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Dirtscapes

Read. Suffer. Try to Enjoy.

The Loha Movie Review

Saturday, February 18, 2006
There are Mithun movies, and then there are distillates of a parallel universe. What you are about to read, is about a glowing, incandescent and steaming example of precisely that. This movie is beyond the capabilities of mortal description, and the written word would not do any justice to capture the sheer giddy feeling I get after I’ve seen this. Beats any rush in the world, hands and feet down.

The opening sequences set the tone for what is to follow, with street toughs talking in hushed, awe-drenched voices about the King of the Mumbai crime scene, LukkaBhai (Mohan Joshi). His ‘entry’ filmed against the crusty environs of good old Mukesh Mills is one of the grittiest (verbally speaking) sequences ever shot in Bollywood. He has a verbal duel with TandyaBhai (Deepak Shirke, in a powerful cameo), his erstwhile mentor, who has been overthrown by him. The dueling is not unlike the stuff you would have seen in 8 Mile. Only, this movie came much before it, kinda like a precursor. The dialogue is so powerful, it makes your eyes and nose water.

Samples –


Lukka : “Kya hua? Kyon chilla raha hai?”

Tandya : “Arre hona kya tha? Kauwe ne cheel ka chumma liya aur cheel ne choohe ka bachcha paida kiya!”

(This is the first of the many ‘WTF’ moments that you are guaranteed…)

Tandya : “Bhool gaya kya woh din, jab tu din ko boot polish, aur raat ko tel maalish kiya karta tha? Mawaali log tereko chikna chikna bulaake tere pichchwaade pe haath ghumaate the…”

Tandya : "Abbe chal be, main dhobi ghaat pe, tooteli khaat pe lita lita ke maaronga"

Lukka : "Main tera woh bura haalat karoonga, jo deemag lakdi ka, aur chhipkali makdi ka karta hai"

(Speaking of Eminem, they say he made the ‘inside rhyme’ popular, but you know where my loyalties lie…)

Incensed by Tandya’s insouciance, Lukka has Tandya’s sister’s ‘advantage taken’, post which a broken, hollow Tandya comes to Lukka, and begs for mercy and a job.

Lukka : “Tune mujhe bhadwaa bola, bahut kadwaa bola. Abbe o kadwe karele, teri behen marne ke baad, teri haalat us AIDS lagi randi ki tarah ho gayi hai, jiske paas kabhi koi giraik nahi jaata…”

Tandya : “Ab main woh cinema (ke ticket ka) ka aadha tukdaa hoon, jiski keemat show khatam hone ke baad do kaudi ki bhi nahi hai”

Tandya (totally breaking down) : "Ab maar daal mujhe, main bina petrol ki gaadi aur bin nashe ki taadi hoon, main woh fateli saadi hoon, jise koi hijdaa bhi nahi pehenta…"

Then it’s time for Shankar (Dharmendra), who plays a clean but disgraced cop, out to fight the system. Dharam papaji is at his rugged best, both attire, voice, and dialogue delivery wise.

After a while, God makes an entry with that ethereal ‘Dikhne mein bevda, bhaagne mein ghoda, aur maarne mein hathoda’ sequence, post which when the rape victim does the mandatory, bashful thank you, he mournfully laments

“Aapka yeh kanoon, aur bhagwaan, jab bhi kisi ko deta hai, to chappar faadke deta hai, aur jab leta hai, to thappad maarke leta hai…”

Arjun (God) is an ex-Military man (who obviously is entitled to shoulder length hair even while in the services – it’s HIM we are talking about) who has a run-in in with a baddie played by Rolling-eyes Rajesh Vivek (for quality movie folks, he’s Guran from Lagaan, and a B-Movie (B for Bhoot) legend in his own right…). He loses his lady love, and his military post, as a result of which he hits the bottle with a vengeance.

After a chance meeting outside Hotel Monarch (what are the odds?), Shankar saves Arjun’s life after he collapses and gets him a miraculous, bloodless operation.

Lukka gets Shankar’s sis ‘taken advantage of’ and killed. The two team up to fight the baddies along with Mustafabhai (Shakti Kapoor playing a handless baddie turned good) who has a score to settle with Lukka for chopping his hands off.

Shankar gets wrongly imprisoned, and Lukka comes to crow –

“Dekha Shankar, mujhse dosti karne waale ko Himalay ki pahad ki choti par bithaata hoon, aur mujhse dushmani karne waale ko main hari mirch ki chutney par bithaata hoon”

“Jahaan angoor na ghus sake, wahan tumne nariyal ghusane ko dekha…”

(Another juicy one which Lukka lets rip earlier on to one of his cohorts goes thus

"Phone sunte hi tumhara chehra kisi garbhavati billi ki pet ki tarah kyon gir gaya?!"

Potent stuff this...)

Shankar gets out of jail and then on it’s all about how the triumvirate systematically go about breaking Lukka’s stranglehold, and ultimately good triumphs over evil. Will not give the gory details away anymore, go and watch it.

There is also a very Quentin Tarantino-esque side plot/story with Govinda, Manisha Koirala and Dinesh Hingoo, which is a fine example of that school of movie making.

I have just one thing to say to you people. The USP of the whole movie, is the dialogue and the characterization. Period. Watch it and prepare to be amazed. I used to recite this stuff on popular demand while I was a student, and everybody thought I was making them up…till I actually showed them the movie. No one emotes while watching it, they just are too engrossed and zapped to react. Post movie, they confide that they were so, so wrong to have ever doubted me. I modestly brush it aside, saying that their reaction mechanism (or the lack of it) was worth it. One of my unquestioned, unchallenged and unilaterally favourite movies.

posted by Tapan at 10:18 PM

Zen And The Art of Mithun Movie Buying

Tuesday, February 07, 2006
Ever thought about the mechanics of actually buying a Mithun movie? Doesn’t seem like a big deal right? Let's see...

1)Locate ‘typical’ VCD/music outlet
2)Ask for desired title
3)Pay
4)Get the **** out

But as it turns out, it is akin to asking for a prophylactic at the chemist’s shop in front of a whole gang of your mother’s lady friends. Wipe that smirk off your face, and try saying
“Aapke paas ‘Charnon Ki Saugandh’ hai kya? Mithun ka?” to the VCD guy, maintaining eye contact all the while, WITHOUT tittering, and you’ll know what I mean. All this amidst classy to moderately decent (supposedly normal) people picking up some other worthless, regular ‘quality stuff’ and it can be a bit of a shock to the poor salesman. If you laugh, or even smile, you run the risk of being ignored as badly as the Sourav Ganguly of late.

I was on the prowl for some vintage Mithun movies along with a friend we'll call 'Cryptic Monu' who wanted to carry a motherload of them back to the US of A, and had got my heart broken repeatedly after playing my modified opening gambit. The below question invoked a lesser degree of horror on the salesmen’s faces.

Me : “Aapke paas Mithun ka purana movies hai kya?”

Most of them looked at me as if they knew I had worked on PowerBuilder and Pro*C.

Shopkeeper (sotto voce) : “Looks educated, dressed decently, mostly sober, but what could POSSIBLY be wrong with this guy?!”

The above standard reaction persisted till I struck pay dirt at one place near Borivli station (Music Junction, Chandavarkar Lane - contact me if you want the phone number). ‘Twas a watershed moment for sure when the above mentioned question was met with a knowing, beatific and empathetic smile bereft of the usual blank goggling stare, condescension, plain disbelief, or almost physical irritation…

“Haan…hai na!!! Ek minute”

I expected a couple of standard newer VCDs here and there (read Lucky, Elaan yaaawnnnnn…) but he surfaced with three whole stacks of Mithun movies. Three whole stacks of ONLY Mithun starrers. Get it? What are the odds of finding such a stash?!

Some of the RARE gems picked up…

  • Loha
  • Charanon Ki Saugandh
  • Swarag Se Sundar
  • Surakksha (Gunmaster G-9)
  • Wardat (Gunmaster G-9)
  • Ghar Ek Mandir
  • Cheetah

Through watery eyes and a surge in my systolic and diastolic, I pawed (and re-pawed) stuff which I’d been looking for, for years and years. This guy was TOTALLY into the whole Mithun movie scene. The absolute zenith of our whole conversation was when he ruefully pointed out that not too many people know that there is a Mithun movie called ‘Loha’ and everybody asked for the older Dharmendra-Shatrughan Sinha-Karan Kapoor (“Abbe O Monkey Brand”) one.

As you might have inferred, buying a Mithun movie involves the destroying of the biggest impediment to your self-realization - the ‘Aham-Bhaav’(or ego if you prefer it). People will mock you, spit on you, possibly stone you, but if you stick to your correct path of righteous determination, you WILL find God.

PS : In the pipeline - a Mithun Movie review series, starting with that ultra-trippy masterpiece called ‘Loha’. As they say in Blog-La-La-Land,“Watch this space”(I’ve always wanted to type that someplace...)

posted by Tapan at 10:06 PM

Short Story - Aftermath

Wednesday, February 01, 2006
(Another short story...)

It was a late night at the railway station. The usual suspects were present in full force – the pack of drowsy shoeshine boys/men, the beggars (who never got asked for tickets by the TT), the dingy food stalls manned by dirty, oily attendants with lots of eager flies and moths going ballistic on the garish white lights, a couple of sweepers kicking up as much dust as they were willing to, and a couple of very agile strays.

The unwashed pickpocket hovered around the ticket counter, biding his time. He looked like any other weary Second Class type passenger, just waiting to get home. Clothes that looked literally lived in, droopy eyelids, and an inch’s worth of grime covering every area visible to the naked eye, including the hair. Getting his next fix was top priority. Had been almost 24 hours since the last one.

He eyed his prey – a meek looking lone traveler at the end of the longish line, bearded, medium height and build, who kept fingering the back pocket of his pants.

The line was long even at this time of the night, thanks to a lone ticket counter with a supremely bored ticket clerk as the master of all he could see. He was taking his own sweet time to punch the tickets, dispelling his monotony with some banter with the neighbouring clerks, and by getting up every now and then to stretch his legs – ostensibly to get some more tickets or change from the other counters. People who told him exactly what they thought of his trips were shoved aside regally along with a request for the exact change. Served them right.

The pickpocket saw his chance, and got in behind his target. Three persons away from the ticket window, he made his move. One smooth dive in and out, and his fingers were clutching a 500-rupee note. He couldn’t believe his luck, as his fingers shook while pocketing the money. To his misfortune, the bearded man turned around and saw him put away the note. He angrily confronted him

“I saw you put away that note. That’s mine!”

“What?”, the pickpocket mumbled. “It’s not…”

Before he could complete his sentence, the bearded man grabbed him by the wrist and addressed the world at large.

“He’s stolen my money! I saw him do it!!”

The line behind slowly disintegrated, with some people trickling up front. Curious just about began to describe their demeanor.

“What? Did you see him do it?”

“Positive. Swear on my kids.”

Out of nowhere apparent, a palm landed on the pickpocket’s cheek, causing him to stumble. And then another. And another. Till the only sound one could hear was the sickening non-movie like sound of somebody being thrashed. A dull thwacking, with no report, no echo, no melodrama and no exaggerated movements. Cold, clinical and calculated. Not at all like in the movies. One by one, all the travelers started to let him have it. The commute, the sadistic ticket clerk, the filth, the dust, the noise, the fecal, urea-tinged stench…they were suddenly oblivious to it all.

All that mattered was in front of them now, ready to take everything they were ready to dish out. They evidently thought about the comfortable journey home, nostrils jostling against an ocean of stinky armpits, bones forcibly made elastic, all muscles numb, hanging on to life by just their fingertips and nothing else. And then saw him crouched, shitting his pants. Fists rained jarring blows all over the thief, which made him try to crawl on all fours, desperately trying to get away. Then a whole lot of feet took over. Rubber, PVC and leather soles rained on whatever areas of his body that they could find. A bunch of hands hoisted him up by his shirt collar, and started parading him up and down the ticket counter area, with the bearded man leading the way, crowing all the time.

“You brazen son of a bitch!”

“We’ll teach you how to pick pockets…”

The traffic cop was watching all this with great interest from the street corner outside. It had been a real slow day. In spite of every motorable inch being dug up, everybody had driven perfectly, even the taxi drivers. Just one of those days - not good at all and he was feeling the pressure of the bottom line. He marched in self-importantly and went up to the melee. The crowd parted semi-respectfully, as he caught the thief by his right ear, and slapped him as hard as he could, screaming

“How dare you?!! What were you thinking?!

He then proceeded to kick him in the shins. After a couple of more blows, he was fully satisfied, and he turned to the crowd and proclaimed
“Take him to the police booth on the station. I cannot arrest him since I’m a traffic cop…”
and then melted away into the night, a song and a smile on his lips.

The crowd then went on to the railway station, parading the by now delirious thief. A stray dog and a couple of beggar kids also joined in, howling loudly together whenever there was a lull in the thrashing. The cops on the station were nowhere to be found.

They marched all along the platform, till gradually, as was bound to happen, the crowd started to lose interest. Some remembered they had a train to catch, some remembered that they had a home and family to go back to, while some were just plain bored with the situation now and had had enough. They would have loved to lynch the thief, but everybody was waiting for someone else to launch the first really vicious blow. A very lucky deadlock for him. The procession gradually thinned, as people dropped out discreetly from the back of the line. A couple of trains went by and swallowed almost everybody in the procession, till only the victim and the perpetrator were left alone for all purposes (since the remaining passersby were very detached now – who wants to get onto the red taped side of things anyways?), in a corner of the platform.

The pickpocket saw his chance, and shoved the bearded guy hard, getting his shirt ripped off his back, as he broke into a manic run down the tracks and disappeared into the darkness. He ran till he felt like his lungs had burst, and collapsed by the side of the tracks, his breath coming in painful ragged gasps. Every fibre of his being was screaming out in agony, blood streaming down his face, ears flaming.

His ears picked up the familiar tread of boots on the gravel. He spun around and cowered as a flashlight shone upon his face. A savage kick across his face made him spit out blood and a tooth.

“Stupid fucking son of a bitch. Did it like it was your first time ever! Am taking you in, I have to now. Too many people have seen you… the media is there…whoring the incident and questioning us about our whereabouts. You have left me no choice…”

posted by Tapan at 12:11 AM