So what was common between two distinctly different genres of movies I watched this week? Less than fifty viewers.
Both released this month, one early and the second mid-April. They never are going to touch hundred days mark in box-office. If at all that was an aspiration of the makers.
Most of the time, that is the case about movies I like to watch, very few people. I don’t know how that helps in revenue, and am glad these movies are getting made, and wonder why more people won’t watch them? I have never tried to sit through a Dhoom or Golmaal, an occasional judgement of error leads me to Ramleela or Gone Girl, and I regret. Nah, I have nothing against houseful, and I wish the crossover/ alternate films would be houseful, someday.
First film, Byomkesh Bakshy. Our own, local eccentric detective. Even though I must have read almost all of Sherlock Holmes, Poirot and Miss Marple, some of Feluda, (but none of Byomkesh, must confess) I often forget the plot. But it’s the detective you never forget. Very nice portrayal of old Calcutta, homes and streets and trams and food, lovely subtle humour, the murders bit too gory though, every bit enjoyable.
Second, Margarita with a Straw (the person at the ticket counter made it a point to say its an adult movie and a small note was stapled to the ticket saying its an adult movie, made me feel very very adult), been waiting for this one for its journey into the many and deep impressions of disability and its challenges. The movie is based on a girl with cerebral palsy and her sexual desires. The family makes many changes, the ramp in the matador, taking her to pursue her love for music, letting her be. Nothing is justified just because one has certain disability. Her right to sexual exploration, privacy, access to public spaces, free and fair competition, to be treated one among the equals. Like when the band wins the first prize but turns out it was sympathy after all. Like when her ever accommodating, understanding mother finds it difficult to accept her sexual orientation.
The movie shows how unprepared our Capital city (and cities in general) is in terms of infrastructures, visible needs, like a ramp, a lift, toilets…and to think of the physical and emotional needs of people with disability, long way to go. As a society, to accept disability and to not to pity or glamourise, is a major challenge. I recall watching Anjali (old Hindi remake, with Revathy) as part of coursework in TISS and a sentence that stayed “every child is first a child and then a special child”.
Having travelled, I have always marvelled about two things in the western countries, their response to people with varied disabilities, basic infrastructure and provision for care. (The second being their emergency response, medical, theft, danger of any kind, getting lost while hiking). A friend of mine who has a son, who is autistic, only has to say “he has special needs” in public places and everyone turns kind. One sees the same in this film when it takes you to NY, public transport, acceptance, provision for care, making it easier…you see more people with disabilities on the roads, they are not cooped up in their houses.
There are many instances when the story plucks at your heartstrings in MWAS and I watched through tears. And many instances when you quietly understand and smile and laugh out loud, in both. Both movies did a great job of attention to details.
Byomkesh Bakshy ends like it will have a sequel. Margarita with a Straw, struggled with an End. It is not always a happy ending on issues like this, but there is hope and possibilities and there is living it as it goes..quoting Kalki from an interview ” when life gives you lemonade, make a margarita!”
One must acknowledge Revathy, and the roles she has taken up, to consciously engage on issues of these kinds, difficult kinds and not only commercial movies.
PS: what are the reasons movies are made tax free? This one does not qualify?
PPS: I toyed with using differently-able, physically challenged as against disability. No terms other than disability communicated the stark reality and every day challenges the movie depicts, without pity or glamour or sympathy, so I stuck with it.