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Review: “Interstellar”

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

This stanza from the poem by Dylan Thomas was repeatedly mentioned in the whole narrative of the movie and elaborates the optimism and audacity of human endeavor to fight against great odds, to sustain the struggle despite an overwhelming perception of the enclosing darkness. And this has been the theme or the background, time and again, against which Nolan brilliantly weaves his story line and other cinematic elements together, to keep us on the edge of our seats and make us wonder at the limits of human genius and endurance.

I would not go on narrating the whole story line but it would suffice here to say that this film needs to be “felt” and “experienced” or be seen with your soul. Some scenes, which have been ingeniously executed, in the second half of the film gave me goosebumps and activated the brain muscles, which for long have remained in stupor. And that is the joy of watching a Nolan movie; it behooves you to think about the possibilities never thought before and to immerse yourself in the extravaganza aided by spectacular imagery and exquisite creativity.

Although I agree that the emotional connect was somewhat missing from the narrative, but Nolan makes up for it by what he does best: going slow on the storyline for the first few minutes and then pacing up the screenplay by showcasing simultaneous events occurring at various locations affecting the varied characters. Another film-making element that Nolan has completely exploited in “Interstellar” is this: First you spike up sentiments by showcasing pessimism and the dreaded perception of the end of “good” that is still there; and then you bolster hope and thrust optimism that ultimately overcomes that negative outcome. Apart from this, he goes further in visualizing the “world beyond 3 dimensions”, “journeying through a wormhole”, “going through the event horizon” and finally, “strumming the strings of space and time”, that makes for  a mesmerizing spectacle.

While some people, critics, skeptics will draw parallels with other movies of the sci-fi genre, I would state that this film is in a league on its own. Never before a filmmaker has captured or even attempted to capture the essence of travelling through the space-time continuum with such finesse combined with a screenplay that shows the triumph of human endurance (that was name of the spaceship on which Mathew McConaughey and his crew travels) over the darkness (both literal and figurative) surrounding the survival of our species. In a way, I thought that the famous poem by Robert Frost would have been more appropriate rather than the one by Dylan Thomas. But that’s just a wish from a mere mortal like me, not Nolan.

Antaheen is an excellent film which comes from the Bengali art cinema stable. Meticulously planned screenplay and seamless execution of the script support the foundation of the film which makes it one of the best regional films to watch out for. The film is vivid with elements which dabble in politics, business, philosophy and psychology of human relationships. The character sketches are succinctly elucidated with each and every main character grabbing significant attention from the audience.

Rahul Bose portrays the role of a senior cop who is adept at nabbing criminals and resolving conflicting situations. This is clarified by insertion of a few sub-plots within the storyline. Apparently, he has a secluded lifestyle in which he lives with his aunt and despite being a renowned officer in the DCDD department and a public face, has no girlfriends whatsoever. But over time, he has developed a habit of chatting with an unknown acquaintance of which Sharmila Tagore (his aunt) is slightly aware. He keeps his identity secret to the girl with whom he is chatting and they generally chat quite poetically and philosophically, which is a fun thing to watch.

Rahul bose is also in touch with his brother (Kalyan Roy), who lives separately from his wife (played by the versatile Aparna Sen). Rahul bose , at this stage doesn’t understand the cause of rift between the two and as the plot unfolds, we along with Rahul Bose, begin to unravel the mysteries and complications that arise with the advent of marriage. We become aware of how sometimes things turn ugly, when there is a clash of egos – when your independence is curbed and you have to seek a compromise. Aptly comes the dialogue from Rahul Bose Tomader moddhe abhimaan jome jome pahar hoye geche, Paro Di” (You people have built mountains of egos between yourselves). And to that Aparna Sen also replies Pahar ki oto sohoje dingono jaaye re” (It is not that easy to cross mountains). The structural flow of situations and dialogues is just fantabulous.

The parallel between the two couples, showcased in the movie, can be drawn. One is the couple which is as described in the earlier paragraph; and the second one comprises of a real-estate businessman and his wife. The latter couple, still living together under roof despite having a luxurious lifestyle, is bereft of any happiness or intimacy that should come out of it. On the other hand, Aparna Sen and her husband get in touch over the phone and have company with each other despite living miles apart from each other. And so it gets reflected in the dialogues Sometimes absence is required, to feel a person’s presence more intensely.

Rahul bose regularly chats with our leading lady (Radhika Apte) who is an investigative reporter working for a TV channel for which Aparna Sen also works. They both come to know each other through Aparna sen. In the virtual world, they don’t know about their real identities and in the real world, they just don’t have a clue about their virtual identities. And as they both stand witness to Aparna Sen’s once married life, they develop a liking for each other through the virtual world, of course. Meanwhile, Radhika Apte is on a hot trail regarding a fishy real estate deal involving the above-mentioned businessman. Many people advise her to drop this investigation as it can turn dirtier but she never bothers about it. The title is indicative and suggestive of what the climax turns out to be.

There are powerful performances from the actors. All of them seem to have dug deep within the character; known every bit and piece of that character’s psychology and rehearsed their parts with virtuoso dedication. The direction of Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury is exemplary and needs no critique here. Excellent cinematography and subtle symbolisms present in the movie itself. Ultimately here comes the music which is reverently rewarding to the soul. Composed by Shantanu Moitra (of Parineeta), the music is sweet and melodious comprising of tracks belonging to Indie Rock as well as classical Bengali music genre. If you really want to listen to contemporary Bengali music, then you can start off by buying this music CD, for sure.

The only critique I would be offering to the audience here is that the movie is slow and hence is not made for people who are jerky and are fond of fast-paced storylines. So, if you like high-class emotional dramas mixed with elements of pragmatism, and are a little bit patient, then surely go for it.

So, why this film grabbed a National Award in 2009?

Review – An Education

“An Education” is the story of young, teenage lass caught between the dreams woven during the  “puberty”  years and the ripe reality of being a woman. The film is mostly showcased in British English with some tidbits of french langage de haut niveau (high-level french language).It is a drama set in 1960s Britain.

The character of Carry Mulligan “Jenny” knows what she exactly wants to do in life. Apparently, she is a rebel with a cause. The cause being her unrestrained love for various art forms, music in particular. She is a versatile Cellist and regularly takes lessons. She wants to build a career around it instead of just pursuing it as a hobby. But her father coaxes her to go to Oxford to study English Literature since he wants a safe and secure life for her daughter. But Jenny loves French and wishes to go to Paris. She has a maverick streak in her which motivates her to be independent and mature. Perhaps, she is fearful of the fact that she will suffer the same fate as her mother’s which did not contain a single element of adventure.

In the meantime, she meets this “perfect” stranger ; a man named “David” in his 30s who gives her a lift on a rainy day and she gradually starts taking interest in him. This man seems to be sophisticated, suave, gentlemanly, sentimental and really caring. He also meets her parents and regularly takes her out on some pretext or the other. But she seems to be unperturbed by the deeper, uglier secrets which David doesn’t readily share with her. As long as everything goes on fine, no one bothers. David has his networks;his friends; his money; his own car and he is a man with expensive tastes. Jenny enjoys her time with David until the time comes when she discloses that she is not going to lose her virginity before her 18th birthday. But David apparently convinces her and ultimately she loses it. David proposes for marriage and she readily accepts. But the murkier part happens quite soon when she comes to know about who David really is and how he has devastated the lives of many others.

In the hallucinogenic state of affairs , it seemed to her that life is euphoric. In David, she saw someone who would support her, love her and help her make her dreams come true. And that’s the reason exactly that compels her to argue with her teacher first and then the principal and ultimately she leaves her school to pursue her zealous dreams. But when reality bites hard, she falls back to normalcy. A great many expectations seem to be wiped out suddenly with the advent of an unheralded storm. She copes up very quickly, seeks help and at last makes it.

The title “An Education” is very apt in the sense that it was actually a lesson in disguise for young jenny. And many young,restless spirits do fall into that trap aided by their delirious enthusiasm and aroused hormonal activity. Produced by BBC World, the film is a must watch for teenagers and others who have fallen into the same inferno.

IMDB rating: 7.5/10

The lost 9000

9000 is a big amount. Yes, it is a big amount when you seem to waste it on trivial things like joining a gymnasium. And that too for a period of 6 months. The first month you start out afresh, unafraid, ready to unleash your manliness  onto the world. But after only one day of lonely and uneventful exercising, you give up. You don’t go there the second time and then you begin to wonder “Why the hell did I join it?”.

In that prior stage consisting of small moments of wanderlust and extravagant dreaminess, you thought you could take over the world; you will relinquish all controls and let the body achieve Greek-god stature; And the end results would soon start flowing – an endless queue of girls just standing outside your door just to get a glimpse of you (topless, of course) – the haughty smile upon your face as you give a coup d’oeil at yourself in the full-body mirror – The innate sense of satisfaction and unshakable superiority which so many covet for and only a chosen few accomplish – all of this will be yours and yours forever – till death does you apart.

And then you transit into reality – of how it hurts and pains for the first time – you cannot even utter a word that would expose your anguish – but then how can you be so temperamental, so asinine and so over-the-edge? How many times you have tried continuing this, but it just didn’t happen! Don’t you understand?  – The reality lingers as the imagination fades away slowly and steadily. And you just stop there and do not budge like a stone in a crater on the Moon.

What would you could have done with that lost 9000 or less? Think, think. You could have:

  • Joined another gym
  • Gone shopping to replace those stinking and stale T-shirts you have
  • Bought membership for a sports club
  • Spent it on travel to some exotic place nearby like Munnar (kerala)
  • Bought your girlfriend a pretty gift
  • Sent the money home, telling parents that you could spent as much as you wish
  • Done some online gambling
  • Placed your bet on IPL matches
  • Made more than usual up-and-down trips from your friend’s house to yours and vice-versa
  • Made a short-film

And now you cry in your own misery completely aware of your tomfoolery, recklessness and despicability.

The Blanched Media!!

The classic case of Media rampage is on the roll-out these days if you are clearly watching the News TV channels and reading the newspapers. With IPL gate and Naxal menace doing the rounds, every other media company is trying to grab a share of the limelight.

The best thing about a News TV channel or a newspaper is that they don’t create content at all. In fact, they derive it and present to us in a sensational and thought-altering manner. In that respect, Movies and News are not too different although they are two different things. News channels have a knack of presenting facts in a fictional manner which would make them appear larger-than-life. Viewers and readers take these facts/news on Face-value rather than analyzing them deeply. A case in point are the bomb blasts/terrorist attacks which happen both in India and Pakistan. The Indian Media always projects Pakistan as a terrorist state regardless of the fact that the current Pakistani landscape has become a battleground between the terrorists and the military forces; it has become a victim rather than a perpetrator of violence and terrorism. On the other hand, although the Pakistani media recognizes the role of Pakistan in the yesteryears of unleashing these “Freedom Fighters” upon the Indian soil, it also blames RAW and IB of India of their role in perpetrating mutual discord between various Pakistani factions, the most prominent of which happened in Baluchistan, which caught the media eye for a brief while. I sometimes think media is a part of the external affairs ministry of any country, be it India or Pakistan.

Hence, what media projects itself as to the public eye and what it really is are completely different things. The media needs to be objective in its reasoning and analysis as well as presentation of facts. It may come up with scenarios, speculations and larger-than-life images; but the fact remains that it shapes and nurtures the thoughts of a billion Indians; and only from these thoughts, ideas  grow; actions are taken and life is governed.