The Sunday gone by was one of the most promising for the film lover in me. With perceivably four good options to pick from, I spent the first hour of the day running through newspaper to figure which two films I should watch.
My options were – Bejoy Nambiar’s David, Deepa Mehta’s adaption of Salman Rushdie’s book Midnight Children, Asha Bhosle starrer Mai and Farookh Sheikh, Deepti Naval starrer Listen Amaya.
I decided to give Listen Amaya the first advantage since its frequency of shows looked rare for a weekday viewing. Already running late by 10 minutes, as I was climbing the steps into screen one at a multiplex, I heard the Dolby system narrate these dialogues at my arrival “Ye tasveeren un logon kihainjoajnabi ban keaaye aur dost ban kegaye”
Like on a blind date, the film lost on its first impression points to me as these are dialogues drafted in a splurge of pseudo Urdu- Hindi philosophy.
As I took my seat in an almost empty hall, I did what one should do on a date, if first impressions don’t work out, give a second chance. Luckily in this case, it worked out better than expected. Farookh Sheikh and Deepti Naval were at their natural best in portraying characters that look deeply rooted in our urban educated society. These are two botox less human specimen of actors who can be found in the Bandras, Parels and Greater Kailash of our metros. With them one sees Swara Bhaskar pull off a powerful performance to match the veteran actors. What comes as a sore is the overacting cheesy boy named Raghav(on screen), but that can be conveniently absorbed by other things that work for this film.
The story is pretty straightforward; you don’t need to be a connoisseur of cinema to guess how it flows. What works brilliantly is even though you know the film has a predictable plot and limited dramatic moments, it keeps you intrigued in its unfolding. An instance from a commoner’s life sustaining two hours of screen time is an appraisable feat in an industry where vulgar item numbers are as necessary for a film’s commissioning as a camera is for its production.I guess this human and relatable touch to this film and specially its characters is what is fancily termed as realism and naturalism portrayed in arts.
The clichéd portrayal of Old Delhi with Paranthe Wali Gali got on to my nerves, but maybe that’s just me due to maternal affections of a son for that land, you may love it. Other clichés that jutted out in the film were on screen characters being photographers and writers. A writer and director must know where to cap their artistic expressions and inspirations, and not let its ink leak in the lives of the characters they write and portray. Since the breed of filmmakers has inclination towards literary and performing arts, quite often these traits become defining elements of the characters portrayed in the films they make. The viewer in me still seeks a Dhobi Ghat with a banker’s impression of a city and not a writer or photographer’s or Amaya as a young accountant or even a librarian, who struggles to come to terms with another man finding space in her mother’s life.
Technically, the film is neatly bound, its editing keeps one sailing smoothly through its highs and lows. Though it’s a commendable piece of cinematography, some shots are unacceptably soft and the external light coming in Deepti’s room at night is brighter than what one would get during the day in a normal well-lit room.
Walking out of the hall, the film made me feel positive that genuine attempts at creating good cinema are finding screens between the seamless projections of other pungent entertainment we are mostly served up.
If you intend to watch a film this week, dig out for a show timing for Listen Amaya near you and feel the same. By the way, if nobody told you this film is the director’s first venture, you would not know it.