Tuesday, October 11, 2005

patellar tendon reflex: what's goin' on?

Shortly after having stumped me with his casting on Mr. Mehta and Mrs. Singh, Vishal Bhardwaj comes up with another knock to the ulnar nerve. He's revisiting Shakespeare territory. After the wonderful Maqbool, which adapted Macbeth to the Bombay underworld (and it seemed so appropriate you wondered why no one else had attempted this in ... um ... Bollywood), it's now the turn of Othello. The film's going to be produced by Devgan Entertainment, which means that Ajay Devgan is going to star as O___, the equivalent of Othello. The other names for casting being bandied about aren't all that encouraging either. I'm not as excited as I was when I heard the first newsbit about Maqbool.

I can look at this as (a) Vishal is making Shakespeare adaptations his equivalent to RGV's gangster flicks (b) Vishal is doing what Gulzar did in the 70s and later in 1999 -- getting non-actors to act. This is not to say that Ajay Devgan and Saif Ali Khan are necessarily bad actors. Saif's got a good sense of comedy, but that doesn't quite cut him some slack for the character of Iago (who wasn't joking about in the play anyway!). I'd have loved to see a gamble with Arshad Warsi instead ("not a star; not saleable, " screams the voice inside my head ... why would this voice speak up as far as Vishal was concerned?). And Devgan's managed to rake up a lot of acclaim for his "acting" simply by looking morose and serious, holding a cigarette in pretty much the same way and puffing galore, and leaving his former mainstream self behind (breaking into a sequence of bad dance steps, executing some fine action moves that his father taught him, mouthing bombast ... you know the drill). Both are better candidates than Suni(e)l Shetty [ref: Hu Tu Tu]. Which means that this might be watchable as an experiment, if not anything else. There's also the hope of a good soundtrack.

What troubles me is the ambiguity: Vishal and another writer have scripted the film. Who's the other guy? Gimme Abbas Tyrewala or even Anurag Kashyap.

And I'd love to get my hands on the abandoned screenplay for Barf.

Meanwhile, as Saurabh Usha Narang (he that helmed the RGV camp sleeper [literally!] Vaastu Shastra) works on a book about his mentor, RGV tosses another googly by announcing his intention to remake James (music notes may be found here). Wonder what Rohit Jugraj might think about all this. Mehboob Khan did it to himself with Aurat/Mother India. Hitchcock did it with The Man Who Knew Too Much. At least RGV has company (no pun intended).

[Update] [October 14, 2005] Admittedly, Rohit Jugraj, who helmed James, ain't too pleased with RGV's decision to remake the film. He then joined Randeep Hooda in the (hopefully not growing) exodus from RGV's camp after dropping the bomb: Shiv (the proposed RGV remake) is not a remake of James, but a remake of RGV's old film Shiva with Nagarjuna! {source}

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