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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Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Ghate do to bache kya?

Jaise door des ke tower me ghus jaaye re aeroplane
Jaise sare aam Iraq me jaake jam gaye Uncle Sam
Jaise Bisleri ki bottle pike ban gaye English Man
Jaise har ek baat pe Democracy me lagne laga hai ban
Jaise bina baat Afghanistan ka baj gayo bhaiyya band
Jaise door desh ke tower me ghus jaaye re aeroplane

Anurag Kashyap does it again. In fact, he did it again when he did it in DevD. This was what he did before DevD was completed and even if you may say that he did it better the second time, he still did it damn better than most others even the first time around. Coming after Black Friday and No Smoking, with Gulaal, Kashyap has gone really deep into the web of ambition, greed, and angst as he weaves his characters around it.

Set against the backdrop of the Rajputana movement and its overlap with student politics in the local university, Gulaal's storyline seems to be incidental to the real tale that is attempted at being told. This, perhaps, is the weakest link in the movie and it is difficult to say if this was intentional or otherwise...once human feelings and emotions take center stage in such strong fashion as in Gulaal, it is anyway difficult to do justice to anything else.

As you see Dilip Singh (Raja Chaudhary) move in with Rananjay Singh aka Ransa (Abhimanyu Singh) and are just settling into the movie just as Dilip is trying to settle in a new city and university, you are caught unawares as Dilip gets entangled in one of the strongest and most hard hitting ragging sessions seen on celluloid. You follow Dilip getting beaten and thrown butt naked in a room which has for company, another naked individual who, you realize with a gasp a little later, is Anuja (Jesse Randhawa), a new professor at the college. If ever a movie had set the tone for what was to come next, this was it.

Dilip's humiliation sees Ransa getting involved in the petty college rivalry and the subsequent entry into the scene of Dukey Bana (Kay Kay Menon) who is the covert marshal for Rajputana independence. In no time, Ransa is projected as the candidate for General Secretary Elections in the university, with full support from Dukey Bana and hidden support from his father, the ex-King, whom Ransa is not really proud of.

At this stage, we also see the introduction of probably the two strongest characters in this movie, the brother-sister duo of Karan (Aditya Srivastava) and Kiran (Ayesha Mohan). Burning with angst against their father for not having given them his name and against the society for never failing to make them realize and remember their illegitimate status, Karan and Kiran want to achieve their rightful place in the Rajput society, come what may.

As pawns start getting moved, the color of blood gets mixed with the heat of bodies pressing against each other and everything, right from bullets to free sex, is used to further the political ambitions of the involved players. Ransa gets killed, Dilip becomes the dummy candidate, wins the election. Kiran sleeps with Dilip, makes him lose his sleep and resign only to take his place. The two camps bump off people before seamlessly merging and Kiran using her charms on Dukey Bana to go for the final kill.

Things happen at such a frantic pace that getting a hold on the story and tying together the strings of each of the many characters becomes next to impossible. This may have been the falling of any other movie but the treatment that the characters get from the director stands out in this case. You keep marveling at Kiran's unabashed sexuality, at Karan's lack of any scruples in getting his sister on others' beds, at Dukey Bana's insane fervor, at Dilip's bumble act translating into that of a madman, at Jadhwal's (Pankaj Jha) arrogance and cruelty, at Anuja's pride and her frustration at having lost it, at Madhuri's (Mahie Gill in a special appearance) simplicity going to the extent of idiocy, at Bhati's (Deepak Dobriyal) cool composure and single minded devotion, and above all at Prithvi Bana's (Piyush Mishra) John-Lennon-amulet-wearing, harmonium-playing folk songs interspersed with some really topical English lyrics.

The score, especially the lyrics for Gulaal is one of the most exceptional to have hit the screens in recent times. With Piyush Mishra being given full freedom to flex his creative muscles, the result is striking. Whether it is the topical commentary sung and picturised as a mujra or the closing re-interpretation of Sahir Ludhianvi's Ye duniya agar mil bhi jaaye to kya hai, Piyush Mishra is simply brilliant. With his music (mostly in the background), lyrics and his smooth act in the movie, he stands out as the single largest thing going for this movie. And to say that for a movie which has excellent acting displays from nearly half dozen artists is really a lot.

The ever potent Kay Kay Menon, though standing by his own in an explosive performance, is still overshadowed at times by the sheer natural talent of others, the notables amongst them being Abhimanyu Singh, Deepak Dobriyal, Ayesha Mohan, and Aditya Srivastava. All these actors and most of others get into the skin of their roles and get colored by the red Gulaal at different points in the movie, red Gulaal that depicts the emotions associated with rebellion, revolution, anger, ambition, pride, lust, fear, greed, exploitation...

Anurag Kashyap has managed the technicals well and they are good enough to not distract attention from the pure play of emotions that is the high point of Gulaal. In trying to be true to the plotline, however, Kashyap does actually lose the plot at times. There are too many things going on and the typical movie audience keeps trying to tie all loose ends together, focus on how each character is developed, concentrate on the idea left behind with them at some point of the movie, expecting it to be brought to its logical conclusion before things end. It does not happen, however, and it can be attributed to the new genre of film-making that Kashyap brings to the fore.

All threads are not meant to be tied up, all ideas are not important, it is not as much about the revolution than about the characters' situations around it and their way of handling these situations. It is not important if you did not know what happened to Anuja, to Dilip, or to Kiran later...what matters is the strong realization that a change in guard is not enough to change the reality ala Ye Duniya agar mil bhi jaaye to kya hai...what matters is the look on Kiran's face in the last frame of the movie and she stares on with tears of pride at her brother as he takes over pride of place at the helm of Rajputana, a society of those very people who had rejected them, humiliated them, and laughed at them for their illegitimacy.

While you watch the movie and digest all this, you may keep your eyes open for the Kashyap touch. There are many ways in which he differentiates this movie, changing it from yet another couple of hours of entertainment to an arrogant medium of expression. The difference is depicted and illustrated both directly and through references...via the use of profanity in sharp dialogues, use of some twisted humor and unconventional music, attention to details, some jazzy light and camera angles, raising a toast to rock culture, whether it is direct references to John Lennon, or the indirect usage of symbols like the song Kiran keeps playing on her guitar (Goodbye Blue Sky from Pink Floyd's album 'The Wall'), and above all, cryptic symbolism depicted in so many different ways, in the antics of the painted Ardha Narishwar and Prithvi Bana, in the names of drinks that Ransa orders (Republic and Democracy, anyone?), through symbols like the word Nihilism (the philosophical position that values do not exist but rather are falsely invented) written on the black board of the class Anuja goes in to teach.

Posted at 08:03 pm by Nitai

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