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.

Udaan : Flying high, like a bird in the sky..

The first movie review of my blog and it had to be this gem of a movie called Udaan.
Udaan was this year’s official selection in the Un Certain Regard at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival and that itself had created a lot of buzz about this movie and I am so happy to state that it has lived up to  all expectations.
Udaan revolves around Rohan, a 17 year old kid who gets expelled from his boarding school and has
to return to his hometown, to his father who he has not met for the last 8 years. Rohan comes
back to the rude shock of finding a complete stranger in the form of his father – an emotionally detached, emotionally damaged sadist who tramples over Rohan’s dream of becoming a writer, and forces him to study in an engineering college, and subsequently help him out at his not-exactly prospering steel factory.
What follows is a brave-hearted teenager’s tale of how he overcomes all hurdles, of how he gets beyond a father who asks him to ‘stop flying, and keep his feet on the ground’ and finally break all shackles for the flight of his life, the flight of his dreams.
Udaan is everyone’s film, especially if there has been a single moment of friction between you and your father. One cannot help but feel the connect with the movie in various scenes, many, which people might feel, to be straight out of their lives. The frustration of a father, his own concerns, of earning well and parenting his kids, the angst  of a rebellious teenager who is fed up of his dominating dad, the caring paternal uncle, the silent younger brother.. Udaan is realistic in every sense of the word.
What’s even more beautiful is the way the movie has been treated. Shot at a modest production cost, Udaan more than makes up by the beautiful cinematography and screenplay. Crisp and effective, the scenes will stay on with you long after the movie has ended. Each frame, each shot, so laboriously put together that the entire movie feels like a poem, like one of those the protagonist, Rohan recites during the movie.. Udaan unwinds at it’s own pace but never bores you. Udaan is poetry it motion.
Two thumbs up to Vikram Motwane for his eye for detail in this outstanding debut feature. Hats off to Anurag Kashyap for backing Vikram and such a beautiful story with everything he could. Hats off to the casting director, Jogi for such apt casting for each and every role and special mention to Satyanshu whose poems have been used in the movie.
The selection of Jamshedpur as the location where the story unfolds is another brilliant choice, with the city feeling like a character in the story- leading to the different situation in the film. The steely, cold, industrial feel of Jamshedpur complements the father, Bhairav Singh’s cold, icy demeanour. Also interesting is the fact how Udaan later turns to be a sub-story of two sets of brothers – Bhairav and his brother, Rohan and Arjun. One could go on with the metaphors used in the movie, and I leave it to you to discover and relish the numerous metaphors used – right from Bhairav Singh’s Ray-ban glares which never leave his eyes to morning jog, used so aptly throughout the movie.
Udaan makes you laugh, it makes you cry. The end is open to all kinds of theories and assumptions, and that is Udaan’s true victory. It does not imply anything, it just narrates a story in the most beautiful manner.
Coming to the cast, Rajat Barmecha is first rate as the young Rohan, just having crossed over to the adolescent stage of his life, craving for love, attention and freedom and coming to terms with life’s realities. Ayaan Boradia who plays Rohan’s step brother, Arjun is another delight – his eyes say it all.. fantastic choice.
The true show-stealer, however, was Ronit Roy who had the guts to accept and perform such a complex role as that of Bhairav Singh. He is just brilliant! It was very easy to let this role look like a caricature, make the audience completely hate the character but Roy gives a very human touch to the character of the seemingly tyrannical Bhairav Singh, giving us a faint idea of why he is that way, never redeeming himself but enough to make the audience’s heart go out to him in those few scenes. Ram Kapoor lends able support and the supporting cast is great.
All in all, Udaan is a must watch if you are a cinema-buff – because THIS is what true cinema is all about- this is what storytelling is, this is how a story soars – how it takes Udaan 

Rating – *****
Do NOT miss this one!