Monday, January 29, 2007

CINEMA FINALE–Feb 12, 2006 (You missed it???)

Cinema Finale.

I promised myself that I wouldn’t miss it for anything in the world. It was Cinema Finale with four previously unscreened documentaries being screened by four women directors. But I did miss it (@#%&*)…well, at least the first film.
The four films screened were...
Blank Verse by Indrayani Mukherjee
Rose Mahal by Jenny Pinto
Call It Slut by Nishtha Jain
Naamkaran by Konkana Sensharma

I missed Blank Verse (grumble mumble crumble).

I walked into Horniman Circle Garden just as Rose Mahal and the director were being introduced. Rose Mahal is the story of an old house called…well, Rose Mahal, construced in 1933 by the Pinto family in Bangalore. The house is to be pulled down and the author is re-living the last of its memories by holding a huge feast for all her relatives. In the process, she tells Rose Mahal’s story interspersed with her own…and the lessons she learnt in the process. A personal tribute to a home which gave her childhood the spark that would last for a lifetime, Jenny Pinto takes us through past and present as she infuses her current celebration with those of her own celebrated memories. The documentary was at the best, decent. The characters gyrated on your nerves and the dialogues were stilted. A few shots were admirable…like those of Grandma Rose licking away the last of the leftovers with her fingers and the quaint little house dwarfed by monolithic cement brick buildings in the background. In the end, it left the taste of peach iced tea-hot water combination that they were selling at David Sassoon library…you like peach, but you don’t want to have another sip of that delightful flavour with erghhh…hot water!

Call It Slut was the next film. Ah! What can I say? Gorgeous. Nishtha made a film on Lakshmi Tripathi, a hijra. Before you make comic innuendos and turn you noses away, just read this quote by Lakshmi. “The joy of being a woman is that you can wrap yourself in six metres of cloth and still appear naked,” says Lakshmi. Confident, beautiful, graceful, magical, bold, wicked, shocking…that’s Lakshmi for you. “I can’t stand hypocrites,” she says in another scene. “When I met her, I just knew I had to make a film on her,” said Nishtha. I often wondered…how can one make a biographical film on someone who is still alive without offending him/ her or making his/her existence less-celebrated? Nishtha provided the answer—just be honest. The film intersperses Lakshmi’s likes, dislikes, beliefs, ideologies with some lessons in womanhood to Nishtha—a tribute to the beauty of honesty and confession. Lakshmi gives us her opinion on exploitation, the Kamasutra and the government ban on bar girls. “Government did a wonderful thing by banning the dance bars. First, there was one hurdle for the customers wanting to take bar girls to bed…and that was the stage. The government removed this hurdle. Ab yeh stage ko hatake ladki ko sidha bistar pe daal diya,” she critiques. A must watch!

Lastly, Konkana Senharma’s debut feature short film, Naamkaran was a big hit. My Bengali friend had threatened to kill me if he missed this film because of mon late arrival. But Naamkaran was the last to be screened. So all’s well that end’s well. Naamkaran is a film about sibling rivalry in a family of three (two sisters and the handicapped father). They are pick-pocketers by profession. The protagonist is a mother of a toddler and dislikes the ways of her family. Her sister buys gifts for her son with stolen money. The film initially explores the relationship between the two sisters. The elder one wants her younger sister to get a job and work honestly; while the younger want wants her elder sister to start pick-pocketing again. She also wants her sister to name her baby after their father…or at least give him a name that rhymes with their father’s name. Abhijit, Surojit etc. The film takes us though their lives as we discover nuances of the family’s strained relationships, which give a well-rounded logic to the protagonist’s last act of pick-pocketing a man’s wallet on the tram…and eventually naming her baby after him…Abhrojit…a final act which bonds her back to her family.

Ah! If you weren’t there…you missed some beautiful cinema honey…

Now go…run…go take a retail therapy or dessert dive-ins.

I had mine last night…(halo reappears).


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