ARC

A little bit of everything


Month: February, 2009

Indian Sambar (Young)

Indian Sambar (Young)
January 2009, Jim Corbett National Park.

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Barking Deer

Barking Deer

January 2009, Jim Corbett National Park.

Barking Deer/Indian Muntjac (Muntiacus muntjak).

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Grey Bushchat

Grey Bushchat

January 2009, Jim Corbett National Park.

Grey Bushchat (Saxicola ferrea)

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Red-Headed Vulture

Red-Headed Vulture

January 2009, Jim Corbett National Park.

Red-Headed Vulture (Sarcogyps calvus)

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Tarai Grey Langur

Tarai Grey Langur

January 2009, Jim Corbett National Park.

Tarai Gray Langur (Semnopithecus hector)

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Indian Sambar

Indian Sambar

January 2009, Jim Corbett National Park.

Indian Sambar (Cervus unicolor)

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Dev.D

Dev.D

Ever since the growth of the so called ‘multiplex cinema’ it has been fashionable among some quarters to keep stating at regular intervals that the Hindi film industry has finally come of age. In other words, the Hindi film industry has finally shed its insane plots and acquired a global persona that everyone from San Francisco to Sydney can relate to. For a long time I believed that to be mostly empty hype. Having seen Dev.D yesterday changed my opinion. If a crazy, beautiful, hilarious, sad, mad, ugly beast of a film like this could get made in the context of mainstream cinema and receive a wide release then indeed Hindi cinema has come of age like no other language cinema of India I know of has.

Anurag Kashyap always had a reputation as a talented and controversial director and through Dev.D he demonstrates why he is one of the best directors Hindi cinema is lucky to possess. Saratchandra’s Bengali novel ‘Devdas’ has been a perennial favorite among Indian film directors with as many as 9 versions already made using it as a source. Kashyap’s film is anything but faithful to the novel. Along with co-writer Vikramaditya Motwane he twists, bludgeons, and mutates the novel into a contemporary setting. He wisely avoids going the melodrama way like other directors before and instead concentrates on the core, the emotional attyachar if you will, of all the central characters and especially of Dev.

Abhay Deol is steadily building his reputation as cross over cinema favorite and with this film he demonstrates why he is so good in such ‘auteur’ films. After a stunning performance in his recent ‘Oye Lucky, Lucky Oye’ he cements his indie status with a sterling modern take on Devdas.

Newcomers Mahi Gill and Kalki Koechlin are equally stunning in their roles as Paro and Chanda aka Chandramukhi. Mahi as the headstrong Paro and Koechlin as the disarmingly seductive Chanda prop up the emotional core of the film with star making turns. The transition of Koechlin, in particular, from an unconventional school girl to a professional seductress of great charm is both stunning and shocking.

What is even more remarkable is how strong Paro and Chanda are. They are completely unlike the simpering, crying-behind-closed-doors, always-waiting-for-the-hero ‘Bharatiya naris’ that you usually find on Indian film screens. Spurned brutally by Dev Paro soon moves on to her new life without a second thought or signs of weakness. Spurned by her parents and a hypocritical society Chanda soon makes a life for herself, and even if she has to sell her body and voice for that life, she does it on her own terms. I wonder what the regressive Indian right wing organizations will think of such strong characterizations?

The cinematography by Rajeev Ravi is another aspect of the film that hits you with a solid fist in your visual guts. While the camera starts sedately, almost conventionally it steadily deteriorates into extremely ugly close-ups, insane time lapse sequences, flashy over saturated colors and kinetic character driven movements mimicking the emotional upheaval of the film’s central characters. The frenetic, adrenalin-infused editing needs special mention even if in certain segments of the film the edits should have been much tighter.

The soundtrack by Amit Trivedi, to put it simply, is mind blowing. It is music that grabs you by your auditory balls and just does not let go. Be it the raunchy Bihari twang overloaded but hilarious ‘Emosanal Attyachar’ or the world weary beauty of ‘Saali Kushi’ the music is an aural romp through ever shifting soundscapes.

Final word-get out and immediately drive to the nearest film theater and watch this mad fuck film. It will be a blinking benchmark on your filmy radar. And if you can, watch the film after sampling a few choice shots of vodka. Taken over and ruled completely by the film for 172 minutes your roughly surprised senses will thank you for it.

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Rhesus Aggression

Rhesus Aggression

January 2009, Jim Corbett National Park.

Rhesus Macaque (Macaca mulatta).

This fellow as you can see did not like being photographed.

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Breaking Dawn

Breaking Dawn

January 2009, Jim Corbett National Park.

Over the past 10 days I visited two well known national parks in northern India, the Jim Corbett National Park in the state of Uttarakhand and the Kaladeo National Park (otherwise well known as the Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary) in the state of Rajasthan. I got to see a great variety of wildlife so for the next couple of weeks you might see only photos of wildlife here interspersed with the odd landscape and perhaps a passing glimpse of Delhi which was my base. Hope you will find this small glimpse of India’s vast natural heritage filtered through my eyes interesting.

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