‘One Idiot’ A Short Film Directed by Amole Gupte as a part of IDFC Mutual Fund’s ‘Investment Awareness by Youth’ Initiative

 

Note: This short film is in English.

Shared with permission of Hardik Acharya, Senior Vice President – Retail Sales, IDFC Mutual Fund. I do not own any rights.

site link: http://www.idfc.com/

 

Amole Gupte, the award winning writer of the 2007 Taare Zameen Par or Like Stars on Earth also aided IDFC Mutual Fund Limited, India’s leading integrated infrastructural financial player, in their latest initiative of educating youngsters about investing in the share market from an early age. A 30 minute short film directed by him was screened at my business administration faculty today. Mr. Hardik Acharya, who gave his kind approval to let me share this film on my blog, visited the faculty accompanied by two young employees to give a short seminar on the subject of investment.

Cheerful and funny by nature, Mr. Hardik conducted a lively session for the students; this is the forty fifth college where IDFC has conducted this seminar and so he seemed to share a good rapport throughout, except for the predictably condescending question ‘Is everybody there with me? Say ‘YES!’ which teachers are wont ask during seminars and lectures. Although there was not an elaborate Q & A session because of paucity of time, the short film helped many students realize just how important it is to plan about money from an earlier stage in life.

The short film is called ‘One Idiot‘, which is the nickname given to one character in the film who as expected, does not turn out to be an idiot after all. His actual name in the film is Bugs, and he is a friendly portly middle-aged man who is unfairly ridiculed by teenagers and neighbors for his unusually happy-go-lucky and bubbly personality. Teenagers residing in his area call him ‘idiot’ and ‘cockroach’ to his face and poke fun at him whenever he returns from the vegetable vendor. Not only is Bugs unfazed by their juvenile taunts, but he also manages to laugh it off and greet them with the same enthusiasm everyday. We learn more about Bugs later.

One of the teenagers taunting him wants to visit the David Guetta concert with his girlfriend but has no money. Fearing that he might lose his lady without buying the Rs. 3000 tickets for her, he begs his little brother to help him. The little bro’s role is most probably (since there’s no mention of the cast) played by the same kid who portrayed the boy who likes dressing up as a girl, in the 2013 film Bombay Talkies. Here too the character he plays (that is, if its the same actor) wise beyond his years; on seeing his brother’s female friend badmouthing Bugs, he goes up to her and slyly pokes fun at her figure. When his brother asks him to leave, the kid tells him that even he is more careful about money than his brother and doesn’t spend it recklessly for a highly demanding girlfriend.

The kid meets Bugs near the elevator and and is invited for lunch. Big bro on the other hand looks out for ways to get money for the concert. At the dining table, little bro offers to lend him sixty rupees that he earned that day from his cricket tournament but big bro refuses, finding the sum too insignificant to be of any help. Little bro reveals that he has at least six thousand rupees with him, and tells big bro not to underestimate him.

We then learn a bit about their family. While mum is busy making shopping plans on her phone most of the time, Dad is busy worrying about the growing debts. Mum is a bitch from the beginning, yet dad isn’t a saint either – he too is impulsive when it comes to his own purchases. When the cook serves lunch for the family, little kid wonders what’s on his plate, pulao or khichdi, or something altogether different. His mother’s response: ‘Just finish whatever’s on your plate’ or something like that.

Little kid hurries to Bugs’ house, where he is welcomed with open arms by Bug’s family. The kid gets to eat mouthwatering south indian food: avial, chutney and appam, at Bug’s home-sweet-home. Meanwhile, big bro sneaks into little bro’s bedroom and searches for the key to his piggy bank. After some desperate searching, he finds the key and greedily opens the piggy bank, only to find not cash but a letter inside.

Little bro confronts big bro after lunch (of course everything is lighthearted and humorous in tone) for stooping to such embarrassing levels of desperation. When big bro asks him where the money is, little bro tells him its in SIP. Big bro has a big question-mark on his face (just like I had on hearing the word) and asks him what SIP means. Little bro tells him that SIP stands for Systematic Investment Plan,  and that he has managed to make around sixty two thousand by investing all his birthday money and cricket money into the plan. And guess who encouraged him to join the plan? Bugs, ‘The Idiot’.

The big reveal leads to further revelations; Bugs’ net worth is a startling hundred crore rupees. Now big bro and his friends do not look at Bugs in the same way. There is an extended scene where Bugs invites big bro and his mates and educates them on the importance of money and proper investment.

This initiative is worth a watch for throwing light on not just on the reckless spending habits of teenagers but also on the value of money in today’s world. The teenagers in the film have new-found respect for Bugs only when they know of his net worth. They are not impressed by his optimistic nature, because it sharply contrasts with their largely cynical outlook on life. This story tells us that there is a stress-free way of living life king size, when we can balance all our responsibilities well. The only criticism I have against this film is the song sung by Bugs at the end, which is saccharine to the point of idiocy.

One of the more ridiculous rules in college is that cell-phones and cameras are not allowed inside campus, so unfortunately I could not click any photos.

 

 

Review of ‘Sixteen’, a 2013 Bollywood film Directed by Raj Purohit, and Starring Izabelle Liete, Mehak Manwani, Highphill Mathew, Wamiqua Gabbi

Sixteen Official Poster, 2013.jpg

Sixteen (Wikipedia)

GRADE: BB / 60%

Summary: Sixteen is a simple story with a share of heavy-duty moments handed to actors who seem less capable of handling the same. The plot makes for an interesting though not compelling watch.

Cast

Wamiqa Gabbi – Tanisha

Izabelle Liete – Anu

Mehak Manwani – Nidhi

Highphill Mathew – Ashwin

Keith Sequeira

After hammering his boorish (although caring) dad dead with the same trophy used by his dad as a weapon to verbally denigrate him for declining results, Ashwin flees his home on foot. A few shots show him running hopelessly along the streets of Delhi, and the camera moves in and out during this scene. It’s just how this scene should be shot, except that actor Highphill Mathew does not know what he should emote in this short span of seconds. All he does is run- he could be a runner for a city-based marathon, or a guy who’s escaping a bunch of thugs or simply a jogger who wants to remain fit. But he’s none of that, and that’s where Mathew falters; he needs to convey a range of conflicting emotions while he is running, for the simple reason that he’s just killed his own dad, whom he loved for his caring nature and loathed for his violent temperament. Alas, all his sweat and his father’s blood go wasted.

Sixteen is a simple story with a share of heavy-duty moments that are handed to actors who seem less capable of handling the same. The scene mentioned above isn’t the only time Highphill Mathew slips, in fact in another scene coming towards the end of the film, he again isn’t able to do much justice to his character. It’s a scene which has the actor break down out of compunction for his past misdeeds, and all poor Highphill is able to do is whimper weakly because he’s no Laurence Olivier.

And this is where the low production value of Sixteen acts against the film because it supplies a theatrical look to the indoor scenes. And the ‘stage’ needs actors who can bring the fullest of emotions to set the screen on fire, because there is no great locale or elaborate décor to draw attention away from the acting. Its sweet when things work, but when things don’t, our actors look like stationery lazy stools and chairs supplied with lazier voice-over. And director Raj Purohit has his own amateur moments; note that he’s responsible for most of the creative decisions, also writing, editing and penning lyrics apart from directing Sixteen.

a) Most of the film is captured in mid-shots (head to torso) of two characters occupying the screen. And mostly it’s the camera cutting back and forth from one person to the other.

b) There is a soundtrack with about six-seven songs that is completely unnecessary (who is going to buy the album anyway?). Unmemorable numbers with forgettable lyrics penned by Purohit extend the film to over two hours; a taut ninety minutes would’ve been enough for Sixteen.

c) Characters in this film are neither entirely good nor totally evil. The shades of grey make them interesting. However, Purohit unnecessarily misleads audiences by painting a crucial character as a villian, a sexual predator, a potential pedophile in one scene by adding ominous background music for him, when the guy is just like any other human, with shades of good and stains of bad.

d) We get a cheap little editing technique in one scene. One girl is shown asking many questions to her friend, and the camera cuts repeatedly after each question. After we hear the questions, we then get to know how the other girl has answered the questions. So the camera shows her next saying ‘Hmm…’ a couple of times. This kind of editing suits a short film, but it looks clumsy in a feature film like this and also confuses the viewer about the tone of the movie. Is the scene funny because the girl isn’t paying any attention, or should we sympathize with the girl, whose boyfriend has just dumped her? The latter requires the character to stay stationery so that we can know that she’s sad and that her friend is concerned about her. Instead, this is turned into one sloppy gag.

e) Purohit wants a feel-good ending for the film. But he’s the guy who wants his audience to smile so he can see their sixteen teeth on the upper jaw and sixteen on the lower. So there’s a prolonged happy ending that assures, then reassures, then emphasizes, then marks with a big arrow that the ending is indeed a happy one. I would’ve smiled showing all my thirty-two brown teeth (thirty-one real and one fake) had the film ended with the other happy ending I saw ten minutes before.

Now that I’ve scolded ‘Sixteen’ like a fussy parent for its little mistakes, I can calm down and encourage the movie like a forgiving parent for all its goodness. The plot makes for an interesting (although not compelling) watch and I’m happy this film is uninhibited in its portrayal of young Delhi. The most memorable storyline would be the ‘Lolita’ inspired love triangle between 16 year old Tanisha, her aunt and a dapper 32 year old writer who lives in their house as a tenant. The story of the two other girls Anu and Mehek also have interesting turns, especially the point where the promiscuous Anu realizes that her parents live an open marriage (my cousin, who saw the film with me, cried ‘What!’, never having heard the term ‘open marriage’). Ashwin’s story starts strong but dwindles after his escape, and both I and my cousin totally forgot his character until he came back after a long absence.

I asked my cousin, a regular visitor to Delhi, what she thought about the depiction of these teenagers. And then she began with stories of how absolutely crazy, stupid, looks-and-fame obsessed Delhiites were, just like Anu, Ashwin, Tanisha and Mehek. All at the age of sixteen.

Review of 2013 Pixar Short The Blue Umbrella, Directed By Saschka Unseld, Screened Before Monsters University

Grade: BB / 60%

My screening for Monsters University began with Pixar short called ‘The Blue Umbrella‘. Not surprising as Pixar is known for screening a short film before its main features, but Indian theatres never played one perhaps, until today.

A typically touching Pixar short on a blue coloured umbrella (with little eyes) enamoured with a red coloured umbrella-ina (also with little eyes) one rainy night, The Blue Umbrella is a familiar tale yet Pixar livens up this film with its little magical moments. Its not just about to umbrellas here, but about two people – the owners of these umbrellas – who meet for the first time, after the blue umbrella chases after it’s or rather his lady love, using the wind to move.

And the entire street -the drain pipes, the traffic signal, the street lights, the building windows –  witnesses this incident with their little eyes. When a car threatens to mangle the blue umbrella that’s helplessly lying in the middle of the road, the drain it’s lying on blows out steam so it can avert the accident.

It’s not Pixar at its best; for that you’ll need to catch ‘Geri’s Game‘, ‘Knicks Knack‘, ‘Lifted’, ‘For The Birds‘ and ”Presto‘. But you’d surely shed a tear or two at the very end because you’d find ‘The Blue Umbrella’ simple yet very heartfelt.