After a dance

You came to me upon a chance;
You took my hand, led me to dance;
I could not tell then from your eyes,
If passion remained in disguise:
I recalled all your words and pain,
Sensibilities lived again;
I know not what brought you so close;
If I believed, I’d say god knows;
We danced and then we hugged goodbye;
We kissed and I may never know why.


Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them *Spoiler Alert*

I’d give it 7/10

Let me begin with a wish: I wish that Alfonso Cuarón had directed this movie – and he would be also allowed to direct all the rest that are to follow. I don’t really like David Yates’ direction. The movie moves well enough, but there are some cuts and snap tos that I can’t seem to digest as well-directed at all. That being said, the movie belongs to Eddie Redmayne. He has pulled off the role of Newton Scamander so well that the errors of direction seem alright.

*Spoilers ahead – you be warned*

The movie basically deals with Scamander coming in to America to release a thunderbird into the wilds of Arizona. The creature, Frank, as Newt has named him, is absolutely beautiful. I cannot help but admire all those who happen to be sorted in Thunderbird at Ilvermorny. Being one of the house members of Puckwudgie just seems like I was sorted in Slytherin, much like Albus Potter is… But then, I’ll just have to wait and see what being a Puckwudgie would be like – but I digress.

There are various new elements presented in the story. Since it happens on the continent of America I cannot help but see Hillary Clinton as Seraphina Picquery and Percival Graves as Trump. But then again that’s just me: seeing metaphors where none exist.

Eddie Redmayne! Thankfully, he was rejected to play Tom Riddle way back in 2002, when he auditioned for the part in the Chamber of Secrets. Or else, casting him here would have been impossible. This man takes acting to a whole different level. He plays the part of Newt like he was born a wizard, attended Hogwarts, was sorted into Hufflepuff, was expelled from the school, and became a Magizoologist. His reticence reaches his eyes all the time. There is a wariness and diffidence that most animal lovers have when dealing with human beings, the attitude which is so deeply imbibed within them which makes them distrust humans, seeing them as beings that debase the environment and massacre other organisms they deem inferior. Eddie imbues all of this within Newt Scamander, with a faultless charm. There couldn’t have been a better choice to play this. He is to Newt what Martin Freeman was to Bilbo.

Porpentina Goldstein is very well-portrayed by Katherine Waterston. An independent woman who stands up for the downtrodden by breaking rules and therefore loses status at her job which is all about upholding the rules. The magical community doesn’t seem to be very lenient when it comes to the law – it literally (and ironically) is Draconian. I draw parallels again: to me, Tina is like Hermione and Newt is like Harry. Porpentina’s sister, Queenie, is much like Luna Lovegood, and Jacob Kowalski is much like Ron. So at least in this historical spin-off, Harry and Hermione get together. *wink*

Ezra Miller stands out. Maybe because he identifies as queer in real life, he could play this role so vividly. Someone trying to repress who he really is and that leads to his becoming an Obscurial, eventually leading to his detriment. His scenes stand out, parallel to the repressed power of acting shown by the very gifted Samantha Morton.

The MACUSA is created beautifully, one thing is for certain: the visual effects team has done a phenomenal job! Each creature has been lovingly crafted. The sheer imaginative genius of J. K. Rowling has to be hailed once again, for thinking up of these creatures in the first place. I still remember reading both “Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them” and “Quidditch Through the Ages” so many years ago, and chuckling at her sharp wit and mammoth ingenuity. Now as I see the thunderbird come to life with its six wings, and the beauty of the Occamy slither away after a cockroach, I am awestruck all over again.

Each beast – and there are quite a few in the movie – have been devotedly crafted. To match the benevolence and adoration shown to them by Scamander, the visual effects team have done them complete justice. The erumpent is wonderfully funny, the nundu is majestic, the graphorn is grandiose, and the niffler is as immensely lovable as the bowtruckle is endearing. The Swooping Evil is completely contrary to its name. It literally saves the heroine, ensnares the villain and saves the entire magical community from being exposed to the No-Maj world. The movie is about beasts and where to find them, indeed!

Which brings me to a different sort of beast: Gillert Grindelwald. All of us who have read the Harry Potter books from front to back, several times, over the years, know who he is. When I read his relationship with Dumbledore, I had cocked my eyebrow on reading about it at several places. Hello, this seems like romantic love, I thought to myself – and sure enough, Rowling mentioned after it all was written and done with, that Dumbledore, my hero, was gay. So Gillert became someone he was in love with – or at least, I believe so. Colin Farrell is good – but there literally is applause in the theater when Johnny Depp is revealed as the true Gillert.

But it is in the portrayal of this character, that I find that the film doesn’t add up. How has he taken the identity of Percival Graves? Polyjuice? Is Graves dead? Does Grindelwald already have the elder wand when he duels with Porpentina and then Newt? (The exact date when he gets the Elder Wand could be between 1899-1945, so he may not have it in his possession at the time of these duels.) He is 43 years old when the film is set, at the beginning of, if not already at, the height of his power. So why does he require an Obscurus? How will that help him find the Deathly Hallows? I am sure all of this will eventually be explained. But for that we must wait for another two years. And then another two more and then – oh well, you get the drift.

Yes, I would recommend the film. It’s sluggish in the beginning, and apart from the leads, the rest of the cast seems incompetent in their roles. I would commend it for brilliant visual effects – the beasts are breathtaking, and now you know exactly where to find them.


Ae Dil Hai Mushkil

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I have to write this down before the feeling passes as feelings are wont to do. I just finished seeing Ae Dil Hai Mushkil. I had lost complete faith in Karan Johar’s writing since Bombay Talkies and in his direction since Student of the Year. But this film resurrected quite a bit of the appeal he held for me in the late 90’s.

The story connected with me on different levels. I have a best friend who is of the opposite gender. I have had heartbreaks. I have known strong, liberal women (thank the stars, for where would I be without them?) Someone I love has been akin to a disease that is life-threatening. I have shaved my head off too, for someone I love had shaved off hers – and that love wasn’t sexual at all.

The tagline on IMDb states that it is a tale of unrequited love. That’s just one small facet of this movie that touches the friendship between two individuals, feminism, sexual liberation, the woman’s prerogative to say no, infidelity (on more than one level) and, most of all, a different kind of love – which frankly, I never expected a commercial, Bollywood movie to showcase centre stage.

Ranbir Kapoor (Ayan) is always phenomenal. I have also maintained that he feels like the brother I never had – in short, nothing very sexual about him (personally speaking that is, I am sure there are people who do think otherwise). And right from the start Anushka Sharma (Alizeh) comments on this, when – shocker! – he can’t kiss well and she doesn’t find him sexually engaging. She does try, initially. So the relationship builds into a friendship, and as a friend pointed out, it has a wonderful intricacy. The sari-clad scenes in the mountains were wonderfully funny.

Anushka is Anushka. As Ash is Ash. They have their roles and they move through the movie fluidly, not jarringly. I like the uninhibitedness shown by Ash in the role of Sabah. She is mature. She knows what she wants, and also what she doesn’t want. Or rather, what she can handle and what she cannot. One of the reasons for her letting go of her marriage. The role is nuanced and has layers of strength and dignity, quite appealing in this case. The dialogues of the movie can be trite at places and lyrical in some others, and though her Urdu seems stilted, I loved some of the interchanges, Ash’s character has. Especially with her ex-husband. The intensity of that scene is almost overpowering. I love the way the maturity of relationships evolves, even those that were dealt with in the past.

Fawad Khan’s role – was it chopped? You could blink and miss him. Pity, he is an excellent actor. Just as good as Ranbir. And Imran Abbas was there too! But I must say I loved Lisa Haydon as Lisa, the gold-digger.

I liked the movie very much. Few movies make me go quiet in the end. This one did. I was absorbing what I had just seen. I understood why Alizeh couldn’t love Ayan the way Ayan wanted her to. I understood her clinging onto a latent fear that friendship is destroyed when sex comes into the picture, I also understood that it could be the fear that because she didn’t sexually appreciate Ayan, she could lose the man she had come to love. When people say their spouse is their best friend – I can never understand that. My best friend is my best friend. My lover is my lover. The twain can never be the same. For me. So I get what Alizeh is on about. I mean, totally.

On the other hand, there is Saba who didn’t want to fall in love with Ayan, and he welcomed the fact and so went into a sexual relationship with her. She herself had realized what happened when people fell in love, as she surely was with her ex-husband, and so she chose to avoid it, despite the fact that it helped her write. Ironically, what happens is that she does fall for him and in doing so realizes it will always be unrequited and does to Ayan what he never has the courage to do with Alizeh.

It’s so complicated to explain, so it’s kudos to the writer, director and the actors who tried to bring this out onto a screen, before people who wouldn’t want to see the breaking of a set median, where there is no middle-ground, no structure, just a personal abstraction. It is love. It’s bound to be abstract, right? So it is a love story, just not like the ones we are used to.