‘Mehsampur’ Movie Review: A film that feels like abstract art

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Source: Film Tribe | YouTube

This is an unprecedented style of filmmaking in the Indian Cinema and, definitely, a work brimming with brilliance.

(Thanks to Jagran Film Festival Delhi 2019 for the screening of this gem of a film)

In this film, death is imminent. And it doesn’t befall characters because of natural causes. It’s because the actions of the characters do not get approval by the masses. They do keep going for a while with little support. But, eventually, they succumb to a tragic end. Director Kabir Singh Chowdhry’s Mehsampur intends to explore the life of a Punjabi singer named Amar Singh Chamkila through Devrath (Devrath Joshi) and trace the events that resulted in the assassination of Chamkila.

Chamkila had more haters than supporters for the controversies he gave rise to. It was in Mehsampur where he breathed last. It is the enigma surrounding his death that propels Devrath, who is a filmmaker, to traverse difficult terrain and find everything about Chamkila at all costs to make a film on him. As Devrath goes about his business, you keep your options open and keep pondering over if the film is a documentary or a docu-fiction as it never settles on to one. This transition which Kabir lends to this drama is something that you really have to experience yourself. This is an unprecedented style of filmmaking in the Indian Cinema and, definitely, a work brimming with brilliance.

The film gives you a psychedelic experience. You randomly get to see flashes of old, blurred, muted videos of Chamkila performing on a stage. Sometimes, it looks like the camera was being vigorously shaken while a few of the scenes were being shot. There are noisy, eerie visuals of a combine harvester moving through a field of crops (When this combine harvester appears again towards the end, it’s astonishing to realise the significance of this seemingly-irrelevant-noisy-shot-at-first). There’s a guy singing at a bar and, weirdly enough, as he tries to express his emotions through the song, you can’t help but think if he’s drugged.

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Source: Film Tribe | YouTube

The interviews that Devrath conducts with people who knew Chamkila were not short of sidesplitting comedy instances. You see Devrath asking a guy to repetitively act like a drunkard throwing a stone in a busy street. You see him getting annoyed by a singer as she, instead of telling him anything about Chamkila, starts singing a song instead. Devrath, also, doesn’t stop from recording everything when he has got an opportunity to interview someone. So, when he interviews Lal Chand (a guy who survived and escaped from Chamkila’s assassination scene), he can’t help but take a close-shot of Lal Chand’s inner thigh on his camcorder from the ground level.

Only thing that didn’t work for me was the character arc of Manpreet (Navjot Randhawa) with whom Devrath has had a sexual relationship. But the praise must be given to the scene where intercourse happens between the two which was so realistically and perfectly shot arousing the sexual feelings inside you.

Even though this Manpreet’s character plays a bit of a spoilsport at the later stages of the movie, Director Kabir’s extraordinary filmmaking skills come to the fore and mostly overpower the dampness created by that character. Mehsampur is a change that you need amidst the swarm of poorly executed, mundane big-budget films. It’s the never-before-seen thingy. Kabir makes sure that you have one more example at hand to show the world why movies are one of the greatest forms of art.

Chalne Do Movie Review: An intelligent film infused with seductions, love-affair and betrayal

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Source: Anticlock Films | Youtube

It’s the Utsav Banerjee’s intelligent screenplay along with Nikunj’s vision that makes this one of the greatest films I have ever seen.

(Thanks to 10th Jagran Film Festival Delhi 2019 for the screening of this remarkable film)

The power of the longest dissertation is in its in-depth coverage. Sometimes even a small piece of writing can be more meaningful and insightful than a longer counterpart. Director Nikunj Rathod’s Chalne Do (Keep Going) is a 42-minute feature film that, considering its short running time, comes bundled with plenty on offer. Nikunj’s brilliance comes to the fore when we start realising that the number ‘two’ is deeply ingrained in the film in different forms and makes it all the more impressive.

To begin with, the entire movie is in black and white colours. The title of the film has two words- ‘Chalne’ and ‘Do’. And these two words don’t appear on the screen together. ‘Chalne’ appears first and after a few scenes, ‘Do’ comes on to the screen (When ‘Do’ does make an appearance, you marvel at its timing and the relevance it accompanies with the film’s story). The use of Schrödinger’s cat, a thought experiment that shows two different possibilities, amazes you when you understand its relevance with the film’s narrative. There are two titular characters in the film – Saathya (Ruchita Tahiliani arrests you with her exemplary performance in this character) and Roop (Rahaao lends an engrossing act in this role).

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Source: Anticlock Films | Youtube

As the film tries to establish a relationship between Saathya and Roop, their two different sides get uncloaked. Saathya is trying to create a balance between her reel life aspirations and real life. She, in a scene, says that there’s a good person as well as a bad person dwelling inside everyone but people only see you as either a good or a bad person. As the film goes on to reveal two such different shades of Rahaao, you wonder at how marvellously Nikunj has shown Saathya, who’s in need of a companion, has failed to notice the negative side of Rahaao. When you think of it, the literal meaning of Saathya (which is, a companion or a friend) and Roop (which is, a form) aptly suit the respective characters (Hats off to Nikunj).

The romance between Saathya and Roop, as they go out for a walk on a rainy night and stick close to each other under an umbrella, is beautiful to watch. The tricks played by Saathya, in Roop’s presence, is seductive. The best moment, in this love angle, comes when Saathya is standing on the beach and Roop slowly walks towards her. The camera captures her from the ground level so that the full moon in the night sky is visible (Ah! What a sight that makes in this black and white setting).

It’s the Utsav Banerjee’s intelligent screenplay along with Nikunj’s vision that makes this one of the greatest films I have ever seen.

Chintu Ka Birthday Movie Review: A moving tale of a family, in search of happier times, getting into undue trouble

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Source: Jagran Film Festival

Chintu Ka Birthday is a film which seeks to find happiness amidst all troubles. In this, the innocence prevails over brutality.

Thanks to Jagran Film Festival 2019, I was able to watch the ‘India Premiere’ of ‘Chintu Ka Birthday’.

It’s Chintu’s (Vedant Chibber) birthday and his father, Madan (Vinay Pathak is fantastic in this role), has requested his wife, Sudha (Tillotama Shome), to sing a song which she used to sing when Chintu was a new-born baby. So sings Sudha and she is joined by Chintu’s grandmother (Seema Bhargava). The family members and their Iraqi landlord, Hassan Mahdi (Khaled Masso lends an amazing performance in this character), find themselves spellbound by the beauty of the song. The euphonious and captivating song soothes your heart too and makes you feel the warmth and gladness.

This is one of those transient instances in Chintu Ka Birthday, directed by Devanshu Singh and Satyanshu Singh, where you get to see this family in a jovial mood and having a nice time together. The duo of Devanshu and Satyanshu decide to explain the problematic situation, which the family is in, through a 6-year-old Chintu. Rightfully so, as Chintu narrates the story, where we get to know how his father came to Iraq to earn a living and eventually brought his family too before the country’s political situation worsened and terrorism started taking the centre-stage, there comes an animated depiction of the entire narration (You can find yourself with a smile on your face during this entire cartoon sequence). The film tells you that the Indian Government has claimed that it has brought back all the Indians from Iraq. Chintu’s family is one of those who are stuck in Iraq with no help.

The film shows one day in the life of Chintu and his family. The plan for celebrating Chintu’s birthday is in full swing. Everyone is making sure that unlike previous years, this year the birthday celebration doesn’t get ruined no matter what. The situation outside doesn’t look promising and Chintu’s sister, Lakshmi (Bisha Chaturvedi), comes back home without a cake. But she makes sure that, with help from her mother, she prepares one herself at home. You see Madan fixing an old oven for the preparation of cake. Even their Iraqi landlord Mahdi sings an Arabic song to Chintu to cheer him up.

A bomb goes off outside their house and that’s when things come to a standstill. It saddens you as the mirthfulness, the family is in, comes to a halt. Two new characters enter the scene at this stage. These are the American soldiers Reed (Nate Scholz) and Jackson (Reginald L. Barnes) who, after the bomb blast, have come to check their house.

It pains you to see what the family goes through. The horror-struck faces of each of the members make you feel how frightened they are. A father, who just wanted to make his son happy, gets harsh treatment from the soldiers. The dejectedness in Lakshmi is palpable as her cake gets burnt in the oven. It hurts you to see one of the soldiers unapologetically removing and tearing off this big paper pasted on the wall that read “Happy Birthday Chintu”. The presence of Iraqi landlord and findings of some DVDs based on terrorist camps at their house doesn’t help their cause too as Madan is presumed to be supporting terrorists.

As the film is shot entirely inside one house, you only get to feel the horrible situation of outsides through one medium – sound. You get to feel that a bomb went off outside the house but do not get to actually see the wreckage. There is a military helicopter flying above the house and you get to sense that through the noise created by its rotor. There is, of course, an instance when the movie does try to show you what it’s like outside the premises of this house. One of the American soldiers steps out of the house to check on the commotion and gets fired at from somewhere before he slips back inside. So, there is always a feeling of terror that the film brilliantly creates.

The few chucklesome instances are well-executed. For instance, in a scene, Madan playfully tells his son that there is a cake waiting for his son as can be seen by his ‘third’ eye. But on Lakshmi’s empty-handed return, Chintu complains about his father’s prediction going wrong. There’s a scene in which Chintu’s friends Waheed (Mehroos Mir) and Zainab (Amina Afroz) pay a visit and Waheed introduces Zainab as Chintu’s girlfriend. Waheed doesn’t just stop there and goes on to greet Jackson, who is African-American, as “nigga”. In another instance, Madan explains the meaning of his name to the soldiers with reference from Kamasutra. Jackson, later on, resorts to calling him by the name of ‘Kamasutra’ itself.

After a long hassle with the soldiers, there comes a moment when the cake is finally being cut by Chintu as the family merrily sing together wishing him a happy birthday. As the balloon, placed above him, bursts and sparkles come pouring down, the sheer excitement in him is discernible. Madan’s earnest wish of celebrating his son’s birthday comes true. Although one of the soldiers watches them celebrate without showing any emotion on his face, it moves you to see them rejoicing together finally. And then, Reed springs a surprise in the end (You need to watch it to really feel it).

As the movie comes to a close, the camera shows a top view as Chintu lies on his bed and looks up. It slowly moves towards him and the movie ends. Chintu is hopeful that troubled times will be long gone by and he might one day be back home in India. Chintu Ka Birthday is a film which seeks to find happiness amidst all troubles. In this, the innocence prevails over brutality.