At the outset, let me make it clear that 'Paanch' doesn't glorify violence. On the contrary, its a take on the futility of crime. Also, there's no in your face violence, the pools of blood or the manufactured gore. All you get to see is the atmosphere. 4 guys and 1 girl, members of a rock band, living, jamming, drinking, fighting and smoking in a shady godown. In the room, you see wall graffiti , Jim Morrison posters, beheaded dolls with red ink splashed all over, empty bottles and much more. The 5 live a wasted life and each moment passes with thoughts on how to waste the next moment. They live bang in the middle of Mumbai city, where people are busy every minute of their lives and yet these five waste day after day. They may be outcasts or they may have chosen to remain so. Nothing is said about the backgrounds. They dream of making it big as rockstars and the only thing that is holding them back is lack of money. And thats exactly where the problem starts.
Luke played by Kay Kay Menon is the centre point of it all. My respect for Kay Kay which was already at its heights breached all limits after watching this performance. There are moments that he will scare the hell out of you. Its such a well-etched character, a man powered by greed, ruled by his anger bone and totally unpredictable. The graffiti on his door reads "Tresspassers will be beheaded". Those scenes were he fools his friends into thinking that he's in a fit of rage when he's not, are pure class. And when he actually gets into a fit of rage, you will just stare with an open mouth. Then there's Aditya Srivastava playing Murgi, the same guy who played the cunning Karan in Gulaal. He seems to be the most sensible of the lot. Pondy is the perpetually scared guy who does whatever Luke tells him. His attempts to break free only lands in him more trouble. Joy is the perfect 'chamcha' who supports anything Luke does(including murder) thinking that he's a true friend. And then there's Shuli played by Tejaswini Kolhapure, the ultra modern girl who lives in with four guys and smokes and drinks with them. Its a surprise that this talented lady hasn't acted in many movies after this.
The story is loosely based on the Joshi Abhyankar serial killings that happened in Pune in the 1970s. The first killing is a result of Luke's uncontrolled rage. Its a classic scene where the act is hidden from us. The camera focusses on Luke in all his fury and the rest of the four looking horrified. Only a distant shot of the act is shown in between. Luke casts a scary spell on all of them and they all become accidental criminals. Each passing scene subtly indicates that, the fivesome are getting used to the cycle of violence and at some point they are even hungry for more. Its a cycle into which any alienated soul in any of our metro city can fall into. Sky high ambitions, joblessness, greed, envy, all can lead a slightly frustrated youth into this downward spiral. And no, dont expect the movie to provide any lasting solutions. Its just a document of what can possibly happen or what has already happened, with a little bit of thriller element thrown in. The narration at the police station adds to the drama. The eerie background score by Vishal Bharadwaj, with techno and rock elements increases the tension in the scenes.
Though made almost a decade back, it doesn't have that dated look. But it was made at a time when 'being bad' was not in fashion, unlike today. What really baffles me is why the censors have prevented this movie's release. Reportedly, they demanded some unkind cuts and Kashyap saab said 'NO'. I really dont understand the attitude of the censor board. Obviously headed by some outdated brains with heavy orthodox sensibilities, the board is doing a disservice to movie buffs by preventing the release of such movies. We are bombarded with trash movies on illicit relationships and what not, and here's a movie which sits out for no reason at all. Agreed there's strong language, but dont many of us use it in real life? Also, killings like this happen every day around us. What does we achieve then by preventing the depiction of those realities in our movies? Does denying the existence of such maliciousness around us serve to eradicate it? And do you really think that a person watching a murder on screen will get inspired and go out and kill somebody? what is the purpose of such mindless censoring, its time for a rethink. Censorship of this kind doesn't suit a democracy like us.
So...Download Paanch...kick the censors..
your crusader Praveen