Saturday, 20 February 2010

Jaane bhi do yaron

I have been told that the blogs I post about my favourite films are too short. Followers would have liked a more detailed account. Of course, my reason was that if I went into more detail, I might divulge the story. It is easily noticeable that these films are rich in narrative. In each of these films, the story plays a very important role. And after all, the aim is that you read the blog, get excited about the film and then try to see it if you have not already seen it.  From now on, I shall try to write in somewhat more detail though. I shall expand the blog on Terra Fria.
The first Hindi film that I want to blog about is Jaane Bhi do Yaron. I do not think there is any even moderately interested Hindi film goer in India who has missed this film. A hilarious comedy by Kundan Shah. Every minute is a treat. Two friends start a photography shop. Their simple effort to earn a livelihood for themselves runs into several complicated hurdles. Initially, it is just the corruption. Of private builders and colluding government officials. Our photographers, played by Nasseruddin Shah and Ravi Baswani, get unwittingly entangled in the maze. Then there is murder which they accidentally chance upon. The way they stumble upon the murder in Antonioni Park is fantastically done. Then of course, all kinds of things happen.
The film has many good actors, like Om Puri, Pankaj Kapoor and others. But the attraction of the film is not that. It is the way sequences are constructed. Some of them are unreal, but you do not even notice because you are busy laughing your heart out. In one scene, Naseeruddin Shah is talking over phone with one of the villains and they are in the same room. It takes courage to plan and execute such a scene.
This film is of course sarcastic as well. In the end, everybody makes merry for themselves, except the two photographers. They are the only ones who were innocent. They thought truth would prevail. They tried to expose the corrupt. Apart from them, everyone else was playing some kind of game or other. Finally, they are the ones who are screwed up.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Terra Fria

Terra Fria, according to Encyclopedia Britannica, is  a monotonous sequence of rolling hills and dry plateaus in the north west corner of Portugal where grains (especially rye) are extensively cultivated and livestock are raised. It means cold land. It is part of a bigger region TrĂ¡s-os-Montes i.e., across the mountains. Amidst these mountains and rough terrain, the director sets up a gripping tale.  Leonardo and his wife Ermelinda live in the village. Leonardo tries to survive by buying and selling marten and fox furs. Ermelinda, the prettiest girl in the village, starts working as a maid in a rich man's (the only one in the vicinity) house. They form a relationship. How and why Ermelinda did it, is a matter of artistic depiction. What lured her - may be his charm, may be his wealth. The man, a bit of a Casanova, just needed a woman. The ensuing tale of treachury and pain is the meat of the story.

I have seen it only once - in 1992 in Delhi, where every year there used to be (may be still is) a retrospective of award wining European films of that year. In spite of several efforts, I have not been able to get the film in any form. The director Antonio Campo uses the rugged terrain very well. Superlative performance by  Joaquim de Almeida as Leonardo and Cristina Marcos as Ermelinda. The film is set in 1940s, but the issues are time independent. The question that haunts you after you come out of the hall is why do human beings forsake a safe, secure life for risk and treachury? For materialistic gain, for some intangible psychological satisfaction - who knows? Ultimately the destruction is all round.