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Image: This totally cool image comes via Twitter, credit to Vikatan Publications.

I met Balu Mahendra once. Long ago, at a far off place. And spent two long hours with him. He spoke cinema, I listened, and then we discussed cinema, particularly whether it was possible to be sensitive and realistic while making films. I had heard tales, like the rest of us, on his infamous temper, his strong points of view and his ability to be dismissive, not to mention the rumours of his relationship with actor Shoba, and naturally,  I was a little wary. But Balu Mahendra was nothing of the sort with me. He seemed as eager to speak to me, as I was with him; you could say the circumstances had thrown us together in an age when smart phones did not provide company, but beyond that, he was eager. He did not treat me like the kid I was then, certainly green behind the ears. He seemed older then, older than his screen presence, and his trademark cap seemed squashed on his head, his face gaunt, his beard fuller.

But none of that mattered when he spoke, and when I disagreed with what he said, he was amused at my youthful anger, saying he was pleased by it. “This is how the young should be,” he said, pleased as punch, “or what’s youth for.” He did not ask the usual questions people used to ask those days of young women journalists: what does your dad do, don’t your folks mind you going home late, isn’t this job risky for a woman? He din’t care, and he had accepted that if I wanted to be a journalist, then that was what I had to be. He was concerned that I thought Rettai Vaal Kuruvi was not his style; he chuckled when I said Chockalinga Bhagavathar was cute; but not when I, in my pubescent naivete, said I hated him for the way Veedu ended; and he was surprised at me for thinking Azhiyatha Kolangal was a bold story. I even asked cheekily if he went for the dusky, sultry women, he just winked.

That was the only time I met him. I love some of his films, but I think I will remember him more for those couple of hours, when we sat in a bright, airy room, sipping on endless cups of sweetened tea, discussing stuff like we were old pals, equals. As if nothing else mattered.

Rest in peace, sir.

 

 

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Idjits

via mirchigossips.com


At the risk of inviting an idiot joke upon myself, I’d still say I liked 3 idiots. Qualifier coming up: It is a good movie, not a great movie.

I did not have expectations of the movie, no. I did enjoy it thoroughly, yes. But do I think it is a deeply introspective/probing/intellectual movie that is going to change the way we teach our kids? NO.

3 Idiots provides wholesome entertainment. It allows you to walk into a theatre, laugh a lot, choke some, baulk a little (at Madhavan’s towel scene. Man, he does need to loose weight), groan a bit (‘muthra visarjan’ is overdone) and walk out not so long after, smirking after you’ve read the credits that roll to say the movie is “based on a book by Chetan Bhagat”!

If we were to set stock by things such as this: Raju Hirani has got the elements of a good movie pat: Fine acting (Boman, Aamir, Madhavan and Omi Vaidya are mentionable in that order, but the whole cast does a good job); Drool-worthy eye candy (the men, the men: how do they look so young?); fairly decent characterisation; clever dialogue; audience engagement; and since we’re at it, a plot, which is more than a story. You could say the music’s a tad out of the general class of the movie: Only Zoobie Doobie makes the grade, All izz Well struggles.

It is too late to say that 3 Idiots weaves itself around the ordinary lives of students at one of the country’s best engineering colleges and how the introduction of ‘Rancho’ turns that a little extraordinary. As Rancho, Aamir touches the lives of not only his roomies (Raju- Sharman Joshi, and Farhan – Madhavan), but most of the college and its laundry boy; the director (Boman IRani)Virus’ two daughters (Only Kareena is the love interest); the director’s unborn grandson; and eventually after everything, the director HIMSELF.

In the interim is a commentary on the education system and the mad race for excellence – in various tones. There is Aamir cocking a snook at the system in “defining a machine” scene; absurdity of “mugging” in the geeky Chattur Ramalingam’s “Balatkar speech”; the sorrow in the death of Joy Lobo; melodrama in the way Virus learns of his son’s suicide.

And yet, I cannot look at 3 Idiots as a deep commentary on pedagogy. Perhaps there is too much humour, flippancy in it for me to treat it more seriously than I do now. And then there are the litte nags: For one, they cry too much in the film. Everyone does, for Heaven’s sake. Unfortunately nothing puts me off more. Two: too much scatology for my liking, even if it’s just piss. Three: Unable to get beyond Kareena’s horsey face. Prejudices all. Still, they are minor.

Because these days, what with the advancing age and factors such as that, I’m happy to walk into a theatre, if only to laugh. Of that, I certainly got a LOT.

As for Chetan Bhagat, well, he’s got his publicity, hasn’t he? And after all that Pavlovian re-inforcement, it is no surprise I’m saying “Aall izz well”. No, I draw the line at patting the region where my heart is supposed to be.

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