If you’ve seen Haider, and you’re cringing at the title of this post, please relax.
It just means that this is the second MAMI/MFF I am attending 🙂
Day 1: Started with probably the best film I’ve seen this year. Avinash Arun’s Killa is visually stunning, and far more immersive as a story. The scenes are taken to great heights by the performances of the entire cast – especially the kids in the school. A story of adolescence, struggling with moving to a new place, loss, fear of abandonment, not being understood, finding friends, then finding strength, layered with beautiful frames, and music that’s beautiful but never gets in your way. And at many times, I am reminded that segments of this film could very well be a teenage Dil Chahta Hai :). Don’t miss it anywhere you get a chance to see it.
The second movie I walked in to, was Mrityunjay Devvrat’s Children of War. I had seen its trailer a few months back, and was intrigued by the star cast (Farooq Shaikh, Victor Banerjee, Pavan Malhotra, Raima Sen, Tilottama Shome). I walked into the screen around half an hour late (because Killa was rescheduled to an hour after the initial time), but got the gist of the movie in a dialogue Pavan Malhotra (playing a military man from West Pakistan) mouths. I stayed for a half hour after that, but could not sit much longer. Perhaps it was because the contrast in the approaches between Killa and CoW was so stark. That half an hour was full of loud background music, dialogues delivered with strange pauses, extra expositing dialogues, and lots of melodrama. I decided to not let my headache increase and walked out.
Day 2: Güeros apparently is a slur in Mexico. It means a pale man. And many times in the movie, calling someone pale is deemed as a mild insult. Alonso Ruiz Palacios’ Güeros touches upon various conflict of urban Mexican society along with many many other subjects, related to the characters’ lives as well as with art and education in the country. But what’s more delightful than the treatment of these subjects, or the black-and-white and four-by-three frames, or the music that could change Mexican rock that the audience never gets to hear, or the ‘tiger’, or the semi-parasitic relationship our protagonists have with the unsuspecting little girl who’s their neighbour, is the self-effacing approach the film takes – it just dissipates whatever tension is built up because of a character going on a deep self-discovery monologue or a deep political discussion between the characters by taking a totally unexpected and hilarious route. And quite a few times, it appears as if the characters are making a commentary on the film they themselves are acting in, which gave me a feeling of them having crossed the boundary of the silver screen and having walked into the theatre amongst us. It’s in a way a road movie, as well as a coming of age movie, as well as a self-discovery movie. Even though the title refers to a pale man, the most important protagonist is the man who’s referred to as the dark one whenever someone is called pale. Watch it for deep thoughtful conversations, and belly-aching laughs.
In the evening, I walked in to Chandan to catch Atom Egoyan’s The Captive. To be honest, I am a sucker for a good thriller. Most of this film ticks off the boxes for one, but the narrative is mostly loose and flaky. I was trying to write off the discrepancies by positing that the film jumps back and forward in time, not exactly like Memento, but in a loose way. The problem still remained that I could not find any anchors or markers for us to realise ‘which’ time we are in at any point in the film. There even was a time when I wondered if Rosario Dawson is playing twins! The performances are strong, but the motives seem half-baked. The created universe of the pedophile ring seems a bit too goody-goody to be sinister and menacing, and the characters are all in set templates of such a thriller, well, except for Rosario Dawson’s Nicole. I was thankful the movie wasn’t too long, but I wouldn’t watch it again. Well, maybe I would, just to understand (spoiler alert) how Nicole manages to appear in a kidnapper’s van one moment, and then investigating in the next frame, and then back in the van later on.