Invictus in the land of the ‘Boks

Early on in the movie “Invictus”, there is a scene when Francois Pienaar’s father sits around and does a cassandra, while looking at the telly and talking generally, on The State of the Nation. His manner is disaparaging, his atitude pessimistic. As he rails and rants against what he sees as the inevitable collapse of the new dispensation in power, Pienaar (played brilliantly by a buffed-up matt damon) looks across at his mom, and they exchange The Glance.

Eyes rolling, and mouthing some inside joke, I imagine that this must have been a look in many households across SA, circa 1994. Mandela had been freed, and what the world saw as a moment of delirious celebration of victory for the forces against imperialism and racist bigotry was often seen very differently in South Africa, where the sudden appearance of black might and white fright turned the tables, and how!

And as older generations railed against the collapse of the world as they knew it, I imagine that younger people perhaps rolled their eyes at their mothers, and moved on with their lives.

In the evolving sensibility of Invictus, decades-old suspicion and mistrust is slowly replaced by interracial secret service camaraderie, hunger is replaced by a love for rugby by poor township boys, and eventually everyone (yes, yes! everyone, even the black xhosa maid!!) goes to see a rugby game where the national team grunts against oversize maori warriors. In a tensely fought final, the entire country stays indoors (white men in raucous pubs, black men in roadside shebeens), and a toothy boy from the townships shares the radio with on-tenterhooks Afrikaans policemen. The national team wins, people cheer madly, and a grinning Morgan Freeman- as- Madiba looks on at the tranformative power of sport.

If only life were so simple. Less than 15 years after the historic triumph, sitting in a darkened theatre in Gateway, Durban, I heard barely-suppressed snickers of derision when the scenes of reconciliation and repair flashed on the screen. The tragedy of South Africa today is that the bitterness is still very much in the air, and maybe as fathers rant, the glances are not even exchanged any more at breakfast tables.

The transforming power of sport is something that many hollywood movies have tried hard to exploit over the years (and succeeded admirably). The image of the last-minute touchdown with the orchestra crashing to a crescendo in the background, and the hero’s muddy face streaked with triumph, amid close up shots of the clock signalling timeout and a field invasion by fans, is legend. Invictus has all of that glory, and greatness.

The captain is a taciturn Afrikaans boy overwhlmed by the humility and greatness of the president. Madiba is a kindly old man : graceful, dignified and astute, charming supporters and critics alike with his simple and powerful philosophy. Even the rugby team, beefcake-bourgeoise before, are attentive anthem-singers after, all smiles and happy grins after Pienaar’s pep-talk. Heck, even the grubby kids from the townships, with the ragged trousers and no shoes, are a toothy crease of joy.

The reality, in today’s SA, is vastly different. In the year of World Cup SA 2010, it’s really pretty evident that sport, like everything else in south africa, has been carved up along racial lines, and distributed: the whites get rugby, the blacks get soccer and the indians get cricket , with the mandatory outliers all round. The coloreds, of course, are too busy hanging around Cape Town and being cool. Sports are only the tip of the iceberg: in a nation poisoned by years of institutional racial identification and prejudice, it takes more than a world cup win to bring the fractured pieces together. Depending on the color of their skins, foreigners will eventually get to be privy to the “South Africa is going to the dogs” dialogue. Everyone is a pocket anthropologist, and crude racial generalisations will be made over the poitjie pot, even as you stand around embarassed, and stammering thanks. Whites and Indians will be the first to moan and groan, even as they drive their fancy cars with super-sensitive alarm systems across the city to their fancy houses in the swankiest parts of town. Black moaning is different, and usually laments the fate that has befallen. And how powerless they are to stop it.

When Madiba talks in the movie of a “Rainbow nation”, and borrows Archbishop Tutu’s term to talk of the glorious multi-culturalism of South Africa, the whole world was charmed and touched. Today, the description seems eerily literal, of a prismatic country bent on splitting white light into its components. Maybe the great man was being  prescient, in his own ruined, tragic way.

Adapted from Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game that Made a Nation, by journalist John Carlin, Invictus is a portrayal of the intimate relationship between sports, pride, honour, and the inner core of decency and fairness that exist at the heart of every person. Some inconsistencies have been noted in the movie (Mandela quoting Invictus and not Roosevelt’s Man in the Arena  speech to Pienaar and the boys, the pile of stones on Robbyn Island that could not have existed in 1994), but the greatest inconsistency is the image of a united, cheering-as-one, proud and integrated South Africa. As we shuffled out of the movie hall, I could not but help noting with a sinking feeling that THAT particular cheer probably lasted barely as long as the credits.

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who’re the three?

3 idiots is a movie that was released over christmas in an unprecedented 2126 screens across the world, multiplex screens from Cape town to Canberra carpet bombed with raj kumar hirani’s latest offering. The film has grossed over 300 crore rupees (thats about $ 70 million) in 19 days, a record in itself, and is probably on its way to settling comfortably on the summit of the largest grossers’ mountain, glitteringly studded with some other A Khan –  starrers, like “Ghajini”, or older gems like “raja hindustani”: reigning favorites till they were toppled by other, more substantial offerings like “gadar”(dir: anil sharma, whose next movie “veer” is on its way : salman leading a mercenary army in pre-handpump india- so be warned) et al.

the film was preceded by careful branding and market promotions, for this was the latest offering from a director who had provoked countrywide discussions, chatter, and more importantly, emulation from the adoring masses for his last movie, and even, to a lesser degree for his debut film: both candyfloss social commentaries with the same protagonists who stumble with brilliant comic timing through life-as-idyllic-comedy.

As I went to see it, though, my tickets placed me right next to 2 south african-indian kids, who, after watching the opening credits and Aamir’s stellar entrance, rolled to their sides, and promptly went to sleep. hmmm, not part of the adoring masses, i see.

3 idiots was also the latest movie to be graced by the great khan (henceforth known as ‘gk’), whose return to normal size after acquiring rectii, biceps and a hydra-like* deltoid in his last offering “ghajini” has been the subject of excited speculation.

so its with some degree of reserve that one approaches 3 idiots. on the one side, adulation from the masses is almost always suspicious. yet, the team making the movie seems to be adept, and the marketing seems synchronised, right down to the facetious spat over acknowledgements and titles when a legal contract was signed between all parties concerned, (whose contravention should have provoked court action, not petulant tweets and angry press conferences)

and this post is meant as a review, so I shall cut to the chase, and try to concentrate on the movie itself, and chop out the chatter.

3 idiots is a movie about 3 friends, 2 adversaries and 1 sweetheart (supported by one pregnant sister, two differently autocratic families, and a surprise jaaved jaffery appearance). The movie is set in an engineering college in Delhi, the Imperial College of Engineering, a none-too-subtle reference to the IITs in India.

Indeed, none-too-subtle is a theme that runs through the movie, as the theme of “suicide due to academic pressure” is rammed down audience throats with vigour at three separate instances in the movie. I agree that suicides are a part of professional college life in India, particularly at high pressure institutions like the IITs, and we have all lost friends or classmates to the pressures of academia: some burning out, others fading away, and a few taking the plunge towards ending it all (and successful at it).

Yet is that the dominant experience of college life? is it the dominant tragedy of our university-attending students? is the oppressive teaching system, with its over-emphasis on memorisation and academic rigour, choking creativity and innovation in our institutions?

Does 3 idiots adequately address these issues?

Does it do so without resorting to tired cliches, painful melodrama and flaccid jokes to pepper the narrative?

The answer is no. on both counts, which is sort of paradoxical, I recognise.

Right from the name of Aamir’s main adversary (Chatur Raamalingam? Why don’t you just get out the Mehmood tapes and dress up the man in a dhoti, carve out a sikha and smear him in bhasma? Why not just address him as “oye madraasi”, mister hirani?)

The geeky, no-social-skills rival does not really have to be from Madras, or Hyderabad, neither does it really behove well to pick on a person schooled in Kampala and Pondicherry (both with no hindi included in syllabus) and from a non-hindi speaking background for their poor skills in the national language. Chatur’s attempts to speak in hindi are pretty good, and he improves through the movie, achieving a passable grammar and vocabulary at the end, enough to make himself understood to movie goers without subtitles.

Yet the cliche is repeated, as always. To Hirani’s credit, at least the token muslim was not subjected to kid-gloved condescension, neither was the inventor Lobo’s dad a “God tumhe hameshaa khush rakhenge” padre in goa.

That was some relief, certainly. But the tired cliches, and the flaccid jokes, and the forced hilariousness was almost as irritating as the sight of men in their late 30’s and mid 40’s playing boys less than half that age. Admittedly, parts of the movie are funny, like the sanskrit verse at the end of Chatur’s ill-fated speech, like some of the gags with the teachers. But when this is seen in the backdrop of gk’s condescending, sanctimonious elder statesman patronage, the humour is too little compensation. 

Aamir-as-superman is a role that movie goers have come to identify since Ghulam more than 11 years ago. With the possible exception of 1947: Earth, gk has played the squeaky clean and patronising hero in all his movie: saving enslaved childhoods in “taare zameen par”, saving enslaved villages in “lagaan”, defending the nation in “sarfarosh”, defending his faith in “mangal pandey”. Its about time that the long, self obsessed biopics of himself, embellished with a million edited-to-make-aamir-look-good moments are treated with scepticism, and not unabashed admiration.

Don’t get me wrong. I would go for an gk movie far more readily than an SRK , or Salman movie, but I still think that the alaborate paeans to the man’s megalomania are getting a bit too tedious. So while gk fools around “more outside classes than inside”and “attends whichever class he wants to”, other students in the class do the boring humdrum job of sticking to the schedule. Yet gk shines in every class, does projects for other students, delivers babies using vacuum cleaners, and spends the night before the finals ferrying a friend’s invalid father to the hospital before topping the finals with the highest percentage aggregate. Any student worth his/her salt who has gone through engg / med school can tell you that at the highest level, toppers ae created by a combination of genius, obscenely long hours, application, luck and perserverance. A genius who flits airily from lecture to lecture absorbing what he can may be able to do really well in the results list, but topping? Unlikely.

But the most irritating quality of the movie is certainly its unsubtlety. And the patron saint of that is Boman Irani. If I am forced to see another of Irani’s over-the-top performances with fake lisp/beard/pagdee/wig/limp/mole, i think i shall scream. To see him as a cardboard tiger in too-high pants and tight coat, with a poisonous persona defined by peevish petulance and rather uneducated comments about “engineering”, and “machines” was tortuous, to say the least. To watch his teary-eyed capitulation to the bright side was even worse, and it is here that the movie fails to move, or even push or nudge.

All-in-all, if Hirani doesn’t change his style of aseptic cinema stories, unsubtle social messages, happily-ever-after endings, random resuscitations of paralysed patients, all embellished with dialogue that uses puerile jokes that may cause primary school teachers to blush and giggle nervously  in their classes, its going to become increasingly difficult to see his movies.

Evidently, I am in a small minority here, and along with the 2 children snoring peacefully in the seat next to me at the theatre, probably I make up the 3 eponymous heroes of this movie.

Which really answers my question, of course.

* – read: many headed.

friday, 13th february, 2009 : sri ram sene and the slumdog millionaire :

well, today is friday the thirteenth.  wat sweet irony, tomorrow is valentine’s day.  and made ever more so (ironic, ie) by the flurry of pink panties, godless women and publess men, scary economy blues, lunar eclipses (ok so there was only one), scarier environment reds and the victory of likud with the spectacular rise of lieberman….

never before really has love had such a bad chance.  it has been amusing to see the amount of anger and righteous indignation that has poured out on to the indian streets over the last few weeks.   of course, in some cases , it has been just outrageous and tragic (sri ram sene dragging women out by their hair), in some cases dangerous and thought provoking ( a free and fair election in israel that threw up the anger that it did), in some cases eerily premonitory (the moon, that trusted friends of lovers everywhere, obscured by a shadow of the earth), and in some cases, just downright insulting and presumptuous (the widespread disapproval of slumdog millionaire for portraying the ugly india)

so let me dwell on two of these issues that i feel are related in some way, and which have animated our discussions, in the month past.

when slumdog millionaire was released, at first, there was the pleased smile of a nation that was charmed.   here was danny boyle, maker of the beach and trainspotting, making a movie on india, shooting in mumbai.  and all that had happened in the city over the last year would be laid to rest.

then there were the whispers that it showed india in a bad t, a throwback to the snake charmer-and-elephant days.  nooooooo……  a collective groan rose all over the country, not again, we don’t want to be branded as exotic pieces in a cornershop in colorado, oh no!

then a few days later the great B spoke, and said : ” if SM projects India as [a] third-world, dirty, underbelly developing nation and causes pain and disgust among nationalists and patriots, let it be known that a murky underbelly exists and thrives even in the most developed nations.”

oooohh. prickly, aren’t we?  protests went off across the nation.  said voices …this is not how we are: a bunch of dirty, impoverished, thieving schemers, flirting with disease and danger with easy nonchalance.   we are the new india. the one that grew up after shriman bakshi left, so thank you very much mr peter sellers, but we’ll be the judge of how funny your faux indian turn in the movie was.   and if you want to look at the new india, the real india, then for heaven’s sake get your nose out of the gutter and see the millions of young people who’re crouching in front of a “roadies” skinned orkut, sending sixteen scraps to suneeta and sunaina, sataak-se, like that!  we’re cool, really, and we listen to a r rahman’s remixed sufi tunes on our pink iPods while waiting to talk to business associates across the globe, shivering in a european winter..   wake up.   this is the new india…..

………………………..

the sri ram sene, on the 25th of december, dragged women out of a pub in mangalore, ironically named “amnesia”, and thrashed them in public, obliging eager videographers in the vicinity.   when confronted, the leader of the ram sene, muthalik, said that this was his duty, so to speak, he was just doing what the parents of these girls would want, and that this was the sene’s way of enforcing the dictates of indian culture.  this is not indian culture, all these women going to pubs, taking drugs and indulging in alcoholism, he said.   plus, we have reasonably certain information that some pubs are fronts for making blue films, and also for prostitution.

muthalik is a vandal, a publicity-hungry hound who will sell his own mother for a record price if the attention and sensation is worth it.   i shall not waste any time talking about him.   even as i write, a group of women have spearheaded a campaign to send him pink panties, and sanjukta, my friend (of http://www.sanjukta.wordpress.com  fame) is at the spearhead of a “hug karo pub bharo” cmpaign.   there are many women across india who want to join her, and many more who are pledging their support.   many men, too, and children.

my point is this: at a very basic level, wat is the difference between muthalik and the persons protesting the depiction of poor people in SLD? lete us refer to “persons protesting the depiction of poor people in SLD” henceforth as big B, since he has actually voiced it after all.   muthalik believes in a depiction of india that he defines narrowly within his limited understanding of what it is to be indian, and how one must behave.   having done so, he goes on to enforce it, using force to do so.   big B objects to a depiction of a slice of india  shown in an international film that’s gathering much acclaim because he believes its not the india he wants shown outside.   there are many other things here.   why don’t you write about them?   (pardon me for shuddering, but i cannot help but get  a deja vu of some idi amin-esque african dictator’s helpful advice to a visiting journalist: “there are many other things here.   why don’t you write about them?”)

yes.  the difference is the use of violence.  that’s right.

i don’t know if you have seen the movie.  i have, and i did not imagine that the movie depicted anything that was hyperbole in the extreme, nor did it show scenes of incredible squalor and deprivation.  if anything, it showed a smart, self-sufficient people, resourceful and ingenious, living in the massive slums of mumbai (itself housing a population that rivals that of many world cities) and leading their lives with dignity, not as wasted junkies living on dole and roadside crack.  the ugliness that we glimpse thru the movie too, is real, and boyle’s mistake is in perhaps making jamal’s life a generic collection of different situations that may eventually only occur independently to different people.  yet, the details are true.   if you don’t believe me, the proof is a short auto ride away.   your city has a slum too, you know, teeming with people who work in your garages, in your homes, on the fringes of your lives, keeping costs low and luxuries affordable.

yet the great B deems this as causing “pain and disgust” among patriots and nationalists.

wowow. lets stop for a minute here.   what if someone came up to you and told you that the india that you knew, the india that formed your daily existence, your everyday reality, that india (for india is simultaneously many indias rolled inside of one)  is not pretty enuff to swell the hearts of patriots, and showing it is in bad taste?  how would you feel?  what if someone came to you, mr big B-aka-millions-masquerading-as-one, wat if your world of forum malls and swank offices and smart plastic cards clipped on smooth pinstripe shirts  was not beautiful enuff for people to show in an english movie?

what then, mister big bee?

what, indeed?

as a matter of fact, if i have a complaint with SLD, it was the characterisation of anil kapoor as rude and derisive, heaping insult upon pejorative, and heckling a chai-wallah working in a call centre in mumbai.   is that how the west sees noveau rich india, how it imagines the perfumed plutocracy of this country to be, as shallow insensitive cads without a shred of conscience or a sliver of empathy: cold, crude and calculating, calmly calling the cops to carry out their corrupt bidding?

and if that is so, isn’t that wrong?   the great indan middle class cannot be like that!

after the uproar, i’m suddenly not so sure.

3-01-09 : Australia :

the movie is baz luhrman’s and has been officially declared a flop before it got here to india. which is a pity, beacaus ein a way, luhrman is the most bollywood of the english directors that i have seen. his movies have it all: pathos, melodrama, grand sweeping stage, songs, obvious motifs, larger-than-life canvas, and more money spent on a single spectacular sequence than on the scriptwriter’s part of the spoils ( i think:)

its always a pleasure to watch one of these sweeping historicals, especially if its abt something that u have only a little bit of knowledge about, so ure not nitpicking abt the details. am sure that there’s junta in australia and darwin who’re smarting , or seething, depending on wat their deal is, seeing the liberties he’s taken with the narrative and with reality.

i loved the period settings, the scenes in the outback, the grimy and dusty land stretching in front, the two thousands head of cattle, and the genteel english society in darwin.

the casting is impeccable, and this is a pair that i find especially handsome. as was probably the attempt. the idea, i think, was to make the couple seem as statuesque as possible. have words like “elegant”, “classic”, “striking” to be written about them in the reviews (which they have). it was irritiating how jackman looked forever like he had freshly emerged from his makeup van (he probably had) when the gringos arnd him looked dirty, swarthy, grimy and sweaty.

kidman looks gorgeous, stunnning, elegant, beautiful, basically just being kidman. and does a great role of going from prissy englishwoman to daughter-of-the-outback.

the movie’s other actors are passable. the dogged villain, set upon revenge and recrimination even as his wife was mowed down by enemy fire, his stock razed and his fortune destroyed, does strike this ludicrous note,  but its overlook-able.

there are some great sequences depicting the herding of the catle, and an eerie sidetrack involving a shaman, who coalesces into the movie’s convenient “lets’- not-disturb-indigenous-cultures” form of white apologism. the caucasian guilt at having colonized the land stretches down to the trite two messages at the end describing the prime minsiter of australia “apologising/ admitting” to the process of “assimilation” of native australian people (alternately described as savages or aborigines in the movie). i don’t want to make a political point; indeed i know too little to try and make insinuations, but to me, wat was more important was the land itself, and the depiction of the follies of the early 20th century english settlements in australia.

coming fresh as i am  from diamond’s labour of love on “why societies choose to fail or succeed”,  in his 2005 book : “collapse”, i am intrigued by the decsions made by the early settlers on the land in  australia, decsions that were uniformly disastrous for the environment, the indigenous people and animals, and ultimately(which is one of diamond’s points) for  the settlers themselves.

(but of course, by this stage they’re not settlers really, they’re australians really aren’t they?)

read abt the book at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Collapse_(book)

meanwhile, very happy nicole-watching to the rest of u.

december 27, ’08 : Ghajini – the left hand of godd

i saw the movie. and am not going to add to the list of conversely awed-yet-disparaging reviews.

the movie is entertaining, though should have received an adults certificate for the violence. the plot is catchy, has huge loopholes, yet uses the pace of the narrative to hurtle it forward. the 3 hours are well accounted for.

asin is from my city, and i cannot but root for her. she is gorgeous, and oozes confidence and chemistry. she’s no great shakes as an actress, or she wasn’t really tested here thus, so i’;m willing to give her the benefit of the d. in the words of a contemporary reviewer for a prominent website “she was good in the dying scene”. and avregae pretty much else, as they left unsaid.

jiah khan was irritating, which was probably the point. ghajini was menacing, a throwback to villains in lurid tamil and malayalam films in the 90’s when dolby cinema sound and DTS systems in every town and city theatre ensured movies that spawned a whole different genre of gut-wrenching violence. if my hindi-only-viewing readers find that difficult to believe, think the factory’s recent movie titled “risk”, and think of its awful carnage. that is passe fare for most southern films. of malayalam and tamil i can vouch, and what little i’ve seen of telugu, they seem to follow the same bone-crunching path too. even ghajini the hindi movie had villains looking decidedly south india and whose names were dead giveaways.

it is my theory that where the southern films cannot offer glamour (read  skimpily dressed women with smooth alabaster bodies cavorting beneath waterfalls/disco arc lights), what they can offer is some gruesome violence to rev up the audience, and to enthuse the (predominantly )  male audience with a sense of self-aggrandisement, a sort of vicarious bravado, that courses thru  their veins till the short ride and vigorous fuck back home with the missus.

but we digress…

in ghajini, there is amir. his perfomrance masterful, his supremacy total. the loops and twists in the plots portrayed beautifully by his frenetic action, his wild look. he has very few dialogues in the movie, his short-term-memory-loss version a personality shift from his poetry as tycoon-turned-lover boy. that shift from confident sophisticate, simultaneously vulnerable and  self-assured , is not the only one of the fantastic paradigm twists in the story. witness amir’s rapid memory fade and return to confused awareness of the present, moments after he has exploded in bloody rage and violence. it is very skilful.

yet, why i am writing this blog is to bring out one detail. amir has played a left-handed man in ghajini, he has had shots (one in the plane) where he’s writing with his left. the pen is held awkwardly in the hand, yet the flow seemed to be smooth enough. the handwriting slope in the diary was that of a left hander’s. and his final swing (u’ll know it when u see it) is also left-handed. i sometimes also noticed he would lead from his left in a fight.

why? what was the reason for introducing this quirk? why was this apparent character detail tossed so carelessly into the narrative? what did it signify? does anterograde memory loss have some strange associations with left-handedness in some publishe d journal article? was it just another quirk to add to the strangeness of ghajini?

i am forced to think, it is the latter.

bravo murugadoss. bravo amir.

21 Dec 08 : Rab ne bana di jodi :

let me begin with the basic premise of this article. rab ne bana di jodi is a very bad film. in fact, it is perhaps among srk’s worst films, ranking with mohabbatein and hum tumhare hai sanam as among his saddest offerings to date.

i am not going to write about how it reflects the common man and his hopes/dreams/aspirations (that oft-maligned trio who are trotted out to justify the necessity of any glamour-less role by a mainstream actor), nor am i going to give u any gyaan on how i think that shah rukh has attempted to give up his lover boy image and bury the ghost of raj. The movie is shallow and pointless, the screenplay a parody of emotional angst and difficult decision-making that afflicts most hastily arranged marriages.

yet, unwittingly, Aditya Chopra, that intelligent investor, that great pretender, has given us a movie that is, on some levels a deeply insightful and intuitive film. i do not imagine that it may be so, but his story-line packed with references to “rab-ji”, (brother of parle-g, anyone?) and contrived feminism combined with audaciously  chauvinistic motifs (the sequence with the lunch box – fairly cracked me up) reflects the deeply ingrained parochialism in mainstream hindi cinema and society. that the movie is set in punjab, arguably(satistically) the worst place in india to be born if u are a girl, cannot be mere coincidence.

so the storyline loops from audacious shift to audacious shift, when srk, visiting his high school teacher, is suddenly part of an itinerant heart atack that strikes teacher in chest, and causes teacher to kick the b., leaving luscious daughter (anushka shankar, co-starring with her magnificent bosm in the film) in srk’s able and trusted hands. so while srk has a few comical opening scenes (like when he is talking to shankar for among the first time in his house and the laptop is attached to the usb driv which is attahced to his neck, and so forms a convenient tent covering his crotch, or the sequence when he has a conversation with anushka’s bosom while discussing something with her) are ok, and make u laff for a bit, the rest of the movie drags. there is no excitement in the srk household, because he has chosen to stay separately from wifey in the top floor until he is able to win her trust and love.

of course, that love is the dicey thing, a quantity that the missus says she is incapable of giving to srk, tho she will be a wife to him, oh yes.

so then are trotted out the accepted symbols of propah wife-like behaviour, namely : dabba-to-office, permission for every little thing in her life, acceptance of lack of financial autonomy  and abject penury of own situation and a few thousand ji’s peppering every sentence.

till anushka meets raj, that is. who is srk dressed in silly tights and spiky hair, with brash and loudness to boot. to be fair, i do think that the difference between the men is striking, and i do also think that their attitudes are also vastly different. but for a woman to not observe or even comment on the striking similarity between two totally different men in her life (one a husband, the other a lover) was a bit thick, i thot.

yet, again, it may be a metaphorical allusion to the incredible amount of distance that social mores attendant on marriage bring to a relationship. how the aura of the husband and the implied deference that a wife must show towards her man automatically ensure that she never knows him at all…..

what it will be, i say? (to quote an oft-repeated malluism)

Has chopra had the last laugh, subtly weaving a scathing parody of  the emotional isolation of contemporary relationships into the happy insouciance of the srk world?

i will never know. but the movie was crap, on that i am clear. my moments of the film?

two. one is vinay pathak explaining to srk what ‘macho’ is, explaining with a light swagger and a jaunt. and then having the frame cut to the next day, when srk-as-raj struts in the dance class.  it was as if a comic parody was being enacted by a painted trollope of the dancer’s graceful eyebrows, and executed with comiserious waggle and exaggerated wink.

enlightening. it showed me the meaning of what it is to be vinay pathak, and the perspective of how it is to be srk.

and two? the casting credits in the end, of course. with the fotos. if u can do it, take the dvd and watch these last 2 minutes. worth the fifty bucks.

4 -12-2008 : an exciting phase in hindi cinema :

for those of u who have followed malayalam cinema, the eighties will always remember in memory as the carnival of plenty: a time when aravindan’s films went mainstream and were acclaimed by crowds that flocked to the baroque-styled, stucco-plastered theatres of the day. padmarajan, bharathan, adoor, and works of sublime mastery were chuned out by the newer products of an industry of industrious intelligentsia that intrigued and entertained a discerning and attentive audience.

and then the 90’s brought mimicry, and laughter. and comedy and loud pathos and cheap tawdry emotion counched in weepy tales of women who relinquish their children, and culminating in an orgy of macho aggrandisement, as bravado replaced drama, and moustaches were twirled by heavy-jowled heroes.

i don’t know if the brilliance of the 80’s can be regained soon, but i do realise that it is the moment, and the time… and if these are right, thene there is no telling….

like look at hindi:

there are a whole crop of directors in hindi who are some of the most exciting prospects in indian cinema today. when i say loosely “indian cinema”, i speak from a knowledge of two languages and a vague idea of a third, so perhaps this is pompous, yet it is definitely true that after the tackiness of the 80’s and the embarassment of the 90’s, we have now a truly golden age in hindi cinema, where a series of young directors have stormed on the scene, and who can only make us wonder as to their prodigious talent and hope for what lies ahead from them.

i would rank these guys, in no particular order , as:

  1. farhan akhtar: the most famous, leading the brat pack, etc etc. poster boy of the new wave. also helps with his high profile singing and acting debut and his fantastic family background to create the basis for a legend in his time. “dil chahta hain “, “lakshya” and “don” are his reportoire
  2. shriram raghavan: “ek hasina thi“,” johnny gaddar“. need one say any more. again, smart, slick and confident. not afraid to make the edgy, gritty join-the-dots crime flick.
  3. shimit amin: “ab tak chappan” with nana, then “chak de india” with the king khan. makes sports movie history, then assumes a life of its own when it fuels interest in women’s hockey and talks of revival, and of national honour and pride.
  4. anurag kashyap: “paanch“,” black friday“,” no smoking“. have seen only the thrid, yet the man’s raw power is astounding. hits u between the eyes. def a man who will make a mark internationally, will be known among the greats. and then he goes ahead and makes the stupendous “Dev D” and the masterly“Gulaal”. This is a man who will be among the all time masters.
  5. rajat kapoor: has done tons of movies. is an all time favourite. just recently did “mithya“. was a classic, and has a way of teaming up with these guys : ranvir shorey, vinay pathak, saurabh shukla, naseeruddin shah. really vintage stuff. not really a new guy on the block
  6. rakeysh om prakash mehra: followed up the flawed “aks” with “rang de basanti“, which seemed to get everything right as far as the box office went. Then finished with the flawed “Dilli 6”, which was enjoyable, but still rather pedantic, compared to his earlier stuff.
  7. jijy philip : “my wife’s murder“, parts of “darna zaroori hain“. edgy, taut work. very edge-of the -seat. nice stuff
  8. sagar bellary: “bheja fry“. a classic in irritating situation-comedy
  9. rohan sippy: “bluffmaster“. inspired by “matchstick men”. slick, smart and well-packaged. neat. definitely worth watching out for.
  10. navdeep singh: “manorama six feet under“. need i say any more? cinema noir!
  11. homi adjania. made ‘being cyrus’, an astonishing debut film. alarmingly good. also an indian film in english, a most underrepresented genre.
  12. vishal bharadwaj: “makdee”,” maqbool”,” omkara”, “blue umbrella“. wites, directs, composes music, writes lyrics. wat a polymath. truly a mascot for his time
  13. imtiaz ali: “socha na tha”, “jab we met“. has a sense of wat sells. and how to sell it. does not make the intellectual premise, yet is honest enough to respect u through the movie. great stuff. heartwarming. His “Love Aaj Kal”, released in 2009, is not really up to the mark, but still has traces of the brilliance that sparkled in his earlier movies.
  14. rajkumar hirani: made “munnabhai mbbs“, and “lage raho munnabhai“. his movies have become grassroots movements, with their light candyfloss storylines, asexual heroines, gay insouciance and gentle farce.
  15. abbas tyrewala: was famous as dialogue writer for afore mentioned movie, then made his own ‘jaane tu ya jaane na’, and we all know wat happened afterr.
  16. dibakar banerjee: started his career with the widely acclaimed “khosla ka ghosla“. now has followed this up with the  triumphant “oye lucky lucky oye
  17. sudhir misra: experienced, briliant but erratic, misra’s work spans the taut and edgy “is aat ki subaah nahin” to the sublime and near-perfect “hazaaron khwaishein aisi” – the most poetic tribute to the darkness of the emergency years. yet, later offerings like “khoya khoya chand” failed to live up to the early promise.

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well, thats all i can think for now. but these guys are the ones to watch out for, in my opinions

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