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Thursday, May 12, 2011

Stanley Ka Dabba

When the invite for the preview for Stanley Ka Dabba landed in my inbox, I was pretty much given to sigh and give it a virtual toss. Who will look after Ragini? Who will cook? What about laundry? And other existential questions that crop up when one is maidless, cookless and clueless in Mumbai. I talked about it to Adi. Yes, yes, he nodded sagely, we must go for a movie and I hope it is not scary like Rio. Um, sure, kiddo, I said and proceeded to do the hundred things that were left on my to-do list. As it happened, things took a turn for the better. I found two cooks and a maid and enlightenment under a tree. Said enlightenment described as never finding fault with any maid for anything that they do for as long as I live. If I want to preserve my sanity and finish that novel that I have been warming for months now, I have to embrace stains and badly cooked food and dirty windows as friends.

Of course, Rohini may have given me a parting gift in her maid when she moved to Hyderabad. We wait with bated breath for her arrival from her village.

So yes, things got better. Mahesh has taken a couple of days off work so that was one kid taken care off.

I spent the whole day shopping for their upcoming joint birthday party on Sunday and was bone-tired by the evening. But sharp at six, the little punter was found hanging to my leg. The movie! Let's go! You SAID you'd take me! And so we landed up at Pixion Studios in Bandra where a small preview had been organized. We met Kiran and her brat and caught up with them before lights were dimmed.

The movie is brilliant.


Little Stanley has no dabba (tiffin) during recess but plenty of supportive friends and a superb imagination. The back story is not provided conveniently to the viewer but you are left with a lingering sense of disquiet at what is happening at Stanley's home. Where are the parents? Are they dead? Where is he living? There are heart-tugging scenes of Stanley trying to fill himself up with water, his clothes getting dirtier and his appearance scruffier by the day. Finally the friends decide to call Stanley's bluff. Stanley offers a cock and bull story about parents having taken off in a plane. No matter, say the friends (super casting by the way), we will share our food with you till the prodigal parents return. But they also need to account for Khadoos, their Hindi teacher with the insatiable appetite who'd rather eat the kids' food than let them share it with Stanley. The kids outsmart Khadoos over and over till he finally loses his temper and orders Stanley to stay away till he can produce a dabba. Stanley stays away from school. His friends have no way to get in touch with him. The school is auditioning for a concert that Stanley would have been perfect for. The story builds towards the climax. But come on, I cannot really tell you how it ends.

The characters are all people we have bumped into. The pretty, considerate, amiable teacher that we all love and have a bit of a crush on. The nasty one that we want dead. The strict South Indian lady who teaches Science and never sees the lighter side of things. The principal with the immaculate accent. Yes, we have met them all.

One thing is clear - the people who have made the film seem to have insight into children and their world.

Adi of course found the whole movie very disturbing. Children are both blessed and cursed with such a huge suspension of disbelief. Nothing is implausible in the narrative. They can identify with the movie to the extent that they are in the movie. Hell, they are the film! Adi was Stanley, hungry (would you believe he ate six Parle-G biscuits while he watched the film, he has probably never eaten the same ever in his life...the only reason they were in my bag is because Raagu eats them....and then followed it up with wafers and then ate dinner after getting home?) It was a bit of a As God is my witness, I will never be hungry again moment for him.

He gamely kept up with the movie but then towards the end there came a scene where Stanley's uncle slaps him. The boy broke down completely. He bawled and sobbed and wept. I tried to explain things to him but he would have none of it so we stepped out of the theater to let the others watch in peace. Fortunately Amol's wife was most sporting about the whole thing and made Adi talk to 'Stanley' on the phone. Finally, he calmed down enough to be taken home. We missed the end but any film that can impact anyone so deeply is obviously made very, very well. The acting was pitch-perfect.

Watch it! You won't regret it. And if you have a fussy eater on your hands, take them along. They might just end up appreciating you and your cooking a lot more.


GB said...

Okay you sold me! Now my question is: will it ever make it to the us? sigh.

Hope your maid situation improves soon (tho it does make for an entertaining read!) :D

Aneela Z said...

In addition to the spoiler alert you should have a cautionary line about how the following section is only for the 'brave hearted' I am crying now and too scared to watch the movie...bear in mind I cried for pankaj kapoor AND the bachas in Blue Umbrella

Mamma mia! Me a mamma? said...

Loved it!!

Homecooked said...

I think this is going to be another gem from Amol Gupte after TZP. I am a big fan. Watched Phas Gaya Obama just because he is in the movie and was not disappointed :)

Neha said...

Hey I liked the movie... this movie should surely do gr8 at BO if not God help us!

Just the page of Stanley.. they have a Live Video Chat with Amole Gupte and Stanley.. its a gr8 to know that the production house and director will be chatting with the Fans!

dipali said...

I liked a lot of it, but some of it was just too unreal for cynical old me! The kids were all fabulous.

Choxbox said...

Where can one e-mail you?

Parul said...

Chox.... At parulsharma1503(at)gmail(dot)com

Choxbox said...

Danke. Mail coming up!

karmickids said...

You're tagged. Go pick it up from Karmickids.

phatichar said...

Planning to watch this weekend.. :)

Great blog - came here through the tongue-fu lady's blog..

starry eyed said...

We went. Kids hogged. I got lump in throat. Whew!

Daud Khan said...

nice! it is very good

phatichar said...

I've been planning to watch it the last week or so..maybe this weekend.

Nice blog, ma'am. will come back. :)

dipali said...

I went and saw it a second time, and loved it more:)But yes, I think kids of 7-8 plus should watch it, not little ones who can get scared/worried.