Film Education


TALKING CINEMA – The Film Review Show by Oorvazi Irani

( Kindly note in the video review above I refer to Fatema as Aayat’s mother, what I meant is mother like figure. Technically ofcourse she is Aayat’s bua(father’s  sister)

“Mausam” A LABOUR OF LOVE

Written and Directed by Pankaj Kapoor
Produced by Sheetal Vinod Talwar and Sunil Lulla

A Film Analysis by Oorvazi Irani

A majority of the reviews rated the film in a negative light and I decided to see the film for the second time and ask myself, do I really like it and if yes why. The second viewing only added to my support for the film.

I would not say that the film was devoid of cliché and stereotype completely as it was a commercial film but I feel the poetic touch and concern for each department of filmmaking right through the production design, cinematography, sound design, music, acting – the director and his team made the film as a ‘labour of love’ and that is what lived on with me.

I am sharing with you brief highlights of a film analysis

The beginning title card and end titles:
The film is as much a film about war as it is about love. The theme of violence, destruction and war is the main backdrop amidst which the film unfolds but it is also part of the film in small details like the beginning title card text/typography which is in orange embers and there is in such a small detail hidden an important aspect of the theme of the film.

The film then has a closeup of the embers and the film begins.

The film ends with an item number of Shahid Kapoor showing off his dance moves to a catchy number of the song ‘Mallo Malli’ and soon the end credits roll. But what is interesting is that if you patiently sit for a while the end credits continue to roll but this time the song is gone and there is a beautiful mesmerizing music which reminds you of the artistic vision of the director and leaves you with a poetic note, it opens a space for you to ponder.

The first scene:
The first scene in the film is a letter from a displaced Kashmiri Pandit who is writing to his sister to look after his daughter Aayat, and so is the character of Aayat introduced (but not seen). She is herself a refugee and is directly linked to the effects of war. The film introduces us to the world which is deeply affected by war. The events of war small and big are reasons for the story to change shape and are major events in the life of the lovers.
The Ayodhya riots cause the Bombay blasts and one of Aayat’s close relative whose house she was staying in is killed (Fatema’s husband) and she has to leave for Bombay. This causes the first separation between the lovers. The second separation comes when Shahid is called for duty as an Airforce pilot for the Kargil war. The two lovers are also reunited and the film climax is set amidst an act of violence which is the riots of Ahmedabad. Thus not only the film begins and ends with war but it is the cause of the separation and the final reunion of the lovers.

Characters:

Pammo played by Kanika Mangkotya

I would like to make special mention of Pammo, the sister of Harry. I found her performance very genuine. The relationship between brother and sister become an integral part of the film. I would like to site the scene where Harry comes to Switzerland to meet his sister to share the joy of the birth of her second child. Its then that Pammo asks him to go and meet Aayat and inspite of his hesitancy urges him to pursue his love with tears in her eyes. The performance was touching and felt sincere.

Guljari (the tongawalla) played by Manoj Pahwa

This character with his tonga and white horse was a good touch to bring alive the village of Mallukot. And we are told by Harry towards the end of the film that he was also responsible for saving his life from a violent mob. He is treated almost as family by the village folk. A small detail which has been looked into is that after many years when Aayat returns with Fatema to the village since time has progressed he now owns an auto and not a tonga, a small detail that connects with reality.

The Punjabi family

Harry’s grandfather was quite adorable as a character. He reminded me that many old people are so innocent and childlike and its their second childhood. He was so loveable in the characterization and the actor did do a fair amount of justice to it. The screaming Tauji was a bit of a stereotype but was fun at times however she could be made more real and less one-dimensional. I missed the charm in Harry’s friends and nobody was really memorable, infact the fat boy was a cliché and the performance did not have the power to break free of it. Rajjo played by Aditi Sharma was an interesting character, even though common and was well performed but I do feel there could have been some more intense scenes with her. The scene where she burns the letter, an important communication for Harry from his lover to an extent makes her a villain and the closeup of the face could have been more rich in its depth of emotion. Pammo’s NRI husband seemed like an amateur actor but at one level this fitted and created a character in its own way and that was interesting. Anupam Kher as Maharaj Krishna was good in moments and a loveable character specially at the Kashmir emporium when he meets Harry for the first time in Scotland.

The Kashmiri family and friends

An interesting fact that reveals itself is that they all stick together and are always there for each other. The film starts with Aayat been looked after by her father’s sister and staying in his house in Mallukot and then they move to Scotland where they shift to Macho’s house and work with him in his Kashmiri emporium.

Fatema played by Supriya Pathak is good as a motherly figure and her most memorable scene is in Scotland where she narrates to Harry that her husband was killed in the Bombay bomb blasts. The shot is in closeup and captures the sincerity of performance and the scene beautifully ends by her saying ‘I will get the tea’.

Aayat: Soonam Kapoor

Aayat has been introduced as a refugee and been displaced, this is interesting dynamics for an actor. She does convey some expressive moments of that pain, like the first time she is introduced visually on screen, with a scream after a nightmare and then she talks to her father on the phone and has tears in her yes, that is a sensitive and well performed scene. But I just hope Soonam Kapoor could have identified and maintained a few characteristics which would have made her more Aayat and less herself. Her sincerity was also seen in the small scene where the old film song ‘abhi abhi to aye ho’ is playing in the background and the last look when her lover is parting from her for the day is very expressive.

The two colors associated with Aayat as a pallet for her clothes seems to be white and red. Ofcourse the colors are so symbolic of peace, innocence, passion, love, blood.

If I had to choose a colour for each section it would be white for the village life with a mix of other colours as a variant, and red as a strong emotive colour for the Scotland section and the next season of love. Their love was innocent and now its passionate. Interestingly white returns at the climax of the film too. Eventhough Aayat does not wear a pure white saree, but it is predominantly white and Harry too has a strong colour pallet of white in his clothes and which features in the climax too. The colour red is also used in a scene where the lovers meet in a church and dip their hands in a red liquid. The colour red again is symbolic of passion and bloodshed and again here at a subconscious level the themes are intertwined together.

Aayat is beautiful at times and has an innocence and grace that is appealing. Some scenes are shot with very minimal makeup and that is a bold step for commercial cinema, it adds to the realism of the character and is well appreciated. However Aayat does not seem to have a specific character identity. One scene as a instance, how a simple village girl from India can now perform ballet so gracefully (which is something that is learned from childhood) is a little difficult to digest and is more in line with the commercial aspect of cinema than the realism of art cinema. But if you excuse that, the scene does have a grace that it infuses to the film. Soonam Kapoor does reveal in an interview when asked about her performance that she has been learning ballet from childhood and infact the crew did not really know about this. I assumed the director would have been concerned about such a detail, as the grace and posture would not be easy to fake. But we do have actresses like Meena Kumari who have played a tawaif in the famous film “Pakeeza” and was not a good dancer but the filmmaker pulled it off and replaced a dancer in the close-ups of the feet and created the illusion that Meena Kumari the tawaif is dancing. However we needed none of that here, besides the film was not about a ballet dancer.

Harinder Singh/Harry: Shahid Kapoor

Pankaj Kapoor, the director states that the film was conceived keeping in mind his son, Shahid Kapoor as the male lead. Shahid was cute and loveable in the Punjabi village section of the film. But the character of the Airfoce pilot seemed one dimensional and at the surface. There was a pride that now spoke in his body language but the entire section of the film which involves the airforce lacked to have a poetic and real feel. The Airforce pilots were presented as stylized heroes with low angle shots and music to match the heroism and the depth of character was missing.

Also maybe the performance is chopped up and the scenes deleted due to the Airforce having to approve it.

Plot

What is the imp of separation? It makes the love more intense when they meet and the plot of the film uses this basic devise to structure the film besides other things. With each separation and reunion the season of love intensifies. Sometimes the efforts of the lovers to meet were not strong enough and the separation seemed unrealistic at times but that apart the last separation leads to a loss of communication and things are becoming worse and it seems impossible for them to meet. As a classic plot structure events reach a point where the protagonists seem domed. Aayat is now thinking of taking the advise of her father’s sister (who is looking after her) and marrying Akram( this would be the end of their love story) but just when things have got worst and there is no hope, the plot takes a twist and we have the riots and the two lovers meet amidst this theatre of violence and reunite for the last time. The climax has the traditional heroic qualities of a commercial film where the actor rescues the heroine and then shows his valour and strength to rescue an innocent child from the clutches of death. The film’s resolution is like most of the popular commercial cinema, a happy and simple ending not complex and open ended. The two lovers are united and as a symbolic gesture adopt a orphan child that they rescue, however the film does proceed a few years ahead and we see Aayat now pregnant. The film ends with an item song where Harry and his small family live happily ever after.

Soundtrack and music
Sound Design by Dileep Subramaniam

The soundtrack for the film including the music was well designed and mixed. There was attention paid to small details which created the atmosphere in interesting ways and sometimes a creative use of the soundtrack.

I would like to mention the scene where Harry and Aayat meet for the first time for tea in Scotland after their separation in India. The scene unfolds itself where we hear the dialogues but the characters are not talking and we realize that this is the inner monologue of each character. There is music to suit the moment and create the mood and interestingly when Aayat puts the glass down on the table the music stops and then resumes after a few seconds. The filmmaker is playing with the realism of the film in a creative way and is teasing the audience.

Songs
Music Composer: Pritam
Lyrics: Irshad Kamil

The song Sajh Dhaj Ke Tashan Mein Rehna was appealing; the song had a catchy beat and was full of energy. It had the appeal of the Indian Punjabi wedding at the same time made a very relevant observation of the attitude of foreign returned Indians. The song was shot with various angles and movement and the editing helped create the high energy by its fast cuts.
Another song that I would like to mention is Ik Tu Hi Tu Hi where the song and lyrics on the soundtrack reveal the loss and longing. The film reaches a poetic level of emotion and out of the physical real world. The beautiful cinematography adds to the appeal of the song.

Editing:
Edited by Sreekar Prasad

One of the major problems of a lot of the audiences is the length and pace of the film.
However I did not really feel impatient due to the length or pace and the subject requires a certain treatment. If the subject and if the film is about longing and separation a slow pace is not against it if there is grace and sensitivity to support it.

Parallel cutting (infact its one of the basic vocabulary for editing) is often used in the film ranging from cliché to symbolism.

The scene where Harry as a fighter pilot is about to crash, we cut to Aayat getting up all startled and then when he lands we see her praying so typical and still prevalent.

In the climax of the film we have the intercutting of a happy marriage dance (Harry’s fat friend) of the dandiya cut with the preparation of the violent mob . The acquiring of the dandiyas to celebrate and the rioters acquiring the tools of destruction. The screams of death and the sounds of merriment. Ofcourse the scene ends with the violence taking hold of the merriment and destroying it.

Cinematography and Production Design
Cinematography: Binod Pradhan
Production design: Samir Chanda

Special credit to be given to Binod Pradhan for the entire look and feel of the film right from the nuances of lighting to capturing the beauty of Aayat and maintaining the sensitivity of significant moments in the film like the lovers meeting in the tunnel concrete pipes in Scotland and the beautiful crane shot in the song Ik Tu Hi Tu Hi which begins with Fatema in the Kashmiri emporium and ends at Ayat in the house on top.
The closeup of Ayat on the railway station while she bids goodbye to her father is a lovely moment captured poetically with the moving train and her expression.

The production design revealed hardwork and good aesthetics and each frame had detailing which was significant to bring alive the scene. Right from the symbolic colour palette of white and red for the lovers to the choice of colours in the architecture – a lot was being said and helped highlight the work of the cinematographer and actor. The Punjabi family is situated in a village and the river by the banks is an interesting location that establishes the setting and adds a character and etches it in your memory.

The motif of the Tunnel/Concrete pipes

The concrete water pipes are first seen in the village of Mallukot, where Harry and his friends are discussing their future.

Then they appear in Scotland where the two lovers meet. Harry is with Aayat and in the rain on the streets we find them there. There is a poignant scene here that takes place which involves the love story and a message gently slipped through.

The pipes reappear in the climax of the film when the lovers are reunited amidst the riots of Ahmedabad. Harry rescues Aayat and they hide among these pipes. Aayat asks Harry who are these people and he says “Bhayanak Saye hai, jinke na chehre hai, na naam”.

This space is that of a tunnel and strongly associated with the hero of the film, Harry. This is his space where we find him in different stages of his life – his youth in the fields of the village in Punjab – with his lover in Scotland – protecting his lover from the rioters, but in the two instances before they seem secure and are not penetrated but in the last scene even this space is not safe and Harry is forced to leave. We then see him rescuing a white horse and then arriving at a deserted mela (which was established in a scene earlier as a setting close to the marriage venue Harry was attending).

I will leave you to ponder why you feel the director is using these objects as a motif throughout the film.

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31 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Liked the analysis. Though I’m still to see the film.

Looking forward to many other video reviews by you.

Comment by Ankit

Thank you Ankit for your feedback !

Comment by oorvazifilmeducation

Do share your thoughts after you see the film.

Comment by oorvazifilmeducation

really the review was so good..i seen movie in ur words mam…this is the good way to give review for a film….i love it..frnds please read it with patience the review was covered the departments like editing,music,cinematography,characters everything….im happy to read this review…thank u so much oorvazi mam for this………….

Comment by prasanthkumar.dimmala

It feels nice that the review was meaningful and you appreciated the humble effort. Thankyou so very much for your support in helping spread the word.

Comment by oorvazifilmeducation

Hats Off to your detailed analysis..now i will go and watch this film after this deep analysis from a different perspective..thanks for sharing Oorvazi!!

Comment by Chittranjan

Thankyou dear for going through it and glad you found it deep and different. More coming your way in the near future :). Do see the film and tell me your thoughts.

Comment by oorvazifilmeducation

Brilliant!!! A completely different perspective which only a true connoisseur of cinema, like you, can bring to fore. Looking forward to more such reviews 🙂

Comment by Shweta Kulkarni

🙂 How sweet !!! for someone who writes on cinema to like it is interesting. And feels nice to know that I could contribute something original on the topic. Yes the reviews will keep coming at regular intervals. The support from sensitive individuals like yourself will help add to my motivation. Do share it with friends if you feel inspired to.

Comment by oorvazifilmeducation

your review is so unusual and you have made it a point to mention every dept involved in the film…i’m happy that you shared it with all of us 🙂
seriously looking forward to more such detailed reviews! also planning to see the film now with your perspective 🙂

Comment by Shweta Kulkarni

I completely agree with you on the review for this movie, i thought i was the only one to have liked the movie. But apart from that, mam the review is beautifully written, i have never seen such a detailed analysis of the movie before this, would love to read all your future reviews…

Comment by sujeet mahto

Its such a pleasure to share my views with a dedicated and passionate audience 🙂 . You’ll motivate me to make another show and I sure will

Comment by oorvazifilmeducation

Ma’m! Your analysis is just PERFECT like always 🙂 though i haven’t seen the film i get a detailed sketch about it 😀

Comment by Shahrukh Anklesaria

Sharrukh ! LOVELY to hear from you and thankyou for your kind words dear!

And I am totally looking forward to your class exercise homework of seeing the film “Mausam” in the holidays and your video review after that in class.

Comment by oorvazifilmeducation

Hi mam, i had started reading film reviews from past 4 to 5 yrs but nvr saw such a wonderful & detailed analysis of a film. While reading your analysis i felt that movie is going on in front of me.Its not just a review given by you but seems that you have lived a life of that movie.Looking forward to many more beautiful reviews like this.

Comment by CHIRAG SINGH

Chirag ! It feels nice to know that your work is appreciated, thank you so much.

I did do the review very sincerely and was true to my experience of the film. I wanted both sides of my brain to function. Being a filmmaker myself I understand what goes into making a film which is no reason to spare a director but if efforts are put it shows. yes more reviews soon 🙂

Comment by oorvazifilmeducation

very point plotting review, well i wasn’t going to watch the film bcoz i don’t like the cast, But now after ur deep expored review i think i need to watch the film. Thanx for such a educational review as for me its eductional :P.

N secondly i love to see u toking 🙂

Comment by Arav

Arav ! wow you will see the film which you did not intend to see after my review that’s nice! I should tell Pankaj Kapoor – your star cast did not pull you as an audience but my review did 🙂 ha ha.

I love to talk to my lovely audience, knowing that my loving students like you will be present and waiting for more

Comment by oorvazifilmeducation

thanxx ma’am waiting to learn more from u 🙂

Comment by Arav

A very detailed one indeed. Knowing you, a film especially from bollywood rarely impresses you. And of all the movies, Mausam! I haven’t watched it yet but your review really makes me want to watch it.

Nobody does such a detailed review of a film. Now, only you should review films consistently(at least once a week) and am pretty sure you will have a wide audience.

Comment by Rasik

Rasik ! so nice to hear from you. I use to be more attached to classic films and recently felt its very important to look at what is happening today in contemporary cinema with a critical eye and wanted to tackle more mainstream cinema to begin with, thus my humble efforts. My journey looks promising.

I will try to do atleast 2 fillms a month to begin with, juggling it with my other responsibilities 🙂 and thanks so much for your support. Hoping each film makes me discover something new and I can share that with you all. Yes the support from a lovely audience like you will help to make this activity grow.

Comment by oorvazifilmeducation

Great review maa’m’, genuinely want to see the film now. Just like a classic film, you made this review exceptional by giving us something to ponder upon: open-ended in a way 🙂

Comment by Saurabh Bhise

Saurabh ! the review is a nice way to keep in touch with my lovely students and I am so happy many of you’ll are finding it useful. Its a joy to be able to contribute to a film as a review and if that makes you want to see the film (hopefully in a new light) its great. Many more coming your way 🙂

Comment by oorvazifilmeducation

Hello Oorvazi,

Thank you for this wonderful review. This is the analysis I have been looking for and couldn’t find. I stumbled on a link to your site, and that is how I am here. I wish your review could be featured on a more prominent site.

I think this film has been slammed unfairly by the critics, and I thought they would know better and explain a bit better. For the lay person, yes, this film doesn’t give in the way they are used to, but the film is not to be dismissed as it has been.

I myself am not versed in film analysis, but I found a lot of meaning in it. True, it tested my patience at first viewing, but I could see that there was more to it, and hence followed up with two more viewings, totaling three. The performances and attention to detail were too compelling, not to mention the scrumptious Punjab part. I also could not accept that someone of the caliber of Mr. Kapoor would let go just like that.

If one is even slightly spiritually aware, one realizes that this film is about a search not just for one’s love, but also sacredness and grace. In fact, the film maker equates the love between its leads to a love for/of God…note the use of Baba Fareed’s verse during the vow in the church, the Sufi poem when Harry is injured after the air strike and is shown thinking about Aayat; Ik Tu Hi Tu Hi equates losing love to losing God.

Consider the cultural choices – Eine Kleine Nacthmusik (Mozart), Blue Danube (the waltz), ballet, and the plethora of flowers at the market in Scotland…all symbols of man-made or God given beauty and grace.

The IAF – Touch the Sky with Glory – like touching heaven itself. Also, they are the finest of men.

Kashmir is Heaven on Earth that is being destroyed. Dal Lake and Nishat Bagh are symbols of God given and man made beauty.

I personally thought that the climax wanted to close not just Harry-Aayat’s journey, but also Harry’s friends’ journey. I think of it as the circle of life, whether using the motif of the pipes or the ferris wheel.

To me, the horse symbolizes duty, courage, nobility of spirit. The horse played a role in Harry’s life – the tonga and carriage were used a lot. Harry himself is a horse in the warrior sense since he is an IAF officer. The rescue extends the values of duty and courage to his love; he has already done that for his country by participating in the war. By adopting the orphan child, he is affirming life, and also giving back to society what he received from it. The white clothes represent a purity of spirit and also innocence if you connect to the scene when Harry-Aayat declare their love on the terrace.

Thank you for mentioning the music at the end of the credits…I missed that one. However, I realized that in Mallo Malli Harry declares that for years he did not know how to look for her, and despises himself for that. A late understanding/notice for the audience that the film maker had intended to show the gaps in communication as a folly of the lovers, not just a function of events and jealousies beyond their control.

My few cents, even though this site is meant for your students.

I have utterly enjoyed this film and would love to watch it again. It has been a treat so far. As a side, I thought Shahid was amazing in the climax, and Sonam has conveyed a lot with her eyes. Kudos to them both.

Once again, thank you for your lovely review. All the best to you and your institution…keep up the good work.

Comment by Three Cheers for Mausam

HI!
Lovely to hear from you. It feels nice to hear from someone you don’t know and who likes your work and shares your thoughts.
Thanks for adding to my review with your valuable observations. Will look into them.
By the way what do you do ?

Comment by oorvazifilmeducation

Thank you for a quick reply. I am a housewife…but I enjoy good films, even the off beat kinds…though don’t care for the depressing ones. I don’t watch too many Bollywood films, but in the last few years quality has improved significantly. Expectations were quite high from this one for obvious reasons, but somewhere along the line the main story got lost in the events.

The reason for blogging about this was to arrive at a better understanding of the film, but the responders needed to be of such a frame of mind. So yes, I have encroached on your space…thank you? 🙂

So anything that helps clear up this film is appreciated. I don’t usually blog about films, but this one had a lot going on, and like you have said, it is a labour of love…so felt compelled. Once again, thank you very much.

Comment by Three Cheers for Mausam

Great 🙂

Comment by oorvazifilmeducation

Very detailed review i must say, really appreciate it, Unlike others who just give a review with lack of justification.

Comment by Irfan Karimi

Irfan ! Thanks dear for the words of appreciation, feels good. AS I say the review is not so much about passing judgement on the film but a way and reason to try and understand the film better and reflect on it. Do see the MAMI film festival reviews too

Comment by oorvazifilmeducation

Well i would like to say that your review was very detailed, while reading it i noticed some elements of the film which were unnoticed by me in the cinema hall.
I would like to say why i did not like the film, the only reason is that it was a love story and i did not feel the love between them nor did i feel the pain of separation as i felt in the film Veer-Zaara.

Comment by Siddhesh

Siddhesh! lovely to hear from you and meet you in cyberspace.

Yes I agree the emotions between the lovers could be more intense I did sense that too myself and did make a note of it personally.

Thanks for sharing your views and I am sure it will be useful to my readers.

Comment by oorvazifilmeducation




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