Monday, January 25, 2010

"Man Push Cart" (2005) - Movie Review

Ramin Bahrani’s “Chop Shop” showed a society away from the busy and overwhelming New York City. Before “Chop Shop” he made “Man Push Cart” and this may be the film which is shot in New York City which avoids all the glamour, vibrance and liveliness of the city. Of course there are few shots of Empire State building but those are mere significance of the location or the destination of the lead man’s travel, Ahmad (Ahmad Razvi). It is purely upon this Pakistani trying as many cart shops in the city to make ends meet and live with the little happiness they hope to achieve.

In the early darkness of the city ready to wake up, Ahmad commutes from Brooklyn to the city. He picks up his cart from the storage facility and pushes through the clunky heavy cart in the midst of blaring horns and vehicles ready to him. He steers through the inclined slopes and stops in a street. Regular customers come by for some bagels and hot coffee to kick their day off. He then packs up and treks through the mountainous roads to his depot. He comes back home which is barely allowing to take two steps from the center. This is his chore and in between he manages to sell pirated DVDs for some money and sometime for cigarettes.

Bahrani’s film wants to show the location but does not take is as a character as most film do or to be precise he shows the city for a different character of itself. There light decorations dying by the beaten face of Ahmad. There are busy people give their ten-seconds “how are you?” and move on. Ahmad keeps it to himself. He has not seen his son for over three months now as his mother-in-law does not allow him. He lost his dearly wife and the only thing to look forward is his morning job. Ahmad is in mourning and slowly giving up on the life he is leading.

There is nothing elegant or stylistic in Bahrani’s direction. Not even a casual smile passes around. It is a showcase of a realistic sadness in the lives of these immigrants doing menial work. Even the slightest signs of hope marks great celebration, not in them but with its audience. Ahmad meets up with Mohammad (Charles Daniel Sandoval) a young well to do man offering a painting job at his house and a concern for his fellow country man. But more than that he has seen Ahmad some where. Ahmad used to be a rock star back in the days.

“Man Push Cart” is not a story of a man’s improvement in his life nor it is utterly devastating to keep us in grief. It as a complete film is an even balance of sadness. The sadness is haunting and is not underlined. It runs through in the face of Ahmad. He meets another possible hope for recuperating his crumbling life through Noemi (Leticia Dolera). Noemi makes small talks and he helps her in his routine of getting cigarettes from her shop. But then again, things do not go as we hope.

The sorrow in the film is not contrived but an occurrence. I could not read much from the film other than a portrayal of lonely man going through his life as a punishment. He gets blamed by his in-laws for their daughter’s demise which we do not get to know. His young son has began to forget his father. Even with so much coming down upon him, he commutes and does his best to get things going.

Of Ramin Bahrani’s three films, “Man Push Cart” is the least favourite of mine but it is definitely not a bad film. Its content as such being the melancholy tune as it is, it affects the liking for the film from its audience. Yet, it is a film of pure honest emotion and for that I liked “Man Push Cart”.

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