Senna, The Movie.

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I never knew Senna except for the fact that Michael Schumacher kept getting compared to him a lot. Bogus. There is no comparison.

During my early introduction to Formula 1, I kept hearing about this legend who was a wizard on wet tracks and a genuinely good guy who jumped off his car mid-way during a race and helped a fellow injured driver.  Problem with Star Sports in the late 90’s was Formula 1 was mostly live and hardly had any footage of era’s gone by. And with Ferrari winning and all (including my bias), whenever I would hear of Senna being the greatest, I always thought it was these McLaren-ites mouthing-off as most of them could not have seen anything more than a montage here and there.

The movie I thought did a good job to refrain from attaching too many adjectives to Senna like the best, the greatest, the fastest which was refreshing, a change from many of the tribute films that are out there. The limited presentation of his life in and outside the sport can only be attributed to the fact that there was a lack of material as the whole fim is either from home videos or tv footage. For that kind of editing and writing, Asif Kapadia & Manish Pandey – hat’s off. I can only imagine how many months these guys must have sat before hours and hours of raw footage!

I left the film feeling bad that I did not get a chance to see this guy live in action. Probably those were really amazing days when there was much less perfection and cars did blow up all the time and there was a chance for other teams/drivers to catch up. Or I could be wrong and this era maybe really one of the best. Look at 2010. 5 Wins for Alonso and Vettel and 4 points is all that separates the two.

That Senna was loved and a genuinely good guy is beyond question. That he helped a lot of poor, needy people in his home country is without question. But isn’t that a matter of chance/fate? Is MS less deserving just because he cannot help a lot of poor people in Germany? Is it for Alonso in spain?

Nevertheless, decent watch. More racing action would have been good. Awesome to see Ron Dennis and Frank Williams speaking so highly of Senna.

2010 Fav Movies

Finally done with the quota of December films so here it goes – my favorite films of 2010:

  1. Winter’s Bone
  2. Exit through a gift shop
  3. Soul Kitchen
  4. Kings Speech
  5. 127 hrs

Still have to watch biutiful which I am told is Javier Bardem’s best performance to date. Am sure I missed a few foreign language films but to get my hands on those DVD’s will take a while.

There will be very few hardcore fans of Aaron Sorkin than me but I still contend that he missed the point on Social Network. It just does not match up either as a movie or as a story about facebook. Is it the case of these old journos/jurists riding the hype to get these awards to appeal to the younger generation?

And honestly except for a couple of scenes with Justin Timberlake, the screenplay was dull!

Dev.D – The Invisible Trip

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN FOR AND PUBLISHED AT PASSIONFORCINEMA.COM

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Chanda: It’s good to talk when in Pain.

Dev: What do you know about pain?

The arrogance that is inclusive in all souls battered because of boredom and heightened state of desires manifests in this one form  – PAIN. And the idea that pain is only caused to a chosen few and that the person who understands other’s pain is but a jerk. And what  a jerk Dev is,,, throwing all that is dear to him, all that has loved him, possessed him, butchering all souls who cared to wiff at his pathetic existence to see the kid that wants to candy and is ready to move the mountains for it.

Dev’s story is what I took away from this film, yeah yeah the women, yeah their desires and their prerogatives but cliché’s be dammed, here is the story of the guy that resides in all, just that we all hide it under layers of cushy materialistic baubles that are made objective by societal morals! I love Dev, his existence, his way to sustenance, his eternal lust for love but not knowing what to do with it, his caricature reduced to pity in the eyes of the few that standby and take solace that they are not him and his failure to see till the very end that life has a twisted way to give you everything to just take it away and that’s when it dawns – yeah you don’t need all that.

It pours when it thunders and rains and emotions pour down in the film shrouded less in heady monologues than in soulful background ballads that shout out the emoticons in pentameters… ohh what a soul shouting “Dammed happiness” – but ye olde fool – you have no fucking clue what to do with happiness cos you are not wired for such feelings… all you know is to consume and get consumed,,, to lit the pyre and then jump in, to bend the stick and then collide with it. Why the thrice you ask, cos when you are hit thrice, the numbness just befriends you and that ends all the suffering and sweet pain becomes the elixir. Crap? Yeah… then go tripping!

I loved the film, the 2nd half especially… with no jokes, no intrepid references, no raunchy women… just rowdy existence waiting to self destruct. Dev has the ballz to do it, we don’t – atleast I didn’t. What you are is not when what you become or shine in the world… what you are is what you think and do in times of absolute charring of heart and mind… Dev was charred… once, by a help – by a worthless 2 piece penny that dreamt to snide the queen – he let go of his world then and it took him a long time to become sane again but how the trip is, how the life becomes when you kick away the love is painted in layers. And no one has done it so well in ages like Anurag did. Yes my friend, your genius has come to the forefront… savor it like no other day cos peace is within reach.

Anurag – all the times I heard you regale tales of fiction and passion alike, I stood calm and quiet to make sense. Your pain and angst that we thought we shared through this platform is but a tip of shadow to what I see through Dev and his destruction. Yes you are artist and your art of con is what it is all about (the films I mean) but this time I am drunk in your mastery of art and form that has paraded before my eyes in a giant wave that I never connected to with the voice and words. I am distraught at how easily you did this work in 7hrs (per vasan) and struggle that I will to comprehend the talent that it takes but for now, peace out dear friend. I think you have made the mark with this one and it will be alright from now. The haze will clear and you have’d overcome – drink it up one last time as like Dev did – “Bach gaye yeah zindagi mein ab”!

Aronofsky’s The Wrestler – Review

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN FOR AND PUBLISHED AT PASSIONFORCINEMA.COM

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Passion, Pain and Loneliness – that’s the order that a man is driven when dedicating a life to an Endeavour. A passion grips you when you are young, when you are able and when you can conquer the world. Pain hits you when you realize it’s all but a gift that is cruelly snatched away from you time and again when the body & mind start slipping. And loneliness hits you when you are left with bitterness about your life’s work… when the best that you have done is all but a piece of paper or a sporadic haze of recognition on someone’s face. It’s sad, but it’s the truth.

The Wrestler is a movie, true to its hype, comes along once in a while. It’s a movie that has a heart and a soul that shadows a pro-chap wrestler who is trying to regain his life by getting into the ring to do what he is born for – wrestle. Hell-O-Yeah, the body slams and the make believe top rope jumps, they are all there. What is also there in the film is what it takes to do those stunts. What is there is what really happens in the back-room of wrestling arenas. What is there is the pain, the agony that takes to perform what is commonly dismissed as a manufactured sport. What you see in the movie are the humans behind the devils in the spotlight.

Almost 3 yrs since The Fountain which for some was a let down, Darren comes back strong with this one. Some will walk out of this film touched by Mickey Rouke’s performance and for those who know him; you will be TOUCHED by the way he probably portrayed his own self on the screen. Randy “The RAM” Robinson was once a great wrestler, heck, he still is. Only difference is there is a life that he leads too and that ain’t all the velvety.

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Mickey Rourke’s acting is the one thing that for once surpasses even Aronofsky’s’ vision. It’s his film, it’s his body, and it’s his pain that carries the film to connecting with viewers at a very personal level. What Mickey has done to himself all through the film is nothing short of absolute brutality and submission to the character of a wrestler and for that, he is my choice for this years top honors. True, it may not be his true acting poweress that carries the film, but what he has achieved by putting the character first is nothing short of brilliant.

If the movie’s half job was achieved by Mickey, the other half was done by Darren’s amazing sense of locations and setting. It’s New Jersey, the hard New Jersey. Run down towns, cheap strip bars, low-level wrestling pits, community deli’s. A setting that fits the kind of profession that is chose by men living in such hard-places. I lived in a town like that once – gangs, discount stores and gambling dens – retrospectively, I began to think how I survived then. It’s tough in those places and movies in such setting’s really hit you – hit you hard.

Technically speaking, the film hides the effort in that department very effectively. I think I did not see even one stead shot and most of the fights had close-up’s that are technically so difficult to shoot. Clint Mansell does not disappoint especially during the Mickey’s constant battle to cheer himself up during tough times. There is this one scene where Mickey and Marisa Tomasi (Mickey’s stripper confidante) talk about golden 80’s and yucky 90’s. The close-up’s make all the difference.

All in all, The Wrestler is a movie that will over time attain the cult status like most fighter movies. But it’s a relief to see Aronofsky coming out of his comfort zone and making the most brutally honest film of the year; a year that had an overdose of extremely hyper-imaginative films. This will be loved over time till it attains its well deserved cult status. Hopefully it will be sooner. But a watch if you want to see the real and the fake side of rings in which battles however fake, still break the minds and the bodies of those who choose to duel and test their boundaries of their Passion, Pain and Loneliness.  

Trailer Link

Sasirekha Parinayam – Krishnavamsi is BACKK!

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN FOR AND PUBLISHED AT PASSIONFORCINEMA.COM

Ok, I am a hard-core fan of Krishnavamsi. Ever since the day he made Ninne Pelladutha in ‘96 (That’s the time when I turned 12 & started understanding films and another of the first amazing film’s I remember released – Prema Desam) I have remained an ardent fan. I started taking a fancy ever since he made this movie about Seenu and Mahalakshmi. Ever since he decided to cast Tabu in saris and make her shout in her coarse voice – SEEENUUU… Dyamm, pure pure bliss. Even today his movies transport me to a dreamland and makes me remember all those times when I dreamt of walking on the streets of villages in Andhra and hoping to see beautiful girl in half sari calling out my name… burp, ok my real name is just not romantic, its will be like Brooke calling Ridge but … KV (alrite, not as great as K.Vishwath) is one director is I can go watch without absolutely caring who the actors or what the story is.

See, Krishnavamsi makes movies for people like me. He makes telugu films which are well, for telugu middle class every day audience. His music and treatment is very down to earth and ordinary which makes it a joy to sit and watch his story telling time after time. His movies have a magic to them. Think Murrari – Hum Aapke Hain Kuon of Telugu but so so different. So real, so absolutely dreamy. The guy speaks like some of his characters. He names them so matter of factly, no brainstorming needed, no angles… just, Radha Krishna, Sai… so easy.

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So I saw this banner today of his latest in a desi restaurant and digging a little more on it made me sit up and actually decide to wait for the release and watch the film on the d-day. I just got sold with the name. Sasirekha – another classical name! The title comes from the theme of the eternal great Telugu film – Maya Bazar which deals with the very theme of the title – the marriage of Arjuna’s son Abhimanyu (ANR) to Sasirekha(Savitri – aaah!). Who can forget ANR rowing those paddles to that great Laahiri Laahiri laahiri Lo! So Tarun (hero of the new film) is no ANR and Genelia is no Savitri and this film is no Maya Bazar but somewhere in the posters and the promos and the stills, somewhere there is a hope that maybe, maybe after long long time, here could be a film that will reignite the magic of old days, of days when telugu movies used to be about illogical parallel comedy tracks and innocent love. Before factions and cellphones overtook simple brazen love stories where boy would invade girl’s exclusive celebrations (think Na Mogudu Rampyaare) and when running in paddy fields along coconut trees used to be so real cute (think Seetharamayya gari manavaralu!!!)

The rumors about the movie is that it a remake of Jab We Met and instead of saying there you go… I am, WAY TO GO! I was puzzled watching Jab We Met. Wrong casting, Illogical ending, bad bad actress! But see, the casting here makes total sense. Tarun has only one expression, of a drunk serious dude. Genelia has a natural flair to be a tomboy. The story is how a successful actress tries to find the balance in her life. And you have a film shot in Andhra and you have Krishna Vamsi peppering it with regular fare of dishum dishums and atta pinni jokes. What else do you need to spend 10 bucks and 3hrs?

On a serious note, Krishna Vamsi is one of the few telugu directors apart from Ramu and Trivikram Srinivas who have(had – you idiot ramu) the flair to capture the mood of the target audience when its needed. Going back to Ninne Pelladutha, 12yrs later, the movie is still a benchmark for quality family fare. Modern, hell Mazda Miata’s pop-up lights never looked so good again on the screen, sauve – Tabu in her classical shyness, and delicate – “kannuloni Roopameeee”, K.Vamsi has a knack of telling a story while leaving a feeling of having the audience want to dream about their fantasy’s, not not just for the front bencher’s. Ramu on the other had the craft and technique – Action Shoes and Purani Haveli roads and boom – the chase is on. Trivikram is younger and he has a tact to combine story telling with swift cuts of dexterity. All in all these guys made my world of watching Telugu films in the last 10yrs.

So the songs of Sasirekha Parinayam are out and on the ride to work today, a particular song “Bejawada” caught my fancy. Slick guitar strings with modern/classical tones mixed, the songs going places. The soundtrack is decent but I will leave it to Tushar, our PFC resident music critic to judge the virtues but all in all a great package.

Yes, I am selling it for Krishnavamsi but I will never forget his method of handling the concept of GOD appearing before a devote in Sri Anjeneyam. For a writer, its extremely tough to dissect that thinking onto a screen and Vamsi was just a genius for those few shots. So you never know, maybe he found some talent in Tarun. Maybe he finally channeled Genelia’s exuberance into a powerful performance. But this one for sure raises my hope for a fun watch!

Synecdoche, New York – Review

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN FOR AND PUBLISHED AT PASSIONFORCINEMA.COM

People are boring. 

You, are boring. You get up with a foul smell in your mouth. You do stuff when people are not watching. You are confused in public and act macho in private. You are always thinking how it would be to be the guy with the girl. You sing the opera in the confines of your car. You steal glances at the price-tags and buy the unnecessary out-of-budget excess because you want to impress someone pretty who you in all mathematical probability will never ever see again.  That you escape from the ‘now’ and the ‘then’ conveniently to sing the chorus and and never the song is anything but the ultimate victory of banal surrealism that is as chronic as the ability of a man to “think” itself. Yet, inspite of all this knowing, the one constant feeling that a man cannot rid himself off , inspite of thinking this a hunderd or more times in a life time – why do I see what I see as me. Why is the “me” seeing this and not the ‘he/she’ beside me. How would it feel to see the world from his/her eyes? 

The daily clichés, the very food for everyday existence, are tailor made in this film to play out what it means to watch yourself being played by charecters who over a period of time become – well, you! The film is one huge drama, one huge set that Caden, played to expected perfection by Philip Seymour Hoffman, dreamt, designed and put life into where for years on end, the quest to perfect charecters takes place. There are roles assigned to each person who follow their “real” charecters and the director expects these charecters, over a period of time, behave the way their real conterparts behave so much so that after a while, the “charecters” do the thinking for the real people. Confusing? Aah well, you have to watch it to see what I mean. And un-surprisingly, there are very few reviews of this film for that very reason.

As expected from any Charlie Kauffman film, the movie has tons of layers, tons of subtle reflections on the parody of life. Whether you choose to see it or ignore it is totally upto you and very conveniently, it does not impact your take away from the film. In my book that is very compelling screen-writing and when it’s Kauffman, so you can’t expect anything less. But to be fair to the average viewer, the film is tad too long and very very boring in most parts. For an avid writer or a serious movie enthusist who wants to explore every frame, there is probebly more meat than the whole of the star-wars episodes but for most, one sitting is way too taxing.

Some of the most brilliant episodes in the film happen very early when the roles of Caden and his family are defined. The mediocre lives they lead is sketched in a way that is least pretentious as most movies about average families do. The bottomline when watching this is – the movie is Charlie’s most laborious work. It’s his offering to the art that he is born for. A screen-writing that comes along once in a while! It’s his temple to films like Roark’s for Human Spirit. It’s his ultimate creation of a soul to take form on a film screen. It’s his attempt to make bare the self of a human in the ways that can be put in terms of words and images. They say writers are some of the most complicated people in the world. They are because they have all these thoughts that go cross out each other all the time and to define all this in the form of a film take a lot of effort. This film is made from a litmus test of conflicting thoughts and the effort shows and speaks for itself.

Charlie Kauffman, all through the 130 mins, makes his charecters dance to what tunes play in his mind. The tornado of thoughts spiral out on to the huge set in front of him and permeates into Caden and into Hazel and into Sammy and into the guy who practices how to walk natuarally. The set-men do what they should, the light comes from where it should because inside Charlie’s mind, like my mind, like your mind my dear reader, the reality of things that we so comfortably choose to dismiss – exists, shrouded with peels of imaginative bliss that over time becomes the external us in the company of an audience that is inturn full of the same synthetic exterior that it becomes part of your, mine & charlie’s huge set – a play of constant moments of loudness that the rest of the silent actors take notice and then forget. Such is the vanity of the fame, fortune and social brightness – it all is but a moment of anticipated glory bred by years and years of longing.

Synecdoche, New York. Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh. Watever! That’s my way for accounting for the title.

Note: The review was written in bits and drabs as the film is not easily digestable. So the commentry is random and incongruent mirroring the film.

Cutting Chai – A Friend’s Debut Film!

A dear friends debut film. He wrote and directed this. 15 days of sweat and blood for 3mins.

In his words – “Its my first effort and there are loads of mistakes and improvements to be done.
There are parts which are real tacky in between. But the entire point was to get to know the difficulties here. Well atleast i can now confidently say that i am more aware of them.
donot ask abt the plot and meaning the mov is supposed to convey, coz there is none.”

Slumdog Millionaire – Review

WRITTEN ORIGINALLY FOR AND POSTED AT PASSIONFORCINEMA.COM

To what lengths would you go to get an autograph from a superstar actor? What all would you be willing to jump to get close, very close – in you face close – to a star that has sold you dream after dream after dream all your life? Jump from a chopper! Fly your family from Bay Area to Chicago and pay tons of money? Swim through a sewer??? Nah… the mentioned tasks are too easy if the superstar in question is Amitabh Bachchan. And Ladies and gentleman, of all the directors who have in some form or the other paid tribute to the Greatest Star of the Millennium – let me declare – Danny Boyle topped all of them and beat them with none even close! And that’s just one shot in Slumdog Millionaire.

 

Danny Boyle’s (Train spotting) latest is a story around how a boy born in the slums of Bombay win’s his love riding on the back on his experiences from his growing-up days to answer 15 questions and convince an overworked cop that he is not cheating on the show. Nothing more to it! If you let go of the initial adrenaline of being the fortunate few to watch the film in one of the most liberal places in the world where for large diasporas, India signifies freedom and a place to find solace and happiness, then you will walk out feeling very full at the treat dished out to you.    

 

The movie is cinematic, right from the word go, and that in itself is an achievement worth bowing to for a director born in a different land. Mumbai does not exist in the film – it’s all Bombay. And a Bombay that you would have probably never seen before. The amazing interweave of colorful and lively people and the corresponding contrast of the slums makes you believe that that characters and as a natural extension, the people, are oblivious to the inhuman conditions that surround them. A mix and match of rugged goons, docile orphans, street smart kids and IndYEAH eyed foreign tourists makes Slumdog a movie full of surprises at every turn of the plot, a plot that covers every aspect of what this great city offers – religious wars, cosmetic ill-treatments, power-struggles, showmanship’s, dream-sellers, rag’s to riches poster boys, mafia don’s, super-model prostitutes, trigger-happy teens and fearless humanists. And to point out very strongly here – Boyle does not fall into the trap of Indian Sentimentality even though he does get into the mind of an avg Indian Raju very well.

 

There is just too much of good work in the movie to talk about film – AR Rahman’s back-ground score, just the way he makes you tap your feet to the unfolding visuals and not be conscious about it al all, Irrfan Khan with his characteristic non-acting acting expressions, Saurabh Shukla as the overweight short-circuited hawaldar, Mahesh Manjrekar as the Mumbai ka Don, Dev Patel as the Lover-boy and Anil Kapoor as the evil & condescending host of “Who want’s to be a Millionaire” – that they gel so well with the characters that the viewer is just mesmerized all through to notice flaws if any. And for an Indian watching a film based on India and be very comfortable is the highest grade you can give to any alien director. Especially the guts and the ease to show the bitter truths of real India without making a mockery. And especially to show how horrible Taj-Mahal actually looks in broad daylight and how horrendously dirty its surroundings are.

 

To review a movie like this, you need lofty words, words that justify the effort and the pains labored into making a film like this – touted as the costliest film made in India – a one man’s vision. The setting and the breaking-news type of screenplay make it a riveting watch with no moments to pause. Yes the lead pair looks a little dull in spots and the English dialogues don’t sound too plausible at some special weighted scenes but considering that the movie was primarily packages to cater to the west’s sensibilities of how to view India – Danny Boyle has set a bar that will be very difficult to beat. 

 

But if there is one winner to drive this movie to the very brink of Oscar’s – that’s BOMBAY! Slumdog is a movie where you will see the city like you have NEVER EVER seen before. It’s like prose from Lin Baba’s eyes from Shantaram turning to Poetry and Rangoli all at the same time. The sadness, the apathy of the residents, the acrimonious nature of the harsh truth’s of life, the relentless mockery of life towards the under-privileged and the gifted alike, just blown to insignificant particles before the power that the city is – and the way it was all captured by Anthony Dod through his camerawork or more rightly cameras work – is nothing short of pure chilling genius.  Bombay never looked so right before… all the reams of paper eulogizing it have found the right visuals now, hence allowed to settle in comfort of obscurity. Slumdog Millionaire will carry the baton for a significant time from now. 

Dreams: Script writing on the trip!

WRITTEN ORIGINALLY FOR AND PUBLISHED AT PASSIONFORCINEMA.COM

If you look back at cinema from its inception, one of the most workable justifications for playing out something totally outrageous and uncanny was to just make the protagonist DREAM. In the case of Indian Cinema, due to the lack of breath taking vista’s in the vicinity of the slums that our protagonist lives, and due to the inability of our maker’s to dream the least, the scenario plays out very well to justify dancing in the woods of Europe and we are left with staring at the botany showcase of the region’s flora. But to make a point – DREAM’s actually give the writers some of the most exciting prospects to put their creativity to best use and come-up with something that totally knock’s the wind out of the viewer. 

I was recently listening to Charlie Kauffman on National Public Radio (like All India Radio), who happens to be in my top three scriptwriter’s that I have read (the other’s being Aaron Sorkin & Woody Allen – in that order) where he takes on the subject of dreams and justifies/attributes it some of the most incredible idea’s of his over the past decade of his work. In Adaptation – the concept of writing a writer who is trying to write a script about a writer trying to write – so simple yet so tremendously difficult, Charlie says, is a product of his dreams. How otherwise would you think up of stuff? Ok, you go to bed with some half formed thoughts but deep in sub-conscious state, the churnings of the brain take those half-baked idea’s and take then through a ride – a ride that you so often wish you can capture, but you just can’t. Well, if your Charlie Kauffman maybe! 

One example I would like to give here – How many of you regular PFC author’s or to that matter cine-buff’s who after catching a late show the night before – wake up with a start the next day morning with some concrete idea on how to say what you feel on that white screen in front of you? You know what you are going to say because your sub-conscious mind has digested the cinema and it all becomes so clear to you as to what it all meant but try putting it down on a piece of paper and you hit a dead wall! 

Going back to Charlie, another example is Eternal Sunshine of Spotless Mind that he so brilliantly wrote. The basic premise there again is to successfully get rid of Clementine’s (Kate Winslet) thought’s, Joel (Jim Carrey – wasn’t he SUPERB!) has to erase everything belonging to her physically from his surroundings so that the deep-subconscious does not get triggered due to it’s association – again – the physician’s explained there was that dreams could still trigger deep emotional feelings that the normal conscious would not. 

So, what’s the deal with dreams? Why are they so vivid at times, yet so bizarre that on some days you just think about how could such a thing be? My friend tells me she has recurring dreams of her floating in the air like that shot from “The Big Lebowlski” where when he get’s knocked out, he just floats in the sunshine. The fact still remains that some of the most creative ideas that you would probably have had in one’s life have had their metamorphosis in one’s dreams as total abstractions that initially make one question the very plausibility of such incidents – but in the end, it makes, so much sense! Or at least for me it does. 

As someone who has been struggling for the past 6 month’s to complete my first story, there are day’s when I just fall asleep on the ride back from work where a part that I am struck unravels in front of my eyes, with such congruence to what I am thinking that it seems so right but when I try to interpret them, they just don’t make no sense. It’s like a constant battle between Angels and Demon’s in my head where the Angels rule the world of sleep and the demon’s, possibly influenced by everything materialistic, just overpower the Angles to rule what I write. Is it due to my incapability to draw what my brain could come-up with, or should these just be inner personal thoughts – like inner entertainment for those 6-8hrs of sleep. 

An argument that could be made here is story-telling is nothing but a much emancipated form of putting words to fantasies that one has to enchant the audience. Yes, great fantasies are amazing stories and I for one digg anything that is supremely fantasized but from Comic Books to absolute goblin thrillers, there is a certain baseline to imagination – they are made believable, like the way Roy Walker (Lee Pace) tells Alexandria (Catinca Untaru) the story of the 5 hero’s in “The Fall” to extract his own revenge on the Star who steals his Girl. Brilliant Visuals and absolute classic interweaving of time-period’s, but at some level believable. But take Donnie Darko, the man with the bunny costume, the jet engine crashing, the prophecy – that’s interpretation of dreams very well told.

 I am sure most of you who are reading this have had numerous dreams that just defied every societal demon in your head. Extreme danger, wild rides, grossly exaggerated behavior of one’s self – these are just a few scenarios’ in the whole web of imaginative trip that your mind takes you every time you close your eyes, which just leaves with this one belief that every individual only needs to posses the power to interpret one’s dreams – if one chooses to become a creative fiction writer – as only a sleeping mind can take you to places that waking life would just not comprehend.

Mumbai Cutting – Review

WRITTEN FOR AND PUBLISHED AT PASSION FOR CINEMA

A city that tells thousands of stories each day, a city that weaves the magic for a million people everyday and a city that creates as much as it destroys each day – it was logical that something would pay tribute to its various layers and shades in typical Bollywood fashion but with a hint of betrayal – replace the glitz and the pseudonyms with gleams of passion and realism.

Sitting in Arch lights for the closing gala, I had but one apprehension – will the collective genius of al those makers fail the intelligent and glamor seeking audience in the congregation – c’on, the pick of junta there was either uber rich or over eager in their own endeavors…

Promod Bhai…23: Anurag Kashyap

What a find! The kid playing the protagonist is a true find. If Darsheel floored you with his dreamy look, watch one sequence in this short where the boy’s classmate mocks him for lying excessively – that one log shot from the POV of Promod Bhai… continuous taunts… glaring look… the subtle yet powerful stance of defiance to hold himself… what a shot!

The short did not work for me… Knowing Anurag, I guess I have too much of expectation but brilliant is a lesser word… The problem with great scripts, especially when a lot of mathematics is involved and you know the string puller is a genius is you work out the math… A random character does not quite make sense and for someone who is adept and understanding the common game of “inserting randomness”, the plot is crystal clear. And you are talking about Anurag… Fabulous timing to end the shot… I shall dare to speak again after the release.

Mumbai Bombay Same Shit: Rahul Dolakhia

For me, this short stood out. It’s brazen, arrogant and in your face. It will make you say all that you ever wanted to about the city but hold on… this short says it all. Jimmy’s talent as an actor was never questioned… especially when he plays a rich spoilt brat that he should actually be but is not. The conflict and intervening of lust among all the classes is a subject so well depicted that for 10mins you feel – dyamm, is it Indian Cinema. For all the naysayers who cower in front of 21st century take on Bombay, eat this!

The Ball: Sudhir Mishra

Sudhir is an intimidating persona. A sound bite to make it interesting, when said this to his face by PFC’s OM on his appearance, he replies “It is your insecurity young man!”. So actually not discussing his short helped because what may have been is making me remember the short very vividly. A small boy’s quest to nab a ball from the hands of a murdered man. Simple premise… a guy on the bike whirls on the screen and the next whirls you too…

Who is Soha? Lover perhaps? Who knows… but the memory of a dead man is till he is in front of you – atleast in Mumbai he is…

Parcel: Revathy

The only preachy short. Suited to Mumbai – not really, it talks about any other city too. I could relate it to Hyderabad a lot… human trafficking… brilliant ending though… the urge to give up is too tempting in the face of adversary… Vinay Pathak’s dialogues looked forced to me but Revathy smiled and we spoke for a while so I care less now… I was star-struck by her simplicity… Take a bow maam!

Anjaane Dost: Jahnu barua

His short spoke of age and experience. He choose a subject that is so true and the antagonist was me, word for word. Conflict of the young and old told through the 70’s cinema line of tender being missed by an aged employee only to be fired when makes a comeback with vengeance. Simple, effective, common man’s anxiety and dilemma explored with finesse… Jahnu Barua, try watching his work. As Sudhir Mishra put it, Indian Cinema is incomplete without him.

Rituparno Ghosh: Urge – My fav short

101 to short film making. Brilliant pauses, crisp transition, regulated repeats and coherent story telling. Four stories of people begging for last chance. Remember that last math problem that you need to pass the exam and when you said” please god, just this one and I will study like hell, only that you din’t. Remember the first time you wanted to be kissed and when you prayed that you will never want it again(at least to the girl that’s what you said)… dud! 4 realistic stories… Ranvir – Brilliant as ever.

Shashank Ghosh:

Middle Class… the class that defines India makes kids do the following: Be an engineer, slog to be a doctor or teach them to aim to be a govt servant… but all the kids want to do just two things… Be Cricket Stars or Act in films…

A sentiment as straight forward as this is approached through a family as diverse yet common place as the one assembled… a rich bahu who holds the family together, a dutiful elder son who works 6days to feed the family, a brat of a younger son with girlfriends and dreams, a mother who fusses and a father who is oblivious… All in all a family drama that reminds all of Hum Log… Perfect to the spec! Watch this… its will make the old and better Hindi / Telugu soaps alive…

Kundan Shah –The Train Journey.

There is a reason why the entire IFFLA portico stood up when the man walked in. There is a reason why people walk behind him or stand behind him, people who are worthy of their actions and not words… people at IFFLA who bow to him and behave… not Bollywood but directors of the caliber who are invited to make momentous films. Mr. Kundan Shah is one. Would it be great if he made a mind-blowing comedy… or a serious educative and punitive people’s drama… he chose the most familiar aspect of Mumbai… the trains and made a monologue that is an art that is being passed on for third rate acting! Hilarious, funny and at times introspective… its difficult to sit through it… I could see most in the theatre leaving for a break… the narrative doesn’t pause… I am a nobody to critique the man’s work but sir, using posters to tell a story and recreate scenes was such a fun to watch… Hats off!

Jo Palta Woh Rickshaw Nahin: Ruchi narin

Aah… very apt portrayal of when you say I am bindass in a city and when you don’t. A breezy short… a breezy narrative. I may have missed something in it or perhaps I am over digressing but the short speaks volumes of how a small encounter can change a city that a person loves all his/her life.

All in all the approach to the making of Mumbai Cutting works for me. A land that does not recognize anything without a Sir-name actor/director/producer/dancer/fight-master/spot boy and coffee table talk show host – this method to integrate creativity in parts does make me want to come to theaters. Most will disagree and I stayed away from talking/digressing about the films with the directors afterwards, maybe that’s what I love the film so much but what’s harm I ask? All right some shorts had shortcomings as agreed by a world-class director at the venue but who cares when such genius are back in at least small amounts to work freely when millions are poured on fakes who rape the art form of film-making with family prejudices and regional bias.

P.S: I missed the QnA ( both formal and PFC’s informal ) but then, I would not write what I did above if I would have spoken to the makers. I missed a few shorts as I don’t remember them but all in all – Watch this!

Aaron Sorkin: The Master Screen-Writer

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN FOR AND PUBLISHED AT PASSIONFORCINEMA.COM


“A film is a one night stand but television is a love affair”. That’s Aaron Sorkin when quizzed why he chose to make a television series after having written brilliant movies like A Few Good Men and The American president. This coming from a man who wrote the scene of poetic outburst of Michael J. Fox in the oval office when debating how it is important for a man of immense power to do the right thing – political ramifications and international treaties be dammed!

In the last seven years, if there was one indulgence that I let on unhindered when facing a dilemma or being in a stupor over the morally correct, West Wing was a series that I turned to day in and day out. Books were a refuge but my time of growing up gave me access to much more visual form of ideological exchange that would impress and calm me down. All of us have our ways and for most it is rather cult-isc to name books. Rand was a refuge too maybe more so for the forceful characterizations that I take from it but in my limited sphere of knowledge the characters of Aaron Sorkin had impact beyond reason.

“If you are smart, surround yourself with people who disagree with you”, another quote of Sorkin that translates into every sketch of the West Wing. The principal story line for the uninitiated is as follows: A moderate intellectual Noble-prize winning democrat is elected to the White house courtesy of a team of a five all of whom had left distinguished careers and high paying jobs to get a man elected whom they barely knew. Now in the White House, they have the task of running a country based on all the democratic ideals with their moral conscious being the driving force. The series over seven years wonderfully tells the tale of how these six strong personalities clash on varied issues, coming together by first taking on each other to fight personal ideologies and then take on the world. Over the years, these relationships become an unbreakable bond when facing crisis that take immense faith to weather over – hale of bullets, embroiling with prostitutes, the president’s undisclosed illness, the imperative to abide by constitution all the time, re-election crisis, press fumbles and incumbent choices to name a few.

Not going too much into the issues that are tackled by the series which truly is a fodder for debates on innumerable issues, digressing Sorkin for being a Screen-Writer par excellence is truly personifying the intensity that each of his characterizations had from the word go and how he wrote each of them to absolute perfection. That’s what puts Sorkin way above the rest. Every character of his incorporates a sublime feeling of passion towards their work, constitution, their party, the president for the most part, their country. Each scene has been designed to exemplify these qualities and watching each episode unfold their hidden qualities, their fancy’s and fallacies with their idiosyncratic ideologies is like watching something so real that you can mirror most of your feelings through the stand taken by each of the men in the sitcom.

John Spencer, who plays the role of Leo McGarry – the Chief of Staff – died in real life during the last season once remarked that there was just one thing that made him come to work even when he knew that he was about to die – Golden Writing. “I was given gold in every single sketch”, he said and that’s some tribute coming from a man who has more than 50yrs of working experience in Hollywood. His character of someone who runs the country from the background was written to suit somebody whom you would vision in a place of such capacity and power. All through the series, he moderates the arguments placed by his staff in front of the president, rarely opinionating but ultimately advising the president to do what’s best. He dies after being elected the Vice-president in the last season and his exit was so skillfully written that for anyone who has not followed the series would just feel that’s how the storyline was, such was the care taken to write every single episode that changes could be made even when the worst was to happen.

Allison Janney who plays CJ Cregg, the White Press Secretary & the Chief of Staff is a character who excels as somebody who brings the feminine perspective to the table very well. As the only female member of the senior staff, the sexism is very well handled by Sorkin who in the whole seven years has never discriminated or wrote something derogatory for her. Martin Sheen again makes for a great President throughout the show, figuring as the head of a team that always lays down great challenges for him. He makes the role of a president look so easy at times and at other times, brings out the magnitude of the post so well that you would ultimately get convinced of the course that he steers the nation too. As somebody who got elected without declaring an Multiple Sclerosis story to the world and who takes the blame head on and fights to win another election, what Sorkin has achieved is to set a benchmark to politicians everywhere that the quality of honesty is the highest code.

But if there are two characters that set the tone for the show for seven long years, it’s Toby Ziegler and Josh Lyman played by Richard Schiff & Bradley Whitford respectively. I dig them like anything especially Josh. Both are fanatics for policy and constitution, zealous in love with their job more so that it is done in principle than word and both absolutely love each other and trust till the end. Even when Toby is fired and when Josh was running a campaign for the next president, the way they talk throughout plotting is pure camaraderie of the highest order.

I understand that this article would be Greek and Latin to most not residing in the US or who have never heard of the west wing or not familiar with Aaron Sorkin. But the reason I felt to put it on PFC was simple – imagine this. The last two seasons of the show was 2005&2006 when I was still in India and it used to be aired at 9PM EST. The torrent would be up at around 11:30PM EST that would roughly be about 1PM IST. I would put it up then and thanks to Indian download speeds, it would take a day but I would wake up at 4AM in the mornings to watch, and that’s something I did for two yrs in India. I may have been crazy but I loved the writing, pure and simple. I have watched each episode like a zillion times and I can bravely state I know each episode like the back of my hand. And if you were ever to meet a critic of American Sitcom’s, West Wing rates very highly up there as one of the most intelligent shows ever written.

If you ever get a chance, catch a show… you will be hooked, I promise!

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For me the song by Buffalo Springfield sums up west wing perfectly:

There’s something happening here

What it is ain’t exactly clear
There’s a man with a gun over there
Telling me I got to beware
I think it’s time we stop, children, what’s that sound
Everybody look what’s going down
There’s battle lines being drawn
Nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong
Young people speaking their minds
Getting so much resistance from behind
I think it’s time we stop, hey, what’s that sound
Everybody look what’s going down
What a field-day for the heat
A thousand people in the street
Singing songs and carrying signs
Mostly say, hooray for our side
It’s time we stop, hey, what’s that sound
Everybody look what’s going down
Paranoia strikes deep
Into your life it will creep
It starts when you’re always afraid
You step out of line, the man come and take you away
We better stop, hey, what’s that sound
Everybody look what’s going down
Stop, hey, what’s that sound
Everybody look what’s going down
Stop, now, what’s that sound
Everybody look what’s going down
Stop, children, what’s that sound
Everybody look what’s going down

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Evano Oruvan – An evening with Nishikant and Madhavan.

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN AND POSTED FOR PASSIONFORCINEMA.

Driving as fast as I could in the treacherous NYC traffic last Thursday I was thinking as hard as I could as to what I would have done if I were to remake Dombivilli Fast, that too in a language of which I knew all but 2 words. How would I even start to write the change in characters or change the sensibility to suit my target audience? How would I even trust the characters when I cannot understand them while they are giving a shot? How would I make it work? What would I have to face?

Nishikant Kamat is a director shows you lot less than what he is. He is fun to be with, very very personal and probably the most chilled out person I have met with lazy being the other very apt adjective. He is patient, loves to shop for shoes and his immediate desire is to spend a month traveling in the US without having to work. But all this completely is lost once you start watching his cinema or when he begins to talk about it. You are transported to a world where the characters are serious, devoid of all the entrapments that a writer/director normally imbibes in his stories which stem from his own persona and his own way to look at things. His cinema up to now is as real to life as it can get and one great way to know or understand his cinema is to not hold him to a higher moral standard that you would otherwise put a person when you see his/her work.

I will not review Evano Oruvan as I have stopped myself from so many times in the last six months about doing the same with Dombivilli Fast. I have had the opportunity of seeing both the films with the director beside me my view will be too biased as I have grown to understand the director’s view-point in both the works. Rather, I will take you through an evening that will all in sum up a lot about Nishi and his work so far.

Not everyday do you get to watch an actor like Madhavan putting up the posters for his own film, nor do you get a chance to see him under so much pressure when doing something that is right but Evano Oruvan is an effort that Madhavan is truly proud of and will do all it takes to make sure it deserves the respect that it deserves. October 25th saw the NY preview of the movie at Imagine-Asian in NYC which was a corporate event and a portion of the local Tamil population were invited to see the movie and ask both the actor and director a few questions about the film and gorge on the so missed South-Indian cuisine.

After the initial autograph/photo session and the mandatory star-event delay, the screening began with the audience quietly settling down with a feeling of pride of owning the star in front of them for a good time now. Mind you, the audience were all proud owners of overtly expensive college education so the setting prompted a befitting QnA session and almost everybody being intellectual and in 10,000 miles of solving the problems that are so definitively shown, the quality if discussion was no doubt of the better standard.

All this while the director was little noticed and in his own style stayed so close to the shutter-bugs yet enjoyed the most in the arena. He was walking around with no expectations as the accolades that he wanted were rightly handed to him quite a while back and he was confident of his work. He knew his time in the sun will eventually come and was in no hurry to go look for it. Sitting outside with him, see him twitch his hand at every chord of the background music and see him internally visualizing the scene was back-ground music 101 for me, something that has become a commonplace, thanks to PFC. Have you ever stood outside a theatre and have heard the entire film taking in every sound that comes from behind the closed doors? Try it sometime, it’s an experience!

I did not sit through the whole movie. Just watched the first half. I love Dombivilli Fast, absolutely. It’s my comprehensive guide to in your face story-telling. Like most, I grappled with it for a while, debated it, questioned it and in the end after repeated viewings through numerous POV’s with the understanding that the person who wrote it is someone who I can be completely myself with and therefore will not make me/think of me as a fool, I silently began to digest it.

With the cameras in place, so began the QnA for which almost all the audience stayed back. I thought the final chance to see and trick the actor would not be easily let away by the desi population of NYC and in thinking, I settled into my ever condescending posture. What the audience did stumped the bejesus out of me. Beginning after Madhavan’s insistence to go all out for the director, the questions kept coming for him one after another. After the routine of how you made the film in a language you don’t understand to what made you choose Madhavan for the role, the biggies started.

One Lady quizzed the style of Nishi’s making the movie for being so contrary to the human spirit to another one totally discarding the climax. And for the audience’s surprise, Nishikant Kamat, the writer/director, debutant National award Winner, was just warming up.

Evano Oruvan is a movie about the common man. The premise is simple – the magnanimity of how much an average middle-class Indian can forgive and adjust just to live a basic respectable life. The banality is humbling and the film pays its tribute to it in its own way. That done, the story moves on to what happens when the will to take things lying down breaks? From then on the story moves on seamlessly until the writer can bring the most logical conclusion to his protagonist’s actions.

No apologies are offered to the course taken and the director takes no special obligation to offer the ONE solution to solve all of the country’s problems, or sermonize the masses to follow his footsteps. No one action is premeditated when concerning the lives of a family and neither does a law-abiding ever accommodating middle-class white collar employee resort to violence when provoked but the chances of that happening are indeed ever-present and the story deals with it. Questioning the path chosen by the writer to present the evils of the society is like questioning the point of making the movie in the first place but question the outcome and you shall be obliged.

That was precisely that happened and Nishi took the audience head-on to answer ever thing that was thrown at him. He took the time to explain all the scenarios that he had for the climax’s and eliminated one after the other to show everyone of his vision. After the applause came the smarter questions. The perspectives of the main cast were digressed and Madhavan took the time too to explain his understanding of the movie. Foreign correspondents (paradox!) not familiar with the Indian sentiments begged to why the better halves were treated to be out of sync with the male protagonist’s angst and were clinically blown away by the directors answer explaining the Indian psyche prevalent to keep up to only one’s domains and forget the country and society. The movie in reality when digressed to such a level does offer multiple POV’s, each justified in their own way but for a first time viewer, discerning it all will take time.

The director took the bows of the appreciative audience and the count of the stars doubled up in the auditorium. What followed them was intense discussion among the audience over dinner with every minute point of the film being discussed. As the Vadas and Vodkas started going down, the discussion about the film grew animated with a whole lot of problems of Indian society and lifestyle being tossed around to the beat of the Manhattan Indian Salsa. Did the film ask too many questions with no answers given? Is the story too uninspiring and lack luster of the grandeur of the “savior of society” movies that we are so used too? Did the director not have the “moral imperative” to get his act together and lead the viewers to sanity? Similar to a lot of questions being asked over the last weekend here at PFC…

To all the questions, the answers are more or less simple. It is firstly, cinema. It’s a way to communicate and the writer did it well. The discussion has been generated and the audience is thinking. The director has accomplished his task. The performances are to the ‘T’ and its now up to the audience to digest it and move on. Will the film work with the masses or not is a question that will take sometime to be answered, but Nishikant is for sure not fazed by it.

Madhavan on his part played the host very well and I was a little humbled when he asked me to shoot a few pics for him. I have to accept that I did not talk to him at length because there was not much to speak to begin with. He was cordial throughout and as a first time producer/distributor is doing all that it takes to give Evano Oruvan, the needed visibility. Shooting a quick interview at the busy Times Square after mid-night in the October chill is a testament to it.

All in all, another evening with Nishi Bhai in NYC where he never disappoints me. I have a few scores to settle with him in the near future about which I will for sure write on PFC when the time is write but for now, wait up for Evano Oruvan – its simply good cinema. And for all the Dombivilli Fast fans out there, you have to watch this – Madhavan did make the difference.

Referenced here too… 🙂

Loins of Punjab Presents: Exclusive

Originally Posted on Passion For Cinema.

Wacky but rational. That’s what Loins of Punjab Presents (LOPP) is. Profanity mouthing bhangra turbunators, a conservative gujju beauty dreaming of Italian ramp success, kitty party revenge schemes, a geek finally having a beautiful girlfriend in the third dimension – the number of paradox’s in this film will leave you amused and stumped. And then you have the mystery of the Pork Loins.

Winner of the best film at the First Run Film Festival at NYU, this graduation and debut film of Manish Acharya is right there with the best of the NextGen/satirical cinema made by “Desi’s” in the US. For a while we have been having films that deal so much with identity of Indian’s here in a foreign land and about the humor they bring in to everyday life with their mannerisms, LOPP goes ahead with maturity to bring out the reality in most of the resident population here.

Set to the backdrop of a game show on the lines of American Idol, this film shot between New Jersey and Mumbai couldn’t have come out at a better time when the whole Sanjaya craze has caught the fancy of the entire Indian Diaspora and at a time when the term ‘Desi’ is as frequently used back home as it is in the US. ‘Desi Idol’ as the game is called is set to happen over a weekend in New Jersey which is sponsored by a large pork loins selling company managed by a second generation desi.

The characters used to tell the happenings of the game show are a stand out in themselves as all of them have a reason to be there and have a motive to win the contest. The contestants are a mix of bollywood wannabe’s to arrogant socialites, gay rapper’s to nerdy accountants, conservative southie’s to age defying I-want-my-day-in-the-sun stereotypes.

The cast, a combination of professional NY actors to first time NJ residents – mainstream Indian cinema artists – to the overly shy director, an ensemble that will leave you in splits for the better part of the movie. Ajay Naidu leads the NY team playing the role of turbanotorious B.D.G., a rapper in search of spotlight. Have seen him in the Isaac and Ishmael episode of West Wing and he is fabulous. Samrat Chakrabarti as Trance Sen, Ishitta Sharma as Preeti Patel and the very own Shabana Azmi as the desi version of P3 socialite, Rrita Kapoor add the personalities needed to weave a tale around the prejudices and fallacies when chasing fame and success.

But the best part of the movie lies in two small packages – Jameel Khan playing the role of Mr. Bokade, the event manager for the entire contest and the Pork Loins itself. If you thought you have seen it all and that you think that we have no more downright humorous guys around, thank Manish for writing Mr. Bokade. This character is enough to take the movie to a different orbit altogether.

The film however has its own limitations depending upon what type of a moviegoer you are. The entire initial part of the film throws random pointers at you about certain instances which after the first few will make you realize that they will be used to solve the puzzle in the end, but discount them; you have a script that is smooth and flawless. The story stems from a reason, moves quickly and finishes before your mind wanders. Manish, being a first time director definitely answers some of the questions that rise whenever a product of a film school graduate comes up, as he makes use of his experience of more than 25 other graduate school films to conclusively streamline his story.

The reason why LOPP works is because Manish has told a story which is so close to being a masala film but when you feel that it is going on the beaten track, it adds that much needed sensibility and courage, and adds a realistic poise to the story which at first may seem a little too hard to digest but probably after the initial feeling of euphoria sinks, will make the viewer go – why not?

As Manish put it himself, he’s made the film. The easy part is done. Now he has the challenging task at hand to make this film into a movie, sell it to the distributors, woo the audience and gain confidence to come back and make more films. Here’s wishing him all the best from the entire PFC team.

Digressing BLACK

Originally posted on PASSION FOR CINEMA

Location: In a picturesque café, UPENN Campus, Philadelphia.
Weather: Slight drizzle, in low 50’s.
Situation: Me, euphoric after first tryst with the camera. My friend – Doesn’t give a shit!

He: Dude, so PFC really got onto you huh. Fult California, Film Festivals, Scripts and all that. Great going man.
Me: Yeah, I hardly do anything though. Just watch a lot of movies, actually a movie a day, read a lot that they write on PFC and digress a lot.
He: So lets get back to our fav conversation once again. BLACK! You tho full informed movie buff/ critique/ reviewer, you did not like Black dude? For most out there and me, it was one hell of a movie man!
Me: Dude, Black??? Bah, not that discussion again. It’s a crappy movie man, made by an egomaniac who wanted a bunch of shiny black ladies and we being we (i.e. desi junta), we gave him more than his hands could hold.

He: Why do you say that? I thought that movie was creatively one the most novel movies made in this time. I mean, the story was new, not the regular run of the mill types, was made with a lot of passion and most people liked it.
Me: See that’s the point. You find it novel because of all the hype the movie generates. Larger than life canvas, big stars without makeup, fult sensibility attached kinda posters and teasers and you have made it imperative for all the so called intelligent audience to talk about it. When you succeed in making the so called informed and happening crowd to talk about it, its bound to make an impact. Did it run in B and C grade centers?

He: So you consider yourself above the average cine-goer huh? Dude, this guy made a film on a subject that no one’s touched before. Ok, not completely a virgin subject but a rare movie no doubt. You know films, or at least you project that you do. See all these Argentinean, Russian and Iranian films every night and say that is true cinema and all, but what about this guy? He’s made a few films before. Good ones I must add, he know movies more than you do so if he believed in it and found people to fund this huge project, then there must be something in it.
Me: Listen, firstly, I am not above average. I am just a regular Joe…
He: Dude, you speak about directors with their first names man, as if they are your best friends. Definitely you are not. BTW, do you know how frustrating it is sometimes to hear you rant off in first names when I don’t know a thing about them…?
Me: hehe… sorry dude, but it’s just… let it go. Coming to the point at hand, firstly, Black, for me is scum. It is the worst I have ever seen in Indian Cinema. EVER! Its actually is lower than scum. Dude, did you buy a ticket to watch it man? Tell me… did u? Or did you not watch it on video…
He: CD but…
Me: It was raining that Friday. First day, morning show. I stood in the queue to take the tickets man, literally came in a couple of hrs before the counter opened. You know how Hyd theatres are. Was wet when I saw the movie. I waited for this movie, had expectations from it, and spun off scenarios based on what I heard. I loved Devdas; I could never watch the Akkineni Nageshwar Rao or the Dilip Kumar version because of their pace and I was young then. This guy’s Devdas was an eye-opener for me. I loved the way he handled the story and brought out a kinda newness into it. I loved the actors in it; I loved Shahrukh and Kiron Kher in it. I loved Khamoshi too, so I had a lot of bias towards BLACK when I stepped into the theatre. But man, I saw people crying… I mean I was watching them cry and was racking my brains as to why they were rather than seeing the movie. I mean, I saw people walking out in trance when I was laughing out loud… man, it sucked. It frustrated me for days as to how cheap a person can become.

He: What makes you think you are fucking bigger than all of them who liked the movie man? I mean how you can make statements like that. You and your pathetic pseudo intellectual mind can only dream of making a movie, can you ever get down to it. Even if you do, you cannot touch what that guy did man.
Me: Ooh crap, you don’t have to defend it just because I hate it dude, COM ‘on, seriously, don’t tell me you loved every bit of it.
He: Baap. It was much better than the crappy link that you sent me of Bheja Fry. Honestly, you guys have this small man syndrome man. You always like movies that are small, made in a small budget, made by these so called intellectual directors, talk about foreign cinema and all that which a common man cannot digest and then when a guy actually makes a larger than life cinema, paints a canvas that is full of grandeur and imagination, you rubbish that guy as being egomaniac and ostentatious… dude, it was creative, grand and told a very heartfelt and in your face story…
Me: Again, crap. Dude, I have no bias towards grand cinema. I love grand cinema, you know LOTR is my fav, I love large canvas cinema…
He: Talk about our films, every time you give me an example of a good film, you choose foreign films and when you want to rubbish, you have to start of with Karan Johar.
Me: Ok, I loved his own Devdas, I told you…

He: Ok.
Me: So, big cinema is awesome to watch, but who is he to make it? He cannot, I mean not contemporary big and posh cinema. He is just an ordinary guy like us, has the same kinda childhood as we did if not less… so when he paints a picture that is too modernly grand, its looks like a cheap bauble. See khamoshi. It was realistic. Realistic because it was simple and plain, something that I am sure he is as a person or grew up in. Listen the story was ok… but the way he shot it, melodrama ands all that… what he did to make people cry in the theatre, used the same old Maa concept…
He: So what? Also, what Maa concept, only that one made you cry dude… what when she triumphs or when the teacher achieves his goal?
Me: Bullshit. Listen, its a trap that the director puts you in. Emotional bonding and all that and you loose focus. Make a person fall in that trap of grandeur and you loose perspective.
He: What loose perspective. Listen baap, we haven’t still discovered all the emotions man, or haven’t yet gone through a lot in life. How much emotion can you understand in 22yrs? Once you hit 60, then if you were to see the film maybe you would see yourself in Amitabh’s position?
Me: What are you talking about? Dude, it was a cheap effort. Not that I remember a lot about that movie but I distinctly remember that scene in which Rani is rocking a dark room with a single source of light and having a full wall of pictures of her childhood. I mean, does it make any sense? Do you see it anywhere? Also that whole snow thingy. That episode at the fountain. I say why that entire make up job of trying to push the imagination of a blind girl. Remember we used to have this deaf, blind and dumb orchestra that used to perform every year in our school. They were real and they had a lot of emotion. But you never feel cheap when you see them. You honestly see resilience in what ever they do – walk, talk, sing…

He: Isn’t that what you saw dude? Rani was so brilliant…
Me: Ya right. What was so brilliant… all that hysterical shouting and out of the body gestures. Remember Sadma man… Sridevi…
He: Another brilliant movie…
Me: Precisely, that’s performance. Do you feel shy when you watch that movie, or veer your gaze away amused when watching any scene in Sadma? She played a mentally challenged girl and Sridevi was brilliant…
He: Again, so was Rani…
Me: How? All through the movie she wore black overall frocks and had her hair tightly tied, walked around in rock solid straight lines, mouthed off patronizing dialogues and went off at the slightest hint of an emotional outburst??? And it was as if she wants to prove that she is serious and all business when she has absolutely no idea as to how she is as a person? She is more matured than everyone out there when a person born like that absolutely has no control over oneself. Why the “I-am-protagonist” inference? Why Randian funda about the character when it is far from it…
He: Your inferences? That’s what you think…
Me: Well, I am entitled to it. Each has his own interpretations and that’s what a movie has to do. Dude, BLACK may have been good to a lot of people. A lot of age groups or people with a varied understanding of the subject may have a better judgment than I do, but from the POV of a story unfolding on the big screen, it was rotten. The premise was wrong. The premise that there is a fight to live against all odds is valid but that it is so grand and pompous is downright wrong. What’s with romanticizing the life of a challenged person? How can you justify such a plot and say its entertaining/refreshing/novel cinema. Because you raised the point of Bheja Fry – there is no comparison. No doubt about it. That’s why I said its absolutely mindless, totally hilarious and downright idiotic…

He: … but it made me sleep…
Me: So, it did not appeal to you. Its ok, but I support such a cinema over BLACK because it does not hurt anybody. The characters are funny themselves, the script is lighthearted and the narrative non-nonchalant. As you always talk, cinema is all about entertaining a person for his money, Bheja Fry serves the purpose. All you say is good/ok/bad and move on. Its not going down the annals of Indian Cinema as a classic nor will it get abused in Sunday columns. But when a movie like BLACK makes it to headlines, it gets to me. I rack my brain as to what drives people to take a stance to appreciate it when it does nothing to either lighten your mood nor prove make an impact except that of sorrow and pity. Dude, for me cinema is more than just entertainment. It’s a powerful medium to communicate with people who need an inlet and outlet for thoughts and ideas. All that you call pseudo-intellectualism is all bull crap. We have resources, ideas, the time and the means to explore ideas and work on them to aid us. We have discussions, informed discussions with a civilized frame of mind. Do all have that luxury or the time? Do all have that freedom? Black is just an example. Bad movies get made all the time. They are bad and they are called so. You see through them, but this evil under the guise of honest or creative cinema is what’s dangerous. Its EVIL!
He: Fuck you dude, what are you ranting away? Cinema evil it seem’s? Stop analyzing so much. That’s where I have a problem with you. You take a very well made movie and rape it and say its for good. Make one, at least write an original idea. Then point fingers…
Me: Dude, its cinema man. I have a right to have an opinion on what I see.
He: Watever…
Me: Watever…

Eklavya

Practice what you preach; something that has been ingrained into all of us when the time comes for us to tell the one next to us. It’s the same with me, on most of the occasions. I like to take the moral high ground when it does not hurt me and advice whoever it is that listen to me. I take the convenient way out, ways that mostly don’t hurt me but am sure that there is somewhere that I draw a line and say this is where I will follow what I preached or at least believed. Honor among thieves… I love the line; it’s something that I struck to all my life…

Vinod Chopra directing a movie after a while; I did not see a trailer but the director is a draw to me. After all he gave an honest movie like Parinda; visuals which are etched in my memory to date. I always liked him, khamoshi was awesome and so was the characterization of Sanjay Dutt in Mission Kashmir. And the fact that he writes his own scripts makes me feel good that there are some of these kinds still left in Indian cinema.

Except for this review I had absolutely no idea what I was going to be treated to while walking into the theatre. The cast was brilliant and I have a bias for Jimmy Shergill so I knew I won’t regret it. The plot is age old but the visualizations and the details were awesome. Lack of songs was unexpected but was a welcome change. The actors for my expectation performed brilliantly.

I did not grow up watching Amitabh Bachchan and all the movies I saw of his were on Zee Cinema during a time when I was not crazy about films so the only repertoire I know of his are his characters during his “second innings”. Ekalavya probably ranks right up there and considering the limitations that the script had of he being a guard and not easily the one to be emotional, a physically tough performance was a treat. The storyline does justice to all the actors; Mr. Parikshit Sahani was brilliant and so was Jackie Shroff. Saif’s just had to be himself and Mr. Irani has what it takes to do what is expected out of him. Everything up to the climax was perfect and then my crib begins.

Dharma as explained in Mahabharata has various connotations but the approach of VC was very puzzling. The ending just took away all that was brilliant about the movie. So what if Dharma has to take precedence including everything. Finally here was a story that could have been what it originally was but once again like so many before fell because of the weight of expectations and commercial success. Why is it wrong if Saif’s is killed? Why is every decision made in our lives based on pure selfishness?

For a while during the end I felt finally I was going to see some in your face end to a story that was based on the age old mythology and took its origins in the scriptures. I have read my share of the Gita and if the connotation of Dharma is convenience and subject to personal objectives, then would our daily ingrained ideals hold us today?

For me a story needs to have a point of view that’s based on honesty. Why did Ekalavya derail from it?

A farce for Violence

This particular movie came highly recommended and after exhaustive hunt all over, I finally caught hold of a print that was decent. Now when movies like this that have titles that convey something about the movie and also when they loose out on particularly tight academy award races I tend to have high aspirations from the film and do all in my power to settle down to an uninterrupted movie watching session.

 

With the lights out, soda in hand I finally readied myself to watch what some people told me should have been a contender for the Oscars. What followed next were a series of emotions ranging from yuck to wow, smirks to amazement. Some smiles too but mostly hmmms… And I waited, waited to see if there was indeed something in the movie that was unexpected. 15mins into the film and a couple of murders later any seasoned Hollywood film buff can more or less decipher the storyline. Yet something inside me kept telling me to hold on and wait for that remarkable twist that would leave me spellbound. You see up to now, this story had been told in all the language channels that I get on my television. And trust me, the number is staggering.

 

Well, as in the case when you really raise your spirits, the fall is bound to be hard. And in this case it was. The movie ends before anything different happens and the hero walks home to his family and they live happily ever after. Whatever twist or originality that made it an amazing film was definitely edited out in the print that I had but it for sure deserves applause for the straightforward way in which it was shot.

 

Drive, Kill, Fuck, Weep, Dine and Sleep. That is the gist of the movie or if you say the sequence of scenes in the film.

 

Gruesome murders and some really in your face love-making sessions add some spice but the plot falls flat. I really don’t know much about graphic novels and they don’t interest me much anyways but if these are how they are, and then I am definitely better of not wasting my time on them. Nothing much I can do now about the movie though…

Da Vinci Code – The Film

You can have the first look at Da Vinci Code – The Movie here.

Pretty slick I must add but the let down is that you know the story so well that you can imagine every scene before you see it.

The sound track sounds quite familiar though, atleast of what I had heard in the trailers. One particular piece reminds me of Clint Mansell and The Kronos Quartet’s piece from RFD in its entirety. Music is by Hans Zimmer so the orchestra might be the same one.

Anyways, the wait’s till May 19th.

Indian Film Festivals

I keep reading stuff like this often about Indian Film Festivals happening abroad where most of the prominent actors meet film buffs and discuss cinema and answer questions. They are all Indian movies and Indian actors for gods sake so why not have movie festivals in our own country. Why should an average Indian miss out on new-gen movies like Black Friday or Paanch because the censors don’t allow them for release?

I live in a relatively small metro like Hyderabad and getting International Movies I accept is quite difficult. I can keep shouting foul that Syriana and Crash along with Chutney Popcorn release in Mumbai and Bangalore and not here but that won’t change a thing. I anyway satiate my movie thirst by resorting to the less appreciated paths to get movies but sometimes I do miss out on the good stuff. For example -Black Friday. Here was a movie that for the first time showcased in some light the way the mafia worked during the 1993 blasts and I don’t get my hands on it for a full yr after its release. In the mean time, every person in all the other continents have already seen the film and it is now history. Why should I be left out in this bureaucratic idiosyncrasy?

The only movie festival that is routinely held in Hyd is the Children’s Film festival and now I have lost count as to which edition was last held. The only other effort made is by the HFC (the Hyderabad Film Club) that was founded in 1960 but even today has only around 40 members. The festivals include retro’s on Iranian and French Film-makers and trust me – the quality of movies is very good, but on most occasions they get cancelled due to the lack of any turn-out. Also the place where it is held is a dingy pre-independence auditorium with loud speakers for sound system and that takes half of the fun out of movie viewing.

Recently, there was a film festival held in Mumbai called MAMI that showcased some of the better movies made in the last 5yrs but apparently they registered very less turn out and the cost involved in organizing such a festival was so high that the private financers registered huge losses. So why organize them on week-days between 9 to 5?

I, for one love good cinema. I want to watch Parzania too. I want to watch Paanch and Blue Umbrella. I want to see Manthan on a big-screen, sit back and enjoy Naseer. I want to hear Rahman in “Warriors of Heaven and Earth” & “Water”. These movies are supposed to be world class. Don’t we Indian’s belong there? Is that too much to ask?

I love film festivals. I am willing to spend a thousand bucks for a weekend full of good movies. Let them be even just a handful and I will not miss one. Organize one Q&A session with Vishal Bhardwaj and I will consider it an icing on the cake. It should not be so difficult. Most of the films that I have mentioned above will never see a release anyways so why not guise them in the form of festivals and put them up?

Good Indian Films that deal with the travails of our country are shown abroad before makers even contemplate releasing it here. The movies are routinely sent out to the festivals at Venice, Toronto & Paris before the common man here even knows about the existence of such films. Then what’s the point in making movies about the situations here? Aren’t movies supposed to be a medium to let the common man know about the prevailing conditions in our country by showcasing them to the very people about whom it is about? Why the stp-motherly treatment to our own people?

More Info:
More about the happening Film Festivals here.
A very Good Collection of Movies, reviews and news-letters out of Bangalore.


Being Cyrus – Kya $@%#% film…

The latest fad in bollywood these days seems to be “Intelligent Film-making” which if interpreted at face value would mean films that have some sense – Stories that have logic and meaning – Movies that will not only entertain, make one sit through completely, but also will give the audience their money’s worth. But Being Cyrus carrying tags such as unique, intelligent and path-breaking is nothing but a sheer waste of talent and reels.

Must admit that the promotion of the film was quite slick with the actors saying little but using absolutely no clichéd expressions. The director must have penned the lines for the TV interviews too.

Theatre’s on Monday nights in hyd are usually subdued with the absolutely jobless coming in, but thanks to the hype generated, especially by Rediff, the educated and the IT bunch were in full force. Am quite sure 80% came in after reading about the movie in Rediff. And the first of the sigh’s I heard was this harassed guy still in his Monday morning drab uniform shouting out loud as to whose idea of a joke was this 20mins into the movie.

At halftime, the story is a non-starter with the character introduction still half-way. Meaningless, adjective filled low-pitched English verses filled the room that made no sense. I guess my IQ was a little too less to comprehend those lines. Actors moving around in haphazard fashion, profanities being exchanged between genders with absolutely no care supposedly indicating the real India. And I thought I was living here for the last 20yrs.

Cutting the story short – Being Cyrus sucked. It was to end in the fashion of The Usual Suspects but considering our efforts in copying amazing Hollywood flicks (Chocolate ???) we tend to generally fall flat on our faces. See the problem lies in the non-execution of the product to the exact dot of the original. That’s where Sanjay Gupta scores. The best part about him is he does not use his brain when copying the scripts of movies made earlier. He just shoots them frame by frame and because the film he chooses to make is so good, the copy at some level turns out to be watchable.

Homi Adajania needs to understand that Indian Audience loves thrillers but they cannot be abstract and without direction. They need to be filled with masala and romance to stop the people from falling asleep. Its imperative that he does it.

On a serious note, for me the movie does not work because of its lack of screenplay. The story has some punch but because of the disconnected way in which the movie is played out, the lack of any intensity in the characters and the lack of inherent strength in the characters kind of kills the plot. Right at the beginning you will know that the story will be resolved at the end and the wait does become predictable. I have also read about it being compared to Sixth Sense but if that’s so, then no where was I bored in that movie. There is a difference in not understanding the story and getting bored and here it was the latter.

In the end, you can’t help but mention the parsi-ness of the film. There are a couple of instances that really stand out especially about the impeccable nature of parsis when it comes to their cars and their drinking habits but I guess it would really help their clan if they stop inter-breeding among themselves so that the fresh blood does really get them out of their confines.