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Kranti Kanade’s 'CRD' Is A Delectable Orgy Of Excesses

The film spotlights a young playwright who rebels against his fascist mentor.

04/10/2017 12:33 PM IST | Updated 04/10/2017 2:33 PM IST
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Co-written and directed by the National Award-winning filmmaker Kranti Kanade, CRD presents the story of a young playwright who rebels against his fascist mentor in a bid to win a prestigious theatre competition. Kanade draws his inspiration from the renowned Purushottam Karandak Inter-collegiate Theatre competition in Pune that over the last several decades has given us playwrights like Satish Alekar and Vijay Tendulkar.

Walking a tightrope between melodrama and heightened realism, CRD endeavors to develop a unique language

The competition is seen as a launch pad for not just young writers but also actors and music composers. Kanade, who directed the legendary American actor Harvey Keitel in his previous directorial outing Gandhi of the Month, is known to make socially relevant films featuring strong protagonists committed to fight against autocracy and injustice instead of meekly accepting the status quo. In CRD, he explores fascism and cut-throat competition in the field of art while commenting on the general state of affairs of the world we inhabit.

Walking a tightrope between melodrama and heightened realism, CRD endeavors to develop a unique language that comes across as a cross between cinema and theatre. This hybrid language ensures that those who love cinema don't find it too theatrical and that the theatre lovers don't feel alienated as well. In the recent times we have been witnessing some interesting experiments on the web with CinePlay commission the retelling of old classics like Badal Sarkar's Pagla Ghoda and Mohan Rakesh's Aadhe Adhure but as far as Hindi cinema is concerned CRD certainly comes across as a breath of fresh air. In fact, such bold experiments in terms of narrative have been unheard of in Hindi cinema since the master Indian filmmaker Mani Kaul made films like Ashadh Ka Ek Din and Satah Se Uthata Admi.

CRD opened to unanimous critical acclaim in the United States, receiving rave reviews from Los Angeles Times, Hollywood Reporter, LA Weekly, among others. Egged on by the positive response that the movie has received all around, Kranti Kanade has made an announcement that all those who are left disappointed by the film will be refunded their ticket price as well as the fuel cost. In the words of Kanade himself: "It's often that viewers are disappointed with a film and that discourages them from visiting cinemas again soon, resulting in overall decline. In every other aspect of life, we have the right to return and reclaim our fund. Why not apply that logic here as well? It's a baby step, but a revolutionary one, and we hope it will soon be the future norm."

Overall, CRD comes across as a bold albeit clever potpourri of ideas that unfolds like a delectable orgy of excesses. With influences ranging from István Szabó's Mephisto to Taviani Brothers' Caesar Must Die, the film pays countless tributes to several stalwarts of cinema including the likes of Bergman, Godard, Kurosawa, Ghatak, and Antonioni, among others. An interesting way to look at the films would be as a treatise on narcissism, fear, obsession, insecurity and hubris. CRD serves a testament to the duplicitous nature of art.

As Pablo Picasso had so eloquently stated, "Art is a lie that tells the truth." In defense, Orson Welles had said in F for Fake, "I must believe that art itself is real." Interestingly, Welles' early fame was based on a lie. While on a painting trip through Ireland, he visited the Gate Theatre in Dublin and claimed that he was a Broadway star. The convenient lie got him his first break. And the rest is history. While the characters in CRD toy around with lies most of the times, they ultimately succeed in discovering their innermost truths, which is probably what Picasso was once trying to suggest.

However, CRD lacks consistency and suffers from some structural and narrative flaws but that's quite acceptable of a film that constantly dares to experiment with form.

A version of this review was first published in A Potpourri of Vestiges.

The opinions expressed in this post are the personal views of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the views of HuffPost India. Any omissions or errors are the author's and HuffPost India does not assume any liability or responsibility for them.

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