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.

Paan Singh Tomar. ‘Nuff said!

Yesterday I had the good luck of watching a great movie on an Indian sportsman in a long long time. I watched Paan Singh Tomar, the film made on the real-life story of Paan Singh Tomar, who went from a national steeple-chase champion to a dacoit in the ravines of the Chambal.

A beautiful, tragic tale of fighting for your dream, living it for a while and losing it all, Paan Singh Tomar is a must watch feature film showing the struggles of this great Indian athlete who made it to the big stage despite all odds. The story begins with a young Paan Singh Tomar, who is a new recruit in the army, who amazes all with his immense stamina and amazing speed. Things don’t go exactly as planned but Paan Singh Tomar makes it big on the national chase as the steeple-chase champion.

The story then continues with his journey through the national meets, the 3rd Asia Games at Tokyo and the International Defense Meet. It traces the trials and tribulations Paan Singh Tomar faced in order to make his dream come true, doing something great for his country.  The story is a tragic one, but it is real. The thing that saddened me the most as the movie went on was how little I knew about this sportsman who was one of the finest runners India ever had. I felt ashamed that I did not know a single thing about him, nor did the people in the theater.

As the movie ended, and the director made this very thoughtful gesture of mentioning other sportsmen of India who never got the attention and fame they deserved, I felt sad. I felt heartbroken that the other people in the theater walked out without as much as a glance towards the names, the names that were so much like Paan Singh Tomar. The names, who craved for attention and respect all their lives.

I had tears in my eyes, as I am sure you will have to, if you watch this film.

Well done Tigmanshu Dhulia for making this wonderful wonderful film and to Irfan Khan, for such a phenomenal performance as Paan Singh Tomar, so effortless! Go watch Paan Singh Tomar, it’s worth every bit of your time.

Movie Review : Deool : Commercializing faith.

Ever since I have watched the poignant and touching ‘Shwas’ which was a Marathi movie about a boy and how he deals with his impending blindness, my perception of Marathi cinema has changed. My view of Marathi movies being made with a lot more heart and soul has subsequently been supported by some gems like ‘Kadachit’, ‘Valu’, ‘Rita’, ‘Zenda’,’Taryanchi Baet‘ to name a few.

I went to watch Deool with huge expectations because

1) It is made by the same person who made the endearing ‘Valu’

2) It is made on a very real subject

When the movie ended, I did not feel like leaving my seat. The following is a summation of my thoughts about this wonderful movie –

Based on the theme of ‘commercialization of religion and faith’, Deool deals with a very complex issue, one that is found in every corner of modern Indian society. A fictional village called Mangrul provides the backdrop for this story. Mangrul is a dainty town with no hospitals, no good roads, no theaters and no modern amenities. The youth in the village get drunk but have little avenues of entertainment or profession. Almost all of them want a job in the city, but then there is Keshav. Keshav (Girish Kulkarni) is a cowherd who is content with his simple life, a far cry from what the other people his age would like or want.

One day, as he goes to sleep beneath a tree after spotting his cow, he gets a vision that Lord Datta is in front of his eyes.. in the form of the tree. He cannot control his emotions and tells everyone in his small village that he has just seen God.. no one in the village takes him seriously and a wise man in the village, Anna (Dilip Prabhavalkar) tells him that people may or may not believe him and he must keep such things to himself.

What follows is how the politician from the village(Nana Patekar) along with his nephew and the youth of the village take up this issue of ‘God’ being present in their village and how they commercialize the concept of God by building a temple and transforming the village into something else overnight. Because of the flux of pilgrims visiting the temple, the village loses it’s soul and everyone changes for the worse. The film essentially deals with how religion and faith are manipulated by people around us to turn it into a money-spinning industry. How the essence of faith is being eroded because of the glamour of money.

The film has delightful performances by the entire cast but a special mention for Girish Kulkarni who excels as Kesha. It is to his credit that he has managed to portray such a gamut of expressions with such ease. Lending him excellent support are Nana Patekar, Dilip Prabhavalkar, Sonali Kulkarni, Kishor Kadam and Mohan Agashe. The only problem one may have with the film is that it drags towards the end and could have been trimmed to cut it’s length by atleast 10 minutes. Also, the ‘welcome’ song seems redundant in the backsight but perhaps it was required to show just how corrupt people can be because of the lure of money and power.

With it’s light narrative and realistic dialogues, Deool will make you laugh and tug at your heart-strings. It will make you connect and relate to a lot of things on the personal level. And by the time the movie ends, I am sure you will see your faith in God in a new light..

Kudos to the director Umesh Kulkarni for another beautiful film and more power to Marathi cinema.