Archive | September, 2009

Movie Review: Little Zizou

25 Sep

Abstraction and metaphoric references have been a very prominent form of creative expression in film making. I don’t really feel that abstraction is a difficult form of expression, both for the creator or the viewer. But, I strongly feel that the amount of lucidity in abstraction predominantly decides the way the director of a film wants the viewers to perceive it. For instance, No Smoking by Anurag Kashyap did come across as a very slick attempt at abstraction, but it seemed to be more absurd than abstract.

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Little Zizou is a heartfelt attempt at showcasing the way every egotistical citizen, politician and nation devastates the life of the actual ingredient of the civilization – the common man. Sooni Taraporevala, the director of the film has narrated the tale with the backdrop of the Parsi community, which in a way is metaphorical. The animosity between two distinct individuals, results in the disintegration of the already fleeting Parsi community. This can be perceived as a miniature of the war between nations, the tug-of-war between two political parties or a mere squabble between siblings. Sooni surely comes across as a highly articulate and intellectual film maker.

The protagonist of the film, Xerxes, is a 11 year old die hard fan of the soccer star Zinedine Zidane, nick named Zizou and that is how Xerxes is also fondly called that way. Xerxes’s mother had passed away when he was small and he has been living with a belief that his mother is watching him from above. Although a stereotypical setup, the Parsi backdrop adds a certain level of freshness to it. His elder brother Artaxerxes has a typical ‘cool dude’ persona. He is shown to be an amazing caricaturist and an avid blogger (His blog’s name is ‘Bawa’s blog’. A contemporary and funky name indeed) who is struggling hard with a couple of friends to create a flight simulator out of a crashed cockpit. Their father, named Khodaiji (which means god-like) is a self proclaimed religious deity who fools the beliefs of the Parsi community for his own vested interests. His secret liaison with his assistant is detested by the kids. Their fraudulent mechanisms to extract money from the common Parsis irritates Artaxerxes enormously and that is how he gets inclined to the more progressive and modern clan of the society.

This progressive sect of the characters in the film fall in the Boman Presswala clan. Boman is shown to be a pragmatic, regular bawa next door who runs the only Parsi newspaper Rustom-e-Sohrab trying to unfold the reality of the crook masquerading as Khodaiji. Due to the closely knit communal setup, Boman and his wife have been shown to be very close to Xerxes and Artaxerxes. Artaxerxes dreams of having the love of his life in Zenobia, Boman’s elder daughter and Xerxes and Liana, the younger one, are as good friends as Revs and Nero.

This entire plot of the film in itself has a lot of freshness to offer. Being a semi-Mumbaikar, I could relate to the lazy lifestyle of the Parsi community which has been enunciated with such finesse in the film totally. In the deeper sense, each and every character in the film is yearning for a dream to be fulfilled and the story essentially revolves around the conflict between Boman and Khodaiji which crumbles the dreams of everyone around. At the end of the day, we all have a zillion dreams fulfilled and a zillion more that remain dreams. Yet, we feel content, we stay happy and don’t really blame our helplessness. May be we are all programmed that way. Doesn’t this really appear to be a miniature of what seems to be going on between India and Pakistan for decades over Kashmir, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu for Cauvery and Anil and Mukesh Ambani over Reliance Gas?

The treatment of the film on the contrary is not really high voltage. It reminded me of the films made by Basu Chatterjee and Hrishikesh Mukherjee who tried to sketch the small but unconventional, mundane but vexing and troublesome yet helpless problems of the common Indian.

Little zizou has everything to offer in bits and parts – the comic timing of Boman Irani (Boman Presswala) and Lyanah Bativala (Liana), the wonderfully fantastic puppy love between Imaad Shah (Artaxerxes) and Zenobia (Dilshad Patel) which is marred by the hunk (John Abraham) Zenobia falls for and the sheer innocence of Jahan Bativala (Xerxes). It is an all-Parsi film, right from the filmmaker to the actors to the crew members and that may be one of the reasons for the film being so successful in throwing an authentic Parsi colour on the celluloid. The guest appearances by John Abraham and Cyrus Brocha are indeed a breath of fresh air. A well timed comedy by Kunal Vijaykar who plays one of Artaxerxes’s friends and the noteworthy performances by Zenobia Shroff as Boman’s caring yet strong hearted wife and Mahabanoo Mody-Kotwal as the eccentric grandma who is just not ready to relinquish her already falling resort house in a beach city do linger on the viewer’s mind for a long time in a joyful way. The unconventional background score by Bikram Ghosh is also praiseworthy, however, in the flow of the movie, it seems to go unnoticed.

Along with all these pluses, I do feel that the climax of the film should have been handled in a more dramatic way. The series of events that seem to bring everything fall in place to the end appear to be done in a jiffy, pretty much to maintain the length of the film. A few more minutes would not have done any bad to the film, only given the director enough scope to make the climax look like one.

Little zizou is a different film in more than one ways and it has not only fuelled the dormant new wave cinema in India, but has also brought a whole lot of good performers and artists on the forefront. Talking of cinematic metaphors, I would strongly recommend Katha Don Ganpatravanchi (The story of two ganpat rao’s), a marathi film by Arun Khopkar and the famous Chicago, by Rob Marshall are worth a watch. Although, Little Zizou seems technical lacking in front of these films, it is surely a true entertainer which has a message tagged along in a subtle way. Go for it!

My rating:smallstarsmallstarsmallstar

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