Yet each man kills the thing he loves,
By each let this be heard,
Some do it with a bitter look,
Some with a flattering word,
The koward does it with a kiss,
The brave man with a sword!"
                     oscar wilde , the ballad of reading gaol

When was the last that I thought of you...I know not...but am I the one who goes alone on this path...and should I but care only a little for the souls that follow or those as march ahead?

Mode C is a way of life, perhaps my way of life: C for Cool, C for Cold, C for Chaos, C for Calvin. Ultimately, all of it boils down to the way you look at things. Are they not how they are but just how they appear?? No...and yes...Almost all the seriously critical fundamental concepts of life...aren't they just the bogies under Calvin's bed that he is afraid of? Miss Wormwood, Susie, Mom and Dad, and of course above all, Hobbes...aren't they all merely the means that he uses to attack these bogies?

Reflecting on 'living the Calvin way', I have started to believe that life and our reaction to it can only be explained by a number of Calvin and Hobbes strips combined together. The philosophy, as I like to call it, is to know that you are not alone. It is not just my perspective alone that is going to help me fight my bogies. I will be able to inch towards the Calvin way only when I perceive the other perspectives on my way.

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Friday, March 06, 2009
Nayan Tarse

Tauba tera jalwa tauba tera pyaar
Tera emosional atyachaar

The movie is anything but emosional atyachaar and thanks to a certain Mr. Kashyap for this. This is one movie that more than lives up to the expectations that surrounded its release. Not boasting of a stellar cast, the movie seems to be running purely on the eclectic reputation of its lead actor and more than that, its director. Abhay Deol and probably more so, Anurag Kashyap (especially after his recent work in No Smoking) have increasingly set themselves up for scrutiny whenever they try to do something that is even close to different. They have done so many things that are supposedly different and that too, in such a short span of time that any more different from their stables does raise the curious and often cynical eyebrows.

This one, however beats all cynics hollow in an almost surreal psychedelic fashion, a fashion, which to the average viewer, would come out as the underlying theme of the entire movie. Starting quite in similar vein to other recent small budget Abhay Deol starrers, DevD traces the stories of Dev, a spoilt brat who goes to London to study and his childhood sweetheart, Paro who doesn't think twice before sending her nude pics over the internet to her lover and carry a mattress to the fields on her bicycle in the hope of getting an opportunity to make out. As if this was not explosive enough for a start, soon enough, we are transposed from the single room sets and the fields of Punjab to the techno music playing bars of Delhi.

This transformation is not without incidents, though...incidents which are central to the story and the setting of context. A casual fling at a marriage ceremony (the definition of casual gets a new meaning here) and some banter about Paro result in the arrogantly rebellious scoundrel humiliating and disowning his equally strong-headed, reveling-in-sexuality girlfriend insatiate, almost as in an incomplete sexual release.

That is how it comes across, the first half of the movie, resplendent in the colors of the human body and the desires that it has over and above anything else. There are no feelings and no emotions as things move from one frame to another with an incoherently insensitive Dev trying to recover from the emosional atyachaar of his pyaar who decides to get hitched to an older man, if only to teach her jilted lover a lesson.

This recovery is guided by the ever-smiling, cunning Chunni, the pimp operating in the environs of Paharganj, that eternal cove of Delhi which hides beneath itself much more than probably the entire city of Delhi can dare to reveal. And this is where we meet Chanda, the girl prostitute, the linguist who can provide phone sex facilities in so many languages, the girl-woman who could never make it as the regular girl-next-door because she was filmed doing the unthinkable for a school going girl.

This, of course, refers to the DPS (my alma mater, coincidentally) MMS scandal. Here, I must admire the way Kashyap brings out the fact that everyone who ever found it fit to condemn the protagonist in the little MMS movie did so only after having a good time exploiting the victim, first by enjoying the episode to his heart's content and then, of course, by writing and talking reams on how the moral fabric of the victim and the society at large has gone to the dogs.

So Chanda, it is, who goes ahead and gives some sort of support to Dev, even if it means Dev vacillating between pining for a forbidden fruit in the form of an unclaimed and now non claimable love and coming to terms with the fact that the only one who loves him probably does not have the right to do so for she, her body and her love, are all on sale in the marketplace.

Sounds familiar, does it? Close to what Sarat Babu wrote in the classic Devdas, is it? Well, the answer is both yes and no for the director and all three lead actors (four, if you also count the effervescent Chunni) hold fast to a modern adaptation of the classic but at the same time make it abundantly clear that it is but an adaptation.

There is no way the classic would have ever thought of the three characters who come out at the most random moments in the movie to break into a jig or just watch silently, leaning against the wall. There is no way the classic would have such an amazing soundtrack and make the most optimum use of sound, lights, and camera to reflect the inner conundrum that Dev goes through while getting split between the two loves of his life...destruction of self and humiliation of others.

All the same, Anurag Kashyap does not fail to dig deep into the psyche of his characters and bring out what they stand for in the story that the classic novel tells. The nonchalant rebel in Dev, the vibrant pride in Paro, and the calm devotion in Chanda are all there, perhaps brought out in Technicolor through brilliant audio-visual treatment. The cine-goer comes out with endless things (good or bad depends on the diet of movies that he has been brought up amongst) to say about the technicians of this movie, whether it is the director Anurag Kashyap, or the cinematographer Rajeev Ravi, or the brilliant people associated with the songs and music of the movie (Music Director Amit Trivedi and the playback singers, specially Bony Chakravarthy and Shruthi Pathak).

Amongst the actors, it is not very surprising to see the underplaying of Abhay Deol fail for once. He could have grabbed a little more of the camera and been the better for it. However, he continues in the tradition of an Oye Lucky, Lucky Oye or a Manorama, Six Feet Under and plays the exact contrast to the most recent portrayal of the character of Devdas by Shahrukh Khan. While Shahrukh was completely over the top, Abhay is too subdued to make any meaningful impact.

The half-Indian half-French Kalki Koechlin is not an actor and that is very clear. However, Anurag Kashyap has worked wonders with what he has been able to get out of his real life girlfriend for this particular movie. It is difficult to put your finger on whether it is the disinterest of a prostitute that is essential to the character or it is the lack of capacity to act and portray emotions that leads to the empty face of Koechlin. Whatever it is, it works!

The one actor who comes out very strongly in the entire movie, of course, is Mahi Gill. Playing the super-confident woman of the world of today, Mahi is superbly brash but yet dignified, strangely even in her humiliation and more appropriately in her revenge. She comes out as someone who would be likely to be the sort of woman that the character of Anurag Kashyap's Paro is...and that is saying a lot because even if this character is real, it is certainly more real than what any of the movie audiences are going to be willing to accept.

The broad pulse of this movie is rocking, to use the euphemism that the supposed target audience of this movie would typically employ. The endless scenes of intoxication preceded by the ones that cause the said intoxication have been shot with perfection. The camera angles, the colors, the background score and the actors' emotions or the lack of them need to be seen to be believed.

Most important of all, the transition of the much filmed character of Devdas is there for all to see and admire. From a man who loved too much of KL Saigal and Dilip Kumar to the self-flagellating, self-indulgent man of Sharukh Khan, Devdas is now the sulky, unsure, and insecure individual who goes on a journey of self-realization, a journey that is replete with his own obsessions and addictions.

Posted at 04:42 pm by Nitai

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