Saturday, April 16, 2016

Loretta Play Review: Loretta- Go..A for It!

The Tiatr setting
Loretta. The papers described it as a goan play based on the popular Tiatr form. Ab Theatre toh suna tha, but yeh ‘Theater mein Tiatr’ pehli baar sun raha tha. Googled  and found out that this Tiatr is a type of musical theatre popular in the state of Goa since colonial days, the  language mainly being Konkani. The drama consists of 6 or 7 acts called pordhe . The acts are interspersed by songs which need not be directly linked to the content or the issues of the main drama. There are 2 or 3 songs between each of the acts. In case you find that too much to comprehend, guess for the lesser mortals one can say,these are like Nautanki fillers! Short and maybe not so sweet for some but definitely effective!
Goa, with its free flowing culture and charm, always  lifts up your spirit in more ways than one. Now a goan charm combined with this folk or Tiatr style of storytelling, was a potent cocktail. So decided to give it a shot over the weekend. Now a shot in Goa will have a different meaning depending on whom you are talking to. Anyways before venturing into details and getting this article censored let’s stick to the main dope, I mean play review.
Language is nothing but a pure form of human expression. What is its importance if it can’t help us communicate. It’s just a facilitator for humans to come close and that’s about it. Just not worth giving it more importance than us, isn’t it?  And where is it found? In the books or the grammer texts or in the simplest of words,songs and sounds that echo amongst the common folk that touch your heart ? The later I guess, is where the answer lies. Sunil Shanbaug through this musical Tiatr of Loretta drives home this simple point, quite grammatically, I mean dramatically!
My bad luck. Coudn’t get a goan beauty to accompany me so had to settle for a beauty from a different geographical location of India. But a beauty nevertheless! That’s why i love our country. There is so much potential everywhere. Bharat mata ki Jai! Jokes apart it was her birthday just a couple of days back  and since we coudn’t meet up that day, had planned this day out as a return gift. After all what can you give a girl who can afford diamonds, only priceless memories.  Was smart enough to figure that out and if it kept the friendly spirits soaring, so be it!
Right from the entrance to the waiting hall, the mood was spot on. Goan music, folks songs and goan food stalls dominated the proceedings. The singer was good and she definitely got the tempo going before the show began. Set in an old goan town on an island in Barthemelow the plot opens on the life of Mr Antonio Moraes(Abhijit Bhoir), more popularly called Konkani Moraes, because of his fanatical obsession towards the Konkani language. Being a landlord he wields enough clout amongst most folk on the Island. He is determined in his objective to keep the culture and the language on the island pure and from this obsession of his, stems up his decision to keep the island secluded. If that means the only way to reach is through a ferry , so be it.
Enter his son Rafael (Satvic)with his live-in partner Loretta(Rozzlin Pereira) . Rafael is back not to spend time in his village or with his father but for his own selfish reasons of wanting a job in Portugal, for which he needs a Portuguese passport.Easily available to Goans. Antonio aware of this is least excited when he sees his son back. But what strikes him is Loretta and her love for everything Konkani. In love with everything that the island has to offer, from its fields to the trees, to its people and their dialect, Loretta feels she has found true home on this island.  Her morning wake up call is the song of the toddy tapper Miguel(Kailash Waghmare ) . Her interactions with the paowala Pedro (Shailesh Hemjadi) and the fisher woman Audu( Shilpa Sane ) keep her day occupied. And then there is the ever reliable Caitu (Danish Husain) , Man-Friday to Moraes, now transformed into Ms.Bai  Loretta’s best friend, who lights up the stage with a meaty role scene after scene.
Rafael wants to go but Loretta wants to stay for as long as she wants. Moraes throws a challenge – learn the language of the island to stay on the island or else go back to where you came from. Loretta takes it up and thus begins her sincere effort to learn Konkani. With her buddy Caitu in tow along with Audu, Pedro and Miguel what begins next is a roller coaster ride of music and emotions. Whether she manages to come clean in this test and how her relations with the other protagonists evolve, then forms the crux of the play.
The casting is spot on and all the actors enact their roles well. The live music and the Tiatr acts by Asif Ali Baig and one even by the director Sunil Shanbaug keep you well entertained. What you take back is a memorable evening and maybe some words of Konkani .
Apart from Loretta, played with sincerity and liveliness by Rozzlin and Caitu ,portrayed with a flair by Danish ,the characters of the pint sized dynamo fisherwoman Audu and the toddy tapper Miguel ,whose body language is mastered by Waghmare stay with you even after the show. In Audu’s case the scene where she blushes on hearing Rafael’s  praise for her  is priceless. In Waghmare’s case his own physique is priceless! One look and you know he is the toddy tapper or your very own neighborhood friendly…nariyal pani wala. So much for spiderman i say!
Enjoyed the show and it is definitely a different experience. My partner-in-crime for the evening also liked it, which was pretty much evident in her almost ‘man-like’ laughter on a couple of occasions during the show. For all those speculating more on what happened after it, well we went our ways which just goes to show that Loretta can be safely enjoyed with kids too! The content is absolutely generic with just a 'blink and you miss' peck towards the end. For other outcomes well there are different kinds of plays. But we’ll get to that some other day.
Till then go for this Taitr whenever you find it playing at a theater near you. Konkani or no Konkani, go for it for the love of Goa, go for Loretta!

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Movie review: The Jungle book.Niklo chaddi pehenke!

Carefree and free spirited, running around the Jungle in a yellow chaddi with the song playing the background-“jungle jungle bath chali hai pata chala hai, chaddi pehenke phool khila hai… phool khila hai…” the images of Mowgli and his friends are still sharp in my mind.  Have lost count on the number of Sundays this animated series entertained us on the idiot box on Doordarshan during our childhood days. Mowgli’s friends were our friends and we all hated, some even feared Shere Khan. Even in our group all of us had names. I, for one was Bagheera, the panther. Mowgli’s trusted friend/mentor guide .Missed out on being Mowgli since I was big for my age amongst my peers and on Baloo because there was someone bigger!
Was awaiting this one and when the movie released in India this week, was amongst the first to catch it over the long weekend. The plot is nearly the same. Mowgli, a man cub is discovered by Bagheera and handed over to Raksha and Akela, the wolves who raise him up as their own. The boy grows up and considers him to be a proud member of the wolf pack until things change. Summer is at its peak and a water truce is called. No hunting,No bloodshed during the truce, is the law of the Jungle. Enter the menacing tiger with a grudge for humans and especially Mowgli–Shere Khan. The tiger threatens that once the truce is over he will come for the man cub and that’s when the wolves under Bagheera’s advice decide that the man-cub is safer amongst his own. They ask him to go to the man village and stop at nothing in the way.
What beacons then is a roller coaster adventure that Mowgli draws us into. From escaping Shere Khan’s ferocious attack to being enticed hypnotically into Kaa’s world rather her stomach nearly, only to be rescued by Baloo.  He strikes a great comrade with the bear. The character of Baloo provides great comic relief in the film and is an interesting one. But once Mowgli learns that Shere Khan has killed Akela to get to him, revenge burns in his heart and he comes back with the red flower! The divine knowledge of fire, the power that made man supreme in the animal kingdom.
The film is a visual treat .The computer graphics breathe life into the jungle. Even though Neel Sethi (Mowgli) may be the only living, breathing entity but by the time the movie is over, you feel the entire Jungle is alive from the smallest of animals to the main ones of Bagheera, Baloo, & Shere Khan. The effects are so real that you are transported into the Jungle right from the first frame and you experience Mowgli’s life. Frame by Frame the detailing laves you spellbound. One of the most chilling scenes in the movie is that of the snake Kaa. Her hypnotic moves almost leave you asking for more.
There are some diversions from the main story, at least from what we saw on Doordarshan as kids. In that Mowgli from the jungle actually finds a second home in the man village and a soul mate in Radha. As he grows a bit older is when he comes back with the knowledge of fire and avenges his father’s death by killing/torching Shere khan with it. In this film even though the director stays true to the eventual ending, the situations leading to it are redefined.  Also while the monkey gang or the Bandar log in the animated series owed loyalty to Shere khan, here they are a separate entity in themselves. Their king Louie is shown as more interested in controlling the jungle and hence seeks the knowledge of the red flower from Mowgli.
Apart from the graphics, the other hero in the movie is the voiceovers. Saw it in English and am tempted to watch it in Hindi too just to see how it has shaped up.
Shere Khan (Idris Elba), Bagheera (Ben Kingsley), Bill Murray (Baloo) etc give it all and breathe life into their characters. But Scarlett Johansson as the mysterious Kaa with her husky voice stands out and creates an impact in just one scene and how. Truly amazing. All in all, a perfect casting choice to compliment the wonderful effects.
Neel Sethi as Mowgli is lovable from the first frame and carries one with him throughout his adventures in the jungle. He will win hearts for sure. Jon Favreau, take a bow for adapting the heart rendering tale of Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle book and presenting us with our childhood memories refreshed and how!  His efforts have made this one of the best animated movies to come out from the house of Disney.
The only spoiler is the U/A certificate given by  Pahlaj Nihalani- censor bored ,oops board chief of India!  That for me was the only piece of ‘over the top CG’ in this film!
Go for it guys . This is a must watch and one of the best films this year.
Chaddi pehenke phool nahi , pura Jungle khila hai!

Movie review- film deKI ya picture deKa

After Cheeni kam, Shamitabh yet again in Ki&Ka we have a unique concept from the director R Balki . His ideas are unique for sure and quite quirky. This time around the quirk is on the preconceived gender roles that we as a society have decided for our ladKAs(Boys) and ladKIs(Girls) . While the ladkas have to be the breadwinners , ladkis have to take care of domestic duties, be at home and play the supporting role to their men. This is what has been a traditional norm in the Indian society. While this has definitely changed  in the last 10 years or so, we have still a long way to go in being a gender equal society, especially where the mindset is concerned.
Kia(Kareena Kapoor Khan) plays a strong headed, ambitious corporate woman who is all about to challenge this mindset. Single, successful and unmarried she is completely career driven and does not believe in just being a pillar of support to a building, when she can be the whole building herself. Success driven she has her goals spot on.
Enter Kabir(Arjun Kapoor) well educated, heir to a big empire, sensitive, caring, macho, but does not want to be a part of this corporate rat race. Infact here is a guy whose ambition in life is not to be like his dad , bro or some other business guy, but to be like his Mom. Be a housewife!
Their worlds collide, sparks fly and amidst the objections of his father (Rajat Kapor), Ka decides to marry his Ki and become a housewife. Things progress smoothly with Ki rising up in the corporate ladder and Ka turning their house into a home. But slowly once the society realizes the role that Ka is playing in their life,the tables turn and the spotlight slowly shifts on Ka. From Live interviews to speeches to cookery shows, he becomes famous. His videos on innovative food recipes gain him a bigger following on facebook.While Ki accepts this initially, slowly insecurities creep in their relationship. The final nail in the coffin is when Saffola, the cooking oil company that Ki works for wants to cast Ka in their advertisement. Ki refuses but Ka gives in and that’s when jealousy takes over and the relationship develops cracks. How it reaches a boiling point and finally how they get back to being the adorable Ki&Ka then forms the rest of the story.Personally felt the ending was a forcefit since Indians love happy endings.So most filmmakers give them one!After all moolah matters.
Kareena looks gorgeous and does justice to her role. Mr Bansal (Rajit kapoor )as the typical father/businessman, who wants his son to take over his empire has some of the best one-liners and quirks. Swaroop Sampat as Ki’s mother is the doting and understanding career women , supportive of their relationship. She also revels in her role, especially in the climax scene where she advices Ki about how humans end up complicating the most simplest of things and thus drive a wedge in their relationships,quite unnecessarily.
But the one who steals the spotlight here truly is Arjun Kapoor .As the sensitive, modern, caring househusband/wife he manages to build in the right kind of emotions required for this role. Kudos to the director too in presenting Ka’s character as a strong man who wants to challenge the societal norms and is definitely not weak or pansy . However just to establish him as strong physically too, what was a slight force fit was the situation of Ka taking on the eve teasers in the bus. However all said and done this is one of Arjun’s fine acts. Amitabh and Jaya Bachchan  also in a special cameo leave an impression besides bringing in a comic relief.

Yes in today’s world people say homemaker to make it sound respectful. But Balki prefers to keep it simple-Housewife.Create an aspiration around it and define it as the work of an artist. That takes some guts. Why should one be ashamed of it. After all if it was not for all the housewives around, how many of us , our fathers included would have achieved their dreams. But what fails short for the movie is that the writer in him is more powerful that the director. Hence the concept/storyline is  wow but then the direction & screenplay fall short of doing complete justice.  Nevertheless it’s entertaining. Even though the central theme of jealously/insecurity between a star couple is inspired by  Hrishikesh Mukherjee's classic Abhimaan, Balki gives is a complete modern twist . Well done!
Lastly countless numbers of women in India continue to be in their homes, dedicated in their roles as a housewife but that does not make them less important than a CEO or a VP. In fact they help create more CEO’s and leaders. What is sad is none of the magazines who feature top women, leaders in India even consider such women. If women themselves won’t treat these housewives with respect , why blame the men alone. There is no doubt that the most thankless job is the world is that of a housewife. No holidays, no breaks and no perks. The job is tough and demanding. Especially when it is never in the limelight and nobody wants to do it. Even my Mom is one and for me she is the most successful leader/manager, I can ever learn from. Like me there are millions in this country. So the next time someone asks us about the occupation of our mothers , use the phrase housewife proudly. It’s time we built an aspiration into it and it definitely does not need a homemaker camouflage.
film deKI ya picture deKa, par agar housewife se zindagi ka managerial skill nahi sikha, toh kya sikha!