Tuesday, October 14, 2003

welcome to pepsi-galli | darkly comic midwestern murder with an eye-popping contribution from a woodchipper

Vikram Bhatt's Footpath opens in a set whose centrepiece is (no guesses) the titular footpath (well, technically, a road, but I guess VB claims an artistic[sic] licence). The set looks suspiciously like the one that Mahesh Bhatt used for his musical desi-ization of Taxi Driver. Moreoever, the whole affair seems to have been heavily funded by Pepsi. Witness the billboards, the neon signs, the wall decals, shop shutters, and even the incorporation of the beverage into the plot. This is a tired tale of a real estate swindler on the run for a murder he did not commit as a kid, forced to return to the footpath of his childhood as a mole and try and get his childhood friends (who have graduated from being street urchins to drug peddlers) to come over to the good side. There's a lot of heavy-handed emotion, blank stares and screeching dialogue delivery from the vastly underrated ham called Bipasha Basu, bad performances from the rest of the cast (although Emraan Hashmi seems sincere enough in his début as Rahul Shrivastav). What really stinks about this film (and the currently-active Bhatt family as a whole, as filmmakers) is the plagiarism. This film is a reworking of one of Mahesh Bhatt's several assembly-line soulless pieces of crap called Angaarey. That in turn filched its foundation storyline from State of Grace. Trivia mongers may note that State of Grace was also the source for the famous Sanjay Dutt/Aditya Pancholi burn-and-run sequence in Sanjay Gupta's Aatish. And we all know about Sanjay Gupta's strong candidacy for the Hall of Fame for Plagiarism (last attempt at asserting the same: Kaante).

Finally watched Fargo. The Coen Brothers retain their now-diminishing flair for rude darkly-comic deadpan takes on people, accents (the midwest is the target here), milieux, and human failings (grotesque faux pas, kidnapping, deceit, robbery, murder). The hype got ahead of this film though. Which probably also explains why their subsequent films have had less bite and more mainstream elements (e.g. O Brother, Where Art Thou?). Must also note the Kubrick references:

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