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Sunday, April 13, 2008

Movie - Krazzy 4

Sigh...I pity myself terribly. And I pity the two friends who also plunked down 200 bucks each to watch this totally forgettable movie with me. On the brighter side - it did help us kill a few hours.

Ok..Let me stop grumbling and give you a brief synopsis. Juhi Chawla (looking more beautiful than ever) is a Psychatrist who comes up with the plan of taking four of her group therapy patients to a cricket match on Independence day - so that they would learn the value of team work. The four are Arshad Warsi(his problem being inability to control his temper), Irrfan Khan (suffering from obsessive compulsive disorder), Rajpal Yadav (lost track of time and believes it is the period of the freedom movement), Suresh Menon (A kid. He never speaks).

Kahani mein twist is when on their way to the match, Juhi Chawla is kidnapped and the four of them are left to fend for themselves in the streets of Mumbai. How they manage in the big bad city, how they finally rescue Juhi, uncover a few ugly truths, singing some bad songs on the way - forms the rest of the story.

Irfan Khan has done an ok job. Arshad Warsi loses his temper a lot but is the saner of the lot. Rajpal Yadav is totally wasted with some repeated dialogues which lose their funniness as time goes by. Item numbers and guest stars do nothing to save the movie.

I squirmed in my comfortable seat a lot. There are better movies playing. Read More......

Movie - The Lives of Others

The German movie 'Das Leben der Anderen' ('The Lives of Others') won the best foreign language movie Oscar in the year 2007. The movie has been released in India with English subtitles now. It's on at PVR in Bangalore, in case you are interested.

The movie is set in Germany in the 1980s. Germany at this time, if you remember, was split into East and West Germany. After watching this movie, I did some digging to get some context. Here goes (thanks to Wikipedia)- After the defeat of the axis powers by the allied forces in World War II, Germany was divided into four zones to be occupied by USA, UK, France and Soviet Union. The regions under the control of USA, UK and France eventually joined together to form Federal Republic of Germany or West Germany with a democratic political system and a capitalistic economy. The region under the control of Soviet Union was called German Democratic Republic or East Germany with a Soviet style economy and political system. Berlin being the capital city was also divided (by the Berlin Wall)- despite it being in the Soviet region. So, West Berlin was surrounded by East German territory. The Stasi were the secret police in East Germany - modeled on the similar agencies of the Soviet Union.

The main character in the movie is a Stasi Captain - Gerd Wiesler. A man with no family. One who has a dogged belief in the system which he enforces. He is a clever person - that is made evident by his interrogation methods. Watch out for the first scenes where Wiesler is teaching a group. The kind of analysis of the human mind that he speaks about lets us know just how well-developed a group he belonged to. Their work was almost an art. It was not mindless noise.

Some things told to you during the movie is disturbing - like when Wiesler's friend is talking about type of artists. He talks about one particular type -

A 'hysterical anthropocentrist' Can't bear being alone, always talking, needing friends. That type should never be brought to trial. They thrive on that. Temporary detention is the best way to deal with them. Complete isolation and no set release date. No human contact the whole time, not even with the guards. Good treatment, no harassment, no abuse, no scandals, nothing they could write about later. After 10 months, we release. Suddenly, that guy won't cause us any more trouble. Know what the best part is? Most type 4s we've processed in this way never write anything again. Or paint anything, or whatever artists do. And that without any use of force. Just like that. Kind of like a present.


Those are the kind of things that made the Stasi into a much feared group. It is scenes like the ones described above that set the context so well in this movie. It is a troubled time in East Germany - when you trust no one and even a child's innocent talk is enough to trigger an downfall. To survive, one needs to be a part of the system - a system that has rules but also is controlled by men and their passions. In a world like that, no one is safe - even if they play by the rules. In the end, it becomes a game of power and lust - and one just gets caught up in its whirl, tossed around and finally thrown out - sometimes dead, sometimes alive.

Wiesler's friend Lieutenant-Colonel Anton Grubitz is the head of the Stasi Cultural Department - responsible for curbing any signs of revolt in artistic venues - books, dramas and the like. Based on the Culture Minister Hempf's doubts and reinforced by Wiesler's suspicions, Grubitz places a playwright, Georg Dreyman, under surveillance.

Wiesler starts 'Operation Lazlo' wherein he is constantly evesdropping on Dreyman's life. As time goes by, he finds himself being drawn in to the world of Dreyman and his girlfriend - Christa-Maria Sieland, an actress. Dreyman seems to be a harmless soul - Straightforward, principled and rather slightly astonished at the way things go. Slowly, Wiesler's convictions in the system that he is a part of begins to loosen their hold. He becomes some sort of a guardian angel - pulling the couple along and keeping them out of trouble with fabricated reports of his surveillance.

When Dreyman's friend - Director Albert Jerska - commits suicide after years of being blacklisted by the government, it triggers Dreyman to write an article to be published in the West German magazine 'Der Spiegel' on suicides in East Germany. The planning for the article goes on in Dreyman's house which they are convinced is safe - unaware of Wiesler's presence in the attic above. Wiesler's own change of heart leads him to safeguard the little group by filing cooked up reports.

The article is published and it ruffles a lot of feathers. Grubitz is convinced that it was written by Dreyman. Christa is pulled in for questioning based on a tip off by the Minister who is disgruntled by her avoidance of his advances. The decisions various people make over the next 24 hours forms the climax of the movie.

An epilogue too follows when a few years down the line, the political situation changes, (Gorbachev being elected, The fall of the Berlin wall) and a few truths are finally unveiled.

It is a beautifully made movie spanning about 2.5 hours. The characters are built up beautifully and very realistically. During my diggings, I came across articles which said that the character of Wiesler is not very convincing. That a Stasi Officer would just not act that way. I don't know. I was not a part of that world and no doubt, that reviewer was - but just as another human, it is only people like Wiesler who make you trust in a stranger. And I really believe that people like him exist even in the worst of the world.

Check out the movie at imdb Read More......