Shades Of Words

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I will start with the obvious. PINK is not just a movie but social commentary – and it is done really, really well. It’s the kind of movie that will (hopefully) impact the discussion on sexual consent for years to come. At the least, it will bring this discussion to your living rooms. If you haven’t seen the movie, stop reading this review and go watch it.
The plot is straightforward enough. Three girls –Minal, Falak & Andrea- join a few guys at their resort for dinner & drinks after a rock concert. Something transpires and the girls flee the scene after hitting a boy almost fatally with a bottle. While we are never shown what happened, it’s implied heavily that Minal was molested. Alone and scared of the incident, the girls just want to move on with their lives. The boys Rajvir, Dumpy and Ankit hatch plans of revenge. They are going to show these modern ‘characterless’ girls their place in this world. The threats and the harassment begin. The girls finally go to the police which make matter worse for them. Minal finds herself in prison on charge of murder and the girls truly hit rock bottom. Help comes in the form of Mr. Deepak Sehgal, a retired lawyer who defends their case.
The first half of the movie is a slow stretch – establishing the premise, the characters, their dynamics and desperation. It’s like elastic being pulled back, and then it snaps in the second half. The courtroom drama is the moral center of the movie. It takes on the trite and over-used ‘she was characterless so she deserved it’ approach head on. The defense aids in establishing that she may be characterless (whatever that truly means) – but did she consent to sex. The emphasis on consent is the core theme. The movie also calls out on the inherent feudal mindset that prevails on today’s urban men that appear deceptively modern. Rich, educated abroad, trotting about in designer wear – they still don’t see women as equals or people with free will.
Taapsee Pannu as Minal and Kriti Kulhari as Falak bring in fine, nuanced performances. Taapsee Pannu does a phenomenal job in the portrayal of an assault victim. Sexual assault may not always leave physical marks but the emotional scars are as important. She easily outshine Amitabh Bachchan in every scene (a side note – his towering presence was really not required on the poster of a movie about a women’s issue). The movie is low in melodrama until Bachchan appears on the scene (just kidding – well not really). I do like the fact that even then the focus remains on the girls. Mr. Sehgal’s character breaches on the edge of sermonizing but is often stopped short which is a relief. It’s important for movies to drive social messages without occupying the pulpit.
Some narrative decisions seem very deliberate. As an audience we never see the actual incident till the ending credits roll. Along with the court, we rely on the testimony of the girls and the witnesses. It’s a parallel to real life where often in cases of molestation there are no witnesses and the onus of establishing the incident often falls on the traumatized victim. The movie makes an important point of mentioning that consent is important even if it’s the women in question is your wife – a pointed barb at the lack of laws around marital rape.
It’s important to note that this movie is not about rape in general. It deals with a very specific type of incident about a very specific section of society. The focus of the movie is rather on the deep seated patriarchal values that drive men in India to assume themselves as the proprietors of woman and self-appointed judges on their transgressions and habits. ‘You drink, so you are fair game. You smile ‘freely’ at me, so you are fair game. You refuse me, how dare you, you slut! Let me show you who I am!’ These values extend to the police force whose job is to protect its citizens. The condescending and dismissive inspector who discourages Minal from filing her original complaint; the rude and unsympathetic female police officer who arrests the girls without proper investigation. They are not characters in fiction – they are characters that you read about everyday as yet another rape story hits the news.
Minal, Falak and Andrea are normal working girls. What happened to them continues to happen to a lot of girls like them. And they are not as lucky to have a Mr. Sehgal help them.



Liked: Gone Girl aka Marriages can be hard

What would happen to your life if one day you come home and your wife has disappeared? Would you worry yourself to death? Or would you send a little prayer of thanks?

What would happen if your wife disappeared and it looks like you killed her?  I bet you would be pretty desperate for her to be found.


Poster courtesy

That’s where Nick Dunne finds himself one day when he returns home to find his wife gone. (If you haven’t watched the movie, then I suggest you stop reading now and rent the DVD!). The cops are called in and find proof of foul play. While surprised by the careless attitude towards his wife’s disappearance, due to lack of evidence they hesitate to bring him in.

Meanwhile -where is Amy? More importantly, who is Amy? Through a series of flashbacks, narrated by Amy as parts of her journal, we get a peek into the Amy’s childhood that overshadowed by her fictional version, Amy and Nick’s early years of romance followed by a crumbling marriage.

In the present, police find holes in Nick’s stories and a trail of clues that convinces them that Amy’s disappearance was an inside job – as in the husband did it. Smiling Instagram pictures with a volunteer, having a mistress and generally not giving a shit about his wife don’t help his case.

Then the police find the golden ticket –Amy’s journal with the last sentence that literally states- ‘He is going to kill me’. A little convenient, don’t you think? I thought so too.

Seriously, if you haven’t watched the movie yet, stop reading now.

Amy was no ordinary mid-west house wife. She was a pretty, highly educated and accomplished city girl. She wasn’t going to stick around in an unhappy marriage that used up all her money. She wasn’t going to get cheated on. She was going to get even and how!

I wasn’t surprised that the elaborate set up was to frame Nick for the murder. What surprised me how Amy chose to punish Nick, or the other men before him. It was as if she was fighting thousands and thousands years of subjugation of wives all over the world. She also chose to punish men by falsely implying them in criminal acts that are most often true against women. She was beating them at their own game. In the end, sure she was a psycho bitch, but all those men, maybe deserved just a little bit of it. To call her a nut job would be over simplification.

Based on the novel of the same name by Gillian Flynn, director’s David Fincher’s Gone Girl is a fascinating movie at so many levels. Of the bat, it’s a great who-dun-it. On the next it’s a fascinating psychological thriller with an extremely intriguing cast of characters. At a deeper level, it’s a commentary on mental, sexual and physical abuse in marriages presented through a distorting looking glass. There is no justifying the crimes that Amy commits but what’s horrific is that how easily true all her claims could have been. Gone Girl is also a commentary of the invasion of media into our lives and how critical it can be in determining one’s fate. Nick’s concern is not limited proving his innocence to the system, but also to the public. His wife is missing and he has to come on talk shows to explain himself.

Rosamund Pike has the right mix of vulnerability and steely determination to be Amy. She clearly overshadows the rest of the cast. Ben Affleck is ideal for the role of stone faced Nick. The tone of the movie is dark, even the early happy days in New York are shot in the cold winter. It’s not a happy movie, but it is extremely entertaining.



Sidewalls is a quirky indie Argentinian movie that explores the explosive and divisive nature of today’s metropolises on our life styles.  Directed by Gustavo Taretto, the film uses Buenos Aires, as the setting of the general delineation of the human culture.

Sidewalls’ two protagonists Martin and Mariana, provide semi-philosophical commentary to a mostly voice-over based narrative. Both represent the common dysfunctional state of being singles in a large city. Each lives in tiny apartment, suffers from new age phobias and is terribly lonely person in need of love, peace and companionship in a city of millions of people. “Sidewalls” examines multiple factors that have led to this compartmentalization of individuals from each other.  It lays the blame on 21st century metropolises with their daunting, congested and ever-changing skylines, making the city uglier every turn and the people living in them strangers to one another. It takes a look at the web of cables connecting the city,  but ironically making it’s inhabitants more isolated. For instance, Martin and Mariana live on the same block but never meet. Their first interaction is through a virtual chat room.

Mariana is an architect and Martin is a web designer, and through their eyes we see the beauty of the architecture of Buenos Aires. Mariana explains in the movie that Sidewalls are the ugly sides of the buildings that no one pays attention to, that have all the repair marks, have cracks or are covered with ugly adverting. I believe Taretto is trying to say that people are the “Sidewalls” to this fast paced life of the new world. They are the marginalized, ignored and  fractured remains of new millennium.

The movie however, on a whole has a hopeful comical feel to it. Whether it’s Mariana ditching her date on the floor of a 20th floor apartment building, or Martin’s romance with his dog walker, you will find yourself smiling often.

I personally thought the movie lost steam in certain places and when I checked online I found that it was originally made as a short film. When it did really well, the producers went back and expanded which could explain why it was so slow sometimes.

It’s a bittersweet movie with solid performances from the leads Javier Drolas and Pilar Lopez and worthwhile watching once.


Prince of Persia

With the explosion of technology in the world of multimedia, it’s become quite amazing the kind of visual effects that you can create on big screen. And because you can, it’s driving the type of movies that are being made. Thought I don’t have any statistical data, I am pretty sure that the numbers of sci-fi, fantasy, animated movies that are coming through are much higher than ever before.

This also means, that there are not many movies that stand out. However, when I saw the trailers of The Prince of Persia, I was hooked. I loved, absolutely loved the fight sequences. And then we have all played the game as a child so there is some sentimental value with that. And you know if Disney can create a multi-million dollar franchise inspired by a ride, then they definitely had lot more to draw out from an incredibly complex game.

Anyway, the premise of the movie is straightforward. Dastaan (Jake Gyllenhaal), our rakishly handsome, brave and reckless hero, is the adopted son of the King of Persia. Though third in the line to the throne he is devoted to his elder brothers – Tus (Richard Coyle – not recognizable as Jeff from Coupling !)  and  Garsiv (Toby Kebbell).  When the movie opens, the three brothers are planning to attack the holy city of Alamut, as they believe its involved in illegal arms dealing (not much has changed since the middle ages, has it?).  What follows in the next half hour of brilliant fast paced fight sequences, beautiful CGI effects and some clever script is that, Alamut is taken over, Princess Tamina of the city is awarded to Dastaan as a bride and the King of Persia is murdered with the blame on Dastaan’s head. The Prince and the Princess turn fugitive as they try to find the truth behind the assassination.

I would like to call this movie a typical “masala” fare – pure entertainment. The plot is good if not great, funny at the right places, the action sequences breathtaking and the acting quite top-notch. Jake Gyllenhaal is perfect for the role of Dastaan, Ben Kinglsey is such a veteran that he is always brilliant in each scene that he is in. Gemma Arterton is likeable as Tamina though not exactly a perfect fit.

The last 20 minutes of the movie are slightly over the top and unbelievable even for a fantasy fiction and probably the only part that I did not like. However, the ending is quite unexpected and you are left with the feeling that few hours of your life never happened 😉

 Verdict : Do watch it if you like this genre of movies