Archive for the ‘Movies’ Category

Template movies…..

January 3, 2016 Leave a comment

It’s been some time now since my last post and I decided to take this topic up for the greater good of the average Bollywood cinema-goer. Not that many people are going to read this post. Also, it is not like I am too much concerned about what Bollywood offers us. This post is a result of innumerable conversations I have had with Hitesh and Kiran every time one of these TEMPLATE movies releases and we keep on cribbing and make a collective decision not to watch the movie.

Though I must say that most actors/actresses are guilty of acting in such movies I have few repeat offenders in mind – Imran Khan being one of them. Imtiaz Ali and Karan Johar are repeat offenders in the director and producer categories respectively.

Moving on to the template, it is as follows:-

  • The hero and heroine are child hood friends
  • Either of the two gets into a relationship/ gets engaged to someone else (sometimes Step 2 Is iterated with multiple people)
  • The said person in 2 above starts getting confused whether he/she is taking the right step
  • The other person goes out of the way to convince his/her friend that they are right
  • In the end, the external forces (read parents/ career/ friends etc) make them realize that they are best suited to each other and they oblige. THE END

Another variation of the above could be that Step 1 and step 2 are swapped. i.e. the hero and heroine are already in a relationship with someone else but they  meet each other later and it’s the same step 3 onwards.

The first movie that comes to mind is Imran Khan’s Jaane Tu ya Jaane na…..which starred none other than the great Imran Khan. After a couple of non- template movies like LUCK and KIDNAP, the great Aamir Khan’s great nephew came back to the template. What followed was a barrage of movies all of which are same.

  • I hate luv stories where Sonam Kapoor is a colleague
  • Break ke baad where Deepika Padukone is a childhood buddy
  • Mere Brother ki Dulhan where Katrina Kaif is his would be sis in law. (This one follows the variant of the template)
  • Gori tere pyaar mein
  • Katti Batti

To be frank I haven’t watched the last two. But I don’t think these would have been any different. Once upon a time ..dobaara and Matru ki Bijli ….were also template movies but the focus was not on the hero-heroine alone. All this while, the only non template movie he acted was – Delhi Belly. Ek main aur ek tu was a bit different

Let’s move on to Imtiaz Ali – I have already written a post on this great director, Each of his movies are one and the same. After the above post, he has come out with Highway and Tamasha. Highway was no different while Tamasha – I can not comment as I have not watched it yet.

Now lets come to Karan Johar. Most of the Imran khan movies above were Dharma productions.

  • I hate Luv Stories
  • Hasee Toh Phasee
  • Humty Sharma ki Dulhania
  • Kabhi ALvida na Kehna
  • Kuch Kuch Hota hai

In some of these movies, the fiancée or boyfriend/girlfriend of the main actor involved is a complete giveaway. So much so that this actor might not even show up in the trailers. Even before the movie begins, the audience knows that the two main actors are going to end up together. For e.g. no one expected Kareena Kapoor to go with Tarun Arora in Jab we Met at any point in the movie, how much ever twists and turns the director tried to place in the movie.

Now, we must not confuse the template with love triangles. I would call Student of the Year a typical love triangle as the story being told is not focussing on a hero and heroine. I mean, both Varun Dhawan and Siddharth Malhotra had equal weightage. Main Tera Hero would be another Love Triangle.

Almost all actors post 90s have of acted in a Template movie. SRK in Kuch Kuch hota hai and Kabhi Alvida na Kehna. Akshay Kumar in Humko Deewana Kar gaye. Saif Ali Khan in Hum Tum, Salaam Namaste,  Salman Khan in Maine Pyar Kyun Kiya and of course all the younger ones would have at least one such movie.Ranbir Kapoor in Tamasha, Ranveer Singh in Band Baja Baaraat…

At a personal level, even if I have an iota of doubt in mind that the movie could be a template movie, I wont go to watch the movie. But these days, people go watch a movie because there is nothing better to do on a weekend and the people who make such boring, repetitive, mindless movies will keep laughing their way to the bank.

Categories: Movies

Georges Méliès’ Le Voyage Dans La Lune

Actually, I had written this piece earlier, but had never posted it online. Recently, I watched Hugo (a tribute to the great ‘Cinemagician’ Georges Méliès) and the famous scene of the space capsule landing into the eye of the moon reminded me of LE VOYAGE DANS LA LUNE.

H G Wells and Jules Verne were definitely the best writers in the history of science fiction. And when a movie is inspired from novels written by these two authors, you expect the very best. If the movie is the very first movie in the genre, then it is all the more special. I am referring to the movie LE VOYAGE DANS LA LUNE ( A TRIP TO THE MOON) .

‘A TRIP TO THE MOON ‘ is a black and white movie which was released in 1902. The movie has been produced and directed by Georges Méliès, who has also starred in it. He has co-written the movie with his brother Gaston Méliès. The movie belongs to the silent era but per say, it is a French movie, the narration in the original movie being French. Interestingly enough, the movie is now more than 100 years old and copyright laws are no more applicable on it and is now available in the public domain.

The movie is 14 minutes long (depending on the frame rate as it is a silent movie) and begins with a meeting of astronomers. The president of the astronomers addresses the group and proposes a trip to the moon. He explains by drawing images on the black board how a bullet shaped projectile would take them to the moon. After some infighting and indecision, they reach a consensus of making a trip to the moon Five of the astronomers agree to accompany the president on his voyage. They proceed to inspect the construction of the space capsule and subsequently, they enter the completed space capsule. The capsule, the shape of a bullet is inserted into huge cannon. The cannon is lit and the capsule disappears into space.

Once, the crew reaches the moon, they get out of the capsule and are more than happy to see the completely new surroundings. They are tired and fatigued and they take out their blankets to sleep. During their sleep, many stars and comets visit them. Saturn and Phoebe too visit them – all in human form. It is not very clear whether they are dreaming about these heavenly beings or the heavenly beings are actually a part of the story. Phoebe – the moon goddess is not very happy to see the intruders and she brings about snow fall to disturb them. The astronomers then seek refuge in a crater. Once inside the crater, some strange incidents occur. One of the astronomers sticks his umbrella into the ground and it turns into a mushroom. They are then attacked by some creatures – selenites that are native to the planet. These selenites are delicate and explode when enough pressure is applied. The astronomers are captured but they escape and all except the president get into the capsule. The capsule incidentally is resting beside a cliff. The president drags the capsule off the clip and it falls off the face of the moon. The capsule comes back to earth, it lands into a water body and is rescued by a steamer. At this point, it is told that a grand reception is awaiting them for completing the voyage successfully.

Needless to say, the movie being a science fiction, a lot of events which are out of the world or IMPOSSIBLE have to be captured on film. If you compare the special effects with those in current movies, they would look completely tacky and not at all make believe at some points. But at a time when even sound recording did not exist, coming out with so many camera tricks is really exceptional. The part about selenites has been picked up from ‘THE FIRST MEN ON MOON’ by H G Wells. The whole idea about the projectile being shot into space has been inspired by ‘FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON’ by Jules Verne. Also the initial part of the story about the president proposing to the club members has an uncanny resemblance to ‘FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON’. Here, I must say that Jules Verne did a great job in actually trying to find out the rough estimate of a canon which could launch such a payload into space. Though the escape velocity could never be reached using Verne’s apparatus, still it has been observed that the projectile could have covered quite a considerable  distance provided a chemical suitable for the explosion of the canon is obtained.

This movie is special in another way. Most of the contemporary science fiction movies are just that – fiction or just plain impossible with the current technology available. But ‘LE VOYAGE DANS LA LUNE’ depicts something, which we know is not only possible, but is quite common these days. The first  time a man-made object was launched into space was on October 3 1942, when Germans launched the V2 rocket. Subsequently, many developments have taken place and on, July 20, 1969, Man set foot on the surface of moon. Thus the events transpiring in the movie are at least 67 years ahead of time and hence we must understand that some erroneous depictions are bound to happen.

What were the erroneous depictions in the movie ? To start with, the way the projectile is launched – though the basic idea has remained the same all thse years, it definitely takes more than a simple canon to launch a rocket into space. Also, though the astronomers wear some kind of suit, it is not vaccum proof and definitely they have not taken the oxygen masks along. Another flaw is probably in the way the capsule lands on moon without any hassles as the gravity in moon would be quite different and finally, the capsule falling off the edge of the moon didn’t look convincing at all.

Looking at the brighter side, the concept of aliens was introduced and as in most of the contemporary movies, it is the human beings who are the ultimate winners. The special effects, specially depicting the moon with a human face and bringing it closer as they land in the eye of the moon was commendable. The scene showing the umbrella turning into a mushroom and the bursting of the selenites are some scenes which have been carried out very smoothly.

All in all, the first science fiction ever was some really high quality stuff and it has set the tone for a  whole genre of movies entertaining us and capturing our imagination over the past century.

An outsider’s perspective to Tamil Cinema

November 28, 2011 Leave a comment

2011 is now drawing to a close and I don’t expect many Tamil Blockbusters releasing in the next month or so. So I thought of, you know, to write about the Tamil movies I saw here in Chennai on the Big Screen.

Now what made me watch Tamil movies? First of all, some of the biggest film personalities in India are from Tamil cinemas – be it the VERSATILE Kamal Haasan, the GREAT Mani Ratnam or superstar Rajanikanth. I have watched a number of Tamil movies over my lifetime – many owing to the DD regional language stuff that used to come on Sundays along with subtitles during my school days. Many dubbed movies like Bombay and Robot (or Enthiran), thanks to the hype surrounding these movies and also I have seen simultaneous Tamil/Hindi releases like Yuva, Guru and Raavan. But, but, but watching a Tamil movie on the big screen with no subtitles sitting along Tamil speaking audience who in some cases idolize their screen gods is a different experience altogether. Another reason is probably the fact that I wanted to improve my Tamil speaking capabilities (not that I had much to write home about). My mother tongue being Tamil’s closest cousin – Malayalam, understanding the movie should not be a big deal, or so I thought.

The downside to watching movies this way is you have to watch the movie all alone, as I don’t have many Tamil speaking movie – enthu friends in Chennai. But the upside is you have to pay maximum 130 bucks (including 10 bucks for service charges) even in the best multiplex. Well then, here I was in a small theatre in Chennai – to watch KO, since that was the biggest release at that time. I asked the guy at the counter who the main actor was and he replied JEEVA. Now I having heard only about Suryas, Vikrams and Madhavans, was a bit circumspect, but saw Harris Jayaraj on the movie poster and immediately made up my mind. Till this point in time, I had not added Tamil movies to my list of Wikipedia pages and hence the ignorance. But started gaining enough wiki insight before any of the subsequent Tamil movies. KO was a pretty decent movie. The storyline was predictable and ordinary. It had been lifted off from 2009 Hollywood film State of Play starring Russell Crowe. The songs were really good, especially Ennamo Edho. Performance-wise, Jeeva and Ajmaal Ameer were decent. The actresses Karthika Nair and Pia Bajpai were also pretty OK. But many violent scenes and the over-dramatized action sequences left a bad taste in the mouth. Interestingly though, the film is being remade in hindi with Akshay Kumar playing the male lead.

Next in line was Nootrenbadhu or 180 (released in Telugu by the name 180). The interesting storyline and the usually bubbly Nithya Menen were the main reasons I went to watch the movie. Must say, I was pleasantly surprised. The story revolved around a too-good-to-be true kind of nice guy who is suffering from a terminal illness and is given 180 days to live. The story line combined with a not-at-all conventional ending made for a good watch. But sadly though, there were numerous songs distracting the viewer and unnecessarily bringing down the pace of the movie. The song ‘Nee Korinal’ impressed me though. The crowd reaction was the most disappointing. It seemed to me that the crowd got irritated by the whole story line and many started chanting ‘saava da’ etc asking the protagonist to die 😛 . The story, screenplay, direction were all up to mark, considering it was being made by a debutant, Jayendra. Though I am not a big fan of Siddharth, must say he did a fantastic job – the storyline was very much dependent on the main character to put in a credible performance.

Next in line was Avan Ivan. I had not planned to watch Avan Ivan, but I ended up watching it eventually as I couldn’t get tickets for some other movie. Since the director was the famed Bala, I thought I might as well watch the movie. But guess what, a big disappointment. I would partly blame my knowledge of Tamil, or rather lack of it for the movie-disaster. The movie had lot of dialogue-based comedy unlike previous movies and the plot was not all that important. The fact that the movie was not in regular Tamil but a particular dialect made matters worse. There were some songs but they were not at all good. All in all, a bad experience. Vishal though did a fantastic job with his squint eyed performance. His character was a bit effeminate but at the same time he had to display brawn power- muscles and all and bash up the bad guys – he could transform easily from one to another.

Mankatha was next. The media was creating a lot of hype and Mankatha was easily the most anticipated film of the period. Personally, I was just aware of the fact that Ajith was one of the big stars around here. Neither did I not know that this was his 50th film nor the fact that he had such a huge fan following. I watched the movie in ‘Escape cinemas’, the patrons of which I have always felt are quite sophisticated or high-end or whatever. And I was surprised to see lot of whistling and clapping in Ajith’s introductory screen and many other action sequences. The film was really likeable as for first time was I watching a Tamil movie where the main character was out and out negative. And the film successfully made a mockery of stereotypical hero image where the hero is always the good guy and saving his girl from the bad guys, saving the world etc etc etc. The songs were also good. As usual there were a bit too many of them in between but all of them were keeping with the mood of the film – most of them were catchy racy numbers. Ajith as an action hero was a first for me especially considering I had seen him earlier only in Kandunkondain Kandunkondain before this. But he carried it off in style. The rest of the cast too did a fantastic job.

7aum Arivu or 7th sense was also something I had in mind since long time, it being a Murugadoss- Suriya collaboration. It was a good movie, the script, the science fiction touch, the Chinese angle all coming off nicely. Suriya’s and Shruti’s performances were also decent. The special effects and action sequences were top class. Have never seen an Indian movie portray Kung-fu and related martial arts in such a convincing manner. Only at one point, though I thought that the director got carried away a bit– the scene where Nguyen directs many vehicles towards Suriya, the scene just went on and on. As for music, I expected a lot from Harris Jayaraj but the music was not all that good. The songs seemed to slow down the already lengthy movie. Yes, 168 minutes long, but thankfully no song in the last 45 minutes or so which was a relief. While rumours were doing the rounds that the movie has been inspired by Inception, Perfume etc but I found a lot of resemblance to Hugh Jackman starrer ‘The Fountain’. Glad to see the movie was completely original and a welcome change from the typical movies.

I would summarize by comparing my choice of movies with the box-office collection. My choice in the descending order would be Mankatha, Nootrenbadhu, 7aum Arivu, Ko and Avan Ivan. Whereas box-office collection so far has been something like this – Mankatha, 7aum Arivu, Avan Ivan, Ko and Nootrenbadhu, with the first four films coming 1st, 2nd, 5th and 8th at the box office respectively.

Deiva Thirumagal was a complete rip-off of I AM SAM and hence I didn’t watch it. Another biggie coming soon is Osthe which is again a remake of Dabangg.

So strictly speaking, from an outsider’s perspective (and in many ways from a Bollywood perspective), though a number of movies are coming out with new/innovative scripts (and some of them completely original not ripped off from Hollywood which is what most of bollywood does). But such movies are few and far in between – most of the movies are the typical boy loves girl kind of movie.

Special Effects and Action – Impeccable I must say, definitely better than what I see in Bollywood. Acting etc – not capable of adding value added comments as I am not sure of the language and hence can’t comment on dialogue delivery and the finer nuances of acting.

The number of songs is are really irritating and the movie makers should keep it in mind that it is not completely necessary to show the songs in between the movie. You can retain the song in the album, keep it for the beginning or while the end credits are rolling or not have it at all in the movie – just use for promotion, as they do in Bollywood.

That’s it for now. Ciao.

The star behind Rockstar

November 24, 2011 1 comment

How often have you seen a director repeat the same theme over and over again as if to prove a point?

Case in point is Imtiaz Ali of ‘Jab we Met’ fame who is always trying to explore the realm of ‘FAILED RELATIONSHIPS’ or rather ‘Looking for love somewhere and finding it somewhere else’ formula. He has been trying out different permutations and combinations though. Let’s have a look (Since all the stories are kind of love triangles, I will be talking in terms of the person who makes the choice and the choices/options) :-

Film Person Making Choice Option 1 Option 2 Goes For When realization dawns on Character 1 Drama Quotient Superb Performance Can’t act to save his/her life
Socha Na Tha Abhay DeolUpper Middle Class Aditi Malhotra Ayesha Takia Option 2Upper Middle Class Randomly Simple lives. Quite realistic. Lots of confusion towards the end
Jab We Met Kareena KapoorMiddle Class Tarun Arora Shahid Kapoor Option 2Business Tycoon After Option 1 ditches and Option 2 helps out Lots of missed trains and missed opportunities. Lots of confusion and mayhem Kareena and Shahid Tarun Arora
Love Aaj Kal Deepika PadukoneNRI Saif Ali Khan Rahul Khanna Option 1NRI Just after marriage with Option 2 Indecisiveness and confusion right from the word go Deepika Padukone
RockStar Nargis FakhriSuper Rich Moufid Aziz Ranbir Kapoor Option 2Celebrity Falling ill after marriage with Option 1 Lots of intense drama, pain, romance but No confusion. Great Combination 😛 Ranbir Kapoor Nargis Fakhri

Interestingly enough, almost always the main character goes for Option 2, Only just once did the girl go back to her old lover in Love Aaj Kal.

Let’s look at how Imtiaz Ali has grown over the years:-

1)      ‘Socha na Tha’ was like a breath of fresh air. The all new cast. A simple story. Simple day-to-day kind of conversations. Remnants of this style were still visible in Jab we Met. But the guy has lost that ‘SIMPLE’ touch over the years. His past two movies were typical Bollywood blockbusters with the usual boring dialogues and scenes.

2)      Another thing this guy does is he tries to infuse some surprise elements in the movie, both cast wise and script wise.

Jab we Met – Paired the off screen couple PLUS tried an ‘ON THE RUN’ romance. The title with both English and Hindi words was quite innovative in itself. (Used the same thing for Love Aaj Kal too)

Love Aaj Kal – Started off the movie with a BREAK UP and of casting a Brazilian model as a Punjabi and keeping it a secret was sort of one of the mother of all casting coups.

In Rockstar, you had a half Czech Half Pakistani American model play the lead heroine. On top of that, this time he had another dimension added to the typical love triangle by bringing death into the equation.

3)      Imtiaz Ali, the story teller has grown by leaps and bounds. While the first movie had a linear way of story telling, slowly in Jab We Met, we could easily see that TIME started playing an important role. Some time periods were skipped – there were fast forwards during which the audience is shown only one side of the story and has to keep guessing what could have happened to the other character. And ROCKSTAR’s screenplay took the cake. He successfully kept the audience on its feet by playing non-linearly in time. Not showing Heer (Nargis Fakhri)’s marriage sequence was a GEM in itself.

4)      Usually, an actor’s performance reflects the director’s true potential. Even casting to some extent. (Not to say that Mani Ratnam is not a good director simply because Abhishek Bacchan put up the most pitiable performance by an actor in Raavan). But all credit to Imtiaz Ali. I have never seen Shahid or Kareena act so well in any other movie other than Jab we Met.

Frankly speaking, when the Rockstar’s story first started doing the rounds, I never expected Ranbir to be able to handle a mature character like this. And here he is, sailing through the role  – easily blending into different shades of characters. His gradation from a happy-go-lucky middle class boy to a sad, morose celebrity was simply awesome.

But sadly enough, Imtiaz Ali couldn’t do much to Deepika’s acting and Nargis Fakhri was looking totally out of place specially when her co-star was acting so well.

5)      And finally music – Socha na Tha didn’t have many songs which were noteworthy, but Pritam did a fantastic job in bothe Jab We Met and Love Aaj Kal. And for rockstar, the movie being based on music needed special treatment. Cometh the hour, cometh the man. A R Rahman has done a fantastic job as usual.

Well, all is fine if the end result is successful in keeping the audience entertained. And as long as the director is striving for continuous improvement, no harm in telling a SIMILAR story each time.  But, a person’s true quality can be judged by his performance in alien conditions. Ranbir has successfully come out of his ‘comfortable’ Romantic boy role. High time Imtiaz Ali also tries a new formula for his script.

Shaitan – A visual treat

June 20, 2011 4 comments

It’s been more than 1 year since I made the first post on my blog (1 year and 3 days to be precise) and it seems quite apt that I post a blog now, to celebrate an anniversary, sort of 😛 . So here I am – beginning to blog about the latest bollywood movie I watched. The movie comes from Anurag Kashyap (one of my favorite movie makers)’s stable, though directed by Bejoy Nambiar. But if you are a true Kashyap fan and if you are watching closely, you would notice that the movie is a tribute to the producer himself. All of that later.

First of all, full credit to the director – writer team for telling a story which is very much plausible in the current setup where we read about ‘youngsters going unruly and harming themselves and others’ almost daily in the newspapers. The fast-paced movie starts off on a very strange note with Amy (KALKI KOECHLIN) shown as a mentally disturbed character. Soon, the audience is introduced to the each and every member of the gang – KC (Gulshan Devaiya – acted in Dum Maaro Dum), Dash (Shiv Pandit of FIR, SAB TV fame), Zubin (Neil Bhoopalam seen him as VJ on Channel V) and Tanya (Kirti Kulhari – seen her in many ads) as the titles roll and we get to listen to the song – Bali, the sound of Shaitan (one of the many high points in the film).

The initial part of the film has a number of humorous moments as the group has a lot of fun and is at its very best trying to impress the new member in the gang.  Also I must admit there are lots of profanities and a number of jokes are not suitable to the ‘family audience’. But then again, the kind of language used was very much appropriate when you take into account the film’s characters and also the target audience. Just before the interval, the group is involved in an accident and the rest of the movie is about how the group gets deeper and deeper into trouble as one of the group members holds the whole group at ransom making decisions based on his whims and fancies.

The film also narrates the story of Arvind Mathur (Rajeev Khandelwal) who is a righteous cop and is having a troubled domestic life. He is assigned the group’s case – he does it pretty well – not without a few causalities, though and eventually the film reaches its logical ending. Throughout the film, the audience is made to realize how a person when pushed to the corner starts showing his negative colors and would hurt even the ones he cares for.

Acting department – Out of the 5 teenagers, I especially liked Shiv Pandit’s performance. Neil Bhoopalam also gave a controlled performance – sometimes mischievous and sometimes caring and understanding. Kirti Kulhari’s acting was decent for a debutant. Gulshan Devaiyaa and Kalki both looked a bit over-the-top. Rajeev Khandelwal and Pawan Malhotra have also put up a decent performance.

Story and screenplay- by Megha Ramaswamy and the director Bejoy Nambiar himself. The story is well told and the ‘cat and mouse’ game between the police and the group is shown in such a manner that the audience does not lose track of any of the parallel running tracks and the story unfolds without ‘spilling any beans’. And yes, the audience would cheekily admire the director’s gumption to show funny episodes even when the movie has supposedly taken a serious turn just after the accident. The only part that disappointed was that Kalki’s character was not at all original and was inspired by ‘The Ring’ (Making black crayon sketches) and ‘The Black Swan’ (repetitive scratching of skin when tensed).

Music and background score have been really good. Ranjit Bhanot (Also background score), Prashant Pillai and Amar Mohile are the music -makers. Many of the songs standalone, i.e. in the music album of the film don’t make much of an impact. But yes, on screen, when bits and portions of the song are played more as background score – you really love them. Apart from Bali, another song that stands out is ‘Khoya Khoya Chaand’. Also the ‘Pintya’ song kind of help you get into the Mumbai spirit during ‘Dahi Handi’.

Now the hero of the film – Camera work and cinematography. Kudos to cinematographer ‘Madhi’. The film would impress the audience even if there had been not much of a story simply because of the sheer beautiful camera-work. Some of it is just smart camera trick (but you still wonder how the scene was canned). For e.g. the scene where the person is seen falling from the 1st floor landing on the ground all in a single shot and also the one in which the TV is broken on the person’s head. Apart from the trick scenes, the slo-mo during the ‘Khoya Khoya Chaand’ and the scene where Kalki hits the water and when Gulshan Devaiyya breaks a bottle on a person’s head are all treat to the eyes.

And lastly, as I was saying the film is a tribute to Anurag Kashyap –

1)      The story line itself. So what if ‘Paanch’ could not be released. The story line of this one is very much similar to Paanch  and yes, more contextual and up-to-date.

2)      Classy and unprecedented camera work which could be matched by Kashyap’s Dev D alone (remember the scene where Abhay Deol dips his head in water and blood comes out of his nose?)

3)      The small episode starring Rajat Barmecha (of Udaan fame) where he kidnaps his younger brother really tickles your funny bone reminds you of a similar one in ‘No Smoking’. The narration during the scene where Kalki is kidnapped is also interesting and again reminds you of ‘No Smoking’.

4)       The chasing sequence when the rogue cop ‘Malvankar’ is being chased is something we have already seen in Black Friday giving us a glimpse of Mumbai’s slums and all that.

With that, I shall end my post here. Looking forward to more such ‘Kashyap’ movies. Oh Yes, ‘That Girl in Yellow Boots’ is somewhere round the corner.

Life of a Samurai : Pride, Honour and Discipline

February 21, 2011 3 comments

This article has been written as a submission for the course ‘Management of Self in organisations’ at IIMC and is based on the movie ‘The Last Samurai’ by Edward Zwick. This is not a movie review but a general discussion.

I saw the movie a few months back. Before watching the movie, I did not have even the faintest idea of what the movie is about. After watching the movie, I felt very good about it, I felt very enlightened. I found many underlying themes running parallel in the movie. They were:-

1)      Doing what is right and the will-power to do it against all odds– The main protagonist of the film stands up for what he thinks is right

2)      Rules – Discipline – The Samurais conduct all their day-to-day activities with a high level of discipline.

3)      Repentance and self redemption – The protagonist of the film, Captain Algren displays these throughout the story.

4)      Pride and honour, Shame – The Samurai way of life is a described in a detailed manner. I found the fact that the Japanese placed their honour above everything else very moving. But again, honour sometimes becomes very subjective and culture specific. And this fact has been discussed in the movie.

5)      Bravery – The movie being a war film to an extent portrays the bravery and sense of self sacrifice of the soldiers. There are a number of instances when someone gives his life or who fights bravely and dies. The usual cinematic way of glorifying the hero is quite evident.

The movie begins with the following statement – “I say Japan was made by a handful of brave men warriors willing to give their lives for what seems to have become a forgotten word Honor” which more or less defines the essence of the movie.

Important Protagonists

Nathan Algren (TOM CRUISE) is shown as a man who has started hating his own life. He hates guns and still has to work for gun shows for the sake of money. Algren had to fight against an army of American Indians and in the process kill many of them. He had to kill innocent people who were not at war with him and thus according to him something extremely unethical. Contrastingly though, Colonel Bagley, his superior is shown to have no remorse whatsoever for what he has done. Thus we can see that Algren is a man of high integrity and does not believe in war just for the sake of it.

But as is shown in the movie, he is surrounded by ironies of his life and thus he was made to do what he hated the most. I also like the fact that he has great clarity of thoughts and is not a bit reluctant to go against his own people when asked to make a choice. He says that the WHITES or his own people come to destroy what he likes the most and hence he will fight them.

I feel that he hated his life so much after joining as the trainer that he even started taking his chances with death. He asks the soldier to take a shot at him and I am sure he wouldn’t have minded being killed by the soldier. But quite contrastingly, he fights hard to save himself from the Japanese when he captured at the end of the battle. This is perhaps because of his will power which is again displayed during his sword fight with Ujio. But this willpower has not helped him so far to change the course of his life. But later on in the movie, I see that when he is given an opportunity to set things right, his willpower helps him complete what he had promised to Katsumoto.

But in spite of all the good will and willpower shown by Algren, he is able to do this because of the recent events in his life where he had started practising the Samurai way of life. He had no trouble sleeping; he could stop alcohol consumption too.

Katsumoto (KEN WATANABE) is a very wise man and has lot of self control. He follows the samurai principles very much and conducts his activities without being very emotional. He is ready to help his old friend in SEPUKKU (The ritualistic suicide), where he cuts off his head. At the same time, he was intelligent enough to understand the sensitivities of another culture and he did not kill Algren as it is not necessary that a person from another culture would be having the same values of shame and defeat. He is patient with Algren and makes him his guest even though Algren has killed his brother in law.

I also see Katsumoto as extremely dedicated to his task. He is a keen learner and student of war and wants to keep improvising. Katsumoto is also a great thinker and is always mindful of the larger good of the society. He is a very experienced person and finds out the reason behind Algren’s nightmares – the fact that he is ashamed of himself. The only point I did like about Katsumoto is the fact that he appreciated bravery even though it means foolhardiness. Algren was much more sensible when it comes to this aspect.

Taka (KOYUKI KATO) is faced with the dilemma of treating the murderer of her husband as her guest and she feels very perturbed about it. She having brought up the samurai way understands that her husband got killed in a war and it was only karma. And she is honest enough to acknowledge that even though she should not have thought ill of Algren, she does so and she is not mentally strong. She is also very forgiving and when Algren apologizes for having killed Hirotaro, she accepts his apology which I think was a great deed on her behalf. She is also brave, though not a skilled samurai and takes up the sword to protect her children. She also sees a father figure in Algren later on in Algren and is ready to accept her husband in spite of him having killed her husband.

From the perspective of the above characters, the story ends on a positive note. These characters are able to achieve what they were striving for and at the same time Omura is punished for his evil ways. Thus the story gives a sense of completion which makes the whole experience of watching the film even more fruitful.

Dekhi movie bade shaan se

December 5, 2010 4 comments

There comes a time in the life of every blogger when has got nothing much to write about but he keeps writing to maintain the continuous flow of posts. (Precisely that’s what I am doing right now). But the same applies to directors too. Directors of the caliber of Ashutosh Gowarikar have started making movies just for the heck of it or so it seems. ‘Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey’ is what I am talking about.

Personally, this would be my first movie post where I am putting down a movie rather than saying nice things about it. My personal logic for writing a movie review is that if some viewers have planned not to watch a movie, you should give them ‘n’ number of reasons to go watch the movie. Thus technically, they are not movie reviews but a very BIASED way of showing the positive aspects of the movie to its viewers.  So as I said earlier, I have nothing else to write and of course after seeing such a movie I need a punching bag to relieve my frustration.

There are some things I personally hate about Ashutosh Gowarikar movies :-

1)      First of all he is an out and out commercial movie maker who tries his hand at you know what – period films and realistic films. His first two movies Pehla Nasha and Baazi were really nice pop corn entertainers.

2)    His movies are a bit (really , ‘a bit?’ )too looooooooooooooong. What’s the point in making a documentary 210 minutes long.  Swades. The movie had a 2 sentence long story line and its is fit for being a documentary about a village. The movie could have been finished well under 120 minutes flat. This kind of length warrants umpteen number of visits to the pop corn counter and the loo. (Believe me, I like the look on the face of my fellow movie goers, who are perpetually being disturbed by my going  in and out. Wretched souls – curse me for not letting them watch a split second of the emotional drama or a very boring song, which is just 1 /12600th of the film.

3)      His movies do not lack content, I agree but they lack something very basic to hindi film making. You are right – Item numbers. How can one imagine sitting through a movie, that too more than 3 hours long without a single item number. With all Munnis and Sheilas around how can he even imagine that people will sit through his film without a single item number. Here I must point out that his reasonably successful films – Lagaan and Swades had Item numbers. (What do you think Makrad Deshpande was doing in Swades? Lagaan had at least Radha if not Munni or Sheila)

Then you might all ask, why the hell do I go to watch his films? (Ok, I must admit, I have not had the courage to watch What’s your Rashee?)

1)      I sincerely expect after watching Baazi and Pehla Nasha that he would ultimately make a good masala blockbuster.

2)      Most of my friends are a big fan of his.

3)      Me and my above mentioned friends ultimately enjoy the movie for a different reason. After the first half an hour or so, we all mock the film much to the agony of fellow film viewers. We crack stupid jokes. Laugh at seemingly serious (but believe me, stupidly hilarious) dialogues and have a gala time. A full PAISA VASOOL of 3 and a half hours.

Now, let’s get back to the current movie – KHELEIN HUM JEE JAAN SE.  The movie is based on the CHITTAGONG UPRISING that happened in 1930. The story is pretty much true to the facts. But the execution has been very poor.

1)      First of all, the revolutionaries have been shown really underprepared and amateurish in spite of mentioning the word PLANNING a zillion times. Though I agree the story is true, while making the movie, one could have easily done away with some of those scenes. The revolutionaries could have been shown in a much better light. Usually such films exaggerate the bravery of the protagonists. But here it seems just the opposite. In the Jalalabad hills, the revolutionaries were surrounded by over thousand British troops. Over 80 of the troop were killed but only 12 of the revolutionaries were killed. But from the scenes depicted in the film, it looked just the opposite.

2)      The ensemble cast was pathetic to say the least. Many of them were trying very hard for an Oscar. Hamming was crossing all limits. After Raavan, I don’t have a very good opinion of AB junior. Deepika Padukone was never any kind of actress. And unfortunately a period film does not leave much scope for skimpy costumes and sexy song sequences which she is best at.

3)      Editing. Was the editor sleeping ? The gun fight sequences were so long sometimes that you could take a quick nap in between.

4)      The back ground score and background music by Sohail Sen and Simaab Sen were not at all impressive and did nothing to make the flow exciting.

5)      Last but not the least, the dialogues. Dialogues were pathetic. Many clichéd dialogues, Scores of ‘Vande Mataram’ here and there whereever the dialogue writer could not find anything else to write and some hilarious moments like – “Aap logon ko pata hai abhi aapko kya karna hai” when Abhishek Bacchan and a group of revolutionaries enter a room to loot some arms and ammunitions. The dialogue sequence between the judge and Abhishek Bacchan during his trial was going nowhere. Compare that with Legend of Bhagat Singh – The best dialogues of the film were during the court sequences. In fact Guddu Dhanoa’s Shaheed starring Bobby Deol was also not that bad when it came to dialogues.

I have said enough – after reading this I do not expect any of you to watch this movie. As a matter of fact, I doubt anyone was ever interested in the movie in the first place and thus I thank you wholeheartedly to reach the end of my post. Please don’t waste your hard earned money on a movie like this. But yeah, if anytime later you get a chance to watch this movie when it’s aired on the small screen – do have a watch. You will literally see yourself laughing through the film.

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