Monday, November 08, 2004

Morning Raga

This is a recent movie by Mahesh Dattani, who's directed several plays in the recent past.The movie is set in Hyderabad and a village (Gannavaram which is what you see in the signs in the movie although it is never named as such, being simply referred to as the village by the characters). It focuses on Swarnalatha (played decentlyby Shabana Azmi in perhaps her first South Indian role) and a new actor playing the protagonist. The movie has some popular keerthanas by Purandara Dasa and Muthuswamy Dikshitar sung almost in the classical fashion with some fusion thrown in for good measure. Perizaad Zorbian who plays the protagonist's girlfriend. Perizaad is a let down in the singing scenes (especially while singing the highnotes) looking extremely commonplace while Shabana is ok. The songs are sung bySudha Raghunathan, Bombay Jaishree and Rajini Ramakrishnan (the first 2 names here being famous and accomplished Carnatic vocalists: I haven't heard of RR). While the Samajavaragama is sung/played on some instruments, one is reminded ofthe same song sung magnificently by P Susheela (or is it S Janaki?!) inShankarabharanam albeit in a different context. The movie is fairly ambitious and tries to portray too many things at once. Itlooks like the director was making a couple of plays and suddenly the stageexpanded, with none realising the change. So it ends up being a loose set ofscenes stitched shabbily together. Whatever happened to editing in Hindimovies?! The movie ends up being very shallow in presentation. It does have its moments -a particular scene when one of the band members meets Lilette Dubey playingPerizaad's mom in the movie and another between a buffalo herd and his buffalo named "Annapurna."Nasser is wasted in a bit role. There are movies which try a lot of things or portray several scenes likeAmelie, but the are tightly knit by a master director. In fact SingeetamSrinivas Rao/Kamal Hasan in Pushpak have also done a magnificent job of a similar task.This one is a big letdown. However it is a welcome change from the "desperate to make money in popular markets" kind of movies we see these days, especially with no holds barred set of standard "scenes." Go watch it anyways and let me know what you think.