Saturday, March 2, 2013

Stellar Epiphanies

I never dreamed that one day I would shake hands with Madhavan or rub shoulders with Hansika. Not that any of these were my life's amibitions, but it is sort of strange how it turned out like this. Happily meandering through the meadows of my life, I end up in glamworld, seeing Trisha, Dhanush, Sania Mirza, Jiiva and god knows who else up close. I could stretch my hands and touch them. They have always been the stuff of tv and newspaper ads. Dhanush was nothing more than Kolaveri's mindless lyrics two months ago. Yesterday I saw him in his black suit and tie, and he is alive, kicking. What is it about the media that creates this kind of up-there world that the common man lives out his days thinking it exists but in a way that does not matter to him.

Dhanush presents the award to Sania
Trisha getting the award from Maddy and Jiiva

Yes they are stars, they throw tantrums, they are insecure, they are bored, they are haughty. And in the end with the red-carpet celebrities, the endlessly flashing cameras, the glitz, glamour, the 10-inch heels and blinding lights, they are just human beings. It is that easy. There is no stepping stone between stardom and commonality- it is not another 'world' somehwere else. It is just an artifice of manners, airs and dresses, colours, hairdos, accessories, makeup.

Hansika receiving the award from Khushboo
My first experience in a 5 star hotel, all dolled up and waiting as an escort to a major South Indian celebrity, was something I will never forget. My pretty colleague and the centre of attention, tossed her hair and gave Madhavan a dazzling smile. She was supposed to escort Maddy and Sania both to the venue. My heart was palpitating with the thought of waiting it out for my celebrity whose flight had landed later than all the others. I call reception from my changing room. She has already arrived, room xyz, he tells me. I straighten the wrinkles on my white anarkali, slip on my lace slippers and make my way down. Dimly lit passageways, ornate walls and ceilings, a maze of empty hallways and room after room with numbers in gold-301, 302, 303, 304. Reminds me strangely of hotel california. A cold fear clenches my heart and I head to the lift, a little traumatised about potential faux-pas. I find room xyz, the door is open. The image I see will probably never leave me. Across the narrow passage into the room, she sits at a table, one hand on the lap the other holding a phone to the ear; her attendants moving about her busily like house elves. The first thing I see is the thick layer of make up on her face and her fake eyelashes that make her look a little scary up close. I introduce myself shakily and she acknowledges me briefly. She is skinny and her thick hair is permed and left untied. Beside her on the floor, lie massively elevated black heels with gold studs at the ankles. "There is something in her eye," she is saying, visibly upset as I make for the door and go to the lobby to wait for her.

After 15 min, she struts into the lobby  in black skinnies and a top of the same colour. She looks like a gothic rockstar. She certainly knows how to carry it off. Her mother hovers by her side, a tad overdressed but grand never the same.We wait for the corolla, I slide in front beside the driver while the grand ladies sit at the back. The ride is quiet and ghostly. I make light conversation of flights and trips. I notice that the mother's eyes are nearly closed. She seems to be in pain. I enquire about her health. Faux-pas. The celebrity's voice quivers. I think she even sniffs and sobs at the back. She is going to have a breakdown at the set, she sniffs. Her mother has some sort of eye haemorrhage and needs to get checked. The celebrity is worried and afraid and the mother reassures her that she will be fine. "Insecure, afraid, vulnerable," I note in my mind.
We reach the red carpet venue, she alights and in her gait she is the rockstar again. Flashing cameras, pointy stilettos. No more tears, no fear. She smiles photogenically and disappears into the auditorium to her VIP seat while I instruct the driver to reverse the car into the parking slot.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Kai Po Che

Director: Abhishek Kapoor
Cast: Sushant Singh Rajput, Rajkumar Yadav, Amit Sadh, Amrita Puri.
Kai Po Che is an adaptation of Chetan Bhagat’s book The 3 Mistakes of My Life and revolves around the struggles of three friends Ishaan (Rajput), Govind (Yadav) and Omi (Sadh). The three friends struggle to open their own sports academy during the years spanning the Gujarat earthquake and the post-Godhra riots. The hot-blooded Ishaan is passionate about cricket and takes the young Muslim Ali, under his wing to groom him as an international batsman.  The simple and down-to earth Govind is the practical brain behind the sports venture, but things take a turn when he falls in love with Ishaan’s sister Vidhya, played by newcomer Amrita Puri. The naive Omi metamorphoses from a happy-go-lucky guy to a fanatic Hindu under the influence of his extremist uncle Bittu.
The film perks up because of its talented actors and the meticulous narrative touches like the Gujarati ads scribbled on public walls, side characters talking English with a thick Guajarati accent, archaic buildings and settings. Rajput plays the hot-headed and boyish Ishaan with startling conviction especially after an established role as the docile husband in the TV series Pavitra Rishta.
On a narrative level, the film tries to grapple with too many things at once. The several themes in the movie include friendship, the sub-plot of the love story, sports and the Indian scene, Ishaan’s naive humanism and the violence of religious fanaticism, and in the end Omi’s reconciliation with his past.  The viewer is bombarded with the battalion of events and incidents before they, like Ishaan, can have the time to grasp or react to what has happened. While the film does have its moments especially with the heart-warming camaraderie of the three friends, the storyline is sketchy with half-hearted characterization and kaleidoscopic narration. In the end, the film seems to be torn between being faithful to the book and scoring at the box office. The casualty in the process is the screenplay. Characters fall in love a little too suddenly, historical incidents appear because they have to, each character’s life could be a film by itself, characters die abruptly, and the climax fizzles out without a build-up even after much sound and fury.