Tuesday, September 02, 2003

a movie-intensive labour day weekend

* Split Wide Open: Hyped for the appearance of VJ/model Laila Rouass, this film marks the second collaboration of Dev Benegal, Rahul Bose and Upamanyu Chatterjee (who co-wrote this film with Benegal), after English, August. Bose plays Kut Price (KP), who sells tank water to slum dwellers and bottled Evian to business people. KP is our guide through "the dwellings of urchins who sell flowers by the roadside, the mafia dons who control water distribution, and the growing urban middle class whose clandestine sexualities are pried open under the blinding arch lights of Bombay's TV studios" {source}. The prevalent outlook is bleak. Nitin Sawhney's simple sparse avant music emphasises this, undercutting great performances from Bose, Rouass, and a host of staples including Shivaji Satam, Ayesha Dharkar, and Virendra Saxena. The language is explicit, and even gets muted at some points (rather irritating). Although unsettling and perhaps predictably downbeat for some, this is a harsh but compelling look at the urban class struggle in Bombay. Watch out for the end credits, which include mention of incidental music used, as well as "Kut Price loves Evian". Writer Kiran Nagarkar plays a gay Catholic priest. Special mention for the screenplay by Farrukh Dhondy, Renu Saluja's editing, Sukumar Jatania's camera, and a confident performance by Farida Haider Mulla{BBC News Online | rediff page | music review | trivia galore}. question: what was the place referenced at the end of the film in regard to the water mafia raising their rates?

* Hungama: Priyadarshan (who should be shot in the nuts) lifts (yet again) from a South-Indian source for his latest film. This time, it's his début feature poochakoru mookuttha. Akshaye Khanna replaces Mohan Lal (the horror! the horror!). Jagadish moves from Malayalam to Hindi playing Pandu (the role was played by Jagathi Sreekumar in the Malayalam original). Paresh Rawal, effortlessly sleepwalking through his role, comes up with the best performance in the film (only because he can deliver bad jokes with comic timing -- something no one else in the cast can manage, even with good jokes, which are scarce). The movie is a tired exercise in loud comedy, and virtually nothing is funny. Some people got confused with the number of characters and their relationships with each other -- clearly they haven't heard of Robert Altman. The songs are Nadeem-Shravan standards. All in all, a great way to exercise the FF button on your remote control. Die Priyadarshan die. (Sidenote: Why do I think Sujoy Ghosh who made Jhankaar Beats would have done a better job with this one?)

* Khanjar: The Pankaj Udhas song a.nkhiyaa.N Gam kii nadiyaa.N hai.n employs the umro.n se lambii metaphor for nights (translation: nights longer than the course of human lives) , last heard in Gulzar's plaintive ek akelaa is shahar me.n, which applied the metaphor to the roads and streets of the city (of Bombay).

* Darna Mana Hai (yet again): It's about time I noted another reason (something I realised only later) for my liking the film. Neither the print in the cinema hall nor the DVD has subtitles. It's both embarassing and painful to watch Hindi movies with subtitles (1. I know the language, why do I need subtitles | 2. the people responsible for the subtitles are usually morons).

* Dance Dance: Not as impressive as its predecessor Disco Dancer in the unofficial B-Subhash/Mithun/Bappi trilogy of dance movies (Kasam Paida Karne Waale Ki being the third). Still there's Smita Patil playing Ramu's (Mithun) sister -- making your jaw drop and wonder what she was doing in a movie like this -- hamming away, singing bad songs, cavorting about and then dying. The film is full of references to Disco Dancer and Tarzan in terms of diegetic songs. Inconsistencies like Ramu/Romeo being mostly clueless in the English department suddenly singing a song with full-blown English lyrics. And then there's the whole angle of nutrition: the only thing that Ramu will eat is halawaa (Which means we have a superhit song that goes aa gayaa aa gayaa halawaawaalaa aa gayaa, which owes a lot to the title song of Jhumroo). Still it's great to see Mithun dance and distribute attitude and earnestness, something that even a cocktail of today's top stars will not be able to match.

No comments:

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.