Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi - Movie Review

I would say this promo picture is a brilliant satire of mainstream Hindi 'slick' cinema.

A placard is shows...

"At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom..."
The narrator reads....
"Nehru was holographically wrong. Infact the time at New York was 2.30 in the afternoon"

The movie begins with its tongue firmly implanted on its cheek. Some innovative titles and the great Shubha Mudgal moaning in the BG set the tone for the movie. You get the feeling that you are in for an good time... and you are not dissapointed.

It is not often that you come across mainstream movies set with politicals as the backdrop. BOMBAY attempted it with really shady results. BOMBAY was too 'Bollywoodized' or 'Tollywoodized' for our comfort. HKA in sharp contrast, is a very straightforward movie with no tassles and hamming. HKA to be brief, talks about the first few years of the lives of 3 friends who were groomed with conflicting ideologies. The movie spans about 6 years of their lives... their formative years.. the times when their carefully groomed ideologies are at first self-fueled and later squelched by the ground realities not totally under their control.

What was poignant in this movie was that it brought into importance the tumultous and yet undocumented (ever read about the emergency in those NCERT history textbooks?) Indian history of late 1960s and early70s. The time when the Naxalbhari movement and other similar upraisals threatened to overthrow the Congress Government in the centre. It talks about the corruption that was rampant among the policy makers and how it filtered down to the poor masses. The movie in an offhand way documents the time when the ideals of freedom were completely lost and when people began to understand that they were still slaves after 20 years of Independence.

The characterization in the movie reeked of hardwork. The most impressive among the actors was Chitrangada Singh who sports a carefully concealed sardonic smile that is always present during the first half, only to have it later smudged by the dark realities seen in the darker villagers she encounters. Vikram as the smalltown boy attempting to make it big in the capitalist city is brilliant but his role does not warrant the depth that is provided for KK Menon as the militant socialist working at the grassroots level in the Bihari villages. Like in most good movies, most of the feelings of the characters are conveyed just through the eyes and the brilliant situations and not through lengthy dialogues. The director seems to have realized the most profound emotions are felt only when there is silence. I would have now to tell you that the editing at times seems a tad amateurish, with a few scenes being strangled even before it has the effect the director intended.

That being said, the movie yet has a beatiful controlled flow to it. It starts with the violent passion and focus of youth and as the movie progresses, the fervour in the characters seems to ebb away with the changing political scenario. The frustration during the struggle to achieve once firm goals, sets into every character in slightly different ways, making them realize their lower potentials and their true priorities. This evolution of the characters that coincides with the political suppression that was happening in our country at that time makes the characters a metaphor of sorts of those times. The repressed emotions and pent up frustrations finally vent out in an really well concieved climax. It stays with you.... long after the movie ends.

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