Monday, July 23, 2012

Review: The Dark Knight Rises

Before "The Dark Knight Rises", the total gross of Christopher Nolan's last 4 films was 2.3 billion dollars. However, box office success is not the only thing associated to Nolan's films. Christopher Nolan is trying to tell  the audience something. He is trying to show something which is not visible but has a pervasive presence around us all the time. It has made a permanent home in our minds and hearts. But it rarely comes on our tongue. Quite possibly, he is trying to present "Delusion" and "Anarchy" filled around us.

We might be living in a world where there could be many "copies" of us. The Prestige, although shown as an epic battle between two magicians, hinted at this idea. The "greatest magic trick" was the central idea of the film. Both the magicians were looking for it. Eventually, Hugh Jackman finds it with the help of scientist Tesla.

The first two films in the Batman trilogy, especially the second film "The Dark Knight" hinted at the gross anarchy present inside each one of us. In a scene in the film, Joker (Memorably played by Heath Ledger) tells Batman, "Their (people or society) morals, their code..dropped at the first sign. When the chips are down, these civilized people will eat each other." People will drink each others blood if water on this planet finishes. The monster inside us is ever present. It is immortal. We fight it every second as it threatens to come out of us. Christopher Nolan created a monster out of the Joker who wanted to bring anarchy in the society.

Inception dealt with the unbelievable theme of dreams. The very thought that all life as we know around us could be just a dream has the capability to question our very identity. It sends a chill in the spine that there could be many worlds around us all. Even more, many of these worlds could just be structures of our imagination.

With The Dark Knight Rises, Nolan takes forward the idea of anarchy to an altogether different level. He imagines anarchy at the society and state pedestals. He wants us to believe that society needs anarchy. It needs to start over. The system has become too rotten to continue. It is killing us from inside. It is creating more and more Bane's everyday. The good is finding it harder and harder to defeat the bad. In fact, he explains that in order to defeat the bad, the good has to die. The society in which the good won over the bad and thrived after killing him has become history. In today's times, the good is weaker than the bad. The only way for it to win is by making itself a martyr.

Nolan is extremely successful in articulating this seed of thought in the film. As a result, the film is plot heavy. It contains 'crowds' in many scenes, in order to emphasize anarchy and restlessness of the society. The villain  Bane is simply bad in the film. He does not have Joker's eccentricities. He doesn't laugh. He doesn't see the funny side of the things. He is pure evil and angry.

The films hits on the political systems of the US, albeit in a very subtle way. Nolan's last installment of the Batman trilogy will not be as successful as its predecessor. It might not even earn as much as the previous installment did. But after earning 2.3 billion dollars, Nolan is not looking to make movies that will bring cash. He has risen above that. He wants people to know the inherent anarchy present inside us and in our society. The world is in the need of a revolution. A complete water-shed.

The Dark Knight Rises is a piece of art work. It will be remembered as probably Nolan's greatest work. Sadly, that recognition will be bestowed on him only when he would no longer be among us.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Movie Review: Party

Party is a 1984 film by Govind Nihalani. After tackling the issue of tribal injustice in Aakrosh, followed by a stark depiction of the Indian police and its juxtaposition with politics in Ardh Satya, Nihalani comes up with another gem. This time he takes on the hypocrisy of the so called 'artistic' people namely poets and writers.

Party starts with all the invitees getting ready for the evening in their own ways. From the rich to the poor, Nihalani showcases the emptyness of their lives. Once all of them have descended on the place, various inter-woven stories take place.

Group discussions and one-to-one meetings happen concomitantly. Nihalani handles the screenplay deftly and keeps the narrative crisp. The narrative is mostly about the politics people play in the world of art and literature. How new talent is crushed so that existing war-lords can continue to reign.

There is an interesting scene in the second half. The winner of a prestigious literary award, Manohar Singh, in whose achievement the party has been thrown opens up to Vijaya Mehta in a solo meeting in a room. He explains how he has managed to stay at the top of the literary world for the last twenty years.

He explains that he has been very astute in his life. The way to success is to grasp trends, use them before others and talk about life in complicated terms and then suddenly make it look very easy. These tricks have enabled him to make every empty word he says turn to dust.

Party manages to bring out the monster out of every "civilized" person. Perhaps, this has been Nihalani's sole motto in his films. To have long, deep conversations among his characters and then finally bring out emotions usually in an outburst. In that frenzy, they say what every person thinks but is too afraid to speak out, sometimes even in solitude.

Like most of his films, Party does not have any specific ending. Its main task is to delve into the disgusting facade of the literary world.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Behind the walls

The 80-90s was a strange generation. Just about everyone wanted to get out of poverty. The searing blades of want and desperation were a part of daily life of the entire middle class. Poverty for middle class was not meant in the strictest sense. There was food to eat, clothes to wear and a place to live. But one could not get more than that. Barring a few festivals in the year which called for some shopping, the wings of life were mostly clipped.

And the magic solution was to get an engineering degree. With India’s economy spreading its hands and welcoming FDI after 1991, IT became the poster boy of India’s economy. The IT industry of India gave a new hope to the emerging middle class. It proved to be a refuge for every child growing up in those years. The steps were simple. Get an engineering degree and most likely you will get a job in an IT company. The job would bring prestige, foreign trips and of course, loads of money. The rope to get out of the well of hopelessness of the middle class life turned out to be IT. And the middle class did whatever it could to cling onto those ropes.

IT was certainly responsible for bringing out a vast majority of the middle class out of the ‘well’. Those who were not able to get an engineering degree looked at the graduates with envy. They tried all means to ‘break' in the industry. IT courses, training programs and even self learning were all tools used by the have-nots to become a part of the new wave. Most importantly, it gave a sense of hope to the middle class that it was possible for things to change.  And change was evident in the urban areas of the country. High rise offices, glitzy malls, pubs, bars, clubs, multiplexes and construction of satellite towns around the periphery of cities were all transformations that this industry brought with itself.

The 70s generation envied this young crowd. This crowd had ‘jobs’, money and freedom. The previous generations had to fight tooth and nail even for basic necessities and the 90s generation got all of this and even more by simply getting an engineering degree.

For all its life changing capabilities, IT also wrote the obituary of many artists. The air conditioned, towering facades of the IT companies hid behind themselves angry and desperate writers, singers, musicians, painters, actors, teachers, journalists and many other careers. All these ‘IT professionals’ had been fed the success of IT since their teenage years. They had no other option but to choose engineering as their career. And choose they did. The choice brought them straight in front of a computer after their college. It brought loads of money. And it also woke the youth from its slumber. Suddenly, many of them realized that life was not so rosy from outside. It made them realize what they really wanted to do in their lives.

A whole new community sprang on the internet. This community mostly consisted of the disgruntled IT lot. They wanted to be everything but IT professionals. They were trying every possible way to “break free” from the chains of computer and live life their way. Rings a bell? We started with the same situation in the beginning of this piece.

The pattern is getting repeated.