Saturday, September 24, 2011

Mausam - Love in 2011

Mausam starts wonderfully.  Aayat (Sonam) arrives from strife torn Kashmir to sadda pind Mallekot where Muslims and Hindus live in harmony, to stay with her aunt, wife of the local baker.  The local rake, Harry urf Harinder Singh (Shahid Kapur), likes to race trains and make it through the unmanned railway crossing just before the train does.  He awaits his joining letter from Air Force, and is content to hang out with his friends, and helping out with the preparations for his sister's wedding.  He falls for Aayat, and just before they get to confess their love for each other formally, she leaves.  But not before his sister gets married, Punjabi fashion, celebrated with the rocking song Sajh dhaj ke tashan me rehna, to which both Mika and Shahid do full justice.

All ye people who go to watch Mausam despite my review, would do well to enjoy the amazing song to the full, because this is where the fun ends.  Up to this part, everything is nearly perfect.  I love the authentic feel of the punjabi culture, the language, the ambience, everything up to this point.

Ok, so next stop Edinburgh.  Aayat is selling tickets to a Mozart concert on the streets of Edinburgh, when she runs into Harry again.  This time, they are older, and slightly more forward.  Things are slow, but yet sweet.  Just when Harry is supposed to come to her house to ask for her hand formally, he has to leave because of Kargil war.

And so on and so forth, they keep missing each other sporadically till the audience falls into a stupor.  There are  some stand alone scenes that are good, but generally everything is so soporific, that you know the movie is beyond redeeming.  A pity, because the first hour or so is so wonderful and so full of promise.

I really don't know whether I should recommend the movie or not.  I shouldn't, but the first part is definitely worth a look.

Such a pity, such a pity.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Bol - Complicated

Bol is a good movie, and like all good movies, it gets watched more closely.  It's faults gets picked on, it is torn apart.  This happens even more if the movie is trying to make a point.

Bol piles all that is wrong with Pakistani society on the conservative attitude of people like Hakim Sahib (Manzar Sehbai).    Hakim wants a male child, and does not stop trying after years and years of begetting girls. It's his eldest, Zainub (Humaima Malik) that causes him a lot of woe, because she is outspoken, and refuses to take anything silently.  As the movie opens, the Hakim finds his wife has given birth to a hermaphrodite.  He is filled with disgust and wants to kill the child.  On the other hand, he is disgusted when a hijra lands up at his doorstep with an offer to buy the baby.  It is precisely this widely differing reaction of the Hakim that makes the movie complicated.  He will kill with his hands, but will not sell.

He stifles his wife and daughters with his dictatorial ways.  They are not allowed to ever step out of the house.  Their window to the world is via their next door neighbours, Mustafa (Atif) and his family, who are endlessly kind to the girls and their mother.  It is when they try to rebel, that their world falls apart, a series of tragedies strike them.  Hakim Sahib tries to stem the downward spiral but takes them further down till they hit rock bottom.

Zainub, the rebel ringleader harps on about how so many children has made them poorer, pointing out the neighbours who are educating their children and are well off because they have only two.  However, for all her blasting away at hypocrisy, she keeps quiet and actually aids her father when he is being blackmailed for killing his son.  Why?  Because she was afraid she and her family would die of hunger if the father was put away?  Hakim Sahib himself oscillates from moral high to the pits as he tries to keep his beliefs intact while his poverty makes him do things he never would.

The sop to the politicians at the end of the film was disgusting, the harping on 'fewer girls' was annoying.  Hakim Sahib's conservative attitude and hypocrisy are faults, but with time, such attitude does get watered down.  The acting was first rate all round, the ambience of the movie was perfect.  The cloistered haveli is a perfect setting for Hakim Sahibs family.  I liked the way one of the girls jump the wall on the roof to escape via the good neighbours house. The story of the hermaphrodite son Saif Ullah was very touching.  The episode where he is caught dressing in woman's clothes by his sisters and admits to having feelings for the neighbour's son were very viscreal.  His sisters' horrified reaction to this was also very natural.  They were sheltering him and grooming him to 'be a man'.  The Saqa Kanjar episode was hilarious and Hakim's imbroglio with the prostitutes was the best part of the film with its delicious ironies.

Maybe Shoaib Mansoor needs to make a satire on Pakistani society which does not take itself too seriously.  That would be very hard hitting indeed.