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Kumbalangi Nights

(India) This film was interesting for me to watch. This is probably the first film out of India I have seen that doesn’t look like it was made for an international audience. Four brothers live together in an old house in a poor part of town. The brothers don’t all get along well together, and it is clear from the beginning that there is a history that we will discover as the film progresses. I was fascinated watching this, as it is a very different film than the kind that are typically produced in the United States. I will claim ignorance, and hopefully, some of you from India will add commentary to what I write. The technique is very different from what I am used to, and I don’t know if this is what Indian cinema is like. First, I thought the cinematography to be really wonderful – all of the colors and scenes were so rich. I also loved the score that shifted quite dramatically in places consistent with the shifts in mood. There is a lot of music! There was a lot of use of slow-motion that to me seemed rather corny, and sometimes time seemed to speed up on some scenes so that events happened much faster than they should have. I also had some difficulties with the subtitling, as the English translations of what was going on seem to be off periodically (the whole “lost in translation” thing). And that fighting at the end – it seems so staged. But I have to say that overall I really enjoyed the film. I loved watching these men come into themselves and find their own sense of what it means to be a man in a culture that seems to have quite rigid prescriptions on this (exemplified by Shammy’s character and in some of the brothers). The film is very sweet and also, in places, really funny. As someone who is American and is not so familiar with the some of the cultural aspects of gender roles, and someone who admittedly knows nothing about Indian cinema (I feel a gap here and need to fix this by watching more films), I think I probably did not get everything that I could have from the film. But thumbs up from me – I had a really good time watching it, and I loved the character development. (2019; 3.5 Stars).

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