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An unemployed youth (Kamal) dreams of living well. One evening, he finds a drunken industrialist (Sameer Khakkar) passed out in a gutter, and takes the opportunity to switch places with him. He finds love, intrigue, and the good life in his new home, Pushpak, a hotel where the industrialist was booked in. A silent masterpiece. Written by
Words are not enough to describe the strengths of this movie of which there are so many that no doubt Pushpak deserves the status of a cult-movie. A silent movie and an intelligent one at that should have shaken up the world of cinema. Alas, it was not meant to be. Nevertheless, it is a landmark film. Had it been made in Hollywood, it could have been the "Avatar" of 3D viewing experience.
It tells the story of an unemployed youth Kamal Hassan who kidnaps and steals the identity of an alcoholic businessman, locks him in his one room apartment, and starts living the life of his dreams in the hostage's suite in a luxury hotel. What follows next is a mix of Alice-in-Wonderland like excitement; boy meets girl charm; hit man-on-the-loose pandemonium; guilt and redemption - all served with a puff of magic.
Despite having no dialogs, the makers of this movie have managed to create such endearing characters that unless you are like me who has watched this movie more than 20 times, you watch with wide eyed wonder at the innovativeness with which each character's story and the situations they find themselves in is revealed. For example, in the musical chairs being played out between Kamal Hassan and random characters in front of the public bathroom, each one of them is desperate to out maneuver the other to get the best "seat" and it is a sight to behold. You can't help but marvel at the subtlety with which Kamal Hasssan plays this scene. Even more intriguing is the sequence of events that propel the action from a daily routine like having a surrogate breakfast, romancing the magician's daughter (an irresistible Amla) at a funeral, dodging the hit-man's innovative weapon, to pouring alcohol down the hostage's throat after cleaning his bottom. It's a remarkable mix and you wonder how much of it was improvised.
Interestingly, the entire concoction is held together by symbolism and metaphors. The idea of boosting one's ego by drawing inspiration from the story of the clever crow that drops pebbles into a jar to raise the level of water in order to quench its thirst plays out beautifully when the protagonist does the same with a cup of tea. Only this time, he drops knick-knacks into the cup. In another scene, once the protagonist has successfully kidnapped the alcoholic businessman and taken over his identity, for a brief moment, stands in front of the hotel logo that has wings on its sides thus forging the idea that he himself has grown wings and is now ready to explore the world that has been out of his reach so far. The movie also boasts creative situational music, some of which sounds like as if it belongs in a lullaby but seems to gel beautifully with the well-choreographed sequences.
Pushpak has a very strong message, especially for the youth, and you don't need spoken words to understand that honesty is still the best policy both in life and in love no matter how bitter-sweet the outcome. If you loved "Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro" and "Chashme Buddoor", make it a point to see Pushpak. If not for anything, watch it for Kamal Hassan and witness how he inhabits his quirky character and missteps not even once.
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