July Links: Ahalya, Amy, Minions, Bajrangi Bhaijaan and more

My reviews of MinionsI Love NYBaahubali, Bajrangi Bhaijaan and Masaan.

Asif Kapadia used paparazzi footage and home video to great effect in Amy. It was strangely unsettling to realise that ‘candid’ home videos ended up being far less honest and revealing than what the paparazzi showed of the singer. Ultimately, as they sniffed compulsively for scandal and weakness, those photographers ended up documenting just how troubled Winehouse was, while in her friends’ and family’s videos, she seems to constantly be performing an act of normalcy.

Sujoy Ghosh made a short film for the web titled Ahalya, which reminded me of the previous tellings of this myth. The unedited version of this essay is up at The Growlery.

What we can do, however, is wonder and interpret. Because wound into an epic that reeks of testosterone, aggression and masculine strength is the story of a woman whom society and its code of ethics fail. She follows all the rules and yet is wronged by the man who marries her and used by another man who claims to be in love with her. Perhaps it’s a word of warning that in the games of masculine posturing, the victim and the pawn is the woman. This was true in the golden age with Ahalya, when Indra’s wounded ego demanded he have the last hurrah in his competition against Gautam and Gautam couldn’t tolerate the idea of having been bested by Indra. It happens again, 60,000 years later, when Sita is ostensibly the reason that Rama goes to war against Ravana. Yet when the war is over, Rama first rejects her as impure even though she’s been faithful to him and then abandons her. It’s almost as though the narrator is suggesting – albeit with great subtlety – that some things don’t change with time.

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