The Truman Show (Language: English)
‘The Truman Show,’ released in 1998, is a comedy-drama, far ahead of its time. The movie was directed by Peter Weir, with esteemed actor Jim Carrey playing the protagonist- Truman Burbank.
The film follows the life of Truman Burbank whose entire life is an elaborately constructed ruse. From the moment he was born to present day, Truman has been living on a set called Seahaven, which is filmed by 5000 cameras, and every second of his life is broadcasted to the entire world as a show, known as ‘The Truman Show.’ All his supposed friends and family are actually actors, and his entire life apart from himself, is staged and scripted. We see Truman slowly putting the dots together and realising that essentially nothing he has experienced in his life is real. His life is just a series of perfectly planned situations. Truman must ultimately decide whether to accept an artificial world that he knows and is promised safety in, or to venture into the unknown, in pursuit of truth and reality.
Today, we live in times where we watch ‘reality TV,’ which isn’t actually reality for when one knows of a camera, there cannot be a reality. In this respect, Truman is the only genuine star for he has lived his entire life for the world to watch, unaware he is being filmed. The Truman Show is the very essence of reality TV.
‘The Truman Show,’ is a highly underrated movie, but a must watch. It has a truly unique storyline and a captivating one at that, for it gives us a different perspective on the world today, and what the true definition of reality is.
2. The Man who knew Infinity (Language: English)
Directed by Matthew Brown, The Man Who Knew Infinity is a 2015
biographical drama starring Dev Patel, who plays the famous Indian mathematician Srinivas Ramanujan, and Jeremy Irons, who plays G. H. Hardy.
The story is of a degree-less, but self-taught mathematician from Madras who made great mathematical contributions that are used to study the behaviour of black holes even today. After writing countless letters to Cambridge University, he spent five years under the mentorship of Professor Hardy. Although initially hesitant about writing proofs, he soon gave in to the rigour conveyed by his mentor. In spite of innumerable trials and tribulations, the misjudged mathematician proved to be a pioneer in the field of mathematics.
Apart from shedding light on Ramanujan’s life, this movie portrays mathematics in a completely different form. Through the drudgery of examination and homework, we don’t really see this subject for what it really is. In the words of Bertrand Russell, “Mathematics, rightly viewed, possesses not only truth but supreme beauty.”
Without a doubt, this movie is definitely a worthwhile watch, not only because of incredible performances by Dev Patel and Jeremy Irons, but also because it tells an inspiring story about one of the greatest mathematicians.
3. Udaan (Language: Hindi)
The simplest of the simplest plots; a commercially frugal budget of Rs. 5 crore; an underrated debuting director; a non-mainstream cast- how could one possibly believe that these hindrances could create what Rajeev Masand calls ‘the movie of the decade’? Released in 2010, Udaan is one of the most realistic, riveting and inspiring Hindi movies out there.
This is the story of a 17 year old boy, Rohan (played by Rajat Barmecha),who, along with his prankster friends, is expelled from boarding school for sneaking out at night to watch an A-rated film. On reaching his hometown in Jamshedpur, he reunites with his formidable father (played by Ronit Roy)- a single, stern, abusive alcoholic- after 6 years, and his initially unbearable half-brother, Arjun, who he even didn’t know about.
Helplessly resisting his abusive father’s demands for him to become an engineer and work arduously at the factory, Rohan’s passion lay in writing. He’s caught between adapting to his new traumatizing, loathsome lifestyle and ensuring a brighter, safer future for his dreams and for Arjun.
Director Vikramaditya Motwane strums his characters like a proficient musician gliding his fingers through the strings of a harp- resulting in the most beautiful glissando. Aided by the beautiful and semi-healing music composed by Amit Trivedi and Amitabh Bhattachary, Udaan evokes a spectrum of soft emotions like no other film. Despite its simplicity and predictability, this movie surprisingly gels well with an impulsive concentration span and is sure to sweep you off your feet.
4. Soni (Language: Hindi)
Starring Geetika Vidya Ohlyan and Saloni Batra, Soni has a simplistic script and is a movie that refrains from dramatising. It subtly portrays two Delhi policewomen breaking stereotypes and combating societal expectations and harassment. They are both unwavering members of a decoy operation that aims at rounding up all the vulgar stalkers and rapists of Delhi to make the streets as safe as possible. They introduce us to protagonists with contrasting personalities. Soni is a quintessential Angry Young Woman who is constantly demoted for her impulsive and short tempered personality. On the other hand, Kalpana is a stickler for protocol and rather soft-hearted, for which she is always lambasted by her husband at home. They both seem to be representing descendants of the acclaimed female officer- Kiran Bedi who was also mentioned once.
Soni gives us a glimpse into the problematic lives of police officers- the unnecessary protocols, vulgar language and uncivil behaviour. Ivan Ayr aims to show that female officers even in positions of high authority are incessantly belittled at home. He manifests that misogyny and sexism is omnipresent, from the control board of the station to their apparently open minded families to the streets of Delhi.
Although the overall theme and acting was top notch, the story burns slowly and most intended emotions were not conveyed in an impactful manner. In spite of these drawbacks, Ayr leaves us with the hard hitting question that if females even on ultimate positions of power cannot escape the malfeasance of patriarchy, then will a world having gender equality ever see the light of day?
5. Shoplifters (Language: Japanese)
The opening scene of director Kore-eda’s ‘Shoplifters’ sets the table for what is to come- a man named Osamu (played by Lily Franky) and a boy called Shota (played by Jyo Kairi) cautiously manoeuvre through the aisles of a supermarket, having some sort of telepathic conversation via constant eye-contact. Of course, they are adept at shoplifting, but it isn’t fancy accessories that they’re looking for, it’s basic necessities and essentials for sustenance.
One cold night, Osamu and Shota notice a desolate girl, Juri (played by Miyu Sasaki) stuck in miserable circumstances. Despite their obvious needs, Osamu offers her a croquette and this is just the beginning of a budding bond as she ends up going home with them. This is when we’re introduced to a cramped up flat- a makeshift family comprising a mother Nobuyo (Sakura Ando) who works laundry shifts, Aki (Matsuka Mayu) a sex worker, and an affectionate grandmother (Kiki Kilin). With so many to feed but so little to pay- this is a family of skilful shoplifters. When Osamu witnesses a violent scuffle between Juri’s biological parents, he decides that there’s going to be no looking back for her. With a little bit of a makeover and love and care she was always deprived of, she is now a Shibata, a shoplifter. As the story convolutes, one child looks out while the other looks back- both their lives changed forever.
The cast performs brilliantly, but it’s the two children- Shota and Juri- whose sibling bond speaks volumes, dazzling us.
As Noboyu says, “Sometimes it's better to choose your own family”, ‘Shoplifters’ explores the layered and nuanced concepts of ‘family’. It paints a heartfelt picture of a poverty and societal hypocrisy with all its complexities, sacrifices, conflicting emotions and secrets- while the Shibatas lay surrounded by the walls of imperfection closing in. Rest assured that this group of six will have their family photo framed in your mind for a long, long time.
-Editorial team in collaboration with lightscameraaction.blog.