Three Amazon Prime Gems You May Have Missed – Lockdown Blues Chasers Part 77
RASBHARI: Imagine – and imagination plays a central role in this provocative coming-of-age series – if Sushmita Sen, the sexy Main Hoon Na teacher left Farah Khan’s Never Land for a country in Meerut to teach English in a school full of curious teenagers of both sexes. Rasbhari walks this thin line between erotic and suspicious. He succeeds in making the theme of sexual arousal stimulating and graceful. Of course, it helps that the actors are fully in it, so much so that they seem to have reached the venue long before the script is written. Swara Bhaskar is sure to give goosebumps to his right-wing fans as an attractive educator whose approach to teaching is extremely conformist. She teaches her students far beyond her classroom. In a sequence that is sure to raise eyebrows, Swara’s teacher educates the young film hero Nand (Ayushman Saxena) and his girlfriend (Rashmi Agdekar) in the art of foreplay. But here is the problem. A sequence like the above, or the one where Nandu goes to see a prostitute to lose her virginity and find out that “she” is transgender, is made so as not to shock us or sensationalize the subject of sexual objectification. The student fantasy theme and the impact of a sophisticated beautiful woman on the small town are captured with ease, ease, warmth and humor. Writer Shantanu Shrivastava and director Nikhil Bhat never give up the fundamental dignity and grace of the characters, even when their libido speaks. There is a sequence where Nand and his father (the always reliable Chittaranjan Tripthy) argue outside the teacher’s door over wasting time and money on school fees. The minute she opens the door, the father is putty in the teacher’s hand.
Interestingly, the writer makes up a sassy doppelganger for Shanoo, a tawaif from the “Rasbhari” past, who is so unemotional in her sexual advances that she makes the pleasure of oral sex look like sex. Swara is also adept at playing both roles, being careful not to overdo it with either avatar’s sexual suggestions. While at times the plot tends to be somewhat inflated with self-importance (check out the film’s unspoken criticism of moral policing), Rasbhari is remarkably tempered, eschewing an aggressive storytelling style to let the characters grow with the running.
What stands out strongly is a woman’s right to be who she is, to wear what she wants and to go where her heart takes her without seeing her as a slut. There are brief flashbacks before the credit in Shanoo’s childhood where her brother is instinctively favored by his parents. Somewhere the rebellious tendency in a woman is shown to color not the life of the woman but the lives of those she touches.
PANCHAYAT: This one knows. just know. Panchayat is insider work. Its director (Deepak Kumar Mishra), its screenwriter (Chandan Kumar) and the actors, young and old, all know the rural environment. Which is why it all feels so real, so lived-in, and so intelligently simplistic. Panchayat comes from the team that made Jitendra Kumar a web star with Kota Factory. This time around, Kumar is presented as an employable but rather ill-placed working-class Indian who has no choice but to take a job as a secretary in a village panchayat in Uttar Pradesh. As Abhishek Tripathy, Jitendra brings his characteristic laconicism and a sly disdain for administrative and moral restrictions. Substantially, the eight episodes can be seen as stand-alone stories, vigorous vignettes of an almost lifeless existence in a UP village named Phulera. Shot in place, I could almost smell the stench of deadly stillness and boredom. Not all of Abhishek Tripathy’s “adventures” (if that word can be used to describe rather mundane incidents that are brightened up by insightful writing) are not uniformly achievable and some of them, such as the one where he confronts a few. local goondas for a fight in a maidaan as sterile as the life of the villagers, does not accumulate into anything substantial.
After a while, the cruel insubstantiality of the lives depicted in the series begins to reach you. There is no hope of a better future for villages like Phulera. What keeps the episodes from sagging under the weight of their own despair is the sheer luminosity of the characters. These are not people who are aware of the futility of their existence. In fact, they are proud of it. At one point, Abhishek’s smiling and smiling assistant Vikas (Chandan Roy, a gem of an actor) says to Abhishek: “Atma-samman bhi koi cheez hoti hai”. A quality that seems incongruous among these proud but rudderless products of irremediable wasteland, the Panchayat is high in credibility and intelligent, insightful writing. But be warned. Neena Gupta’s role is woefully underdeveloped. We hardly meet this background woman who is the conductor of the village panchayat while her husband (Raghuvir Yadav, who takes rural life like fish in the water) reigns. Neena has only one episode and it is the last episode where the actor and his character take on their full meaning.
This is by far the best episode of the series. The rest? These are teasing and heartwarming scenes from a rural life that is quickly disappearing from the cinematic radar. Hang on.
THE LAST HOUR : While the plot may seem dense and unnecessarily cryptic at first, there’s a lot to admire in The Last Hour. In a market crowded with soap operas of all colors. He dares to venture into the never-before-seen world of Northeast mysticism, deciphering the code of a gripping crime thriller while advancing at a pace never too urgent but always mindful of the rapid momentum required by the thriller genre. The writing (of Anupama Minz and director Amit Kumar) secretes a sort of primitive wisdom that could be considered borderline gibberish. Fortunately, the emphasis is not so much on mysticism as it is on the characters. Set in an imaginary northeastern state called Mangchen (which looks eerily like Sikkim), The Last Hour begins where it ends, with a cop’s pretty daughter Arup Singh, Pari, threatening to leap from those resplendent heights of the Sikkim. This series is a visual treat, with cinematographer Jayesh Nair capturing local flavors and rituals with more integrity than a tourist curiosity. Mountains, meadows, lakes and streams are omnipresent. But they never dominate the characters. Until the last (and I watched all eight episodes) Last Hour remains a study of the afterlife seen through the prism of a rapidly changing social structure where the moderns and the ancients are evil bedfellows. comfortable. Protagonist Dev (Karma Takpa, a prized find) is a local with mystical powers. He can enter the mind of a newly killed person to find out what exactly happened to him in the last hour of his life. I have no idea if such a supernatural phenomenon really exists. This is probably not the case. But the lead actor, who plays the spiritual connection between this world and the next world, is so unconditionally compelling, so much into the other world, that he takes us on his fascinating, enigmatic, frightening journey.
The scenes where Dev travels with the newly deceased murder victims are special in their power to convey the meditative mystique of the afterlife. Shot in a saturated orange glow, they accentuate the cryptic personality of actor Karma Takapa while bathing the plot in spirituality and bloodshed. The Last Hour is a sum total of many things. It is a serial killer thriller with an assassin with supernatural powers named Yama Nadu (played by Robin Tamang) hunting down his young victims with the help of a henchman named Thapa (Lanukam Ao). The cruelty of this murderous duo is appalling. But bearable because at the other end of the spectrum, it’s a love story between the man who can see into the afterlife and a vulnerable young woman shaken up Pari (Shaylee Kishen) who recently lost her mother ( Raima Sen, in a ghostly appearance) and probably doesn’t see much of her workaholic father (Sanjay Kapoor, looking more like a wealthy entrepreneur than a cop).
The crux of this journey into the unknown is how the bloodshed and romance eventually merge. The narrative wraps its shapely limbs around the picturesque locations, navigating the plot through a maze of events and actions involving cops and corpses. Many roles are played by talented actors from the North East who breathe a great deal of authenticity into the debates. Dewashish Lama as a young polio victim who has a dark and deep past, and Tenzien Choden as a courageous independent woman secretly in love with Dev, deserve special mention.
It’s Karma Takapa as Dev who does the heavy lifting in the plot. He is more than capable, conveying a deep sense of hurt pride while showing himself to be a natural product of his culture and philosophy.
Sadly, the show wastes the very talented Shahana Goswani as a cop who seems to know more than she’s willing to say. The plot does not have much time to go. Withholding information, keeping secrets and reading whispers are essential to the procedure. The last hour might not be considered great entertainment. But it’s a bold and often brash departure from the norm. And it opens a window to a world we rarely dare to venture into.
Image source: Imdb, youtube / amazonprimevideoindia