Monday, June 29, 2015

Kissa Kursi Ka (India, 1977)

This week we are observing 40th anniversary of the Emergency (India), which was imposed by Indira Gandhi government in 1975. There are only handful of films which talked about the black pages of India. One such film, which not only took a direct dig into the Emergency, but also made a satirical political film, Kissa Kursi Ka. Kissa means story (tale), Kursi means chair (Seat of power or throne). The film is directed my Amrit Nahata, who was a Congress MP then, later he went to Janata Party which was the torch bearer in opposing the Emergency under Jai Prakash Narayan.

As far as I know, political satire is a very rare genre, the one I had seen is a Tamil film by an comedian turned political commentator Cho Ramaswamy’ Mohammaed bin Thugluk, which was released in 1971, way before the Emergency.

As the name suggests, Kissa Kursi Ka is all about catching and keeping the power on ones hold. This takes the plot directly from Indira Gandhi, who was to hold the power to safeguard her PM position. Let me not go into the political events of 1975, but just talk about the film. 

**Spoilers Ahead**

The film is set in a fictional country call Jan Gan. Meera and her boyfriend Gopal on a chit-chat in a party strike an idea to make someone as politician and then make him\her the President of Jan Gan desh. After a brief search, they find Gangu, a dumb street vendor who is selling a medicine named sanjayveni. With all the misdoings of Meera, Gangu becomes the President. Gopal cautions Meera that Gangu might turn as monster, which eventually happens. Meera lose her grip on Gangaram (Gangu), who takes directions from Deshpal his secretary. Shabana Azmi is called Jantha (which denotes the public in Hindi), she is disabled to speak. Her visits to Gangaram are prevented by Deshpal. Ridiculous ideas are implemented by the government- Killing rats to prevent those eating grains. Mass execution of rats takes place. People are given incentives to kill rats. An unnecessary war is fought with the neighboring country called Anderinagar. At one point Deshpal sexually assaults and kills Janta. Terrified Gangaram finds it and asks what have you done? Deshpal replies “What I did to her was all what you did to the people of this country”. As every film, the villain Gangaram and Deshpal find their end.

The film is not short of songs. At given intervals the songs appear is various major Indian folk\classical styles- Odissi, Bangra, Bharathanatiyam, which lyrically represent the unfolding story.

After forty years, even now the dialogues will still hold good for the current politicians. The film was banned and its original tapes were burnt by none other than the second son of the Mrs. Gandhi, for which he was sentenced to one month prison post Emergency. This film can be put in the lines of religious satire Life of Brain and Kubrick political satire film Dr. Stranglove.

The full film is available in YouTube, taken from a Zee TV telecast.

Picture Links and other links-

Monday, June 22, 2015

Year 2025 - Jurassic Mars


**Not a review**

Recently after watching Jurassic World 3D, I realized that no theater in Chennai has a good quality of projecting the 3D film. I’m referring to the brightness in the projection. A quick search in the Google ended up to find that it was the same norm in all parts of the world. The picture is dark as we are wearing the glasses, so there needs to be extra light watts to the projection bulb, which they don’t do. So the effort done by the film makers goes in to drain. Discussing the issue in an FB forum most echoed my views and suggested Luxe in Phoenix Mall which seems to got a good 3D projection.

Back to the film, it didn’t excite me much, especially for a 1990’s kid who grew up by seeing Jurassic Park (I treasured a yellow T-shirt then), all I saw now was the reminiscences (People call it homage) of the first part. Visually it was following its predecessor, the story-line was also the same. Park with animals put in a controlled environment. An accident or incident happens to make the animals to escape. Kids are trapped and they are saved. Finally there is this grand showdown among the animals and the whole mankind escapes from the island.

The funny part is when the raptures talks (communicates) with Indominus Rex. If it has been any other film, people would have laughed out their ass. It takes a kid to suggest a bigger dinosaur? ufff. Any how people loved it! There isn’t much difference between 1993 and 2015 version.

To facilitate a sequel, Dr. Henry Wu escapes with the dinosaurs DNA. I hope the next part after a decade will be set in Mars, where InGen will set its store as Jurassic Mars.

Friday, June 19, 2015

The Land Has Eyes (Fiji, 2004)

It is possible that most of us wouldn’t have seen this film; as usual FilmBulb brings an unknown film to its table. This is the first and the only film from the country Fiji. Directed by Vilsoni Hereniko.

The film is set in one of a Fijian dependency island called Rotuman, The film opens with a father narrating a story of “Warrior Women” to his daughter Vikki (Sapeta Taito). He narrates how a woman was abandoned by his brothers in an island and how she survived there to become warrior women. Vikki a school going girl takes inspiration from the story to overcome their misgivings in the life. As most of the islanders, Vikki’ father Haputi(Voi Fesaitu) is a coconut farmer (In Rotuman language coconut is called copra. Notice the word has close resemblance to its equivalent Tamil and Telugu words). His neighbor accuses him of stealing coconut and drags him to the court. The English judge, who is dependent on Sato the translator, gives a wrong judgement, by branding Haputi as a thief. Haputi has to pay fine. As Haputi health deteriorates, the rest of the film is set on how Vikki stands for and with her family to prove the innocence of her father.

The title The Land Has Eyes is derived from an old Rotuman saying “The land has eyes and teeth”, meaning any wrongdoing will always revert to the person who committed it. (கேடுவான் கேடு நினைப்பான்). 

The making of the film is very minimalistic. The film touches on some Fijian rituals, simplistic life with not so much expectations and on how someone from one part of a world (English Judge) fails to understand the other tradition and language.

Go for it if you want to see the one and only film from a country. The full film is available in Vimeo.

Country Series – This will feature countries from alphabetical order, A to Z. One film from a country will be written on a weekly basis. Next in the series will be from G...

Earlier Posts - Afghanistan, Burma, Columbia, Denmark, Egypt

Friday, June 5, 2015

Cairo Station (Egypt, 1958)


To say “Cairo Station” is a best Egyptian film will be inappropriate for me, since I haven’t seen many Egyptian movies. But, considering on how this film is made, I doubt if any other film from the Arab countries (except Iran) can beat “Cairo Station”. Directed and acted by Youssef Chahine. This film went on to represent Egypt’ first entry to Oscars, but failed to win in the foreign film category. It was also strange to see that a film like this was not even nominated to the top five in the Academy Awards.

Enough of flowering words let us get into the film. As the name suggests, the film is set in the Cairo railway station. There are multiple plots in the film, but all revolves around an abandon man Qinawi, who works as a newspaper seller in the station. He is crippled and couldn’t talk cohesively. In his daily life, he tends to see people from different walks of life, especially women. He keeps on observing their small movements and become obsessed to have one or at least develops a deep liking towards the opposite sex, as we see in the opening of the film his shed (home) is filled with pictures of half-nude women. 


Qinawi tries to develop a relationship with Hanouma, cold-drink vendor. He proposes to her, but she doesn’t take him seriously. We see different facets of the buzzing railway station and the film touches them- workers problem to start union, hardships of the platform vendors, Qinawi sees the agony of a girl who at the station to say her final good-bye to her love. In the midst of all this Qinawi makes a desperate attempt to get hold of Hanouma and marry her. Did he succeed is the film?

All events happen in one day. Cinematography and editing go hand-in-hand to reflect the mind of Qinawi. Qinawi (Youssef Chahine, the director) has hardly a page or two of dialogue.

The later part of the film becomes Hitchcokian once the plot is set. Alfred Hitchcock’ Psycho came to my mind while seeing this film, but the irony is this Egyptian film was released in 1958 before Psycho (1960).

Fan Made Trailer

Country Series – This will feature countries from alphabetical order, A to Z. One film from a country will be written on a weekly basis. Next in the series will be from F...

Earlier Posts - Afghanistan, Burma, Columbia, Denmark

Monday, June 1, 2015

Modi 365 (plus or minus)

Modi 365

Last week, newspapers, television, social media and my barber- everyone was talking about one year of Modi government (Amma beat him badly when it came to the front page advertisement in all newspapers across the country). Everyone gave their report. All went to its length and breadth from his foreign visits to the Land Acquisition bill. 

Amma Advertisments National Newspapers

My barber kept the blade on my throat and asked “How did you feel about Modi’ one year government?”. I became speechless!

He didn’t wait for my reply. He said “Amma vanduthanga illa, innemel all will be OK”. Apparently, he didn’t get the difference between the central and state government. 

So what did this middle class private sector working guy got from Modi? Of course, one cannot expect anything direct from the government, but still I want to list the changes this government did to me. This is strictly personal, I’m not going to say anything on what this government did for others (poor, rich and NRI’s).

They made me to get the long awaited Aadhaar card. They took away my bio-metrics (finger print and retina scan). I assume it is now in an American cloud. My face in the card looked like my “onnu vitta sithappa”. I already have a bunch of identity and address proof, now Aadhaar card adds to the list. 

They made to link my LPG connection to my bank account. I still couldn’t understand, earlier I used to pay Rs. 400. Now, I’m paying Rs. 600 and Rs. 200 is transferred to my bank account. If you are going to transfer back the Rs. 200 to me, why did you collect it from me? On top, I receive an SMS from my LPG dealer to give up the subsidies, which will help for building the nation! How do I know if my Rs. 200 is properly spent for nation building?.

The usual raising of the income tax slab was not done in this budget. This was much awaited, which would have impacted directly our pockets. Instead Modi said we have to take a bitter pill. There was decrease in corporate tax and he gave a sugar candy to them.

Apart from the above there is price rise for both daily commodities and fuel. 

Let us see how my money is spent indirectly. Why such fancy campaigns like Swachh Bharat and Make In India. This things exists only in paper and TV commercials.

After this government came into power, every day, someone gives controversial statements, about what to eat, what to wear, where to pee, where to spit, how many children to have, what to read, whom to pray… All this news fills my daily paper. I’m forced to read it and I get disturbed. 

Oh forgot about this fortnightly talk. “Mann Ki Baat” is magnificently scripted by the verses from the Napoleon Hill, “You Can Win” kind-of thoughts specifically targeting the youth (read future voters). Why can’t there be a “Mann Ki Baat” targeting the government officials, MLA’s, CM’s, MP’s, parents, teachers, newspaper boy…

So how did Modi government impact you? Let me know.

**The above Modi mask image is by the blogger used only for illustration purpose.
** Newspaper Image from Twitter.