A “feel-good” movie isn’t a panacea for all our pandemic and lockdown-triggered ills. And yet, in these crushing times, a simple distraction like this can lend cheer and hope, urging us to find meaning in existence.
India may be hobbling out of a debilitating second wave of the Coronavirus pandemic, but not before leaving us all in a collective state of catatonic despair. Notwithstanding the quasi-optimistic headlines regarding the “decline” in numbers, this is hardly a great time to be in. Real good news from any quarters continues to elude and cheerfulness is beginning to acquire a layer of rose-tinted nostalgia, like it were some faraway thing we no longer clearly recognize.
All the same, cheer up we must. And that’s precisely what the below-mentioned films, transcending language, periods, genres, and themes, intend to generate. Watch these six classic films –arranged in order of their feel-good quotient– if you are feeling low, depressed, and dispirited. Go right ahead and lose yourself in their exuberant fluff and froth, even if only fleetingly:
1. Amélie (2001)
Imbued with the sweetness and airiness of a soufflé, this French romantic-comedy film is rooted in the idea that life can be about giving happiness to other people. Never loved much by her widower father, Amélie Poulain (Audrey Tautou) is a single, painfully shy 23-year-old waitress who only has her fecund imagination to keep her company. One day, startled by the news of Princess Diana’s death, she accidentally drops a perfume-stopper, dislodging a wall tile which leads her to find a rusty metal box filled with childhood memorabilia. In tracking down the man – who was once the little boy who hid that box – and returning his treasures, Amélie finds her life’s purpose – she will do things to make others happy. And so goes our eponymous heroine, devising happiness stratagems for others and discreetly carrying them out – a blind man, a co-worker, and the concierge of her block of flats are all unsuspecting recipients. Soon after, she falls hopelessly in love with a young man Nino (Mathieu Kassovitz), complicating matters for she now must look to make herself happy.
Made by Jean-Pierre Jeunet, a former animator, Amélie becomes doubly delightful to watch on account of its visual and aural artistry. Panoramic shots, a sanitized, pretty-as-a-picture Paris, elegantly-dressed Parisians, quirky accordion music, and what have you. This is cinematic whimsy at its best.
2. Shree 420(1955)
Bursting with the unbridled optimism of newly independent India, Shree 420 is an urban fable that revolves around an honest, small-town boy Raj (Raj Kapoor) who moves to Bombay to earn a livelihood. Despite his trials and travailsin the city, Raj finds love and acceptance in a working-class neighbourhood in which having one’s own home is the loftiest dream the poor have.Soon, Raj’sdreams of becoming rich are fulfilled after a chance encounter with the sultry socialite Maya (Nadira), followed by another with unscrupulous businessman Seth Sonachand (Nemo) who sets him up as a con man specializing in all kinds of fraudulent schemes. The rest, though not entirely unpredictable, focusses on Raj’s predicament and those of the people who love him most.
Notwithstanding its startling similarities with our time – aspirational young men, unaffordable housing, real estate Ponzi schemes, and the supposed elite’s obsession with Mammon – Shree 420 is set in a disarmingly simple world that is sustained by the virtues of people like Vidya (Nargis Dutt) and Ganga Mai (Lalita Pawar). Interspersed with some of Hindi cinema’s most celebrated songs (Mera Joota Hai Japani, Pyar Hua Iqrar Hua, Ramaiya Vastavaiya, Ichak Dana Beechak Dana), this is anenthrallingly light-hearted film that will hold you in rapt attention all through its length.
3. The Terminal (2004)
Inspired by the true story of Iranian refugee Mehran Karimi Nasseri who spent 18 years at Terminal 1 of Charles de Gaulle Airport, this Steven Spielberg movie is a gentle, Kafkaesque comedy, profoundly human and brilliantly sweet. When Viktor Navorski (Tom Hanks) arrives at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, he is confronted with news of a civil war outbreak in his native land of Krakozhia. As a result, his passport is promptly declared invalid for the United States no longer recognizes Krakozhia – a fictional East European country – rendering him stateless.Neither permitted to enter the U.S. nor return home, Navorski remains stranded at the airport for months, befriending a variety of characters including a beautiful but sad flight attendant Amelia (Catherine Zeta-Jones), a surly janitor, and a friendly food services employee among others. But even as his curiously good, guileless ways win over all but Frank Dixon (Stanley Tucci), the uncharitable Homeland Security official, he must get out of the airport in order to fulfil the vow that brought him to the United States.
Despite the gravity of the situation, The Terminal is focused on the lightness of it, artfully showcasing the peculiar apathy that runs through bureaucratic red tape. Ultimately it is Navorski’s tear-inducing goodness that inspires the humanity of those around him. A sliver of it is sure to rub off on you, the viewer as well.
4. Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa (1994)
This breezy, coming-of-age comedy drama does not have a plot. It offers instead a river of a story marked by a gentle ebb and flow of emotions. Sunil (Shahrukh Khan at his unassuming best) is a happy-go-lucky aspiring musician in love with Anna (Suchitra Krishnamoorthi)who in turn is enamoured of Chris (Deepak Tijori). As we watch our bumbling hero pull all sorts of unheroic tricks – constantly lying, slandering Anna before Chris, failing his exam yet again and forging a marksheet to show his parents –we can’t help feeling what Father Braganza (Naseeruddin Shah) said of him at the beginning: that he essentially has a pure heart.The bittersweet ending only reinforces that feeling.
Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa is a film conspicuously devoid of villains. Moreover, the “hero” isn’t the Bollywood-esque weeping lover boy, swashbuckling cop, or combative warrior prince, but an average Joe who despite his follies and foibles is fundamentally good at heart. In a sweetly persuasive way, the movie reminds us that the reason we’re here may not be that one extraordinary thing that benefits the world, but countless ordinary things that help those we love.
5. Babe (1995)
This dazzlingly innocent family drama is ostensibly centered on Babe the orphaned baby pig, but on closer observation is about anyone whose talents have been underestimated. Precociously aware of the cruel destiny that awaits his species in the human world, little Babe is the lone pig on the farm of farmer Hoggett who “wins” him at a contest in a county fair. Like Orwell’s Animal Farm, this one too is peopled by many creatures, good and not so good.
There’s Rex the haughty Border Collie, Ferdinand the duck who wants to make himself useful so he isn’t slaughtered, and Duchess the mean pet cat. Mothered by Fly, a female Border Collieand encouraged by Maa, an elderly ewe, Babe realizes he has innate herding abilities. After a string of misunderstandings that nearly cost Babe his life, farmer Hoggett recognizes his gift, signing him up for a local sheep herding competition. But this won’t be easy considering he must contend with pedigree herding dogs and defiant flocks of sheep.
Although a delightfully fun film for children, Babeis at its core a deeply thought-provoking tale that celebrates the underdog for what he is. There is no preachiness but the many subtle messages are loud and clear. Indeed, this isn’t just a film but a treat that all must indulge in.
6. Children of Heaven (1997)
This staggeringly beautiful Iranian family drama glows with a kind of wide-eyed purity one would associate only with children. The movie begins with eight-year-old Ali who accidentally loses baby sister Zahra’s only pair of shoes. Knowing his family’s financial troubles, Ali can’t tell his parents, prompting the two to secretly devise an arrangement: Zahra will wear Ali’s sneakers to school every morning and return them to Ali at midday for his afternoon classes.Unfortunately, this doesn’t work out well. Ali’s shoes are already tattered and Zahra can’t run back home fast enough, so Ali – otherwise a good student – is admonished at school for being frequently late.Later, Ali learns of an inter-school footrace in which the third prize is a pair of sneakers – just what Zahra needs. His participation in the race and its outcome offer moments of great suspense and anxiety that are, however, quickly overwhelmed by pathos.
Directed by Majid Majidi, Children of Heavenisn’t a boisterously entertaining film. Its magnificence lies in the way it presents the haunting beauty and sadness found in everyday scenes of life –the contrast between the serpentine alleys of the old city and sweeping vistas of neatly lined luxury homes, the crestfallen look in a child’s eyes, goldfish in a tank of aquamarine water. Infusing the viewer with a deep sense of gratitude, this is a film that exemplifies the glorious power of cinema.
Other honourable mentions– Hollywood and Hindi – include Baby’s Day Out (1994), Soul Food (1997), Mrs. Doubtfire (1993), Bawarchi (1972), The Lunchbox (2013), Mr. India (1987), and Eeshwar (1989). Additional feel-fabulous films in foreign languages include Yomeddine (Arabic; 2019) and Life is Beautiful (Italian; 1997).
While a brief distraction – a movie, a book, or cooking an elaborate meal – spanning a few hours can’t take away our problems or magically banish the distress that has enwrapped our mental states, it can infuse a measure of happiness, elicit a smile, bring a ray of hope, and most of all, drive home the fact that life, with all its agonies, must go on.
Nandini Sen, Content Writer
Army rescues 41 civilians stranded due to heavy rains on Mughal Road
The Indian Army rescued 41 civilians stranded at blocked Mughal Road in Jammu following heavy rains, informed Defence PRO, Jammu on Saturday.
During a 3-hour-long night rescue operation on Friday, the stranded civilians were evacuated.
According to Defence PRO, the Mughal Road was blocked due to heavy rainfall, uprooted trees and lightning.
“On 11 June, in swift 3 hrs long night rescue ops, #IndianArmy rescued 41 civilians, stranded at blocked #MughalRoad due to heavy rainfall, uprooted trees and lightning at between Ratta Chamb and Mansar Mod in #Poonch. All help and support extend to them,” Defence PRO had said in a tweet.
The rescued passengers were provided food and heating arrangements and no injuries were reported in the operation.
“The civilians were highly appreciative of the swift action of the Army which saved them from vagaries of weather and harsh terrain,” Army said.
India reports lowest one-day rise in COVID-19 cases after 71 days
India on Sunday (June 13, 2021) reported its lowest one-day rise in the COVID-19 cases after 71 days. The country recorded 80,834 new coronavirus infections in the last 24 hours, the figures by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare showed.
India’s active caseload has now declined to 10,26,159, while the weekly positivity rate has dropped to 4.74% and the daily positivity rate stands at 4.25%.
There were also 3,303 coronavirus-related deaths between Saturday and Sunday morning.
So far, there have been 2.94 crore cases and 3.70 lakh fatalities across the country.
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare also informed that 1,32,062 patients recovered in the last 24 hours. India now has registered 2.80 crore recoveries and the recovery rate has improved to 95.26%.
Meanwhile, more than 25.31 crore coronavirus vaccine doses have been administered across the country.
Lost your ATM card? Here is how to get it blocked
Have you lost your State Bank of India (SBI) debit card? Don’t panic! You can easily get your ATM cum Debit Card blocked through OnlineSBI.
“You can now Block your SBI ATM cum Debit Card through OnlineSBI, in case your card is lost or stolen,” SBI said.
Step 1: Log in to www.onlinesbi.com with your username and password.
Step 2: Select “ATM Card Services>Block ATM Card” link under the “e-Services” tab.
Step 3: Select the Account, under which you want to block your ATM cum Debit Card.
Step 4: All the Active and blocked cards will be displayed. You will be shown the first 4 and last 4 digits of the card(s).
Step 5: Select the Card and click “Submit”. Next, verify the details and confirm.
Step 6: Select the mode of authentication as either SMS OTP or Profile Password.
Step 7: Enter the OTP password /Profile password as chosen earlier and Click “Confirm” on the next screen.
Step 8: A success message would be displayed with a Ticket No. after successful blocking of your ATM cum Debit Card. You are advised to note this Ticket No. for future reference.
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