LIVES THAT MATTER : on cinematic documents that prevail.

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The pandemic has not ceased to exist and perhaps that is the very nature of the world we live in circa 2020.

As anticipation builds up with crescendos of hope and thwarted promises, we have come to realize that basic humanity hardly changes colours; the good, the bad and the repulsive will continue to forever course through our microscopic everyday and there's no better catalyst for all those quicksilver emotional changes than the visual medium.

With the constancy of our personal dilemmas occupying each work in mention here, we look at some noteworthy exceptions that make sense in these times and at any particular juncture. In a nutshell, each life matters when it comes to representation.



KATHA( THE STORY) is set in a distinctly Bombay setting- a chawl which in itself is a  quaint microcosm of the struggling and working middle classes, teeming with inummerable micro-narratives of their day to day life. Hence a 'story' is ripe to be told from multiple perspectives, bringing us a sense of  community emerging from pinched physical spaces and a genuine camaraderie among residents.

Here, one government clerk's reticence and collective goodwill, his friend's street smart and amoral ways and a young lady they both pine for find representation in sometimes humorous, sometimes earnest and at all times observant sketches, unfolding within the inner world of the chawl and greater ethos of the glorified big city experience outside. Class consciousness and the idea of honesty struggling to raise its head against overconfident markers of personalities is captured with realism and honesty. Naseeruddin Shah, Deepti Naval and Farooque Sheikh sink into their respective embodiments of the common man with elan.

There's a simplicity to the complex ideals of flesh and blood individuals presented in KATHA and the nature of stories shared here applies to any and every era. Its social pulse is, hence, captured  most favourably by maverick director SAI PARANJPYE, spinning her own yarn on the eternal  THE RABBIT AND THE HARE parable.



PAKEEZAH ( THE PURE ONE) is an almost wordless, aesthetically centred tale of a worldly wise courtesan, essayed by the iconic tragedienne Meena Kumari, and in its stillness and languid expressions successfully appropriates the kind of leisurely lifestyles of 19th Century Awadh ( the stately region of North India to which I belong to, being a resident of its most beloved cultural sphere Lucknow)

To modern audiences, that poetic langour and  progression can get a bit much. However, after watching it closely you will come to see it as a sort of mirror reflection of the world of glamour itself: ornate and glittery, with perfectly synced musical cues and dance steps, scores of patrons and fame that decorates legends.  The penetrating truth always remains that the persons at the heart of the legend are raised to the sky and yet remain distanced from a full-fledged social embrace and acceptance. The soul ultimately suffers the humiliation of being judged by the same populace that pines and lusts for the stars. In the case of women, it becomes even more relevant to internalize as a point.