Social Media: Seeing the unseen
Movie blogger Pankaj Sachdeva critiques films with a twist: he points out inconsistencies even filmmakers have missed!
The first time I watched Dil Chahta Hai, I was 10 years old. I’ve seen the movie several times since then, but each time I go back to it, I notice something I hadn’t seen earlier.
Meanwhile, Pankaj Sachdeva has written a book on minute details in the movie. When we discuss my favourite scene, where Sid (played by Akshaye Khanna) is sitting with Deepa (portrayed by Samantha Treymane) on the beach, saying: ‘Is ret ko dekh rahi ho? Jitni koshish karo isse zyada pakadne ki, utni ungliyon ke beech mein se nikal jaati hai’ (Do you see this sand? The more you try to hold it tightly in your hands, the more it will slip away), he points out that there’s much, much more to Deepa’s character.
The play of perspective
Pankaj Sachdeva, an analyst at Amazon in the US on weekdays and a movie blogger on the weekends, narrates an interesting nuance in Deepa’s character, saying, “While the three male leads have been reluctant to profess love, or to even accept it themselves, Deepa’s portrayal is of a strong, affable person who is not afraid to speak her heart. She has been ridiculed by Aakash for it, but she’s actually fearless. Isn’t it difficult to maintain the same feeling when you know the person you love totally ignores you?”
Pankaj says that he doesn’t just watch movies, he ‘reads’ them (that’s what his Instagram account is called: Reading Films). And he does this on repeat. The first time with a notepad and a pen, noting down specifics that might have been missed. And then a second and a third time to connect all the dots. All of this seems like an entertaining chore, but he doesn’t see it as work.
“I was fascinated by films as I grew up. I remember scanning the entire newspaper and reading every movie review printed on Fridays. Then I started doing it online, too. I’d compare one review with another, trying to understand what I had missed that the critics had caught. It’s an acquired passion,” smiles Pankaj, who has been writing his blog since 2013.
Filmmakers depict their characters with a wealth of detail that the audience often doesn’t even notice. For example, the song Satrangi Re in Mani Ratnam’s Dil Se depicted the seven stages of love with the colours seen on Manisha Koirala’s costume and the choreography. Few people recognised that, including Pankaj. Similarly, he connects movies made by the same production house in the most nuanced manner, whether it’s the name of the lead character in different Sooraj Barjatya films or the context of time in different scenes of Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani.
How does he manage to do this along with a full-time job? “Honestly, I cannot watch movies with rapt attention on weekdays after work. So, I rewatch the movies I’d watched over the weekend. It’s actually the writing that takes the most time. I spend hours writing one post. Since it is something I do out of passion, I thoroughly enjoy it,” he shrugs.
Change of lens
Did the idea of becoming a movie critic ever cross his mind? “Growing up, I never thought of the arts as a theme in my life. Bollywood is driven by stars; it’s only lately that film has developed as a culture. Also, media jobs are challenging. Plus, I’m more observational, so I see a movie in a holistic manner,” says Pankaj.
He plays by his strengths which is why he never posts content about regional movies. “I watch a lot of regional films in Bengali, Malayalam and Tamil but to ‘read’ movies, you need context and I think I lack that,” he explains.
He may underplay his attention to detail, but his blog and Instagram have found fans in filmmakers like Anurag Kashyap and Ravi Udyawar, both of whom have also DM’d Pankaj, thanking him for noticing the finer aspects of their movies.
For instance, did you understand the reference to peacocks in multiple scenes in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Ram Leela? The hook step of the Tattad song symbolises a peacock dancing and the bird is also seen in Leela’s earrings and cushions. Or, did you notice that the realisation that they were in love hit all the male characters in Dil Chahta Hai at a point when the female characters wore white?
Well, Pankaj did. And thanks to his blog, you can ‘read’ movies too.
From HT Brunch, August 13, 2022
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