Thursday, March 25, 2010

LSD - A noxious high

Voyeurism is ubiquitous. Its ubiquitously reviled in public and applauded in the solitary confinements of our mind. With LSD, DB (Dibakar Bannerjee) turns the former on its head. For once, a theatre full of moviegoers succulently smacked their lips and cheered full throated at seeing some of their own thoughts, if not their lives being played out on the giant screen before them. DB doles out his ode to the Devil without garnishing it with the moral turpitude, for he knows we sold out our souls long back, to even care. This nation needs prime time entertaintment, not a bohemian discourse in morality;

The film has been hailed as a masterpiece by some sections of the critiques and more. I'm hardly surprised. After all, we are the same nation that eulogized the makers of Kaminey as India's Tarentino. Whether this is a reflection of an all pervading sense of mediocrity, or the brazen imprints of a colonial hangover is a subject that merits a separate post. Personally, I found LSD to be a good experiment, brilliantly enacted, and suitably dumbed down for the popcorn audience to enable them a mirage of being participants in an alleged intellectual pursuit of the abstracts sorts.

So, what works? For starters, Bollywood has rarely experimented with digital cuts from handheld camcorders (so what, if there are about a million masterpieces at FTII and other such places. They will never see the light of the day because the normal paying public want to see a few jokers masquerade as actors who are in turn directed by effeminate directors doling out coffee and filling their coffers).

What can be commended beyond reasonable doubt is the pedigree of the performances. The actors (and actresses) fleshed out the characters under the aegis of a director who knew exactly what he wanted. And so, we saw pitiful angst,heartfelt innocence, disturbing rage, forced betrayal, shaken morality, vexed insecurity, touching abstinence, naked lust all rolled into one potpourri called LSD. Boy, sure suffices to give a high...

Which brings me to the one question I walked out of the film with. What was the whole purpose? Was it to entertain? Was it to shock? Was it to comment on the nature of our society and the devious turns our own lives are snaking towards? Did we not know of the casting couch saga, or the Miss Name-whatever-City scandal, the brutal cocktail of money and carnal delights, the horrific repercussions of adolescent rebellion in marital affairs and so on and so forth. Isn't society's very existence today, a putrid testimony to the deviants portrayed on screen? Where was the scope for debate?

About 3 decades back, a certain genius named Satyajit Ray directed a masterpiece called Agantuk. Ray's story questioned the society of that era. It however, did so, with a debate that compelled the viewer to deliberate upon the the nuances of civilization. LSD is a freeway headed towards a straitjacketed destination of the director's view of our society. Dark, Darker, Darkest; No light at the end of the tunnel. Not even Sidhu's light of the approaching train.

Now, even for a cynical Bengali, that's transgressing the ethos of objectivity. No commentary is complete unless it leaves room for debate, for deliberation and for acceptance. With LSD, I missed an opportunity to exercise my now almost extinct grey cells. It seemed almost vapid.

Was it a good experiment? Undoubtedly! Was it good cinema? Maybe! Is it a masterpiece? You gotta be on LSD to even suggest that...