Thursday, January 08, 2004

a compendium of viewings

ankahee: Amol Palekar directs and stars in this tale of modern rebellion against the inexplicably horrifying accuracy of destiny. A strong cast boasts Shreeram Lagoo (who does not die at the end of this film!), Deepti Naval, Dina Pathak, and Vidhu Vinod Chopra. Accompanied by a wonderful soundtrack from Jaidev (which won him one of four Sur Singar Samsad Awards) featuring Pandit Bhimsen Joshi and Asha Bhosle. When did they stop making simple effective films like this? National Award wins include Best Film, Best Music and Best Male Playback Singer. An rmim thread offers more plot details and trivia (WARNING: potential spoilers).

out of control: Indian immigrant desperate to get a work permit in the US of A succumbs to the temptation of converting his friendship with a bar crooner into marriage, but ends up with a small amount of bigamy to handle when he is coerced into a traditional marriage back home. While Ritesh Deshmukh's Shah Rukh Khan imitations are funny, there's little in this film of merit. For the most part, the proceedings make you feel like you were watching one of those sidey Italian or martial arts imports where even the English dialogue was overdubbed by "english-is-not-my-first-language" people. More dialogue muting (including the word "a**h***") may be noted. The film will probably go down the river of trivia as the first Hinglish film for Playmate Brande Roderick. One must also note Hrishita Bhatt's continued inability to act. And Satish Kaushik fails any attempts to salvage this well-intentioned misguided missile. Also note that despite filming abroad in the US of A for the most part, a song sequence (involving the desi bride) winds up in good ol' Switzerland. Some things just never change. Keep the remote control handy for skipping through the songs and several dull moments.

jinnah: Jamil Dehlavi's film about the architect of Pakistan got its share of news simply because of the choice of Christopher Lee (a consummate actor unfortunately typecast as Dracula) in the lead role. Naysayers had no cause for concern really, because Lee nails it in the film. Immaculately filmed, this saga unfolds more pages of history that we were denied access to as school-going kids. We were fed a sanitized and woefully biased view of the turbulent years of our country's past. The tape I watched was a recording off a PTV telecast of the film. A PAL to NTSC conversion might have happened, unless someone recorded it off a PTV feed in the US of A. But the audio was clear enough. I especially loved the narrative device: Jinnah dies and enters the halls of the department where the accounting of life and decisions of souls take place. Shashi Kapoor plays the head of the department (credited simply as the narrator). SK has to deal with the arrival of computers and the technology upgrade, which has also caused Jinnah's file to go missing. In the interim, SK discusses Jinnah's life with him (and us), and we are taken back to the important moments of his life, in Christmas-Carol fashion. There's a moment when fate/SK intervenes to abort an attempt on Jinnah's life by the member of an angry mob. Highly recommended. {see also: mii nathuraam goDase bolatoy}

thirteen conversations about one thing: I remember missing a chance to catch this movie in the theatres, thanks to a phone interview. Probably just as well. The film does not require the big screen to work its magic. Backed by a strong screenplay and excellent performances, the film flits across time and space and present thirteen little segments (12 with intertitles and one prologue) about happiness. Visually there are odes to Edward Hopper (whose paintings explored loneliness among other things). And the church hymn you hear is Psalm 119 sung in German. And the keen-eyed will notice Michael Stipe as one of the executive producers. Personal favourite: "faith is the antithesis of proof".

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