Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Blue Umbrella

Much has been, as I've been reading on the Internet, already said about Blue Umbrella, and surprisingly, not very much in favour of, many times. Now, for me, it was not only a refreshing film, but a great film - especially for any intelligent child. Of course, any good book or film meant for children is always par excellence for adults.
The film showcases Himachal Pradesh like I've never seen it before in any film. And, more importantly, the director has never strayed where it would have been so easy - it's basically just the opening and closing shots of the film which really allow you to be in awe of the Himachal. Otherwise, the focus is always on Pankaj Kapur, Biniya, or the umbrella, whether blue or red in between.
Of course, the film's real strength lies in two things - Pankaj Kapur's brilliant acting (and his best, in my opinion, minus Maqbool, which I've not seen) and not much experimentation by Vishal Bharadwaj in any of the things, whether it be camera, music, or editing. It's Pankaj Kapur who provides all the innovativeness. Complete from a different accent to his whispers to himself, especially after his downfall, he has everything to give that an able actor can give. His every intonation, every movement (watch him, his head especially, preparing his tea after Biniya has 'accepted' him and bought biscuits from him), every dialogue renders him personality - and rarely we have such a fully developed character in cinema, and even more rarely through the actor rather than director. I understood everything that was to be heard and understood in the film - of course, for that you have to have be from north India or you must have lived there. Though if you have not, maybe for such a person the film would be even more enjoyable - it's a completely different mindset and culture up there from rest of India.
Interestingly, I was more touched by the concept of real power as presented in this film than through Schindler's List, bemusing though the comparison seem to be. Of course, there's the climax, in which Biniya accepts Pankaj Kapur, the umbrella being the token, and both Pankaj Kapur and Biniya have learnt something new very, very well - that love and forgiveness are the real power, there's nothing beyond that. But, if you watch the song in which Biniya is dancing with her umbrella with a little more care, you will find a very interesting half a minute of frames or lesser - out of the umpteen uses of the umbrella, Biniya also uses it to shade an old woman while grazing the cattle. It really lays the groundwork for the climax of the film to me - the child's character is very much evident there. Most children wouldn't even allow to touch something that they are crazy about (and which, I think, Biniya also would do in most cases), but for a poor, old woman, the heart upwells, and the umbrella is there!
And, for all non-Hindi speakers, the film is anyway subtitled in English, and done well too. So, doesn't leave an excuse not to see the film after this, at least after my review, does it?

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