The New Indian Cinema-Vihir and Gandu

We love to celebrate the fact that we are the best in the World despite the mediocrity of things which we do and produce. All our streets have world famous eateries or beauty parlours and similarly our filmmakers have been trying to make crossover films, now I guess since a decade. Yet Indian Filmmakers have not reached anywhere and there are tall claims which are always made like a recent instance of 7am Arivu’s producer mentioning it as a global Tamil Film, whatever that means, or more recently a section of people saying RA.One cannot be ignored and in my opinion both of these films could be overlooked and we would still be the same nation; producing movies with song and dance, which foreigners find funny and amusing.

Another curse which I feel we are facing is most of our audience are not exposed to Indian Cinema and it is just Bollywood that comes to their mind. No point in blaming them for it is our fault that we do not market our films properly, but then we as a nation sent Jeans for Oscars, isn’t it?

Film as dream, film as music. No art passes our conscience in the way film does, and goes directly to our feelings, deep down into the dark rooms of our souls- Bergman, Ingmar.

I am going to share with you two films, which as Bergman quoted went into dark rooms of my soul- first one of which is a Marathi Film Vihir and other being Gandu a Bengali film.

Remember me.

I will be with you in the grave

On the night you leave behind

Your shop and your family.

When you hear my soft voice

echoing in your tomb,

you will realize

that you were never hidden from my eyes.

I am the pure awareness within your heart,

with you during joy and celebration,

suffering and despair.

A Poem by Rumi

Vihir (Well) a Marathi film directed by Umesh Vinayak Kulkarni; when released ran just for a week and was not supported by any promotions even though it was produced by AB Corp ltd.

The movie opens with a sequence where 2 cousins are playing hide and seek with Umesh not wasting any time to establish the protagonists of this movie. The elder one has given his SSC exam and he shares a wonderful camaraderie with his younger cousin in 9th grade and lives in the city, established by exchange of letters between them. We realize how the elder cousin is trying to find out what life means, while the younger one is in awe of his cousin brother.

There is one scene in the beginning of the movie, where the elder brother explains the scene at an examination hall and for anyone who has given their SSC exam from Maharashtra board, it’s easily identifiable.

But then this movie is not about cousins, it is about life and death; how both play hide and seek with each other.

                              Life and death are balanced on the edge of a razor.

The movie shifts its action towards marriage, that of Nachiket (Elder Cousin) and Sameer (Younger Cousin)’s younger aunt’s wedding. Mind you this is a true Indian family, unlike the Rajshri productions and YRF movies where everyone is happy and enjoying marriage with no tension about money or family politics. The family is marred with problems like shortage of funds for marriage, a wastrel uncle and fights over family property. This is where Nachiket cannot fathom that the world is not what it seems. As he is tired of the fights, failure at understanding the dark side of life. He explains this to his cousin, in a letter how the school does a mockery of proverbs by writing it everywhere but without bothering to inculcate the values. As he says for a student in India it just 3 choices Arts, Science and Commerce. Meanwhile Sameer looks upon Nachiket for guidance, but then when they talk which is the highlight of the film, you realize the gap between their ideas.

Sameer is unable to understand the shift in his elder brother’s behavior. But then as I mentioned, this movie is about life and death and how death strikes. Now Sameer has to confront death in his life and rest of its story being about how he learns life, meets people who change his perception towards it and finally discovering the bond between him and Nachiket again.

I would not be exaggerating if this is one of the best films ever made in Marathi cinema and one of the best Indian film from last decade.This is a movie, which has to be savored for its moments, as rarely do we see Indian filmmakers rising above mediocrity and giving such gems.

Sudhir Palanse’s camerawork is top notch; it looks so effortless the way he captures Maharashtra beautifully. Girish Kulkarni and Satee Bhave deserve full credit for writing such a heartwarming story of life and death while Umesh Kulkarni is one of the directors whom I can say will take us to road of Global Cinema. Madan Deodhar (Sameer) & Alok Rajwade (Nachiket) were brilliant in their portrayal of respective characters with such fine restraint and wish they could get more roles.

Gandu thankfully and hopefully will break all those stereotypes and it may give birth to change in filmmaking.

Gandu is directed by Kaushik Mukherjee, aka Q. Let me say beforehand Gandu is not any new kind of filmmaking if you follow Japanese or Korean Movies, but is trendsetting and it takes a lot of courage to produce and direct such a film in India.

Gandu (Asshole) is living with his mother in Kolkata, in what seems is the house provided by her lover Dasbabu. The relationship between them seems to be based on lust rather than love and Gandu always steals money from the wallet of Dasbabu, to buy cigarettes and lottery ticket, while Dasbabu is having sex with his mother. He expresses his anger towards society with his Rap, unlike Bollywood where Rap begins and ends with baby.

We follow Gandu everywhere, while he is surfing porn on cyber, while writing rap, masturbating when watching porn, his inability to hit back Rickshaw and how he boils in his rage. Therein lays a difference to understand the character, share his frustration and disappointment without even a single dialogue, bringing out the beauty of such film making.

One of the highlight of this movie is when Gandu befriends Rickshaw; a fanatic fan of Bruce lee, like Tamilians are of Rajni. It is at this time that the visuals and chemistry between actors, music and everything emerges into one providing a bit of comic relief.

The movie falters when director Q enters the scene for it hampers the hyper kinetic energy of this chaotic movie. Although going by the flow of story it makes perfect sense and the only few minutes of colour in this movie is as entertaining as the rest of the movie.

This may not be a path breaking for those who follow International Cinema, neither does director Q claim it, but is one of those movie that should not only be read about too. A chaotic, visually orgasmic, poetry in motion and sometimes confused with its lead character, make this a must watch.

Concluding, I would like to add a cliché that do yourself a favour and watch this; one may like it or hate it, but nobody will come out of this unaffected.

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21 thoughts on “The New Indian Cinema-Vihir and Gandu

  1. Vihir is not available either on DVD or VCD where I can enjoy the film with subtitles. I don’t have an alternative to appreciating the mediocrity that is easily available around the corner, round the clock.

    A better distribution for this type of films is the need of the hour. Where Gandu scores by leaking the film to the sources whose name shall not be taken, a celebrated film like Vihir will probably never be available to the audience in other parts, leave alone accessible. Even the Ahmedabad International Film Festival was moved this year to Delhi.

    Let’s not bash mediocrity if we cannot fight it strength to strength. Because for all the weak points, mediocrity is still strong and will survive.

    • Download it from torrents.

      You talking about Vihir,even a tamil film Aaranya Kandam was released in to theaters without subtitles.I saw it recently on DVD with subtitles and the film was awesome.

      I feel that it is one of the best Indian movie of the year.a high contrast neo-noir,with awesome cinematography,I feel this movie should have got a release with subs.

      Also I have noticed that bollywood will make movies like ready,dabang(which are south remakes) but no one will remake movies like Aaranya Kandam and Paruthiveeran.

    • @Tejas, the link is available on the net, also the movie is broadcast-ed in tv channels, as Rasik said, he will give you the link to watch, if you stay in mumbai, mail me your address, i will courier to you freely.

  2. Was not so elevated after watching GANDU, though it had a superb soundtrack and some good visuals….The sexually explicit scenes and fellatia is a first of its kind for Indian cinema and handled well….

  3. Superb point Tejas, i wholely agree that if these changes are required then make it accessible to common public atleast….Gandu for all its glory may never get CBFC certification, but Vihir as you said must be made available on Home Video…Though it was telecast on a Marathi channel, but how will you reach a wider range of cinema buffs if subtitles are unavailable.

    • @Ajay, yup Gandu will never pass CBFC of India, but instead of waiting, we as audience should find ways to watch it, i feel torrents have done a great job in helping the film lovers

  4. Havent seen Gandu(Although got it from friend).hopefully will watch this weekend.

    This may be one of the best films of Marathi CInema but definitely not one of the best films of the Indian films of Decade.The film is ok,but not great.The film looses its pace in between and the guy who plays elder cousin has overacted in the film.

    Many people told me that Vihir needs to be watched twice to be understood correctly.I could not sit through first view so I am not sure if I will watch it for second time.

  5. Vihir is truly a fabulous film. The allegory of hide and seek with life and death is mind-blowing. Each scene of the film has so much in it. And the cinematography right from the first shot is breathtaking. Sudhir Palsane is going to go places.

    I haven’t seen Gandu though. It has been on my must-watch list for quite a while now.

  6. OK, one at a time, kids!

    I, for one, am not too big about watching movies only legally. To heck with it. But I was not able to find a subtitled copy, hence the whole issue.

    Kushal, I have been pushing the local PVR film club for having at least one Thursday every month available for regional films, like Aranya Kandam and Vihir. They are too busy showing the foreign classics, but I strongly feel this is the high time this type of film clubs start expanding to national films. By the way, where did you buy the DVD of Aranya Kandam from?

    Rasik, what da!! I am the same guy who’s in your FB friends’ list. 😛 You can find me there as Tejas Bhatt or let me know how to send you my email address.

    Cinemausher – Sorry. I don’t watch TV much and so wouldn’t have caught the film anyways. Thanks for the offer to courier the DVD. I live in Ahmedabad.

    • I had gone to a friends place who had this dvd with subtitles hardcoded in it.

      I am sure one day you will get to watch it and will love the movie.

      PVR overcharges for showcasing the classics.I was going through their site and they were showing Deniro’s Taxidriver in Delhi for 750 bucks(My daily wages is less than that). How in the lords name can one afford to watch classics at such high prices?

      I guess being a movie buff is a sin in India!

  7. I finally saw Gandu.Loved it.This is something new for Indian cinema.However I strongly feel that this will not go well with Indian Audience at all.And this movie cannot make into movie theatres at all(Unless RK Banner releases it under pretext of Aesthetics)

    The RAP music is top notch and actors have played their parts very well.
    A must watch for a true film fan!

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