Monday, August 11, 2003

movie (in)fest(ation)

One of those massive movie weekends. Four films: three in a row, and the fourth after some obligatory shuteye.

Sparsh:The Touch: This is the kind of movie a B-flick afficionado such as yours truly lives for. When a search on Google gives you no leads, you know you have a little B-nugget on your hands. Picked up this innocent tape from the Indian store last weekend. I'd like to name a new genre of B-movies called Haryana Horror, being horror-esque flicks made of, for and by the people of Haryana. The story (laughter begins) is old hat: a random la femme is paid physically demanding (and sometimes publicly embarassing) visits by an unseen entity (the pun is intended) [see also: Hawa]. The acting is stale, the dialogue staler, and the sets define new nadirs in tacky. The only recognisable faces are Kiran Kumar (who appears in the final quarter as an exorcist mouthing terrible lines) and this other actor I've seen before playing mean guys on TV and the big screen. Wish my memory would serve me better. The songs are a howl as well, although I actually liked a little variation in the standard boy-girl-night-time-seduction number.

Satte Pe Satta: Little to say about the classic Bollywood adaptation of the premise and content of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. Traces of Hema's south indian roots are more evident in her dialogue. Ranjeeta still looks cute. The Big B manages (once again) to lend some believability to proceedings that go from zany, to funny, to mundane, to boring, to tiresome (clichés never hold up against the passage of time). Cool songs from R D Burman (the title song uses the melody of the theme from The Longest Day) as well as a couple of background music riffs that since have been endlessly reused and abused in other Bollywood fare. TRIVIA NOTE: If you ever wondered how RDB came up with that cool signature tune for Babu (the second Big B), here's something for you: RDB was working on the background score for the film and Annette (whose voice can be heard on Dilabar mere) was also in the same studio for another recording. She was clearing her throat with some salt water gargles, when RDB heard her and in a stroke of genius used that in a loop to concoct a catchy signature for Babu. Suspension of disbelief note: Hema's southie speaking accent and ghaaTii singing accent (thanks to Asha B).

Encounter: The Killing: I saw Naseeruddin Shah's name in the cast on the white sleeve strip of the videotape and I began to think "Is this another Guru Mahaguru?" (translation: was this another indie effort that was capitalizing on some big/familiar names?). But this was far from true. The film enjoys a good premise: Inspector Sam Bharucha (Shah in a great destined-to-be-underrated turn as a Parsi cop -- interesting!), who has never killed anyone in his life, has to deal with the death of a hired gun. His search for the parents of the kid takes him (and us) on a strange voyage of discovery. Dilip Prabhawalkar is excellent as the bizarre Ponappa Awadhe, but the character is interesting only as an acting exercise and doesn't fit too well in the film (and giving him a stupid gheuu_n Taak-beat song was a bad bad idea). This is a problem with most of the other turns by famous names like Ratna Pathak Shah, Akash Khurana, Tara Deshpande (irritating as ever, but probably put in for some cheap ogle thrills). There's this very grating young lady who plays RPS's daughter. And there's veteran character actor Suman Mastakar sleepwalking through the role of a frustrated freedom fighter. There's one half-decent song, but the rest is fodder for the fast-forward button. An interesting character is one of the hired guns who apes Nana Patekar (and does it convincingly too!). The real problem with this film is length and a loose script. Had the makers taken care of these trivial[sic] aspects, we would have had a decent entry (or 'crossover film' as they refer to them these days) in the indie space. Oh, by the way, the film even has its own website (another Flash-o-rama). [synopsis] [this and other cop movies] [review of this film, formerly known as prashnachinha]

American Chai: talking to director anurag mehta and lead actor aalok mehta

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