Saturday, December 30, 2017

What I Learnt From The Movies in 2017

Every year, I try to note down some moments and learnings that the films of the year gone by gave me. The year 2017 was the year of small films, but as always, there is a lot to learn from the characters in the movies. Here are few moments from the films of the year 2017 that have stayed with me. 
  • The last few minutes of Meri Pyaari Bindu, perhaps, my favorite movie of the year, where Bubla makes his pyaari Bindu read his story, his love story, that he had been writing for more than three years, have stayed with me months after watching the movie. Bubla was Bindu's Chatth Wala Kamra (the room in the attic), where she used to go hide when she was feeling emotional. It is only fitting that Bindu and Bubla have their last meeting in the attic. Meri Pyaari Bindu taught us that love stories are much difficult to write as compared to horror stories. Life does not give us the option to write our own ending but we can always do that in the stories we write. Bubla did not get the ending he wanted with his Bindu. He is heartbroken, but at the same time, I got the feeling that he will be fine. I have always wanted to be a writer, which is why there is so much to relate to Bubla. I cannot fully express in words the impact of the movie because the movie has to be felt personally. At some point in the film, Bubla tells Bindu that he tends to grow on people slowly. I hope the film will grow on other people, too, but it will definitely stay with me for a long time. And, yes, Bubla is now on my list of favorite characters in films, some of whom include Sid (Dil Chahta Hai), Rahul (Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu), and Rahul (Kapoor & Sons). 
  • The absolutely lovely A Death in the Gunj showed us how inhumanely we treat some men who don't fit into the mold of an alpha male. It is as if they do not matter, so, they can be insulted, mocked, and bullied leading to their alienation and estrangement. Shutu, a pure soul who would not even touch a piece of cake meant for someone else, struggles to come to terms with the death of his father, trying to be a man in a society that does not understand his sensitive side. The ignominy of being forgotten—how could he face it? By leaving his mark using his blood on the family tree that carried everyone's name except his. 
  • There is a beautiful scene in Lipstick Under My Burkha where Buaji goes to the city mall for the first time and is struggling to get on to the escalator. A little girl offers her hand to Buaji to help her. It is this tiny little moment I still remember from the film. The film makes us realize that even our elders have desires. I don't know if the movies will ever show us a scene similar to the one where Buaji touches herself in the bathroom. 
  • Jagga Jasoos showed us we can solve murder cases using oversoaked rajma beans, fly a plane after reading a book, and survive in Africa with no money by simply dancing on the streets. Additionally, the film tells us that people with a bad luck are equally important contributors to any mission. It might be funny to witness the things that happen to such people, but somehow, their bad luck brings in good luck to others. Instead of mocking and ridiculing her, Jagga convinces Shruti to be his partner in his quest to find his father. People who succeed despite having a bad luck have no other factor except their own hard work as a reason for their success. And, the other beautiful learning that the film tells us is the philosophy of the song Khaana Khaake. Everyone dies, so eat, drink, and be merry. "Banerjee, Ahuja, aur Khambata. Okay, Tata keh gaye, keh gaye. Dekho sab chale gaye, chale gaye. Life ki simple si philosophy yeh jaan lo, hum yahan do din ke mehmaan hain, yeh maan lo, nonstop ek party hai, jahaan sab ko aana hai, aur khaana kha ke daaru pi ke chale jaana hai." It is deeply poignant that in the same song they are celebrating the birthday of a dead person.
  • In Jab Harry Met Sejal, Harry tells Sejal that in life there should be someone whom we should miss. He, then, starts calling out her name to the waves and does that Sejal wave action with his hands. It is a beautiful moment in the film where a man is calling out to the water wherein the meaning of his lover's name is also water. When Aditya sings, he remembers Geet because she brings music to his life, and she becomes his song—geet. When Ved is missing Tara, he looks at the stars—tara, and screams Tara. When Heer goes away from Jordan's life, he becomes a Ranjha to his Heer. The name Janardhan itself is an anagram of Raanjhad. The time that Ali's characters spend together becomes the best time of their lives. Here, Sejal calls it a dream that is too good to be true. Harry never felt as good in his life as he did when he was with Sejal. Isse accha toh life me nahi hua mere saath. So, why should he forget that beautiful time? Even if he does not meet Sejal again, there is the acknowledgment that the time was a special moment in his life. And, nothing comes close to the sheer beauty of the songs Safar and Hawayein this year in films.
  • At an early point in Newton, an election supervisor asks Newton if he knows his own character flaw. Newton replies that he is far too honest. The supervisor refutes him by saying it is not his honesty, but his arrogance about being honest, that is his problem. Imaandari ka ghamand. He is not doing anyone a favor by being honest. He wants people to thank him for doing his own duty. This is a relevant learning for our times. In the Indian discourse, we have seen many examples of bureaucrats being raised on a pedestal for simply doing their job. Additionally, this is also relevant in the wake of the recent #MeToo campaign, where a section of men considered themselves good because they did not harass women. Not harassing someone is nothing to boast about when the behavior is only expected from a human being who belongs to the society. Additionally, Newton reiterates that expecting rapid change is foolishness. Koi bhi bada kaam ek din me nahi hota. Saalon lag jaate hain jungle banane me.
  • Simran showed us that one can learn to rob a bank by watching YouTube videos. If a thief brandishes a weapon during the time of the robbery, it carries more punishment than a robbery conducted without one. More importantly, Simran gave us some pearls of wisdom about relationships through Sameer, one of the most sorted men this year in films. Unlike many other characters, Sameer is no man-child; rather, he is someone who is working hard to reach where he wants to be. During his chat with Praful, he tells her that if a person is given too many responsibilities from a young age, he becomes a little hollow from inside, but when he looks at her, he feels how can anyone be so complete in oneself. Koi apne aap me itna sampoorn kaise ho sakta hai. He adds, "Insaan ko kabhi bhi puri tarah se samjha nahi ja sakta. Kyunki badalate rehna hi insaan ki fitrat hai. Change is the only constant. Aur mujhe lagta hai ki rishton ko samajhna nahi chahiye, unhe sirf nibhaana chahiye." One can never fully understand someone else because it is human nature to change. One should not try to understand relationships, instead, one should fulfill them and be true to them. Sameer, truly, did that when it came to giving all to his relationships, which is why he gave his entire money to Praful to help her, without even her asking him to do such.
  • Rangoon taught us about love and loyalty. There is a point when the Japanese soldier Hiromichi tells his background story and says he wanted to become a singer, but due to war, he had to join the army. He wants to eat his favorite dish prepared by his mother, and he wants to go home. He plays the mouth organ and Julia sings Tippa, and we realize the futility of war in dividing us and the power of music in uniting us. When Hiromichi is about to escape, he does not want to shoot Nawab and Julia, but he has to because a Japanese soldier cannot go back in defeat as no one will understand. Nawab says to just go because his mother will understand. As Washington Irving once wrote, "There is an endearing tenderness in the love of a mother to a son that transcends all other affections of the heart." At that point, Hiromichi bows down in front of Nawab, and then, leaves. Sometimes, a small moment as this becomes the most powerful moment of it all. 
  • Apart from teaching us about Ali Baba needing to enter the gufaShubh Mangal Saavdhan tells us that running away is not going to help solve the problem. It underscores that a woman's sexual pleasure is also important. Marriage is a union of two adults, and requires the two people to lift each other up (no pun intended). Masculinity is not just about the sexual performance in bed. Mard woh nahi hota jise dard nahi hota, mard woh hota hai jo na kisi ko dard deta hai, na dene deta hai. The film also showed us two mascots of emasculation, Jimmy Shergill and Ayushmann Khurrana, together. 
  • There is a stage in Trapped where Shaurya kills a pigeon and starts eating it. He also manages to catch the rat that was troubling him. While eating the pigeon, Shaurya talks to the rat to ward off his extreme loneliness. Whether one is an introvert or an extrovert does not matter, as essentially, humans require companionship. As an introvert, I always believed I can be happy by myself; however, over the last year or so, I have learned that having a friend to talk to is almost therapeutic. Some days, the only human interaction I have is a two-minute call with my mother. Shaurya's efforts to talk to the rat underscores the desire to talk, to build relationships, and to feel human. It's only after we lose the things, that we realize their significance.

  • In Phillauri, Shashi finds out that she is pregnant and her friend Amrit asks her, "Sharam nahi aayi." Shashi initially nods yes, but then says no and starts smiling. A woman in the early 1900s has no qualms in admitting that she had premarital sex. As they say, "Jisne ki sharam, uske phoote karam."
  • Anaarkali of Aarah reminded us of Dushyant Kumar's anguished poetry by opening with these lines from one of his poems, "Ye saara jism jhuk kar bojh se dohra huya hoga, main sajde mein nahi thaaapko dhoka huya hoga." Hiraman, a manager at a music company in Delhi, also played the autorickshaw driver in Tamasha. He had wanted to be a singer in Tamasha, but maybe he worked hard to at least become the manager of a music company here. He is truly a hira to others around him.
  • Hindi Medium taught us yet again that English is the language of upward mobility. And, yes, any Delhi party is incomplete without dancing on Sukhbir's Ishq Tera Tadpaave. It also showed how some wives can be obnoxious to their husbands. 
  • Bareilly Ki Barfi showed us that people are like chameleons, and they have many sides in them. Whether it is Chirag or Pritam, both had an alternate ego that came out at different points in the film. But the most important thing that the film showed us was a father who raised his daughter with full freedom, and let her live her life as per her choices. 
  • We also learnt that a woman should always marry only after checking that the man's house has a toilet. We also saw that building a toilet is like building the Taj Mahal, as Keshav built one for Jaya with a picture of Taj Mahal outside in Toilet: Ek Prem Katha. The movies also taught us that men can cook for their wives, as seen in Raees, Jolly LLB 2 and Chef. Men are also good salesmen and can quickly drape a saree for their customers as we saw in Hindi Medium and Bareilly Ki Barfi. They are also good at knowing the size of the women's bodies, like the swimming costume salesman in Lipstick Under My Burkha and the lingerie shopkeeper in Shubh Mangal Saavdhan. Ghosts will always come back for closure as was seen in Phillauri, A Death in the Gunj and Golmaal Again!!! People love to eat apples as in Newton and MOM. And, finally, we saw that there is absolutely no pleasure greater than savoring the delicious paav-bhaaji of Bombay (Trapped) and the mouth-watering chhole bhature of Delhi (Chef). 
Other Reading:
1. On Meri Pyaari BinduLink
2. On A Death in the GunjLink
3. On Jab Harry Met SejalLink
4. On Shubh Mangal SaavdhanLink
5. On Jagga JasoosLink

Dialogue of the Day:
"Raaste mein jo milo toh,
Haath milaane ruk jaana,
Saath mein koi ho tumhare.
Door se hi tum muskaana.
Meri Pyaari Bindu


  1. I have been following this blog for a long time and I just want to say that your write ups are beautiful.

    I have also spent entire days without uttering a word , speaking to myself just to hear my own voice as if I had forgotten it.

    Good luck on your journey my dear friend, do not underestimate your writing , it has power.

    Lots of love

  2. Hello, Lara,

    Thank you so much for your kind words. Am so happy you liked them. :)

    Thank you very much, and wish you the same as well :)


  3. Yah!!! Liked it...anything else related to the irony and Gender


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