I M    C O M R A D E
तय है कि अापने इस तीन घण्टे दस मिनट लम्बी वृत्तचित्र फिल्म का नाम ज़रूर सुना होगा अौर अगर अाप थोड़े भी जागरुक पाठक हैं तो अब तक इस फिल्म की तमाम घोर राजनीतिक समीक्षाएं भी पढ़ चुके होंगे. लेकिन अानंद पटवर्धन की ‘जय भीम कॉम्रेड़’ मेरे लिए अपने मूल में नितान्त व्यक्तिगत फिल्म है. यह एक मित्र के अचानक चले जाने के बाद उसके मित्र के अात्मसंशय से उपजी फिल्म है. अात्मसंशय, कि कहीं अपने दृढ़ राजनीतिक विचारों की घटाटोप सामूहिकता के बीच हमने अपने दोस्त को अकेला रह जाने दिया. यह फिल्म वो ईमानदार सवाल है जिसे अानंद स्वयं से पूछ रहे हैं अौर यहाँ उनके ‘स्व’ में कहीं न कहीं हिन्दुस्तान का पूरा प्रगतिशील विचार शामिल है. प्रगतिशील विचार जिसने ‘पहचान’ के सवाल को वर्गसंघर्ष की महती लड़ाई के मध्य द्वितीयक पायदान पर रखते हुए सदा अप्रासंगिक मान खारिज किया लेकिन स्वयं उसके बीच मौजूद भिन्न पहचान वाले कॉमरेड का अकेलापन नहीं देख पाया. यह एक रचनाकार-फिल्मकार के ईमानदार अात्मसंशय से उपजी फिल्म है अौर स्वयं पर सवाल खड़े करने की अौर उन सवालों के साये में खुद अपने विचार को खुर्दबीन से परखने की यह ईमानदारी हमारे समय में दुर्लभ है. इसी संशय के चलते अानंद अपने प्रगतिशील साथियों के सामने कुछ वाजिब सवाल खड़े करते हैं अौर शायद एक पूरी विचारधारा के लिए अात्मपरीक्षण का वह दरवाज़ा खोलते हैं जिसकी सांकल अभी तक उन्होंने स्वयं भीतर से बन्द कर रखी थी.
गौर से देखें तो सामयिक हिन्दुस्तान में मार्क्सवाद अौर अम्बेडकरवादी विचार के मध्य के तनावपूर्ण अंत:संबंध को परखते इस घोर राजनीतिक वृत्तचित्र के मूल में एक मित्र के असमय चले जाने की कसक मौजूद है. मित्र, जो चला जाता है लेकिन अपने पीछे सवालों का एक बियाबान ख़ालीपन छोड़ जाता है. सन सत्तानवे में कवि विलास घोगरे की अात्महत्या फिल्मकार अानंद पटवर्धन को झकझोर देती है. लेकिन इस बियाबान ख़ालीपन का सामना अानंद रचनात्मक विकल्प तलाश करते हैं. एक प्रतिबद्ध फिल्मकार अपने साथी की मृत्यु के बाद उसकी मुकम्मल पहचान की तलाश में निकलता है, उसके जनगीतों के पीछे के असल कंठ को जानने निकलता है, उसकी कविताअों के दृश्य ‘हम’ में मौजूद अदृष्य ‘मैं’ को खोजने निकलता है. यह एक दोस्त के चले जाने के बाद भी उसके मित्र की अनवरत तलाश है जो अानंद को खैरलांजी तक लेकर जाती है. ‘कबीर कला मंच’ तक लेकर जाती है. शीतल साठे अौर उनके क्रांतिकारी गीतों तक लेकर जाती है. एक दोस्त के खुद को अकेला समझ चले जाने के बाद भी उसका मित्र उसका हाथ नहीं छोड़ता अौर अस्सी के दशक में बनी अानंद की पहली फिल्म ‘बॉम्बे: हमारा शहर’ की शुरुअात में “एक व्यथा सुनो रे लोगों…” गाते नवयुवक विलास घोगरे की उस छवि को अानंद मिटने नहीं देते. ‘कबीर कला मंच’ के शीतल साठे अौर सचिन माली जैसे नौजवान उसी खो गये मित्र विलास की प्रतिछवि हैं. प्रेम जिसकी सीमाएं जात-धर्म के पार जाती हैँ अौर अन्याय के खिलाफ प्रतिकार की वही साझा कॉमरेडशिप जिसका सपना विलास घोगरे की कविताअों में झलकता था. अौर जब एक अाततायी सरकार द्वारा उन्हें नक्सलाइट कहकर जेल में बन्द किया जाता है तो अानंद उसके खिलाफ डटकर लोहा लेते हैं. अापको पता है, शीतल अौर सचिन ने अपने नवजात बच्चे का नाम क्या रखा है? ‘अभंग’. अभंग – जैसे वह दोस्ती जिसे मृत्यु तोड़ती नहीं, सदा के लिए वापस जोड़ देती है.
‘अात्मसंशय’ हमारे समय के लिए एक नायाब पदबंध है अौर बेहद ज़रूरी भी. सच यह है कि वर्तमान समय में विचारों का ऐसा एकवचनी कोलाहल मौजूद है कि शायद कभी एक सवर्ण होने के नाते, कभी एक हिन्दू होने के नाते, कभी एक पुरुष होने के नाते अौर कभी एक विषमलिंगी होने के नाते हमें सदा खुद से यह असुविधाजनक सवाल पूछना चाहिए कि ऊपर से बराबर दिखते सामूहिकता के इस तुमुल कोलाहल के बीच वो एक कंठ चुप क्यूं है? ‘जय भीम कॉम्रेड़’ उसी अकेले कंठ की समाज में वाजिब हिस्सेदारी की चाह का दस्तावेज है मेरी नज़र में.
@cilemasnob     on     G O Y N A A R    B A K S H O
The Great Beauty, Inside Llewyn Davis, Francis Ha, Before Midnight and Gravity must be the top five reasons to fall in love with the movies this year. Wrote about Llewyn Davis and Frances Ha here. So am picking a bengali film for this post.
This is my favourite story about the oldest lady i know and i keep repeating it. She keeps reminding me that on her deathbed she might ask for some non-vegetarian dish and she might even force me to get it. She has seen people doing that. But she says i should not let her eat that, not even offer anything remotely non-vegetarian. She hasn’t tasted it in last 70-75 years. She doesn’t want to change that in her last minutes. She says these things happen on deathbed. When you haven’t tasted something for so long, that intense craving comes back in your last moments and it feels like that’s the only door to salvation. She married young, widowed young, and since then it’s been like that – white saree, no non-vegetarian, and some more restrictions. Because of social and religious norms initially, and then you accept it and refuse to let it go. And i keep joking that i will get her the best kebabs she wants, she should die peacefully at least.
Aparna Sen bravely went ahead and gave her character something more to chew on in her film, Goynaar Baksho (GB). A story involving three generations of women, and the one that stood out is about a widow with a bitter tongue, who becomes ghost and returns to her house to guard her jewellery box. Our cinema has made some people completely invisible. Once upon a time, the woman in white saree used to be there for ornamental purpose at least. But they are completely extinct from screen these days. In GB, the old widow with her acidic tongue and funny bone encourages the young woman to look for real love by breaking all the social norms, even though it’s 1940s rural Bengal. But when she gets emotional and talks about the love that she has missed, has forgotten what cuddling with lover feels like, that physical intimacy, and how she was fooled into believing that materialistic pleasure was enough when the men of the house enjoyed life to the fullest, you can’t help but feel guilty and teary-eyed. For being conditioned by the same society norms in such a way that you never thought about this aspect of that lady in white.
It’s a ghostly tale told in a funny tone with freedom movement in the background, and has terrific performances by Moushumi Chatterjee and Konkona Sen Sharma. At a time when gender crime is making headlines every day, and when most of our films still treats female leads as T&A prop, this one stands so tall. Get the dvd and watch it.
Gif source here