Saturday, January 16, 2010


Showing Mumbai like never before, Aamir, in spite of a gaping logic hole in the central motive of the plot, leaves you stunned completely: a low-key thriller, daring to take on the world of jehadis, the Muslim society of India, the Mumbai slums, and the urban life where no one is willing to take you on board, all that Aamir does, and with one of the most brilliant acting performances I've ever seen in my life. Rajeev Khandelwal makes you really sit up and wonder, that what has this man been doing on television, in countless soaps and reality shows, and even after this film? The whole 3 Idiots argument of money running in after excellence I think is quashed, right here.

Camera, besides Khandelwal, is the single most important factor behind this film; the music is great, and an ably done camerawork would have sufficed to make this film 'powerful'. However, the camera goes beyond that, and makes the film talk: to our hearts, minds, senses. I could myself feel nauseous when Khandelwal is about to step into a dirty, often-seen toilet in an Indian milieu; and that's the key to a film. Without even showing anything, how to build the tension, how to grip the viewer completely: not least is the expression of individuality that runs right through the story. Khandelwal, playing the title character of Aamir Ali and a young doctor, says "I only want to live for myself", and when pooh-poohed for doing that and not "doing anything for his community", he quite simply says, if everyone were to live for himself, the community would be well served. That - and that statement seen in the context of the film's climax - signifies the film as one breacher of all values plodding along since centuries in the guises of ideals, and keeping men divided: the men and the women, shown as different facets of a moving and a still life at various and all points of the film. As a confused, terrified, tired, and desperate Aamir is made run through the mazes of Mumbai, his gaze falls on unseen slices of lives: lives of perpetrators, participants, onlookers, alienated, all sorts of lives. Lives of people somehow tired, somehow deadened like an outer dermis, and yet somehow alive, who also get tired after all, who can feel it, who would like to stand one day. Someone holding a baby, a woman hanging clothes, an old man now used to look helplessly ahead: and amidst it all, the protagonist trying to give meaning to his day and life, in a few hours his destiny to be decided, not this time by himself. And this is the pride with which the terrorist works and gives the name of khuda to it: a brilliantly paced film, with no sermons attached, the snippets of Mumbai life make you only think, why? Why has man chosen this? Why an imagined heaven instead of one here?

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