Premam (2015) #SherylPuthur

Premam Posters-Stills-Images-Nivin Pauly-Anupama Parameswaran-Anwar Rasheed-Onlookers MediaPremam 3Premam 2

Directed By: Alphonse Puthren

Written By: Alphonse Puthren

Cast:

Nivin Pauly – George David

Krishna Shankar – Koya

Shabareesh Varma – Shambu

Sai Pallavi – Malar

Madonna Sebastian – Celine

Anupama Parameshwaran – Mary George

Wilson Joseph – Jojo

Vinay Forrt – Vimal sir

Alphonse Putharen – Roney Varghese

Language: Malayalam                                                                Genre: Romance

 

Alphonse Puthren’s Premam follows the story of George (Nivin Pauly). It explores his friendship with Koya (Krishna Shankar), Shambu (Shabareesh Varma) and Jojo (Wilson Joseph) from roughly 16 years of age. It does seem, however, that they have known each other for possibly longer.

Premam traces the stories of love associated with George – the three women he falls deeply and irrevocably in love with and how that impacts his life. It shows an innocent first love, the vulnerable love of the self-assured youth and finally the adult who has seen too much; is aloof and may awake to the idea of new love.

While the film is not a flashback narrative, the manner in which the director presents it, means that he is seeing everything from a later point in time which is why the sad scenes are not sad enough. So instead of pulling at our heartstrings as it should, we are grinning and are aware that yes, this is a temporary sentiment.

Even the popular song Scene Contra seems to break the fourth wall. It is either the characters are aware they are characters or that they address the audience directly revealing that someone has been stage-managing their existence.

All the songs in the film are a narrative, to give us another shade to the characters or their experience. It moulds our understanding of who they are and it gives us the philosophy of the film. Ithu Puthen Kaalam (this new age) for instance tells us not to take things too seriously. That surprises will come when we least expect it. The changes that we undergo as people may not have been what we envisioned for ourselves such as George probably never saw himself as the alpha male who is violent/destructive but he probably became like that after what transpired with his first love.

The film uses the constant metaphor of the butterfly – right in the opening credits flitting from one flower to another, then around Mary (Anupama Parameshwaran) when she is being pursued by many suitors, later with Malar (Sai Pallavi) when she is with George and it is oddly missing from the last part.

The thing is, unlike the usual cliché that men are like butterflies flitting from one woman to another frivolously – the butterfly actually moves very purposefully towards a flower and may get rejected by the flower. Either because it lacks the necessary nectar or has an unpleasant odour. So George is then a dedicated butterfly that seeks his flower through the three stories.

However what is problematic is the contrived nature of the storytelling which takes away the poignancy of the second part and this makes it hard for a viewer to sympathise. Also the length of the narratives – too much time was spent on the first and second story without actually telling much and the final story was too rushed, leaving the viewer rather let down.

What I personally liked was how it showed that falling in love does not require much fanfare and it could happen suddenly and after barely any time. We are conditioned to associate true love with a long drawn out process of being together, courtship and then the realisation that this might be love. This somehow makes love seem a cautious exercise when it isn’t supposed to be so.

Premam uses everyday cadences of speech and is as much a coming of age story of a boy as it is a story about friendships. The constant factor in the film is the presence of Koya, Shambu and Jojo even when George’s romantic interests change. This is why the song Scene Contra expresses Shambu’s frustrations at George’s inability to learn from past experiences. This is especially when his past comes calling.

The film’s popularity owes itself probably to Nivin Pauly’s portrayal of George. Either the authenticity with which he presented him or the fact that the character comes across as this wounded hero and women (whatever be their personal ideologies) are particularly susceptible to the idea of the damaged man. Plus, when people have been hurt in love, they will have realistic expectations of romance as opposed to the fantastical views we hold about love before we actually experience it.

It is a well-edited film that makes a viewer question reality and imagination. After all, they merge in our minds and what we have imagined may not have been part of the experience, but becomes so once you believe in it. So it is about the little desires we hold and how influenced we are by the fantastical narratives of Indian cinema – where the real and the imagined exist fruitfully together.

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Finding Fanny (2014) #SherylPuthur

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Directed By: Homi Adajania

Written By: Homi Adajania; Kersi Khambatta

Cast:

Deepika Padukone – Angelina “Angie”

Naseeruddin Shah – Ferdinand “Ferdie” Pinto

Dimple Kapadia – Mrs. Rosalina “Rosie” Eucharistica

Arjun Kapoor – Savio Gama

Pankaj Kapur – Don Pedro Cleto Colaco

Anjali Patil – Stefanie “Fanny” Fernandes

Anand Tiwari – Church Father

Ranveer Singh – Gabo, Angie’s husband

Language: English; Hindi                                                  Genre: Dark comedy

Homi Adajania’s Finding Fanny is a dark comedy with ironic undertones, set in a fictional village of Goa – Pocolim. It is a place where everyone seems to be preoccupied with the past, but not consciously. They are living their lives but only half. Time is an important factor in the movie, it doesn’t seem to pass but it passes. Also the characters seem like stock characters yet they grow into more rounded beings.

So when an undelivered love letter lands at Ferdie (Naseeruddin Shah)’s doorstep, he recalls his passionate love for this girl Stefanie (Fanny), for whom he wrote the letter – but it never reached her. And the irony is Ferdie is the village postman. Suddenly there is possibility of a romance for Ferdie who lived in rejection thinking Stefanie never loved him but she just never knew. Angie (Deepika Padukone) decides to help him probably because she is vicariously living a romance that was denied her – her husband Gabo (Ranveer Singh) choked on their wedding cake and died.

They need Don Pedro (Pankaj Kapur)’s car so the bait is Rosalina (Dimple Kapadia), Angie’s mother-in law, whose butt is of special fascination to him as he wanted to capture her on canvas. This motley group cannot be complete without a driver – Enter – Savio (Arjun Kapoor) who loved Angie but she had married his best friend. So they take off on this aimless journey which is probably metaphorical.

This aimless journey seems to be a quest. They are all looking for something and each character has something to hide. None of them seem to be what they are except for maybe Angie, who seems most willing among all of them for change to come in.

The group is trying to Find Fanny and that name is interesting because Fanny is also the American slang for ‘butt’ (the British use it to refer to something else but we are not entering that discussion). This might explain why Rosalina has a huge butt.

But what does Fanny really stand for? Is it a metaphor for love, romance or life? There is a Shelleyan preoccupation with death, something like his poem Ozymandias – the partially destroyed statue of a king in a lonely desert with an inscription proclaiming “Look on my works, ye mighty and despair!” but what works?

The film trivialises death – the ever-present phenomenon; in fact in the very first 15 minutes of the film there is a death. So follow the trail of dead bodies to find fanny.

Sulaimani Chai #SherylPuthur

Sulemani 2Oru sulaimanilum oru ithri mohabbat venam. Athu kudikumbol lokam ingane pathake vantha nikyanam – Kareem ikka

A little bit of love should be added to every sulaimani you serve. When one has that, the whole world should come to a standstill.

One of the most beautiful quotes in praise of sulaimani chai and it comes from one of my favourite films on food – Ustad Hotel. It is clear that the writer Anjali Menon and the director Anwar Rasheed love sulaimani chai because of the focus given to the experience; the frequent moments when Kareem ikka or Ustad is pouring out tea, is presented as special.

Sulaimani chai also known as Solomon’s tea is said to be invented by the wise King Solomon. Besides imparting wisdom, he was known for his fine knowledge in spices and his experimentation in the culinary arts. According to legend, he used these very arts to bed the Queen of Sheba.

So the story goes that from the moment he set his eyes on her he realised he wanted her. But while his lust overpowered him, she saw it only as an intellectual romance. He tried everything to seduce her but she remained steadfast.

The end of her visit was drawing near so he hit upon a desperate plan. He placed a condition on her that if she asked for anything, anything at all after the final meal she would have to sleep with him. She agreed; certain that there was nothing else she required. So Solomon made the meal very spicy and plied her with wines. But they did not assuage her thirst so she woke at night and asked for a drink of water…

Well, this could be just a legend but you never know, maybe if Solomon had brewed this special tea for her, maybe she wouldn’t have held out for so long.

There are many ways sulaimani chai can be made and enjoyed, but my favourite or the one that gives me the best results is something I first had at a local tea stall at Wayanad. I asked the lady for the recipe and so this is it –

Boil the tea leaves/powder with the sugar (in case you prefer honey, add it just before drinking. When the tea is too hot, the flavour of the honey gets dulled). The amount of tea leaves added depends on how strong you like your tea. For me, when I make a mug of tea, I add one flat teaspoon and may sprinkle some more if I’m not satisfied. You have to gauge depending on the colour or your memory of the flavour.

Use fully fermented tea leaves or black tea for this. Darjeeling tea is generally the most easily available.

After the tea has boiled and the leaves have slowly settled at the bottom of the vessel, pour it out. Now squeeze half a lemon into the mug or if you’re sharing this moment with someone, use a full lemon! You can also add lemon rind into the tea. Some people prefer to add the lemon while the water is almost done boiling. I suggest you squeeze the juice but add the juice sacs of the lemon into the mug after you’ve poured it in; else you lose it in the dregs of the tea.

You can drink the tea exactly like this or you can end by adding mint and basil leaves. They give a lovely flavour and are healthy besides. If you prefer a spicy undertone to your tea, you can boil cloves, cardamom or cinnamon with your tea leaves.

So enjoy this intoxicating concoction and let’s hope that your world stands still.

For the Love of Tea #SherylPuthur

Tea is a love affair and for me it properly took off when I was fifteen. Prior to that, I used to be addicted to coffee but over the years my coffee consumption has become something of an annual engagement. Do not get me wrong, I don’t particularly dislike coffee but its hold on my heart has waned. So now for me drinking it is like a nostalgic exercise.

Tea on the other hand for me is almost a sacred experience and I prefer to share my tea-moment with someone who doesn’t cloud my ‘aura’ as probably Phoebe from FRIENDS would put it.

Tea is obviously not a new fascination. It revolutionised trade and became suddenly the past time that everyone in the west wanted to indulge in. It even gave competition to the coffee houses of England.

Each community and culture has its own way of approaching tea. Most have raised it to an art form and have stylised ways of appreciating it. For instance, in Japan, the ceremony for drinking tea is already known. The thing is, while it is stylised, it is also a humble and philosophical experience. The ceremony is called sadou – way of the tea. It implies that tea will bring you to a better understanding of self or maybe even a dismissal of self.

I believe every tea has a story and sometimes it is the story that comes up between the tea and the drinker of the tea. So I want to tell you stories about tea, its history, and my recipes of perfect brews. I also want to discover new teas and share them with you. I have my preference for non-milk tea but I’m going to explore even the so-called scorned territory of milk tea.

So let’s embark on this journey, for the love of tea.