Thursday, September 30, 2010

City of Joy - Movie

Watched 'City of Joy' on video and suddenly at the very end I realised that I had watched it before. Now that is not the hallmark of a good movie I felt if I did not remember a single scene, not even vaguely, until in the end when Om Puri clutches his tummy and walks off, it hit me. I'd seen this in Pune some 15 years ago.

It was all dark for some reason. You cannot make out what is happening. Om Puri and his family comprising of wife Shabana Azmi and 3 kids arrive in Calcutta to make a living since landlord grabbed his land. True to his nature he gets cheated as soon as he comes to Calcutta by someone who gives him a house for rent and another kicks him out instantly. He quickly falls into the local Godfather's trap and begins driving the manual rickshaw (God knows what they are called but these are pulled manually). Meanwhile an American doctor (Patrick Schwayze) arrives in Calcutta for reasons I did not get and somehow their paths meet in the middle of the slum filled with rickshaw pullers. There is a foreign lady trying to uplift the population with schools and hospitals and help for lepers and everyone gets around her. On one side the Godfather and his evil son and on the other these guys and finally the poor guys win. Om Puri performs his daughter's marriage even though he is bleeding through his shirt and it all ends well.

'City of Joy' shows the underbelly of Calcutta as it was in the 80s. Now its probably better or worse we don't know. What strikes me is that the foreign film makers somehow seem to be attracted to the filth more than anything else. Similarly 'Shantaram' was an eye opener about the underbelly of Bombay. I was in Calcutta and Bombay and I never ventured out into the filth and the slums. I was happier in the cleaner, nicer places. But each to his own I guess.

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