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Dirtscapes

Read. Suffer. Try to Enjoy.

The Gunda Movie Review

Sunday, September 17, 2006
The art of movie making is an inherent dichotomy. Film makers as a rule have to tread a very fine line between the aesthetic and the downright blasphemous, when trying to accurately profile the darker sides of human nature. Every once in a while, there comes a defining moment in cinematic history, which challenges all the established norms of what is allowable, and what is not. Which spits society right in the eye, and is not afraid to do its own thing. This moment then goes on to shock, sway and browbeat people into total submission, and cultivate nothing short of a cult. To which you can proudly belong to, and which confirms that you’ve seen the darkest kind of cinema vérité/film noir hybrid that is capable of being captured on celluloid.

A morbid, searing epic poem called Gunda. (Why poem? For starters, every couple of lines of dialogue rhyme with each other. Every couple.)

This movie is like having a ‘hard’ drink neat for the first time. You know…you tend to rush in, eager to gulp it down, only to find that it chars your senses mercilessly. Everything swims before your dilated eyes, and you find yourself adrift, time and space blurring, till you are one with a universal rhyming continuum. It’s best to watch it 15 minutes at a time, with sufficient time in between to allow your neurons and auditory nerves to recover.

The movie opens with a slew of baddies who introduce themselves one by one, with a lot of ominous panache, so that you know who is who (strong characterization – that integral aspect of story telling).

The villains in this movie (definitely will) make you flinch on more than one occasion, least of all when they introduce themselves thus…

Lambu Atta – “Deta hoon maut ka chaanta”
Bulla – “Sab karta hoon khullam khulla”
Chutiya – (just so that you know… chutiya as in tuft of hair; also, this character is probably the most evil hermaphrodite portrayed in Bollywood. Ever.) – “Acche acchon ki khadi karta hoon khatiya”
Pote – “Jo ap
ne baap ke bhi nahi hote”
Ibu Hatela – “Maa meri chudail ki beti, Baap shaitan ka chela, Kyon? Khaayega Kela?”

The story line revolves around how one man fights against the system where “gundagiri and netagiri ek hi baap ke do haraami aulaad hai”, and emerges triumphant in the end. But first up, you are shown that there are no limits to what depths evil can sink (that goes for the celluloid portrayal too).

Lambu Atta starts a bloody gang war by murdering one of Bulla’s henchmen. This triggers a wave of fraternal and sisterly retaliation by either party, which culminates in Lambu’s tragic demise. In his final moment, Lambu pleads for his life, offering to take care of Bulla’s carnal pleasures for life by supplying him whatever he wants, to the extent of promising to act like a prophylactic to save him from AIDS. When death is starkly imminent, he boldly declares that he would rather be castrated than dead. Bulla immediately kills him, shocked at his perversity. I was too.

Next, Bulla’s Brother, Kala Shetty kills a minister, and it’s time for God to make his entry. Prabhuji plays a coolie, and is seen in an airport in the movie, which is a revelation in itself. Weird as this may seem, this scene makes a very powerful case for class empowerment, and is a prophetic indication of how cheap airfares would be in 21st century India. It takes amazing vision, and a deep understanding of aviation economics to be able to portray something that would have been totally ridiculous back then (really… what’s a coolie doing at an airport? This movie came out in the late 90s.) and makes perfect sense now.

Anyways, Prabhuji bitchslaps your senses with
“Main hoon jurm se nafrat karne waala, gareebon ke liye chiraag, goondon ke liye jwaala” and helps the cops make

their arrest.

Bulla then sets about making Prabhuji’s life hell. He has his father(a constable) beaten up, his sister entrapped by deceitfully getting her married off to a provider of carnal services and then getting her advantage taken by Chutiya in his quest to become a red blooded male, and ultimately gets them both killed.

Prabhuji snaps and declares that he will kill them all in 10 days
“Ek, do, chaar, chhe, dus. Bus.”

On his way back, he finds Bulla’s bastard kid in a dustbin which had been discarded as “Haseena ka paseena” a couple of frames earlier, when Haseena, his love, had told Bulla some ‘good news’. True to form, Bulla kills her, and jettisons the kid. (He probably didn’t want an impressionable young mind to be party to all his evil.)

Prabhuji heart-rendingly laments
“Har kadam par khoon hai, har kadam par paap, paap karne mein yeh insaan, shaitaa
n ke bhi baap”, and adopts the kid.

Then Prabhuji goes about killing all of Bulla’s men in places as diverse as a graveyard, a surreal brothel with cots hanging from the ceiling, a public urinal, a ministerial cavalcade, to a bedroom.

The final showdown is strongly reminiscent of the big battle scenes in the the Lord Of the Rings epics, with Bulla looking really malevolent as he gets his army to the arena in auto rickshaws. It reminded me of the charge of the dark forces of Sauron, it is every bit as chilling.

Prabhuji restores some semblance of sanity to this world (and thereby to you), by killing Bulla. His parting shot?

“Tera naam hai Bulla. Maut ke baad bhi reh jaayega tera mooh khulla. Yaaeeeessh.”

True. True.

This movie is definitely not for you if all you like are strait laced, gory, bloody action movies and revenge dramas. It really, really pushes the envelope and like I said before, the baser aspects of the human psyche are not easy to capture without being mercilessly brutal. And this movie shines when it does that. It would be a very safe statement to say that you can watch Loha with your mother, when contrasted with this. And that people, is REALLY an understatement.


posted by Tapan at 8:30 PM

Tag! I’m It!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006
Evidently, I’d been tagged a while back by Supremus, to describe five things I found ‘most weird’ about me. Hell, there’s enough and more to go around. Let’s just start with the first five I can think of…

Passport Photos:
Getting a passport photo clicked is one of the most irritating activities for me. Here’s why. First up there’s always this garish, reddish hued studio room, with really really cheap, disconcerting wallpaper on one wall. A hint of cheap talcum powder perfume in the air, along with a miserable looking dressing table in the corner with exactly 3 combs and a hairbrush. I always have to take my glasses off (‘reflect aayenga fotu mein’) and wear just a frame sans lenses, which invariably offsets my cheekbone structure beautifully. And then the pressure of staring into the camera trying to keep my neck still, with those two stupid umbrellas with lights lending a surreal touch to it all. (My neck starts bobbing like a turkey’s – stop smirking, had seen one at an Irani café here once). And the clincher? Trying not to blink. I’m mortified at the thought of having to pay for a set of photos with me at my meditative acme.
The end result? Evidently not my Sunday best, given how people hoot and whoop whenever I show them my ‘passport photo’.


My Surname:
It’s the weirdest thing I have ever possessed. Just say it out aloud. Hoskeri (New lake when literally translated from Kannada). It sounds so freaking I don’t know… Alien? Whacko? Bizzaro? Unlike anything you’ve ever heard before innit? Has been known to make everyone from prospective job givers to security guards just stare at me as if I was from Switzerland (was told that by a college senior) or Kashmir(!) (courtesy an ex-colleague), and guffaw like somebody told them that job satisfaction actually exists in the IT industry (even the security folks laughed like that mind you…). Was called ‘Hosie Posie’ and ‘Horse Curry’ for a while in school, if it eases your pain…
(Add to that my first name which is roundly taken to be ‘Thapal’,’Sampat’ or ’Kappan’ and you will know why I just LOVE to introduce myself to strangers…)

Left shoe before right:
Ahh… this one goes back a long way. Had read a Milind Soman interview way back when I was a kid, in the Saturday Times colour supplement. He had confessed to being a little superstitious, always putting on his left shoe before his right. I was deeply impressed…and I went to myself that must really work…LOOK at him! I started doing the same, and to this day, I continue to do so.
Hope springs eternal etc etc…


The Exam dream:
Now this is a weird one to explain away. Even now, I get nightmares that I have an exam to give tomorrow, and that I don’t know jack. It’s usually Mathematics related, though I have dreamt of really esoteric ones like World History, English Literature, Economics and Analog and Digital Integrated Circuit Design too. The beauty of the whole thing is that in the dream, I’m fully aware that I’m a working professional, and that my job hasn’t left me enough time to actually study. But there is always that fear that I won’t get my degree (or get my degree taken away) if I get a KT (flunk) in this exam. Always.
And the sense of sheer relief that I get on waking up, and how I go back to bed with a smile on my fevered lips? Indescribable.


The Pee Dream:
[Caution – stop reading if you value your finer sensibilities]
And finally.
Ever have this dream when you have gone to bed with a semi-full bladder? It’s early morning, and Nature has been gradually filling it up with the regulatory excretory golden dew over the hours. You are coasting along, having a wonderful dream about whatever makes you happy, and sometime early in the a.m., you suddenly HAVE to pee. In the dream that is. And then beautifully, still in the dream, you alter the story line, find an alibi, and locate a loo (or conjure up one if it’s really urgent – this is what I love about dreams) and then just at the right moment, as you’re about to do the deed, you are slapped wide awake. To do the needful in the real world.
Ever experienced this? If you haven’t, I’m all alone. Boo hoo.

End of confessional.

posted by Tapan at 1:45 PM