(This post is for my friend Meetu who runs a fantastic movie review blog WOGMA – for the uninitiated, USP of this blog is that all movies are reviewed here Without Giving the Movies Away. This is part of a competition to celebrate WOGMA’s fifth birthday. 🙂 )
This time I have spent last 2 days thinking which 3 movies to zero on as my favourites. Every movie in itself has served a purpose in my life. I distinctly remember laughing off all my work stress watching Bheja Fry – not a critically acclaimed movie this one – but it worked for me that day. At different times, I have watched romantic flicks such as Notting Hill, Bridget Jones’ Diary, Casablanca, Gone with the Wind, Pretty Women, When Harry Met Sally, Roman Holiday, Pearl Harbour, Before Sunset, Before Sunrise, Breakfast at Tiffany’s – and derived a girl’s happy pleasure out of it. 🙂 Then there were movies such as Hotel Rwanda, Blood Diamond, Waltz with Bashir (fantastic animation) and more recently The Whistleblower – that opened my eyes to genocides, atrocities happening in the world. They struck a chord somewhere deep inside that I did not know existed. I still draw in my breath when I see that gas chamber scene where women suddenly find themselves in Schindler’s List – the relieved sigh is not far when I realise it was only a harmless shower. Adrian Brody’s lonely adventures in The Pianist and ill-fated friendship of two innocent kids – one German and Jew in The Boy in Stripped Pyjamas are etched in my otherwise forgettable memory. No book on Holocaust (not even Diary of Anne Frank) could ever move me so deeply and eternally like these movies did.
Then there are those inspiring intriguing memoirs/biographies and true events that sometimes inspire/impact you more than written word – The Motorcycle Diaries, A Beautiful Mind, Pursuit of Happyness. Then, there are hugely entertaining, classy mob movies – Goodfellas, Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction and mother of all – The Godfather, which must be my most-watched movie with my favourite acting men there!
Then there are Hindi movies I have loved and been proud of – Pyasa, Abhimaan, Maqbool, Satya, Rang De Basanti, Chak De India, Taare Zameen Pe, A Wednesday, Aamir, Ardhasatya…Yet it would be unfair if I pick any of these alone as my favourite movies. So I will pick 5 movies that I thought were unique for a reason – movies I would be proud to make if I could.
1. Garam Hawa – This, surprisingly, I find is a very little-known movie. Directed by M. S. Sathyu (whom I spotted few days back during the screening of his play that I didn’t like) in 1973 – it has also been written by stalwarts such as Ismat Chugtai and screenplay was devised by Kaifi Azmi – this is a poignant story of a Muslim family dealing with partition. No, this is not about the violence that came after partition –(for that there is Train to Pakistan and Pinjar) – it is simply a POV of a Muslim family – perhaps the first and only movie that captures the immediate consequences faced by Muslim families in the country.
Balraj Sahni plays the main protagonist – a shoe manufacturer who refuses to leave India for he loves this country and doesn’t understand why he must move to Pakistan just because his religion is different! Since Muslims, including those in his immediate family, are everyday abandoning and moving to Pakistan – it is Muslims like him who have stuck to the country face innumerable consequences every day. He is the true patriot – who despite grave personal sacrifices is unwavering in his love for the country. Beautifully shot, poignantly worded with a snug, honest story – this movie evokes both my outrage and empathy at the same time. It was also Farooq Sheikh’s debut movie.
2. Caramel – This feel-good Lebanese movie made me feel strangely content and warm. Set in Beirut, this movie is reminder of beautiful past of the currently war-ravaged city. It seems this was also one of the motives of director Nadine Labaki who also plays the leading lady in the movie. Movie is story of five Lebanese women who work in a beauty parlour and deal with their own issues – boyfriend troubles, sexuality, ageing and social taboos and so on. Completely bereft of any political allusions, this movie just puts across lives of its citizens – its women and their everyday troubles, struggles and how they try to make peace with what they have. One of the sweet moments of this movie is this handsome, dapper policeman (wish we had some of those here) who is so smitten by the leading lady that he lets her get away every time even though she parks/drives in most brazen manner possible! Much as his uprightness demands that he fine her or punish her, he just lets her be, without any expectations. Oh, by the way, if you hadn’t guessed yet – the title of the movies derives from the caramel that is used for waxing/epilation in a beauty parlour.
3. DevD – For me, this movie was what they call ‘path-breaking’. It was painfully realistic – very much in sync with today’s youth. Every protagonist in the movie – be it Loser, Prostitute or the Lover – makes his/her choice. That in turn made the movie a succinct satire to the novel it is based on; not only that – after watching this movie I laughed a lot revisiting SRK’s Devdas in my mind. Also, this movie has claim to one of the most humorous scenes – that image of Mahi Gill carrying the blanket on her bicycle carrier. I have already written enough about it on my blog, also as a writing sample for job interview (I got the job, btw!) – guess I should keep my mouth shut. (This movie also has my favourite songs –Nayan tarse, nayan tarse…)
4. Song of Sparrows – This Iranian movie by Majid Majidi is again about simple pleasures of life – love and sharing with the loved ones. The protagonist Karim works at an Ostrich farm (really!) and somehow lands up in a situation where he is fired and finds it hard to support his family. One day he finds a way to earn well but he realised that his job is changing him as a person – the movie is Karim’s journey of transformation, realisation and his understanding of life. What’s rare about this movie is that there are several what you call ‘eventful’ happenstances but those are not where crux of the movies lies – rather it lies in small, quiet significant ways Karim behaves, how his focus shifts. Shot in lovely Iranian surroundings, this movie binds you with trepidation, curiosity, regret and tugs your heartstrings all the while.
5. In the Mood for Love – (I wish I could insert two Wong Kar-Wai movies here but I will make do with this one. )Two young couples live next door. One of them a journalist and other a secretary in shipping company – in daily course – their lives intersect on and off. And one day as it often happens – they get into conversation and become friends. They realise both their spouses might be cheating with each other and as their friendship progresses, they struggle with their feelings, secrets, betrayals.
The tense chemistry between the lead pair, their loneliness and misery, the intensity as well as vivaciousness of their relationship and above all the entire bittersweet, charged mood of the movie keeps you transfixed, completely absorbed. The unorthodox camera angles, the unusual lighting along with beautiful silk dresses – add up to the ‘mood’ of the film. You retain this intensity, restiveness long after the movie is over.
(Ask me a year later, I will give you five other movies. )