Vantage point

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Review of 'Being Cyrus'

Watched 'Being Cyrus' at the Wave multiplex in Lucknow a couple of days back. Went in expecting a standard happy-go-lucky Ind-English movie with a Rohinton-Mistry-ish touch of Parsee lives. What I got was a superbly crafted, well written and brilliantly performed movie with probably the best screenplay in Indian cinema after Satya.

Homi Adajania's movie is mindbogglingly good. It has humour, drama, suspense, a slice of reality, and delicious performances, all wrapped in a slick 90 minute package that in a rare accomplishment for a Hindi film, leaves you pining for more by the time the end credits roll.

The Parsi community has given India a lot. Besides giving us soaps, shampoos, cupboards, cars and a national carrier, their unique history, quirky customs, and their unique assimilation intothe Indian mainstream even while retaining their own identity has given much fodder for great plays, books and movies. I expected Being Cyrus to be one such 'slice of parsi life' flick with lots of Fardoons and Dinshaws and tameras and ameras captured by the camera. The Parsi community which at one time occupied the hallowed upper echelons of colonial Indian setup have had to rub shoulders with commoners from Punjab, Karnataka, UP and Tamilnadu who are claiming their pieces of pie in the great Indian dream. The super rich Parsi still holds positions prominence, but the middle class Parsi who once held sway over other middle class gujjus, ghaatis and madraasis thanks to his mastery over the Queen's language and the gentleman's game has found himself paying the price of running in the same place. Others have caught up thanks to several english-medium-vidyalayas and cricket academies that have mushroomed everywhere from Pune to Patna. Though the accents and mannerisms of these Johnny-come-latelies from the boondocks may not be as refined as the South Mumbai ones they still possess enough knowledge and skill to compete on equal terms. And in a competition on equal terms, the numerically sparse Parsi is losing prominence. Today you see more of these boondocks-waasis lunching in the Taj and boozing at Geoffrey's.

'Being Cyrus' is indeed about all this. But it is also about so much more. It is about a man who does not quite know how to keep evolving with his talent. It is about a woman who is not quite satisfied with what she has got because she does not realise that she already has more than she deserves. It is about a man whose mindless mistreatment of his children comes back tohaunt him in ways unimaginable. It is about a man who is usually smugly drunk on a concoction of self-righteousness and cunning.

And of course it is about Cyrus.

Dimple Kapadia has been given a meaningful role after ages, and she delivers with finesse. Naseeruddin Shah and Saif Ali Khan are their usual competent selves. Boman Irani, who with his late arrival and consistent brilliance is to Indian films what Matthew Hayden is to Australian cricket, is the pick of the lot, portraying Farokh with perfection. Simone Singh grates a bit towards the end of the film. The surprise package is character actor Manoj Pahwa whose Inspector Maninder Lovely adds a lot more to the story than Adajania perhaps intended it to.

I am going to watch this movie on the big screen again when I return to Mumbai. If you haven't watched it yet, then go do so.