Decoding Rajkumar Hirani’s Direction

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It’s been a week after Sanju’s release and the most awaited Bollywood film got passed with flying colors. I watched the film on the very first day with same level of excitement. Not because I had an interest peeking into Sanjay Dutt’s life or to watch another film for my entertainment. But only for the reason that is bringing a completely different entertainment to Bollywood since few years, Rajkumar Hirani and his unique story telling technique.

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For your information, this blog is not a review. It’s neither an appreciating one nor a defaming one. This is purely my analysis and an outcome of my indulgence into cinema and hindi films. I used to think over the aspects of films again and again after watching any film and so I did with Rajkumar Hirani films. Rajkumar Hirani, the guy who gave us unforgettable fevicol ads, the guy who presented issues in a light hearted way, the guy who started making blockbusters, the guy who has brought back story based entertainment in Bollywood in the era of remakes and the guy who whose hard work and determination is clearly seen in his movies and is unobjectionable.

Here I am decoding Raju’s work patterns and a formula he made. Film-by-film he got to know about few elements which make a film blockbuster and now they are applicable and visible in his work. This set-formula is not only a hit for Rajkumar Hirani but other filmmakers are also copying the same now. Let me go ingredient by ingredient among Raju’s dishes that he served to us in last decade.

Narrative Style Format

This can be the foremost thing that many have observed in Hirani movies. Started from 3 idiots (2009), where Abhijat Joshi and Hirani made the whole screenplay as a narrative by R Madhavan. I guess, it was the demand of the script or it was made like that only. 90% of the film happened in the flash back. The came PK where half of the film was narrated by Aamir Khan in jail to Anushka Sharma’s character. Now, in Sanju, the first part of the film is narrated by the central character Sanjay Dutt to the book writer, again played by Anushka Sharma. Most of the second part of the film is narrated by Vicky Kaushal to Anushka Sharma again. Looks like Anushka has become a permanent listener of flashbacks in Hirani films.

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This narrative style is being successfully adopted by other film makers too. Few of the successful films having few parts or whole movie in narration are ‘Yeh Jawani hai deewani’, ‘Bareily Ki Barfi’, ‘Barfi’, ‘Marykom’ and many others. To be precise, ‘Baahubali series’ and ‘Dangal’, blockbuster movies in recent times, are having narrative style screenplays. On the other hand, there are biggies which are flopped as they have a story of real time. I am not mentioning names as the reasons of their failures can be more than just the story telling style format. Whatsoever, Abhijat Joshi and Raju Hirani, both have started and now glued to narrative styles only.

A significantly non-important role of females

Ok! This can be misinterpreted as ‘being feminist’ but Hirani movies have been really unfair to women characters in the film. The central character, always, is a man. Munnabhai in Munnabhai, idiots in 3 idiots (Aamir Khan with more preference), PK in PK and Sanju in Sanju. Haha! Another similarity in film, names are actually the name of the central character only. Well, in all these films, actresses are there to place the protagonist from one place to other. Like Indian films are always used to be, ‘girls’ or specifically ‘girl whom they love’, are just the motivation to do an act in film.

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For example, Kareena in 3 idiots was a dumb character and easily got impressed by Aamir’s character. All she wanted in the film was about the barriers in kissing. She was a doctor but still the story molded in such a way that central character of the film did the delivery of a new born while Kareena, the doctor, was on a video chat. The character of ‘Jaggu’ started the film PK but remained bridge for Aamir Khan’s character till the end. The roles of Anushka Sharma, Sonam Kapoor and Karishma Tanna were comparatively low and unimportant in the latest Sanju. Even Manisha Koirala, got a very less screen space and was there to motivate the character at a point of time. I have also strong doubts that they have shot a longer part but was being edited after the production. In both the Munnabhai films, actresses were playing motivation for Munnabhai to go ahead in the story and that’s it.

It’s an era of women centric films and where ‘Raazi’, ‘MOM’ and ‘Neerja’ movies are not only acceptable by the audiences but are successful on ticket windows as well. Bollywood is getting out of the heroism and a story having both hero and heroine as equal importance would have been appreciated.

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A surprisingly digestive ‘thuchuk-thuchuk’ and ‘ghapaghap’!

Hirani movies always faced controversies weather it is 3 idiots’ comparison with Chetan Bhagat’s novel or PK’s hurting religious sentiments, there was nothing which could even stop the film release. Sanjay leela Bhansali would be highly jealous of him. I am here talking about controversies that could have generated but surprisingly are not. I am talking about the scene which could have seen a darkness of ‘cut’ by Censor board but are not. Most surprising for me is the happily digestion of scenes like ‘ghapaghap maane sex’, ‘balaatkaar ke liye diya stan’ or dancing cars by families of our country. This so called conservative society shuts the TV off on Sunny leone’s condom ads but can see a dedicated scene in PK about usage of condoms.

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In Sanju, out of few comic scenes, only 2 or 3 of them I can remember which purely are ‘veg’ jokes. CBFC granted the film with U/A certificate and the only problem raised by them was about the toilet leakage scene. The same happened at the time of PK where CBFC was more concerned about a character of Shiva running in underwear. Out and out, Hirani taught many families and children, slang words like ‘ghapaghap’, ‘thuchuk-thuchuk’, ‘tharki chhokro’ and much more.

Friendship stories!

I think, Hirani is now addicted to show friendship stories to his movies. This may tap the younger crowd. He got proficient in this from Munna-Circuit era and the way it was presented in the films. I can re-call a scene where Sanjay Dutt slaps Arshad Warsi in frustration but then cries and apologize in an emotional scene. The emotional connect and bond of Rancho, Raju and Farhan, got printed in hearts of Indians in such a way that there is no better friendship story than 3 idiots.

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After these successes, Hirani started putting ‘friendship’ as an important ingredient in his stories. This is because Sanjay Dutt was introduced in PK. In the end, the death of Sanjay Dutt’s character made PK realize a lot of things and motivates him to do another act. Exactly the same way, Munnabhai reacted to the death of Zaheer in Munnabhai MBBS. In Sanju as well, a whole chunk of film was based on partially fiction Sanju-Kamlesh Friendship story. The role of Kamli was very well played by Vicky Kaushal but their friendship turned out to be a climax of the film again. Reunion of friends was highly appreciated in 3 idiots at the end also.

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At the end, there are many appreciating factors of the Hirani films are these are just few of the loopholes that I pointed out. There can be many good and bad things about one’s direction style and story writing style. I still can’t figure out how in the film Sanju, for some time, I forgot that they are Ranbir Kapoor and Paresh Rawal and just portraying characters. I still feel the best way to tell the people that they are doing something wrong is through a guy from another planet only. I am still proud of hindi speaking films like Munnabhai MBBS, Lage Raho Munnabhai and 3 idiots which were remade in other languages and in other countries as well. I just hope and wish from a great director to not follow a pattern and try experimentation with his own work. This is how an artist or showman should lead the lens.

That’s it!

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Guzarti hui zindagi…!!

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Guzarti hui zindagi…!!
गुज़रती हुई ज़िन्दगी ने हमसे क्या लिया,
तजुर्बे हमारे बढ़ा दिए और बातों को हमसे छीन लिया….

कभी मुट्ठियाँ भर-भरके बातों से
समय के घड़े को भर देते थे
घड़ा भर जाता
पर बातों के सिरे न होते थे।

आज चुटकी भर में समाया है,
बातों का पुलिंदा,
जिनमें लफ्ज़ भी बिरले ही हैं,
और वक़्त भी ज़रा सा है…

लगता है जैसे अब बातें रही ही नहीं,
कुछ बातें बची हैं,
कुछ बातें ख़त्म हो गयी,
शायद वो बातें यादों में तब्दील हो गयीं…
जो बची हैं वो औरों की तक़दीर हो गयीं।

दुआओं से, अफसानों से
अब लफ्ज़ चुराना पड़ते हैं,
कभी ढोल दिया करते थे जो लफ्ज़,
अब चुन – चुनकर उठाना पड़ते हैं…

Short story- Malik

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A picture from internet

“We must boycott watching the films of Khans.” said the city leader of that group where Patel saab used to go religiously to earn some self-defense techniques in this cruel world. He found out that day, that actually some Muslim actors have captured a big market of Indian films but are not supportive to India. His friend sitting next to him, said, giving a blow to it, that these khans married Hindu girls and they always take favor of Pakistan. Patel saab now become furious about Muslim actors of Bollywood and decided that even if he loves to watch films, he won’t watch films of any Muslim involved in the film’s making.

Days passed and so the passion of loving Indian movies in the heart of Patel saab was perishing. His wife often told him to keep this oath of not watching films of Muslim actors aside for a day, but he never listened a word. He used to say that he is protecting Hindu Sabhyata and this is a silent protest from his side. Even one day, he aggressively scolded his wife,” How can you just think of it? I said I am on a protest. Like I stood for Patel reservation before, for Beef ban, for letting no Pakistani singer perform in our country and many more. You all supported me that time, then why aren’t you supporting me now?” Mrs. Patel shut the fridge door with a bang and said,” Because we know that your best moods comes only after watching movies. Still, we won’t say anything about this from now onwards.”

Then a day came when Patel saab’s nephew brought down an old photo album from the almirah. He thought to recollect some memories today, click them and put a new WhatsApp dp. Into Patel saab’s mind- “Oh! Fond memories. I was as cheesy, bubbly and keeps flirting with girls around. Never left bhabhis even into the trap. See this Dilip Kumar pose!! Patel!!… gosh.. you are smart… This Rajesh Khanna kind of picture is even better than Rajesh Khanna himself…ohk…. This picture…  People used to say that we both look like Raj and Simran… huh bloody Shahrukh… I won’t see his movies again… There was a time I was fond of watching his movies, Saif Ali Khan, Salman Khan… I can’t even forget the fun we had when we watched that Dabangg.. ohk… and yes.. I can anytime watch Akshay’s welcome… Wait.. Wait.. Akshay Kumar, Amitabh ji.. They are Hindu actors… I can watch their film… Let’s see… If they have all the Hindus in Cast and crew or not.”

This came in as a revolutionary thought in the Patel saab’s mind. Now, he just turned on his computer and started searching for details of latest Akshay Kumar movies now. Some of Akshay’s movies had Katrina as co-star (Muslim), some had Sajid Khan as director (again Muslim). Finally, he landed to a film called ‘Special 26’ and started reading all the names in the film. Into Patel Saab’s mind again, “ ohk… I never watched this film… some Pandey is a director, Anupam Kher is Hindu…….ohk… very good… top to bottom… everybody’s Hindu. I am going to watch this one.” Patel saab then rushed to his wife’s room with glad smile on his face and then stopped before the door. “Ok! I am listening to you now. I will watch a film.” Patel saab said authoritatively. Now wife had to kill this very politely, she said, “It’s your wish.” After a two minutes awkward silence, she asked, “Which one?” “Special 26, a film with all Hindu cast. No Muslim actor worked in this particular film.” She came out and said, “Let’s check this once more.”

Now Patel Saab’s wife, a little more tech friendly than him, searched end credits of the film. She was glad and shocked at the same time that there was no Muslim in the crew, not even lights team, music team, Assistant directors, Executive producer etc. Finally, at the end of the end credits, she saw a name ‘Malik’ in Spot boy. Patel saab asked, “What’s spot boy?” She described,” Spot boy does all the odd jobs starting from throwing light on the set to bringing tea for the crew.” The smile of Patel Saab went 100 to zero in seconds. His wife said,” So what? If Malik is there, he was a very tiny part of that film.” Patel Saab said,” No, but I proved wrong. Not every person in the film was Hindu. I am going back. Returning back to my words and won’t watch films as Muslims are involved in process anyhow.” Frustrated wife shut down the computer with anger and headed back to her room.

‘Malik’, who is actually a Gujrati (Hindu), started his career as a spot boy in Neeraj Pandey’s films. Learned a lot observing things. He was praised by many actors and directors. He now got a chance to assist Kabir Khan in a film which also stars Salman Khan. Kabir Khan said about Malik, “Malik you have a spark to learn. The best thing about you is you are broad-minded person. You are flexible, your thinking is not rigid. You will be a successful person one day.”

-Tanmay Chandniwala

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Carpe Diem Crās!

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I espied people writing ‘Carpe Diem’ on their statuses, insta bios and wherever they need to show the idea of their life. These two words in Latin convey the message ‘Seize the Day’. These pretty nerds want to live all at once, everything in a same day and they need no tomorrow. Their idea is positive, but not realistic in most of the cases.

Not all plans are successful, not all days are perfect, not all nights are starry, not all dreams are fulfilled!

You should wake up and smell the reality of life. Yes, you deserve all things in this one life, but you won’t get everything in one day. There are times for goods and bads in your life. Both have parted their days, so you can’t just stay with goods and seize that day and keep the bads to another bay. Every day has a yesterday and what you have understood about today is because of the yesterday. So, beyond today, you can’t just leave the importance of ‘yesterday’ and also ‘tomorrow’.

Basically, I want to say, Carpe diem Crās! In the same language, this means, Seize the day tomorrow! If you made a plan and you can’t make it today, dude! You have a tomorrow! and that’s way more positive than the above thought as the day doesn’t ended here so soon, it goes to the next day with a ray of hope.

Summing up in Hindi, not Latin, ‘Is Zindagi me zindagi milegi dobara, bohoto ko mili hai, tumko bhi milegi beta! Aaj jiyo jee bhar ke, koi dikkat nahi… par agar nahi jee paaye to kal ayega jab ye jeene ka mauka tumhe fir milega!

– Tanmay Chandniwala

Zindagi Volume-1

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ज़िन्दगी उस बेजान सड़क सी
जो घर तक मेरे आती है..
लेकिन कोई उसे देखता तक नहीं..

यह उस देहलीज़ की पगडण्डी है…
जहाँ मैंने बरसों जूते की मिटटी गिराकर..
एक रेड कारपेट सा बना दिया था…
उस कारपेट में खून के धब्बे,
सिर्फ मैं ही देख पाया,
जो छुपाये थे माँ से मैंने,
जब-जब मैं उनसे लड़के आया…

मैं तो आगे बढ़ गया…
छोड़कर वो दर्द वहीँ पर,
वो बेज़ुबान सड़क अपनी कहानी कह चुकी थी…
वो सड़क जो मेरे घर तक आती थी…
मेरी माँ तो उसपे पड़े आंसू भी पहचान लेती,
वो दर्द क्या ना जान पाती थी..

आज जब उधेड़बुन की रेत के ढेर सा है,
उसी सड़क पर,
अब एहसास है की नहीं दिखते,
वो लम्हें जो हर रोज़ गुज़रा करते थे,
जैसे मैं भूल ही गया क्या था
उस बेजान सड़क पर..
जो घर तक मेरे आती है..

ये ज़िन्दगी जो अब भी उस सड़क सी,
उस पर से कदम बढ़ाकर,
ना उसे अब मैं गौर से देख पाता हूँ..
और कोई और तो उसे देखता तक नहीं..

  • Tanmay Chandniwala