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Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Inscrutably, watched SWADES in a theatre with family over the weekend. As I’ve said, it has been eons since I last went to a theatre, and if the mind were to hark back to the last time the four of us went to one together, I can wager that Globalization had not yet set in, the Internet hadn’t been invented, Pakistan were World Cup champs etc. ( Ed—Let us settle the matter forever, you mean a movie theatre—cos’ Sis & Dad go to Operation Theatres everyday )
Of course, I had made elaborate cerebral arrangements to prepare for the film itself—and armed to the teeth with savouries, wafers and refreshments, we set sail.
I should probably do this more often !

And the film ? Hmmm…

To begin with, one of the multifarious subjects that rile me and make me lose all sense of perspective and balance ( Ed—Your humility is touching, it should make you so proud (sic) ! ) is our entity as Indians and our place in the sun.

Well, sorry but a firm no.

I am convinced whatever be the commercial pronouncements on the film, the director is in grave danger of not even knowing what he has missed out on.

The first hour is culpably let slip by an errant helmsman too caught up in deluding himself into thinking viewers will be impressed by the tacky caricatures of NASA, the purported psychological anguish and indecision of the protagonist are only briefly touched upon, no insight into any background.
Drags on till he meets the inevitable intelligent girl at the bookstore and wastes more time. ( The audience guffawed at the inability of a NASA doyen to add three digit numbers ). Some more hamming later, mounts a house-on-wheels monstrosity and drives off into the sunset. Meets another harlequin troubadour en passant and some music later, arrive at Destination.

The squalor of rural lives are represented , his old nanny is just about the best thinker in the land, the ubiquitous cuddly brother of the heroine, and other such
And so on…..

It is painfully obvious that the director has never been to a village panchayat, been ostracized , known what is to live without power, gone to a bed on a hungry stomach, and largely been a disinterested spectator at a gormless, misshapen existence meander to oblivion, as is the wont of most rural folk. He also appears confused as to who his audience is, and what would satisfy them. Any road, he teeters between a hesitant breeziness and a somber unwieldiness. His message veers between the simplistic and the profound, and he is all at sea.

SRK for his part is impressively subdued and does get some moments of banter and boyishness. ( Ed-Nice checked shirts too !). A marked departure for me, I will not carp about his performance. He could not have done much more.

Gayatri ( Dad:Who is she ? Never seen her before .-- Sis: That’s what the director also thought ) has a wholly forgettable character, and she capitulates completely. Long tresses, limpid eyes and little else.
Cannot act. A expostulatory sermon and chaste Hindi in place of a speaking part dog her throughout, never quite breaks free.

The scheming old woman is way too perspicacious and perceptive to be credible. Almost Duncan-esque in her command and control.

Numerous other quibbles—electricity hardly seems a problem for the villagers, and yet a contumacious SRK can see little else. Casteism, domineering righteousness, gender discrimination, penury are real importunate evils, not footnotes or scenes.
The music was just about adequate, ARR got off lightly. Ends implausibly and ridden with contradictions—SRK speaks about BARC, but is seen only facetiously enjoying bucolic accompaniments.

No, just did not “get” it.

I ended up feeling sorry for AG on the way back. Cannot still fault an honest effort, and so I’ll leave it at inconclusive amity.
And yes, Jai Hind !


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