More than a movie this is an argument. One that sadly not many of us have in our living rooms. I remember old argumentative uncles, fathers of friends who could talk this way over breakfast, lunch or tea pretty much everyday of their lives.
As an argument, it is a well structured one. Of course it would be. It has been a long running play and is actually based on a solid script (unlike many other films). What this means is, the argument has been open to public consumption over long and has had the time to fine tune itself. As opposed to, say an argument in a Anurag Kashyap film. There you immediately realize that the argument is only really in the director’s head. Things he is solving for himself.
This movie is really low on the aesthetics. It doesn’t need it, and doesn’t even try to improvise in it’s what I imagine to be a meager budget. The whole movie is about the words. So I won’t even venture into its visual aspect.
So its words, acting and the ‘argument’. The only thing that making a movie out of this play has achieved is in reaching a wider audience. An audience that perhaps requires more of this argumentativeness in their day to day lives.
I was reminded of the book of Amartya Sen called ‘The Argumentative Indian’. Why? Because it brought forth the general argumentative nature of Indians. Something that has been lacking in recent times. The result of which is a general lack of public moral policing. Reason why hundreds of people get away with shameful acts. It feels like it is changing now and that we are coming back into the forefront as a very nit picky argumentative culture. Something I failed to grasp from the book itself. But I begin to understand a little bit more everyday in these changing times.
Another thing I was reminded of was the ‘Talamaddale performance I watched in the Rangashankara Theatre Festival a year ago. A monsoon version of the famed ‘Yakshagana’ where a people sit around in temples and debate over the morality of the Mahabharatha.
Coming back to the film, Akhsay Kumar had the potential to play it well, but he did the best he could do I am sure. The movie treads the highly risky path of denouncing religion in India very well. While not targeting God himself, it brutally targets the organized religion and self made Swamy’s (or Sri, Sri, Sri, Sri, Sris).
I thought it pretty much covered all bases of the argument. Happy for Paresh Rawal.
(The item number was really not needed, but who’s to argue with commercial movie making tactics)