Saturday, November 27, 2004

Three Movies

dance with me [November 25/26, 2004]

Unfortunately, what worried me most about RGV's latest venture Naach were, paradoxically enough, the dances. Some of the slower drawn-out sequences (despite the potential for déjà vu) were engaging, but the full-fledged dances (backed by a soundtrack that has only evoked mixed reactions from me no matter how many times I listened to it) were a bit troublesome and tough to sit through. What works for the film comes from the performances of the lead pair: Abhishek Bachchan and Antara Mali (despite having nothing really appealing in her looks that would please the majority crowd). And Ritesh Deshmukh marks a step forward with a competent supporting performance as the potential third vertex in a triangle of emotions. Thematically, RGV returns to territory he last visited with Rangeela. I don't see this film matching that one's success, despite being closer to RGV's heart. Simply because the comparisons are inevitable, and because of the fickle mix of reasons that a film works. And the opening sequence is a clincher for those looking to make comparisons. Just like that film, we open with a scene in slow-motion (held for a longer while here) as Shweta Pandit's wonderful rendition of the beautifully arranged title track (love those conches!) fills our ears. The montage of dance ends with the fading rhythm track morphing into the ticking of a bedside alarm clock. The rest of the film evokes another classic about a couple torn apart by success, Abhimaan. Aside from the uncredited use of Riders on the Storm by The Doors, we have digs at film personalities like Subhash Ghai and Farah Khan. And then there's the in-joke with an unhappy director noting "ga.ndaa hai par dha.ndaa hai" about a song he has to picturise. And the short exchange during the climactic moments when the two are clear about how they feel about each other was nice:
abhinav (abhishek): ... tum bhii mujh se pyaar karatii ho?
revaa (antara): aur kyaa?

All said and done, while the overall experience is not a stupendous achievement, it's a good entry in the RGV canon.

merchants of the night [November 24-25, 2004]

Raat ke Saudagar marks a return to the world of Bs for your humble viewer. The film's narrative (for what it's worth) deals with Saudagar-esque (Ghai, not Sudhendu Roy) themes (friends who turn enemies thanks to misunderstandings blah blah), and was probably shot at night (thus giving you the title ... chuckle, chuckle). The cast boasts a roster that includes Suresh Oberoi, Mohan Joshi, Neena Gupta, Reema Lagu, Kiran Kumar, Kader Khan and Anant Mahadevan (who gets the award for best named character: shaaNyaa). On the bad song front we have Asha Bhonsle belting out "logo.n ne kahaa mujhe gu.D kii Daalii (##curfew## lag gayaa jab Thumak ke chalii)" for Dilip Sen-Sameer Sen. Bad lines like beTe, ham ne teraa naam baa.Nke is liye nahii.n rakhaa thaa ki ko_ii bhii tujhe TeDhaa\-baa.Nkaa kar ke Daal de abound. And then there's the following exchange between Kiran Kumar (KK) and Neena Gupta (NG):
KK: ham aaj raat aap ko apanaa (right hand pats his heart) mahamaan banaanaa chaahate hai.n
NG: (dons ghuu.NghaT) mahamaananawaazii kaa shukriyaa Thaakur saahab. lekin aa_ine pattharo.n ke mahamaan banakar TuuT jaayaa karate hai.n
KK: bahut khuub. bahut khuub raanii b(h)aaii. aap ke inakaar karane kii adaa hame.n pasa.nd aa_ii. magar ye mat bhuulo ki aa_iine agar pattharo.n ke mahamaan banakar TuuT jaate hai.n (deeper whisper) to pattharo.n se Takaraakar bhii TuuT jaayaa karate hai.n
NG: beshak Thaakur saahab. lekin Takaraakar TuuT jaane me.n aa_iine kaa Guruur to salaamat rah jaataa hai.

There's the usual abuse of stock music (the Betaab theme appears for one fight sequence, and the theme from Black Rain -- overused in Ghayal -- appears during another). And if you had to even dare to pick out a gaffe you could try the match-on-action issue when a corrupt politician looks to the left of the screen and calls out to Rakesh, and there's a cut to Rakesh entering from the right side of the screen.

The print I caught boasted random flashes of orange-red across portions of the film. This makes it very unlikely that a decent negative survives. So much for preservation for posterity.

to meet again... [November 22-23, 2004]

Revathy's Phir Milenge is a commendable sober entry in the small genre of films that revolve around the subject of AIDS (and the usual social stigma and ignorance associated with it). The echoes of Jonathan Demme's Philadelphia are undeniable. My problem with the film is just some of the acting and the casting. Salman Khan's image carries him through what isn't much of a performance. Shilpa Shetty narrowly escapes being a profoundly grating on-screen presence. Abhishek Bachchan continues to be sincere (and, as another plus, he even wrote his speech at the end). There's Revathy in a cameo as the doctor who makes the crucial discovery. Liked how Revathy used an edit to convey the extent of shock: when Dr. Rai Singh (Revathy) tells Tamanna (Shilpa) that she has AIDS, we cut to a snippet from the past when Tamanna was informed of the death of her parents in an accident. The association helps us understand the effect this new piece of bad news has on Tamanna. And I liked the diegetic use of khul ke muskuraa de (as a song played on the radio for a dedication). Nasser's appearance in the movie relies on his impressive on-screen presence and the dubbing talents of Ninaad Kamat (someone refresh my memory here ... why have I heard this name before?). And the film must surely merit a few points for featuring the classic tongue twister after a long long consideration we come to the conclusion that the matriculation examination is a big big botheration to the indian nation whose main occupation is cultivation. On the subtitle front, there is clearly no hope. I beseech you becomes I besiege you.

elsewhere: soundtrack notes

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