Just when you thought August was moving too fast and that the year was hurtling towards a spectacular end, comes American Factory on Netflix.
We know that the world has shrunk. But what price do we pay for globalisation? A factory in Ohio is shut down and what and how the people suffer is a story that has been documented everywhere around the world. If factories are the lifeline of a nation, don’t we all bleed when they shut down? What can unions do when the masters decide the factory is no longer viable? Remember Namak Haraam? Friends Amitabh Bachchan and Rajesh Khanna on two sides of the story of a factory in peril?
This documentary is at once alarming and heart warming. It shows how factory workers in China must be working doing one thing all day, over and over again as if they were machines because that is exactly how the Chinese bosses expect American workers to work when they take over a closed plant in Ohio. The Chinese workers who have been uprooted from their home country and placed in a hostile country have to learn to make a life with workmates who are used to a different kind of work environment.
When the Obamas announced that they would form a production house when the President moved out of the White House, I was like, ‘He’s just like all of us who came to Bombay with dreams about making movies!’ And when you see American Factory, you begin to understand that he’s making a brilliant political statement, a human statement with their first documentary. It shines a light on trade wars between the United States and China and how that will affect the whole world and us, in India.
There are stories about similar things happening in India as well. Expats who have been running factories are isolated and forced to live in communities where Indians workers are not allowed. Food and treatment less than humane when factory workers travel abroad with passports and law firmly on the side of the masters? Sounds like a far-fetched conspiracy theory isn’t it? But it’s worth a second look. The documentary American Factory manages to raise such questions that make you sound like you are about to stand in a picket line with a placard that talks of social equality and justice.
But what happens when you are living away from this awful globalised world? Deep in the forest, if there is a murder or two, do you just shrug your shoulders and let it be? Watch Green Frontier and decide for yourself.
Not just your everyday, ordinary story, but I would be lying if I told you that being connected with the forests and hear the whispers of the trees would be an envious place to be. Our country is still living in a time where we continue to listen to various babas who curse and magically bind our enemies and pray for wealth that will assuredly come into our pockets. No matter how educated you are and how dedicated you are at work, you cannot deny such stories.
Green Frontier shook me into looking at the concrete jungle that I live in and made me wonder if we are becoming stranger simply because we have become successful in ways our parents did not.
Who can deny that they have a love-hate relationship with their parents? Who has not been puzzled by the role reversal that has happened over the years? The mother who made the best Srikhand this side of the Mississippi is now too fragile to make it herself… The father who taught you need to buy a copy of the Constitution and could talk about it endlessly to you, falls asleep mid-sentence now…
Jack Whitehall decided to take his dad along on his travels and the result is one of the best things I have seen about fathers and sons on television. You will ask the same thing as I did, ‘How did I miss this?’ There are two seasons of this show and I had to watch every episode. If it was possible to want to have Jack’s dad over for tea, I would. I would wonder what he would say next. It’s funny, it’s sharp and the father and son team have the best time traveling the world. Watch Jack Whitehall’s Travels With My Father on Netflix:
The trouble with watching shows is that they geo locate you and change the language if you are not watchful. When I watched Victim No. 8 and realised that English was a tad strange to my ears, I made myself another cup of tea and then fixed the setting so I would hear it in the original language. The trailer is in English, just in case you choose that as your primary language.
This show will make you wonder whose story you are going to believe. And you have seen everyone from Shah Rukh Khan downwards say, ‘My name is Khan and I am not a terrorist.’ You have seen Aamir Bashir’s gut-wrenching film called Harud which throws a spotlight on missing brothers and fathers in Kashmir. But I cannot resist watching law enforcement related shows that make you thankful that we have such brilliant police minds hunting down killers and kidnappers and what have you. And yes, Fargo is not the only female cop show on Netflix.
Now call me strange, but I love old cars and motorbikes and can watch the History channel shows on restoring them and making Buicks from the 60s and winged Oldsmobiles and Torino’s shiny and new again. Yes, I have watched Rust Brothers and seen them at work in Rust Valley Restorers on Netflix the moment the show hit the ‘Recently Added’ list. Mike Hall from this show is my new hero with dreadlocks
And if you are in a mood to watch a romance about nailing two by fours without rolling your eyes over a girl yelping when things fall down around her, then Falling Inn Love is a romance that is worth 90 minutes of your time. And yes, I do dream about moving to New Zealand, and only because of the breath-taking countryside.
I have told you about this one show I’m waiting for on Amazon Prime Video called Carnival Row with the incredible chemistry between Carla Delavigne and Orlando Bloom so evident in the trailer. It hits your computer screens tomorrow. And yes, this is what I will be watching tomorrow night:
Manisha Lakhe is a poet, film critic, traveller, founder of Caferati — an online writer’s forum, hosts Mumbai’s oldest open mic, and teaches advertising, films and communication. Read her columns