Wednesday, July 18, 2012

SUPERMEN OF MALEGAON (2012) (Documentary)

“I’m the king of thu-thu gutkha. Main Hindustan ke har bachche ko, har jawan ko, har budhe ko sadakon par, diwaron pe, schoolon mein, college mein toilet mein... thunkte hue dekhna chahta hoon…kyunke muje gandagi pasand hai. I love gandagi!”

Thus spoke the indigenous villain of Malegaon ka supervillain. Is it a cult in making or what! Like most Indians I haven’t seen any of Malegaon cinema but watching this documentary made me salute the passion and spirit of a man named Nasir Shaikh & his non professional crew who put into shame even the professionals of film fraternity. They are not only the men who just dream and live cinema but also desperately going for lot of personal sacrifices and making the end meet to keep alive the flames of their creativity on silver screen against all odds and reality. Though making entertaining parody of Bollywood or Hollywood, they’re aiming to entertain their local audience with creative spirit of originality in many fronts and not just ripping the film as shamelessly as many poplar Hindi cinema.

In it’s one hour nine minutes duration, Faiza Ahmed  Khan’s this documentary or rather a making of ‘Malegaon ka Superman’ not only get us familiar with the madness of Malegaon’s film loving local crowd and the difficulty of a working class one man army director but also gave us the insider view of small town’s social and economical ground reality. The superman here is a working man in power loom surviving on less than a thousand rupees per month like many others; and its so unfortunate to know that the man died in cancer last year.

Watching the chronicle of Nasir Sheikh, the one man army producer-director-camera man along with two other multi task masters; a local video and sound editing master who not only achieves special effects editing on old PC and a writer, musician, singer, lyricist all in one talent who made me think when he recites one of his impromptu poetry on camera. Watch how the man directing his camera’s panning, close up, dolly shots, crane shots and moving shots and above all how they manage to make their superman fly! Long live Malegaon cinema and their superheroes; for me they are superheroes above fiction and above fact of their routine power loom reality.


Wednesday, July 11, 2012


When watching Sidney Lumet film, one has to expect few things by default: an engrossing drama, a powerful screenplay, flawless performances and technically brilliant film. And just like most of memorable films of his prolific career, this one is surely one worthy to watch without single thought. Though it’s not as brilliant as ’12 Angry Man’ and ‘Network’, two of my favorite Lumet films; it’s surely an engaging drama well portrayed, well acted and well narrated.

It begins with naturalistic slow motion opening shot of happy family enjoying leisure in woods and suddenly…jump cut…we see a middle aged fat man lying on relax chair in his courtyard. The man is Mr. Nazerman, the pawnbroker who lends money for personal objects sold by helpless needy working class men often drop at his shop. There is a long scene in his prison like pawnshop and Lumet brilliantly captured many things but what is most prominent is the character of Nazerman as hard cynic who emotionally almost indifferent in his approach. ‘You are merciless man for sure’, people called him. That doesn’t make much of difference as he believed, ‘Sell your sorrows somewhere else’. As he proclaimed in one of brilliant scene breaking the heart of Miss Birchfield, “I am a man escaped from emotions and safe within myself.” Just like his pawnshop, he is the man of self confined prison. With constantly flickering conjuring up of images like some sort of nightmare, it’s not difficult to guess the personal tragedy that he faced in Nazi concentration camp and holocaust. But rather than telling that part, Lumet focused more on character driven melodrama and much of it reflects in the second part with another drama running parallel. A young and enthusisastic man named Ortiz working as helper with a willingness to learn a business from Nazerman whom he considered as Master with due respect. The struggling Master-disciple kind of relationship leads towards unthinkable tragedy in the climax breaking Nazerman.

Just like his contemporary Elia Kazan, he is the master who managed to get brilliant and flawless performances from his lead actors in most of his films. Even some of the finest actors otherwise wasted largely delivered their best in his cinema and won Oscar. And I must say that equally to Lumet, this is absolutely the film one has to watch for Rod Steiger’s award deserving performance as Nazerman. Though considering him as fine actor, Lumet was not much inclined to cast him initially. But Steiger maintained his character so flawlessly from beginning to end. Boris Kaufman’s fine B&W camerawork is indeed thing to watch and for Lumet, he was undoubtedly the greatest dramatic cameraman of Hollywood he has seen.

If you’re Lumet fan, this is surely a film for you.


Saturday, July 7, 2012

GAMAN (1979)

In his directorial debut film, Muzaffar Ali brought the authentic flavor of his rustic native Kotwara in Uttar Pradesh. One may clearly feel the unadorned cultural aspects in all its vibrant tones- real locales documented rather than filmed, life like characters and dialogues purely dipped in colloquial northern Hindi.

Gaman means either departure or migration and it begins in a small town of Uttar Pradesh where good for nothing bidi smoking Ghulam Hassan (played by Farooque Shaikh) surviving on idle existence with his aged mother and wife (Smita Patil) and bunch of bhaiya friends. The region is dominated by Thakur (read landlord) where minorities and downtrodden field laborers being exploited and survived on pittance ‘ek chauthai hissa’ (1/4 part of their crop) thrown to them. Being a victim of Thakur, Ghulam leaves the homeland and migrate to the city of Mumbai on insistence of his friend Lalulal (Jalal Agha) who helps him find a job of taxi cleaner. Soon he starts driving taxi but unable to save enough to visit his home. Meanwhile his friend’s love affair with a poor Marathi girl drawn towards tragedy. 

The film focuses on everyday existential struggle of all those migratory and marginalized people of Mumbai adjusting their life affairs in daily humdrum of city’s paradoxical indifferent side of glamour and shanty ghettoes. Though there’s more sensitivity of contrast in approach rather than satire. The film becomes quite stretching towards the end with slow with Ghulam’s procrastination to go back his hometown. But what is the major letdown for me is finding one of my most favorite Indian actress in a role sidelined to margin.

The major plus point of the film is Jaidev’s semi classical driven music score of the film which not only till day remain timeless for purist music connoisseurs but also won him National Award for Best Music. If Suresh Wadekar’s ‘Seene mein Jalan’ sums up the pathos of city’s dark side so poetically, Chhaya Ganguli’s ‘Aap ki yaad aati rahin’ and Talat Aziz’s ‘Ajeeb saneha mujhpar guzar gaya’ are surely remain some of the tranquilizing rendition to ears. The lyrics were penned by Shahryar; the man who brought revival and grace of Urdu lyrics in his later collaboration and what is known as masterpiece of Khayyam-Asha Bhosle-Shahryar combo ‘Umrao Jaan’.


Thursday, July 5, 2012


Based on the novel by Robin Maugham adapted on screen by Harold Pinter, ‘The Servant’ is quite an amalgamation of sardonic analysis reversing the class, sex and power relationship of its four central characters. Though it’s drama, director Joseph Losey brought to screen an unsettling thrill showing us role reversal of power with unease. A young upper class bachelor Tony (James Fox in his debut) hires a manservant named Barret (Dirk Bogarde), who initially creates bonding with his Master arranging the house and manages to be a reliable man of his life. The tension starts rolling with entry of two dames in the house. The first is his Master’s dame who sniffs suspicion in Barret and the other is Barret’s pretentious sister, a part of Barret’s parasitic scheming.

Losey unfolds the whole film with brilliant sense of entrapment slowly extending both the men and their social role reversal with a complex and tacit undertone of homosexuality. The thrilling and unsettling first half shifts the gear in second half with dark and disturbing decay in the house. Dirk Bogarde as Barret is one of the most chilling act with suave and pitch perfect expression. That contemptuous smile flickering on his face is something! Douglas Slocombe’s unsettling B&W camera explores claustrophobic spaces of the house and it certainly reminds me Polanski’s ‘Repulsion’. One can see fine use of mise en scenes, noir effect and aesthetic frames parallel to each other in camerawork. The background score is surely haunting one creating the mood and tone for film like this.

Ratings- 7/10