Monthly Archives: July 2017

ज़फ़र गोरखपुरी (श्रद्धांजलि)

 

Zafar Gorakhpuri

ज़फ़र गोरखपुरी (5 मई 1935 – 29 जुलाई 2017)

(श्रद्धांजलि)

ज़फ़र गोरखपुरी

जन्म: बैदौली बासगांव, गोरखपुर | निधन: मुम्बई, अंधेरी (पश्चिम

गुज़रे ज़माने के वरिष्ठ शायर ज़फ़र गोरखपुरी का शनिवार 29 जुलाई 2017 को निधन हो गया। वे अपने पीछे पुत्र अयाज गोरखपुरी और इंतेयाज गोरखपुरी को छोड़ गए हैं।

ज़फ़र साहब ने हिंदी फ़िल्मों के लिए भी कई यादगार गीत लिखें, जैसे “किताबें बहुत सी पढ़ी होंगी तुमने” (बाज़ीगर 1996)। उनके अन्य लोकप्रिय गीतों के बारे में जानने के लिए इस लिंक पर जाएँ।

Zafar_Gorakhpuri_2

ज़फ़र गोरखपुरी बासगांव तहसील के बेदौली बाबू गांव में 5 मई 1935 को जन्मे। प्रारंभिक शिक्षा गांव में प्राप्त करने के बाद उन्होंने मुंबई को अपना कर्मक्षेत्र बनाया। बताया जाता है कि मुम्बई वे मजदूरी करने गए थें। सन 1952 में उन्होंने शायरी की शुरूआत की थी। उन्हें अपने ज़माने में एक से एक आला शायरों का साथ मिला। वे फ़िराक़ गोरखपुरी,जोश मलीहाबादी, मजाज़ लखनवी और जिगर मुरादाबादी सरीखे शायरों को सुनते और उन्हें भी अपनी शायरी सुनाते। उनके पास न केवल विशिष्ट और आधुनिक अंदाज़े बयां था, बल्कि उन्होंने उर्दू गजल के क्लासिकल मूड को भी नया आयाम दिया। आवाम से जुड़ाव की ताज़गी ने उनकी ग़ज़लों को आम आदमी के बीच लोकप्रिय बनाया। ज़फ़र प्रगतिशील लेखक संघ से भी जुड़े थे।

ज़फ़र गोरखपुरी का पहला संकलन तेशा (1962) दूसरा वादिए-संग (1975) तीसरा गोखरु के फूल (1986) चौथा चिराग़े-चश्मे-तर (1987) पांचवां संकलन हलकी ठंडी ताज़ा हवा(2009) प्रकाशित हुआ।  हिंदी में उनकी ग़ज़लों का संकलन आर-पार का मंज़र 1997 में प्रकाशित हुआ। उन्होंने बाल साहित्य में भी योगदान दिया। उनकी रचनाएं महराष्ट्र के शैक्षिक पाठ्यक्रम में पहली से लेकर स्नातक तक के कोर्स में पढाई जाती हैं। बच्चों के लिए उनकी दो किताबें कविता संग्रह ‘नाच री गुड़िया’ 1978 में प्रकाशित हुआ जबकि कहानियों का संग्रह ‘सच्चाइयां’ 1979 में आया।

रचनात्मक उपलब्धियों के लिए ज़फ़र गोरखपुरी को महाराष्ट्र उर्दू आकादमी का राज्य पुरस्कार (1993), इम्तियाज़े मीर अवार्ड (लखनऊ) और युवा-चेतना सम्मान समिति गोरखपुर द्वारा फ़िराक़ सम्मान (1996) में मिला। 1997 में संयुक्त राज्य अमेरिका की यात्रा कर कई मुशायरों में हिंदुस्तान का प्रतिनिधित्व किया।

स्क्रीनराइटर्स एसोसिएशन उनके निधन पर गहन शोक व्यक्त करते हुए परमात्मा से उनकी आत्मा की परम शांति की प्रार्थना करती है।

DUNKIRK

DUNKIRK

“A MASTERCLASS IN FILMMAKING!”

CROP Dunkirk Poster    COP Christopher Nolan

Written & Directed by: Christopher Nolan

Written and directed by acclaimed British-American filmmaker Christopher Nolan, Dunkirk paints a vivid account of one of Britain’s most celebrated historical events. Set in the year 1940, Nolan’s latest venture tells the harrowing tale of Operation Dynamo: the ‘miracle’ that allowed for the evacuation of 400,000 beleaguered British and Allied troops from the beaches of Dunkirk (Dunkerque, France) in the midst of an air raid by the German Luftwaffe. With a diverse ensemble of British A-listers and Hollywood newcomers, Dunkirk focuses on its tide-turning subject with such pounding, pitiless conviction that it is impossible not to lose oneself in its expansive ingenuity.

Adopting a non-linear, triptych format that is narrated through three perspectives – land, air and sea – this World War II epic is a tense but thrilling tale of survival, fear, and the enormous fortitude of the human spirit.

On land, protagonist Tommy (Fionn Whitehead) survives a German attack and escapes to Dunkirk’s beaches, where he meets Gibson (Aneurin Barnard). Together, the two teenaged soldiers find and join the Allied troops readying for evacuation, overseen by Colonel Winnant (James D’Arcy) and the pier-master Commander Bolton (Kenneth Branagh).

On the sea, the British Navy requisitions private boats to aid in this mass evacuation across the English Channel. In an effort to save as many soldiers as possible, patriotic mariner Mr Dawson (Mark Rylance), his son Peter (Tom Glynn-Carney) and their young helper George (Barry Keoghan) decide to commandeer their boat into the warzone by themselves.

Flying high above them all, three Royal Air Force pilots including Farrier (Tom Hardy) and Collins (Jack Lowden) provide air support to the stranded soldiers awaiting rescue at Dunkirk.

Barely ten minutes into the film, it becomes apparent that Dunkirk favours action over words, allowing sound (Michael Mitchell) and visuals (production design: Nathan Crowley; VFX: Double Negative) to form a terrifyingly realistic atmosphere around its characters’ silence. A cacophony of thunderous bombs, zipping gunfire and screeching engines builds tension and drama without the need for dialogue, hammering in the ‘ticking clock’ that is palpable throughout the film.

While the screenplay’s decidedly sparse dialogue enables viewers to immerse themselves in the film, it is also a setback for natural character development. Although each performer – A-listers and extras alike – is believable and remarkably well-cast (John Papsidera; Toby Whale), Dunkirk’s characterization is far too simplistic to generate a satisfactory emotional response. It is this lack of humanism and Whitehead’s consistently deadpan delivery (which works for most of the film but also tears away any potential emotion in key scenes) that strips the film of soul, replacing this conventionally core component with more physical, visual elements.

Although viewers are unable to form strong enough connections with most of Dunkirk’s characters, the film’s secondary motifs are expressed with skill. On several occasions, Nolan’s screenplay effectively voices moral issues without the need for dialogue. While Whitehead’s Tommy grapples with the unspoken conflict between patriotism and integrity, Hardy and Rylance convey heart-wrenching depth and drama solely through their eyes. With the omission of heavy dialogue, every gesture, twitch and grimace carries weight, and each moment in this film feels significant and well placed.

While the film chronicles the events on Dunkirk between May 26, 1940 – June 3, 1940 in vivid detail, it does not portray the activities preceding this event. It makes no mention of Belgium or Holland, does not dwell on Winston Churchill and solemn-faced Generals in stuffy war rooms, and consciously avoids presenting German soldiers on screen. Dunkirk is a single-quest undertaking and Nolan is unapologetic in his stone-cold focus in this pursuit. Much like its approach to dialogue, this, too, serves as a double-edged sword, for while this fierce emphasis is one of Dunkirk’s greatest strengths, it also weighs down its characters as empty vessels ferrying an inflexible script across land, sea and air.

Aided by jaw-dropping cinematography (Hoyte Van Hoytema) and an exceptional score (Hans Zimmer), Dunkirk fuses sound and image to deliver what will soon be hailed as a cinematic masterclass. While Hoytema expertly weaves texture and authenticity to layer into the film’s melancholic tone, Zimmer breathes life into it with a nervous pizzicato of frayed violins, rousing synthesizers and unrelenting clock samples that will ruffle even the calmest of listeners. Handheld cameras enforce the claustrophobia of Tommy’s desperation, concentrating on real locations, planes and boats to deliver an organic experience. Wide, vibrant shots of Dunkirk’s beaches in immaculate IMAX 70mm make this film a breathtakingly immersive journey.

Excellent war films are traditionally focused on nuanced character development and their emotional journeys, its players on one side of the screen and viewers on the other. Dunkirk, on the other hand, grabs moviegoers by the eyeballs and thrusts them into a heart-pounding warzone. Its characters are mere pawns, the chessboard a perilous chasm of violence, chance, loyalty and hope.

Dunkirk is brutal, ambitious and sincere, and its auteur’s propensity for pushing the boundaries of contemporary cinema has paid off yet again. In what is sure to earn several Oscar nods, Christopher Nolan has produced a unique form of entertainment that is so remarkable it must be studied almost forensically.

True to history, Dunkirk ends with both victory and defeat, leaving viewers wholly electrified and yet vaguely unfulfilled. Nolan has turned the story of a single battle into a symphony of sensory delight with piercing, clockwork precision. It is a war story without a hint of blood or gore; a tale of suffering and belief without conversation. Nolan hones the film’s strengths into a meticulously choreographed spectacle, creating a magnificent display of horror and courage through psychological suspense and silence.

Overall, it is most certainly worth a watch, if not a riveting study in filmmaking.

-Tina Mohandas

Tina Mohandas

Tina Mohandas is a songwriter, musician, tattoo artist, vintage motorcycle collector, and animal rights activist. Currently writing her debut science fantasy novel, she is also the co-founder of the non-profit Bikerhood India initiative, and hopes one day to free every caged animal in the world.

Lipstick Under My Burkha

LIPSTICK UNDER MY BURKHA

“Four females, their fantasies & womankind’s freedom”

            CROP Lipstick Under My Burkha           STRIP Lipstick Under My Burkha

Story, Screenplay & Direction: Alankrita Srivastava Additional Screenplay: Suhani Kanwar Dialogues: Gazal Dhaliwal

One-Liner: Set in the crowded lanes of Bhopal, four women from 
different age groups pursue their definitions of freedom furtively.

Lipstick Under My Burkha is not a film about women’s sexual desires. It is not about their fantasies. It is about their freedom- sexual, financial, emotional. It doesn’t paint a rosy picture or promise a paradise, but that doesn’t mean it is grim, serious or heavy. On the contrary, it uses dollops of humor to drive home its point: Empowerment doesn’t come free. It’s like the color red, dangerous yet tempting, because that’s the only way out for its four repressed protagonists.

The movie begins with a narration of a girl named Rosy. You wonder if she is the burkha clad girl who is shown on the screen shopping for a perfume in a mall. But a minute later, you realize she is an 18-year-old girl named Rehana (Plabita Borthakur) who hides behind her burkha to shoplift articles.

The narration continues and we meet Shirin (Konkona Sen Sharma), another burkha clad woman, but unlike Rehana, she doesn’t steal things, but sells them. She is an expert saleswoman. She has all the tricks in the book to win over her customers, but for a woman of her substance, it is sad to learn she has to hide her profession from her utterly cold and terrifyingly frigid husband (Sushant Singh) for fear of insulting his manhood.

The narrative moves to introduce the feisty Leela (Aahana Kumra – Is it just me or anyone else also thinks she looks like Kathryn Hahn?) She is gorgeous, ambitious and totally unapologetic about her sexual flings with her photographer boyfriend Arshad (Vikrant Maasey), even as she is to be married soon with her fiancée, Manoj (Vaibhav Tatwawdi). She is a dreamer, a bird, a raging fire. She has nothing to hide; yet she has to be mindful for being who she is.

And finally, we meet the adorable Usha, more commonly known as Buaji (Ratna Pathak). A 56-year-old widow and the owner of a successful sweetshop who has her own, to use a sanitary term, biological needs. And she finds it in the taboo pages of soft erotica that only get accentuated when she meets a strapping swimming coach.

Holding their desires together is Rosy, the character from Buaji’s erotic novels, which is used as an interesting device to bring out their deepest feelings.

Now, to dissect its screenplay is to dissect its characters, and 
the process only throws a lot of questions than answers at 
the curious audience.

Characters –

Let’s begin with the youngest, Rehana. She might have been portrayed as a shoplifter in the first scene but as the story progresses, we see her as a girl who is afraid to be herself. Born to orthodox parents, she feels hesitant to express herself and finds solace in Miley Cyrus and Led Zeppelin’s songs. She aspires to be a singer in the college band, but her seniors wouldn’t have her. So what does she do? She tries to be like them. And what’s that? She becomes a part of their protests against ban on jeans and though a non-smoker, smokes with them. That’s how she gets into the fold.

Back home, she can’t even dance freely in an engagement because that irks her parents. She can’t raise her voice at them. She endures the denial of her freedom by mentally playing a Miley Cyrus tune, and dancing wildly alone in her room, suppressing her tears, her anger, herself.

She steals so that she can be modern, she smokes so that she can be a singer, she remains silent so that she can be accepted by her parents. What does she have to do to be herself?

Shirin, a mother of three and a dutiful wife, has a simple dream: Work as a saleswoman so that she can contribute to the family’s income. But is it so simple? Is it even possible when her husband sees her solely as a baby producing object who can be entered without any contraceptive at will?

Shirin is a silent victim of domestic abuse. She isn’t the ambitious kind; she isn’t the one who has big expectations from life. She has simple dreams, hopes for simple joys and pleasures, and seeks comfort in the mundane but the beautiful. She is all love. And it is this soft, delicate fabric that she is afraid to tear. She revolts towards the end, but is it impactful? Will she take a stance for herself and leave her husband? Will she tell the world, “I am free”?

Leela, the feisty Leela. She is everything that you would expect Shirin to be. And yet, is she free?

There is a scene in which she is having sex with her boyfriend on her engagement night. Her mother catches them in the act and slaps her. But she isn’t remorseful. In fact, she justifies her act as revenge for her mother forcing her to marry Manoj. Her mother isn’t angry. She simply moves over to another corner, gets a lipstick and applies it on Leela. Matter closed.

With no words spoken, it became clear that for all her big dreams, ambitions and plans to flee with her boyfriend, Leela is attached to her mother and she won’t leave her. Sure, they don’t share a typical respectful mother-daughter relationship, but the affection, though invisible, is still there.

It’s the same with Arshad. Leela thinks he is suitable for her because they are sexually compatible, but it is their love that binds them together. They go through cycles of break up and patch up only to realize in the end they love each other. But it’s too late by then. She has lost all ownership of her dignity. Plus, her mother’s dignity is under threat. She has transferred their right to live respectfully to her fiancée. What will he do with it? Will he be mature? Can he be mature? Is he really at fault? No matter what decision he takes, can we really blame him?

Leela, no doubt, is a complex character, but it is her story that forces one to see the hidden setbacks in the path of empowerment. Are we strong enough to punish the innocent to be empowered?

Buaji. She is Buaji until she is asked her name by her young swimming coach. As she writes her name on the admission form: Usha Parmar, she runs her finger on it feeling for the first time in many years her true identity. She has been long deprived of it, and this revival has also revived her biological longing. She no longer wants to delve into the erotic land of Rosy. She wants to be Rosy. She wants to have her passion respected and she goes for it.

Under the garb of a satsang, she goes to her instructor, feels the cool of the pool water and the warmth of her young hands. Her soul is revived but far from satisfied. She assumes herself as Rosy and engages in phone sex. She shivers and moans and titillates herself and in the throes of ecstasy, can’t see the impending tragedy. But when it hits, oh, can she endure it?

Questions such as these are manifold and answers none. To have given an answer would have meant a closure, but for a film that tries to be as real as the day, the non-closure is welcome.

The direction by writer-director Alankrita Srivastava is a blend of prose and poetry. Yes, there is the narration of Rosy to delve into the depths of her protagonists but that doesn’t mean she isn’t equipped with better narrative devices.

In the case of Buaji, she uses a mirror expertly to remind her of her real version before she can create the world of Rosy in her life. She sees herself and becomes conscious and finally ditches the mirror; Shirin’s angst is compounded through the innocence of her kids; Rehana finds closure in silence and dance and Leela…

There is a scene where Leela has to sell her scooter to make some money. As she leaves the scooter, she stops and turns back to look at it. Memories of her and Arshad travelling together come back and she dashes to him which, in the climax, becomes the decisive scene of her tragedy.

In the last scene of the movie, the four women, all broken and exhausted sit together. A mannequin’s head falls off from a sewing table. She has a burkha on and her lips are light red, not dark red- a poetic symbol of their faded spirits.

Speaking of red, there is almost everything red about the film. From lipsticks to nail polish to JNURM buses to disco lights to toys to Shireen’s night dress to her microwave… almost everything is red, perhaps a conscious decision on the part of cinematographer Akshay Singh to accentuate the struggles of the principal characters.

The dialogue by Gazal Dhaliwal have got some of the best lines you will hear in a long time. No, they are not witty or explosive. They are simple but make no mistake, they are sharp and piercing.

Of course, the movie isn’t without its flaws. Take Rehana’s impassioned speech, early in the movie, against ban on jeans for a news channel. Now, she is too afraid to be seen by her parents wearing jeans under the burkha. And here she is, making her voice heard with tops and jeans and even goes to the extent of ripping them, without any second thought of the possibility that she could be seen by her parents, or anyone from the neighborhood on TV.

Rehana’s shoplifting escapades are also unbelievable and the climax, though I personally liked it, seems a little contrived, given the way everyone’s truth is revealed in the same manner. In screenplay terminology, the device used is Setup-Payoff. The fact that all the setups are similar, except Shirin’s, makes you wonder if there could have been a different way to reach at the climax.

It may be a movie about 4 women, but the men too are not to be missed. Sushant Singh, Shashank Arora, Vikrant Maasey, Vaibhav Tatwawdi, Jagat Singh… though they may have less screen time and not much of a character arc, they play their parts to perfection.

Lipstick Under My Burkha takes a worm’s eye view of the closed lives of women in India. It is a film that doesn’t make any political statement, but simply urges you to be a part of a process. When none has participated in a process, how is a solution possible? And even if they do, the closure may take a long time. But nevertheless, it is a welcome breeze in the desert of Hindi films. We need a blizzard of Lipsticks…

 – Chiranjib Sahoo

Chiranjib_Profile pic
Chiranjib is a trained screenwriter from Whistling Woods International, Mumbai. He can be contacted at csahoo449@gmail.com