Excerpt: Cancer can be painful, in every which way. Death, for those around the severely pained, in contrast, can often be a case of pain alleviation. Because the loss, for them, makes way for the restoration of ‘the good in entirety’, which was being disfigured bit by bit, right in front of their fatigued eyes. Director Mukesh Chhabra’s Dil Bechara, an average film that is replete with cinematic licences, is precisely that restoration — the ‘reclaiming of the real memory’ of a bright young actor from amid the macabre talks around him at the moment.
Review: Based on novelist John Green’s 2012 bestseller The Fault In Our Stars (also a 2014 Hollywood hit of the same name), Dil Bechara is a story of Kizie Basu (debutant Sanjana Sanghi) and Immanuel Rajkumar Junior a.k.a. “Manny” (Sushant Singh Rajput), two young people leading life amid extraordinary circumstances. Kizie is fighting cancer while Manny has fought and beaten cancer a few years ago.
Mounted on technical finesse in the form of fabulous cinematography (Satyajit Pande), unforgivingly razor-sharp editing (Aarif Sheikh) and embellishing background score (A R Rahman), the contrived nature of the storytelling is best exemplified by a mesmerising single-take title song/dance number pictured on the breathtakingly-rhythmic late actor. Most admirers of the talented late star would want to, and definitely, play it over and over again. But there is absolutely no reason for the film to have that song!
And that stands true for many things about the film. Forced and less than believable.
The original story is good — poignant and enduring. But this film fails at times in adapting it to the Indian milieu (as in the ‘smashing windows with eggs’ after a breakup of Manny’s friend Jagdish Pandey (Sahil Vaid) sequence or the almost ‘pop culture’ cancer support group meetings), and at other times in providing the requisite gravitas to an aspect of immense/principal pertinence to the movie (as in the film’s integral track of Kizie being overwhelmed by a song, leading right up to the three-minute cameo by an established Hindi film star, or the struggles of Kizie and Manny in trying to live ‘normal lives’ amid the challenges).
However, when it does not try to change too much from the original, it breaks magic on screen — especially in the ‘obituary speech before death’ sequence. One silent place, three good friends, two of whom read the obituary of the third one.
The only other scene — apart from the naturally dramatic scenes of illness and physical pain (well-created, nonetheless) — that helps lift the film to its potential is the late-night interaction between Manny and Kizie’s father, played by legendary Bangla cinema actor Saswata Chatterjee, where the former opens up about his successful but very costly fight against cancer.
Everything else, for some reason, is either rushed or imposed. Fortunately, with it being just 1 hour 40 minutes long, you can blame it for anything but being a drag.
Sanjana Sanghi is adequate. In a movie in which she is present from the first to the last one, in which even the narration is by her, and in which the character of the lead star is also defined by his interaction with her, she doesn’t emphatically grab the opportunity by the throat. She is good; but, perhaps, just about that.
With the country still not completely out of the shock of Sushant’s death, dissociating cinema from real life in many scenes of the film becomes nearly impossible.
There’s even a dialogue in the film (NOT by Sushant): “Khud ko maarna saala illegal hai, toh jeena padta hai [It’s illegal to kill yourself, so you’ve to live].”
The late star is enchanting when playing the hyperactive loverboy and exhilarating when being a silent sufferer. He would be remembered for this film for a long, long time. Albeit, it might also be because of irrational reactions (too) from all the viewers to his performance in the light of his passing. For that precise reason, this review too would not be writing more about his, what felt like, a stellar performance.
Verdict: Quite like the biggest opening for a movie streaming on Disney-Hotstar platform and a ridiculously high 9.8/10 rating on IMDB, the memory of Sushant Singh Rajput lords over everything in the film. And for that reason alone, you might want to watch his swansong. It helps that he is his usual good.
International Space University Pays Tribute To Sushant Singh Rajput
ISU paid condolences to Rajput’s family and friends, saying the actor’s memory will “remain.
STRASBOURG (France): The International Space University (ISU) in France has paid homage to late actor Sushant Singh Rajput. The 34-year old actor allegedly committed suicide at his Bandra residence in Mumbai on Sunday. Incidentally, he was wearing an ISU t-shirt during his last moments.
In a statement issued on its official twitter handle, the agency said, it is deeply saddened by the demise of the actor, who was supposed to visit the campus last year but was unable due to a scheduling conflict.
We @isunet are deeply saddened by the dramatic news on the death of well known Indian actor @itsSSR
Mr Singh Rajput was a believer and strong supporter of STEM education and was following ISU on social media. https://t.co/E3GZFHdZdo pic.twitter.com/PAqwY5MGoB
— Space University (@ISUnet) June 15, 2020
Here is the complete text of the ISU message:
We are deeply saddened by the dramatic news on the death of well known Indian actor Sushant Singh Rajput.
Mr Singh Rajput was a believer and strong supporter of STEM education and was following ISU on social media. He had even accepted an invitation to visit ISU’s Central Campus in the summer of 2019 but other agenda priorities prevented him from travelling to Strasbourg.
Our thoughts are with Sushant Singh Rajput, his family and his friends. His memory will remain among his thousands of followers across India and all over the world.
Sushant was fascinated with science and held a deep interest in astronomy. As part of his research for the film “Chanda Mama Door Ke”, he also visited NASA in 2017. The actor also owned a Meade 14″ LX600 telescope.
Sushant enrolled at Delhi Technical University (DTU) in 2003, which was then known as Delhi College of Engineering but left the course to pursue his showbiz dreams. Even after leaving the four-year degree course, he remained fascinated with science and had a deep interest in astronomy.
Sushant stayed in NASA to train for his role as an astronaut for the film, which was eventually shelved. The actor also owned Meade 14” LX600 telescope.
Sushant Singh Rajput Passes Away At 34
The MS Dhoni Biopic star reportedly committed suicide; found hanging at his Bandra home.
MUMBAI (Maharashtra): Hindi cinema actor Sushant Singh Rajput has been found dead at his Bandra residence in Mumbai. He was found hanging at his home and a domestic help alerted the police. A team of Bandra Police has rushed to investigate and details are awaited. The actor, 34, was living alone during the lockdown.
The actor was said to be battling depression for the past six months and was taking professional support to fight it.
“Sushant Singh Rajput has committed suicide, Mumbai Police is investigating. Police has not found any note yet,” informed DCP Pranay Ashok, Spokesperson Mumbai Police.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi mourned the death of the promising talent. Calling him a bright young actor he said his rise in the world of entertainment inspired many and he leaves behind several memorable performances.
Sushant Singh Rajput…a bright young actor gone too soon. He excelled on TV and in films. His rise in the world of entertainment inspired many and he leaves behind several memorable performances. Shocked by his passing away. My thoughts are with his family and fans. Om Shanti.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) June 14, 2020
Last seen in Netflix film Drive, Rajput was one of the brightest stars of the younger generation — making his life as an actor memorable by playing Indian cricket legend MS Dhoni in the former captain’s biopic of the same name. His other notable films are Kai Po Che and Chhichhore. Ironically, the last film saw him champion the cause of not taking one’s life out of a sense of failure and/or dejection!
The actor is survived by his father and five sisters. He was the youngest among them. One of his sisters, Mitu Singh, is a state-level cricketer.
The father, living in Patna, Bihar, is said to be currently inconsolable and crying incessantly.
Born in Patna, he studied engineering and was a National Olympiad Winner in Physics.
After he started participating in theatre and dance, he rarely had time for studies, resulting in several backlogs which ultimately made him leave DCE. He completed only three years of the four-year course before dropping out to pursue an acting career.
His last post on his very popular Instagram account (followed by over 1 crore people), earlier this month, was dedicated to his late mother.
Sushant had shared a black and white collage of his picture and that of his mother’s on June 3 and wrote, “Blurred past evaporating from teardrops. Unending dreams carving an arc of smile. And a fleeting life, negotiating between the two…”
Just prior to the release of his blockbuster film Dhoni: The Untold Story, he had said in a media interview,
“I wish she was alive to see me succeed in life. I am sure she would have been really happy and proud of me. And maybe I would have been a different person than I am now. The way I looked at things then and now, they are very different and I cannot go back to doing that. It’s unfortunate. But everything that used to excite me, doesn’t excite me that much now. I don’t know why. No relationship, no success, absolutely nothing… If she was alive, probably it wouldn’t concern her, but just because something has changed inside me, everything has become so insipid. It takes a lot out of me to force myself to get overly excited about things and probably this is the reason why I like acting so much. Because it helps me get away from myself.” (Source)
Sushant started his career with the Television show Kis Desh Mein Hai Mera Dil but rose to real fame with Zee TV’s superhit show Pavitra Rishta. The show made him an instant heartthrob of the television viewing mass —especially young girls and the ladies. That association, in fact, lasted many years beyond his working in the show itself. His on-screen chemistry with actress Ankita Lokhnade was much appreciated by the viewers. The two were together in real life too for some time during and after the show.
Distraught Cricket and Film Fraternity React With Utter Disbelief:
— Virender Sehwag (@virendersehwag) June 14, 2020
— Chennai Super Kings (@ChennaiIPL) June 14, 2020
Shocked and sad to hear about the loss of Sushant Singh Rajput.
Such a young and talented actor. My condolences to his family and friends. May his soul RIP. 🙏 pic.twitter.com/B5zzfE71u9
— Sachin Tendulkar (@sachin_rt) June 14, 2020
मेरे प्यारे सुशांत सिंह राजपूत….आख़िर क्यों?….क्यों? 💔
— Anupam Kher (@AnupamPKher) June 14, 2020
Honestly this news has left me shocked and speechless…I remember watching #SushantSinghRajput in Chhichhore and telling my friend Sajid, its producer how much I’d enjoyed the film and wish I’d been a part of it. Such a talented actor…may God give strength to his family 🙏🏻
— Akshay Kumar (@akshaykumar) June 14, 2020
Film Review: Bachchan And Lucknow Pull The Quaint Gulabo Sitabo
The film rests on indulgence and might be lucky to be not expected to fill up cinema halls.
Excerpt: The thing with character-driven films is that they often expect the characters to fill up for the story itself. Sometimes it works, most often it does not. In Gulabo Sitabo, it works only in those parts where either Amitabh Bachchan or the Lucknawi essence holds us by the arms. Some years from now, those are the only two things that we might remember about this whimsical film. And therein lies its principal shortcoming.
Review: Director Shoojit Sarkar and story, screenplay, and dialogue writer Juhi Chaturvedi‘s Gulabo Sitabo is a story about ‘Mirza’ (Amitabh Bachchan), a 78-year-old epitome of greed, who is willing to move heaven and earth to get ownership of his obsession — an old dilapidated mansion (‘Fatima Mahal’) of his much-older wife ‘Begum’ (Farrukh Jaffar) in the heart of Lucknow.
In his path, however, stand not just his wife but also a group of tenants, especially ‘Baankey’ (Ayushmann Khuranna)’ a shrewd, sly and squatted tenant, who matches Mirza bit for a bit in their ceaseless bantering.
What follows is a wacky slice of life that escalates quickly from the shenanigans within the Fatima Mahal to the politico-administrative corridors of Lucknow city.
It is an interesting premise that also benefits from whispered handling of the milieu by the technical team comprising cinematographer Avik Mukhopadhyay, editor Chandrashekhar Prajapati and apt background score.
But that’s about that.
Because beyond that, it, at the risk of repeating oneself, is down to the characters — notably Vijay Raaz (ASI Officer), Brijendra Kala (‘Christian Lawyer’ who is better because “he speaks English at home”) and Srishti Shrivastava (Baankey’s sister ‘Guddo’) — to shoulder the journey towards nowhere in particular.
After a point, it indeed feels like you are on a journey towards nowhere in particular. Till a rather unexpected climax suddenly lifts up the storytelling to tell us that ‘greed’ is of many types — without feeling self-righteous enough to pass any judgements.
It is a good note to end on. Just as, the quirky and zippy establishment of the universe of the film was a good start to the story. Most things in between, alas, do not quite do justice to the two ends of the thread.
Ayushmann does an exemplary job with the ‘lisp’, where he manages what most actors fail to achieve simultaneously — impact with restraint.
However, beyond that, he doesn’t really exhibit much that is beyond (or above) his recent golden run of author-backed, socially-relevant roles.
In other words, while there is barely anyone, if anyone, in the industry who I believe could replace Bachchan’s impact in the role of Mirza, I could, perhaps, say that ‘a’ Rajkumar Rao or even Kartik Aryan might have done just about fine in the role of Baankey.
Director Shoojit Sarkar has said that the film is a satire. To live up to the description, he does include comments on the workings of government departments, the ‘place’ of the English language in our society and the living conditions of even those living in the ‘Fatima Mahals’ of the country.
But, though handled with understated care, there is not much new to those subjects — and those things, consequently, do nothing to the heart.
For the curious souls, the title Gulabo Sitabo is said to be derived from a form of traditional glove puppetry of Uttar Pradesh in which a man’s harried wife (Sitabo) and his pampered mistress (Gulabo) bicker endlessly. Clearly, the Amitabh-Ayushmann pair was supposed to be the bickering duo. They sure exchange words in the film. But their exchange is nowhere near the zing of the show that real-life puppeteer (Mohammed Naushad) performs at different points in the film.
Talking of Uttar Pradesh, it needs to be said that the film oozes with unabashed romanticism of Lucknow city — carrying postcards of all the ‘must visit’ places of the city, from Imambara, to Hazratganj.
Verdict: There is nothing in the film that is bad. And yet, watch it primarily for Bachchan to, yet again, illustrate the difference between “the boys and the men”. For everything else, either watch Ayushmann or Shoojit Sarcar’s some other movie or travel to Lucknow to do some real ‘Ganj-ing’.
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