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What’s in a Name?

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.”

– Romeo & Juliet (Act II, Scene 2)

When Shakespeare penned these lines in 1590-something, he had probably never heard of names like Dhurandhar Bhatawadekar, Soorma Bhopali, Mogambo, Chappan Tikli, Madan Chikna, etc. etc. etc. Today, the name, be it of an individual, an institution or even a pet, is a result of as much creativity as planning an ad campaign for another brand of inner wear. The thought being that besides one’s face (the index of one’s mind!), it is the name that makes a ready impact.

Of course, there are those who thrive on borrowed creativity.  Would be parents who go to the bookstore and pick up the bestseller that lists out a million names – mostly synonyms for the Gods. Asking someone the meaning of their name is may even be considered a status symbol these days. A friend’s daughter’s name means eyebrows in Sanskrit and the kid (who resides in Chicago) actually thanked her stars that her parents didn’t name her after some other pieces of equipment found in the human face.

Our cinema too has waxed eloquent over names! So, the audience laughed their heads off when an aggrieved Parveen Dabas told off papa Kamal Kishore Khosla (Anupam Kher) for giving him an archaic name from pre-Independence Lahore. “Papa, Aap to upar se neeche tak, Kamal Kishore lagte ho, par main kahin se bhi Chiraunji Lal nahin lagta,” he cribs before settling for the name Chirag in the final reel of the movie “Khosla ka Ghosla”.

When action star Akshay Kumar changed his name, he obviously had the correct intentions. The name Ravi Bhatia conjured up the figure of a local “halwai” with a rotund exterior and not someone who could through a few punches and land a few flying kicks.

My mind was in a swirl over the issue of names as I sauntered into a movie auditorium screening the latest release “Udaan”. The wall posters credited Rajat Bharmecha as the leading actor and Vikramadiya Motwane as the director. Was I on the verge of screwing up my prized weekend watching Vikram and his Vetaal? The only two names I recognized from the credits (on the poster) happened to be two Ham Kings of television – Messrs Ram Kapoor and Ronit Roy.

But, two hours and a few minutes later, I emerged into bright sunlight with my perception of Shakespeare dented further. The man probably wrote the line on a balmy Saturday afternoon, sipping his sixth glass of beer. A rose by any other name might still smell the same, but I was not so sure that a rose, if renamed medulaa oblongata could still manage remain the symbol of love!

Having been forced to watch non-stop nonsense by my Movie Editor for the past several weeks, I felt myself thaw to Vikram and his lovable Vetaal as the movie about an adolescent child seeking an identity began unfolding before me. The story revolves around the claustrophobia felt by a teenager, who gets thrown out of boarding school for watching a C-grade semi-porn flick and is forced to share the roof with his “I-am-always-right” father and a whimpering half-brother (no time for Masoom type bonding here).

Motwane tells his tale using a narrative style that has plenty of magical moments but no over-the-board theatrics. Ronit Roy as the tyrannical dad and Bharmecha as the sensitive son gel quite well on screen. However, the strong point of the movie is its narrative and pace where the camera slowly pans across the landscape of Jamshedpur, the rooms of its chosen residents and into their minds.

Besides eliciting first rate performances from his cast, Motwane also manages to use a collage-type cinematography of Mahendra Shetty to telling effect. Every time a character faces a test, the camera seems to be offering each one some quiet company. There are no moves or jerks that jar as all through Shetty provides a stabilizing influence in an otherwise chaotic life of the protagonist Rohan.

The movie tells the tale of a teen’s growing up, but does so without the paraphernalia of songs and dances, snappy dialogues and the general urban yuppiness that similar tales like Lakshya and Wake Up Sid used in the past. Both Rohan and his creator seem to believe in understatement at all levels.

Maybe, that is why their names too appeared understated when I first looked at the movie posters!

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