Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Kate Winslet dazzles in Revolutionary Road !

I've been trying to catch as many of the Oscar nominated movies this year as possible and so far most have been a disappointment - The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Milk are just worth one watch each, Slumdog Millionaire is good but you won't find me raving about it. Valkyrie, not Oscar nominated but much hyped nevertheless, was a complete disappointment. But just when one begins to lose faith in the movie churning factory called Hollywood, there's a gem that's rolled out and it manages to reinstate one's faith in the art of film-making. Welcome to Revolutionary Road. The movie, aptly named after the street on which the protagonists, Mr and Mrs. Wheeler (Di Caprio and Kate Winslet) reside, is a class apart.

Tumultuous marital reations have been the subject of many movies but very few are crafted to such excellence and topped with truly incandescent performances by the lead pair. Cutting the long story short - watch this movie to witness the sheer adroitness with which Kate Winslet carries off the character of April Wheeler. She dazzles at the right moments, and does not simply emote, but radiates emotions all over the canvas. As the aspiring wife who wants to break free from the monotonous and illusioned life she's leading with her husband, Kate Winslet takes you through a roller coaster ride of hope, disappointment, unrealistic expectations and shattered dreams. She leaves you spellbound with her performance, arguably one of the best seen on screen this year. I have reasons to believe that the only performance that could challenge this one would be her own in The Reader, which I haven't seen yet. Reviews have been raving about Kate Winslet being one of the finest actresses of her generation, and now I see a good reason why !

Leonardo DiCaprio does a swell job of playing the distressed man who's directionless about his future. He has come a long way since Titanic and complements Winslet's show-stealing act perfectly.

The movie doesn't have a story that'll bind you but makes up for it by performances and direction that'll leave you mesmerized. A must-watch this season !


Friday, March 6, 2009

Premchand - The Forgotten Master of Hindi Literature !

The Jeffrey Archers, Sidney Sheldons and Dan Browns of the world might have successfully driven the lesser known masters of the Indian prose into oblivion, but a peek into some of those literary masterieces is enough to make us realise what we are missing!

I've recently completed reading Munshi Premchand's exemplary creation - Gaban (embezzlement). For those who haven't had the privilege of being acquainted with the works of the Master of Hindi / Urdu prose, this novel is but a peek into his sheer brilliance. The story revolves around Ramanath and his wife Jaalpa. Rama is the archetypical Indian husband who is too proud to admit his weaknesses to his wife. Jaalpa is the innocent but demanding wife whose biggest incentive to marry was to be loaded with exotic jewellery by her husband. The story unfolds into a saga of rising expectations and blundering lies, leading Rama to embezzle government money and then escape for the fear of being caught. Premchand's proficiency as a writer is exhibited as he traces the growth of each of the characters, their ambitions, motivations and priorities in life. Never has another author done such justice in identifying and illustrating the psyche of the rural Indian society and its members.

But do not be tricked into believing that Premchand's stories are "outdated" and "irrelevant". Even after almost 70 years of the passing of the genius, his stories and novels remain timeless and relevant. His understanding of human behaviour and the foundations of Indian society, as depicted in his short stories and novels, are assets which we must make use of and preserve.

It's nothing less than disturbing to see that the richness, depth and the wide latitude of emotions captured by Premchand has been replaced by superfluous and commercially-oriented Hindi literature available on stands today. Step into a Landmark or a Crossword and amongst the vast rows of well arranged and indexed Paul Coelho and Arvind Adiga novels, you'll find an isolated rack of regional literature. It won't be indexed and the books will be piled up unceremoniously on each other. Last when I saw, some great masterpieces by Saratchandra were buried under a pile of "Surakshit Sex Kaise Karein" !!

We preserve national treasures and monuments (or at least we try..) - this isn't different! How we do it, is a question that's for us to answer...
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