Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Hazaaron Khwahishen Aisi

This post was brought on by one of the comments to my previous post about Nagesh Kukunoor. Sinfully Pinstripe (and one day you'll explain to me the significance of that intriguing blog handle) said, "I almost physically assaulted my roommate when he said that the only recent neo-hindi movie he could compare Hazaaron with in terms of quality was Teen Deewarein." It was also brought on by the fact that I finally watched Hazaaron Khwahishen Aisi this weekend, after being exhorted to do to so by friends for four months. I watched it on a VCD with scratchy sound, in a cacaphonic drawing room that had, among other things, a noisy dog. I watched enthralled, engrossed and haven't stopped thinking about it ever since.

I would want to physically assault anybody who compared Hazaaron with Teen Deewarein, too, Pinstripe. Teen Deewarein – well, you just feel like saying 'poor guy, at least he tried'. The raw passion of Hazaaron is something you take away with you – it sticks on you the way a passionate kiss does long after it's over. No PhD on the frustrated angst of the Naxalite movement, the JP movement, the fear and the paranoia of the Emergency could have done a more thorough job of explaining what it actually meant to live in those times. What it meant to be young in those times. I didn't, and I have had a very apolitical youth, but the film has a way of getting under your skin, of making you restless and frustrated and just a bit more aware of your world.

Then, hardly ever have I come across a film title that so magnificently captures its essence. A thousand desires – the impossible desires of youth and that youthful arrogance that there is nothing in the world as important as them.

The film traces the lives of three students from Delhi University (and it felt strange to be back in the Hindu College corridors and hostel lawns – I kept expecting to see friends popping up into the screen) from 1969 to 1976. Siddharth is an idealistic young man born into a privileged background (money and idealism weren't as completely irreconcilable back then, it seems), Vikram an ambitious small-town, middle-class boy with a Gandhian father, and the third is Geeta, the girl they both love – a sophisticated Stephanian Tam Bram with foreign education behind her.

The way the movie unhurriedly, subtly yet thoroughly goes into the backgrounds of these characters – their families, beliefs, motivations and antecedents – is in itself a treat to watch. Settings are recreated with such complete attention to detail that you can almost smell the breakfast coffee in Geeta's house – though the scene is less than a minute long. Yet, there is none of that fake sophistication in terms of set design one finds in many recent films – that maniacal wish to make everything look picture perfect. When Siddharth and Geeta make love on the floor of what looks like a college laboratory, there is none of that orchestrated, almost choreographed love-making one has come to expect from movies. It is as clumsy as these moments almost always are – but it unambiguously and beautifully conveys desperation and urgency.

Then there are the host of minor characters you keep wishing the director had explored more extensively – so full of potential are they. As fellow blogger Fool on the Hill said in his post on Hazaaron, these characters with their typical (though not clichéd or overused) regional idiosyncrasies recreate the environment perfectly. The police officer looking for Naxalites hiding inside the village school, the old man in the hospital bed next to Siddharth’s, the college friend who backs out of the village project at the last minute, Siddharth’s father the retired judge, Vikram’s father the Congressman. Also, as a friend pointed out, the treatment is not heavy handed or overtly sombre – there’s a wry, self-effacing, very Bihari, humour that alleviates the seriousness throughout the film.

And beyond the politics of the time, the love story. How each one of the protagonists realises their desire in the end, though in ways they had never dreamt of. And the music – ah the music. Bawra mann haunts me day and night –those of you who haven’t heard it yet, please do so at the earliest. The lyrics are simple and poignant and so beautifully poetic.

In fact, they carry the essence of the story in them. Sad, even tragic, but ultimately hopeful.

11 Comments:

At August 24, 2005 5:41 PM, Blogger Rash said...

:)...and to think I have seen Teen Deewarein (bangs head) but not this one!

 
At August 24, 2005 5:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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At August 24, 2005 8:03 PM, Blogger Sinfully Pinstripe said...

Hey! Thanks for the piece. Says most of what I wanted to say after watching the movie, in a far better way than I could ever manage... mine didn't make sense to anyone but for myself.

I remember walking out of Forum after the movie, sitting down at the outer parking lot, and just watching the world pass by... this movie asked me too many questions .... And I knew then I will fail to answer most of them. This was one of those few movies which talked to me... naah, talked with me.

Coming back to reality, I have to mention the performance of Yashpal Sharma as the student leader. I thought he was spectacular.

Also, money and idealism weren't as completely irreconcilable back then and neither are they now. Had written a bit on this in my post on Hazaaron, and will maintain that expressing this idealism is far easire for the moneyed class.

And sorry to point out a technicality, the humour is not Bihari but North-UP-ite (Agra/Meerut/Lucknow etc, you know). What differs the North UP and the Bihari humour is IMHO an Urdu word called Tehzeeb(IMHO Nothing in English will sufficiently express the essence of that word).

And I have changed my mind about Geeta. As a friend put it, ' She didn't stay back because of any idealism, but because she felt the need to'. That's eventually all it's about, isn't it?

And Sinfully Pinstripe? OK, will, sometime.

And this has been my second longest comment ever. So there.

 
At August 26, 2005 1:01 AM, Blogger A fool on the hill said...

Sudhir Mishra has scored again. Reminds me of an age when films like Salim Langde Pe Mat Ro, Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron and Albert Pinto Ko Gussa Kyo Aata hai were made. Very simple and honest efforts. BTW, it was Sudhir Mishra who wrote the screenplay for Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron.

 
At August 26, 2005 1:58 AM, Anonymous Mr.Cotton Candy said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At August 29, 2005 11:13 AM, Blogger J. Alfred Prufrock said...

Now you've made me want to see the film. Which, I think, is the sign of a good review.

Point of conflict - Jodi No. 1 was my favourite film of 2002 or whenever. You have to experience Govinda ad-libbing lines like Nahin, hum toh bus under-warr under-warr khel rahey thhe.

So shoot me.

J.A.P.

 
At September 02, 2005 12:28 AM, Blogger Sujatha said...

Went and got the VCD after reading your review. yet to watch it, but am looking forward to it!

 
At November 25, 2005 2:36 PM, Blogger phyxius said...

Saw HKA last weekend.. Ah no lets start again .. saw Hazaron Khwaishen Aisi last weekend.. ( damn the Karan Johar movies abbreviations and SMS culture ) . And all I can think of since is .."A thousand desires such as these" .. the movie is a gulp in the throat .. a punch in the groin.. it takes you away from yourself .. and the music haunts me day and night .. Hazaron Khwaishen Aisi , Banwara Man with the husky voice poetry ( oh the poetry is great ! awesome ! ) strewn in between .

 
At June 01, 2006 1:11 PM, Blogger Twisted Humor Inc. said...

Hi.. do you have the lyrics of "BaaNwara Mann"?
Can you just mail it to: vinod.rajagopal@cummins.com?

 
At March 02, 2007 2:03 PM, Blogger ubuntu said...

Yes the movie is a gr8 work, uncomparable to Teen Deewarein which leaves you nauseating

 
At January 21, 2008 3:21 PM, Blogger Sid said...

The film had been highly recommended by few of my friends... Knowing that our taste are almost similar when it comes to films, I wanted to see it desperately... But somehow it slipped out of my mind... then I chanced into it one evening...

I am an avid film watcher... lets put it this way... I am drawn by the mere idea of story-telling... whether on ink or screen... and more often than not, I too have found myself consumed by the 'after'-thoughts of the story being told...

It was the same with Hazaaron... Like Sinfully, there were several questions running in my mind... on one hand it was the appreciation of the craft... the characters.. the screenplay... the music... the silence and the words... on the other hand it was the story itself that compelled me to think, to dig deep inside of me, hoping to find something of a passion that has been ever so elusive for years...

Finding passion is one thing... pursuing it is something else... and so am I finding...

 

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