Kaasav : Of Involuntary Unraveling And Wilful Mends.

Early on in the film, the character played by Dr.Mohan Agashe – Dattabhau, who is working on a turtle conservation program, shares a little tidbit about Olive Ridley turtles and the process in which the females nest. He says that the turtles, upon emerging from their eggs, instinctively rush towards the ocean, but in case they are faced with adverse conditions, they retract into their shell and try to become invisible to the outer world.

It proves to be a lovely theme that resonates throughout this drama focused on mental health, woven beautifully around Janaki – a woman who is grappling with her own anxieties and mental health issues (Iravati Harshe) and a disturbed young fellow Manav (Alok Rajwade) who is dealing with his own suicidal self.

Janaki comes across Manav who is down with high fever and all alone on a highway as she makes her trip from urban Mumbai to coastal Devgadh to take part in the turtle conservation project (which she later reveals to have given her a purpose in life). She takes him under his wing and with a non-judgemental approach loaded with empathy, makes him aware of how he can embrace his true self again.

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Though these words don’t do justice to the beauty of this film, a watching definitely convinces you that this film deserved its National Award For Best Film (2016) awarded by the Government of India and richly so. Restrained and fine performances, great cinematography, a solid script and a heartwarming screenplay with impeccable treatment make Kaasav a rare, beautiful film about mental health from India.

Kaasav soars with powerful themes of abandonment, loss of purpose, suicidal thoughts, neglect of mental health and finally acknowledgement of the right approach that lets the affected person embrace his own life on his own terms, accept his/her authentic feelings as real and validated, and a need that all of us share – to feel like we are part of something, that we can help with something, that we can be of use.

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While the film begins with the backdrop of Janaki participating in a turtle conservation program, the film finds a fitting finale with Manav finding his true calling, albeit in an unexpected way. Kaasav is a film of small wins that make us who we are, that redeem us in our own eyes, of constant struggles that perhaps we all face but so few acknowledge and of the crucial fact that just as we care for our bodies, we need to care for our minds and nourish and surround it with goodness when it faces its own trials.

The sensitivity with which mental health has been treated in Kaasav harks a comparison with recent Bollywood release ‘Dear Zindagi’ which too did a good job of bringing this issue out in the open but had its usual commercial trappings. Kaasav is a film unapologetic about how unglamorous mental health issues really are and holds up a mirror to everyone who has ever wondered about their mental health and held back from seeking help.

Go watch Kaasav for an absolute treat to  your senses as the story unravels and reminds you to be a little kinder to everyone around you, to respect the battles they are facing day in and out.

 

 

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“Happy Bhag Jayegi”… Should have been much better, but some really big laughs

Baradwaj Rangan

Spoilers ahead…

Imagine you wanted to make Tanu Weds Manu 3 and Kangana Ranaut did not have the dates. Who would you cast? Who else, among the current set of actresses, can embody this… this… force of nature? Anand L Rai, director of the Tanu Weds Manu films and one of the producers of Happy Bhag Jayegi, doesn’t seem to have spent a lot of time pondering this question. Happy Bhag Jayegi is an in-spirit sequel to those films, and Rai’s solution is to cast… Diana Penty. Penty is a number of things – tall, model-beautiful, and her gangly hesitation before the camera served her well in Cocktail, where we saw her last, passive-aggressiving with Deepika Padukone for Saif Ali Khan’s attentions. But an actress, she isn’t – at least, not yet. If that mysterious acting thing isn’t bursting out from within, you can maybe put…

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MOVIE REVIEW: Killa : Poignant tale of growing up

There are many pieces of art that touch your heart, but only some of them can hit you personally, make you feel that whatever happened to you is universal – that something can be intensely personal and shared at the same time. Killa is the latter – a fine piece of art made with such loving attention to detail that hits and stings your heart.

Made by cinematographer Avinash Arun, this national award winning film is a moving tribute to parenthood and coming of age. A story about how a single parent is transferred from the bustling city of Pune to a small sleepy town Guhagar  with her 11-year old son Chinmay. A widow – she struggles to come to terms with the loss of her husband and is always questioning her parenting; a child who has just lost his father – Chinmay is grappling with his own issues of abandonment.

A new place, new school, new friends – all Chinmay wants to be is accepted. Not that he realises that. What follows is his personal discovery of friendship and himself. A tale of realising that sometimes, it seems like the world is coming to an end, but it’s not. Of realising that true friendship has its way of coming back to you. Of realising that the first big heartbreak in your life need not always be a romantic relationship, and being okay with that fact.

Killa is about that one moment that defines the end of childhood as we know it. That one moment that changes our perspective, is more often than not sad, but in all probability – makes us a better and stronger human being. Killa will resonate with anyone who has poured his heart and soul into the act of making friends and relationships; with anyone who can trace that exact moment in their life when someone broke the rose-tinted glasses they viewed the world with; with anyone who appreciates the power of silence over words that mean nothing.

Sensitive direction and gorgeous cinematography by Avinash Arun, fantastic performances by Archit Deodhar and Parth Bhalerao and images and moments that stay with you for a long long time after you’ve walked out of the theatre, Killa is an absolute gem and another gem from the new wave of Marathi cinema that continues to impress and delight.

MOVIE REVIEW : Elizabeth Ekadashi : Simplicity wins!

Elizabeth Ekadashi is a simple story of a Dynanesh, a bright kid preparing for his scholarship exams, his family and his set of friends and what happens in the holy week leading up to Ashadi Ekadashi, the holy day when devotees make the pilgrimage to Pandharpur, to worship Vithoba, a local form of Lord Vishnu.

Madhugandha Kulkarni establishes her credentials as a good writer very early on in the film as we are introduced to a family with a lot of quirk. A grandma who worships Newton along with the other Gods just because her deceased son was an admirer, Dynanesh – a child who loves his bicycle and names her Elizabeth and Mugdha aka Jhendu (another lovely detail) who treats the bicycle as another member of the family. The characters are fresh and relatable, with sensitive treatment throughout.

It is the holy season – when the entire population of the sleepy town of Pandharpur aims to make profit off the lakhs of devotees who would descend upon the city in a bid to visit the various temples in the area. Bad luck strikes and Dyanesh’s mother loses her knitting machine to a mortgage she had been trying to push for the last 3 months. She needs Rs.5000 to save her machine and get back to earning money for the family but only 4 days to get it. The kids make an endearing case and offer to set up a bangle shop in the holy season to help out. However, the mother rules it out and announces that the cycle, Elizabeth, would be sold off to raise Rs.2000.

The rest of the story is dedicated to the story of Dyanesh and his motley group of friends, who then go on to set up a shop near the holy temple and what happens when they try and earn some money. At this point, you may feel there is not much substance to the story and that it may end up being predictable, but that is where Paresh Mokashi’s treatment of the story will surprise and capture you.

The childlike wonder and naivety stays throughout the movie. Like in a child’s world, there are no villains, in Elizabeth Ekadashi, the only villain is the situation. This is just as a child would treat the situation, always looking at the bright side and always looking for the good in people. Be it the often swearing Ganya or the prostitute’s son who make up his friends, it is a refreshing take on life in a small, holy city. The city is never used as a character in the story but the essence of holy city comes through in the ending of the film and you have to watch it to know why and how.

The performances are very natural, with special mention for Shrirang Mahajan, Nandita, Dhuri and Pushkar Lonarkar – the child actors. They are at ease and make the film a joy to watch.

This film is another film in the continued trend of simple, rustic stories in Marathi cinema, narrated in a superb fashion. Though not high on aesthetic value like Tapaal (another beautifully simple story) – Elizabeth Ekadashi will make you laugh and cry along, because it will remind you how good life was when you were a child – in awe of the world and not believing for a second, that tomorrow will not be better than today.

It is showing at multiple theatres with subtitles. So, go ahead and sample this sweet film.

The Most Surprising Photos of 2013

NewsFeed

While the culture of social media did its best to ensure that 2013 had its fair share of entertaining, surprising and, above all, shareable photo moments, ultimately the past twelve months included as many genuinely shocking as surprising pictures. The year left us in varying states of outrage, bewilderment, bemusement and astonishment.

But there were some wonderfully unexpected and unusual images—a shark inside a shark and selfies with the Pope to a bear on a tightrope and a bundle of baby pandas—that delighted, enthralled and distracted us. Here, LightBox looks back over the past twelve months and presents a selection of underreported, improbable and astounding images that caught the attention of TIME’s photo editors—and which, we trust, maintain their ability to utterly, thoroughly surprise.

Phil Bicker is a senior photo editor at TIME.

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Term 5 is done and dusted.

Time, time, time.. you’re running, no – sprinting! You’re determined to pass me by and make me want to enjoy the remainder of these two beautiful years at MICA even more (if that was possible). And alas, term V has come to an end as well. This term-end has made me realise so many things, but importantly, I’ve realised that I’ve forgotten to document my learnings from the last term!

Before I forget anything else, I think I should get down to writing it down, NOW : 

Two years – you’d think that was a long time. But it’s just not enough for a place like MICA. Between the time that you’re getting to know your seniors and trying to remember the names of your juniors, you realise it’s time to go. Relish this time. That’s what MICA taught me this term. Well, sure, I attended two great account planning workshops, won an inter-collegiate table-tennis tournament, had a total blast organising quizzes on various topics and generally had fun, but MICA this term was just another lesson in the temporality of the whole experience. 

I entered the gates to this campus at the beginning of these two years with a special greed – a greed to make the most of these two years, to try out as many things as I wanted to – sports, cultural activities, academics, quizzing, international cinema and more than that, sharing that experience with like-minded people. This place truly brought out the best in me. And one of the greatest bits about living in a residential college like MICA was really really getting to know yourself. That’s the good part of living in such a diverse mix of people, your natural differentiators come to the fore and you can really appreciate yourself for what you truly are. Of course, there is also the risk of wanting to blend in and mimic people around you, just to be part of the ‘crowd’ – whatever you choose, it teaches you a lot about yourself and I am glad that I had that experience. 

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Learning about myself, learning about relationships. It’s a small, cozy campus. At the beginning of the course, I had made a mental note to go to every single birthday dunking of my batch-mates. I tried to stick to it as much as I could and attended quite a few midnight birthday dunkings in the first year, but slowly that stopped. It was not out of dislike or laziness, I guess I just realised proximity does not mean closeness. I managed to live with that, and accept it. 

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This term also made me value integrity and to value people who stand for something. There were many situations where I saw people around me behave contrary to themselves. It was extremely unsettling to see people who I had known for quite some time give in to things they were oblivious to in the beginning. But in the end, I came to know and appreciate people who knew what they were doing and stuck to their guns even when times were bad. In hindsight, this term at MICA was really a big course of people skills and appreciation. 

As I look forward to beginning my last term at MICA in a week, I will try and treat every new day as a chance to explore this place and the people associated with it even better. There are so many things unsaid, unseen. Some days seem to contain infinities in them and then suddenly, two years seem like a blur. 

As I read somewhere –

Some infinities are greater than other infinities.

Looking forward, MICA 🙂

 

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The cup overfloweth.

The cup overfloweth.

Today, as part of a Twitter campaign – the BCCI handle sent personalized messages with Sachin’s handwriting and his autograph to everyone who tweeted with a #thankyouSachin. Now, I don’t know why but this just hit home in so many ways. For a long time, I was unable to process the fact that an Indian cricket team without Sachin was to be the new status quo.

Neither was I any excited about the fact that Sachin was playing in his 199th test match and his second-last match in a long long time. This photograph, his handwriting – has suddenly made it all so real. And it hurts. It hurts that there will no longer be the Sachin Tendulkar constant in our equations.

Sachin, you may not figure in Indian teams anymore – but you are the gold standard. You are the end-all and be-all for fans like me. Thank you for making it come alive. Thank you for getting the cup back for the second time. Thank you – for you make the cup overflow – with emotions, happiness and eternal gratitude of a hero-starved nation 🙂