Wednesday, April 14, 2010

LSD vs. Laalbaghcha Parel (City of Gold)

There is only one parameter on which I am going to compare both these films. Their treatment of morality.Both question/break the conventionally set patterns of morality - Sex before marriage, extra marital affairs, violence, brutal cruelty et al. There are two themes which usually constitute scandal - Violence and 'illegal' sex. Both the films have covered these themes in abundance.

While LSD is explosive and bold, I am not sure if it was thought provoking. LSD was a statement to make. Statement made, some appreciated the statement, some didn't. Considering LSD was definitely not entertainment,it should have atleast given some food for thought, right?
We never get to know the motivations of the crimes committed, so we only see victims to whom horrible things are done by villians, which apparently is depiction of a stark reality, that we already somehow know about. Somehow, I could not empathise with the victims or villians, and if it was about LOVE, SEX, and DHOKA, I didn't really question anything about them
And if you say, its only that LSD depicted what has never been attempted on screen before, lets give it credit for boldness, and not make it a good film!

On the other hand, in Laalbagh, all the 'crimes' (I am using the word for what is conventionally taken as that)committed were by characters who we knew. We knew what they wanted, who they were, where they were coming from, their circumstances and situations...They become relatable now, and their deeds seem to be justified, and yet in your head they are not..there is conflict and there is questioning...
When Kashmira Shah wants to have an extra marital affair with her neighbor, when she has a really nice husband who is impotent, whether you approve of what she does or not, you don't hate her. When kids take to shooting, and shoot left, right and center just like the kids in City of God, shooting without purpose, you're disturbed, but you make an attempt to understand their angst, confusion caused by poverty, and the bleak hopelessness that unleashes the animal in them. Such many examples. All the characters are heroes, villians and victim, grappling with a tough incomprehensible life...I realise, empathy and conflict is a deadly combination, won't leave without taking your sleep

Now I know why I wasn't so excited about LSD. There was a tiny voice within that quietly kept asking 'so what', and I couldn't really shut it up!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Guess who's coming to dinner

This movie is about prejudice. Conscious, and subconscious. Set in the America of the 60's, when racism was a seething social issue, a young white woman falls in love with a black man. The twist in the story is that the girl does not come from a conventional family that supports racism or is afraid of social opinion/taboo and therefore goes along with the flow of the world.She comes from a progressive family of journalists, who are opinion/thought leaders and who are forefront in opposing racism. So,sincerely and effectively, the parents teach their daughter how not to discriminate between people on the basis of their skin color. The daughter grows without the burden of prejudice, takes their learnings to heart and falls in love with this black guy and brings him home after she decides to marry him.

Technically, the parents should not have a problem, but they discover they do. Progressive thoughts, and dinner table conversations are one thing. The courage and conviction to implement thoughts into action, another. Prejudices, go deeper than you think and know. Most times, we think we can kill prejudices with thoughts, but discover that we haven't, only when the issue reaches our backyard and we are forced to face a situation and forced to take a personal stand.

The rest of the movie is about how both the families resolve their differences, and come to terms with their prejudices, how they resolve the conflict between thoughts and actions, and most importantly bridge the generation gap. The movie takes us through several conversations between different members of both the families, and gives a honest and fair chance to the confusions and fears that different members face.

One of the most cliche ways to resolve conflict of thought and action with respect to prejudices is to say I don't have a problem with the variable as such (race here), but I do have a problem with how the variable has affected your identity (exposure levels, upbringing, lifestyle differences, intellect, social acceptance/standing et al.)There is no opportunity to do that here in this story, because the black guy is perfect. One of the most respected doctors in the international community with Ivy league credentials, handsome and impeccably mannered. So,the only only thing that can possibly stand against him is his color. Now, really you need to, need to face your prejudice.That's another thing I love about the film, the way the parents were cornered to face the issue.

The movie is really relevant even today and would continue to be so even tomorrow, as the variable of race can be replaced with caste, class, religion, or any other social discriminator.

I highly recommend this movie...its funny, yet intense. Optimistic, and yet serious