Monday, March 01, 2004

pancham picchur

Five movies to mark the weekend that comes once in four years (in reverse chronological order).

* 1984: Saw this on Star Plus a long time ago. The only lingering impression I had was "this is a good movie". Didn't know about the allegorical aspects of Orwell's work. Didn't fully appreciate the meaning of the word Orwellian. Now that I have learned a lot more, the movie is a scary experience. Wonderfully bleak and stark, shot faithfully during the actual dates mentioned in Winston Smith's diary, boasting perfect performances by John Hurt (who seemed to have reused his melancholy when he sleepwalked through his role as Kane in Alien), Richard Burton (in his last screen appearance), and Suzanna Hamilton. Brilliant movie.

* Kismat: Guddu Dhanoa returns with his standard repertoire of countless car crashes, explosions, shattering glass, people falling from heights, a high body count, scenes of torture, 80s/90s revenge clichés, short-lived family members, insanity, kitschy romance and (this is what's different) an attempt to transplant Payback into Bollywood (revenge with an altered motivation, along with the Punju songs). Sanjay Narwekar takes top honours in this Titanic enterprise, and Bobby Deol does well in the scenes where he needs to say nothing (honestly, the looks of seriousness in the latter portion of the film deserve some mention). Priyanka Chopra continues to stump us ("why exactly is she still in films, given that she can't act and that her trips to the gym have trimmed her steatomammate appeal?"). And there's a cute drunken song. The rest of it is a laugh riot, but still watchable. How can you enjoy this best? Spot the sequences that obviously used wires for fighting and action, note the classic near-and-dear ones driven nuts/killed/defamed/driven to suicide/crippled motifs. Note the twist in that the person affected is not the hero, but the heroine, and that the bringer of ill tidings is the hero (instead of some loud, bombastic, evil villain). Note the nice little anticlimaxes. Note how Bobby Deol (dancing on-screen) and music director Anand Raj Anand (with the musical tunes and arrangements) and the choreographers (Ganesh Acharya makes yet another on-screen appearance, this time directing the song picturisation while someone else provides the dance steps!) give us Sunny Deol nostalgia. Note the Hindi text floating out of a piece of paper onto the screen near the end of the movie. Note the use of wireless laptops running Windows and using software on CDs for GPS. Not the censored cuss words. Note Ashish Vidyarthi's strictly-for-the-money loud Vikas "shaaNaa" Patil. Enjoy Mushtaq Khan's letter-perfect turn as a Gujju secretary. Not the bad physics (gun and victim recoils) and the holes in the script. And then, if you still survive, go rent Payback and see a much better stripped-down movie. TRIVIA NOTE: Anand Raj Anand manages to give his brother Harry Anand some filmic representation, when a nicely edited sequence intercuts build-up action with dance bar girls swaying to Anand's now infamous remix of kaliyo.N kaa chaman

* Dracula: Prince of Darkness: No scares. Just nostalgia. Most notably, Christopher Lee returns as the Count, and does not say a single word in the film. The script boasts some cool ideas to (a) revive Dracula was had been destroyed in the first film (that was done ingeniously as well, using a curtain ripped down to expose the Count to sunlight) (b) kill Dracula once again (using cracked ice and running water). The widescreen format works great, and the goodies on the flip side include a look at Hammer's Dracula canon. The commentary track is loads of fun, but offers no insight. This was made in 1966 and still boasts stronger cohesion and production values than anything that came out of the Ramsay factory so many years later. A pity for us. And one must note that Barbara Shelley's delicious screams were dubbed by co-star Suzan Farmer. And here's a nice little pedantic line from Father Sandor in the film: Not kill. He is already dead. He is undead, Mr Kent. He can be destroyed, but not killed

* Aetbaar: Vikram Bhatt returns. He manages to snag Amitabh Bachchan to play the father of a loving obedient squint-eyed daughter (yes, you guessed it! Played by the untalented ugly hideous medusoid Bipasha Basu -- voice dubbed once again, I am sure). The father is tormented by guilt over the death of his son and must now convince his daughter that the man she loves is a dangerous psychopath (played by John Abraham, whose best moments come when he doesn't have to mouth any of the stupid dialogue written by Bhatt camp regular Girish Dhamija). Having the Big B helps matters, because the whole affair is predictable (story credited to Vikram and Robin Bhatt; screenplay credited to Robin Bhatt and Sanjeev Duggal). And if anyone managed to sit through Inteha, this is a revisitation from a different POV. The good moments are mostly limited to those featuring the Big B, who impresses with his ability to elevate crap to the point of believability. The opening credits employ the motif of a receding road, a motif that makes sense later on in the film. The songs are an expected embarassment, very FF-friendly and nary to do with the goings-on (and the Big B sings again, this time for Rajesh Roshan, thus providing triviamongers another juicy bit of information, given that the Big B made his playback singing début singing mere paas aao for RR in Mr Natwarlal, even garnering a Filmfare singing nomination). And the Footpath/Sadak set reappears. This Bhatt fetish is getting irritating. Cuss references to the backside and the male organ are muted (despite the 'A' certificate). A bar sequence makes sure that Vaishali Samant's aikaa daajiibaa gets filmic representation. The echoes of Cape Fear are surely not unintentional. And the end credits reference Mukesh Mills (I need to visit this famous covenant of Bollywood action climaxes). The not-yet-bored can also note a nice match edit when the Big B calls for a family conference and also the varying film speeds for transitions. Echoes of the Big B's character in Mili are probably coincidence.

* Rudraksh: "The screenplay of Rudraksh is an original work of fiction. Any references to places, persons, books or legends is purely coincidental". That sums up Mani Shankar's follow-up to his skiffy December 16. If you leave your brains and your accidental death by illogical proceedings insurance at the door and have the FF-button handy, you can enjoy the outrageous vacuousness of this sad flick. Bad acting abounds. Isha Koppikar fails miserably with bambaiyaa street slang (she should stick to doing dance special appearances). Bipasha Basu provides laughs and giggles as a researcher from the University of California (the Satara branch, no doubt) who is also an American citizen. Her clique of research assistants include two blondes who speak with accents that mix faux Americanness and Goan inflections. Sanjay Dutt and Sunil Shetty compete for annoying looks, bad acting, and long bad hairdos. The word shaman is abused (indicating that dialogue was an afterthought). Powerbooks get ample on-screen plugs. The Hindi/English_phrase-yaanii ke-English/Hindi_phrase canon gets some interesting additions (electromagnetic field yaanii ke suuksh shariir; prostatic zone yaanii ke muulaadaar jagah; tejas yaanii ke electro-magnetic radiation). The references to crucifixion are probably someone being smart. The DOOM fireball sound is overused. The unimaginative dialogue also sports gems comparing God's divine internet to Einstein's Quantum Domain and the all-star-sartaaj "tumhaare dimaag kaa ##password## kisii aur ko kaise milaa?". At one point, as if we were dying for it, we get 4 Sunil Shettys (note: this is far far worse than 4 Daler Mehndis). The Big B provides the opening introductory narration (and probably used the moolah to get ABCL out of debt). Mani Shankar should get a record book nomination for the longest on-screen credit ever: story, screenplay, dialogue, editing, direction and special effects. Note that these are coincidentally[sic] all the key departments that refuse to function. Kabir Bedi is punished for making a brief appearance in this shameful enterprise by getting bumped off and being forced to reappear later like Brando did in Superman. The end credits begin by telling us that the acting section is listed "in order of appearance". This is followed by a line that reads "Principle[sic] cast". And then, the cast is listed in anything other than order of appearance. On this note, I give you Rude Raakshas.

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