Tag Archive: Cinema Literature


The 8th Annual SAARC Film Festival, celebrating films of South Asia, came and went; and I got to see some films, ranging from excellent masterpieces to pathetic waste of time flicks. Below are my take on the movies that I got the chance to see, my experience of the festival, as well as my ratings for each.

JANAAN (2016)

Janaan (2016) is a Pakistani commercial film, aping the the styles of the Bollywood masala rom-com, with done to death love triangles, heroes and villains, the battle of good versus evil, tragedy and triumph. Though beautifully filmed, capturing the spectacular landscape of Pakistan’s breathtaking Swat valley; with equally beautiful people with flawless skin (not just the younger generation, but all three generation encompasses flawless beauties, male and female, with sharp features, and perfect healthy figures), speaking the very refined and poetic languages of Urdu (national language of Pakistan) and Pashto/Pushto (language specific to that region of Pakistan), with glamorous costumes; due to the cheesy story line and mediocre acting talent, the film disappoints.

The story is pretty simple. A bewitchingly beautiful girl, who’s been living in Canada for 11 years, revisits her ancestral home; and encounters love and sadness, happiness and tears, romance and tragedy, the good, the bad and the ugly; all the melodrama of a commercial movie scene. The Pakistan film industry’s commercial cinema needs to up their game. These directors don’t need to go out of their comfort zones to make Art Films, if they don’t want to (though Pakistan has a few good artsy films; one that comes to mind is Ramchand Pakistani,2008, starring Indian actress Nandita Das); but with a perfect screenplay, superb actors, and catchy tunes; even a mediocre story could turn out to be an enjoyable movie. Look at Bollywood movies; why are they successful, despite most movies coming out of the Indian commercial Film Industry made in Hindi (India’s national language) being crap; because the few good commercial movies they make are brilliant. Though am a bit of an Art House snob; I do love a good commercial movie; which includes Bollywood movies. The likes of Awaara (1951), Mughal-E-Azam (1960), Tere Ghar Ke Samne (1963), Teen Devian (1965), Guide (1965), Amrapali (1966), Anand (1971), Haré Rama Haré Krishna (1971) a guilty pleasure, Abhimaan (1973), Chupke Chupke (1975), Arth (1982) which happens to be my favourite Bollywood commercial movie, Nikaah (1982), Rang Birangi (1983), Sadma (1983), Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa (1994), 1947: Earth (1998), Yes Boss (1997) another guilty pleasure, Guru (2007), Aamir (2008), 7 Khoon Maaf (2011), Barfi! (2012), Kahaani (2012), Haider (2014), Mary Kom (2014), Neerja (2016), etc etc Dot Dot Dot …. What’s brilliant about these movies, are not just the unique story lines (in some cases), the catchy music, the costumes, the cinematography et al; BUT good film direction (which I noticed Jannan actually has) and great performances (the main flaw of Jannan, besides the story). Thus a good director and great acting skills are the two key elements for making a good movie. The rest are secondary. Of course, though Bollywood is mostly popular for their commercial ventures, India does have some really good Art Films in Hindi as well, like Ankur: The Seedling (1974) my favourite Hindi language Art Movie, Junoon (1979), Kalyug (1981), Utsav (1984), Saaransh (1984), Mirch Masala (1987), Salaam Bombay! (1988) which was nominated for an Oscar, Raincoat (2004), The Blue Umbrella (2005), Stanley Ka Dabba (2011), The Lunchbox (2013), Masaan (2015), Aligarh (2015) to name some. Of course, India is not just Bollywood; there are lot a regional film, from various Indian states, in regional (and foreign) languages, from English and Urdu, to Indian languages ranging from Punjabi, Bhojpuri, Assamese, Malayalam, Telugu, to Tamil and many more. India is a massive country, with an equally massive population; with a vast array of racial, religious, cultural differences from state to state. Bengali Art Films coming out from India’s State of West Bengal, be it in Bengali or English (or bilinguals) are the best. Other Indian-English language films tend to be superb too. Last year’s The Hungry (2017) was a brilliant modern re-telling of Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus.

I’ve heard about a new Pakistani movie, called Cake (2018). Really looking forward to checking it out. Sorry Azfar Jafri, your Janaan, was pretty bad; despite having made a whopping at the Box Office. Though I commend you for the excellence in direction, cinematography, editing and the beautiful costumes.

MATA NAM AHUNA (2015)

This Sri Lankan short film from Nadya Perera, was a waste of time. A total drag. Not to mention politically incorrect and tad racist. Nadya Perera had worked as crew member for the Sri Lankan/Italian film, Machan (2008), an averagely good movie, directed by Italian director, Uberto Pasolini, and much loved by Lankan audiences. Mata Nam Ahuna (2015), English Title – While You Slept (2015), is Perera’s second short film. The movie deals with a brothel catering to male Chinese construction workers here. The prostitutes are local girls who cater to these Chinese men’s needs. Once an actual young Chinese girl is brought into serve the men, a girl fears for her job. Slowly her inferiority complex and insecurity takes over and she tries to become Chinese, inside out. A good concept, but what a bore. The movie was only 24 minutes, but I felt I sat through that flick for an hour, at least.

Plus, they’ve got the facts wrong. True there is an influx of Chinese workers coming into the country post war; but Chinese labour is nothing new. And brothels are nothing new in the country. This movie gives the impression that such places are a necessity today, because only Chinese men have such sexual cravings. There have been brothels in Lanka from time immemorial, including the bringing in of prostitutes from abroad. Although the premise of the movie was good, bringing in foreign workers, means less work for locals. Yet, it’s not just post-end of war; it’s been happening since way before.

This was the second worst movie, I saw at the festival.

Jaya Ahsan & Abir Chatterjee, in a scene Bisorjon (2017)

BISORJON (2017)

This Indian Bengali movie was THE best movie I saw at the Film Festival this year, but sadly it was shown “out of competition”. Beats me, why????

With brilliant character sketches, a heart-rending story, and superb performances, Bisorjon (2017), English title – Immersion, is a must watch, for all film lovers. The story is about a Muslim man from West-Bengal, India, who washes into Bangladesh; where a Hindu Bangladeshi widow, saves him, protects him, and takes care of him. The irony of the circumstances is even more intriguing, as India’s state of West-Bengal is a predominantly Hindu region (though Islam is a fast growing religion in that state), and Bangladesh is a Muslim country, with a tiny percentage of Hindus, and other religions. Thus the biggest irony is, the fact that an injured Indian Muslim man, has to pretend to be Hindu, in an Islamic country, as he is living under the roof of a Hindu widow, and her ailing father-in-law. Plus, though they speak the same language (i.e. Bengali); the dialectics differ. So as not to get caught by the Bangladeshi forces, as he is an Indian residing in Bangladesh illegally, she teaches him to speak in her dialect (i.e. the Bangladeshi version of Bengali; or Bangla, as they call it). This beautiful slow-paced love-story without any romance is made with perfection, by director, Kaushik Ganguly. Slow does not have to be a bore, and this is anything but. The suspense of the story keeps you glued, and the exchange of dialogues are unmissable and amusing. It’s the dialogues, the expressions, and beautiful performances, that keeps the story going. The cast is just as brilliant, as the films direction; and the director too plays a significant supporting role in the film. The best work in this Indian movie, was by Bangladeshi actress, Jaya Ahsan (pronounced Joya Ahsan).

Jaya Ahsan plays Padma, the selfless widow; who gives and gives, and sacrifices, without really expecting anything in return. Seeing what a saintly human being she is, one can feel content, that there is still scope for humanity. Her character is uniquely complex. She loved her husband, who died due to alcohol abuse. She spends her time taking care of her, weakened with age, father-in-law. The discovery of a near dead man, re-ignites her dormant passion for a male companion, in her heart and soul. She doesn’t necessarily fall in love with this handsome stranger; but seeing him in her husband’s old clothes, she falls in love with the essence of her husband, that brings back memories, through this stranger. She had submerged all human feelings of desire till now. But this strange Muslim man, from another country, re-kindles her desires for a male lover. Yet, their friendship is purely platonic, and the stranger, Nasir (played by actor, Abir Chatterjee) doesn’t reciprocate. He has a girl, waiting for him back home. Even though he admires and cares, for this Hindu widow, he doesn’t feel any lustful desire for her. But neither does she feel any lust for him, but more for the memories of her husband, brought back to life, through Nasir’s clothing and smoking the cigarette brand that Padma’s husband use to smoke. As she inhales the cigarette smoke puffed out by Nasir, her heart pounds for her dead husband, in this new human avatar. She resides with contentment and misery through this unrequited love. She doesn’t want things to change, and rebuffs the affection of the village headman, Ganesh (played by film director, Kaushik Ganguly). The ambiguity of the character of Ganesh, makes the film more intriguing; as sometimes he feels like the sly villain of the piece, horny headed, helping the widow, with an alternate agenda; and yet, on the other end, his affections for her seem genuine, and he is very protective of her. His sidekick Lau (Lama), provides the comic relief, in the movie.

Then comes the movie’s climax, the day Nasir has to escape (by now we know Nasir is a thief, who trying to escape the cops, jumped into the river, on the day of immersion of the idol of Durga, and got wounded). Padma’s father-in-law is dead, she has no where to go, except maybe back to her parents. Yet, it won’t be easy for Nasir to leave, undetected, with the border patrol. Thus, Padma’s biggest sacrifice. She agrees to marry Ganesh, if he helps Nasir get back through the river, on the day immersion. She comes home, shedding her white attire of a Hindu widow, dressed like the Durga herself. We see the agony she is going through, she drinks, she smokes; and Nasir breaks down on learning of her ultimate sacrifice.

The scene so tragically beautiful is done with exceptional brilliance. Jaya Ashen is superb, your heart goes out to her. For all her affection towards Nasir, she does get one thing in return, his seedling. Initially, with all the border problems, I assumed the movie was set during the Bangladesh war of liberation, in 1971. But then I saw mobile phones, so realized it’s set in the modern day (village attire doesn’t give away the time period, as those traditional styles hardly change). Yet, the mobiles were somewhat older, in style and technology. Which made sense later, as we see Padma married to Ganesh, with a six year old kid. A kid with Nasir’s birthmark on his back.

The finalé is beautifully done, with the camera zooming into the, now dilapidated, house; where Padma and Nasir consummated their desires, resulting in the conception of a child. A child, Ganesh calls his own. Symbolic of the void left behind, by the man that brought back human desires into her heart. A man, that is dead to her, metaphorically (but lives through the son they created, that one night); unlike her husband’s death, literally, which left her with nothing.

The best Indian movies tend to come out of the state of West Bengal (as I mentioned earlier), and Bengali Cinema has brought out some of the best directors ever, including Satyajit Ray, Ritwik Ghatak, Aparna Sen and Rituparno Ghosh, to name some. In fact, Aparna Sen’s The Japanese Wife (2010), based on a beautiful short story, by Kunal Basu, happens to be my all time favourite Indian movie (see my post, Photograph no.5, from six months ago). Having seen Kaushik Ganguly’s, brilliant tribute to the veteran Satyajit Ray, that was, Apur Panchali (2013), and now Bisorjon, Ganguly can be added to these Bengali greats. Last month, director, Kaushik Ganguly, announced that he is making a sequel to Bisorjon.

Indian Film Director, Kaushik Ganguly, announces that he is making a sequel to Bisorjon (2017), as Bangladesh Actress, Jaya Ahsan, looks on; at an event (April 2018)

POORNA (2017)

Based on a true story, Poorna (2017), is Rahul Bose’s second foray into film direction.

Malavath Purna (a.k.a. Poorna Malavath) is an Adivāsi girl from Telangana North, a state in Southern India, who became the youngest girl to scale the highest peak of Mount Everest, at the age of 13 years and 11 months. She, till date, is the youngest girl to have done so. She reached the peak on the 25th of May, 2014. Adivāsis are a tribal community (which differs from regions to regions), that make up a small population of South Asia. Majority of them, are scattered around India. Though Adivāsis are a lower caste, considered primitive, they are not considered impure, by higher Indian castes of India’s Hindu population. Thus, not to be confused with the caste of Dalits, who sadly are also known as “Untouchables”. Unfortunately these caste systems still prevail, in modern India.

Bose’s Poorna, is a bio-pic on this famed young mountain climber. AND a brilliant movie at that. Young Aditi Inamdar, does a marvelous job, as the protagonist of the movie, in her debut performance. The movie demonstrates the trials and troubles faced by this young girl, coming from a lower social background, where child marriage of younger girls to older men, is still the norm; and how she defies social stigmas, overcomes problems after problems, from family issues, training, to the actual ascend onto the Himalayas.

These impressive inspiring tales are nothing new, and there are plenty of films made on sportsmen/women and adventurers. But this is still a wonderfully made movie, that too on real life person. Added to which, this story is about a tribal girl who beats all odds, and triumphs against adversity. If it were any other Indian or other well to do girl, the triumph would have been hers alone; but the fact an Adivāsi girl reached the peak, at such a young age; is an inspiration to the entire Adivāsi tribe. It’s a push forward for the entire community. Thanks to her, young Adivāsis have scope for getting away from monotonous lifestyles, and making something of their lives. Of course, Poorna, has the luck, and help comes in the way of Dr. Praveen Kumar (Rahul Bose), who see her potential and never stops encouraging her, and other children like her. Added to which Poorna’s mentor, her elder cousin sister, supports Poorna, and pushes her forward, despite having no hope for herself. In the end, it’s the memory of her cousin that helps Poorna achieve what she sought out to do.

More recently, in July 2017, Malavath Purna, scaled Mt. Elbrus, the highest peak in Russia, and the European continent.

With Bangladesh Film Director, Tauquir Ahmed, at the 8th SAARC Film Festival 2018 (26th May 2018); post the screening of Poorna (2017), and just hours before the screening of Ahmed’s film, Haldaa (2017)

Tauquir Ahmed gives a small speech, before the screening of his movie, Haldaa (2017)

HALDAA (2017)

Shot around the scenic river Halda, in Chattogram, in southeastern Bangladesh, depicting the lives of fishermen and their families; Haldaa (2017) is a movie with breathtaking cinematography and a lovely story. The story deals with repression, both of fisherman, due to industrial pollution and at the hands of pirates, and women, living under a patriarchal society.

Nusrat Imroz Tisha plays Hasu, a daughter of a troubled fisherman, who is forced into a marriage with a rich older man, against her will. She is the second wife, of this wealthy villain; whose first wife hasn’t borne any children, and is still married to him. One interesting point shown in the movie, is the symbolic representation of killing of the “Mother Fish”, or pregnant fish. It’s not only shown as a superstition, considered wrong to kill a pregnant fish, but also shown with a realistic aspect too, that of the breeding of the fish. If you kill a pregnant fish, the number of fish in river would reduce, which happens to be the main livelihood of those living along these banks. The Halda River, of Chattogram, is the only pure fish breeding center in Asia. When Hasu’s father kills a “Mother Fish”, it upsets both the father and daughter, later when a “Mother Fish” from the Halda River, is sent by Hasu’s husband, she refuses to cook it, and when guests arrive she throws the cooked fish to the groud, in demonstration. She is badly beaten by her husband. Unlike the first wife, Hasu, is a bold woman, and not afraid of her man. Since post marriage, she shows no signs of getting pregnant, people talk about her being sterile like the first wife. Killing of a “Mother Fish” was a sign. But she eventually does get pregnant, but it might not be her husband’s.

This shows a bold village feminist, who refuses to lose her identity; as her mother-in-law, Surat Banu (Dilara Zaman) asks Hasu, while Banu lies bedridden, after a fall, to call her by her name (instead of calling her mother). A tear-jerking scene, as Banu points out, how women lose their identity, as a daughter, daughter-in-law, wife, mother, mother-in-law; and their names vanish along with their identity. Surat doesn’t call her younger independent minded daughter-in-law Bahu (daughter-in-law), as is the custom; but by her name, Hasu. Surat admires Hasu for her braveness, and gives her the household keys, instead of the elder Bahu. This makes the, nameless and conniving, elder Bahu, not so happy.

Nusrat Imroz Tisha is superb as Hasu. With director Tauquir Ahmed’s (a.k.a. Toukir Ahmed) beautifuly filmed movie, and few awesome performances, and a touching script, it’s no doubt a great film from Bangladesh. Yet, the overall experience of the movie was average fare (among international standards). Though I didn’t think it was among the greatest films ever made, there were lot elements of the movie, I loved. The last scene, when just Hasu and her husband are left in the house, with the unexpected twist in the end, was gracefully executed. ’twas just sublime. Tauquir Ahmed, at the post screening , mentioned that he made two versions of the movie. One a commercial venture, for Bangladesh audiences, and the other, an art movie, for the international distribution (the one we saw); which he called the “director’s cut”. It would be interesting to see both, and do a compare and contrast, though no doubt, the version we saw, was the better one.

The next day, this film was awarded four trophies, including ‘Best Film’ at the SAARC Film Festival award ceremony. Though I didn’t think Tauquir Ahmed’s Haldaa, was the best film, am glad it was given the recognition, instead of some undeserved movie. It definitely deserved the win for ‘Best Cinematography’, no doubt about that. A big congratulations to director, Tauquir Ahmed. And all the best with your next project.

These three feature films have beautiful titles with beautiful meanings. Bisorjon/Bishorjan (pronunciation differs according to Bengali dialects) means immersion, as the English title suggests, and is based on the custom of immersing the idol of Durga into water (the ocean or a river), during the famed Durga puja festivities in, certain parts of India, and Bangladesh (this festival plays a vital role in the movie’s plot). Poorna or Purna, meaning fulfilled, is the name of the protagonist, and is based on the life of Malavath Purna, a young Indian mountaineer. AND Haldaa, is the river Halda, in south-eastern Bangladesh, on the banks on which the entire premise of the story is set in. Though not as great as Bisorjon and Poorna, Haldaa is the best film from Bangladesh I’ve seen; and there is scope for Bangladeshi Bangla films to catch up to International standards, akin to great European and other Asian Art House Films.

Nusrat Imroz Tisha, dressed in bridal finery, as Hasu, in Haldaa (2017)

THE WATERFALL (2017)

Seated right at the front, like Bertolucci’s “Dreamers” (i.e. like the trio of lead characters from Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Dreamers, 2003), I was one of the first to absorb this short film, before it reached the rest.

Like wasps attracted to a hornets’ nest, people thronged into the cinema, including Colombo’s so called elite. It was as if these uncontrollable crowds were from a remote village with a high level of illiteracy, or people from slums. Such a rowdy crowd for a short film. No, they were there, for the next film, a Sinhala feature film; but these losers came in early afraid to lose a seat for the next movie, Bahuchithawadiya (2018). Not that most of these people care for films at a festival; but a free viewing, that too of a Sri Lankan film, brought in the worst crowds possible.

Anyway, Lipika Singh Darai’s The Waterfall (2017), is an Indian-English language short film. Having worked on documentaries, this was first venture into a fictional movie. It’s a beautiful movie about a city boy from Mumbai, who visits his ancestral home in a scenic hill station, in the state Odisha (formerly known as Orissa). He spends his time enjoying the natural wonders of the village, missing in the city, with his cousin. In particular, there is this one waterfall, that he has great admiration for. Soon he learns that the waterfall is drying up; and urbanization is ruining the surrounding nature. It affects him, and villagers, profoundly; but it doesn’t seem to bother his cousin (who resides there), and other well to do people of the village.

Beautiful little story, about the effects of climate change and construction projects. Averagely good.

BAHUCHITHAWADIYA (2018)

This crude caper is a crapper. And yes, I was still seated right at the front.

What a pathetic waste of time. Ridiculous acting, the actors are thinking of their dialogues then saying it. With long pauses between dialogues, how artificial and unrealistic it looked. What a bore!! These “tele-drama” style acting ought to be obsolete by now (Sri Lankan soaps have been known as tele-dramas, since the invent of these distasteful Sinhala television series’, back in the 1980’s. Lankan’s till date stay glued to the idiot box watching such nonsensical shows, thus their brains are just as slow and narrow).

Even though the premise of virtual acquaintances and promiscuous youth was (though not unique), an interesting area to turn into a cinematic experience; the pathetic execution of the plot, and specifically the fake acting talent roped in, made the viewing unbearable. This was the last movie of the festival. Heavy Sri Lankan egos might not like my take on the film (as they feel they have to love films made in their own country); but me having no false pride, or fake sense of patriotism, nor any brainwashed attitudes of loving everything, just because it’s Sri Lankan, have to say it; Sri Lankan movies are not up to the standard. Gone are the days of Lester James Peries (Rekava,1956, Gamperaliya,1963), Sumitra Peries (Ganga Addara,1980) and Tissa Abeysekera (Viragaya,1987); yet these greatest Sri Lankan films mentioned here, still were average fare (internationally speaking). In more recent times, only director, Prasanna Vithanage (Anantha Rathriya,1996, Pura Handa Kaluwara,1997, Silence in the Courts,2015) comes to mind as local films worth checking out; yet even his movies are only averagely good (but brilliant in Sri Lankan terms). One main reason is, though these were/are good directors; the acting skills even of the best actors here, do not match up. And in Bahuchithawadiya, the acting talent is amongst the worst ever. Added to which, Bahuchithawadiya, is among the worse films ever made, anywhere; and THE worst movie I saw at this year’s festival. Even though, this was given an award for ‘Best Sound Design’; I feel there were better films that deserved the said award.

THE SAARC FILM FEST EXPERIENCE

The poorly organized SAARC Film Festival, with it’s totally mucked up schedule, started on the 22nd of May, 2018. Practically any event in this country, tends to be badly done; yet, this years SAARC Film Fest, was definitely comparatively better than the previous year’s (which was held only six months ago, in November 2017). I couldn’t go the first two days, especially due to the bad weather, and various other reasons. On the third day, 24th of May, I went. I really had a keen interest in seeing this 13 minute short film from Bangladesh, Daag (2017). The story is set during the Bangladesh war of liberation, in 1971; where a woman marries her rapist. I thought the premise was interesting. Already stressed out, as I was leaving for the fest, due to inhumane cruel people of this country; not to mention being stuck in a terrible traffic for close to 2 hours, I missed the short film. So I sat down to watch the next movie, Janaan (I’ve spoken of above). After the disappointment of sitting through the cheesy romance, and going through the stress of the day; I felt too tired to watch the rest of the films. Otherwise I would have seen the next two at least, the local Sinhala film, 28 (2014), and the Indian Marathi movie, Kshitij: A Horizon (2016). Kshitij: A Horizon, is the movie I really wanted to watch, for I could watch the Sri Lankan film, rented on cable TV, or if shown on a local channel. So, on my ‘Day 1’, Janaan, is the only movie I watched. Next day, I went early enough, and caught the short film Mata Nam Ahuna & the feature length film, Bisorjon (spoken about them above). The schedule being changed there was a Maldivian horror movie next, 4426 (2016). Initially I thought of checking it out, even though it didn’t really interest me, but still going through the weariness of the day before, I decided I needed to go home and rest. The next day, the last day of screening, on Saturday, 26th May; I went in the morning, to catch most of the movies. Still, when I reached there the short film, Kalo Meghar Vela (2018) a.k.a. The Cloud Boat, from Bangladesh had already started. So waited outside, and went in to catch the next movie, but happen to see the last bit of Kalo Meghar Vela, as it ran longer than scheduled. The next was Poorna (spoken of above). Post that, I did not see the next film, another commercial venture from Pakistan, which I heard skipped. Technical problem!!! Technical problems are nothing new at film festivals here, it always happens, and that too specially at the NFC (National Film Corporation); where these festivals mainly tend to take place. Added to that the seating is really bad, so congested, there is not enough leg space, for even a person of average height (and am 6ft, 2½”). Anyway, next I went in for Haldaa (spoken of above), which too had a technical difficulty (the sound wasn’t clear), so we ended up watching it on Blu-ray, projected onto the big wide screen. Post that, saw the next two/last two films, The Waterfall & Bahuchithawadiya, seated right in front, as mentioned.

I didn’t go for the award ceremony next day, on Sunday, but am glad the main awards were given to more deserved movies, unlike last year. Hope the organizers of this film festival do a better job, next time around. Even though badly done, am glad these rare festivals occur; as such films don’t really come to cinemas, in this aesthetically depressive country. There is no real understanding, nor an interest for, the arts, in general, in Sri Lanka. But it’s good, they have film festivals here now. After all, there were only two Colombo Film Festivals (back in 2014 & 2015) a festival, funded by the Japanese, and that died pretty young; and this was just the “8thSAARC Film Festival (which I hope shall continue, thanks to the help of other South Asian countries). None the less, looking forward to the next film festival, and preferably a more well organized one.

MY RATINGS (Set of Seven):-

  • Bisorjon (2017) – The Best – 10/10!!!!!
  • Poorna (2017) – The Next – 10/10!!!!!
  • Haldaa (2017) – (higher) Average Fare – 6/10!!!
  • The Waterfall (2017) – (lower) Average Fare – 5/10!!!
  • Janaan (2016) – Pretty Bad – 4/10!!
  • Mata Nam Ahuna (2015) – One of the worse short films ever – 1/10!
  • Bahuchithawadiya (2018) – The worst film at the festival – 1/10!

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

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Film Director, N. Padmakumar, standing next to a poster of his debut fictional movie, at the 21st Busan International Film Festival; in Busan, South Korea

Hari Aziz; as the name (Hindu first name & Muslim surname) itself suggests; is a mixed breed. His father is from Northern India, with Muslim roots; and his mother from South India, darker in complexion, with Hindu roots. Thus, Hari Aziz is a hybrid of a mixed race couple. Since both his intellectual parents are agnostic in nature, he has nothing to worry. They live quite a posh life, in Mumbai, India. Yet, when financial difficulties arise, we watch them getting poorer and poorer, moving into middle class housing, to even worse lower income apartments, as they descend deeper into the real India. Real, modern-day, independent India, infested with small minded archaic mentalities, extremists ideologies, thuggery and violence.

Directed by Padmakumar Narasimhamurthy, A Billion Colour Story (2016) is beautiful Indian-English language movie, shot brilliantly in Black & White, which ironically turns into colour, when the most colourful personality of this tragic tale is shot dead. I had never heard of Padmakumar Narasimhamurthy, until day before yesterday, when I watched this art movie. This is his debut feature film, he released a documentary in the summer of the same year; in the middle of the Year of the Sweets, in June 2016. A Billion Colour Story was released, later, in Autumn, that year.

With an amazing array of unknown, yet superb naturalistic acting talent, with brilliantly penned out characters, and an equally brilliant script (which too was written by Padmakumar Narasimhamurthy); this movie is a must watch. Out of all the actors, it’s the child actor, Dhruva Padmakumar; playing 11 year old, Hari Aziz, the narrator of the film; to look out for. He’s a lovely character – intelligent, very mature (in a world full of immature adults); yet shy and bashful, when a young girl, Sophia (Keya Kalyan), asks him whether he’d like to be her boyfriend. He blushes adorably. He’s a self sufficient, and trustful, kid; that his parents need not worry about. Brought up in an open-minded environment, he’s given the necessary freedom a child deserves. But of course, that doesn’t mean he is neglected. He’s showered with well endowed love and affection, and truly spoilt, to the core. No harm in spoiling him, he’s not a brat, far from it. He’s a really smart, good-hearted, kid. He knows everything there is to know about the world, thanks to his curiosity to find out about anything he hears, on his own smart phone. He doesn’t abuse the net, wasting on unnecessary hogwash, but uses his phone as it’s namesake suggests, smartly. This was Dhruva Padmakumar’s very first film appearance, and the only credited role, till date.

Vasuki, Dhruva Padmakumar and Gaurav Sharma; in a scene from A Billion Colour Story (2016)

Hari Aziz’s father, Imran Aziz (Gaurav Sharma), is lovely person. An open-minded personality, a great husband, a loving father; practically perfect. But all humans are flawed creatures, some more than others. He is a pragmatist, yet not practical. A clash of terms, let me explain. As I stated, he is a very open minded individual; not a religious person, fights against formalists – extremist attitudes, fights for justice, but is somewhat blinded by his love for his country. Despite everything going wrong, as they lose money, sink into poverty, and see inhumane attitudes, surrounded constantly with negative energy, pulling them down (it’s very hard stay afloat and positive in such a society, and I know from personal experience of having associated Sri Lankans, all over the world, and still constantly having to go through it, in this country of my own unfortunate roots, full of Lankan egos); his belief in humanity, that India is a beautiful country full of beautiful people, survives. True, India is a beautiful country; with some amazing people, but when there is so much animosity towards their inter-racial union, from both sides; he ought to have been somewhat less saintly, and a bit more intelligent. His, this, blind faith, brings about a stressful ruination of his happy life, to the extent of an imminent danger, not just to himself, but friends and family. Though am not familiar with Gaurav Sharma’s work, he seems to have starred in quite a few unheard of Hindi Films, that are critically declaimed. Yet, just because he starred in some bad movies does not necessarily mean he is a bad actor. He was superb in A Billion Colour Story; and he essayed the role of a modern man, with Muslim roots, with blind love and hope for his country, struggling to survive in a formalist, narrow-minded, society, to perfection.

Hari Aziz’s mother, Parvati Aziz (played with perfection, by a little known, South Indian actress, Vasuki); is, like her husband, yet another intelligent, modern, optimistic and very progressive individual; yet she has no blind faith in India. She loves the country, as much as her husband, but she is well aware of it’s conservative backdrop, that will never accept their interracial union, nor ever want to change for the better. She’s aware of the people’s simple minded nature, stuck in their archaic brainwashed ways, that will never learn to think for themselves. Their is no hope, and it’s not even worth trying to educate and improve such people. A total waste of time and energy. No use preaching to fools. Yet, she supports her husband unconditionally. She’s more practical than her husband. A superb wife, with a brain of her own; and the perfect mother. In this sense, the trio of family members are lucky to have each other. The perfect, free-thinking, modern family. And, they are lucky to have a great group of like minded friends. But yet, they have to deal with everyday, unnecessary stressful problems; due to self centered, inhumane people. The more they are pulled down, into living around such a cruel ignorant society; the worse life gets.

Director, Padmakumar Narasimhamurthy, seen here with his son, child actor, Dhruva Padmakumar

The family strives through heavy patience, surviving and surviving, until one day tragedy strikes. That’s when they lose all hope, and decide to leave the country (we learn earlier on that the couple met in Australia, whilst studying there). But just as they are about to leave, a ray of new hope comes there way; but at what cost. It’s too late, no matter what they do, the best thing about their life is no more; and they’d have to live with that guilt consciousness for the rest of their lives. No matter what, they’ll feel in their hearts, it was their own fault.

It’s a beautifully made, sad, heart-rending, story; told wittily through the eyes of a child. The only big flaw, was the film’s producer, Satish Kaushik’s, cameo; as a fictional film producer, named, Chopra. The scene itself, might not have been that long. YET, it drags on a bit, that it brought a “break in the continuity” of the story (a similar statement is used later in the movie); and those few minutes felt like an hour. Post that scene, the film itself felt a bit dull, for a little while (maybe due to the aftermath of that scene, making me lose interest a bit). Then it caught the pace, and moved on smoothly.

Satish Kaushik is notorious for his not so great directorial work, on Bollywood comedies and melodramas; as well as acting in them. Yet, he is a good writer, for he did co-wrote the dialogues, of one of the most notable comedies of Bollywood ever, Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro (1983); and of course he had to act in that too. And with A Billion Colour Story, he’s proved himself as a producer as well. His first (co-)production was, Mr. India (1987); a pretty good children’s film; with Anil Kapoor (an international star today), the late Sridevi (who recently died in a drowning accident), little Aftab Shivdasani (a not so well regarded Bollywood actor, as an adult star), and of course, yours truly; Satish Kaushik, as a character called “Calendar”. But he was fun in that.

Besides the stellar performances; not just by the lead trio, but also the supporting cast; including, Neha Chauhan, Swapnil Ralkar, Sumit Suri, Shashank Karmarkar and Rashmi Somvanshi (not familiar with any of them, but loved them in this film), to name some; the movie is shot spectacularly in Black and White (as I mentioned earlier). Nothing in life is Black and White, not even in a Black and White picture; there are always shades of grey. And this film itself is a great study of human psychology; the black, the white, and greys that blur the lines in between. The man responsible for the symbolic cinematography is none other than the film director, Padmakumar Narasimhamurthy, himself.

Dhruva Padmakumar, the child star of A Billion Colour Story, is the son of the film director, Padmakumar Narasimhamurthy (a.k.a. N. Padmakumar). No harm in a bit of nepotism, if they can get the job done; and Dhruva Padmakumar is a very talented young man, who does a wonderful job in the movie. With eloquent English, he narrates with pure poetry, and acts with a natural ease, making his realistic character, very relatable.

A Billion Colour Story (2016)
My Rating: Near Excellent – 9/10!!!!

N. Padmakumar’s next venture, supposedly, will be set in Sri Lanka; set against the religious and racial conflicts of this country; based on a short story by him. That would be interesting, and am really looking forward to checking it out.

I watched, A Billion Colour Story, on 2nd of May, 2018; rented on Peo TV (our Cable operator).

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

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NSFS

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Today happens to be, the great humanitarian, ‘s, 89th Birth Anniversary !!!!!!

Nuwan Sen’s Movie Trivia!!!!

……………………… – – these lines were spoken by, the character of, Ann Shankland (played by Rita Hayworth); in a scene from the brilliant movie, Separate Tables (1958). Late last night, I watched this amazing downloaded movie; which has been magnificently transported from the stage to the screen. Separate Tables, directed by Delbert Mannis, is based on a collective of two one-act plays by Terence Rattigan (namely Table by the Window and Table Number Seven).

This entire very bold Hollywood movie, is rigged with Sexual Tension, Sexual Repression and Sexual Harassment! AND 2018, with Hollywood’s #MeToo movement, feels like the perfect time to watch this movie. With a spectacular cast confined into the lonely Beauregard Hotel in Bournemouth, in the southern coast of England, UK; the film deals with love, lust, loneliness, bitterness, desire and depression. The star that stole the show (for me) was Gladys Cooper, as the harsh, unpleasant and domineering, Mrs. Railton-Bell; although it’s Wendy Hiller (as Miss. Pat Cooper), that took home the Oscar, for ‘Best Actress in a Supporting Role’. Nominated for 7 Oscars, this movie grabbed two. The other went to, actor David Niven (for ‘Best Actor in a Leading Role’); for his marvelous performance as the kindly n’ somewhat comical, yet pretentious, retired army officer; Major Angus Pollock. Another sidekick worth checking out is May Hallatt, as the stoic, yet enjoyable, Miss Meacham (who appeared in the same role on the original, West End and Broadway, stage production)

Several story lines intersect one another; but there are two major tales, that surface to prominence. One deals with Major Angus Pollock’s close platonic friendship with a repressed spinster, Sibyl Railton-Bell (Deborah Kerr); and Sibyl’s mother’s (Mrs. Railton-Bell) various schemes to ruin it. When it’s reported in the newspaper, that Major Pollack has pleaded guilty of sexual harassment of six women, at a local cinema; this gives Mrs. Railton-Bell a perfect reason, not to just get the Major, away from her fragile daughter’s life (who on learning this has a sort of nervous breakdown), but to be thrown out of residence from the Beauregard Hotel; and sent as far away as possible, in disgrace, from Bournemouth. Apparently, the original draft of this 1954 British play, however, saw the Major, not pleading to a misdemeanour of sexual harassment of women, but homosexual importuning, and suffering from his sexual repression in a homophobic world. In the movie, he does hint at it; saying he can’t help the way he is, and speaking of how he was picked on, at school, for being less masculine. It’s a pity, due to code of ethics of that era; the play and film were repressed from showing, what it initially intended. By the changing of the sexual repression of a gay Major, into that of a straight man sexually harassing women; ironically makes it an actual perversion; that needs to be forgiven. A sympathetic light is thrown the way of the Major; but for something, that in reality is far worse than just being a gay man struggling to keep his sexuality a secret, at the same time secretly acting on his desires; ironically in a public place. The world has definitely come a long way since then; or has it?

The other story line deals with a divorced couple, who meet after several years, at the Beauregard Hotel. We discover that the sophisticated wife, Ann Shankland (Hayworth) had sent her ex-husband, John Malcolm (Burt Lancaster), to prison for assaulting her. The washed out, drunk, John Malcolm; is another lowly character, Mrs. Railton-Bell has no regard for. After divorcing John, Ann had later re-married and re-divorced; it appears to have happened more than once; but she’s never lost her love for John. John, though he has a secret girlfriend, Miss. Pat Cooper (whom he says, he wants to get married to), is still in love with Ann. John & Ann, suffer when they are together, and suffer when they are apart. It’s a love-hate relationship; that cannot survive, without one another. Despite the sexual assault and the tensed, stressful, coexistence; they need each other; in a savagely animalistic sense, of love and lust.

Separate Tables has some superb character sketches. An excellent study into human psychology in the modern era. Everything about the movie blends in beautifully; the characters, the set of the hotel, the dinning tables. Along with the two leading plots, the other story lines that intersect, include; a modern young couple secretly in love (Rod Taylor & Audrey Dalton); the compassionate and understanding, elderly, Lady Matheson (Cathleen Nesbitt); the “self sufficient” hotel owner/manager and secret lover of John Malcolm, Miss. Pat Cooper; the elderly gentleman, Mr. Fowler (Felix Aylmer); and the strong built and bravely blunt, Miss Meacham, who too like the Major, seems to be afraid of people, as she states comically “..they are so complicated, …that’s why I prefer horses”. She’s a tough broad, with a touch of masculinity; which could imply her own sexual repression, that of a lesbian woman, but that’s unclear. Of course, though a dull spinster herself, Miss Meacham, is very different to the other young spinster, whom we see openly suffer from sexual repression; i.e. Deborah Kerr’s Sybil (spoken of above). It is obvious that the homely, plain-Jane, Sybil (a complete contrast to her stylish mother), has feelings for the major; but she’s unable to do anything about it. The Major doesn’t reciprocate to her subtle advances, but happens to be sympathetic towards her. Again, which makes sense, as in the original draft, the Major was meant to be gay.

Another thing to look out for, are the glamorous costumes designed by Mary Grant, and the Oscar favourite, Edith Head. Overall a wonderful movie; despite the significant change of the homosexual subject matter, into sexual harassment towards women (even though one’s sexuality oughtn’t have been a crime, even back then; while sexual harassment, always should be).

Separate Tables (1958)
My Rating: 10/10 !!!!!!!!!!

Bookish Nuwan
Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

P.S. Also see my Special Blog Post, I did yesterday, as a PAGE; That Book, That Movie (of 2017)!!

 

The Feature-Length Movies released in 2017, that I have seen so far. From the Best to the Worst!!!!!

TOP Films of 2017 (10 Star Rating Each)

  • Call me by your Name (2017)
  • Loving Vincent (2017)
  • Dunkirk (2017)
  • T2 Trainspotting (2017)
  • Die Göttliche Ordnung (2017) – English Title: The Divine Order
  • The Hungry (2017)
  • Battle of the Sexes (2017)
  • Darkest Hour (2017)

The Rest of the films of 2017, from the Close to Excellence to Average to bad to the most Pathetic!

  • Veeram (2017) – Alternate Title: Veeram Macbeth! My Rating: 9/10
  • Downsizing (2017) My Rating: 7/10
  • All Nighter (2017) My Rating: 7/10
  • Space Between Us (2017) My Rating: 5/10
  • Vishka (2017) My Rating: 4/10
  • Life (2017) My Rating: 3/10
  • Begum Jaan (2017) My Rating: 1/10
  • Judwaa 2 (2017) My Rating: 1/10
  • Fifty Shades Darker (2017) My Rating: 1/10
  • The Institute (2017) My Rating: 1/10

I’ve only mentioned of films meant for Cinematic release (even though I watched most of them on the small screen, or smaller yet on my Laptop); and that too, if they were first released last year, only (doesn’t matter which country they made their debut in; and doesn’t matter if I saw them last year itself, or more recently, within the last two months of 2018). Plus, I have only listed Feature films, no Short films, like In a Heartbeat (2017), No-One (2017) and The Colour of his Hair (2017); to name a few. Neither have I added any Television Anthology series (where a one season is considered a “Limited Series”; thus like a loooong movie) like, ‘Season1’ of Feud (2017 onwards) or ‘Season3’ of Fargo (2014 onwards) for instance (which were both excellent shows, by the way), or any other TV series released in 2017, like 13 Reasons Why (2017 onwards), for example! Nor have I mentioned any mini-series/TV movies of documentaries, from last year. So far, from this year’s releases, I’ve only watched Padmaavat (2018), and that was a way way way over top, disappointment.

So, like most of you, my fellow film fanatics; am really looking forward to watching the 90th Annual Academy Awards, LIVE; on 5th March 2018, early morning (on this side of the Globe)!!!!!

May the Best Picture win!!!!!

Nuwan Sen Film Sense
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Call Me By Your Name (2017): The Perfect Picture

A very pure form of storytelling, brought out by Luca Guadagnino, Call me by your Name; is one of the greatest English Language movies to come out of this century. The innocence, the romance, the sensuality; Guadagnino seduces his audiences into a heart-rending love affair; with the 17 year old Elio Perlman (Timothée Chalamet), his desire for the much older archaeology scholar, Oliver (Armie Hammer); and the Italian landscape. In the past, I’ve spoken about Why I love, films like Roman Holiday (1953), Jules et Jim (1962), Annie Hall (1977); et al; on IMDB!! The purity of the realistic, natural feel of these tear jerker romances, and sad, yet beautifully told love stories, with a mature understanding of human emotions; immerses you into these movies, empathizing with the characters; and being deeply involved with their intellectual conversations; understanding, and accepting their bonds, along with their eventual separations or tragic rides to death of their romantic flings (either metaphorically or literally). The style also reminded me of the Art Films of Éric Rohmer; especially Pauline à la Plage (1983); English Title – Pauline at the Beach (which was, also a coming of age story, released in the year Call me by your Name is set in); and Rohmer’s famed “Tales of the Four Seasons” series of films.

Everything about this movie is uniquely brilliant. The story/narrative (based on the novel by André Aciman); the script/screenplay by the renowned James Ivory (collaborated with Luca Guadagnino and Walter Fasano); the music/soundtrack by Sufjan Stevens; the cinematography by Sayombhu Mukdeeprom; film edit by Walter Fasano, the film direction by Luca Guadagnino; – They all come together to bring out something pure and touchingly sublime.

From the artistic title credits, at the beginning; which look like chalk on board (most probably a shout out to the 80’s, when chalk was still used on Blackboards; by the 90’s schools slowly transitioned to Whiteboards with gel markers) with pictures of Hellenistic sculptures showcasing the beauty of the male form; to the finalé, with the burning fire in the cold winter reflecting on Elio’s crying face (like an allegory of his burning desire; being submerged with an unbearable depression of lost love); as the end credits roll; with Sufjan Stevens lending his vocals to the melonchonic Visions of Gideon; this movie completely encapsulates the audience emotions. Though the movie might have ended, the deep impact it leaves us with, stays on for days and days. It feels so real.

Regardless of it being a love story between man and a boy; the emotional turmoil, of experiencing first love, is something every human being can relate to; immaterial of his/her sexual orientation and racial/religious background. It’s a great coming age story, of two gay men; shown in such a naturalistic and non-judgemental manner; it makes one believe in love and romance. The best line of the movie is delivered by Perlman Sr. (i.e. Elio’s father), played by Michael Stuhlbarg; towards the end of the movie. Such an understanding parent, who doesn’t condemn his son’s act of love, with a much older man. Both Elio’s father and mother, Annella Perlman (played elegantly by British born actress, Amira Casar); are very accepting, modern, open-minded individuals; who trust their teenage son’s maturity; yet cuddle and shower him with love kids desire from their parents. Age has nothing to do with maturity. There are so many fully grown immature adults in the world; incapable of intellect, deep though and understanding. Here we see a teenager, along with his caring parents; who are highly mature and sophisticated, in dealing with emotional problems with dignity.

Speaking of elegance and dignity; the Perlman’s definitely are a very privileged family; yet they aren’t obsessed with materialism; even though their superior taste in the world of arts is well acknowledged. They are well in tune with nature and their natural surroundings around the beautiful Villa, in the region of Lombardy, in Northern Italy; that they reside in. We see Elio and Oliver (an American Jewish visitor for the summer, working as an assistant to Elio’s father) exploring the natural countryside, cycling, swimming and dancing. Added to which, we see Elio as a book worm and a lover of classical music.

From the music, to the cinematography, the atmosphere created within; the entire movie seduces us, without necessary showcasing graphic sex. The much talked about peach scene, has a naïvety entwined with it’s sensuality; as erotic as it is, it’s also a touching moment. Elio’s desire to penetrate Oliver is obvious (as it’s led to believe Elio is on the receiving end), the touching of the soft skin on the peach, exploring the hole atop, it’s aesthetically sensual without being cheap and vulgar; yet Elio feels humiliated when Oliver teases him for it. Innocence, eroticism and misery, all rolled in one; making one feel sorry for Elio.

Nature and the aesthetic male nude, play a crucial role in the movie. There is a scene where the archeology professor (i.e. Elio’s father, mentioned above) takes Elio and Oliver to see the ancient Kouros statues that have washed up close to shore, at Lake Garda. Elio and Oliver admire the statue of the male form in all it’s beauty; later the Professor tells Oliver of his admiration for the bronze kouroi, the aesthetic male nude of the bygone era; an understanding of artists’ affections for the youthful male body (which practically was like an understanding, and acceptance, in part of the professor, of Oliver’s love for the Professor’s fully developed young son). And then there is a scene where we see Oliver’s naked physique standing in the dark, from behind, standing at a windowsill; and his beautiful body looks like a Hellenistic works of art, discovered at the Lake Garda, itself. Armie Hammer was 30 years old, and in marvellous shape, when he did this role. The then, 21 year old, Timothée Chalamet, is very believable as a 17 year old Elio, who looks 15. Yup, Chalamet; is capable of portraying an even younger teenager, if he had to. What is more impressive is the fact, that both these actors are actually heterosexual; yet they play their on-screen homosexual romance with such ease, it makes the movie entirely more believably brilliant. And the atmosphere created with the landscape and background score; helps us cherish their beautiful May/December romance, admiringly.

Speaking of music, Call me by your Name also has a great soundtrack; especially with Elio being a musical prodigy of sorts. We get to hear Elio’s own renditions of maestros of classical music, the likes of Bach; and the way Liszt might have played Bach. Added to which there are some beautiful modern day songs, like Sufjan Stevens Mystery of Love and the very 80’s Love my Way by The Psychedelic Furs (from their 1982 album, Forever Now). Speaking of the 80’s; as I mentioned earlier, this movie is set in the Summer of 1983. Yet, Luca Guadagnino manages to make the 80’s feel very today. In other words; instead of making the 80’s, vintage; without making the setting a blast from the past; Guadagnino transports us, the audience back; making us feel as if we are currently living in the 1980’s. It feels like the present. The movie unravels in front of our eyes, as if it were happening, at this moment. Not in a nostalgic sense.

Teenage angst, sexual awakening, first crush; these are coming of age themes; all humans can relate to (whether it’s a love for an older person; where the adult reciprocates; or whether it’s a painful experience of unrequited love). Elio, in one sense, is a very lucky teenager; he not only falls in love; but his love with an adult is consummated (without marriage, of course). Added to which, he has very understanding parents, who give him the freedom teenagers desire, without suffocating him; at the same time, they are there for him, when he needs them the most. When Elio, heartbroken, calls his mum to come and get him; his mother rushes to his aid. The father, consoles the heartbroken child, advising him, not to stop feeling human emotions; because of the pain of losing his first love. Yet, we do sympathize, with Elio. The moment, he whispers “Elio, Elio, Elio” (reminiscence of a romantic moment they shared, where they called each other with their own names; “Call me by your name, and I’ll call you by mine”); to his ex-lover over the phone”, pulls at your heart strings. And Elio sitting and staring at the fire, the emotionally devastated state he is in, when he finds out, Oliver is getting married to a woman; is heartbreaking. Similar, yet so different, to the silent; not speaking a word, yet facial expressions betraying their emotions; type ending from Roman Holiday. That Peck & Hepburn love story is till date, my all time favourite movie; and Call me by your Name, no doubt is my favourite gay themed love story; and amongst my favourites from this century.

This artistically told delicate romance, made with a small budget; has been nominated for 4 Oscars. From ‘Best Motion Picture of the Year’, to ‘Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role’, to ‘Best Adapted Screenplay’, to ‘Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original Song)’ for Mystery of Love; all the nominations are deservedly so; yet it is sad, that Luca Guadagnino, has not been nominated for his superb film direction. Call me by your Name, should at least bag the top prize, for ‘Best Picture’; if not for all four. Yet, I highly doubt, Timothée Chalamet, would win the ‘Best Actor’ trophy; as the academy tends to look at the Body of Work as well (which is absurd, as there is something called a ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ for that); but anyway, I felt Gary Oldman did a slightly more brilliant role (of playing past British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill), in Darkest Hour (2017). Besides Call me by your Name and Darkest Hour; the only other ‘Best Picture’ nominee I’ve seen is, Dunkirk (2017). All three films are superb in their own right; but Call me by your Name, definitely deserves the coveted Oscar statuette, THE most. No matter, how great, the rest of the films nominated are; I highly doubt, that any of them come close to the unique masterpiece that is Call me by your Name!!!!!

Call Me By Your Name (2017)
My Rating: 10/10 !!!!!!!!!!

I first watched Call me by your Name, last month, on 11th January 2018, streamed online, on a useless website, with a pathetic copy of the film (the quality was soooo bad); BUT the movie was totally worth it. The fact I fell in love with this movie, despite watching it in such bad quality; says a lot about what a great movie it is. So I wanted to re-watch it, on a better quality. Earlier this month, I downloaded a copy of the film, from another site. It took 7 hours or so; felt like the whole day. To see, it was a 30 second clip, stating, to watch the full movie, go to some website!! I was infuriated, and utterly disappointed. Then, on 22nd February 2018, I downloaded it from the site I started downloading films, for the first time, last year (see my post Mardi-Gras, Movies-Gay from March 2017). Initially Call me by your Name was not available on the said site. It took only a couple of hours, and I watched it for a second time, then and there. The quality of the downloaded version was crisp and clear (sadly just the English subtitles for the French and Italian segments were not available; but I can make out some phrases in French, anyway ’twas not much of an issue). The film was worth re-watching, in better quality. It’s sad these great movies are rarely shown in Cinemas here; even then they don’t last for more than a week (watched Darkest Hour, at the Cinema; which lasted only one week). I’d love to re-experience this movie, away from the Laptop; and on the big wide screen someday. Until then ….

Later!!!!!
Nuwan Sen
(Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense)

🍑🍑🍑🍑🍑🍑🍑🍑🍑🍑

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë, happens to be one of my favourite epic novels; a condensed version of which, we studied in Grade 8 (at Stafford International School), when I was 13 years old. Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre too I read in my early teens; and later saw the extravagant play, based on Jane Eyre, by a British drama troop visiting New Delhi, India. So, having read two of the sisters works, out of the trio of published Brontë writers; Les Soeurs Brontë (1979), English title – The Brontë Sisters, supposedly the most accurately bleak biopic based on the lives of the famed Brontë’s; was definitely a must see for me, as both a lover of literature, and a diehard Film Fanatic!!!! And so I did, yesterday evening, when Les Soeurs Brontë, was telecast on TV5MONDE.

Pascal Greggory (as Branwell), Isabelle Adjani (as Emily), Isabelle Huppert (as Anne) and Marie-France Pisier (as Charlotte Brontë); in André Téchiné’s Les Soeurs Brontë (1979)

The title, Les Soeurs Brontë (1979), is a tad misleading, as there is a lot, over an hour, about the depressing life of the artist, Branwell Brontë (played by Pascal Greggory), the less famous brother, of the Brontë sisters. Thus the film ought to have been aptly titled, The Brontë Siblings, or simply The Brontë’s (or Les Brontë’s)!! The version I watched was the 115 minutes long movie, which was released at the 32nd Cannes Film Festival in May 1979; competing for the prestigious Palme d’Or. The original (unreleased) film is said to be around three hours long. I’d love to watch that version as well. Hopefully it will be released in it’s entirety on DVD, someday.

There have been very few English Language Biographical films/television mini-series, on the lives of the Brontë’s. Yet, ironically, this French epic, happens to be the most accurate re-telling of the Brontë family on the Big Screen. Set in wet and windy Yorkshire, the movie tells the story of the lives of the Brontë siblings, as adults. Thus, the two elder sisters, who died, aged 9/10 and 11, are not spoken of. We see the three famed sisters and only brother, living an averagely well enough life, though it’s still a pretty stoic existence, in the countryside. The mother is long dead, thus the rest of the household comprises of; their ageing, Anglican Minister, father; a spinster aunt (which hints, determining the fate of the Brontë children) and the housemaid. At the beginning of the movie, the brother, Branwell Brontë, paints a a portrait of the four living siblings; which is admired by the entire family. They have an artist in their midst. A painting, which later on, Branwell erases himself off of, as he nears his own death from depression.

The Three Sisters: The original Bramwell Brontë painting of the famed Brontë sisters (before they were famous)
Bramwell Brontë erased himself from the painting.

The tale of the Brontë’s is really a tragic one. And the movie is filmed beautifully, with superb cinematography, creating the atmosphere of pure misery, with a backdrop of a dull, dreary, cold, uninviting, capture of the Yorkshire moors. Despite leading an ordinary life, that won’t really amount to anything; these three Victorian women desire to make something of their lives. We see, a pre-20th century feminism, a 19th century subtle boldness, the three encompass. They aren’t very vocally vociferous about not being just household creatures serving men, but they somehow manage to enforce their desires in a very patriarchal society. Charlotte Brontë (Marie-France Pisier), the eldest sibling, is the most ambitious. She somehow convinces her aunt, to permit her to go and study French, in Brussels, Belgium; along with her younger sister, Emily Brontë (Isabelle Adjani). She wishes to come back and open a school. However, Emily ends up despising Brussels, especially as the two English Protestant sisters have to deal with residing in a Catholic country. Charlotte endures without agitation, as she wants to somehow study, at the same time we see her silently fall for her much older teacher. Meanwhile, Anne Brontë (Isabelle Huppert), finds work as a governess, with a wealthy English family. While the three sisters are away, the unsuccessful Branwell, has to deal with the death of their aunt; who dies from exhaustion from constipation. Funny, as it might sound today, it is sad, at one time such a thing existed, as medicine wasn’t advanced enough for ageing people suffering from constipation. Her death, gets all the three sisters to stop their academic/working lives and come back home; for the sake of their father and brother.

Father & Daughter: Patrick Magee & Isabelle Adjani in a scene from the film

From here we see a lot about Branwell Brontë. His affair with an older married woman. Him not achieving anything through his literary works. His depression when his lover leaves him (she leaves to be with her children, once her husband dies). To his ultimate demise. Of course the lives of the rest of the sisters are shown too; but he seems to be the protagonist for most of the film, until his death. Meanwhile, we see the father’s support of his children’s wishes; their father, Patrick Brontë (Patrick Magee). It’s as Branwell Brontë nears his death, from drugs and alcohol; we see the trio of Brontë sisters secretly publish a book each, under a male pseudonym.  Soon two of the sisters succumb to tuberculosis, and Charlotte Brontë is the only living sister, by the Operatic end of the movie. Charlotte too died young, at the age of 38.

With a great cast, the movie is well acted, perfectly directed, beautifully photographed; yet not without a few minor flaws. Branwell Brontë’s story is a bit of a bore; but overall, the entire movie is slow paced anyway. But the darkly depressing portrayal of the Brontë’s, make the icy brilliance of the movie, extremely realistic. With very naturalistic performances, we feel what they are going through. We feel the depressing tone of the film to near perfection. It’s hard not to be annoyed at Branwell Brontë though; and admire the sisters, especially Charlotte and Emily. Both Branwell and Charlotte suffer through unrequited love; but Charlotte bears it all, with a strong mind and unbroken spirit, even though with a broken heart, and ends up publishing a novel, which Branwell never gets to know about. But Branwell, when ditched by his older lover; takes refuge in alcohol and Opium; dies of tuberculosis, and passes his illness onto his two younger sisters, Emily and Anne, as well. Charlotte Brontë was, less than a year, older than Branwell.

Marie-France Pisier as Charlotte Brontë, in a scene from Les Soeurs Brontë (1979)

It’s sad, when the movie ends, we realize that none of the Brontë family members were aware of the three sisters accomplishments, other than the trio themselves, and most probably the father. The mother, the brother, the aunt, et al are dead, by the time the books are published and credited to the three sisters.

Marie-France Pisier, steals the show, as the eldest sibling, Charlotte, who survives everything, and everyone, that tries to pull her down. After Pisier, Isabelle Adjani, who plays Emily, is the next brilliant character sketch. Emily loves to trek through the moors, in men’s clothing. Not that she is a tomboy; but she dresses in trousers, as a practicality; as she tells her maid, “it makes me walk faster”. But she’s careful not to let anyone see her dressed in that manner, other than her own family. For a Victorian Lady to be dressed in trousers would have been a scandalous affair. Isabelle Huppert plays the youngest, and doesn’t have the sense of psychological strength of her elder sisters. But the dullest character is played by Pascal Greggory. Who to is actually superb, in doing a character role of a very weak human being. All the actors are superb, including stars like Patrick Magee, Hélène Surgère and Jean Sorel; to name a few, in their supporting roles. Hélène Surgère plays the aptly named Madame Robinson; the older married woman who seduces Branwell Brontë. I think the biggest flaw of the movie is that, too much of the plot is focused on Branwell Brontë; though the title suggests otherwise.  Yet, trust the French to bring out a masterful retelling of three of greatest writers of British literature. However, Patrick Magee, who is Irish; spoke his lines in English, and then dubbed into French. Though, I hate the idea of a movie dubbed in a different language, in general (I prefer reading subtitles in English of foreign language films I don’t understand); it really works well here.

The Three Actresses, who played the Brontë Sisters: (L to R) Marie-France Pisier, Isabelle Huppert and Isabelle Adjani

Overall a beautifully executed piece of cinema, a well made period drama, just slightly less than excellence for a few minor flaws.

Les Soeurs Brontë (1979)
My Rating: Near Excellent – 9/10!!!!


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Bookish Nuwan

Quoting Parveen Babi

 

The essence of spirituality lies in being a good human, and following, good, positive principles
– Parveen Babi
     (1949 – 2005)

 

Parveen Babi with Shashi Kapoor, in the late 70’s, on the sets of Kaala Patthar (the film was released in 1979)
The Film was based on the Chasnala mining disaster of 1975

Amitabh Bachchan & Parveen Babi in a scene from Deewar (1975)
This tragedy was loosely based on the life of notorious Indian gangster, Haji Mastan

Parveen Babi with her (then) life partner, Kabir Bedi, in ROME, in 1976

Lovers in Rome: Kabir Bedi and Parveen Babi, in 1976

Amitabh Bachchan & Parveen Babi, in the biggest Bollywood blockbuster of 1977; Amar Akbar Anthony
A comedy about three brothers, brought up in three different faiths; Hindu, Muslim & Christianity. The Big B and Babi starred in a number films together, and all of them super-hits

Pink n’ Blue, I Love You
Hema Malini (dressed in pink) in the titular role, of Raziya Sultan (1983), along with Parveen Babi (in Blue)
This bio-pic is based on the life of Queen Razia Sultan (1205 – 1240), the only female to ever rule the Delhi Sultanate; and this was one of the rare Bollywood commercial films to tackle Lesbianism (although the lovers were shown in a purely platonic sense, it was well hinted)

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense
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Nuwan Sen (Quoting Quotes)

Welcome to September 2017!!!!!

Come September, and signs of fall, with it’s colourful Autumn leaves should be taking form, on one side of the globe; whilst blossoms with a hint of Spring ought to be appearing on the other; while here in the tropics, of heaty humidity, the monotonous weather never changes, much like anything else, ever (at least never for the better).

Yet, lets welcome this new month with open arms; and let us keep hoping, against hope, that things shall improve. So, to all my fellow bloggers, wish you a great new month!!!!! 😀

So to start this month off, I have a questionnaire, related to Films, and this month of September 2017!!!

Q.1 What’s the first film that comes to your mind, when you hear the name ‘September’?

Q.2 What’s your favourite film, with ‘September’ in the title?

Q.3 Have you seen any, or are you planning to watch a, movie today, the 1st of September, Year 2017?

Q.4 Is/Are there any movie release/s, this month, wherever you reside, that you are really looking forward to?

Q.5 Is/Are there any film related function/s, this month, wherever you reside, that you are really looking forward to?

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

 

Hattie mcDaniel as Mammy in Gone with the Wind (1939)

If Americans think that one of the biggest racial issues Trumpland is facing today, is the viewing of Gone with the Wind (1939); they’ve totally gone BONKERS!!

The Orpheum Theatre, in Memphis, Tennessee; recently pulled out the showing of this iconic Hollywood epic, on the grounds it was too insensitive for modern audiences. That’s soooo stupid. Are they insane??? Gone with the Wind, especially taking into account the time period it was made in (minus modern day technical wizardry), happens to be one of the greatest Hollywood creations ever. Plus, it’s my second favourite film ever (pls also see my post My Favourite movie by decade, My Favourite Oscar Winner per decade from March 2014; and my list of critiques Why I love …. from November/December 2012 on IMDB)

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Cannes 70 ~

The 70th International Cannes Film Festival has come to an end. Unlike previous years, I couldn’t follow the festival properly this year, due to various reasons [well, the country is submerged in water for one thing; although the weather alone, in it’s entirety, is not to blame for it. The way the drainage systems here are built, covered with heavy cement slabs, there is no place for the water to go/seep through, but get stuck within the country, like a massive tank (added to which, there is a land mass being constructed into the ocean, in Colombo, which was on a standstill for way over two years, as the governments changed; and now they’ve restarted working on the stupid project). The way this country has gone to ruins, in every way possible, I wouldn’t be surprised if the whole country drowns into the bottom of the ocean, some day (fine, that’s a bit of an exaggeration; or is it?). Of course the monsoon rains and landslides are to blame too. Sadly a number of lives were lost, not just humans, but innocent animals, including cats and dogs, getting stuck in these drainage systems, and drowning. Many of these animals are ill treated in this inhumane country, as it is; but specifically on days like these, innocent animals suffer the most. People somehow manage to find food and shelter. Especially from aid, not only from us, from other countries, as well. Of course, Sri Lanka is not the only country facing a tragedy at the moment. What happened in Manchester, UK, and Beni Suef, in Egypt, are just as tragic]. But on a brighter note getting back to the Cannes Film Festival, this year. It wrapped up last night. And I patiently waited, till past midnight, in this watered down land, of this side of the ocean, to hear the results, on FRANCE24. And at 12 mid-night, the news started with it’s Encore at Cannes, special; with Lisa Nesselson and Eve Jackson announcing the great winners at Cannes 2017.

Cannes 70 ~ Palme d’Or – Gold palm leaf sprinkled with Diamonds

The Palme d’Or, this year, was a special trophy, with the Golden Palm decorated in snow speckled drops of diamonds on the leaf. This beautiful award went to, Swedish film director, Ruben Östlund’s, The Square (2017). Loosely based on Östlund’s own experiences, this Swedish film is about an Art curator, who is mugged, and decently hunts for the perpetrator, ending up in situations that make him question his own moral compass. The ‘Best Actor’ and ‘Best Actress’ awards, went to two Hollywood stars; Joaquin Phoenix, for the English language film, You Were Never Really Here (2017), and Diane Kruger, for her native, German movie, Aus dem Nichts (2017), a.k.a. In the Fade. The Grand Prix, the second-most prestigious honour, went to the French film, 120 Battements par Minute (2017), in English, known as, 120 Beats per Minute. Directed by Moroccan born, Robin Campillo; 120 Battements par Minute, also took home three more awards, including the Queer Palm. Sofia Coppola bagged the ‘Best Director’ award, for  The Beguiled (2017). ‘Best Screenplay’ was tied in; for Greek screenwriters, Yorgos Lanthimos and Efthymis Filippou, for The Killing of a Sacred Deer (2017); and Scotland, UK’s Lynne Ramsay, for You Were Never Really Here. The Russian drama, Нелюбовь (2017), English title, Loveless, directed by Andrey Zvyagintsev, won the Jury Prize. A special 70th Anniversary Prize was given to Nicole Mary Kidman, who had four releases at Cannes this year.

Another year of the chic n’ classy Cannes, came to a cool finish, and I can’t wait to check out these films that made it to this fashionable festival, in the French Rivera. Love the Côte d’Azur. ❤

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

And for more…..let the pictures below, do the talking!!!!

Cannes 70 ~ Palme d’Or – Gold n’ Diamonds

Cannes 70 ~ Palme d’Or – Ruben Östlund

Cannes 70 ~ Palme d’Or – Diane Kruger

Cannes 70 ~ Palme d’Or – Joaquin Phoenix (with Jessica Chastain)

Cannes 70 ~ Italian Actress, Monica Bellucci & President of the Jury, Spanish Film Director, Pedro Almodovar, walk on the stage, at the opening ceremony,of the 70th International Cannes Film Festival

Cannes 70 ~ Catherine Deneuve (Then & Now)

Cannes 70 ~ Robert Pattinson

Cannes 70 ~ Cool n’ Classy: Marion Cotillard, Louis Garrel & Charlotte Gainsbourg

Cannes 70 ~ Adèle Haene of 120 Battements par Minute (2017)

Cannes 70 ~ Director Sofia Coppola, with the cast of The Beguiled (2017)

Cannes 70 ~ Sonam Kapoor in Gold n’ Diamonds

Cannes 70 ~ Indian Film Actress n’ Fashionista, Sonam Kapoor

Cannes 70 ~ Julianne Moore

Nuwan Sen (NSFS)
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