Ratheesh KrishnaVadhyar's Journal
Below are the 10 most recent journal entries recorded in the "Ratheesh KrishnaVadhyar" journal:
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Marathi film Natsamrat, directed by Mahesh Manjrekar tells the story of a veteran theater actor post his retirement. Some of the basic thematic elements of the film are frequently recurring ones in Indian family drama films and television serials - generation gap, misunderstandings and clashes between aging parents and daughter-in-law, a misplaced bundle of cash and false allegations, and so on. But what makes the film different and memorable is the brilliant performance by Nana Patekar in the lead role and some of the scenes in which the director presents the outbursts of the character, who tries to identify himself with the various roles he pad played on stage. Equally good are the supporting performances by Medha Manjrekar in the role of the actor's wife, and Vikram Gokhale in the role of his friend.
Three Films by Hirokazu Koreeda|
I watched three more films directed by Hirokazu Koreeda recently, and was greatly impressed with them.
Nobody Knows is a film based on a real incident, in which four "unregistered" children are left alone in an apartment in Tokyo by their mother. The eldest child, Akira was given some money by the mother before leaving, and the film shows the plight of the children for next few months.
In Like Father, Like Son, we see Ryota, a rich, ambitions and career oriented man and a strict, disciplinarian father, suddenly realizing that his 6 year old son is not really his own, as there was a mistake done at the hospital during his delivery and the baby was switched with another one. His real son's parents are of middle class background, but they have a much warmer bonding with their kids. The film focuses on the dilemmas of both the parents, and shows how each of them look at the situation in very different ways.
Our Little Sister is about three sisters who live on their own. Their father had married some other woman several years back, and the mother had also followed suit. When they come to know of their father's death, they reluctantly decide to attend his funeral, and there they meet their 13 year old step-sister, Suzu. Suzu's mother had passed away, and her father had married a third time. The three sisters invite Suzu to live with them, and the rest of the film shows the relationship between the four girls.
Hirokazu Koreeda handles stories involving complex human emotions with warmth, and all these films are wonderful viewing experiences.
Run Lola Run|
German film Run Lola Run (1998) tells the story of twenty minutes in which a girl, Lola, has to manage to gather a large sum of money to save her boyfriend's life within a short span of time. There are three different narratives of these twenty minutes presented in the film, each involving some changes in the events, time lines and Lola's interactions with other people, which are inter-related, and result in drastically different results and change the course of the story. This stylish and innovative film is a very interesting watch.
Czech movie Kolya (1996) tells the story of Louka, a carefree, middle-aged man who agrees for a marriage of convenience with a Russian woman for some financial compensation. The marriage would enable the woman to immigrate to Germany to be with her boyfriend, which she does soon after the ceremony. However, Kolya, her 5 year old son is unable to go with her immediately, and he is left with his grandmother in Prague. The grandmother dies a few days later, so Kolya is put under the care of his reluctant stepfather. Though Louka initially doesn't like this guest at his home at all, a warm and affectionate relationship develops between them over a period of time.
The basic theme of the movie is not something that is very fresh, but the film is a delightful watch for its faultless presentation, and performances.
The Pather Panchali Sketchbook|
60+ years after the release of Pather Panchali, the 58 pages of "visual screenplay" that Satyajit Ray had made for the movie is published as a book. This screenplay was thought to be lost, but a copy of it was recently recovered and it is published by Harper Collins. Along with the screenplay, the book contains memoirs by artists who were part of Pather Panchali, reproduction of various memorabilia associated with the film (like old letters, newspaper articles, posters, hand-written designs of pamphlets, photographs taken during the making of the film, etc.), reviews of the film (some of them translations) published soon its release, and articles by film-personalities remembering their experiences of watching it. Overall, the beautifully printed book would be some sort of a "collector's item" for every Ray enthusiast.
I recently happened to watch the newly restored versions of the Apu Trilogy movies. I have watched the video tapes and earlier digital prints of these films numerous times, and it has to be said that this new print enhances the viewing experience dramatically. The images are crystal clear and sharp, and the voice quality also is far superior to older prints.
Still Walking (2008), Japanese film directed by Hirokazu Koreeda, narrates the events of roughly over a day, when the three generation of Yokohama family members (the aging parents, the second son and his family, and the daughter and her family) get together at their old home, on the memorial day of the eldest son, who had died 15 years back while trying to save a child from drowning. Most of the film shows the characters sitting inside the family home and engaging in conversations - sometimes mundane discussions, sometimes on nostalgic and amusing anecdotes of the past, and sometimes bordering on uneasy subjects of the present. The subtle way in which the brilliant film presents the inter-relationships between the characters, their inner thoughts and dilemmas, reminds of the classic films by Yasujiro Ozu.
I found the last scenes of the film to be particularly touching. The aging father talks about going to watch a soccer match with his son and grandson at the local stadium "one of these days". The mother comments that her wish is to travel with her son on his car (he is yet to buy one). While returning home after seeing off the son and his family at the bus stop, the parents are hoping that the son will be back for a visit during New Year. The scene cuts to the bus, and we see the son and his wife discussing among themselves that they can now skip the visit for New Year, since one trip is enough for an year. Then it cuts to present a monologue by the son, who states that he was never able to fulfill the wishes of his parents, who passed away a few years later. There is no hint of melodrama in the dialogues, but I felt the presentation to be immensely touching.
I read Mostly Murder, autobiography by Sir Sydney Smith, veteran forensic scientist. His autobiography only briefly talks about his personal life, and most of the book is about the various cases in which he was involved to give medico-legal analysis during his lengthy career spanning 5 decades and several countries, including Egypt, UK and New Zealand. Most of the cases involved murder, and so the book is named as "Mostly Murder". Eleven of the murder investigations are described very elaborately, dedicating a chapter for each of these.
The deduction process that is explained in detail related to these murder investigations is something that would make the deduction process in any Holmes or Poirot story look like trivial (of course, there is no drama in Sir Smith's memoirs, so they would not probably look as "engaging" as Holmes or Poirot). Apparently, the author writes about Joseph Bell, a lecturer in his college, from whom Arthur Conan Doyle (who worked as a clerk for Bell) derived inspirations while creating the character of Holmes.
Watched Hotel Rwanda
(2004), a brilliant film based on the conflicts between Hutu and Tutsi people of Rwanda, and the Rwandan Genocide
of 1994. Paul, the central character of the film is a well-to-do Hutu, and is manager at a star hotel. For him, his close family comes first before anything else in the world, and in the beginning of the film we see him as a person who wouldn't want to intervene when he sees his Tutsi neighbors are being beaten up and taken away by police, because he thinks that would be an unnecessary risk to take. However, as the film progresses, we see him providing shelter for more than a thousand Tutsi refugees at his hotel and trying all he could do to ensure their safety.Hotel Rwanda
brought a recent Hindi film Airlift
to my mind. Though both of these films are based on real events, there are quite a lot of resemblances between the main characters and certain events in these films.
Embrace of the Serpent|
Embrace of the Serpent, a film from Columbia, tells the story of two travels - The first one in early 1900, when a German scientist, who is unwell, is guided by his helper (who worked for a Rubber Baron earlier, and was freed by the scientist after paying some money to his "master") to meet Karamakate, the last survivor of an Amazonian tribe. The scientist hopes that Karamakate would be able to show him Yakruna, a secret, sacred plant that is supposed to have great healing properties. In the second story that is set several decades later, a scientist from the US is in search for the Yakruna plant, and he too approaches Karamakate (who is now an old man) and they together take up a journey through the river. Through these stories, the film attempts to discuss (though not in an explicit manner) various subjects related to colonization of the Amazon areas, religious conversions, and destruction of indigenous cultures.
The film is picturized in black and white, and it looked very different to view the "lush green landscapes" of the Amazon through shades of gray. Along with some native music that is used for background, the imagery of the film provides a unique viewing experience.
Malayala Cinema Charithram Vichithram|
Chelangattu Gopalakrishnan's book on the history of early Malayalam Cinema starts in the beginnings of 20th century, describing the photo exhibition systems that were seen around the Thrissur Pooram venue and some of the later evolutions in the film exhibition systems, including the manually operated film projectors that showed Tamil and Hindi silent films in Kerala. He writes in detail about the makings of Vigathakumaran (1930) (Apparently it was Chelangattu Gopalakrishnan who played a significant role in rediscovering JC Daniel's movie several decades later, helping it receive due credit as the first Malayalam movie to be ever made), Marthanda Varma (1933) and Balan (1938), the first talkie.
We then read about some other early Malayalam movies (and movie-making attempts), about the establishment of Udaya Studio and Merryland Studio, and several movies (many of them mostly unheard of) made during the 1950s. After taking the readers through the movies of late 1950s, the author jumps to 1967 and writes about a few movies made during that time, and the book abruptly ends there - It gives the impression that the book is a collection of various articles written by the author, not specifically aiming to document a continuous history of Malayalam Cinema.
Malayala Cinema Charithram Vichithram has a journalistic narrative style, filled with several anecdotes and gossips surrounding people involved with film-making. They are often interesting to read, and it was amazing to note the perseverance of the author in following up on the personal lives of many of the colorful characters associated with those early Malayalam films.
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