Romancing Austen

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By The Telegraph Online
  • Published 31.03.06
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Romancing Austen

pride and prejudice

Director: Joe Wright Cast: Keira Knightly, Matthew Macfadyen, Donald Sutherland, Brenda Blethyn, Tom Hollander

7.5/10

After one’s first glimpse of Mr Darcy (Matthew Macfadyen), one almost gives up on Joe Wright’s cinematic adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, easily the best loved of the Jane Austen novels, though some may argue in favour of Emma. This is very certainly not the Mr Darcy millions of young girls in the world swoon over in their literature classes, making him one of the most loved of literary lovers. Wright’s Darcy looks absolutely ghastly, as he stands in the overcrowded ballroom, watching others dance, instead of offering himself to one of the still waiting-to-be-asked young women, of whom there were more than one, as Elizabeth (Keira Knightley) later points out to him, silencing him with her characteristic wit, something which makes her the most towering of not just all the Austen heroines, but of her times as well. Which, thankfully, the film does manage to capture, once the initial ghastly introduction to Darcy is over. In fact, even he begins to grow on one, though never quite managing to reach the stature one had nurtured of him since college classroom years.

Mrs Bennet (Brenda Blethyn) is, however, exactly as one had imagined her, as are the three younger sisters, as they foolishly giggle their way through the film, their world revolving around only soldiers, ribbons and balls. And while Wright’s Mr Collins is absurd, Austen’s was truly ridiculous, as Elizabeth tells her friend Charlotte, who marries him, in spite of his being so. Reason? She was 27, without too many prospects, in need of a home and protection.

That’s the Austen world, where the Charlottes are the reality, the Elizabeths the exceptions. Bold, bright, intelligent, delightfully defiant of the norms of her age, to which Keira does justice in most parts, successfully becoming a part of Austen’s 18th century social world. A world which Wright more or less faithfully recreates from the book. Leaving one pining once again for the romance of the Austen world.

Deepali Singh

Deliciously grey

being cyrus

Director: Homi Adajania Cast: Saif Ali Khan, Naseeruddin Shah, Dimple Kapadia, Boman Irani, Simone Singh, Honey Chhaya

7.5/10

Cyrus is the archetypal drifter, never in one place for long. And one day he lands up outside Naseeruddin and Dimple’s house in Panchgani. An odd couple ? the husband a pot-smoking artist and the wife a sluttish self-obsessed joke ? who welcome a stranger into their house, hoping he will add some colour to their gloomy lives.

Saif breezes into their lives with a purpose only to discover that each of them lives with a purpose of his/her own. He meets the rest of the family who stay in a dilapidated building in Mumbai. As the story progresses, Saif delves deeper into the complex layers of emotions that blanket a dysfunctional family. And along the way, he discovers disjointed parts of himself. He discovers what it’s like to ‘be Cyrus’.

It’s a dark, funny tale that reflects life in a quaint sort of way. Though there is no ghost, you feel the restless anxiety that comes with watching a horror film. Director Homi Adajania has taken a very bold first step in choosing to communicate a complicated yet realistic web of human emotions that spring from inner, darker desires. The characters are all deliciously grey. A few times the grey borders dangerously on black and these are the few weak moments of the script. But the film is like a living entity; it grows on you for a couple of days after you’ve seen it. And you like it more than you did when you walked out of the theatre. It leaves you thinking, questioning, even realising.

Background score by Salim and Sulaiman is exceptionally good and blends perfectly. Editing by Jon Harris (the guy who edited Snatch) has a ‘European flavour’ and is really quite remarkable in the ‘murder sequence’ towards the end. Needless to say, performances are superb.

Pooja Tolani

A mess all right

Souten

Director: Karan Razdan Cast: Mahima Chaudhary, Gulshan Grover, Vikram Singh, Kiran Rathod

2.5/10

Boorish husband (Gulshan Grover); bored sexy wife (Mahima Chaudhary). Enter, young man (Vikram Singh) with roving eye, tender heart. Film with eternal triangle? No way! Hexagon more likely. Mid-affair appears lovely step-daughter (Kiran Rathod). Hero shifts his attentions to the daughter. Stepmother tries to part the young hearts before conscience strikes her. She dies trying to save her step-daughter and their combined lover from jealous husband with a plea for their unification on her lips. Mess? No Just Souten.

Mahima and Gulshan do justice to their roles. Kiran Rathod is average. Padmini Kolapure as the sanctimonious bhabhi is b-a-d and Shakti Kapoor you miss if you blink. Vikram Singh, registers a total of two expressions, happy and sad. Indifferent music and patchy treatment makes Souten an experience which makes toes curl.

Sunayani Ganguly