It's not hard to reason this one but you migh...
Karan Anshuman (Filmmaker/movie critic),
Karan Anshuman is a film critic for Mumbai Mirror. He's worked on a bunch of movie projects, none of which you've ever seen...yet! He's a history, photography, squash, web 2.0, food, and gaming enthusiast who would trade his soul to travel the world.
YEH KHULA AASMAAN: Old School Return to Roots
Director: Gitanjali Sinha; Cast: Raj Tandon, Anya Anand, Raghubir Yadav, Yashpal Sharma, Manjusha Godse
The setup lasts all of two lines and is superbly executed. A self-assessment VO informs us that a boy has prepared with conviction for his IIT entrance exams even as he opens his laptop to check his results. He’s failed.
His confidence destroyed, his parents far away in another continent, his mind staggers before settling on a decision to go meet his grandfather, whom he hasn’t seen in a decade, in Bhagalpur. It takes under a minute of screen time to get this point. However from here on till the end of the film, Yeh Khula Aasman nosedives into preachy territory that borders on boring and never quite recovers.
Yeh Khula Aasman has to be viewed as a film for kids if suitable merit is to be accorded. As a comment on how children of urban upbringing and country roots, whose parents who’re too busy caught maneuvering their lives--have much joy and wisdom to exchange in a relationship with their grandparents, YKA is well intentioned and possibly even enlightening to some.
But the director plays it too safe in her approach to get the point across. She uses a kite-flying competition as a thinly veiled metaphor, characters talking to themselves and voiceovers for explanations, and black and white dramatis personae (that the villain is a Muslim, I will put down to an unfortunate coincidence); leaving, in the end, little to the imagination.
The main issue here is that the story is simply told and one wishes it would’ve involved more. Songs are overused as tools for moralizing in sentimental scenes. And there are far too many songs. All lip sync too.
This is old-school filmmaking and perhaps the purpose would’ve been served better with the message hitting hard in silences and drama of which there is simply not enough. Still, if you or your kids need a reminder of what a relationship with your grandparents can aspire to be, this film can serve as a starting point.
MLA: As farcical as our politics
Director: Shiv Dube; Cast: Chaitanya Naidu, Ana Kanandadze, Mukesh Tiwari, Omkar Das Manikpuri
MLA is the kind of film that you know, from the moment you lay your eyes on him in his first shot, that the leading man and producer are the same person. Since the implication of such a thing is no secret, the statement could serve as a one-line review. However, to keep you ent… er… informed, allow me to proceed.
This energy-sapping movie--that will have you wanting Mukesh Tiwari walk out the screen and shoot you instead of the hollow secondary characters his goons keep targeting--is nothing but a (very) poor man’s Prakash Jha knockoff.
You have idealistic and philanthropic rich businessmen who villagers root for. You have corrupt cops who rape, torture, and murder women at other people’s behest (okay, it’s just one cop.) You have cadre claques, you have corporate espionage, you have a foreigner girlfriend who goes to “do social work” in a Mercedes and who I’m led to believe is the daughter of a priest (maybe I’m missing a layer here.) And finally, you have the MLA who in his very first scene replaces an old woman from her assembly seat with a younger model who with the most innocent twinkle in her eye offers her “tan, man, dhan” in his service.
In his second scene, the MLA gets the new recruit drunk at home (in full view of his wife) and proceeds to bed her. Later I find out all this was only character establishing because even though the recruit is ever-present from this point on, it is only as a background artist. What a waste of celluloid. We don’t even get to see anything during ‘the scene’ save for Mukesh Tiwari’s moustache. Or was it... no, moustache.
But talking of extraneous scenes and dialogue, MLA seems longer than all of the nine films releasing this week (put together) because of the editor’s absolute refusal to cut anything out. You’ve the strangest dialogue (“Hello”, “Hello”, “How are you?”, “Fine. And you?”, “I’m fine.”) that is perfectly acceptable in real life but totally out of place in a film. Every character exchanges pleasantries, takes long pauses before stating the obvious, and goes to the loo when nature calls. Okay, not the last one. Why?
MLA could’ve easily been a better film. It could’ve been better minus the two item songs, minus the other songs, minus the romantic track, minus half the characters, minus the tension-diffusing writing, minus the stale ideas of corruption in politics, minus the poor performances, minus the humbug hate and the charlatan charity. Yes. It could’ve been.
Read more reviews by Karan Anshuman here
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