Today, entirely by accident, I found my IMDb review history. I realised that these two were the first two reviews I had ever written. Then, I realised that these two were the first symptoms of what would later develop into this blog. So, I’m posting them.
First, on the twentieth of August 2009, I posted a review of Sudhir Mishra’s brilliant Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi (literally Thousands Such Wishes; sorry, I can’t come up with a better translation). Honestly, I need to watch it again and write some more about it. I should warn you that there is the general idea of a spoiler here, but I feel that you can enjoy the movie nevertheless.
A movie that raises many questions and answers them in an inevitably simple way
Have you ever watched a movie with one girl and two guys, one guy a stud and the other a nice guy at heart, and in which the girl tries to have a relationship with the stud and ends up realising that she should be with the nice guy?
I’m guessing, yes. Well, imagine a movie with a problem at its heart. The characters: one girl(Chitrangda Singh), two guys(Kay Kay Menon and Shiney Ahuja). The girl loves the man who tries to solve the problem(Kay Kay). The other man(Shiney) – who’s poorer – feels that those are all rich kids’ games. He is, at heart, a nice man, but a practical man. I won’t say any more, but you should have figured out by now what the title of this review means.
It isn’t, however, just about the characters. It’s also an insightful treatise on society. For example, very near the beginning, there is a scene where Kay Kay’s character realises the weight of tradition, an idea that comes back later in the film. The landlord’s son has raped a lower-caste woman and the untouchables are all up in arms, when the landlord gets a heart attack and is cured, by the untouchables.
But what really struck me about the movie was that the characters spoke English like…well, human beings. In most Hindi movies nowadays the characters’ English accents makes me cringe, bringing up words in my mind that I won’t reproduce here.
So, on the whole, a very very good movie with a lot of brilliant scenes in chronological order that don’t feel like part of the story – though they are -, as being part of an overarching story would ruin them.
The second, on the twenty-eighth of August 2009, was of Iron Man. This one, I feel, is a complete review.
A bloody comedy!
‘Iron man’ is the first superhero movie that is mostly a comedy. Sure, there are lots of fights and all, but it’s all about the dialogues and the characters – there were, I think four action sequences in the whole movie.
The movie, refreshingly, doesn’t take itself too seriously: Stark stops and explains himself a sum total of one time, for about two sentences. And it makes sense. You see the weapons you have made in the hands of the terrorists, you don’t sit back and philosophise, you bam.
It’s as simple as that. A man who thinks he’s helping the cause of peace finds out he isn’t and tries to rectify it.
Yes, the other characters. Well, they are never established. Need I give Favreau a bigger compliment?
Now that I think of it, I wrote a few short reviews of books before these, on World Literature Forum. Here’s the first one, posted on the thirtieth of April 2009, of Vikram Chandra’s Red Earth and Pouring Rain (original thread here):
The only accurate word I can think of to describe this book is big. Not in terms of length, not even in terms of scope and imagination but in terms of the realistic universe Chandra creates. Here, by realistic, I mean rooted in reality: it could very well have happened and we don’t know about it because we just didn’t see it. Every new element of fantasy he brings in first looks like it is only there to satisfy Chandra’s sense of humour. Then, we eventually get to see the self-wrapped ness, so to say, of the universe he’s created and how every element fits in.
I absolutely love the way he layers story-telling upon story-telling to create a web of stories within stories(most of the book is a monkey telling a story about a man telling a story about someone telling him about the monkey’s previous life). This circle of stories also adds to the impression of bigness that you get.
His writing is remarkably accurate, modelling most of the narrative style according to the style of the narrator at that point, which tops off in the war scenes where there are sentences spanning pages; this is how people talk in that sort of epic excitement.
The only problem with the book that I could find was that it was too verbose in some parts (that is, more verbose than the style of the moment demanded).
PS: I’m sorry I could not give specific examples here, but I read the novel almost three and a half months ago(couldn’t write the article sooner because of a series of exams).