I have always found that the best movies, books and plays and the best moments in them are the ones with honesty in them. This does sound strange, but let me explain. I am not talking about intellectual honesty here; this has very little to do with originality in “creative” work. I am talking about how emotions are brought out on paper or caught on screen, and how stories unfold. The best example I can think of, is the climax to the movie Phone Booth. A central theme to the movie is honesty, so those who have watched and enjoyed this thriller may find it easier to appreciate what I am talking about. When Stu Shepard (brilliantly played by Colin Farell), held at sniper rifle-point, bares his soul for the world to see, it is a thing to behold. The movie shows how one must be pushed (though one need not necessarily be held at rifle-point – you could, for example, push yourself) to be truly honest. It’s not everyday that one gets to see a person being brutally honest about herself.*
There are occasions, of course, when we can be honest about others. Even that, is something really commendable because it is definitely a tougher option than to be silent when you would like to to point out something, or worse still, saying something you don’t mean at all, just to avoid possible unpleasantness. Recently, someone I worked with told me that I had a big ego, that I believed I was always right and refused to even consider the possibility that she could be right. I really loved the honesty with which she pointed out my shortcomings, but to my dismay, having done the favour to me, she immediately regretted what she had done and felt terrible about it. I did my best to assure her that I didn’t mind it a bit and that it wouldn’t affect our relationship at all. I also went on about how I really appreciated the virtue called honesty. Then, I touched upon how she should know better than to underestimate my thinking capacity and how I was smarter than to feel bad about it or hold it against her. It would only help me make myself a better person and friend, I told her in all earnestness. Recounting this makes me wonder… I really do have a big ego!
Coming back to honesty in movies, I remember this one scene in Dil Chahta Hai which my writer-director friend Harsh and I were talking about: Sameer (Saif Ali Khan) and Siddarth (Akshaye Khanna) having a laugh at the expense of Pooja’s (Sonali Kulkarni) boyfriend who presents her with a heart-shaped balloon everyday. The chatter and laughter in that scene is so believable, so real and so honest. Lakshya, another movie from Farhan Akhtar again has emotions which are very plain and honest. I really loved both these movies, as opposed to say, Fanaa. I pick out Fanaa from a million others, because it was such a huge disappointment for an Aamir Khan movie. The movie was so disjointed and lacking in logical continuity that it was a pain to watch. You have Rehan (Aamir Khan) returning to Zooni’s (Kajol) life, long after he’s believed to be dead and among the first things they do is sing a song about tongue twisters. I am amazed at the stupidity of script-writers and directors who come up with such nonsense. Equally amazing are audiences which applaud such rubbish. I agree that cinema is meant for relaxation. It can’t and shouldn’t be a reproduction of reality. But do you need to suspend all of your logic and common sense when you walk into the cinema hall?
Songs in movies are a great diversion, but as Kannada actor (of yesteryear) and director Aarti points out, it is simply ludicrous to see skimpily clad women dancing in the snow when the temperature is freezing or thereabouts. This painfully reminds me of “hit” Kannada movies over the last few years. While they may be really good technically, huge jumps from one scene to another defy all logic. The movies are just a lot of well-shot scenes put together with absolutely no regard for continuity. I have been so put off by the tripe on offer that whenever I hear of a revival in the Kannada movie industry, I am rather sceptical.
I am not that avid a movie-goer which is why some of my instances here may seem rather out-dated. But I do like good cinema. Honest cinema. And I would be happy if anyone could tell me whenever something like that comes out. I like to rely on word-of-mouth, because the “exploded” media today really lacks credibility. It lacks honesty.
* Note my deliberate use of the pronoun in feminine. It’s quite cool to do this, at least in academic circles! Those who want to do this have an easy option with Microsoft Word. Just remember to replace ‘he’ with ‘she’ and ‘him’ with her’ using Control + F. It works!!