Delightful Longing: The Blue Umbrella

These days I have been watching a lot fewer movies than before. After writing my 50th post (on Masoom) in the recall series, I decided to take a break from old movies for a few days, and now I am catching up on some of the recent acclaimed Hindi movies that I didn’t pay much attention to at the time when they released. So this week I saw Tigmanshu Dhulia’s Haasil (after watching the superb Paan Singh Tomar), Satya (Ram Gopal Varma’s finest hour arguably), and Vishal Bhardwaj’s The Blue Umbrella. Haasil and Satya are widely recognized as brilliant films, and I concur with most of the glowing reviews received by the two movies that I read post watching them. But none of them has the haunting quality that the third film I saw has. Maybe it is because there have been many an attempts to rehash and cash in on the Satya cult (Ram Gopal Varma has done quite a bit of it himself), while the atmospherics of Haasil has been matched by movies like Gulaal and a few others. Or maybe it is just because the settings of Satya and Haasil are more familiar to the average Hindi movie audience.

On the other hand, The Blue Umbrella is truly a unique film. Everything- from its simple storyline, its performances, its setting, its intentions, to its unconventional execution has incredible freshness and charm. Prima facie it is a children’s film based on a novella by Ruskin Bond. Most certainly it is that, but more importantly it is also a film that makes you feel for its lead characters- and for that it takes a very difficult route- it makes you part of the longing the characters experience. Longing for acceptance, longing for joy, and longing for appreciation- wonderfully conveyed through their longing for a beautiful Japanese blue umbrella. The umbrella here is an important plot instrument, as while the story is woven around it, it also acts as a metaphor for all the small joys in life that may not be big achievements, but are certainly no less in the kind of happiness and satisfaction they lead to.

The movie transports you to a small village in Himachal Pradesh. The setting is idyllic and pristine, from the rain-washed valleys to the snow clad roads, from the small kutcha-pucca huts to the almost family like village bonhomie. The people are as simple as they come- uncontaminated and pure. They have aspirations that don’t have the grand vision and scale like the aspirations of the city people have. Their smiles are genuine, their laughs are uninhibited. Their sorrows are sudden and wild like torrential hailstorms that leave behind a brighter landscape when they leave. Their slight quirks, their eccentricities may be jarring to the outsider, but they are a part of their way of life- their way of living.

Movies are stories on celluloid- it is an oft repeated statement. But this particular movie is the quintessential story on celluloid. There is no other way to describe it. It is like a page out of a children’s story book and its imagery gives an impression that that particular story book must be very well illustrated. Mr. Vishal Bhardwaj has certainly followed his instincts and a crystal clear vision. I have seen three of his other films- Makdee, Kaminey, and 7 Khoon Maaf. And ‘The Blue Umbrella’ is my favorite from whatever I have seen of him.

I strongly urge all the people who like movies and fiction- to watch this movie. It is just 90 minutes- and it will surely transport you to a world that is alien to us, but in a certain way a very small part of us. Just a tip- persist with the movie- Pankaj Kapoor’s weird ways and idiosyncrasies might put a few people off in the beginning- but by the end they will be sure to realize the finesse and dexterity of his performance.

Truly Yours

7 Comments

  1. suprabh
    suprabh
    March 25, 2012 at 7:03 PM

    To be honest, this film did not impress me at all. The screenplay was incomplete and so was the narration. Another thing that bothered me a lot was Pankaj Kapur’s stupid accent which I could not understand for 50% of the movie. The idea f the film was good but the execution was not.

    P.S. On a different note, if you want to see a really amazing children’s film, watch Santosh Sivan’s HALO.
    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0295294/

  2. Serenzy
    Serenzy
    March 30, 2012 at 4:27 AM

    Great piece Piyush.

    Satya is a fine movie but grossly over-rated IMO.
    I felt Company as a movie was better in every aspect over Satya and was also more thrilling to watch.
    Satya’s movie graph was going up and down.

    And if Satya had Bhiku Mhatre,Kallu Mama and Satya himself, Company was no less wid Mallik Bhai, Chandu, Mohanlal character.

    For me :-
    Satya – 3/5

    Company – 4.5/5

    p.s- ‘company’ was d first ever highly violent,mature/adult content, highly sexual film i saw in my life….
    My dad took me wid him to c it at a Mumbai Single screen…!!
    I was 10yrs old wen i saw it.

  3. Serenzy
    Serenzy
    March 30, 2012 at 4:31 AM

    Haasil is Dhulia’s Best Work till date.Period.

    It will b tough for him to better Haasil…Hard hitting story,campus setting,irrfan & ashutosh in top form.

    One f d best movies ever made in Indian Cinema.

    Haasil – 5/5

    SBAG – 4/5

    Paan Singh Tomar – 3.5/5

    Charas & Shagird are pretty average movies by Tigmanshu.

  4. Serenzy
    Serenzy
    March 30, 2012 at 4:41 AM

    @ suprabh & piyush

    I am yet to watch ‘Hazaroon Khwaishein Aisi’ and ‘Filhaal’.

    Wud love to get ur short views on it(wid ratings plz).

    Another movie i wud recco u guys on lines of Gulaal,Haasil,HKA wud be ‘Dil Dosti Etc.’

    do give it a watch…Not an extraordinary film but a worthy watch nonetheless

    …………

    Havent watchd blue umbrella but will do so(i have heard abt it bfr).

    I love dese movies set in small,quiet towns…Pleasure to watch…i hope some film maker extracts d beauty of North-East India in some mainstream romantic film…I really feel sad dat even though its a part of India dose north eastern states r hardly noticed or given their due on pan india level…Be it any issue wise,movie wise,economic wise etc…

  5. Serenzy
    Serenzy
    March 30, 2012 at 4:48 AM

    Bhardawaj is a blow hot-blow cold filmmaker.

    Right frm makdee to omkara to kaminey none f his films have managed to blow me away(unlike kashyap,dibakar,shimit amin,dhulia,RGV,imtiaz,raghvan).

    His movies have some strong supprting characters,razor dialogues and a sharp quality to dem no doubt(add to it d superb gulzar songs in every Bharadwaj film) but as a whole NO film of his has left me highly impressed.

    @suprabh

    ‘Halo’ is one f dose movies vich has made a life long impression(impact) on me.

    I cried after seeing that last/final scene f the movie(was a kid back than and had a pet dog too).

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