Maska is a Story Baked With Love and Innocence

We all have a hideout wherein we like to spend some time while enjoying a hearty cup of tea along with some bite-sized delicacies, such as the humble bun maska. Maska, starring Manisha Koirala, Prit Kamani and Jaaved Jaffrey, is a light-hearted film that portrays the generational conflict between a mother, played by the cheerful and bubbly Manisha Koirala and her stubborn but cute son Rumi, played by Prit Kamani.

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An Overview:

Daina is a middle-aged widow who runs an Irani cafe named Cafe Rustom. Daina wants Rumi to run the cafe, but he is least interested in taking forward the rich and illustrious legacy left behind by his ancestors. Rumi wants to become an actor and plans to sell the ramshackled settlement in order to raise funds for his acting debut. The rest of the film deals with the various conflicts that occur between the old lady and her son.

 Storyline

Quite honestly, the story has nothing new to offer and follows a very predictable path. But you will love the film for its honesty and innocence. Furthermore, the story brings to light the rich legacy of the Irani cafes, many of which have now been replaced by the CCDs and the Starbucks of the world. Ah, makes one realise that commercialisation is not the best of alternatives in some cases.

Rustom Cafe has been shown as something way more than just a cafe. It is a ‘refuge’ where people get to spend some quality time away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. This good old Irani Cafe in Mumbai is the favourite of many of the elderly couples residing in the vicinity. But Rumi plans to sell it in order to realise his dream of making it big in the world of showbiz.

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Performances

Manisha Koirala, who plays a stout and stubborn widowed Parsi woman, is the fulcrum around which the entire film rotates. She is your old-school Parsi mom who thinks that legacy is far superior to any monetary gain. Also, she gifts her husband’s belongings to her son on her birthday. All of this in a bid to bring back the ‘Rustam’ of the Rustam Cafe.

Some of the film’s most soulful sequences feature Manisha Koirala and Prit Kamani. Even when she scolds her son for moving out of their ancestral house, you feel a sense of warmth engulfing the mom-son duo. Also, she brings him money when Rumi is having a hard time while living with his girlfriend. Makes one realise that moms always help, no questions asked. 

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 Up next on our list is the much adorable Jaaved Jaffrey, and boy, his warm on-screen presence makes you go gushy-mushy right from the outset. He plays a funny and comical ‘aatma’ of sorts and keeps making his presence felt with some catchy one-liners, with one of those being “Gravity is a myth, the earth sucks’. Well, this one really caught my attention.

Talking of dialogues, the film has a set of catchy dialogues, such as the one between Persis and Rumi:

The world isn’t made up of atoms, Rumi. It’s made up of stories’. See, I always knew science had little to do with humans and their emotions.

Prit Kamani has a raw but charming presence that will stay with you for long. For the most part, he keeps finding ways to sell the cafe but decides against doing so after reading his friend Persis’ coffee-table book. Ah, books, I tell you, can be quite inspiring at times. 

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Both Shirley Sethia (Persis) and Nikita Dutta (Mallika) haven’t been given much screen time. Dutta talks at length about the perils of married life while Sethia talks about Ikigai (the reason for being), and guess what, our teenage hero finds his Ikigai after going through a coffee-table book.

Direction:

Here’s a good thing about this film: Neeraj Udhwani, the man behind the camera, knows what he is doing. He has a set of well-defined characters to bank on and infuses a considerable degree of ‘freshness’ into the film’s narrative despite having a cliche story to work with.

The verdict:

To top it all, this is a film baked with a lot of love, warmth, and innocence. Also, Manisha Koirala holds this film together whenever it loses steam. The plot is predictable, even more so the execution, but the film succeeds in delivering a powerful message woven around legacy. Also, some of the film’s most enticing sequences have been shot in and around the kitchen area. All in all, the movie makes for a decent one-time watch.

Coronavirus Chaos: We have taken things for Granted

Let’s face it; we have all been caught off-guard, including those in the medical fraternity. COVID-19 has left everybody, including the economy, in shambles. Stocks have crashed, businesses have gone bankrupt, and a large number of human lives are being lost every single day. With more than 300 confirmed cases coming to light thus far, India seems to be feeling the heat of the Coronavirus outbreak. 

Back in 2011, Contagion, a film directed by Steven Soderberg, predicted the deadly virus outbreak. Upon release, the film was met with rave reviews, but nobody would have ever thought that some of our worst nightmares would come to life approx nine years after the film’s theatrical release. 

Come 2020; a global health crisis has left the world reeling in tatters. Despite all of the chaos, the disease has made us learn a few valuable lessons:

Death Isn’t the worst of human fears, misery is

The fact is: we have all taken human life for granted, haven’t we? Ah, there’s no point denying it. The virus has made us realise that the human race isn’t invincible. In fact, ours is a race as brittle as glass, and all of us are prone to disease, death, and misery. Also, it goes without saying that all of our hard-earned money can vanish within minutes, all of it. Just look at the plight of the stock markets if you disagree. 

‘Normal’ life has been derailed

We seem to be learning that our planet, and the life forms it sustains, are fragile, and we’re learning it the hard way. A godforsaken virus is killing people in large numbers while forcing us to practice social distancing. Grocery stores are running dry as people have started with the panic-buying exercise. We can’t even go out in order to meet our friends and colleagues, and eating out is now a distant memory. So, to top it all, we have all been robbed of the bite-sized pleasures of life. 

In all fairness, many of us have this habit of taking things for granted, don’t we? Take this for an example: most of us waste a lot of food, don’t we? And now we are here, trying to keep our body and soul together in an era where food prices are skyrocketing because of panic buying.

Furthermore, many of the popular tourist attractions across the globe have turned into graveyards. Take the example of Italy, the European giant. The country, one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations, has turned into a ghost town. More than 4,000 have died in different parts of the country ever since the pandemic showed its ugly head. 

To make matters worse, the country reported 627 deaths on Friday (March 20, 2020). The sick and the elderly have been dying a slow and painful death, and cannot be visited by their relatives. A feeling of perpetual sorrow seems to have made inroads into the minds of people, but there’s something much worse than sorrow, i.e., helplessness. People have been dying in large numbers, and we have done nothing (because we can do nothing). Such is life, you see. 

In all fairness, death isn’t the worst of our fears, but it is the pain of dying in loneliness that makes our hearts grieve. Nearly 6000 have died across Europe, and a lot of them cannot be given a proper burial because of the fear of contagion.

Usually, we do not value people till the time they stay with us, but the moment they are gone, we tend to experience emptiness and sorrow, isn’t it true?

All of us are dying to get back to work, aren’t we? Well, it has been long since I travelled in a crowded metro. Once all of this is over ( pretty soon, I’d like to believe), I guess all of us will begin appreciating the beauty of everyday life. 

Movie Review: “Guilty’ Will Make You Question Patriarchy, Privilege and Consent

Consent has become quite a popular term in the post #MeToo era and Guilty, starring Kiara Advani, reminds us that men of privilege do not think twice before violating women. Furthermore, the film also throws ample light on the fact that a large number of rape cases still go unnoticed. Guilty, directed by Ruchi Narain, throws light on a set of burning questions that are often swept under the carpet.

An Overview: 

 Less than a minute into the film, we see a college-goer being questioned ( grilled, in some ways) by the cops. The members of a college rock band are questioned after VJ, the band’s lead vocalist, and the son of a powerful businessman, is accused of raping one of his batchmates. All hell breaks loose when Tanu, the victim, posts a tweet targeting VJ. In no time, we see VJ being targeted by various sections of the society, but there comes a point when everybody, even those investigating the case, begins questioning the victim’s claims. 

Storyline:

Quite frankly, the storyline is watertight and doesn’t give you much time to think. It took less than 10 minutes for the makers to establish all of the characters. The best part about the story is: it goes about its business without beating around the bush. A large chunk of the film is narrated from Nanaki’s (Kiara Advani) perspective.

 There are sequences that make you uncomfortable. For instance: one of the students being questioned tells the cops that the victim is nothing more than a f*ck girl. Furthermore, the viewers are also made aware of the fact that Rani, the victim, had ” trouble written all over her”.

Image result for guilty film netflix

The Film does raise some Important Questions:

Right from frame one, the film succeeds in maintaining a ‘stern’ look and feel. Well, that’s because the director wants the viewers to know that sexual harassment is a serious offence. 

  • Why is a girl called a sl*t if all she wants is attention?
  • Why are rape cases politicized?

Despite a few minor flaws, guilty has its heart in the right place. The narrative of the film keeps swinging to and fro, much like a pendulum. The first half of the film showcases Tanu as the ‘helpless victim’ who has been raped by a rich and spoilt brat. But victim-blaming shows its ugly head and everybody puts Tanu in the line of fire. 

Performances:

Kiara Advani is the star of the show and looks unbearably hot in her ‘punk’ look. She plays the heartbroken lyricist and does so with ease. Also, she comes across as a ‘coconut personality’ and it won’t take long for the viewers to realize that this punk babe has demons running wild inside of her. (Does that remind you of Alan Walker?).

Gurfateh, who plays VJ, the spoilt brat, does everything you could have asked of him. There is that carefree (rather nonchalant) look in his eyes that screams aloud at times. Also, right from frame one, you get a feeling that this guy will get away with the crime unscathed. 

Taher Shabbir enters the scene right from frame one as he begins interrogating VJ’s friends. He doesn’t speak much and goes about his business with the utmost sincerity. Unfortunately, he comes across as a stone-faced investigator who has little or no room for emotions. In short, our investigator required a few punchy dialogues to make his presence felt.

Next on the list is Akansha Kapoor, who plays Tanu Kumar, a girl from Dhanbad, one of the country’s mining powerhouses. She is shown as a headstrong woman and doesn’t shy away from voicing her opinion. Despite being raped, she chooses not to hang her head in shame (which comes across as a big positive). Akansha shines right from the start despite having a limited screen presence. 

Image result for guilty film netflix

Here’s the biggest problem ailing this film: despite playing the victim, Akansha hasn’t been given enough screen time as most of the film is narrated from Nanaki’s perspective. 

Direction:

Ruchi Narain does a fairly decent job behind the camera by handling rape, an immensely sensitive subject matter with a great deal of sincerity and maturity. A 2-hour-long runtime does test your patience (at times), but the film deserves a watch for the powerful message it has in store for its viewers. 

‘Guilty’, despite a few minor flaws, ends up holding the viewer’s attention. Watch it for the message it has in store.

कितनी दफ़ा…

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कितनी दफ़ा यह कहे चुके
कितनी दफ़ा तुमने सुन लिया
जो थे कभी मेरे साथ में
अब तुम भी फ़ासले दे चले

तुमको कहीं पे खो दिया?
या फिर मैं तुम्हे यून मिल गया?
के साथ में चलते चले
और फासला मिट’ता चला

जो थे कभी मेरे साथ में
तुम यून जुदा क्यूँ हो चले?
के भूल के भी तुमको हम
दिल से कभी ना भुला सके

एक बार जो मिले कभी
तो फिर्र जुड़ा ना हो सके
तुझे थाम के आगे चलते रहे
तक भी गये तो ना थम सके
तू क्या साथ है, या साथ नही?
तेरी कमी क्यूँ खलती है?
एक बात तो बता दे तू
यह ज़मीन तेरे पीछे-पीछे क्यूँ चलती है?

इक दफ़ा तो आवाज़ दो
राहों में तुम मुझे थाम लो
फिर्र साथ में चलते रहे
और गुम गये ये फ़ासले

picture courtesy: Pinterest