Saturday, November 05, 2005

buDDhaa mil gayaa [ack: amogh for knocking this tidbit my way ahead of all other unread newsitems]

After being abducted and imprisoned for years without tangible reason, a man is set free with a few days to find out why all this happened

If you're not into world cinema, if you didn't know about the Grand Jury Prize winner at Cannes 2004, you would think this was the latest Sanjay Gupta flick (no pun intended) Zinda featuring Sanjay Dutt as Dae-su Oh and John Abraham as Woo-jin Lee. Also in the mix, you would toss Lara Dutta, Celina Jaitley and Mahesh Manjrekar (again).

It's a worthy response to another successful plagiarist called Priyadarshan. After all, Gupta himself has had a rich legacy of filches from Ram Shastra ("India's first film with Dolby Spectral Recording," they claimed) which did the "bad acting, songs and dances, mellow mush" on Hard to Kill to Musafir, which did Oliver Stone's U Turn. To distinguish himself from the monolithic style that Priyadarshan and most Bollywood "filmmakers" adopt, Gupta aspires to be a blender. This means that a lot of his films derive from more than one source. Aatish stole its guts from A Better Tomorrow and whipped in the torch-this-place-and-run male bonding sequence from State of Grace; and Kaante started off with adroitly mixing The Usual Suspects (one of us is a traitor) with Reservoir Dogs (one of us is ... you get the idea), and tossed in some stuff from Heat, because he was itching to present some footage of the actual bank robbery; Jung took Desperate Measures and embellishments from Face/Off; and Khauff topped its cake from The Juror with cinnamon from The Replacement Killers. Even when he only "wrote" and produced and delegated direction to his lackey Hriday Shetty, he came up with the DOA blend called Plan, which chose to use Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels for the premise and first half and Suicide Kings for the post-interval exercise in yawns.

After the mindlessly slick idiotically howlarious romp that was Musafir, Gupta's back with another slick etc etc. He's also been maintaining silence about the details of the film, and apparently has even asked the cast to sign an agreement of non-disclosure. But you know, given his track record, that this has to be a filch.

And then the promo {real media video file} got out. All you now had to do was check the promo {Quicktime video file} for Oldboy. Any denial that this was the original that was shoved into a cheap desii copying machine would be preposterous.

Consider the taglines appearing in the promos. taken without warning (check), held without reason (check), locked up for 15 years (check; except that Gupta picks a number that is more faithful to Indian tradition -- 14), then set free (check; well, suddenly instead of then), now he has 5 days (Gupta chooses 4; budget constraints?; blind search-and-replace in the text?; a general desire to be "different"?), to find out why (ditto). Gupta's preview is much shorter. With due respect to the tradition of dumbing it down for audiences, his preview has dialogue (and a lot of redundant words at that).

Shameful. And people are going gaga over the slickness of this trailer. Seems like hoping for some brain cells at work in the skulls of our audience is becoming a lost cause. Slick packaging is all that is needed these days. Watch Sanju baba eat food with chopsticks (Axiom: to torture someone, you make them eat Chinese food). Watch him imprisoned in that oh-so-cool outfit (Axiom: when someone is held captive in wretched surroundings, they are given good clothes to wear). And Dutt's also warbled again for a Gupta soundtrack (the last time was Musafir's tez dhaar). This means that the usual song-and-dance interludes ain't goin' nowhere. And we have two airheads (Dutta, Jaitley) about to essay roles of substance[sic] that demand a fair level of acting[sic] smarts[sic]. Be prepared to watch them act[sic] in various stages of undress.

What should worry you, if you've seen Park Chan-wook's original, is how Gupta could've chosen something that defines new levels of violence and mayhem on screen. And what about the twisted [literally] dénouement?

Only time will tell. In the meantime, learn how to use chopsticks.

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