Thappad – Movie Review

As the Thappad (Slap) scene approaches in the movie, the story builds itself up perfectly for a fall out, relationship wise.

Point number one, there are lots of wifery to begin with. Starts with; not letting the morning wake up alarm ring even for a second lest it wakes the husband. The alarm is strictly for wife, for her to start her wifely stuffs. Collecting milk and newspapers from the doorsteps, chopping few leaves of lemongrass and grating ginger to make tea and finally see the husband off to his work while holding his wallet and tupperware of drink. Why the husband can’t keep his wallet in his pocket escapes me.

Point number two, there is husband. But he doesn’t indulge in husbandry. He is probably some mid level corporate PPT pusher wanting to make it bigger than what he is now. He is pampered at home until his doorsteps and thereafter he alights his saloon car for office. His angst with the world begins at his doorsteps when he sees his neighbour; a beautiful working women driving a large SUV. Nothing perturbs a promotionwallah more than to see others driving a bigger whatever. If he has a car, he now desires a car-a-lago.

Lastly, there are the two families on each side. They are shown to be pretty sedate. They don’t seem to matter much in the actual scheme of things. They are the support staff, supporting their individual wards.

At the eve of Thappad (slap incident) the husband is perturbed about some office politics undermining his promotion and is confronting his boss at a party in his house. When Thappad occurs, it wipes out point number one as enumerated above. Wife withdraws from wifery. Husband now turns to husbandry. The manly variety. No remorse. Has taken for granted that her doormat wife should always be slap-ready. Quite astonishingly, and pretty appropriately in a masculine world, the husband’s promotion is reinstated despite his boss and number of his colleagues saw the husband’s Thappad first hand. No repercussions for egregious behaviour.

Post Thappad, arrives the vakils, lawyers. The director has toned down the rhetoric which lawyers in Indian movies are shown to unleash. This is refreshing. Both sides are civil to begin with, civil to end with. Even threats are civil. No shouts and harangues. Just conversation.

But why is the movie so interesting. Screenplay and Taapsee! She is in a pivotal role. She portrays and projects the various emotions skillfully before and after Thappad. Credit also goes to the director who is able to get the right measure of effects in near low tone of the movie.

It’s pretty fashionable these days to cut melodrama in Indian movies, but cutting melodrama and still able to convey the emotion needs good direction and good actors. The movie did have great scope for various types of melodrama, starting with husband worship, then Thappad, then vakil (lawyers), then two families, sas-bahu (mother-in-law and wife), then Bachcha (pregnancy); yet the movie is restrained in all these and is topped with equally restrained performances.

Gulabo Sitabo – Movie Review

I googled “Gulabo Sitabo” and this fetched a site of “World Encyclopedia of Puppetry Arts” where it says that “Gulabo Sitabo” is a “traditional glove puppet theatre from Uttar Pradesh in north India. These puppets made of papier-mâché, dressed in colourful, shiny clothes and trinkets, are named after the two heroines who are represented in the show: Sitabo, the worn out, overworked spouse; and Gulabo, the scintillating mistress of the same man.

Amitabh Bachchan’s character is called Mirza Sheikh and and it is hard to tell what his motivations are. Anyway, he sells of his grand chandelier of great value for a pittance. He begs and collects money off a puppet artist while young girls dance to the puppet show. He steals light bulbs and bicycle ringers from his tenants and sells them for small change. The character is doing or showing a lot but nothing is been conveyed. In the end, whatever needed to be conveyed by showing it on screen is narrated via a rambling letter.

One thing did become clear thankfully by the end of the movie, that Mirza Sheikh has no sense of value or he makes no attempt to derive value out of whatever he possesses. He is just for small time sake. But why is he doing it? Greed for what? Why is he collecting money? And doing what with it? Is he spending it? Is he hoarding it?

The story never lets the audience entry into the predicaments of the characters. In Ayushmann Khurrana’s case, he does show some depth. His living in a joint family with three unmarried sisters, his affair with a women who has clear goals in life in contrast to his muddled life. And finally his confrontation with Mirza which is where most of the good acting happens.

The movie is a thinking man’s nightmare. I expected Shoojit Sirkar’s “Piku” like movie. That movie too is written by Juhi Chaturvedi. I expected at least a good structure albeit some design fault. In the wikipedia, it’s revealed by film director Shoojit Sirkar….”As soon as I read the script, I shared it with Mr Bachchan and Ayushmann at the same time. I thought it would take some time to develop and take it forward, but everyone was so enthusiastic to work on this script, they figured out their dates and here we are…” Well, here we are with a half baked story and screenplay. If Shoojit and Juhi intended to develop it why not go on with it. Did you expect Bachchan and Khurrana to do that for you?

The movie is held on by performances. Amitabh Bachchan as Mirza Sheikh is simply amazing. I have grown up seeing Bachchan as romantic action hero through 1970’s and 1980’s and now I see him as a wizened old man. I mean, this man will go down as the most prolific and versatile actor of all times.

Against him is Ayushmann Khurrana as Baankey Rastogi. He is a good competent actor but after seeing him through Dum Laga ke.., Bala, etc., etc., his performance is predictable and repetitive. Nevertheless he held it against Bachchan but it’s not like Bachchan vs Rajesh Khanna a la Anand.

One find of this movie is Srishti Shrivastava as Guddo. Right from the first scene onwards she exudes the quality of an accomplished actress. In the story there were several occasions and potential to develop this character. I felt she might usher a turning point and will be key at denouement and resolution. Alas, that was no to be. But good luck to you.

A Name is the beginning.

Name is important. Naming ceremony (naamkaran) has its own sanctity in india taken seriously. There are still some old fashioned people who, when you tell your name, will ask the meaning of your name and will be glad to know its significance. Every culture and religion has a naming ceremony. How something is named also portrays history and culture. A wrong name or misplaced name has its own negative feelings. Most probably, in India no one names their sons or daughters, Duryodhan or Draupadi. In western world, I have not come across someone named Judas. Muslim’s don’t name their child Allah. And there will be many such examples.

If names were not that important then why when people convert they have to change name.

Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet is a play, where Juliet is troubled by Romeo’s surname- Montague. In a scene she says:

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.”

Readers should know, this is just part of the dialogue in play “Romeo and Juliet” which is noted as Tragedy. The complete play – Romeo & Juliet is a blood feud between two families – Montague and Capulet. Romeo is House Montague and Juliet is House Capulet. The entire play is a feud between NAMES – rather SURNAMES, as Indian would identify with. Why should we use two lines of weeping and bereft Juliet’s dialogue against the whole play where Romeo and Juliet die in the end because of names. These two lines are a part of a long monologue by Juliet where she is trying to rationalise her thoughts and feelings against the reality of the situations she is actually facing. This rationalisation leads to a sad ending of their love story.

The oft repeated words, “What’s in a name?” is used to scoff and undermine the necessity to go deeper and find truth of a name.

If you want to name something, observe the way your thoughts go. You will see its a very personal thing. Further, if you are the parents of a Child or a say, Company, you would love to name it yourself. You feel the need to possess the name.

Changing names by invading culture has been a part of cultural trampling. Also foreigners changes names because they couldn’t pronounce our names of cities and town’s etc. They could change names of places because for them that was just passing a law. Because they made the law. But the invading forces couldn’t interfere with our culture at a personal level. And so we still continue to name the way we have always done.

Immunity from COVID!

Common Cold is coronavirus. Does common cold have any vaccine or medicine? And if you have common cold will you develop immunity from common cold for the rest of your life? I wonder who floated this “Herd Immunity” canard. And this theory spread like wild fire. I’m of the opinion that there will never be any medicine or vaccine for COVID 19. If there will be, then besides COVID we will also have eradicated common cold too.

But I have a dystopian worse case scenario. Everybody in the world will have COVID. It will be as common as common cold, though of a killer variety. The only way is to lockdown and root it out. But the world doesn’t care, because the human life is pitted against economy, and the powers will chose economy.

China & COVID

It’s a familiar story, “Everyone knows that the Chinese are this and the Chinese are that.” Well, if they are this and that and everyone knows, why are they foolish enough to buy their side. The truth is- no country, big or small want to displease the Chinese. They wield enormous unbeatable economic clout. As per Corona Virus, only the Chinese are able to meet it and suppress it. The Wuhan lockdown was to root out the virus. But, the lockdown in the rest of the world, including India is not to root out the virus. The lockdown is to slow the spread such that the time is utilised to increase the Covid handling capacity. Once that is done, everything will go back to normal. Except the Chinese, every individual in the world will suffer COVID once in there life.