Monday, February 21, 2011

7 life lessons from 7 Khoon Maaf

Vishal Bhardwaj cannot keep things simple. And thank god for it. Even the most linear of narratives, in his films, carry meanings beneath the patina. Sub-texts abound, and simple tales have layers.

Saat Khoon Maaf is no exception.

One can enjoy the film as a quirky story of an unusual woman, Susanna, who loves, marries and kills (well, many times over). Great music, dark tones, stellar performances, flawed characters sketched quickly and enacted effortlessly - these are all there to revel in. But scratch the surface and the richness overflows; what emerges are life-lessons in barrel-loads, inherent in the life-choices Susanna makes.

Here are just seven reasons why this film of killings could be a fine reference film for living:

One: Embrace life:

There is nothing more compelling than seeing a person refusing to lose hope, to continuously seek correction or redemption in the next move, next turn or - next husband. Sussana refuses to give up, in her search for love and life. And her final choice, as night begins to fall in her life, is the finest possible: at long last she finds a person to dance with till the end.

Reason Two: Be decisive:

Susanna does not leave anything undone. She resolves things totally, and then only does she move on. Her little admirer and mentee, Arun, the narrator of the story, asks as much after her Kashmir sojourn with Irrfan: why didn't she just leave the sadist and come back. And he is told by her faithful retainer, the butler, that Sussana first closes a chapter completely, before opening another one.

Reason Three: Be open, learn to give and receive:

Each turn of life brings its own charms. One needs to learn to take risks. Poet, hunter, doctor, spy, singer - Sussana's life is rich in the kind of people she attracts. She refuses nothing, as long as it has potential to add to the tapestry of her life. She is failed in her search for love, but not in her attempt to seek life in all its hues.

She is finely tuned into the fancies of each of her husbands. She revels in their strengths and the beauty of their talent. Song, poetry, gastronomy, dance, physical charishma - she knows life is short and its richness can't be denied.

And then when the time for denouements comes, she cleverly uses methods which are the downsides of these very same habits, fancies and talents. The circle completes itself.

Reason Four: Always have someone in your life who loves you unquestionably:

We are nothing if we do not have people in our lives who would die for us and are beside us in our bleakest times. People who might not like our choices, but who know that being human and making mistakes is part and parcel of loving someone.

Sussana's maid, butler and one-eyed horse-keeper are her closest associates, who are, as she once states, more faithful than even the owners of the house. They can do anything for her - and they do.

Reason Five: Trust completely:

Sussana immerses herself into each of her married lives. She is whole and trusting, everytime, even though she faces heartbreak not once, but again and again.

Reason Six: The past needs to be burnt to enjoy the present:

There is enough symbolism of this when she decides to wreck her house to hide a body. But her ability to carry her past lightly enables her to find more reasons to live. She is unburdened with what is best erased.

Reason Seven: Always know the time for finalities:

Sussana realizes when the end-play begins - and when life has to be given its final twist. And she was the one who had to give it. Her choice of her final husband was her iconoclastic way of saying: this is my way of living - and living on.

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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

No Strings Attached

Natalie Portman looks frazzled, she's confused. But who's to complain, as she agrees to a 'sex-only' relationship with Ashton Kutcher - and jumps into it with vim and gusto!

Nothing is simple; and the lovelorn spaniel that Ashton is, the results are long foregone.

The proceedings are nicely helped along with a fairly-decently etched-out legion of family and friends, as also the dialogue, which is tartily frank.

Nothing memorable, but the film has a nice lived-in feel about it. And it's always nice to have Natalie around for a while in your life...

February 14th, 2011
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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Yeh Saali Zindagi

A frenetic, funny and bawdy ride through the underworld of society and souls.

Acted, edited and directed with pizazz, this is the first Guy Ritchie of Hindi cinema.

With total irreverence, it shows how love and crime are so similar - faithlessness can break hearts or bones but faith can mend lives.

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