Week 11

We watched two movies over the week and one in class. Bombay Velvet and Chitchor were the two movies we had seen during the week.

Bombay velvet, a recently shot film set during the 60’s, is about Johnny, a commoner, seeks wealth and fame to win love interest Rosie’s heart. An entry into the world of crime gives his ambitions a head-start, but he must face the formidable challenges soon. The story is very interesting; it keeps you anticipating on what will happen next. The movie is made extremely well; the characters are believable, and the sets make you feel you are in the ’60s. The storyline is a bit slow in the first half, but the second half picks up speed. The reason why I feel people have not been able to connect with this movie is because he (the director – Anurag Kashyap) has been making contemporary movies only which usually contain a known character whom the audience can connect with. Here it’s a different case; it’s not the 60’s of India but the 60’s of Mumbai, unknown to most. So the way the story has unfurled I think is in the most natural form that could have been made. Even people who criticise the film will agree that it’s a treat to the eyes when it comes to sets and costumes.

Chitchor is a light hearted film about Geeta who ends up with two suitors after her father goes to bring home a prospective groom and mistakenly picks up the wrong man. Chitchor represented a middle-of-the-road cinema which was making its presence felt in the late 70s. In contrast to extravagance seen in usual Bollywood films, movies such as Chitchor relied on a strong plot, effective characterisations, smooth narrative and hummable tunes. Director Basu Chatterje intersperses the main plot with small incidents which help portray the various dimensions and shades in the characters. The simple treatment is embellished by small instances of comic incidents which are subtly introduced. There is a streak of innocence about the romance that signifies the essence of this movie, a typical Basu Chatterjee presentation, so infectious, so appealing. Simple, realistic and aesthetic to the core, you will want to revisit and experience the joy of quality and meaningful cinema. No big stars and devoid of glamour, this was a standout offering by Rajshri Productions.

The final movie we watched in class was Manthan: A veterinarian, Dr. Rao, makes a visit to a village, where he intends to commence a co-operative society dairy for the betterment of the rural people. Though I found the movie tp be a bit slow, what I found interesting was that it was produced by the farmers community; as in a small amount was collected from over 5 lakh farmers in Gujarat for the production of the film. The film has a timeless message: It is set against the backdrop of Operation Flood which replaced the era of measly milk production and restricted distribution with one of plenty and depicted the bargaining power of the collective. In the film, it is shown through Dr Rao who comes to a Gujarat village to set up a dairy cooperative, which upsets all existing socio-economic equations. At one level, the economy is jolted out of stagnation, at another, the caste system is scoffed at. At another, feudal traditions are done away with. All this is done with fine performances, minimal dialogue and soothing music. Above all, “Manthan” is a director’s film. Benegal was earlier making Amul ad films and had made a documentary on Operation Flood. He uses his research here to devastating effect: the caste politics shown here is a result of a ground level work, and the district cooperatives in many States watched the film. Later, they went on to have their own cooperatives. Power of cinema, power of the vision of one man. A legend answering to the name of Dr Verghese Kurien.

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