Sunday, February 12, 2006

Bara (1980)

Bara (1980)
Featuring: Anant Nag, CR Simha and others.
Directed by: MS Satyu

‘Garam Hawa’ was Satyu’s best known work in Hindi. ‘Bara’ comes from the baton of the same accomplished director. During one of my conversations with a friend recently I was mentioning the various genres of movies I have been watching lately and when I mentioned ‘Bara’, he said it was an art film. While I am one of those who hate any kind of categorization of art and principles, it still got me thinking. The one thing I realized is that there is no such thing called ‘Art’ film. There is only good and bad art. No amount of ‘commercialization’ can save a bad feature and no amount of garb can hide a good one.

Set against the backdrop of a drought hit area ‘Bara’ picks up momentum from the very beginning. Wide angle shots of a blistering sun over a parched landscape and dying animals greet us in the opening sequence. Satish Chandra (Anant) is the main protagonist whose eyes we use to watch the story unfold. A just, disciplined and caring man by nature, this administrative officer is yet to take a journey through the gross realities of modern day politics.

Caught between a political enthusiast Bimoji (Simha) who happens to be close associate through their fathers and a cigar smoking useless piece of a politician (unknown), Satish is struggling to keep his sanity and professional sanctity intact. Satish’s life includes a mopping wife, a friend from the armed forces (Pankaj Dheer in a totally absurd role) who never seems to have anything to do except give Satish’s wife some company (as a friend of course), a religiously inclined father and a son.

Local political rowdies instigate a chaos of dynamic proportions. Everything from hiding rice and wheat from the starving public to violating women and igniting a communal war takes place. All this is done just to keep their bellies full at the cost of someone else’s life. The famine is used as an excuse for all of them to pursue their own personal goals. Does it mean taking lives of the innocent? So be it. Does it mean capitalizing on the corrupt administrative force that drives our nation? So it shall be.

Fighting a losing battle between all this is a tired and enraged Satish. With nowhere to turn for help he starts playing his own game by letting those who want to fight go ahead but at the same time manages to start helping out the poor by drilling bore wells. While the Chief Minister is using his own method to stay in power and extract all that is left of this already dead piece of bone, many people are made scapegoats.

‘Bara’ showcases the shameful tale of corrupt politics and how it strangles the desperate. It is indeed a more shameful woe that we have not yet learnt from this and continue to lose one government after another with nothing happening for the common man. ‘Bara’ is a grim reminder of the sinful times we live in.

Technically the movie is beautifully shot with no nonsense camera work. The crowd manufacturing unit has been handled well with everyone chipping in their bit. The director does a good job in getting good performances from everyone in the feature. Music is not an integral part of this movie which is a good thing. Most ‘reality-based’ movies tend to get caught in the vicious “should we should we not” tangle of background scores. In ‘Bara’ however, music and background score are skillfully used as and when required.

Anant Nag takes the cake in the performances category once again. This actor leaves me wanting for more every time I watch his features. He effortlessly becomes the struggling government official who is resisting the role of a dummy doll at the government’s hands. The actress who plays his wife - Lovelean Madhu - seems alright in her debut feature as the frustrated wife of this ever-busy husband. CR Simha plays a confidenly executed foxy role of the political leader/advocate Bimoji who is out to get himself a name at the people’s cost. The remaining group of performers lends apt support in their stereotypical roles in this political satire.

‘Bara’ is a wonderful metaphor for the famine-struck politics in our country which is displayed in its complete naked shame.

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