Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Complex vs Simple - Two movies

I saw Harishchandrachi Factory and Ishqiya on successive days. For those unfortunate readers who may have remained ignorant about the former, it's a Marathi movie and was the official Indian entry to the Oscars to the Foreign Film Category. The irony lies in the fact that I didn't feel compelled to explain likewise for Ishqiya. After all, it is made by a well known Director (Vishal Bharadwaj) and boasts of an impressive star cast (Naseeruddin Shah, Arshad Warsi and Vidya Balan).
Harishchandrachi Factory is delightful - to say the least. It gives a lighthearted peep into the trials of tribulations of Dadasaheb Phalke (aka Father of Indian Cinema) as he struggled with adversaries of all kinds in his quest to achieve his dream - to produce the first Indian feature film. It takes a fresh look at a character well known to anyone who is even remotely interested in Indian movies. The film had an apparent handicap of having a debutant director, a lesser known clutch of regional actors, 'seemingly' a simple plot - but they are all weaved together into a worthwhile experience for the viewer. It was a delight to watch the audience not just chuckle and laugh but also spontaneously applaud at some sequences. At the end, I was left wondering whom to admire more - Phalke himself or the team that made this film happen. Take a bow, Paresh Mokashi and the whole team.
I had high hopes from Ishqiya. (We also paid eight times more to watch it in a multiplex compared to the simple theater where H Factory happened to us. Not joking. Just in case you don't believe me, here's proof. Don't get me wrong. I am not comparing Alaka and Inox. I am comparing our state of minds during the two movies.)

Disappointed is the only way I can describe my state of mind as I walked out after Ishqiya.
It was a let down, coming from a director who has given us gems like Maqbool and Omkara. He had both the right raw materials - good actors and a solid germ of a story. Its not a Freudian Slip. I didn't mean to say gem of a story. I mean a germ that could have led to a good story. In spite of Naseeruddin Shah and Arshad Warsi doing what they were supposed to do, the movie totally lacks in the overall impact, mainly because the story goes haywire. So you are only left admiring the art direction (Nitin Desai) and rather captivating use of lighting. The best part of the movie are surely the two SUPERB songs by, who else, Rekha Bharadwaj.
I missed watching Kaminey and am not regretting it now. I heard from friends who saw it that Vishal Bharadwaj got himself entangled into a complicated plot and couldn't resolve it in the end. Looks like by the time he made Ishqiya, this affliction had become more acute!
So my friendly advise (albeit unsolicited) to Vishal Bharadwaj is - take a walk in the nearby park and look at some simple things. Just let the grass grow under your feet for some time.
Or, go and watch Harishchandrachi Factory.

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