Monday, January 09, 2006

15Park Avenue+1 

15 Park Avenue

Konkona Sensharma is lucky—not many actresses would have a film ‘designed’ to let them show off their talent. That the director Aparna Sen happens to her mother makes 15 Park Avenue the film equivalent of vanity publishing – not that it takes away from the talent Konkona undoubtedly possesses.

She plays Mithi, a schizophrenic, whose condition deteriorates when on a journalistic assignment, she is raped in a seedy hotel. Her fiancé Joydeep (Rahul Bose) leaves, because, as he writes to her, “he is not man enough” to cope.Caring for Mithi then becomes the responsibility of her much older half sister Anjali (Shabana Azmi), with some tearful help from their mother (Waheeds Rehman) and sturdy maid.A successful professor and writer Anjali, seen as intense and overbearing, puts her own life on hold for Mithi, letting her boyfriend (Kanwaljeet Singh) get on with his plans, while forming a tentative relationship with Mithi’s doctor (Dhritiman Chatterji).

They run into Joydeep again after eleven years, in Bhutan where he is holidaying with his wife Lakshmi (Shefali Shah) and kids. Mithi does not recognize him, but his presence calms her.The title refers to am imaginary home in which Mithi lives her make-believe life with a husband and five children, getting messages from Saddam through the television.

It’s a dark and depressing story, and Sen alternates between having the viewer watch Mithi hallucinate or get terrifying bouts of suicidal hysteria, and imparting documentary-like information via conversations between Anjali and the doctor.After a while, when you’re done admiring the well-researched performances, you start wondering what is the point that Sen is trying to make? If it is to get sympathy for schizophrenics, it does not quite happen, because you see a family sacrificing and suffering on account of Mithi-- and of course they are wealthy enough to afford a fulltime maid, who cleans up after Mithi. Anjali rejects the idea of sending Mithi to an institution, but there is no mention of the lack of proper care for the mentally ill. (A small Marathi film Devrai did it better.)

From a director of Sen’s calibre, you didn’t expect such simplistic scenes, like voice of Anjali teaching physics overlapping the exorcism being performed on Mithi; or scenes of the mad woman on the street underlining the fact that but for a caring family, there goes Mithi.

The Bhutan scenes, especially the one of a lunch party which goes on for far too long, or Lakshmi’s dramatic seething at her husband’s sudden concern for his old girlfriend are embarrassing. And what’s with the fantasy ‘happy’ ending? In the end, you feel like having watched the plight of a mentally disturbed girl and her family though a glass barrier, never really being drawn into their lives.

15 Park Avenue remains at the level of a good effort, a festival-National Award kind of film, but not one that a regular audience can relate to.

Jawani Diwani

Not a propitious start to the year, what with the third rate Jawani Diwani being sprung on the unsuspecting viewer, with its cheap lines and vulgar skin show (the hero’s neighbour picking up the morning paper dressed in her underwear!)

Emraan Hashmi—advertised as a “serial kisser” – is the lout called Mann with sex on his mind, and dreams of a singing career. To get ahead, he charms Radha (Hrishita Bhatt), the daughter of a music baron (Tiku Talsania—irritating). But while on vacation in Goa (Mauritius, actually), he falls into bed with Roma (Celina Jaitley) and is forced by her gangster admirer (Mahesh Manjrekar—even more irritating) to marry her.Roma is all set to be the dutiful wife, but Mann whinges so much, she lets him go, and Radha promptly takes him back.

Then Roma reappears as the model in his music video and Mann wavers again.Watching the good-for-nothing Mann makes up his mind between the two colourless women, is not in the least entertaining, in spite of desperate attempts to attract the tapori crowd with plenty of bikini clad dancers and really crude dialogue; note a cock crowing in the background every time Mann spots a sexy girl.

There are silly cracks at real film folk, like a loony composer called Manu Malik-- yeah, it’s that juvenile.


Post a Comment

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

eXTReMe Tracker