Friday, May 07, 2004

fish without chips

After having hit the end of the experience yesterday, my final impressions of Meenaxi differ slightly from my initial take. The songs still don't work as well as they could have, which is a disappointment considering that I actually liked ARR's work after a long time. Chinammaa had its moments as did do qadam aur sahii, but I could never understand what the camera was up to: constantly fidgeting, tilted, zooming in and out, shaking about like nobody's business. MFH's sense of visual composition is evident, but fails to find enough support in the photography and editing departments. Tabu didn't quite cut it, overall, although the Prague segment and the eventual coda of the film were more interesting than stuff that preceded. Kunnal Kapoor (as Kaameshwar, an allusion to the God of Love that continues from Gaja Gamini) was probably chosen by MFH to serve as his narrative doppelganger (although MFH does make a small appearance in the film, and I am convinced that it was for more than a lark!). The dialogue continues to be forced at times. Khalid Mohammed is credited again for the subtitles (see also: Gaja Gamini) and his reviewing the film must qualify clearly as a conflict of interest. They aren't too bad, but I could see room for improvement in places. There were two things about the film that really irritated me. The first was the lack of any richness to the conflict between creator and creation (and no nods to Pygmalion either), or, for that matter, to anything that transpired as the film spun by. Given its standard length, MFH could have had a field day making a film that invited more than one viewing. Strangely, the only thing he offers is a big bag of visuals and moments that are either too brief to merit observation or bogged down by the trappings of mainstream cinema. The second is how MFH insists on providing explanations for things that are obvious (the meaning of Meenaxi, that Maria (Tabu's Prague avataar) is rehearsing for The Passion of Joan of Arc) and denying any insight on any of the random visuals that pop up like Bugs Bunny from a rabbit hole. There could have been several tones that MFH could have lent the film, and one of them, surrealism, only crops up near the end of the film. All in all, this ode to Tabu and his last ode to Madame Dixit lead me to believe that MFH starts from scratch each time, rarely carrying over anything he learnt from his previous venture. This is not to say the film is a complete waste of time. But patience is essential, and hopefully, MFH will have a clearer vision the next time around (the rumours of a fun film with Urmila make me cringe, but then, kuchh bhii ho sakataa hai).

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