Movies

Cache: Michael Haneke’s Film Is A Subtle Blend Of Memories & Mysteries

A white luxurious house, high-raised buildings in the background, and the road in the front occupied with cars. This is the opening scene of Michael Haneke’s 2005 film Cache (Hidden) which runs longer than you could expect. The still frame makes you aware of the chaos lying ahead, but what’s wrong? While you try to decode, the image breaks down and a videotape is being played.

Opening Shot Of Cache

The Laurent family lead idyllic lives until they start receiving video tapes containing absurd and lengthy footage recorded outside of their house. It becomes a matter of debate if they are being watched or stalked. They try to track down the anonymous stalker and while getting close to the truth, past memories resurfaces for Georges Laurent.

The beauty of Cache is that Haneke never reveals the true identity of the “stalker” or the “victim,” whatever you call him/her, it all depends on your perspective. While the stillness of the film makes us uncomfortable, the mystery of the story is what keeps us rooted. Without exploiting the time frame, Cache tests our patience.

Closing Shot Of Cache

In the last scene i.e the closing shot which takes place on a crowded stairs of a school two characters of the story are engaged in an “unsounded” conversation, beware! you’ll miss them if you aren’t completely hooked to the frame. Either the closing shot tells a different story altogether or is just an uncertain moment in the story, that’s how life is.

As Georges tries to revisit his past and his childhood memories, we hope that finally we will be able to decode the real mystery. But Cache is not an usual thriller that has a set of answers pre-defined, it relies on the subtlety of the story and the way we perceive it to find our own answers.

Cache has a subtle-yet-a-political approach which sets it apart from the contemporary thrillers.

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Malayalam Movies

Kali: Anger & Love Seeps In Exploring Human Psyche

They say anger and love (a vague pairing!) comes unexpected. But for Siddharth (Dulquer Salmaan), all of it starts just like the film’s straight-to-point title ‘Kali’ (Rage). His short-tempered nature dominates him in every phase of his life, creating problems ahead. However, in the beginning of the story, Siddharth’s ‘anger inducing’ situations creates a base for the film’s entertaining side as it also briefs us with our protagonist and his life-story.

A scene from Kali

Romance in Kali is not ‘larger than life’ but filled with heartwarming moments just like the one we see in the above frames. Anjali (Sai Pallavi) acts as a catalyst in making Siddharth aware of the realities and uncertainty of life, she mirrors him with his flaws, and their romance blends in throughout the story. Anger and Love, both these emotions go parallel in Siddharth’s life, one makes him a flawed character while the other humanizes him.

And rage comes to life again in the pre-climax but these are not the moments we earlier laughed on or enjoyed. Unexpectedly Siddharth and Anjali cross paths with sinister heads, which ultimately tests their patience. The story shifts as a gripping narrative in the climax and the closing shot is where ‘Kali’ is reborn but with a change.

Kali, available on Disney+ Hotstar.

Art Parallel, Bollywood, International Cinema, Movies

Art Parallel: There Will Be Blood (2007) & Tumbbad (2018)

Rewatching ‘There Will Be Blood’ made me observe the various similarities of it’s story and characters with the 2018 film Tumbbad. Both the stories in a way deal with an inner demon of the characters and it concludes in the same manner where the characters confront the reality of life beyond greed. In Tumbbad, we follow Vinayak Rao (@sohum_shah ) right from his childhood, throughout the film we become well versed with the character and his needs. In a similar way, ‘There Will Be Blood’ follows the story of Daniel Plainview who gets into oil business and steps in the business world dealing cruelly with his competitors and going all against humanity. Both these characters are driven by the sense of greed and position in the society.

Scenes from There Will Be Blood & Tumbbad

They both believe that resources of the earth are for the men of the earth to uncover. Though in different times, settings, etc the conclusion remains the same, the intent of both characters and their story remains the same. And at the end, as a viewer we take up various interpretations from their stories. The inescapable cycle of greed continues until their lives come to an end though in a different way for Plainview. The emotional peaks hit up at the right places in the story and the cycle of greed and humanity continues to go on. Apart from the characters, the transition of both the countries are also highlighted through the story.

Eventually, Vinayak and Daniel are mirrored to the real life at the end, but what did they worship, wealth or power?

Bollywood, Decoding Songs, Movies

Decoding the song ‘Jhelum’ (Haider)

A river which flows through mountains and valleys is divided and now shared by two nations India and Pakistan. The water flows without any restriction but carries within the sorrows of many people who have suffered and lost the true shine of their lives. Capturing these moments is the song Jhelum from the film Haider. Lyrics by Gulzar accompanied by a haunting composition by Vishal Bhardwaj highlights the grief of the people of Kashmir. Be it Muslims or Kashmiri Pandits, all of them have suffered loss, a loss of loved ones.

The river is searching for an anchor, an anchor which it can call it’s own and which does not intend to go against humanity. Will there be peace? Jhelum seems to be questioning people both the sides. Jhelum is filled with tears, the sweet water has turned saline. It questions again, Who won?

A scene from the song Jhelum

The above frames from the song is where a boy is seen celebrating as he’s amazed of surviving a massacre in which hundreds of people were killed.

Movies, Regional

Eternal Love for Alaipayuthey (2000)

Watching a film and then completely falling for the same, it takes a little time for us to get over it. We feel an eternal love for the beauty of our favourite film and it’s characters. And Mani Ratnam’s ‘Alaipayuthey’ is one such film that makes you admire it in different ways altogether right from picturisation of the songs, to the very small story arcs in the film. Ratnam’s second film after Mouna Ragam which has a central theme of romance and explores the dynamics of a young couple’s relationship post marriage.

Rewatching Alaipayuthey now gave me a deep insight into the blissful cinematography of P C Sreeram, I would say that his camera has been a perfect match for every Mani Ratnam film right from Mouna Ragam to OK Kanmani. Highlighting the song ‘Evano Oruvan’ through it’s divine frames and the meaningful lyrics, the film opens a new arc and concludes it quite as a new beginning for Karthik (@actormaddy ) and Shakti (Shalini).

Taking the narrative forward and mapping it through images, making it a symbolism of grief that goes within these characters. The shots follow a medical camp being threatened by stormy weather, a wide angle shot of a bus approaching, and some other beautiful shots accompanied by dark shades and wind continuously stating the inner state of mind of both these characters. Finally they both meet at a bridge across a river, giving a closure to this beautiful song and initiating the story further.

Hindi Cinema, Movies

Lost in Illusion: Guddi (1971)

Have you ever been obsessed/attracted to an actor for the character they essayed on screen? We have been nurtured by the media in a way that our minds have been framed and stuck to just one side of the coin that we in reality miss the flip side of everything around us. We tend to believe what we see rather than questioning it. Kusum’s story is on similar lines in the 1971 film Guddi which intends to be Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s conversation with the world on the glamorous world of cinema. The film follows Guddi, an ardent fan of the film star Dharmendra which indirectly takes her far away from the realities of the world.

A scene from Guddi

The comic approach and Dharmendra playing himself in the film is one element that I have always loved in every Mukherjee or Basu Chatterjee film. The craft of connecting reality with fiction is what they were masters of. Guddi is one such comedy-drama that gives us an insight from the glamorous world of cinema and at the same time shows us the flip side of the illusions which we see on screen. The film talks about the ‘heroes’ of cinema who work behind the camera. The film even after fifty years of its release marks its relevance. Through this film, you will relive the thoughts you had about cinema and actors when you were a child.

A scene from Guddi

In a scene where Dharmendra talks about his beginning in the industry, he narrates a story of a destructed studio in which many classics including Do Bigha Zamin, Bandini, etc were shot and the place which should’ve been a center of art is now like an outcast in the world of glamour.

Movies

#22yearsofDilSe: The Relevance of Title Track!

Kashmir has been the boiling point when it comes to Indian Politics. Though the film is out and out framed as a romantic drama, the political stance it took in a subtle way is highlighted through its metaphorical story which represents the obsession of two nation’s over the reign on Kashmir. Leave the film aside, but even if one watches the title track of the film, Ratnam has a lot to say about the political tension over the place. It is not about the music or lyrics of the song but the way it has been visually portrayed tells a lot about Kashmir and the trauma of it’s residents.

The song starts of with police sirens and men in uniform guarding all over the small borders within the place. The army is marching all across the street strongly implementing their presence. The picturization of how people walk away with the daily guard and one shot where all children in school uniforms are expressing their freedom on streets might represent the future of Kashmir.

People are running from the hauntings. You feel like you are the hunted and you are the hunters stuck in the midst of political tensions. The fear of change, the fear of acceptance and the endless chase continues.

Movies

An Artist’s Perspective ft. ‘Pyaasa’ & ‘Rockstar’

Pyaasa highlights the journey of every artist who refused to change according to the system, the society and the culture and Vijay (Guru Dutt) did not do it because he thought it was cool but because that’s who he was. And throughout the film it is about Vijay’s journey of a never-ending search for peace, truth and freedom. And the same thought gives birth to Imtiaz Ali’s Rockstar, where Jordan (Ranbir Kapoor) and his angst is the driving force of this story as it unfolds more like a puzzle with documented bits, making viewers aware of the societal arc which we also see in Pyaasa but in a linear way.

The endings of both Pyaasa and Rockstar justifies the journey of self discovery. In Pyaasa, when Vijay had a chance to reveal the truth of his writings which went popular without people knowing the true author but he chose to keep it as a secret and got beaten by a huge mob of crowd. While watching this scene, we question ourselves why did he do that? And when he confronts Meena, he complains about the society that tears away a man’s compassion and he believes that he will never find peace here, and begins another endless journey.

The same goes at the climax of Rockstar in a more musical way, he’s an empty man feeling nothing looking at the sea of people cheering for him. He’s just standing there wishing he was under that bed-sheet with the girl he loved and there’s no one around. And the thing which haunts him is that he’ll never find peace as at the end he conforms to the system i.e the company which has restricted him completely. These lines from Pyaasa will do justice to Jordan’s situation, “Yeh Duniya Agar Mil Bhi Jaaye Toh Kya Hai”

French Cinema, Hollywood movies, Movies

How ‘Le Samourai’ has inspired films like ‘Taxi Driver’

“An Inspiring Art”

Jean-Pierre Melville’s ‘Le Samourai’ has been an inspiration to many filmmakers and characters. This 1967 French film conveys the story more in a visual form and what I appreciate most about it is the minimalism of the dialogue. Almost like a silent film, cut the sound and you can still follow the storyline through stills. As you can see in the three frames above, the first two are from ‘Le Samourai’ and the last one from Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver whose protagonist Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro) has a lot of similarities with that of Jef Costello (Alain Delon).

Talking about the first two frames, the opening shots of Le Samourai, these shots are remarkable as they itself act as a characterization to our protagonist as we see him alone smoking in a dim lit room and the only living being apart from him is the caged bird which is also a visual representation of Jeff’s character. The film’s first few scenes silently informs us a lot about our protagonist, his life has no purpose and there’s nothing in this world that can make him happy. Played by Alain Delon, the character works as a hitman as that’s the only thing he can do for his survival.

The film has been an inspiration to many films and characters ahead. Talking about one such is Travis Bickle’s character from Taxi Driver. The only thing that differentiates both these characters are their perception towards the outside world. Well, in short the film Le Samourai is that work of art which has been inspiring many artists over the years and continues to do so.

Let me know in the comments if you would like to discuss about specific and stay tuned for more such articles. Lots of Love.

Movies, Regional

Sumitra Bhave – Sunil Sukthankar’s ‘Astu: So Be It’

“Shift Of Mind”

Over the years, as life proceeds further, we come across its different phases and one such phase is old age. And when the mind gradually starts fading away its memories, all that is left is the beautiful mind. An insight from this beautiful mind is portrayed in the 2013 Marathi film Astu where Dr. Chakrapani Shastri (Mohan Agashe), a well known Sanskrit scholar and an Alzheimer’s patient is seen capturing this phase of his life as a new born baby. A simple film that on one side captures the life of an old man and at the same time shows the dilemma of a family losing their dear ones.

A scene which makes an impression on our hearts is the one where Dr Shastri calls Channama (@amrutasubhash ), which is where we come to this important story arc of the film where Appa follows an elephant and goes missing. The elephant owner Anta (Nachiket Purnapatre) and his wife Channama, how they take Appa into their family and their love and compassion for him that does aim towards becoming a moral discourse, an example for his kids to follow. Strength, empathy and humanity is what the film calls for, through this poor couple.

Director Sumitra Bhave and Sunil Sukthankar are known for making films which are entertaining as well as socially relevant. Their films are more about the society and its people, they raise topics which are needed to be and they do the same through this film too.

(Astu: So Be It, Available on Amazon Prime)