Monday, February 06, 2006

Shabd- The movie

Producer/s: Pritish Nandy and Rangita Nandy
Director: Leena Yadav
Cast: Sanjay Dutt, Aishwarya Rai and Zayed Khan
Music: Vishal-Shekhar
Lyrics: Irshad Kamil and Vishal Dadlani (guest lyricist)

This can’t be called a review – its just my response to the film as I watched it- my way of perceiving it…
I had been wanting to see this movie based on the little info that I had gathered from here and there- the reviews that I had come across were quite discouraging and unflattering- and yet I knew I wanted to see it- my curiosity had been nudged- and when they relayed it on Star Gold this weekend, I watched it eagerly- and frankly I enjoyed it.

The theme is yet again love triangle- except that the third angle has the older woman – younger man scenario.
The husband- Shaukat Vasisht- Sunjay Dutt, Anatara Vasisht- his wife- Aishwarya Rai, and Yash- Zayed Khan.

While the circumstances leading to the younger man- older woman relationship is not very plausible, I could understand the plethora of emotions and conflicts that the situation led to…The questions raised, the doubts faced- the justifications, the validations, the imbibed conditioned thinking , the concept of rights and wrongs- - all seemed very genuine and realistic. To me, it seemed like a very honest peek into the psyche of the characters…

Shaukat Vasisht- a writer who was facing a lot of criticism with his last creative venture- is determined to overcome his writer’s block and regain his audience. He was specifically accused of writing unreal/ fantasy stuff- and so he wants to give ‘real’ to his readers- he looks around for his hidden muse- finds his beautiful wife- Antara (whom he calls Tamanna in his thoughts)- and decides to ‘employ’ her as his muse- he attempts to prise open her comfortable shell of self complacent contentment- probes her to delve within and search for repressed discontent- seek her hidden true self…tho Antara is baffled in the beginning- she claims complete contentment…she slowly begins to wonder on these lines- and this path to self discovery is catalysed by the appearance of a new younger co- worker- Yash.

Shaukat is excited by this new character, and encourages Antara to explore new possibilities in relationships. He is obsessed with the experimentation of his new topic- Woman, the Forbidden boundaries- the concepts of Rights and Wrongs wrt relationships.
Though Antara refuses to comply initially, he convinces her to withhold her marital status from Yash. Antara is uncomfortable with this especially because Yash makes his affection for her pretty obvious. However, Antara begins to enjoy his exuberance (which first, she had found annoying), his mischief- and of course his attention and admiration. She discovers little joys in his company- like spontaneity, uninhibited laughter- and enjoying little, trivial things in life- all those which she had forgotten existed- she realises that she had simply fallen into the expected groove with marriage- comfortably and conveniently performing her duties as a loving wife – and though she loved her husband- and had no regrets- she rediscovered the joy of living in Yash’s company! And now she is afraid of falling in love with Yash…

Shaukat notices the changes in Antara- he understands what is happening- and believes that everything was happening as he conceived for his story plot- the writer in him is excited and thrilled- but the husband in him is beginning to worry and get insecure, scared and sad- the conflict begins in his head- between Shaukat the writer, and Shaukat the husband…

Yash, blissfully ignorant that he was playing a part, is happily in love- he tells Antara the qualities that he finds in her endearing- her hesitations, her coyness, her laughter, her holding back…and Antara feels helpless- she is caught in between his affection and her loyalty to her husband.

It dawns on Shaukat that perhaps Antara ws developing a soft corner for Yash- and that it was time for the husband to intervene and reclaim his wife- he decides that the ‘character’ Yash had to die- and he inserts Yash’s “suicide” into his plot.

Antara meanwhile is unable to cope with new emotions for Yash, sense of deceit and guilt , and her convictions about “rights” and “wrongs”. She confesses to Yash about her marital status- admitting that while Yash had brought into her life a gift of joyful moments- and that she would cherish the memories of the wonderful moments that they had shared…she was very happy and in love with her husband. Yash is devastated but wishes her well and moves away gracefully.

Shaukat at first is disappointed that real life had moved away from his ‘script’- Antara is aghast that he had been seeking/ weaving a story out of her life, that he had been egging her on to “let go” of conditioned thinking, her ideas of rights and wrongs for the sake of his creativity- she confronts him accusing him of insensitivity and ignorance of the ways how reality worked- she tries to make him realise that Fiction was different from the real world…when real individuals and real time emotions were involved.

But Shaukat is unable to take it- he was by now enmeshed in a web of his own making- that of creative obsession! He had been proud that he was able to chart and predict uncannily how the characters in his story would speak and behave. He was convinced that his words were powerful and self fulfilling! He was sure that Yash would commit suicide because he had penned it so- and now the prospect terrified him- he tottered between real world and fiction and was unable to make a difference- he keeps on searching frantically for the last page of his story to change the climax-

Antara realizes what was happening to him- she tries to assure him in vain that his words would not prove prophetic- but Shaukat was too far gone from reality by now- he has to be admitted into a re-hab centre, and she is confident that some day he would return to her …

I liked the metaphors, the imagery- the direction- the play of the raindrops on Sunjay Dutt’s face- I lack the knowledge to describe such things technically except to say that I liked it-

I liked Sanjay’s acting- but wished that they had other actors play the role of Antara and Yash. Aishwarya of course looked beautiful but Aishwarya’s mannerisims masked Antara- and so also with Zayed…however as the story progressed, I forgot to notice the indiscrepancies- the characters of Antara and Yash loomed larger, tho I’m not sure it was because of their acting prowess or my own involvement with the story.
Sadia Siddiqui in the role of the domestic help tho miniscule- was impressive.

Though the idea of a writer husband encouraging his wife to have an affair for the sake of his creativity sounds too far fetched- the questions raised were very genuine –

And it often happens with me that while I do enjoy the nuances, the dialogues- the direction while watching a movie- most of the time on retrospect I tend to remember a movie less favourably with passage of time, so I wrote this out before the ‘feeling’ evaporated.

I remember, many years ago there was a similar story attempted in Malayalam- I think the name of the movie was “Rachana”meaning “composition” in which the writer husband ( Bharath Gopi) persuades his wife ( Srividya) to encourage the affections of a very na├»ve, simpleton co-worker ( Nedumudi Venu) - and then finally invites him over to their home for dinner- and there the husband makes his appearance- the co worker is shocked, embarassed and mortified- so much that he commits suicide - the wife is unable to handle the guilt and becomes insane, and the wretched husband is left to repent and regret forever…

Thursday, February 02, 2006

The Eternal Wait

The sound of the approaching train barged into her senses and she was startled out of her stupor. Subconsciously she moved into the “waiting” mode. It took some moments for her to remember that she had nothing to wait for. Her wait had ended two years and four months ago…She knew that and yet but her heart still continued to wait – it seemed to refuse to believe and accept that her wait had come to an end…she had been programmed to wait and could not be deprogrammed!

Before the wait had ended two years ago, the sound of the approaching train meant that he was about to arrive- it meant anticipation, increased heart beats, excitement as she waited for the approaching footsteps. The moments ticked by heavily, each leaving a footprint in her heart. Her ears would be alert to every rustle outside her door- her world would be reduced to just a single all pervasive action- that of waiting…

As the familiar footsteps approached, she’d get into a tizzy of excitement, sheer happiness. She’d rush to open the door- and there he’d be standing outside towering over her at the doorstep- that first moment would freeze- him looking at her and she at him- only after a few moments , would both of them come back to the mortal world- and she would step aside, to let him in- the moment she closed the door with her heart in her mouth, he would swoop her into his arms – and she’d cradle his neck with hers….

Now it was two years since he had left- forever- her wait had come to an end- but even now, when she heard the sound of the approaching train, her senses perked up in reflex- she could not unlearn it- For her, the wait had become Eternal- the wait for the footsteps that would never reach her door…