The Common Man Speaks

27Jan/190

Does Thackeray hint at Shiv Sena’s changing relationship with Congress?

Director Abhijit Panse’s Thackeray, the biopic on the late Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray, is garnering various reactions from the audience and critics. But here is an attempt to read between the lines of the film’s content with retrospect to the current political stand of Shiv Sena.

Thackeray shows the supremo’s journey from his early days as a cartoonist. From that time itself he was a staunch opponent of the Congress. As an artist and a politician, Thackeray was never known to mince his words or sketches against anyone, including Congress and its leaders.

But surprisingly, the movie doesn’t feature Thackeray’s hatred for Congress through any of his speeches or conversations. Of course, Shiv Sena’s protest against the then deputy Prime Minister Morarji Desai gets a good footage. But that was a key incident, so that couldn’t have been skipped. Other than that, Thackeray isn’t shown speaking or acting against Congress.

The 1995 Maharashtra Assembly Elections were the first time that Shiv Sena came to power through a coalition with Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The mammoth task of the coalition was to defeat Congress for the first time. So, it is obvious that speaking against your main opponent becomes your important task.

But that is not shown in Thackeray. Surprisingly, Shiv Sena’s road to the 1995 State Elections, which was their first major success, is hardly given any importance. Without showing any moment of their journey till the results, we are abruptly shown a scene of Shiv Sena workers celebrating the victory.

One of the highlights of Thackeray’s career was his fiery speeches at Shivaji Park, which were keenly awaited by his supporters as well as opponents. But strangely, the film doesn’t feature any of his speeches. Most of his speeches always targeted Congress. Was this the reason to omit it?

One might argue that the makers wanted to play safe. But it is not possible to buy this argument for a film that openly speaks about the party’s role in the demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1992.

Now, let us see why such soft stand against Congress gets more interesting. Since recent times, senior Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut, who is also the film’s producer and story writer, has been showering praises at Congress, the Gandhi family and its President Rahul Gandhi, of all people.

Thackeray movie poster

Less than a week ago, Raut said, “Rahul Gandhi has always been mocked. But we cannot forget the sacrifices made by the Gandhi family for the country. If you do not agree with his policies, then criticise him, but do not make personal attacks. Personally, I am against this type of politics. He has never given false promises.” (Read the whole statement HERE)

Priyanka Gandhi’s decision to enter active politics few days ago met with sarcastic jibes from the opposition. But Raut had other views. Speaking about the decision, he said, “It’s a good decision by Rahul Gandhi. The people of India have always had a relationship with the Gandhi family. Indira Gandhi's legacy will always remain strong in this country, Congress will benefit from this.” (Read the whole statement HERE).

The praise for Rahul started last year when Congress lost the Gujarat state elections to BJP after giving a tough fight. Shiv Sena’s mouthpiece Saamna hailed Rahul for being ‘Baazigar’ (indicating that he lost elections but won hearts). These are just few examples though.

For those not in the know, Shiv Sena has been throwing a volley of attacks against BJP, their ally both in state and centre, in recent years. In words one would only use for the opponents.

I have come across people and articles claiming that it was Congress that provided massive secret support to Shiv Sena during its early days so that the latter would help wipe out communists from Mumbai (then Bombay). But Shiv Sena leaders have never been comfortable with this question.

However, Thackeray, the film, shows no qualms in showing this relationship between Shiv Sena and Congress.

So, is the party paying back to the Congress for their initial help going by the recent heavy praise? Or is it just to score brownie points against your ally-cum-enemy BJP? And did we see a glimpse of it in the movie?

By: Keyur Seta

14Jan/191

Hardik Pandya comments: We are channelizing our anger in the wrong direction

Let me get this straight. The motto of this article is not to defend Hardik Pandya or the comments made by him on Koffee With Karan. I personally found them not only disgusting but also worrying; thinking how many more people would be out there with such cheap mindset towards women.

But there are few things that I find too weird, which hardly have been pointed out ever since the controversy erupted.

1. K L Rahul is needlessly punished for no fault of his. It was Pandya who made all the misogynistic comments on the show. Rahul is no way responsible for what his partner on the show said. On a lighter note, he has become the Fardeen Khan of No Entry (2005).

2. If it is bad to make such comments, it should also be equally offensive to laugh and enjoy them. This is exactly what Karan Johar did as a host. But nobody is lashing out against him. How enjoying such comments is not offensive but just being a co-guest is?

3. Most importantly, some of our politicians and people from the government have openly verbally attacked women through the most disgusting statements you can come across. However, they are spared of such 24/7 hatred and innumerable articles.

Hardik Pandya on Koffee With Karan episode

Actually, they should receive more backslash since they have been given the responsibility to govern and protect us. How people don’t get so offended or worried when an elected representative makes such statements is beyond me.

Have a look at the following statements and decide for yourself:

“I am also a goonda. I will shoot you guys if a Trinamool Congress worker is ever attacked. If you have the guts, then stop me. If you insult the mothers and daughters of Trinamool workers, I won't spare you. I will let loose my boys in your homes and they will commit rape.” – TMC leader Tapas Pal slamming the CPI.

“If they (girls) want freedom, why don’t they just roam around naked?” – Haryana Chief Minister from BJP Manohar Lal Khattar

“Boys are boys. Mistakes happen.” – Samajwadi Party Chief Mulayam Singh Yadav on increasing number of rapes

“She is 100% ‘tunch maal.’” – Congress leader Digvijay Singh on a female party member

“Have you ever seen a girlfriend worth Rs 50 crore?”- India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi while describing the late Sunanda Pushkar

“These days it has become a fashion to have a girlfriend or boyfriend. A girl should go out only with her brother or husband.” – Samajwadi Party leader Abu Azmi  

Ask yourself, was there even 20% of outrage for any of these comments like it has been for Pandya’s? Are a cricketer's comments more worrying or the ones made by people who are responsible for women safety?

By: Keyur Seta

13Jan/190

The Accidental Prime Minister Review: Propaganda is not the problem here

Debutant director Vijay Ratnakar Gutte’s The Accidental Prime Minister is based on the book of the same name by Sanjaya Baru. The author was the media adviser of Dr Manmohan Singh, India’s former Prime Minister.

The film mainly focuses on how Singh (played by Anupam Kher) was ‘remote controlled’ by the then Congress party President Sonia Gandhi during his tenure as the PM from 2004 to 2014.

The big question before and after the release is not whether the film does justice to the book. The curiosity is about whether the film is a propaganda machine against the Congress and in favour of the ruling BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party).

There is absolutely no doubt that it is indeed that, as suggested by the trailers. But this is not the problem with the film. I personally believe that anyone has a right to make a film on any subject while advocating any ideology. It should be left to the audience to decide what to accept and what not to.

The problem with The Accidental Prime Minister is that it makes the propaganda look too obvious and in-your-face throughout.

Even if the creative minds behind the film hate people like Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, they should do justice with the characters. Even the cruellest of villains deserves to be portrayed in a believable way.

Over here Sonia (Suzanne Bernert) and Rahul (Arjun Mathur) are nothing more than caricatures. The former, especially, reminds you of the amateurish performances seen in stand-up comedy shows. Surprisingly, even BJP leaders Atal Bihari Vajpayee (Ram Avtar), India’s ex-Prime Minister, Lal Krishna Advani are not spared from being caricaturish. Priyanka Gandhi (Aahana Kumra) is the only believable real character.

The other motto of The Accidental Prime Minister was to show Singh as a pawn and a victim of party politics. Kher does fairly well but tries too hard to present Singh as a bechara, both in terms of the physical attributes and the voice. His manner of moving his hands while walking is a put off.

The Accidental Prime Minister poster

During one of the interviews for the film, the director said that they have ‘added’ scenes to link one incident from the book to another in situations where Baru couldn’t have been present. But some conversations in these scenes are difficult to believe.

For example, once Rahul speaks to Sonia in Italian in front of their senior party members. This instantly reminds you of the old ‘Italian’ jibe at the mother-son duo by BJP leaders. And why will be do that in front of others? Similarly, Kapil Sibal’s press conference where he denies the Coalgate scam appears unintentionally hilarious.  

The disclaimer at the start states that the film is made purely to entertain. However, the aforementioned points ensure that even if you wish to look at the film just as a film you can’t because the makers have gone overboard in advocating their political narrative. Featuring heroic real speeches of India’s current Prime Minister Narendra Modi doesn’t help either.

This is where Madhur Bhandarkar’s Indu Sarkar (2017) differed. It made its stand clear against the Congress party but didn’t go overboard in proving the same.

The Accidental Prime Minister does have something for those who are deeply knowledgeable in the politics of that period. But this remains mostly in the first half. The post-interval portion suffers from a disjointed screenplay. As a viewer, at times you don’t realize which year is going on.

Amid all this, the only silver lining is Akshaye Khanna’s performance as Sanjaya Baru. He comes up with one of his finest acts while playing a character that offers a lot of scope. He ensures that your interest is maintained even when The Accidental Prime Minister keeps meeting with accidents.

Rating: 2 out of 5

Review by: Keyur Seta

Director: Vijay Ratnakar Gutte

Producers: Pen Movies and Bohra Brothers

Writers: Mayank Tewaari, Vijay Ratnakar Gutte, Karl Dunner and Aditya Sinha

Cast: Anupam Kher, Akshaye Khanna, Suzanne Bernert, Arjun Mathur

Genre: Political Drama

Runtime: 150 minutes

30Dec/180

Simmba Dialogues

Rohit Shetty's Simmba has succeeded in entertaining the audience. The Ranveer Singh starrer has proved to be a perfect single screen entertainer. Apart from Shetty and Ranveer, the dialogues also played a big part in it.

Writer Farhad Samji has once again been able to tickle the audience's funny bone. So, it's really worth revisiting some of the funny moments from Simmba in the form of its dialogues.

Here are some of the best dialogues from Simmba uttered by Ranveer (feel free to add more in comments):

- Je mala mahit naahi te sanga. Tell me something I don't know.

- Mind eej blowing.

- Chand pe paani aur barf ka pata lag gaya hai. Ab sirf wahan daaru le jana baaki hai.

- Mera koi bhai nahin hai. Lekin woh toh tera bhi nahin hai.

- Yeh mera style kahan hai? Yeh Bajirao Singham ka style hai.

- Mohile, Mohile, Tere bina main kaise piyun?

- Yeh Kalyug hai. Yahan sab sirf ek hi matlab ke liye jeete hain. Apne matlab ke liye.

- Main policewala bana paise kamane ko. Robinhood banke doosre ko madat karne ke liye nahin.

21Dec/180

Zero Review – The film stays true to its title

Director Aanand L Rai is known for making light-hearted entertainers based in small north Indian towns. His latest and much talked about Zero is also an entertainer revolving around a character based in a small town up north.

But the difference this time around is that his protagonist is a star like Shah Rukh Khan. With the presence of a well-known actor, the film is also much larger-than-life than what Rai’s films have been so far. Unfortunately, the film’s scale is inversely proportional to what it offers.

Zero is the story of 38-year-old Bauua Singh (Shah Rukh Khan). He forms a large group of commoners of Meerut but his life is far from regular. As he is a dwarf, he is unable to get married. On top of that, he is a careless individual who loiters around with his best friend (Mohammed Zeeshan Ayub). This is enough for Bauua’s father (Tigmanshu Dhulia) to hate him.

His life takes a turn when he meets Aafia (Anushka Sharma). She is a brilliant mind but is wheelchair bound since she is suffering from cerebral palsy. But later on, the superstar actress Babita (Katrina Kaif) also enters the life of Bauua. Where is his life heading?

Zero starts on a fairly positive note. The introduction of Bauua Singh and his world gives rise to some hilarious situations and conversations. It is SRK’s presence and charm that wins you over not only during these moments but the entire film. His act is a mixture of absolute dedication and hard-work, be it during some street smart funny moments or scenes where he gets depressed.

Rai has also extracted quality performances from Anushka Sharma, Mohammed Zeeshan Ayub and Tigmanshu Dhulia. Sharma overcomes the challenges of playing a specially challenged character, although a lot of creative liberty has been taken.

Zero movie poster

Ayub has played the protagonist’s friend in quite a few films in recent years, but he brings in something different every time. He has achieved the same here. Katrina Kaif isn’t as bad as a lot of her past films. But her character lacks the right amount of depth and conviction.

The music of Zero rides on the moving romantic number ‘Mere Naam Tu’ and the enjoyable ‘Ishqbaazi’ (which features Salman Khan). The rest of the songs too are decent.

However, the performances and songs are no way enough for the large number of negatives. It would be apt to say that Zero has 0 logic. If Bauua wasn’t so much in love with Aafia, why did he spend more than a bomb on her to impress her? By the way, Bauua belongs to a strictly middle class family but spends money like water. How? Nobody knows.

Despite such flaws, the first half is still decent. But Zero suffers a bigger blow when Babita’s character enters the scene. Whatever happens from here on can is too dumb and mindless [not revealing further to avoid spoilers] even by the standards of typical masala entertainers. The ending moments do offer some thrill but the damage has been already done.

It is very important in films with such storylines to generate at least some empathy for the protagonist. But over here you feel for Bauua only because of Khan’s performance. The VFX team has done a decent job with respect to making SRK look like a dwarf, barring few moments here and there.

Overall: Zero makes you wonder as to how SRK agreed to be a part of the project as an actor as well as a producer when he badly needs a successful film riding on impressive content. This film might get a good opening in the first weekend but will struggle after that at the box office.

Rating: 2/5

Review by: Keyur Seta

Director: Aanand L Rai

Producers: Red Chillies Entertainment and Colour Yellow Productions

Writers: Himanshu Sharma

Cast: Shah Rukh Khan, Anushka Sharma, Katrina Kaif, Mohammed Zeeshan Ayub, Tigmanshu Dhulia

Music: Ajay-Atul

Genre: Drama

Runtime: 159 minutes

2Dec/180

5 reasons why the villain of 2.0 is the hero we need (Spoilers Alert!)

2.0 Akshay Kumar

During the digital poster launch of S Shankar’s 2.0, Rajinikanth had said that Akshay Kumar’s character in the film is way interesting than his. “I am telling you the truth. The hero of 2.0 is not Rajinikanth. Akshay Kumar is the hero. If I would have been given a choice, I would have selected that (Akshay’s) character,” he had said.

“It’s a brilliant character; brilliant role. I am telling you, the whole country will applaud Akshay after the release of this picture,” added Rajinikanth.

Spoilers ahead

At that time I felt that Rajini is just being large-hearted and generous. But after watching the film, I completely agree with him. Rajini has a double role in the film and he lives up to the expectations of his fans. But I can’t stop being in awe of the character Pakshi Rajan that Akshay played.

There have been reports that the character of Pakshi Rajan is inspired from the real birdman of India Salim Ali. Read more about him here.

2.0 Akshay Kumar

Pakshi Rajan is the villain of 2.0. However, he is no lesser than a hero. In fact, he is the hero we need today. Here are five reasons why:

(Note: These are his qualities while he was alive.)

Peace loving: You will hardly see a character as peace loving as Pakshi Rajan. The sight of a bird in pain would melt his heart like a mother. Healing it becomes his biggest motto. This, obviously, means that he is strictly against any form of violence.

Selfless: Pakshi Rajan spent his life for the welfare of birds. He became an ornithologist and professor to spread their knowledge and importance. He also went onto take the pain of writing books about different kind of birds.

Nature before everything: How many of us even think of the problems caused by mobile towers and mobile phone radiations on birds? Pakshi Rajan not only thought of that but refused to use mobile phone just because it harms the nature, including birds.

Pakshi Rajan

Fearless fighter: The character played by Akshay showed the guts of protesting against mobile companies and the government, even if it meant protesting alone. People would consider him mad but he would never give up. In fact, Pakshi Rajan even went to the extent of admonishing the Telecom Minister literally on his face inside his office.

Age-defying: Pakshi Rajan carried out the aforementioned tasks even after being in his 70s or so. Age was just a number for him.

Now, why would I consider him a villain here? Of course, he became evil after his death and went onto kill innocents, including officers from the Indian Army. However, neither these acts nor his menacing post-death VFX avatar are enough to wipe out the memories of his noble character while he was alive.

By: Keyur Seta

14Oct/180

Why MeToo can be a long term solution for both genders across industries

Me Too

Tanushree Dutta’s sexual misconduct allegations against Nana Patekar last month made headlines for days and continue to do so. But we didn’t expect it to be the starting point of a major MeToo movement across India that would empower women to speak up against sexual harassment or rape they were subjected to by people in power.

It is, obviously, not logical to take sides in the Tanushree and Patekar case because we were not present at the spot where the incident allegedly took place. But we can’t deny that this allegation is solely responsible for starting the #MeToo movement.

Nothing is proved in the Tanushree’s case but there have been a number of instances since more than a week where the culprits have accepted their guilt and apologized. There are a couple of major recent cases where neither the allegations are proven nor the accused have accepted their guilt. But going by the inside information I have received, it is not possible to be neutral against them. However, that’s a different story.

It is astonishing how regularly allegations are coming up these days. In fact, in the last week we were on high alert as multiple allegations were popping up after, literally, every few hours.

The effect of the victims speaking up has been so strong that director Sajid Khan and Patekar had to step down from their ambitious project Housefull 4. It also compelled one of the biggest stars of India, Akshay Kumar, to take a stand and cancel the shoot of the film. In a latest update, Khan has been removed from the film and replaced by Farhad Samji.

MeToo

This is the extent to which the #MeToo has sent shockwaves across the film industry. This means that the predators would now think 10 or more times before committing any such acts. Who knows when their screenshots, pictures or videos would be out and their reputation tarnished.

The victims were able to speak up because of the effect of social media. Going by this and the fact that the victims have finally found the courage to speak up, it is not going to stop them from naming and shaming the perpetrators from here on. Social media also provides an option of exposing someone by being anonymous, as we have seen in recent cases. Hence, if the naming and shaming continues, it might change the scenario drastically.

#MeToo can also be used in incidents like casting couch. Asking sexual favours in return for a role is also sexual exploitation. A friend of mine, who was once a struggling actress in regional cinema, was told by a director on chat, “I can give you the role if you become my girlfriend for some time.” If the victims in such cases start sharing screenshots of such chats, it might well create fear in the minds of those who indulge in casting couch.

God forbid if the moment dies down in the coming weeks, there will always be this danger for the perpetrators of someone exposing their misdeeds any time in the future. After all, social media is here to stay.

The word ‘me’ is gender neutral. So, it can be used by men too who often get harassed or exploited. Also, it is not at all necessary for the movement to be restricted to the film industry alone. Harassment happens across industries and is not just limited to sexual. A boss targeting his subordinate by making him/ her work extra hours or verbally abusing him/ her also comes under harassment.

There is a lot that can come under #MeToo.

However, like many other things in the world, this initiative also has a flipside. One thing that can severely damage the movement is fake accusations; either to take some sort of a revenge or for any other reason. Fake claims can destroy whatever good the movement has done so far.

The last thing we need is political stooges using #MeToo to gain brownie points over their political opponents.

By: Keyur Seta

6Oct/180

Andhadhun Review

The very first scene of Andhadhun is about a rabbit trying to save his life from a hunter. The film then moves onto the main story while you wonder about the relevance of the first shot. It is brought in later during a crucial moment. This scene and several others are enough to guess that this is a Sriram Raghavan movie.

Andhadhun takes place in Pune where Akash (Ayushmann Khurrana) lives a simple life as a blind piano player. He ‘accidentally’ meets a bubbly young girl Sophie (Radhika Apte). They become close and she gets him employed at a bar as a musician-cum-singer. The place is owned by retired actor Pramod Sinha (Anil Dhawan), who was a star during his heydays.

Sinha requests Akash to do a private concert at his residence for him and his wife Simi (Tabu). Akash’s single visit at Sinha’s residence changes his life forever.

Mainstream Hindi cinema is guilty of using loud background sounds to provide thrill. This largely happens when the script lacks thrill. But like most of his films, Raghavan just lets the subtle unfolding of the story provide natural thrill. The background score, which is smart over here, is only a by-product.

Andhadhun posterThe first half of Andhadhun is full of mysterious moments. The twists and turns stun as well as provide laughter. Although the humour is dark, it never gets into the depressing zone. It is not often that the proceedings bring out different emotions at the same time. For example, the situation of Akash is helpless but it provides thrill as well as humour at the same time.

Andhadhun is also one rare film which could be understood even by those who don’t know Hindi. Very few Hindi films let the visuals narrate the story in such an effective manner.

After such an exciting first half, one would, naturally, expect the same experience later. However, the thriller quotient reduces a bit post-interval and a couple of events appear questionable. Thankfully, the climax makes up for it. The very last shot is a masterstroke.

I personally feel all of Raghavan’s films fall in the James Hadley Chase zone, excluding Agent Vinod (2012), in terms of the story, narrative and characters. Andhadhun also lies right there.

The technical aspects are top notch. K U Mohanan’s edgy camerawork adds to the thrill. A lot of the background music is piano sounds as it goes with the subject. The scene where a serious crime is taking place while soft piano sounds are played in the background brings back memories of how the romantic song ‘Kuchh Toh Hai Tujhse Raabta’ is played out during a shootout scene in Agent Vinod.

The songs are decent you don’t really care about the music in such films. The promotional title song is impressive and catchy but it isn’t used in the film and rightly so. It wouldn’t have suited the end credits.

The actors have lived up to what was expected of them. Ayushmann Khurrana is thoroughly believable as a mysterious artist. This wasn’t an easy performance by any means but he is up to the task. Radhika Apte is effective as a fiery young girl.

Tabu has a much bigger role, which required her expertise. Her act will be talked about for long. Anil Dhawan, who makes a comeback, leaves behind a terrific impact despite the short length of his role. He provides unintentional laughter too, which was intentional. Manav Vij lives his evil character and speaks through expressions.

Other supporting actors like Zakir Hussain and Chhaya Kadam also chip in with mature performances.

Overall: Andhadhun is an exciting thriller that has a stamp of Sriram Raghavan’s genius all over. The film hasn't opened to a good number at the box office. But its collections should rise in the days to come.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Review by: Keyur Seta

Director: Sriram Raghavan

Producers: Viacom 18 Motion Pictures and Matchbox Pictures

Writers: Sriram Raghavan, Arijit Biswas, Pooja Ladha Surti, Yogesh Chandekar and Hemant Rao

Cast: Ayushmann Khurrana, Radhika Apte, Tabu, Anil Dhawan, Manav Vij

Music: Amit Trivedi, Raftaar and Girish Nakod

Genre: Thriller

Runtime: 138 minutes

22Sep/180

Manto released in the week when freedom of expression succumbed to a new low

Nandita Das’ Manto, which is a biopic on the literary genius Saadat Hasan Manto, is based in the late 1940s and early 1950s. But after watching the Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Rasika Dugal starrer, it doesn’t come across as a period film.

No, this is not a criticism towards the production design or any creative side about the film. The situation of the protagonist wherein he is made to look like a criminal for merely showing the mirror to the society reminds us of the current times. This is unfortunate as it reflects how little has changed in these 70 years after Independence.

This is not the only aspect about the film that portrays today’s era in the imaginary parallel screen inside your mind. There is a moment when the editor of a newspaper advises Manto on writing something halka-phulka (light-hearted) this time around because truth hurts.

In one scene, Manto tries making an audience understand how past invaders are blamed every time we question the authorities about the current pressing issues. This appears right out of the silly comments made by quite a few ‘leaders’ who blame the Mughals, British or Pandit Nehru for the current mess they have created.

Manto elaborates his point by passionately telling the people, “Sab peechhe dekh rahe hain, lekin aaj ke kaatil lahu aur lohe se tareekh likhte ja rahe hain.”

But the audience doesn’t take him seriously. They symbolize those who have become puppets in the hands of loud-mouthed ‘news’ anchors who can create enemies of the nation at their will in order to hide the dark acts of some people.

Manto poster

Apart from the content, the time of the release of Manto turned out to be the most ironical one could imagine. The film arrived just in the week when suppression of freedom of expression succumbed to a new low.

Earlier this week, Salman Khan changed the name of his upcoming production from Loveratri to Loveyatri after a lawyer and fringe organizations objected to it for allegedly hurting ‘religious’ sentiments.

Soon after, the producers of Manmarziyaan made three cuts in the film because some Sikh organizations objected to it. As per the director of the film Anurag Kashyap, he was not even informed about it.

Abhishek Bachchan, who plays one of the leads in Manmarziyaan, justified the cuts yesterday at an event and went onto say that he has no problems with it (read more about it HERE).

What has come as a rude surprise is that the producers of both films readily agreed to the demands without trying to defend their rights as artists, leave alone showing any fight. More importantly, there were hardly any serious protests; nowhere near to what happened with Udta Punjab (2016) and Padmaavat (2018).

If the big names of the industry are ready to succumb even in front of minor protests, spare a thought for a low budget independent filmmaker who can be victimized even for an actor’s hairstyle. To say that they have set a dangerous precedent is a mild way of putting it.

They have ensured that Manto shall,  unfortunately, remain relevant even 70 years from now.

By: Keyur Seta

2Sep/180

10 Years of A Wednesday: A film that gave an identity to me and this blog

When I went to see Neeraj Pandey’s directorial debut A Wednesday in 2008 in Dadar’s Chitra Theatre, I was expecting to see a thriller about a terrorist’s plot of carrying out multiple blasts in Mumbai being foiled by a bunch of good guys. I expected it to be a regular formula thriller, but it turned out to be the experience of a lifetime personally.

The film, which starred Naseeruddin Shah, Anupam Kher, Jimmy Shergill, Aamir Bashir and Chetan Pandit starrer, completes 10 years on September 5, 2018.

During the interval point, I was convinced that I am in for some thrill. I was crazy for action or dramatic thrillers back then and used to watch every film in that genre including Acid Factory [2009] and Woodstock Villa [2008] (don’t judge me).

But when Shah’s character revealed his true intentions and identity as the 'Stupid Common Man,' I was not only thrilled but also pleasantly shocked and blown away. His long monologue with hard-hitting and moving dialogues mesmerized me like anything (I still watch that scene regularly).

There must be very few occasions when I must have rooted this much for any fictional character to survive. I heaved a sigh of relief when Kher’s character lets him go. There is no denying that apart from the brilliance of the film, the subject struck an emotional chord for the Indian or Mumbaikar in me.

A Wednesday poster

I also respect A Wednesday for subtly rubbishing religious and other such identities by not revealing the name of Shah’s character. “Insaan naam ke saath mazhab jod leta hai,” is what is said.

As a person, I have always been comfortable living a simple life and enjoying the simplest of joys without caring or needing any sort of luxuries. There has also been this desire to bring a change in the society, which I hardly ever express. But I didn’t know how to describe myself for following such an ideology. Well, A Wednesday helped me out with that. The Common Man it was!

Also read: Bhavesh Joshi Superhero: A film that forced me to go down memory lane.

Of course, it was the great R K Laxman that brought out the concept through his iconic cartoons. I was introduced to it much before I saw A Wednesday. But somehow it took this movie for me to latch onto the title. Maybe the power of the audio-visual medium turned out to be higher than cartoons.

Less than a year later, when I started this blog, its name came extremely easy to me.

But apart from giving me and my blog an identity, A Wednesday also made me realize the power of an ordinary man (read: humans). Normally one would expect a good looking, strong ‘hero’ with muscles to carry out the task of killing terrorists. But here was a man in his old age managing that even after his plan going haywire in between.

Not that I have been able to realize any such power till now. Maybe someday I might.

By: Keyur Seta