That special something

That special something

Some DVDs need to be picked up solely for the add-ons. The just-out disc of Ishqiya,which will be in everyone’s top films list this year....

Some DVDs need to be picked up solely for the add-ons. The just-out disc of Ishqiya,which will be in everyone’s top films list this year,has a nice ‘making of’ segment,which shows the cast having a blast on location. Post the day’s labours,they—director Abhishek Chaubey,actors Naseerudin Shah,Vidya Balan,and assorted crew—gather around a guitar. Balan has a tuneful voice (unless someone’s re-mastered it),but the real takeaway is Naseer warbling an old Cat Stevens ditty.

Vidya Balan learns how to play the taanpura credibly (she has to sing a raag-based song). Arshad Warsi puts on several layers of tan and a nifty moustache for his part,a smart-talking con. Naseer talks to the camera as well,but he’s much more fun in the film. Debutant director Abhishek Chaubey speaks of how the film got into the making stage,but not of his connection with Gorakhpur,and the rolling hinterlands of eastern UP that the film is set in. Knowing where the director’s voice comes from,especially one who has clearly a feel for time and place,always adds to the enjoyment. Producer Vishal Bharadwaj talks of how the film’s lilting music,specifically the song Ibn Batuta,came to him after he heard Gulzar’s lyrics: “Main tennis khel ke aa raha thaa,gaadi chalaate chalaate gaana ban gaya.” Some people have it easy.

The deleted scenes section is full to bursting: the editor has clearly been hard at work in this film. Too hard,in some instances,because several of those scenes answer the “oh-so this is-what-happened-after-that” feeling. Non-linear is not a good thing,not all the time.

But a second viewing of the film turns out to be as much rollicking fun as it was the first time around (Isqhiya released earlier this year). Naseer and Arshad play con men on the run,hiding out in the beautiful Krishna’s (Balan) home in a village on the outskirts of Gorakhpur,and ending up fighting over her. All kinds of colourful characters pop up: our favourite is a kidnapee who features in a delectable romp-in-bed which didn’t get left out,mercifully.


And some DVDS you pick up solely for the film. Steven Soderbergh’s The Informant,based on a true story,is about a whistle-blower who appears to be the straightest guy in the universe. At first. And then,as the film proceeds,he sheds layers,and turns out to be something else altogether. Matt Damon as Mark Whitacre,the guy who agrees to collude with the FBI,is superb. You would have thought citizens who collaborate with the FBI as guys who can do no wrong,but Whitacre’s actions show that people who spy on other people,holding out blandishments of cash and kind,are not good people. The bosses of his firm are no angels (pushing the global price of food additives is the specific crime these white-collar thugs indulge in; the film is an indictment of all those who rip off customers by burdening them with a price rise). But the FBI is no better,and everyone gets shown up in this sly,sharp film,which reveals more with every scene. Pay close attention.

Pity though that there are no extras. It would have been nice to know why Soderbergh chose Matt Damon over the others in the Oceans trilogy ( he made the three films with some of the best looking Hollywood men,including George Clooney and Brad Pitt). Maybe because Damon’s looks wouldn’t have overwhelmed the part which requires a quiet man,thick spectacles,and an incipient pot belly. We know why the director took this actor. Damon is a chameleon,who disappears into his role.