Monday, January 24, 2005

no quarter/rog

I had grabbed a copy of the No Quarter/UnLedded DVD in November 2004, but ended up watching it only in January 2005. The induced wait was worth it (sigh! if only I could have caught the one-day-only theatrical screening). No Quarter was an interesting album (besides marking the first album-length collaboration between Page and Plant). I still wonder why JPJ was excluded. Never understood that. The DVD is great not just for the not-so-unplugged concert moments but for the cross-country cross-cultural influences (both aurally and visually) that temper both the familiar LZ numbers (an interesting choice, no doubt) and the new tracks. Fans of instruments rarely used in rock music will relish the arrangements. I don't think I'd be at fault to have thought of Bernard Herrmann a couple of times. Priceless purchase, really. And now I have to get the extended CD release. Goodbye, $$$!

All this makes no sense for me to segue to my first VHS-in-the-US movie of 2005, Rog. Irrfan (aka Irfan Khan, before he chose to change his name) seems to be capable of doing no wrong as he waltzes through his performance as Uday Rathore. His reading of the character almost surpasses the complete absence of a coherent rational mind behind the camera and the script. The script is credited to the usual culprit: Mahesh Bhatt. To lament the loss of one of Indian cinema's promising directors to this new avataar of foreign-film-filcher (Rog owes a debt and lots of apologies to Otto Preminger's stellar classic Laura) is a waste of time. Bhatt made a conscious decision to succumb (in a most post-modern fashion) to the "needs" of a stupid mainstream audience. 'Tis a pity. If only he had managed to find a middle ground. Pooja Bhatt was never great shakes (no pun intended) in the acting department, and, as a producer, she has only chosen to inflict upon us her twisted view of bold cinema -- hiring unknowns both local and foreign that were willing to bare as much as permitted in a family-oriented soft-core porn flick. And then she chooses unknowns to direct these sorry flicks. If Paap was an unbearable scatalogical mess, Rog takes the cake for making us wade through a morass of gobs of inanity (referred to as "scenes" in popular terminology) and exchanges of dialogue that have absolutely nothing to do with the film. A gaggle of worthless never-should-have-beens battles it out for the crown of His/Her Highness Ham under the pretext of "acting": beefcake Himanshu Malik, Suhel Seth (the man deserves an award for comedy), the ugly Shyamoli Varma. Pooja Bhatt even manages to use her clout as producer to squeeze in hubby Munish "Udham Singh" Makhija to bring his laaThii sensibilities to a role that means as much as used toilet paper. On the musical front, M M Kreem goes into retro-Jism mode to provide songs that occur at suitable FF-friendly intervals. The soundtrack is better heard than seen (and you'll like it more if you never ever get to see it on screen). And now for Ilene Hamann, the South African (never famous locally, went on to be famous abroad) steatomammate zombie, who looks like a cross between Payal Rohatgi and a ghaaT. She has little else to do in the film except offer eyecandy to the skin-hungry classes who can claim this cheap excuse to ogle as an excursion to watch a "quality" film. IH's biggest (no pun intended, really) problem is that she offers inconsistent photographic angles. The photograph that adorns the wall of the house is the best she ever looked (or even perhaps the side pose on a little-seen poster). Everywhere else she is like a bad shoe. If only this annoying mess of film was the end. Unfortunately, I can already seen the Bhatt camp busy with another adaptation. Looks like there's no end to mainstream skin flicks. Perhaps Bhatt will get his comeuppance when he receives accolades for inventing a new subtle sub-genre of film.

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