The idiot before the box

Feet pointing ceiling wards, I’m tucked in a warm corner of a sofa in my hotel room in Bangalore. Warmth caused from my absolute deposition in similar position without a limb movement since the past one hour. So there’s this Kannada film-Kirik Party that I wanted to check out and as a result of which been in moot with my body; protesting its inertness and it, my audacity to get off the ass. However, with a little assistance from the balmy weather outside, the body wins and I’m left to turn to an old habit for solace-swapping channels.

The television comes alive the image of Rajini in a graceful bell bottom trouser. He’s slapping around his sister, who’s apparently lied to him about her romantic life, that he had come to know about. The scene’s reeking of chauvinism, but the man’s grace more than covers it up. His hair isn’t the messy pigeon nest it came to be a few years later with the superstar moniker, it’s parted from the side gracefully. Arulirunthu Aruvathu Varai is a movie for all seasons. It continues to remain so.

Probably one among either the movie or Rajini cause a sandwich craving.The hand meddles with the Swiggy app and moments later there’s a club sandwich that is room bound from a joint few kilometres apart. The mood changes. So does the channel.

Shahrukh is a bloody heap, yet he’s pummeling an army of blazer clad henchmen with conspicuous looking punks, that almost descend on their collars like hibernating rodents . All of them despite being the “bad” entourage, are thorough gentlemen. They patiently wait for their turns to get at our hero, ensuring he at no point does he have beyond one person to sink his fists into. And our hero gamingly hams along, with an eternal chin quiver. Baazigar is one of those delightful masala movies, where the hero’s moving in slow motion in a scene that is already shot in slow motion. An 8 metre rusted iron rod gets planted into his solar plexus, yet after a brief pause he manages to not only kill the villain with it; but limp a few miles to die on his widowed mother’s chiffon; leaving her with a corpse and a stained sari. The woman’s old, dependent, mentally unstable and now orphaned. But who cares about all that.All that matters is,she’s been avenged by her serial killer deceased son. “THE END” the screen screams before our mind begins to ponder further.

The sandwich makes its appearance and craving settles. Mood changes. So does the channel.

Aamir Khan’s deconstructing the definition of “book” to a painful detail to get back at a professor. He’s supposed to be a geek, but he plays it with the gawkiness of an alien that belonged in PK, nevertheless endearingly. Rancho is one of the most celebrated character of this generation and not without a reason. Watch him spiritedly explain the anecdote behind how the “Aal izz well” phase came into vogue, you know the stuff cult classics are made of.

I’ve watched 3 Idiots a million times like anyone else. So the channel changes before I begin to get sucked in once again.

A septuagenarian is frolicking with a certain sense of authority and a wig, heavier than it; with a girl younger than his molar tooth. The gentleman in point being Rajkumar, who’s apparently got his regime for diabetes mixed up with the choreographer’s vision, to come with something that looks like a form of non verbal exorcism.
I felt violated by the shenanigans. Thankfully most of the sandwich had made it past the digestive system. At least I had the luxury of changing the channel, my heart went out to the poor girl onscreen who was subjected to child abuse.

I get up to make myself a nice drink. Hmmm..the pleasure of solitude, fermented liquid on rocks and the company of a box with infinite entertainment.Channel changes.

Bhai’s bed bound, reeling from some pain. Something we’ve not seen in any of his several court appearances. What’s moved the mountain…rather who?
It’s not the blurry image of the deceased from Bandra pavement nor the blackbuck. It’s his muse, a lanky Anushka who’s apparently confronting the man about their skirmish from sometime back. He’s in tears. She’s gotten to him. It’s a beautiful scene from Sultan where he breaks down before his estranged wife in the most vulnerable point in life. The pain that separated them once, gets them back together.

Too mushy for a Bhai movie. Drink’s hit bottom. The limbs have become pleasantly lethargic. Eyes are in search of sleep. Mood changes. Channel changes.

“If the homo sapiens were in fact homo sapiens…is that why they’re extinct?”
“Joey, homo sapiens are people!”
“Hey, I’m not judging!”
I cracked up like I did the first time. Joey’s dumbness is addictive. To me, David Crane and Marta Kauffman, writers of Friends are demigods, much bigger in stature than Tolkiens and Rowling. While LOTR and Harry Potter had to resort to magic and an alternate world set in fantasy to capture the imagination of their subscribers, Friends mined its epicness from commonplace. There’s no gibberish, no scale and no convoluted subplots and backstories. Just a bunch of friends who live their lives with us. Or atleast made us feel that way. None of them are path-breaking actors by any standards. But tell you what, they needn’t be. Because we don’t know them, as much as the characters they’ve dissolved into before our eyes. So Ross doesn’t behave like Michael Schwimmer. Maybe Schwimmer is a lot like Ross.
That’s the thing about Friends, it gives you a sense that life would be great with every iteration. The dark corner in the bedroom wasn’t eerie anymore. No one was looking back at me from there. It was just my over imaginative head. I needed to rest, a early morning train awaits. The TV needed to as well.

Power off.

A night well spent.

Sultan-An actor is born out of a superstar

With his back facing us, he struts out of the dark alley to the ring like a celestial being, little streaks of sunlight pouring from the shafts above in quantity just enough to fashion the contours of his silhouette with gold dust as the chant in the background goes-“Khoon mein tere Mitti, Mitti mein tera Khoon; Upar Allah, Neeche Dharti; Beech mein tera Junoon“.
The crowds in the movie become delirious as Sultan makes a grand entrance,as the crowd in the theatre goes berserk at the first sight of Salman. Salman’s playing his favourite alter ego- that of a man child with a magnetic charm for the infinite time to the same effect; this time he’s called Sultan.

A quintessential Bhai movie is nothing but an elaborate vanity exercise comprising of-catchy numbers, quirky signature steps and fourth wall breaking sequences with iconic lines when Bhai is done breaking some bones. Sultan does all this and much more. It gives us a protagonist who is not saddled with the task of catering to the legion of fans of the star alone.  He is a fallible person, who crumbles under the impact of defeat. He is an illiterate who knows to handle the rejection of a woman with dignity. He is a desi wrestler who’s Ko move is punctuated with an obeisance.Sultan manages the hitherto  unmanageable feat of trespassing beyond the “Salman” persona to an unchartered territory called acting, that Bajrangi Bhaijaan almost managed to do.

The road to redemption is staged onscreen in an invigorating fashion through the subtle deployment of a few processes as metaphorical devices . Insulted by the woman he loves for the dearth of purpose in his life, he embarks on a journey of self discovery .He starts off with a clear-face shakily,tilling a field singlehandedly to chasing beside a local train. The train zooms past him and there’s a lot left to plow in the field.
As he makes progress; he’s grown a thick stubble now. He almost manages to match the train and the field has significantly been cleared; his limits stretched.
By the end of his metamorphosis- the stubble has turned a marked moustache; he races past the train with the field burning ready for cultivation. A new man is born.

There is this point in the movie where a worn out Sultan, past his prime is trying to stage a comeback. He takes his shirt off before the mirror.What he sees is an image of a man who is not just out of shape, but buried beneath the debris of despair and defeat. He implodes with anguish as even his shirt wouldn’t peacefully let him sneak in to it. It is one of the rare occasions where our hearts go out in unison for this man, overlooking the star portraying him.
Sedentary at soul, he is this lackadaisical individual who wakes up to his potential after instigation. For success has often been his retaliation to instigation- a recurring motif in his life. If Aarfa instigated him with her insult to turn him into a world renown wrestler earlier, a coach now calls him a dead person from the ringside while he gets beaten to pulp, trying to resurrect his carrier in a new form after a sabbatical.
Phat comes the killer move – as if in response – as he lays still his opponent.He springs out of the ring defiantly to tell this man, verbally now that he might have quit wrestling, but never stopped fighting.

The romance isn’t a gratuitous embellishment to ratify song sequences. It constitutes the very heart and soul of the movie.It gives us his love interest Aarfa, an ambitious-strong woman, an Adrian to his Rocky(just that she’s is a wrestler much before he wanted to be one.) She just isn’t there as his prosaic arm candy, but insinuates the necessary friction in his life from time to time.
There’s a beautiful trait she exhibits every time when Sultan makes progress towards something great; she turns away from the happening solicitously. She doesn’t want to spectate, but rather participate vicariously in his travails moment by moment. She does this when he enrols as a green horn wrestler to take part in a state level championship. She does this while coaching kids with her back facing the TV playing his MMA matches.

These finer aspects go on to enhance the relatability of the larger than life proceedings, the stuff that we seldom expect out of a Salman starrer. There is this scene where he watches his wedding night’s video after dinner in isolation. As the shot segues from the video to his room, he’s  fallen asleep watching himself fall asleep in the video. We get to know that the nostalgia held in the video is his lullaby.
For once the sight of Bhai is not just the excuse to wolf whistle alone, but a calming influence.