Sunday, August 15, 2004

horror, partition and pilferage

horror: Cabin Fever [August 14, 2004] revisits familiar territory and functions best as a mild exercise in combining two genres: the cabin-in-the-woods horror staple and the deadly-virus staple. The film is too brightly lit for the most part, and the scenes depicting corporeal waste as a consequence of the virus are sufficiently gory. Angelo Badalamenti (who notches an acknowledgement credit along with David Lynch) provides three wonderful cues ("Red Dream", "Deputy Winston's Theme" and "Love Theme"). And the end credits are accompanied by a bluegrass version of Swing Low Sweet Chariot. If you wanted to dig deeper, you could read this as a critique of civic administration, mob mindsets, and the ill-effects of polar points of view. But, perhaps, you aren't supposed to.

partition: Coincidentally, I ended up watching Train to Pakistan on August 14, 2004. I remember the mild hubbub when this film was telecast on one of the Star channels (World, Plus, Gold?). After having finally seen the movie, I don't see what the fuss was about. I got the idea that there might be objectionable content, but all I found was a fairly languid film (Pamela Rooks will find it a very tough job to get on my list of interesting directors) boasting a cast of art-circuit familiars who unfortunately don't seem very interested in imbuing any heart in their parts. Divya Dutta manages to score another ace with a very convincing performance (and if you've seen her in other films, you can surely appreciate the transformation into this role). There's M S Sathyu as Imaam Baksh. And the rest of the roster comprises Nirmal Pandey, Smriti Mishra, Mohan Agashe, Rajit Kapur and Mangal Dhillon. People who have seen Pinjar will note the presence of waaris shah nuu and avval allah nuur. There's also another instance of musicians tuning their instruments (see also: Bhopal Express) and also a reference to the stench of burning corpses (see also: Dev). I wasn't sure what to expect from the film (perhaps because I know very little about Kushwant Singh's source novel), but what I saw didn't give me enough enthusiasm to probe further.

pilferage: Aatank hi Aatank [August 03, 2004] is a certifiable entry in the canon of films that most stars would want to forget about in the future. This certified-in-1995 flick features a young naïve Aamir Khan starring opposite a young naïve Juhi Chawla (no this is not Qayamat se Qayamat tak). Written, edited, and directed by Dilip Shankar, this undisguised copy of The Godfather features Rajnikanth getting top billing. Trivia-mongers will note the deadly combination of Super Star Rajni and Soon-to-be-Star Aamir. Given the plagiaristic bent of the proceedings, it seems appropriate that Bappi Lahiri would tune the songs written by several people (naqsh lyallpuri, anwar sagar, shaili shailendra, bali brahmabhatt, sanam gazipuri). This means we get veritable classics like the irritating gu.nDaa ##rap## belted out over the opening credits by Bali Brahmabhatt, akkhaa hai bamba_ii -- a jhopa.DapaTTii song for Rajni Saar voiced by Mohd. Aziz, duniyaa se vo kab Darate hai.n jo pyaar kisii se karate hai.n featuring lots of Madhuri-esque costumes and gestures, we are together, love is forever featuring Bappi Sir himself (for Aamir Khan, no less; see also: Love Love Love) and Alka Yagnik (for Juhi).

Before we indulge the academics, here are the other interesting bits. Classic lines of dialogue include shaadii me.n tumhe dekhakar pahalii baar aisaa lagaa ki ##revolver## se zyaadaa Kataranaak chiiz agar ko_ii hai to vo hai tumhaarii aa.Nkhe.n (Rajni Saar to Archana Joglekar), paisa garden kii nas kaaTakar bhii kamaayaa jaataa hai aur pajaame kaa naa.Daa kholakar bhi (Ishrat "Godfather" Ali), abe o Kudakushii kii chaukhat ke kutte (Ishrat again), and golii ##revolver## se nikalakar vaapas ##revolver## me.n nahii.n aatii (Aamir Khan providing a scientific note on momentum, irreversibility and entropy to Rajni Saar).

And now, for the academics, we present the mapping of the characters/players in this ripoff to the original Coppola flick:

Rajnikanth | Munna | Sonny
Aamir Khan | Rohan | Michael Corleone
Juhi Chawla | Neha | Kay Adams
Rita Bhaduri | | Carmella, Vito Corleone's wife
Joginder | | McCluskey
Bharat Kapoor | Gogia Advani | Virgil Sollozzo
Radha Seth | Anju | Connie
Dalip Tahil | Robert | marries Sister
Ishrat Ali | Shiv Charan Sharma | Vito Andolini
Friendly appearance
Kabir Bedi | | Signor Vitelli, Apollonia's father
Special appearance
Pooja Bedi | Ganga | Apollonia
Girija Shankar | Ganga's fiancé |

The characters included for the patent-pending desi-ization process include:
Archana Joglekar as Razia, a foil for Rajnikanth's character providing the cross-religious, rebellious, romantic angle.
Om Puri as a hired gun
Shafi Inamdar, Sameer Khakkar as one of Rohan's men, Vikas Anand, Suhas Joshi as Razia's mother.

The baddies are a composite of the original family heads and the desi-ized father figures: Raza Murad (Aslam Pathan, Razia's father), Goga Kapoor (Birla Singh Thakur).

And Dilip Shankar even manages to squeeze in the bedroom gunfire attack from Part II. The video tape I viewed also had an added bonus in the form of an old Haywards Lager ad featuring Lisa Ray that pokes fun at the Pepsi ad (Hi! I'm Sanjana. Got another Haywards?).

Watch this for all the reasons above. And to watch Aamir sport that thin moustache after transitioning to the role of the new Godfather.

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