Naukar Ki Kameez (1999)

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Naukar Ki Kameez (1999)
Director: Mani Kaul
Writer: Vinod Kumar Shukla

Runtime: 103 Minutes
Spoken Language: Hindi
No Subtitles
VCD Version

Naukar Ki Kameez (1999), as it appears, is a ΓÇÿconventionalΓÇÖ narrative film, by the directorΓÇÖs standards, with that generally-revered ΓÇÿnaturalisticΓÇÖ acting and speech, its relatively generous use of musical score and a general willingness to present a string of events, if not a plot. However, it is also one of KaulΓÇÖs most experimental features (Kaul couldnΓÇÖt ideally be classified as an experimental filmmaker) and employs a fragmented narrative structure (which keeps spreading out to new directions) with constant chronological jumps back and forth, an absurd, magic realist tone (which reveals a tenderness towards his characters and his geography) and a potpourri of filmmaking modes (including canned laughter of sitcoms and internal monologues of low-end TV dramas). Set at the fag end of the 60s, Naukar Ki Kameez, which centers on a lower-middle class clerk, Santu, in a government office, and his wife, for most part, is a simple metaphorical tale of upward class mobility and its psychological and social impediments. Santu is a bundle of contradictions; he is conscious of class divisions and the need for revolution and yet harbours hope for social-climbing, he recognizes the need to respect the other, yet casually oppresses his wife, whom he genuinely loves as well. Like AravindanΓÇÖs Oridathu (1986), it gives us a nation with an identity crisis: one caught between extreme Westernization and dreams of a revolution ΓÇô between tradition and modernity ΓÇô posing a question to itself: To wear or to tear?

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