Sunday, March 09, 2014

Patakha Guddi

Bollywood Spoilers: You've been warned.

I just got back from watching Queen and found it to be a warm, vivacious film that hit all the right notes. I've nourished a soft spot for Kangana Ranaut for a while now and am so happy for her to have this success. And director Vikas Bahl does an assured job.

A lovely coming-of-age movie that coincides nicely with the Women's Day motif too. Rani is a wide-eyed Jugni in seamy Europe... Her adventures are told with a wealth of authentic detail but what adds sheen to this story is her lack of moral judgement of the people she encounters - be they ever so different from her own straight-and-narrow ideals.


And wasn't I right about Alia Bhatt in Highway?! She plays the gamin, near-mystical Veera with touching earnestness. One of Imtiaz Ali's best, in my opinion. Many reviewers were uncomfortable with Veera's 'sudden' affinity for her kidnappers and likened it to the Stockholm Syndrome. I don't think it was that at all. Here is a girl who has never felt at home - now, suddenly, she does and is quick to recognise it. Her initial fear is real... her dread of the creepy Goru in the band of oppressors, for instance -- but once he is gotten rid of, and she has an idea of where the line is below which Mahabir will not stoop, she begins to look around with fresh eyes and... hope. She is resilient and what's to question about that?

Here is a girl running full-tilt into the salt plains, running away from a nightmarish abduction, running till there is no breath left in her lungs. And yet, she looks up, gasping at the desert sky. A girl who clambers on to a rock in the middle of a swift, powerful river and is moved to tears by the cascade. Here is a girl who knows to follow her heart, that sure inner voice. It urges her towards life, towards living and she listens.

Randeep Hooda's Mahabir -- silent, brooding, disbelieving that his life (which he views with heartbreaking repugnance) has room for such beauty as Veera in it. She is insistent, he is persuaded in spite of himself - and what a love story emerges! They both play their parts, as lovers must, in transforming the other. Offering each other a precious leg-up in their individual journeys towards higher consciousness - easing burdens, bringing about resolutions and finally, setting the loved one free.

Highway being as much an ode to the variety of landscape in India as it is to the inner journey, I loved that Veera and Mahabir were seen time and again sitting thus, rapt in contemplation of the scenes that meet their eyes.

It was a beautiful film - I have the hangover still to prove it.

Friday, March 07, 2014

Gift horses

am grateful to online music websites. Really. So many hours of music; discovering ragas, performers, genres, music that would not have come my way but for the easy access.

But I have to grit my teeth at how they are organised. Hari Prasad Chaurasia (Pandit) and Pt Hari Prasad Chaurasia have separate listings. I clicked on a Raga Bageshri by Pt Shiv Kumar Sharma just now and was amazed to have flutey notes emerge from the speakers. There are numerous links that don't go anywhere. And I came across this gem yesterday: a 60-min delineation of what I think was Gorakh Kalyan by Ustad Rashid Khan described merely as 'Vilambit ek taal'. Grrrrr!

Monday, March 03, 2014

Mahiya ve, jindri bulave

Back home after a bit.

The place I left behind is a space of great glory and like always, it was a wrench to leave - I was in tears saying my goodbyes, hoping very much that the time I spent away this time wouldn't be long enough for me to make too comprehensive a mess of myself. Making a mess and then untangling it in a cyclical fashion doesn't seem like a too-sensible method of handling things... but let us see.

But having come back, there are the pleasures of home. I usually play music on my laptop, fix a couple of portable speakers if I'm working around in the room and need the volume to be higher. I have a Bose player with fantastic speakers but it's too much trouble to hook them up every time - the audio jack is short, which means I'm tethered by a really short rope if I want to work as well as listen to music. But sometimes, nothing else will do. Coke Studio Season 6, particularly, has such a depth of sound, so many fascinating layers - the songs need the Bose to do them justice.

So, to compensate my bereavement, Mahi gal...