I spent the last few months watching really nice movies borrowed from a frnd who has an enviable collection. She doesn't usually lend her movies to people, but thankfully I could impress her by returning the first set on time and stuff like that. She lends me on two conditions: I buy her tuna subs from Subway, and return the movies intact.
Last weekend I watched Crash and Amores Perros. Made by Paul Haggis, this was perhaps the movie I was waiting for for a long time.
Crash, as you know, won something at the Oscars in 2006, but that's not what I wanna talk about. Whether the judges at the Oscars like a movie or not doesn't make any difference to the inherent quality of the movie. If it is a good movie, it attracts a universal audience and doesn't have to win awards. Awards are forgotten the next year but the story remains in your mind and grows old with you. Crash is such a movie.
It has many little stories woven into one, and masterfully so. It captures the stereotypes in a typical American's mind sometimes subtly and sometimes in outrageous hues. A tattooed, hispanic locksmith fixing locks at this white DA's house is bound to sell the duplicate keys to his gang, right? Wrong. He quietly goes home to his daughter and tells her a story of how once an angel gave him a bulletproof cloak. African Americans are bound to always like hip hop? Some even enjoy country music. An apparently racist white cop risks his life saving a black American woman from a car crash, while a politically correct white cop ends up shooting a black guy thinking he is pulling out his gun.
I can't write well enough to do justice to the movie, but whoever has made it, has done a brilliant job. I watched it thrice and every time I enjoyed every bit of it. And each time I could sense even more clearly how it must be to belong to a religious minority in India. What are the stereotypes we have in our minds about Muslims? This theme can be borrowed and adapted to our scenario here. So easily.
We have seen Indian filmmakers telling us about the horrors of particular incidents (can think of Nihalni's Dev about the recent riots in Gujarat and also Aparna Sen's Mr and Mrs Iyer talking about how an urban Muslim guy is protected by a Tamil Brahmin woman by being given a Hindu identity) about the collective fear in our minds, but cannot think of a script that can match that of Crash's right now. There are many stories in many minds . . . is there a chance those stories can be brought together to form a nice script in our Indian context?
Like I wrote earlier, I also watched Amores Perros, a Spanish movie about various characters. This again is a pastiche of people woven brilliantly together, but it is more on an individual level, if you know what I mean. These are stories of individuals and does not address a greater menace like dangerous stereotypes in our minds. Of the two movies, Crash is still alive in my mind. I saved it for the last, and now I have finished watching all the movies in this batch, which also contained Amelie, Cinema Paradiso, Motorcycle Diaries and such biggies. I can't think of these movies as stories told in other languages. They all seem in English to me now that I think of them.
I owe this frnd a lot more tuna subs for helping me discover this moviegoer in me.
The next batch sounds more promising.