23 April 2023

Movie reviews : Gumraah, Jana Gana Mana







Watched a couple of movies this weekend. Both were about seeking and delivering justice via the legal route. However, turns out that truth & justice are relative - they are not black and white terms as we are used to believing. The human bias, mass sentiment and flawed assumptions always create havoc in the path of true justice. 


Jana Gana Mana 

This malayalam movie is simply awesome. The movie literally unravels like the layers of an onion and makes you cry (figuratively) more and more as it unravels. What starts as an obvious case of crime against a woman, slowly escalates into discrimination, bureaucratic corruption and attempt to mask the reality underneath massive public outcry. One should always question what one hears in media, never blindly trust the law upholders, ask pertinent questions and only then arrive at any judgement. Our legal system is in place for a reason; justice should be served after rigorous research and meticulous thought; not like instant coffee.

The film is definitely influenced by many real-life incidents, especially the 2019 Hyderabad gang rape case and the ‘extrajudicial execution’ that followed the incident. It shows what exactly is the problem with the police breaking the law through these actions.

Both protagonists Suraj Venjaramoodu and Prithviraj Sukumaran have done abundant justice to their respective roles, and the crew behind the film also deserves applause aplenty, for boldly narrating such a relevant story on screen. 

Its a serious and thought-provoking movie that addresses the many gaps within the Indian society and legal system. Watch with sub-titles - it has mix of Hindi & English too, so easy to understand.



This 2023 Hindi who-dun-it (remake of Tamil film 'Thadam') starts off showing the killer clearly. However, as the police start investigating the murder, they come across two possible suspects who look exactly like each other. The movie flicks through the lives of both, in flashback, and eventually the relationship between the two is established. However, the scales keep tipping between which of the 2 suspects is the murderer, so much so that eventually, the case drags in court for 6 months with no concrete decision made! 

Every tool in the book of investigation viz. crime scene recreation, forensics, alibis, motive, surprise witnesses etc. is exhausted to no avail. The climax offers the solution and the reasoning behind the crime, as well as, the clever fogging of truth. The plot twists and the grip of the movie is retained till the very end.

Aditya Roy Kapur as the look-alike has performed both his roles extremely well. Both the emotional as well as the intellectual personalities are portrayed convincingly by him. The two investigators, Ronit Roy as well as Mrunal Thakur, are both extremely smart & seasoned at their jobs but get distracted by their personal biases due to which they are defeated.

All in all, its a must-watch movie for the nail-biting clash of wills and wits between the cops and the (possible) criminals.


22 April 2023

Lessons from renovation 2023

My home is undergoing some major renovation and repairs this summer. In the initial 3 weeks, our family split up and stayed separately. We are now together since last one week but continue to live through disruption, loud noise & constant dust, workers coming and going at all hours while our work and school go on.

The entire house, our routines and mindset has undergone a sea change in this last one month. Its been a major shock and awe experience for my teenage daughter. Her room, that is her haven, has been under attack, and rejuvenated into a new avatar, right in front of her eyes. She used to lie awake at nights and had withdrawn into silence initially, to absorb this shock. On top of that she was missing her friends and confidants in this sensitive time. Hubby stayed away from us for so long for the first time and was visibly out of his comfort zone. We had basically cleanly split the responsibilities of our home and daughter for a good 3+ weeks which was not easy on either of us. I have been doing a fine balancing act managing the moods of everyone, including my own, while my home was literally torn down and is being resurrected.

We have each of us discovered new ways to cope with the situation. Not being at our own place for extended period, and adjusting to another space, is not trivial. Staying alone in a broken up home is another level of tough. Coping with work related pressures, new grade school routine and social commitments amongst all this takes resilience.

Sometimes life needs this kind of a major overhaul to come back to a better track. Change is a constant and being out of comfort zone really makes one stronger and more confident. Houses, relationships and routines sometimes need to be torn down so that a stronger and healthier foundation can be established. The pandemic and enforced lockdown had put us all into a comfort zone that we are now shaking off (or having to) in different ways.

04 December 2022

Tadka - Love is cooking


Name    : 'Tadka - Love is cooking'

Cast      : Nana Patekar, Shriya Saran, Taapsee Pannu, Ali Fazal, Murali Sharma

Director: Prakash Raj

OTT      : Zee5

Though the genre is 'romance for the middle-aged', surprisingly my tween daughter enjoyed watching it till the end with me. Set against the backdrop of Goa, this directorial debut of Prakash Raj, a remake of the Malayalam film "Salt N Pepper', is a delightful fare! The romance is triggered through a wrong number dialed, and the plot thickens over slow flame into a soulful serving indeed.

Nana's character is a deep, sensitive character who views life and people through the lens of food (or how it is prepared). True to his vocation of archeology, he lives in the past and is fast losing his grip on the present, due to which he is still single in his middle age. His friends mock his rejection of potential life partners based on their culinary likes. He, however, explains in latter part of the movie, why that is important for him. The bond between the protagonists (who do not see each other in the flesh until the very end), between friends, and the other couple in the movie, is brought out really well by the director. 

Nana Patekar is 71 in real life and Shriya Saran is 40. Its amazing that he managed to play a 50-something character so realistically - he truly rocks!

I, and my daughter, have been people who never set a lot of store by food. We cannot wax eloquent on how a dish is prepared, its aroma, texture, quality etc. - for us food is just fuel to keep our bodies functioning. But to many people its an art form, its something to talk about and definitely something to enjoy at leisure. This movie taught me that its also something that reminds people of key people in their lives. Food is sometimes closely tied to emotion. We have talked about audio-visual memories & flesh memories. But food memories run deep too. 

As they say, stomach is the second brain of the body. Possibly, the tongue is the second heart? The movie is a treat for all foodies, romantics and Nana Patekar fans.

18 September 2022

Return to workplace ?

In a world polarized by WFH enthusiasts vs those who thrive at the office, Malcolm Gladwell's recent statement supporting the latter has been making waves. A very thought provoking insight on the ensuing debates is found in the article - "Your brain wants autonomy. Your soul needs connection."


I have always been people-centered and gain energy from being among people. I am naturally drawn to activities that involve this. The last couple of years have been tough for me to say the least. But I've also grown to enjoy my own company quite a lot. Recently, when I returned from my workplace (I follow the hybrid model), my husband actually commented "Being among people lights a bulb inside you - you are literally glowing." I was super exhausted after a long commute and back to back meetings, but I guess the spark showed.


It’s not just about gaining strength from people. Its also about identifying with the place which connects you with what you do best.

e.g. A proud homemaker is in her element at her home - for that is her work. A dedicated teacher is most happy at the school where she creates an impact for the next generation. A spiritual person gains strength from the place they do their spiritual work in viz. meditation centre, temple or places of spiritual gatherings. Similarly a person who is passionate about work (it could be software development, sales, number crunching, etc.) identifies with the place they usually operate from and gain strength from it.


Everyone has a different "primary" work in their life. The place where they perform it becomes most significant for them. For some its their home, for others its the office, some others have changed or quit careers. Hybrid model definitely is a win-win because it gives one the opportunity to spend time at one's primary work even if it does not happen to be one that pays the bills. Its a more "tolerant" approach to what is traditionally regarded as work.


The pandemic and vaccinations have introduced irreversible changes in our body, psyche and routines for sure. A lot of mindsets will need to be revisited in this context in future - what worked before may not work anymore. We are in the midst of a massive transition - it will require more patience and introspection.

10 August 2022

Volunteer woes

I am part of a volunteer group in my organization called Harmony@Symphony. Infact, I head this group. It is an informal body that seeks to address various issues in the organization by drawing upon the extensive mind-share it has with various support functions and senior management. We try to find the root cause for each of the issues, discuss at length with involved parties and try to arrive at a mutually satisfactory resolution. Recent circumstances impelled me to pour my heart out in the following poem. The above context was essential to understand the poem, hence the lengthy preface!  
Some say we are the optimists, 
Some write us off as mavericks, 
We prefer to see the silver lining, 
In a crowd of whiners and critics. 
The crashing elevator at GA, 
The frequently non-working lift; 
Management said its good for our health 
We applauded – what a paradigm shift! 
We braved the stifling summer heat at AG cafeteria, 
We waded through ankle-deep water in rains, 
We relished being so close to nature, 
After all, no pains - no gains! 
We rallied during the mass exodus, 
The talent drain and the resource crunch, 
The Finance hiccups, the Network woes, 
With determined optimism, we faced each punch. 
A potpourri of various Enterprise Applications, 
The sadly unused Intranet Site, 
We’re growing, we’re growing - is the cry, 
What are we doing to improve our plight? 
We moved our belongings from GA to AG, 
And then from AG to our campus. 
And now some of us will trudge back to AG, 
Oh why this entire rumpus? 
While everyone around us railed, 
We sailed though all the hardship. 
And bore the discomfort, the chaos 
With the proverbial stiff upper lip. 
We reasoned, we cajoled, and we communicated, 
We strove for peace and harmony. 
We tried to see both sides for all issues, 
Oh for a voice of reason, amidst this cacophony! 
Is there a light at the end of the tunnel? 
Are we beating against a closed door? 
Are we going about this the wrong way? 
It is time to take stock, my friends, I thee implore.

27 July 2022

Focus - my "one word" for 2022

In the last couple of years, the world took a crash course in going digital. Groceries, food, parcel deliveries, as well as OTT platforms, have taken the world by storm. Since folks could no more gossip or vent in cafes, bars & gyms, they took to chatting, celebrating, exercising over Zoom. The pandemic fed our captivation for 24x7 news via social media. With work and school going online, and multiple Wi-Fi connections becoming a necessity rather than a luxury in homes, we are officially captives of distraction.

Personally, I have rolled chappatis, helped my daughter with her school work, shopped for groceries online, tracked & received deliveries, counselled family over phone, in between attending work meetings. Conversely, folks have “managed” to take a bath, eat or sleep, while working, in the last couple of years.

Though the world is gradually returning to offline, this rampant multi-tasking has surely taken its toll. Sleep has been the biggest casualty. Health issues are on the rise due to continuous sitting in front of gadgets. Focus, on any one activity, is a struggle. And hence there is so much emphasis on meditative practices, mindfulness.

My 2022 new year resolution has been to consciously enhance focus in each of my activities. So what is the big deal around Focus?

We have all heard the famous Mahabharata tale of Arjuna’s concentration. When his archery guru Dronacharya, set up a target in form of a bird on a tree, he asked all his pupils what they could see. While all others claimed to see the tree, the leaves, the bird, its feathers etc., Arjuna said he could only see the eye of the bird. On being asked if he could see the bird, leaves, tree etc. Arjun confirmed that he could not see those. When asked to shoot his arrow, it went straight to the bird on the tree and brought it down.

That’s when his guru preached – “When you want to achieve something, you must focus on it. Close out all other distractions and concentrate only on your target.” This is true for teenagers aspiring to be actors, musicians, dancers, sportspeople or writers. The more concentration you pour into your craft the more the chances of being successful at it.

So, why is it so hard to concentrate and so easy to get distracted?

In order to concentrate on one thing you must, by default, ignore many other things. Concentration can only occur when we have said ‘yes’ to one option and ‘no’ to all other options. In other words, elimination is a prerequisite for focus. Most people don’t have trouble with focusing - they have trouble with decision making. Instead of doing the difficult work of choosing one thing over others, we often convince ourselves that multitasking is a better option. This is ineffective.

We have heard puzzles like-

"A man was driving from work to pick up his daughter from school. On the way, he received a call on his cell from his best friend’s wife. She was in tears as her husband had collapsed at home and needed urgent attention. Their home was a bit far from where he was and he would need to get there fast if he chose to help." He turned his car in that direction, called his wife who was at a conference, to pick their daughter, called the school to have her there until his wife arrived. He then sped to his friend’s place and drove him to the nearest hospital. He focused on the driving, the hospital formalities and ensuring his friend was stabilized. He ignored the concern his daughter may have felt, that he may not be able to get back to his work that day and that his friend’s wife was visibly distressed. Thus, when it comes to these kind of dilemmas, our brain is able to choose what to focus on – his friend’s life was his priority.

However, in daily life, such a conscious choice is not easy. In order to decide on which option to focus on – we must go over all the options and shortlist the top 3 as the most urgent. The rest must ALL be ignored – meaning some sacrifices are in order. 

Having prioritized goals is not enough. It is good to have a goal to be a best-selling author - but to reach there, one must love the process of writing. You need to write something every day, and keep getting better at it over the years through measuring & tracking your progress via metrics and feedback. It requires discipline, consistent effort and falling in love with it. When you keep chipping at the wood like a woodpecker, you eventually do fell the tree!

As they say, anything you focus your attention and energy on, grows. Be it your children, relationships, work, health or life goals. Even within relationships, we need to choose which ones are most important and require consistent effort. We are all leaders in whatever role we are in – need not be in a formal leadership role. A leader is the one who is in control – not only of herself but for anything under her purview. Thus, focusing our attention on what needs it most at any given time, and giving it your best, will always fetch the results we strive for.

In IT parlance, I remember my managers emphasizing on running daily scrums. Do not cancel or reschedule scrums & meetings, I was told ad infinitum. You may not realize the importance of this week by week, but over the months, the discipline and knowledge that you build for the product pays off in terms of the delivery and business it garners.

To sum up, Focus teaches you- 

  1. Saying No
  2. Decision making 
  3. Consistent effort 
  4. Measurement
  5. Passion

We have all heard these in relation to leadership. Make Focus your number 1 leadership lesson for 2022!

10 November 2021

Rajasthan diaries


Khamma ghani !!

Diwali 2021 saw our family of eight travel to Rajasthan. A lot of planning and preparation went into the trip, especially working around six different calendars (4 adults working hectic IT jobs and 2 busy preteen kids). A lot of thought went into the itinerary, whether to go it solo or via a (tourism) partner. Eventually we settled on Strawberi tour of Kesari Travels. We even had to plan for kids' RTPCR tests.

After much deliberation and taking people's health and age limitations into consideration; we finally converged on a plan. There were some hiccups with the flight and tempo traveler booking, but thanks to the perseverance of a couple of members, they were soon ironed out.

The trip covered Mount Abu, Udaipur, Pushkar, Ajmer & Jaipur cities, with a stopover of 1 night at Ahmedabad, Gujarat.

Our guides, throughout the journey, were founts of information. The name 'Rajasthan' literally means "Land of kings" as it was formed in the year 1949 by merging 22 royal kingdoms. It is the largest state in India, in terms of area. The glory of the state is retained by its majestic palaces, forts and monuments. The vibrant culture and rich heritage of this princely state draws innumerable tourists from across the globe every year.

Its major attractions include the ruins of Indus Valley Civilization, the oldest mountain range - Aravalli, a Jain pilgrimage site known as Dilwara Temples, Karni Mata Mandir, Ajmer Sharif dargah, the largest fort in Asia - Chittorgarh, the only hill station of Rajasthan - Mount Abu, Keoladeo National Park (formerly Bharatpur National Park), the Ranthambhore National Park and the Sariska Tiger Reserve. 

This princely state hosts various colorful fairs and festivals which are known for their uniqueness; one of which is the Pushkar fair. Pushkar claims (debatable) to have the only Brahma temple in the world. Another legend associated with this place is that Lord Rama did the “Pind daan” of his ancestors here during his exile. Since then, people come here to do the same for their ancestors so that they attain ‘Mukti’ or freedom from the cycle of birth and death. This is why this place is also called Tirthraj Pushkar. We also offered puja for our ancestors on Diwali (amavasya) day at Pushkar - a truly moving experience!

Some of the things I loved about the places we visited-

  • Dilwara temples of Mount Abu (they are older than the Taj Mahal and certainly much more of an architectural wonder) 
  • Peaceful ambience of Brahmakumari ashram at Mount Abu
  • The city palace and lakes of Udaipur
  • Chittorgarh fort and its historical significance
  • Brahma temple and the holy Pushkar lake (the main deity is the holy water of the lake and not any of the idols)
  • Ajmer Sharif dargah (though it was super crowded due to Diwali holidays)
  • Amber Fort (Diwan-e-Khaas), Hawa Mahal, Jantar Mantar at Jaipur
  • Malpua & ghevar sweets, pyaaz kachori, Rajasthani thali
  • Aesthetically appealing buildings, shopping experience and Diwali lighting in Jaipur

Rehashed school-time history and connected some of the dots between Lord Rama's lineage, Suryavanshis, Mughal rulers, Krishna's devotee Meerabai and some of the Rajput royalty viz. Maharana Pratap, Padmavati, Prithviraj Chauhan, Jodhabai etc.

The desert safari jeep experience, especially the guides' expertise with clicking innovative pictures, was absolutely memorable. The drive through the rose fields, and 'stealing' gooseberries (amlas) from the trees, was exhilarating :) Another experience was that after unsuccessfully hunting for rickshaws post sunset, the eight of us were crammed into a single rickshaw at Fatehsagar lake. As we collectively oohed and aahed at the bumps in the road, it ran out of gas in middle of traffic! We had to split up into two rickshaws eventually.

Historically, the state is divided between kingdoms that were aligned with the Mughals and those that were not. The constant reference to sati and Johar customs was disturbing - told of the plight of women in those times. There is clearly a lot of pain and tragedy suffered by the people and the scars persist even today. Despite being a traditionally patriarchical society, some of the queens left a lasting impression viz. Rani Padmavati, Meerabai and Maharani Gayatri devi. The title 'Sawai' was first given to king Jai Singh by Mughal emperor Aurangzeb as the former displayed 1/4th more intelligence than others. Later on, he proved his wit even in warfare. The Sawais applied their knowledge of astronomy and astrology to warfare. Jantar Mantar is an excellent observatory for astronomy and physics enthusiasts.

Though one typically tends to relate dal-baati-churma, Rajput pride, ghunghat clad women, arid desert climate, camels and colorful, ornamental attire with Rajasthan; there is so much more to this place! Spotted ladies wearing interesting fusion of ethnic & western garments and men sporting attractive Jodhpuri jackets & ear jewelry. The architectural splendor of buildings, paintings and art galleries bear proof to the emphasis on aesthetics in a predominantly warrior populated state. Its also home to many water bodies, verdant, sprawling gardens and a luxurious lifestyle. Loved the rickshaws, double decker buses and multi-laned roads of the various cities. Jaipur airport is quietly impressive. 

Our tempo traveler witnessed many games, friendly banter, competitive photography and even some melodrama during the week. We enjoyed home made Diwali snacks, sumptuous Gujarati snacks provided by a friend in Ahmedabad and old hindi songs via the tempo's USB drive. Even managed to steal snippets of quiet contemplation and ME time amidst the constant company. 

Only peeves were a decided lack of variety in food / cuisines. Kids were hankering for pizzas and fast food by the end of it. All in all, an extremely satisfactory getaway after the harrowing months of WFH & lockdown. Even the repeated packing and unpacking at various hotels did not faze us :) 

25 August 2021

Boys will be boys, however fast their toys!


Ford Vs Ferrari - movie review  

Director - James Mangold
Cast - Christian Bale, Matt Damon, Jon Bernthal, Josh Lucas, Cationa Balfe, Tracy Letts

A couple of years ago, back when we used to go to office, one of our leaders had mentioned about this movie and how it had left an impression. I have been meaning to watch this movie since then but never got an opportunity until recently. Too bad I couldn't watch it on the big screen.

Directed by James Mangold, and given spectacular horsepower by dual male leads Christian Bale and Matt Damon, “Ford v Ferrari” is a period sports drama, that not only appeals to the "need for speed" population, but also lends a sensitive human touch to this true story. 

The story unfolds with Damon's (Shelby's) voice over about what it feels like to hit 7,000 RPM with a car, that gives an insight into why some people race - its not just a passion but a calling. Shelby is an ex-racing star turned car engineer & designer owing to health issues. He finds his soulmate in Bale (Miles), who is a feisty and formidable car mechanic as well as an expert behind the wheel.

My take on the story is that its about the MALE ego and revenge :) It recounts a business deal gone wrong and the reaction of a stubborn, egotistical automotive titan who is determined to get his pound of flesh. Henry Ford II (Hank the Deuce) is worried about the sales of Ford in 1963. To boost the sales, Lee Iacocca proposes a bold marketing strategy– to win one of the most prestigious car races in the world – 24 Hours of Le Mans. Ford needed a sports car in his portfolio and since there was no plan to build one, he decided to acquire Ferrari that was a legend in that space. 

However, Enzo Ferrari took objection to one of the clauses in the contract and withdrew at the last moment. He insulted Ford to his representatives and added fuel to the fire by selling a majority stake in Ferrari to fellow Italian automaker Fiat. This enraged Ford to an extent where he decided to build a sports car that would humiliate Ferrari where it mattered the most - the Le Mans race. The seeds for the legendary GT40 car were sowed.

That's where Carroll Shelby, one of the only American drivers to ever win at Le Mans, is entrusted with the design of the winning car. Together with a second world war veteran, British talented but volatile driver, Ken Miles, he reinvents the GT40 and works through all the bugs. These are two stubborn, headstrong individuals who inadvertently become strong allies and forge a lasting friendship. But they are ultimately only cogs in the vicious wheel of corporate rivalry. 

Ford didn’t just defeat Ferrari at Le Mans in 1966, it humiliated the Italian stallions. While Ferrari didn’t even have a car that completed the race, GT40 Mk. II’s captured first, second and third places.The finish wasn’t without controversy. Late in the race, Miles was well ahead of the competition, on his way to ending Ferrari’s dominance at Le Mans and becoming the only driver to win the world’s three biggest endurance race—the 24 hours of Daytona, 12 Hours of Sebring and 24 Hours of Le Mans—in the same year.

Ford’s PR guru Leo Beebe wanted to celebrate the win with a picture of the trio crossing the finish line together. So, he had Shelby order Miles to slow down and let the other GT40 teams catch up. After crossing the line, Miles was informed that he did not win the race. His teammate Bruce McLaren did. McLaren started several cars behind Miles. Anyway, the mutinous Miles did turn into a team player and learned that it comes with a cost.

Some of the better scenes of the movie go to Miles' wife - Mollie (Caitriona Balfe) and their son. Despite his unpredictable temperament, he is a family man and devoted to them. Though she doesn’t have a heap of screen time, Balfe is forceful in all she does. Annoyed with Miles, Mollie guns their station wagon at such a furious clip that even he, seated beside her, begs her to slow down. And Balfe is there again, in the movie’s best scene—no cars, no crowds, simply a sunny day in suburbia. Shelby and Miles are slugging it out on a patch of grass across the street. Mollie emerges, takes one look, and, instead of rushing over to stop them, fetches herself a garden chair and calmly settles down with a copy of Better Living to watch the bout unfold. Auto racing in the mid-sixties was a male dominated world but Balfe manages to leave a mark nevertheless.  

The more dangerous fight is reserved for the track—for many tracks, from Willow Springs, an hour or so north of Los Angeles, to Daytona, and thus, climactically, to the course at Le Mans. The racing sequences are so authentically mounted that you can almost smell the burning rubber as the squealing tyres pierce your soul. The movie is 2.5 hours long, could have been shorter, but its a great watch!

My husband's take was its a movie about answering your calling, whereas mine was, boys will be boys :)

16 August 2021

Samrat & Co. - movie review

I watched this movie without reading the reviews beforehand - which was good because its not as bad as they make it sound :)

Samrat Tilakdhari (STD) is a brilliant detective (heavily inspired by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes) who is a bit jaded on not receiving any meaty cases off late. Like Holmes, he takes to heavy caffeine intake, smoking and street fighting, when not meaningfully occupied. His 'company' consists of his bumbling right-hand Chakradhar (CD) and his housekeeper/cook. Both are again inspired by Dr. Watson and Mrs. Hudson in the original work. 

Rajeev Khandelwal has taken up the challenge of creating a parallel of Robert Downey Jr. or Benedict Cumberbatch in Bollywood quite sportingly. He has copied some of their mannerisms, even pulled off the combination of intelligence and agility well. The camerawork, direction and cinematography borrows heavily from their films too. Its truly a "Holmage" to the legendary detective! If only they had not succumbed to the inevitable hindi film romantic angle and needless songs. Rajshri productions too has dared to branch out into the thriller genre (from syrupy family dramas) in an attempt to create a lucrative series - but judging from the boxoffice failure of this film, it may not be on the cards anymore.

A lovely and loaded heiress from Shimla arrives at Rajeev's doorstep and enrolls his services to investigate her family mansion's dying garden, her father's suddenly deteriorating health and some mysterious happenings. All of them are being attributed to a dead person's spirit hovering over the mansion but Samrat obviously does not buy into that and agrees to take on the case. The action begins when bodies start dropping with the old man dying first. There is even an attempt on Samrat's life but the heiress gets embroiled unwittingly which gives rise to an action-packed rescue scene. The characters are drawn well and contribute to the plot's complexity - three threads running independently have tangled it and Rajeev has to unravel it to get to the bottom of the mystery. 

All in all, its a good watch if one does not try to compare Rajeev with Cumberbatch or Downey Jr. Bollywood is not well known for delving into whodunits as a genre as its tough to serve with the usual masala for our audience - there is bound to be some dilution. Also, except for Rajeev, the other characters do not hold up their own in the movie though they are quite good at what they are supposed to be doing - most of them are not known to public. Rajeev has certainly done his homework well but somehow fails to leave a personal stamp on the character.

09 August 2021

Achanak - hindi movie review

Achanak (1973)

Genre: Thriller 

Director: Gulzar

Cast: Vinod Khanna, Om Shivpuri, Lily Chakraborty, Farida Jalal, Asrani, Iftekar

Story: Khwaja Ahmed Abbas

Written by: Gulzar

Music: Vasant Desai

Box office status: Hit

I've acted out this movie name in dumbcharades mutliple times over the years but never actually got around to watching it. Finally got the opportunity yesterday. It was chosen due to its genre being "Thriller" and we were expecting a juicy murder mystery - also the fact that it was directed by Gulzar, intrigued us.

It, however, turned out to be a totally different ballgame altogether, yet entertaining. Both the director (Gulzar), and main lead (Vinod Khanna), were a pleasant surprise. Its definitely the best performance by Khanna and he looks great too! Inspired by the true life story of Kawas Nanavati, a naval commander, who killed his wife’s lover Prem Ahuja, Gulzar pegged the narrative on a story by Khwaja Ahmad Abbas where the protagonist kills his philandering wife too. Gulzar delved into the layers of the human psyche and came up with a riveting moral battle between judiciary and medical science. Mounted like a thriller, the 90-minute song-less narrative goes back and forth in time as the director keeps you hungry for more.

Though the identity of the killer is no secret, the plot has a couple of moral dilemmas that have been handled sensitively (Gulzar's forte). Vinod Khanna goes against his popular image and makes an entry on a stretcher. Shot through the chest, the doctor(Om Shivpuri) has given up on him but Khanna survives multiple operations. The flashback tells us about his army background and how he used his training to kill the two most important people in his life. Instead of showing the act of killing, Gulzar smartly cuts to training sessions where Khanna learnt the tricks to neutralise the enemy.The soldier has won medals for his stint in the army and is even shown telling his wife in a flashback that his medal reminds him of the people he has killed. Yet, he does what he has been trained to do when he eliminates his enemies in personal life by killing them. That's the first moral dilemma - is war justified? Khanna is expected to underplay and he does it without turning into a cardboard.

Om Shivpuri as the cigarette smoking doctor Chaudhary takes the quandary to another level. He and his team (Farida Jalal and Asrani) save Khanna only to be sent back to the gallows. It says something about the criminal justice system which waits for the guilty to be healthy to be punished. Gulzar doesn’t come up with any clear cut answers. But the ambiguity is not boring as he opens a debate that continues to rankle. And the moral impasse does come in the way of the pace of the thriller best exemplified by the sequence where dogs chase a bare-foot, and bare-chested, Khanna.

Gulzar has a knack for finding humor in the mundane and his wordplay is legendary. When the colonel father-in-law (Iftekhar) tells Khanna he is not only his sir but also sasur, it comes as a relief amidst tense moments. Letters recorded on tape create an interesting romantic tapestry giving us a sense of the times. The repeated use of “Sun Mere Bandhu Re” (Sujata) as a refrain giving this battle of heart and mind a lyrical expression. That heart is not just a pumping station. Though, Gulzar steered clear of songs, towards the end during in an emotional parting, Khanna and his father-in-law, who, by the way, also wants to save him, salute each other, one could sense the tune of “Koi Hota Jisko Apna Hum Apna Keh Lete”.

“Achanak” as a fairly well made film apart from the disappointing climax. The way the director kept shuttling back and forth between past and present, the boldness of some of the dialogues, the dog chase scene, and the light syrupy scenes between Khanna and Farida Jalal in latter part of the movie, are well ahead of its times. Its definitely a classic and surprisingly was well received by the audience too.

Movie reviews : Gumraah, Jana Gana Mana

                                                                                  Watched a couple of movies this weekend. Both were about s...