Sunday, December 04, 2005

Night and Gray

Good Night, and Good Luck (Directed by George Clooney): Rating 10/10

Fade to white. Cue microphone. The cigarette is lit. A puff of white smoke floats across the screen. And then the firm reassuring voice comes on the airways. What happens next? Well the news is reported, truth is told, facts are presented. What happens afterwards? Is it not obvious? -- the show is on the verge of being pulled because the truth can’t be presented! The audience don’t have time for politics, they want to be entertained. Moreover, what is the point of telling them everything? In times of national security, swift action must be taken. The evil people must be put away even when there is no evidence to put them away. Because the fate of the nation is at stake!

George Clooney directs an interesting story based on real incidents involving the CBS television station and Edward Murrow, an esteemed broadcaster. Murrow had no trouble in taking on controversial topics head on in pursuit of telling the truth. But things get nasty when he decides to reveal the lies of Senator McCarthy. Releasing such a movie in the present day will surely make this film an easy target for a large section of the American population. And likewise, another section of the public might embrace the movie for outlining the parallels that existed in America during the Cold War and present day. The movie is just around the 90 minute mark and it is a movie that you wish does not end really. It is engaging and interesting. The camera hardly leaves the broadcasting room and even when it does, it does not wander too far; it heads to the jazz bar that the tv crew frequently visit or the camera heads to the home of a married couple working for the station (Robert Downey Jr. in a small role). By keeping the locales limited, we are not side-tracked from the movie’s focus which is the battle that Murrow and his co-workers faced in broadcasting the truth. Not much insight is given to the main characters which is a good thing. Because we can judge for ourselves who these people are by observing them in action. The real star of the movie is clearly David Strathairn who is BRILLAINT as Edward Murrow. It is never an easy job to play real life characters but Strathairn does it perfectly. There are some other very powerful roles as well – Frank Langella is amazing as the manager who has to make a difficult choice about how his station is run; Ray Wise displays all the tragic emotions of Don Hollenbeck -- you can actually see Hollenbeck breaking down as he hears harsh words written about him in the media.

I was reminded of The Insider while watching this movie – that was a movie which dealt with another controversial issue CBS television tackled (the tobacco companies). Such movies have to make sure they get the facts right otherwise they would be crucified. But can any movie get the facts totally right? Good Night, and Good Luck avoids the problems of getting facts wrong by cleverly using archive footage to present its story. How can one argue when the lies are presently as they were told back in the 50’s?

Maine Gandhi Ko Nahin Mera (Directed by Jahnu Barua): Rating 8/10

The human mind is the most complex thing in the universe. It has to be. Because it can not only analyze the real world, it can create imaginary worlds. And then sometimes, just for fun, it can mix both the real and imaginary world and create something else completely. When a person is young, they can reasonably have some control over their mind (one would hope). But the problems start when a person gets older. Then they start to lose control of their mind and that is when things really get out of hand. Can one stop such behaviour? And this is where all our science comes to a complete failure.

Anupam Kher plays a loving father. One fine day, he leaves home, goes to a university class and starts teaching. But when the students tell him he is in the wrong classroom, he feels embarrassed and leaves. Flash forward a couple of years. While having breakfast, he calls for his wife. When his daughter tells him that her mother died a year and a half ago, he is shocked. He can’t remember her death and he believes he only went to the wrong university classroom a day before. And slowly he starts forgetting even more things. Until one day, he proclaims that he can’t be forgiven because he killed Mahatma Gandhi. He is sorry for his crime. Despite everything, the daughter tries to keep a grip on things but even she starts to lose her mind. So what is the real story? Sanjay Chauhan has done a good job on penning together a very emotional yet intelligent movie. Even though the ending might seem a bit preachy, it seems to fit in the framework of the movie. Because it was Gandhi who said that if a person believes that the rest of the world is wrong while they are right, well he must be a fool instead. So sometimes if one believes they are guilty, it is easier to believe that everyone else is equally guilty. That lessens one’s guilt. Anupam Kher is perfect in his role, in fact too perfect. Urmila proves once again that she really thrives in these off-beat roles. Boman Irani is probably one of my favourite actors at the moment – he is so vibrant, so full of life that even when he has to deliver a few lines, he does it with ease. Even though the acting of the secondary actors is not upto par, this is still a very interesting movie. Movies like this prove that there are atleast some intelligent Hindi movies being made in India. We know that Bengali and South Indian movies have some character to them, but good Hindi movies are rare ever since Bollywood came to power.

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