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Before Sunset … brilliance of Richard Linklater

The movie Before Sunrise had ended in an uncertainty and left us wondering if Jesse and Celine ever met again. The question in our mind remained unanswered for 9 years. Nine years is a very long time; and lots of things happened in those nine years. In 9 years time, Richard Linklater made 6 more movies, Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy acted in a dozen other movies. And after 9 years the three finally sat down together to write a  screenplay which would be a sequel to Before Sunrise.

The trio kept in mind, the growth of the characters Jesse and Celine, the age and the maturity factor, and they came up with a beautiful screenplay. The movie was titled Before Sunset and it released in 2004. This movie was again shot with a steadicam, just like the prequel; and had those long shots, only this time the venue was Paris.

The movie starts in a bookstore in Paris called Shakespeare & Co. Bookstore where Jesse is addressing a small gathering of journalists who have come to interview him on the promotion tour of his newly written book This Time. When asked if the book is autobiographical, Jesse cleverly quotes Thomas Wolfe and begins “…he says that we are the sum of all the moments of our lives, and that, uh, anybody who sits down to write is gonna use the clay of their own life, that you can’t avoid that“. But when the journalist is adamant on knowing if he actually met a French woman, about which the book is, he says …Yes. Just when he is answering those queries he spots Celine and he wants to be done with the questions soon so he can catch-up with her after 9 long years.

I recalled that Kunal Kohli’s movie Hum-Tum had the same opening sequence. I cross-checked the release dates of the two movies and it turns out that Hum-Tum released just 3 weeks before this movie. Is this ‘book launch interview’ sequence a mere coincidence or what?Anyways, after the interview Jesse has a flight to catch and he has time only until 7.30pm to spend with Celine. Celine clearly has lost weight, while Jesse looks a lot mature with his moustache and goaty. They start walking to a coffee shop and Celine tells Jesse that the bookstore was her favourite one and she frequents it, thats how she was aware of his visit. When Jesse asks if she has read the book; Celine says that she has read it twice and she found it really very romantic and compliments him on his wonderful writing.

Now comes the awkward moment, Celine asks Jesse if he had come to Vienna after 6 months, as promised before parting. This was just like An Affair To Remember … though I will not reveal anything more, all I can say is things don’t remain the same hereafter.

The two move on to talk about other things as they have a lot to catch-up with…like how is life and how things have changed in the past 9 years. Celine informs Jesse that she works for Green Cross which is an environmental organization and they work on issues like clean water, disarmament of chemical weapons and that she had been to India a year ago working on a water treatment plant and she mentions how the cotton industry is a major source of pollution. That felt good, India being referenced in an American movie set in Paris, albeit not a good picture. She goes onto say “we’re moving all our industry to developing nations. We can get cheap labor free of any environmental laws. OK, the weapon industry is booming. Five million people die every year from preventable water disease. So, how is the world getting any better?

I love such conversations, I mean, why do they show in every other movie how boys and girls discuss only relationships, sunsigns, horoscopes, looks and make-up. Grow up, show some real conversation as above.

Jesse and Celine reach a coffee-shop and make themselves comfortable. Thats when Celine reveals that she was in New York University from ‘96 to ‘99. And Jesse is just shocked to hear that because he has been in NY since ‘98 and was wondering how they never crossed paths. That’s destiny for you. Two lovers who were supposed to meet in Vienna after 6 months of their first meeting, they don’t meet even in NY[though Jesse mentions that a few  days before his wedding he did feel that he had spotted Celine in a Deli] and  finally they see each other again in Paris.

In the coffeshop they discuss about how their personal appearance has changed, about Celine’s life and studies in US and how Jesse was a drummer  in a rock-band. Jesse mentions about how he doubts the Buddhist viewpoint on desire … “its what all those Buddhist guys say, right? You know, liberate yourself from desire and you’ll find that you already have everything you need“. While still on topic of religion and Buddhism, Celine talks about one of her boyfriends who visited monasteries of Asia because “each time he went to one of those monasteries, a monk offered to suck his cock. True story!“. This had me in splits.

They pay the coffee bill and are back on the streets, in a garden. Jesse reminsces about the night that they had spent in Vienna, and they just mess with each other on the question of whether or not they had made love that night; because they both recall the night differently. Celine then speaks about her complicated relationship with her mom and granny and how its been difficult for her to cope-up with her granny’s death. She says “Memory is a wonderful thing, if you don’t have to, uh, deal with the past“.

They finally come down to discussing about their personal lives. Jesse tells her about his wife who teaches and a 4 yr old son named Henry. Celine tells him that she is seeing a photo-journalist who covers wars and that keeps him out-of-town most of the times. They realize how they have not just grown apart, but also grown old…mature and responsible.

Celine and Jesse take a small boatride and she tells him things about Eiffel tower and cathedrals. He confesses that he wrote the book so that he could record every detail of their meeting and the wonderful time they spent together. Celine is happy to hear this because she herself is not the kind of person who can move-on with the snap of a finger; she lingers around old memories. Towards the end of this chat they exchange phone numbers so that they can keep in touch and they wonder why they did not do this nine years ago.

Time is running out, Jesse calls for his car and since he wants to make maximum use of time, he suggests that they go to her apartment. While they are in the car Celine gets emotional talking about all her ex-boyfriends who walked away from her life …”But what does it mean the right man? The love of your life? The concept is absurd; the idea that we can only be complete with another person is…EVIL! RIGHT?“. To pacify her, Jesse says “You can’t do that, you can’t live your life trying to avoid pain“. The car halts at her  apartment.

What I truely love about the movie is the fact that the characters remained true-to-life; Richard Linklater did not try to make it a happy-ending. He has shown a real-life situation about how people meet, drift apart and how things between them change; how they handle the change. The conversation is crisp and the dialogues are excellent, worth quoting from. As usual, each shot blends into the next one without any jitters; and the camera focus is excellent. Since its shot in real-time, it gives us the feeling of moving along with the character, always attached; it’s to the credit of writer/director Richard Linklater.

In the last few scenes, in Celine’s apartment, she seats him and sings him a waltz and Jesse wonders if she has written those lines for him. Later they put on some music and she dances to the song; she reminds him about his flight. The movie again ends in ambiguity because we don’t really know what happens next, whether Jesse takes the flight or not!

This post was first published on PFC


Posted by on April 3, 2010 in hollywood, movie review, movies


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prasoon joshi : a ‘gulzar’ in the making?

I have been at this post for quite a while now. But yesterday when I chanced upon this news piece that Prasoon Joshi was given the Shailendra award, I was spurred on to complete the post.

When I look around at all the lyrical mockery that’s happening and all the poetical gimmickry, I wonder what will be the fate of lyrics in cinema, going ahead. Its not a very happy picture, let me tell you. Barring a few new generation of lyricists, I don’t see much talent around.

prasoon-joshiNow, coming to the crux of the post; although we do have lyricists who churn out a few good songs, they all lack depth and versatility. That’s where my search begins for a ‘gulzar’ of the next generation. A lyricist/poet who can write sensitively, with sublimity, with progressive ideas and write on innocent situations as well as controversial stuff, who can make your blood boil as well as cool your senses, who can write about society at large as well as for the individualistic/common man, who has knowledge of historical events and keeps pace with contemporary issues. If we see the growth and maturity of Gulzar, we would all be befuddled by it. Starting with Mera Gora Rang Lai Le to Mera Kuch Saaman to Aye Zindagi Galey Laga Le to Tujhse Naraaz Nahi Zindagi to Goli Maar Bheje Mei to Fatak; his range is unfathomable.

The only person who comes to my mind, wo can carry forward the legacy of Gulzar, or who can write Gulzarian lyrics seems to be Prasoon Joshi. The talent that he has displayed through his variety of work is impressive. In fact, quite a few times his lyrics sound like its from gulzar’s school of thought. The lyrics like Maa from TZP and Khoon Chala from RDB have that distinctive Gulzar touch. Let me pick a few more works of Prasoon which seem to be the silver-lining around the dark clouds of movie lyrics.

Arziyan from Delhi-6:

Written as a quwalli, its a prayer with a lot of heartfelt thoughts. The first two lines in itself conveys the pathos of the soul. Face is the mirror of the soul; if the soul is wrankled, so will the face be. There is nothing more to explain than the expression of disdain written all over the face

Arziyaan sari main chehre pe likh ke laaya hoon
Tumse kya mangu mein tum khud hi samjah lo

He goes on to explain how people have gotten all their wishes fulfilled whenever they have approached him. The thirtsy ones who asked for a drop have received an ocean of blessings etc. I do not wish to translate it, it loses the feel. Just read it :

Jo bhi tere dar aaya, Juhkne jo sar aaya
Mastiyan piye sabko, Jhoomta nazar aaya

Pyaas le ke aaya, Dariya woh bhar laya
Noor ki barish mein bheegta sa tar aaya

Toot ke bikharna mujhko zarur aata hai
Varna ibbadat wala shaoor aata hai

Sajde mein rehne do, abb kahin na jaunga
Abb jo tumne thukraya to sawar na paunga

Sar utha ke maine to kitni khwahishen ki thi
Sar jhuka ke ek pal mei maine kya nahi paya

Really sublime!

Rehna Tu from Delhi-6:

When I first heard the song, I mistook it to be a love-song and I imagined AB Jr singing this for Sonam Kapoor. But I was pleasantly surprised that the song is dedicated to Delhi. That was a stroke of genius, where even Delhi is made to sound like a dilruba and jaaneman who is not supposed to change for anything.

Rehna Tu Hai Jaisa Tu
Thoda sa dard tu Thoda Sukun

Tujhe badalna na chahoon Rati bhar bhi sanam
Bina sajawat milawat Na jyaada na hi kaam

The character of Delhi is brought out very well and the spirit of romance is all over the song, sample these lines:

Mujhe teree barish mein beegna hai ghuljana hai
Mujhe tere lapat mein jalna rakh ho jana hai

I would like to make a mention of the song Dil Gira Dafattan, which has been written with immense feelings and emotions. And we also had Masakali which is such a fun number. So, in one album he packed a punch with such variety and depth of thoughts. In fact, in Delhi-6 he also co-wrote the screenplay which means he not only understands the medium but has also gained fine grip of it. He is looking to expand his horizons and we can expect some good story/screenplay out of him.

Maa from TZP:

I don’t get moved that easily, but this song creates the magic which can melt a stone. A beautiful peice of poetry, a dedication to every mother that echoes the sentiment of every child who has been showered by mother’s love.

Mai kabhi batlata nahi
Par andhere se darta hoon mai maa

Yun to mai dikhlata nahi
Teri parwah karta hoon mai maa
Tujhe sab hai pata hai na maa

Mom knows everything, mama’s boy, mom knows best and so many other phrases come to mind. But most of all, I recall what Mother Teresa said that God created moms so he could be everywhere.

Jab bhi kabhi papa mujhe
Jo zor se jhula jhulate hain maa
Meri nazar dhoondhe tujhe
Sochun yahi tu aake thamegi maa

Unse mai yeh kehta nahi
Par mai seham jaata hoon mai maa
Chehre pe aane deta nahi
Dil hi dil mein ghabrata hoon maa
Tujhe sab hai pata hai na maa

His delving into child psychology and coming up with such gems shows us a glimpse of his sensitivity and emotions. The ease with which he brings out those feelings is amazing.

Kholo Kholo from TZP:

I chose this song only to highlight the playful lyrics that Prasoon can come up with. This not only establishes his range but also the imagination that he is capable of.

Kholo kholo darwaze, parde karo kinare
Khute se bandhi hai hawa, Milke chhudao sare
Aajao patang leke, apni hi rang leke
Asaman ka shamiyana aaj hume hai sajana

Tu dhoop hai chham se bikhar
Tu hai nadi o bekhabar
Beh chal kahin, Udd chal kahin
Dil khush jahan, teri to manzil hai wohi

His handling of situation with such creative thoughts is beautiful. Prasoon’s lyrics in TZP is commendable because it shows the understanding that he has of children. Of course, he must have been guided by the sensitivity of Amole Gupte; but yet, to come up with such poetic lines is sheer genius. In fact, the title song of the movie and the Bum Bum Bole are songs which are at perpendiculars with each other, but Prasoon writes them both with such ease without ever losing the message in it.

Khoon Chala from RDB:

A call for revolution, a call for change, a call for new enthusiasm and a call for blood akin to what Bose once said – give me blood and I will give you freedom. Echoing those very sentiments are these wonderful lines.

kuchh kar guzarne ko khoon chala, khoon chala
aankhon ke sheeshe mein utarne ko khoon chala
badan se tapak kar, zameen se lipatkar
galiyon se raston se ubharkar, umadkar
naye rang bharne ko khoon chala, khoon chala

It brings out the pangs of revolt beautifully. Everytime I hear this, I get goose-bumps. It makes me sit up and think about how we take things so lightly instead of speaking out against it.

khuli si chot lekar, badi si tees lekar, ahista ahista
sawaalon ki ungli, jawaabon ki mutthi sang lekar, khoon chala

The movie demanded such lyrics, such pain and the subsequent actions that follow. Prasoon has very effectively described a revolt with such less words which actually translates to a whole lot of ideas.

Lukka Chhupi from RDB:

Another ‘mommy’ song but in a ballad format, sensitively written. The innovation in the song is the fact that its an ode from a dead son to his mother, which hasn’t been done before.

Luka chuppi bahut huyi, saamne aaja naa
Kahan kahan dhoondha tujhe, thak gayi hai ab teri maa
Aaja saanjh hui mujhe teri fikar
Dhundhla gayi dekh meri nazar aaja na

The manner in which the son, who is no more, describes the nether world is awesome.

Kya bataoon maa kahan hoon main
Yahan udney ko mere khula aasmaan hai
Tere kisson jaisa bhola salona
Jahan hain yahan sapno vala
Meri patang ho befikar udd rahi hai maa
Dor koi loote nahin beech se kaate na

The mother’s concern for the son and the son’s free-spirited reply makes for an enigmatic listening. This is one of the best songs to be written, not many people realize the beauty of it.

Teri raah takey aankhiyaan jaane kaisa kaisa hoye jiyaa
Dheere dheere aangan utre andhera, mera deep kahan
Dhalke suraj kare ishara chanda tu hai kahan

A couple of more songs worth mentioning are the Khalbali and Pathshala. While Khalbali brings out the angst in the youth and the boiling passion to do something, Pathshala describes college fun times and those moments of frolic and playfulness.

Let me quickly list a few more songs that would bring out Prasoon’s versatility and paint a bigger picture of his wonderful thoughts and imaginations. Two songs from Ghajini stood out, Guzarish and Kaise Mujhe Tum Mil Gayi. The two songs are written for different situations, but both are nice.

In Thoda Pyar Thoda Magic, he has written Seedhi Sapaat Zindagi which has some nice similies and Lazy Lamhe which is a totally fun song. And how can I forget the Chand Sifarish song which was a light hearted romantic number. Now this takes me back to his songs in the movie Hum Tum where he wrote Ladki Kyon Na Jaane Kyon to Chak De Saare Gham to Gore Gore Se Chhore and finally to the romantically poetic title song of the movie.

gulzarWhile I refrain from comparing Prasoon to Gulzar, I do believe that Prasoon has the pen with which he can put across creative thoughts and myriad ideas. If Gulzar is the clear stream of reason, Prasoon is a trickle of that spring, if Gulzar is that blazing sun of heated thoughts and words then Prasoon is a spark of those ignited flames, if Gulzar is the peak of serenity and calmness then Prasoon is but a hillock belonging to the same range of mountains. I just wish he continues to write, write well and touch people’s lives with his writing. I am ending this post with an ode on Prasoon using his onw words …

naam -o-nishaan rahe na rahe
ye caarvaan rahe na rahe
ujaale mai pee gaya
roshan hua jee gaya
kyon sehte rahe
ruu-ba-ruu roshni hai

This post was first published on PFC


Posted by on September 3, 2009 in bollywood, lyrics, movies


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