Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Movie Review: Hazaroon Khwaishen Aise

This rewiew was written by me in 2005. Found it while searching my emails.

I just saw this movie yesterday and I was pushed to write n a revie to make sure that more people would watch it and absorb the visual and intellectual spectale presented in the movie

The script is strong and impacting!! Sudhir Mishra blends a passion for social causes with the throbbing revolutionary idealism of youth and pride powerfully, wrapping it all in a well paced story that is focused on the intricacy of relationships and imagery of emotion. The oppression and corruption along with police brutality and the total disregard for life is fierce and raw, but not needlessly grisly. The tension is real and it is true.

Shantanu Moitra’s music is haunting and superb!! This is a Pritish Nandy production. The last Pritish Nandy Picture I saw was Chameli and that was also directed by Sudhir Mishra. I am very impressed with both mvoies !!

If I were to summarize Hazaaron Khwahishen Aisi in one word – Brilliant!!!

The backdrop is the period of emergency that India went through in the 70s. The story is a simple love triangle, complicated by simpler desires and naked reality. The three protagonists are allegoric of the turbulence and travails of the time and space in India’s modern history in which this story is set in. This movie will have you at the edge of your seat within the first 5 minutes – I guarantee you that!!

The opening frame is one of Pt. Nehru delivering the ‘tryst of destiny’ speech. The 58 year old black & white clipping and the strong articulate voice stunned me into silent reverence and as the rapturous applause that followed one of the most famous declarations of freedom in the world starts to fade out, the movie begins. Sidharth – one of the three protagonists says Nehru was wrong in saying that the world was asleep at midnight. His words left me with emotions that tugged and pulled. I had to start watching the movie from the start again. At first he sounds like a kid who is intent on being pedantic and childish, but the passion for radical change is unmistakable. He goes on to describe the filth that has taken over the political system in India and you begin to hear familiar but subdued emotions of pain, indignation and anger that have crossed the heart of every Indian youth at one time or the other – all this against the backdrop of blood, gore and absolute mayhem.

I enjoyed the way each of the characters is introduced. They introduce themselves with a narration, in a letter to another character. The cross chemistry is instantly felt. The letters are used to communicate more than circumstances through out the movie…and that makes it more interesting. No nonsense letters. Strong, passionate, purposeful…just like each of the characters.

The fact that the movie has dialogues in both Hindi as well as English makes a huge difference. Its about time too - a healthy dose of realism makes it easy to relate to the entire story and theme.

KayKay Menon is Sidharth Tyabji. He has done a fabulous job as a hot blooded Marxist torn between the love of his ideals and the love of a woman. His idealistic rebelliousness and his realistic struggles to make a difference, cause you to admire him. As he matures into a Naxalite, you watch a rich brat opting for the life of an insurgent on the run, in pursuit of ideals and revolution, leaving you hopeful and certain. The dogged determination to bring about reform will inflame the sleeping radical in you, if ever there was one.

The character is sketched to give the impression of being the forerunner for the entire movie, but by the end of it, the weathering and maturity that life induces is amply evident. You are left feeling as broken in spirit as Sidharth is. Awe was definitely not an emotion I felt for Sidharth. His desperate leftist propaganda, its eventual failure and the futility of his efforts, the devastating results it brings about, self condemnation, his self-centeredness and guilt leave you feeling miserable and sorry. In many ways he is the epitome of the strife and angst of the pre-emergency days.

Chitrangadha Singh is stunning and beautiful as Geeta. There are more than a couple of times in the movie when you will be reminded of Smita Patil. This is one intense actress!! I have not felt so strongly towards any actress since Smita Patil. But the resemblance is not just in the way she looks, but also the intensity and the subtlety with which she acts. She has managed to bring life to this character with an array of unspoken emotions and strong expressions. As a young woman in love, as a wife who is not in love, as a woman who is torn between the loyalty of a wife and the loyalty of a lover, as a young mother and as a social activist who is drawn to the mire of illiteracy and ignorance with flickering hope, as a desperate woman asking the love she rejected for huge favours, humbled and broken, this character will leave you gasping. I for sure have fallen in love with her!

Geeta steps into Sidharth’s world out of uninhibited love and her own need to stay by his side. But with time, she invests so much of her spirit and soul into the arid soil of Bhojpur, that even after devastating and traumatic situations, she decides to stay on and continue her toil. And amidst all the trauma and loss she discovers herself and her purpose. Poignant and remarkable character…perfect portrayal!!

The commonality between Geeta and Sidharth is in their inability to relate to their cultures. Sidharth is born to a Muslim judge and a Bengali mother and knows neither language. Geeta is brought up in London and has lived in Delhi briefly. While Sidharth leaves his father’s palatial house and the luxuries therein adapting to life on the run, Geeta marries someone else but continues seeing Sidharth, eventually leaving her loving husband and a comfortable life. They go into Bihar to bring about a revolution – the sheer honesty and fortitude of two passionate bright youngsters fighting an ancient system of corruption and bureaucracy is appalling and frightening.

Roshan Ahuja has done a superb job as Vikram Malhotra. He acts with total ease! He goes from being a silent observer, to an ambitious risk taker, to a cocky-sure player, to a jealous and heartbroken lover, to an incensed and concerned son, to finally a frustrated man who is willing to do anything for the sake of his one love and her one love. How he rises to fame…and how the mighty fall! He loses everything but eventually finds the one thing that he sought.

This is an average Joe that charms his way to your heart. It’s easy to relate to this character, his accomplishments and goals, the way he thinks and his priorities. Amidst idealists and on fire wannabe Naxals he seems like a boring misfit with no guts. And amidst bigwigs and socialites he seems like an intense spark of intelligence and foresight. He is the quintessential idiosyncrasy that brings interest and drama to any story, yet manages to remain in the background. The emotions Vikram goes through are so painful and disturbing, especially towards the end.

The other actor in the movie that I enjoyed watching was Ram Kumar playing the character of Arun, Geeta’s alcoholic IAS officer husband. He has a George Clooney kind of a smile and charm that is wrapped in crazy love for his wife Geeta. Just when you have forgotten he was part of the picture, he is re-introduced briefly and softly!! He is another actor I will keep my eyes open for.

There is a very brief portrayal of Geeta’s family, a Telugu speaking joint family in the heart of Delhi. And it is the perfect portrayal of the traditional household with a modern mindset. The ease with which this family scene is blended into the rest of the picture is lovely!! Other scenes I enjoyed were - those of Vikram and Geetha when he brings her a bottle of wine to celebrate her homecoming, only to be told that she is determined to go back. Another scene was of Sidharth’s father - aged and concerned, asking an old colleague for a favour and turned away diplomatically. Vikram visiting his father at the prison….oh there are so many…

I am definitely rooting for this picture, knowing full well that only a certain cross section of the Indian audience will be able appreciate it. This is one of the 6 Indian movies to be showcased at the Berlin Film Festival. I am certain more accolades and appreciation will flow in from the foreign shores.

As the end credits rolled on the screen I sat overwhelmed with emotion. There was no tears but, instead I sat, pondering the ramifications of wasted talent and potential, of unrequited love and unfinished stories, wondering how many such tales are lying untold, undiscovered – Hazaaron Khwahishen Aisi – indeed, thousands of such desires….

Raghunandan Jagdish


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