Friday, 1 May 2020

THAPPAD MOVIE REVIEW

Cut from the same cloth of his previous two films Mulk and Article 15, director Anubhav Sinha conducts yet another postmortem examination of the Indian society and its archaic, misguided & repressive value-system. In Thappad he takes a seemingly trivial issue and designs a thought-provoking drama around it that will leave you constantly battling your conscience arising out of your inability to take sides of its insightful characters and their decisions. Is she overreacting by escalating the matter to court just because of a slap? Can her husband be categorically blamed for the incident given it happened in the heat of the moment? The truth is that as much as your heart believes that Taapsee is right, these are questions which cannot be easily brushed under the carpet. If you have gone through this turmoil while watching the film, I guess Sinha's intentions have borne fruitful results.

The film is populated with flesh and blood characters, each played utterly convincingly by the actors who inhabit their space. Of the ensemble, Pavail Gulati as the husband is the surprise package as he turns his Vikram into a very believable everyman of sorts. He conveys his frustration of not being able to comprehend the reason for Taapsee reacting to the incident the way she does with such sincerity that I found myself sympathizing even with him on a few occasions. Needless to say, other established actors like Taapsee Pannu, Ratna Pathak Shah, Kumud Mishra (an Anubhav Sinha favorite), Tanvi Azmi hit all the right notes and make a meal of their parts. Even actors in smaller roles like Dia Mirza and Geetika Vidya Ohlyan (of Soni fame) leave a lasting impression.

Not everything comes together seamlessly though. It's interesting how the makers use the incident as a backdrop to draw attention to deeper rooted problems of gender inequality in other households, but some of these subplots receive more screen time than required which ultimately dampen the pace of the film occasionally. Also, towards the end, it appears as though Sinha and his writers ran out of important stuff to say as a result of which the film feels bloated by at least half an hour.

I'm still going with 4/5 stars. It may not be a perfect film, but it is brimming with originality and made with unmistakable conviction. At a time when a major chunk of filmmakers are pre-occupied with the westernization of Bollywood, Anubhav Sinha holds a mirror to the Indian society urging us to take a moment and introspect. In that sense, Thappad is a slap on the face of all those perpetrators who commit these crimes, knowingly or unknowingly.

Monday, 3 February 2020

PARASITE MOVIE REVIEW

Given my restricted appetite for Oscar favorite films, when I heard rave reviews of the South Korean film Parasite, I was a tad hesitant to give it a chance. Eventually having watched it in the cinema hall today, I must admit I was handsomely rewarded.

It appears that many of the critics' reviews out there are casually giving away the basic plot of the film. The real joy, though, lies in slowly unraveling the veneers of this deliciously layered narrative yourself and anyone depriving you of that pleasure is committing nothing short of a sin.

Keeping that aside, the beauty of Parasite is that it takes on the garb of many genres at once. On the face of it, it appears to be a black comedy. As the story progresses, you slowly start moving towards the edge of your seat as it shifts gears into thriller mode with an impending sense of danger looming large. Then, it acts as a smart socio-political commentary on the economic divide and class rage between the rich and the poor. There are also elements of horror running through its veins, though not the "paranormal" kind but just due to the misactions of its painfully "normal" people. Ultimately, how I see it, the film is crafted with the sole intention to shock the hell out of you and blow your mind out of proportion. And boy does it succeed so well! In fact, the writing in this blazingly original piece of work is so sharp that there are moments where you judge yourself on moral grounds as you giggle at the exceedingly vicious actions of its twisted characters.

I'm going with 4.5/5 for Parasite. It feeds on your imagination, fear and insecurities unlike anything you've seen of late. This is a parasite you wouldn't mind hosting.