Saturday, December 31, 2005

apian tree: all buzz no sting [september 25, 2005]

All in all it's just another brick in the wall
-- [Another Brick in the Wall Part II/Pink Floyd]

The third act of Pradeep Sarkar's directorial début Parineeta prefixes the inevitable climax of reunion, forgiveness, and a return to happy festive times with an appalling sequence where the vacillating clueless Shekhar (National Award Winner Saif Ali Khan) is egged on by his friend (played by Ninaad Kamath -- that I can't remember his name might well serve as a sign of how well the script dealt with character development) and progressively by every blessed member in attendance (it's Shekhar destined-to-be-aborted wedding). to.D do shekhar becomes the clarion call of the moment and several plunges and appliances (including a bird bath) later, there's a rift in the wall big enough to let Shekhar pass through to the other side where Girish (Sanjay Dutt) is waiting to hand Lolita (Vidya Balan) over for the final union of two lives separated by misunderstanding and anger. This is not what Edsger W. Dijkstra had in mind.

This scene epitomises the film for me. You have to be seriously out of the pocket to pen a screen adaptation of a novel to end thus. I haven't read Sarat Chandra's original, but I find it really hard to believe that he would conjure a denouement like this. Or even present us with such a bland palette of characters. Vidhu Vinod Chopra, Sarkar (former assistant to Chopra) and their associates clearly took the source novel and extracted a superficially basic version of the narrative, a few feathers for each character's plumage, piled on the Bollywood spice mix (songs, cameos by famous stars of yore -- Rekha looks positively hideous in the Louis Armstrong rip-off kaisii pahelii hai and doesn't quite register as a good on-screen match for Sunidhi Chauhan's voice, high drama) along with a strong technical department handling art and production design (lots of points to score here, because this is a period film, after all). The result is something that would appeal to people whose senses have been numbed by the ribald funny bone tickler wannabes, pilfered FX-loaded action trash and star vehicles embellished with NRI-friendly packaging. After all, they're looking for relief of any kind, and this film provides it (although arguably the melodrama veers close to the point where having a box of tissues handy would be useful). And the filmmakers get handsomely rewarded for this. When Anthony Lane reviewed The Remains of the Day (from period filmmaking pashas Merchant/Ivory) he noted how the butler Stevens (Hopkins) stood for qualities we had come to expect from Ivory's work -- fodder for recommendations in life, but lousy guidelines to the art of cinema. He also noted the secret of Ivory's films: they have no style; no real signature. What they do have, in abundance, is an accumulation of good taste masquerading as style; needless to say, it is more reliable than style, shorn of embarassing tics and obsessive longueurs. No wonder that the audience for these movies, almost butlerish in loyalty, keeps on coming back for more. Somehow, it ominously makes sense in the context of Chopra/Sarkar's effort. And it's only an uncomfortable portend should they choose to turn this path into a road.

Moitra's soundtrack needed a better engineering job to begin with and in the context of the film serves the age-old purpose of musical relief. Chitra taking over from Swanand Kirkire (that single sequence in the night as the song begins is perhaps the best visual in the whole film) is one of the worst things to hit your ears and memories of Sridevi combined with the ennui that has already set in with the ongoing proceedings can only force you to reach out for some painkillers or a Magnum.

No one on the acting roster passes beyond muster. Despite doing little else other than looking beautiful and tossing a few pouts, uncomfortable smiles and silences, and looking sufficiently caught in the throes of passion during the Shekhar/Lolita consummation scene (family-friendly porn again with a lot of sniffing) debutante Vidya Balan can rest assured that she'll get a lot more offers thanks to the box office success of the film. And anyone who casts Sanjay Dutt in the hopes of extracting some acting needs a lobotomy. Not that these characters are difficult to play. A few scenes, some songs, some clichéd lines, and high-decibel emotions. Regular stuff really.

[Un]fortunately, the experience of watching this film cannot compare to Joe Queenan's Merchant/Ivory marathon [The Remains of the Dazed in Confessions of a Cineplex Heckler].

It looks like a great time to be an "actor" in Bollywood. You don't need to put in any extra effort in the acting department; just ride the wave, and hope you film clicks. Quality has nothing to do with it. Just pray that you're the relief audiences are looking for from the usual fare. As for Vidhu Vinod Chopra and his big mouth, I can only offer a silent prayer that he lives up to the promise he showed with Sazaye Maut, Khamosh and most of Parinda some day. Meanwhile, it's time to get some insurance for the sequel to Munna Bhai MBBS.

anatomy of a scene

The film: Ek Khiladi Ek Haseena
The sequence: the scene in the red-walled room serving as a bar where our dudes are trying to reel in the hit, Mr Jay Patel, Vice President of Standard Bank with their business model.
The original source: a similar scene from Confidence that sports vastly superior writing, acting, ... the whole nine yards.

Prelude: Jay Patel has just said that there is no future in dotcoms. Writer Suparn Verma scripts a shoddy copy of the original sequence where Kaif (Kay Kay Menon here; the original had a character called Lupus played by Franky G) steps in to save the day.

Merits: Not only is this bizarre fodder for cut-up followers and Buñuel/Dali fans, but it's also a great example of what happens with both the continuity and editing departments have decided to do their jobs with their eyes wide shut.

What follows is an annotated version of the dialogue that Kay Kay (poor guy; this film sees him completely at sea and marks a big dark blotch for him as far as acting is concerned) spouts. There are also notes about cuts and scene details.

that's the whole point mr Patel (beat) future

[cut to XCU of Kaif at the desk] {cigar in right hand}

we don't have a vision for the future; IBM, Microsoft, Rediff, Yahoo, these were all the so-called "risky" companies weren't they?

[cut to medium shot] (1) (Kaif rises and walks from screen left to Patel)

analysts went (beat) about tom-tomming saying that oh computers?

[cut to medium CU ...] (2)

no way! we're a poor country; illiterate; we don't have the personnel for this

[cut to (1)]

we have no appetite for computers you see {cigar in right hand}
ten years later what happened? have you seen the sales figures of computers today?

[cut to tight CU: closer than (2)] (3) (cigar in left hand)

unfortunately you banks are sitting on crores of rupees ... doing what? (beat) hatching them!

[cut to (2)] (cigar in right hand)

it's all right; it's your money;

(takes a smoke)

use it the way you please

(drops cigar; stubs it with right shoe)

but never

[cut to (3)] (cigar in left hand)

ever say that india's a third-world country. never do that

(draws another smoke and walks to screen left)

After witnessing this fascinating display of words, actions and flying dhumraka.nDikaas a stupefied jay Patel looks on at Kaif, then takes a subtle look at Ramona's (aka nataashaa played by Koena "jiggle" Mitra) garbonzas, and then (perhaps a bit less worried after seeing something to refute the argument that india was a third-world country) looks to Fardeen Khan (and the scene proceeds).

they give us hints ... why do we ignore them?

From a recent interview with Rimi Sen {Dhoom, Garam Masala}:

Did you have any formal training in acting?
I don't believe in this concept of learning acting from someone, or in an institution. Acting, according to me is 100 per cent in-born talent that cannot be taught. Either you have it in you, or you don't. And I don't think that I would have been any better if I had attended a school.

Bipasha Basu in a not-so-recent interview:

I know that my demanding a huge price has become a big issue and is talked about in industry circles. I want to clarify that I deserve a certain price today. If I do reduce it for a particular film it will be because I want to reduce it and not because someone tells me to do so. I've come up the hard way, so it's up to me to decide how much money to charge. I'm neither answerable to anybody, nor am I here to do charity.

Friday, December 30, 2005

no laughs, no vim, only mind-numbing jet lag

{being some thoughts on Garam Masala} [December 29, 2005]

winner of the Adulerated Milk Award: Marc Camoletti's play -> the 1965 film directed by John Rich -> the 1985 Malayalam version directed by Priyadarshan -> this lacklustre piece of existential stupefaction directed by Priyadarshan again

watching this film provides a close approximation to the spanish inquisition or other ways to make you tock

DOA just as priyadarshan's Hungama with everyone trying really hard to convince you that it's funny

John Abraham's performance seems like a cross between a Bruce Lee impersonation, an audition for a drag queen contest, a shower drain choked with seaweed,

Neeraj Vora's dialogue includes a bunch of tangential non sequiturs that stick out like sore tyrannosaurus rex power fingers; YT would wager that will a more competent cast (especially people who know that "comic timing" is as important in a comedy as the eggs in egg bhurjii)

just about every review of this film seems to be filled with hosannas; {a sample} methinks these people are either (a) failures of some experiment involving simian responses to documentary films on the mating habits of drosophila melanogaster or (b) ashamed to admit that they got duped into thinking that this might actually be a watchable film

as if rimi sen's true-to-life impersonation of a member of the ashikshit strii kaamagar varg wasn't bad enough, priyadarshan tosses in three sublime airheads who responded to the "wanted: cute dumb south bombay types with lots of yaa and ; officially they are called neetu chandran, daisy bopanna and nargis no-last-name {more} * to say that this film is rather anti-feminist (and pro-dumb) is putting it mildly, but it doesn't seem to have prevented it from being the big grosser that it is ... perhaps women folk were content to stare at akshay kumar and john abraham and sigh their woes away

rajpal yadav and paresh rawal are wasted, and there are moments where the latter has to do little more than flip the page of a magazine or effect a facial expression with consummate ease to highlight the incompetence of the "comic talents" pervading the film; and let's not forget Miss India 2002 Neha Dupe-ya.

go find a copy of the Malayalam source, and perhaps even the Tony Curtis/ Jerry Lewis original), or even a good performance of the source play

Pritam's mostly-pilfered songs provide much-wanted large speed bumps on a downward slope in the darkness ... YT prefers the late R D Burman's compositions for the Mehmood starrer from 1972 with the same title

the sensory Flashy assault on the official site uses 60s design for the titles and interestingly uses members of the cast to adopt salacious poses to form the letters in the English title ... somehow those visuals of Akshay Kumar and John Abraham grabbing at each other's assets[sic] aren't a good sight before dinner

obligatory Sholay reference: People on a yacht singing ye dostii ham nahii.n to.De.nge

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

mr prime minister: the plot {previous post in thread} [warning: spoilers]

So that B-lovers can relish the important nuances and aspects of Mr Anand's 115th film (AFAIR) Mr. Prime Minister, the plot is out in all its merry glory {elsewhere, with a non-linear spin added for suspense[sic]}

Note the hyperbolic touches typical of Mr. Anand (the richest NRI). While this could serve as great fodder for a wonderful black comedy, it might get some mileage for portions being shot in Bachua.

Meanwhile, YT still tries to unravel the verbiage in the title song ...

caribou tank rhythm updates

[sched: Jan 20, 2006]: Sun Zarra (formerly known as Production No. 29) directed by Rohit Krishnakant Nayyar (most probably the Rohit in Rohit-Manish who made a directorial dive with Muskaan) and produced by Salim Akhtar and Aftab Pictures Pvt. Ltd; co-stars include Samir Aftab, and Anjana. Sandesh Shandilya does the musical honours (with Amit Sana figuring on one of the tracks). The highlight seems to be a huge bastii set erected in Ooty and a performance as a Bihari baabuu. There's no official word yet on whether the title came from a song on the soundtrack of the dingleberry called Lucky: No Time For Love offering slivers of sequences featuring pi.nDii daas (P.D.) kapuur, lots of sequences featuring once-topless-now-clothed Salman "Against the Law" Khan, Sneha "I look so much like Aishwarya and suck just as much in the acting department" Ullal, and a wonderful axiom (not verbatim): diiwaro.n par filmo.n ke ##poster## lagaane se koii hi.ndustaanii nahii.n ban jaataa. The extra 'r' comes from a numerologically inspired rechristening courtesy Sanjay Jumani.

Some information poring on his IMDB page tells me that he was born in 1947. And yet, an article earlier this year that prompted a post from YT says he turned 49 in 2005. That would make his birth year 1956.

he agni dev! saare brahmaa.nD ko raushanii denewaale! bataa! kaun sach bol rahaa hai aur kaun kanaphuuj ho gayaa hai? (beat) kal bataa_oge? kal? (echo) (kal mai.n phir aa_uu.Ngaa) ...

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

B alert: off it goes

While B-champion and paladin of the cause of "the film review as an art form" Great Bong eloquently continues to provide countdowns for 2005, he draws our attention to a flick that is dying for recognition: Nabh Kumar Raju's Topless. The only NKR flick I've been fortunate to watch was Chot and that didn't seem to portend the latent talent that seems to be hurtling towards the limelight with forthcoming flicks like 24x7 Bombay Saloon Unisex (which has producer Rakesh Barot playing a Dada Kondke-style character complete with double entendres) and Flirt-Mera Dil. With Bappi doing the honours for the songs, there's at least some icing on Topless.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

The beast looked upon the face of beauty. Beauty stayed his hand, and from that moment he was as one dead

[December 16, 2005]

largesse: The sense of size in Peter Jackson's ode to the simian version of Beauty and the Beast comes not from the marvellous all-digital ape created from motion captures of a wonderfully nuanced performance from Andy Serkis but from its gargantuan length. At 3 hours and 7 minutes, this film was destined to confound marquee scheduling algorithms and even box office takings.

SFX and such: The film overtly follows the path-breaking 1933 original and on occasion the weak laughable 1976 version (aah! memories of the dress circle at West End in Pune). The greatest tribute comes not from the props that occasionally pop up on screen, not from the in-jokes, but from the SFX. The dinosaur stampede, the enhanced duel between Kong and the T-Rex (now there's more than one), and especially a gory uncomfortable sequence involving a pit and hordes of bugs that missed out on the evolutionary memo of extinction. That last sequence is a tip of the hat to an excised sequence from the 1933 original featuring giant spiders. And it also puts this film safely out of the reach of a family audience. Which is probably just as well, because any exploration of the sexual politics of the tale would have been difficult otherwise. While the Skull Island sequences are lush with great SFX and production design, the most heart-warming sequences are the ones between Fay and Kong.

Orson Welles: Jack Black's Orson Welles-ian take on filmmaker Carl Denham feels like a wry reflection of Peter Jackson -- you don't see Kong for almost an hour. And Jackson doesn't bother with devices to tickle your curiosity. He knows that most of his audience knows what to expect. And he lets just plays with that expectation as he embarks on an introduction to depression-time New York, and an introduction to our principals. The editing in these opening moments, until perhaps the scenes on the boat when love blossoms between Driscoll and Darrow, is inspired. There's a sense of pace that one wishes had survived till the closing credits. But all is not lost. The sequences introducing Skull Island -- the fog-covered craggy rockscape, the battle against the elements -- are wonderfully scary and eventful.

The use of Conrad's Heart of Darkness seems to serve two purposes: it provides a literary complement to the goings-on, and it adds another Welles-ian angle to the film. Not much is made of the angle though, so it survives only as an embellishment like the rest of the in-jokes and references (including the ones to Merian Cooper, RKO, Fay Wray).

the cast: Jackson scores another ace with a top-notch cast. From Naomi Watts (who manages to punch in some acting smarts to make Ann Darrow just as memorable as Fay Wray's original) to Jack Black's Orson Welles-an take as Carl Denham, to Adrien Brody and Thomas Kretschmann, both seen in The Pianist, and even Andy Serkis, doubling up as the one-eyed Lumpy.

coolest cameos: Watch out for Rick Baker (SFX man on the 1976 version, and the guy in the gorilla suit in the same film) and Frank Darabont (who featured in the notorious production diary post that also featured Bryan Singer lending a helping hand) as the flying gunners.

the technical department: The technical achievements don't stop with Kong. Check out the production design for New York City, the vistas during the trip, the entire Skull Island chunk. A mind-blowing team effort.

wishes, horses: If only Fay Wray had been alive to utter the immortal line at the end. And if only Jackson had run the scissors on the opening hour and shaved off some fat. This would have been a more satisfying filmmaking achievement.

elsewhere: all sorts of Kong candy

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Isaiah Flank meets Maria Park [followup to this]

aii I
It's all done and completely specious reports follow. The usual mix of fans who enjoyed Isaiah's performance and the rockers from the school of thought that a famous celebrity was trying to shoot to the rock scene "just because he learnt to play a few chords". A note from one of Maria's folk adds some balance. Eyewitness reports solicited.

Monday, December 19, 2005


Asha Bhosle's "surprise gift" to the late great RDB on his death anniversary (Jan 04) smacks of so much undeniable greed. Exploitation at its purest.

"It's an album entitled Real RD. It features 21 of R D Burman's choicest numbers -- mostly rendered by Ashaji, with a few duets where Sudesh Bhosle will accompany her," reveals a source from Sa Re Ga Ma, the music company that owns the copyrights for most of Asha Bhosle's and RD's movie soundtracks. ...
What makes Real RD really special is that Asha will be re-interpreting the tracks, rendering the songs all over again to suit the techno-advancements in the new millennium.

Real RD eh? That's like releasing aajaa aajaa mai.n huu.N pyaar teraa on a compilation CD titled Rare gems of R D Burman. SaReGaMa's in it for the money and nothing else. After all, when you own the copyrights for most of Asha Bhosle's and RD's movie soundtracks (Rocky seems to have been part of the stuff they bought/licensed from Polygram/MIL/Universal), why wouldn't you just remaster 'em and release 'em (you do have a marketing division to sell all this don't you?) instead of milking the stuff to create maudlin tired soulless floor thumpers.

Something like the Kronos effort seems so much more interesting.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

jagaDii jagaDii ... again

The official word is more accessible. RGV and Nagarjuna are set to team up for a follow-up to RGV's acclaimed directorial début and box-office hit Shiva. It's called Shiva 2006, and Ilaiyaraaja returns for the music. This time around the protagonist is an honest cop fighting a corrupt system. Wonder what they can come up with to kill the tide of deéjà vu.

Another source reports that Telugu and Hindi versions are going to filmed in tandem, with Mohit Ahlawat starring in the latter. This should confirm Rohit Jugraj's assertion when he lashed out at RGV.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

It's running out, and 90% of what's left is in the Middle East. This is a fight to the death [december 10, 2005]

With its multi-layered intricate unflinching web of characters, references, and narrative Stephen Gaghan's Syriana (official site) offers very little evidence to qualify as your average thriller filled with intrigue and suspense. Add to that a refusal to insult the intelligence of the viewer. And the simple documentary-like approach sans any cinematic flourishes. The ensemble features George Clooney (with a bearish beard and pounds added for the role) as CIA Bob Barnes with what might appear to be a misguided sense of duty, Matt Damon as an American energy analyst in Switzerland, Jeffrey Wright as a prim-and-proper lawyer investigating a merger between a giant oil company called Connex and Killen, a small Texan company run by Chris Cooper that has snagged the drilling rights to Kazakhstan, Christopher Plummer as Wright's boss. And these are just the principals.

There's enough going on in the film to make sure you're always watching, listening, and understanding (something quite rare in the conventional popcorn-friendly fare that hits the screens). It's a tale of unclear morality, politics, power and economics that is driven by the actions of its protagonists and spans the globe with a refusal to provide a single POV. With each sequence, the film seems to be hurtling towards an inevitable conclusion that isn't on the cards. It's this refusal that seals this film's superiority over Traffic, which had Soderbergh giving Gaghan's script on drugs the filter treatment. Soderbergh's film was admittedly about an arguably easier subject (drugs vs. oil) and a tad more accessible (colour filters distinguished the different narrative threads in the film). It, however, serves as a great introduction to Gaghan's potential, which is well realised in this film.

This is a very intelligent, topical film about chaos and disparity in this new world. And there's a lovely speech on corruption to match Gordon Gecko's take on greed in Wall Street. [december 19, 2005] Here is a transcript from Stephen Gaghan, courtesy Roger Ebert's Answerman:

Some trust fund prosecutor, got off-message at Brown, thinks he's gonna run this up the flagpole, make a name for himself, maybe get elected some two-bit, no-name congressman from nowhere, with the result that Russia or China can suddenly start having, at our expense, all the advantages we enjoy here. No, I tell you. No, sir. (mimics prosecutor) "But, Danny, these are sovereign nations." Sovereign nations! What is a sovereign nation, but a collective of greed run by one individual? "But, Danny, they're codified by the U.N. charter!" Legitimized gangsterism on a global basis that has no more validity than an agreement between the Crips and the Bloods! (Beat) ... Corruption charges. Corruption? Corruption ain't nothing more than government intrusion into market efficiencies in the form of regulation. That's Milton Friedman. He got a goddamn Nobel Prize. We have laws against it precisely so we can get away with it. Corruption is our protection. Corruption is what keeps us safe and warm. Corruption is why you and I are prancing around here instead of fighting each other for scraps of meat out in the streets. (Beat) Corruption ... is how we win.

Apparently, the original draft of the screenplay included something rather derogatory that got replaced by the ellipsis in Corruption ... is how we win, as revealed by a scanned image of the page in question. {courtesy: BoingBoing}

Thursday, December 15, 2005

circumambulatory updates

We chew on our nails in cynical anticipation as the day draws near when Isaiah Flank will join in a merry strum with Maria Park at a show for a good cause.

Meanwhile, down in B'lore, Bill Gates made a short trip on December 09, 2005. This was some reportedly haphazard launch tour called "Ready 2005" . The theme song for this launch was a song called Superhero' (about the life of a programmer, duh!) by the same group in question. Great publicity. Still, with lines like Opens all the windows, as he shuts the door,, one wonders if these guys didn't have their tongues a tad in cheek.

You can download the song here and sing along with the lyrics here.

golden globe: hindi trash count: 0

The premature jollity about yawners like Paheli, Black and Veer Zaara qualifying (purely statistical methinks) for the Golden Globe 2006 nominations was surprising considering that around the time the news bit began hitting eyes and ears, there was not much made public about the Golden Globe nominations. Now that the official list is out (as of Tuesday, December 13, 2005), we have nothing to worry. Our mainstream specious sewer -wall grease didn't make it. Strange to see someone like Naveen Andrews get nominated for an acting award, but hey, it's the Globes. Just like the Oscars, it's all about the numbers.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

it's all so clear now!

The plot and twists for Ek Ajnabee are out there for everyone to relish without having to waste precious $$ squirming in their seats in some over-hyped multiplex cinema hall. What was still unclear was why Lakhia continued to talk about his film as being original. Now we know ...

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

the year of the rip-off

Finally more is heard about the produced-by-and-starring Sohail Khan flick imaginatively called Fight Club. Obviously, the first thing that comes to mind is: is this a copy of the Fincher classic? [notes from a repeat viewing]. Well, aside from the existence of fight clubs (origin back-story unknown, but there are two gangs, one in Bombay and the other in Delhi), there's also the strong similarity between the way the title is presented. The desii take is packed with specimens of processed wood: Sohail Khan, Zayed Khan, Ashish Chaudhary, Riteish Deshmukh, Dino Morea, Suniel Shetty, Ashmit Patel, Rahul Dev and Yash Tonk. And in compliance with Bollywood regulations ('thou must have adequate feminine presence'), we also have diet turkey slices Diya Mirza, Neha Dhupia and Amrita Arora.

The promo doesn't reveal as much as the one for Zinda did. But there's the egregious line "Everyone has their issues ... but it can be sorted out". That 'it' should be a 'they', but who cares? The IndiaFM reviewer fellates the film merrily, calling these lines ruthless (well, I am inclined to agree), and even notes that in a unique way, uses the youth brigade of Bollywood to its advantage. And it makes me wonder ...

The first rule of Fight Club is that there are no rules, this film says. Well, they tried to change the rule, but it's hard to shake off the sinking feeling that we're getting another addition to the ever-growing list that includes, among others, Zinda, Kyon Ki..., Garam Masala [more about these two], Chocolate, Ek Ajnabee [last rant], Kalyug (Dastak or 8MM, you choose), Dansh/Siskiyaan, usw.

Monday, December 12, 2005


There's some more wrapper buzz about MC's next release Chingari, directed by Kalpana Lajmi and featuring Sushmita Sen and Anuj Sawhney. The writer curiously, spells Lajmi as Lazmi -- it's either a manifestation of a ghaaT tendency or a sign of acute awareness of some numerological decision-making on KL's part. The second slip is more egregious:

Mithun made a comeback with Vikram Bhatt's "Elaan" this year. "Lucky" was his second release. Unfortunately, both the movies bombed at the box-office and Mithun's comeback did not simmer at all.

aii I

Lucky: No Time for Love (a sorrier waste was never seen) was actually his third release. His second release was, IMNSHO the most satisfying of the lot, the B. Subhash-helmed Bappi-scored Classic: Dance of Love [perfunctory inadequate notes].
aii I

Meanwhile, there's more Mimoh trivia. Especially appealing is the nugget that he shares our discomfort as far as films featuring Yogita Bali are concerned.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

just keep telling yourself and the world that it's all right ... [previous entry in this thread]

A post and a note from Vipul drew my attention to a neglected panel on the flashy Zinda portal. Vipul's post has more on this. What caught my attention later was another panel in the same zone. It's a note about the cinematographic side of things (D/P Sanjay F. Gupta -- a middle initial distinguishes him from our rip-off raajaa helming this project):

In order to capture an edgy cinematic feel, the film has been shot in the Super 16 format. This format has helped enable the use of sharp wide-angle lenses up to 5.6 mm.
The visual texture and tone of the film is gritty with desaturated greys, with a stark and minimalist colour palette employed throughout. The primary colour of the film is[sic] grey, red and yellow.
The busy city life of Bangkok during the day, alternated with the neon lit nightlife has been used to create an exciting celluloid backdrop to the action.

It's nice to see such detail. The technology behind filmmaking often gets overshadowed by typically less interesting on-screen hysterics (at least as far as Bollywood is concerned).

The framing and lensing has been of a classically stylized nature, keeping with the theme of the film.

I wonder how the theme of the film could motivate a classically stylised nature (whatever that means).

It would be more interesting to get SFG to talk more about his work than have SG screaming to the rooftops about his creativity[sic].

Incidentally (and predictably), a US remake is the works too. Wonder if, as with Naina, the Indian rip-off will beat the official American remake to the finish line ...

Friday, December 09, 2005

here be strange spoilers [courtesy: sudarshan]

Taran Adarsh clearly needs a lobotomy. How else can one explain the presence of an almost complete plot listing (seriously: songs can't be part of the plot can they?) for Ek Ajnabee's review. Perhaps he took a look at the URL, saw fullstory and decided to provide just that. Or perhaps he was letting people know just what's important about the film (in Bollywood, we don't give two hoots about plot): star power, style, star cameos.

Starting with Denzil Smith to Aditya Lakhia to Akhilendra Mishra to Yuth (the Thai actor who plays the role of Chang) to the 'Boss' (Raj Zutshi), ...

um, who TF is Denzil Smith?

Ek Ajnabee seeks its basic inspiration from the Hollywood film Man on Fire (2004; Denzel Washington, Dakota Fanning), but director Apoorva Lakhia has Indianized the plot in such a manner that the basic plot is very identifiable.

If I had to tax my brain and try and figure out what you meant by that last part there, I would conclude that you probably meant that Shri Lakhi[y]a had tweaked the premise from the 2004 flick so that Indian audiences could identify with the plot. Or did you mean that Lakhi[y]a did a bad job at hiding his influences? ham kanaphuuj ho gaye hai.n

As an aside, I must note that Bollywood soundtracks are now becoming just as family-unfriendly as the reel stuff featuring damsels in various stages of undress shaking their assets about on screen. ishq hai jhuuTaa from Ek Khiladi Ek Haseena featured the obligatory rap boasting a line that went get on top girl, be naughty. And the Blast U Between Your Eyes remix of They Don't Know on Ek Ajnabee's dark sample-heavy much-better-than-the-movie soundtrack features the immortal can I have your g*dd*mn soul to fry ... son of a b***h I'm gonna blast you .... Another thing that connects these two soundtracks is the sticky eight-note riff from Usher's Yeah sampled merrily without credit. Oh well.

Meanwhile, if you want more spoilers filled with bellyache inducers, check out TA's review of Kalyug:

Emraan Hashmi makes a brief appearance and the actor is, like always, highly competent.

How can you call EH an actor and also refer to him as highly competent?

Or his review of Neal 'N' Nikki (let's not even explore the notational conventions for that N in the middle, shall we?) [soundtrack notes]

...why this need to focus on bust-n-butt in almost every sequence? Is that the definition of modern cinema? Or is that what Sablok thinks the moviegoers want to watch over a gripping story? Sorry, that's not naughty, that's cheap!

Duh! Loved that Gaurav Gera is pure teakwood bit though.

One must also note that Mr Adarsh employs Microsoft Word with the default language setting ("English (US)").

3rd in the 73rd in the 48th

The Kronos RDB adventure featuring Asha Bhosle snags a Grammy nomination in the Best Contemporary World Music Album (Vocal or Instrumental) category. Ta ra ta ra ta ra ta ra ...
the 53rd

One very good reason to be back in Pune right now ... sigh! (love that Bharatiya Baithak)

Thursday, December 08, 2005

waking raghuviir

charaNadaas chor Priyadarshan's next venture, an early whiff of which was quite reminiscent of Waking Ned Devine, is going to be called Maalamaal Weekly. Are we surprised that this seems like another copy? Time to go back and watch a better lottery ticket-driven flick called Naseeb.

{source with detailed plot synopsis}

bash a bias up

Strike on the tinder, ho!
Give me a taper! call up all my people!
This accident is not unlike my dream:
Belief of it oppresses me already.
Light, I say! light!

Vishal seems to be taking his experiments too seriously. The latest to join the motley crew (Ajay Devgan, Kareena Kapoor, Konkona Sensharma, Saif Ali Khan and Vivek Oberoi) on his adaptation of the Moor's tale is the shabby meretricious lass with a squint and absolutely no acting smarts, Ms Bipasha Basu.

On the plus side, Naseeruddin Shah joins the group, and despite a smaller role, he is conducting a workshop for the cast (just like he did in Maqbool).

I honestly hope this turns out to be a good effort. I would be pleasantly surprised to get an opportunity to laud the acting smarts of most of the people in that list. After all, with some many stars that just live up to the Hyderabad Blues principle of "all f**t no s**t", we could do with some more actors, couldn't we?

whither culture

nice little post from Arun Simha. Includes a note about travesties such as The Show FKA SaReGaMa[Pa] and Shame Gurukul. And the inevitable (and unfortunate) Quizman's Laws, a reflection of nobrow:

1. All popular culture is dictated by the lowest common denominator.
2. Simplistic, mass-oriented output (tv, books) will always generate more revenue than high-quality, long-lasting good output.
3. The marketing folks will always dictate the creative content, regardless of supposed "no-interference" policies.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

ups and downs [tip nod: sudarshan]

Resident Rediff film critic Raja Sen garners some brownie points with the specious superficial (but still useful, if only for visibility) special on Vishal's Ruskin Bond adaptation The Blue Umbrella (Wow! This is only the second RB adaptation, the first being Benegal's Junoon). He also loses points for letting cognitive interference get to him when he notes that Federico Fellini made The Godfather. If you can't enough of RS, try the second chat in two months.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

hindi song mondegreens

Having sired several wonderful efforts, Vinay presents another interesting offering: man-bol, dedicated to mondegreens in Hindi songs. The site uses iTrans extensively. To quote Vinay, "Explore, contribute, get surprised, have fun." And email any comments/suggestions you have to giitaayan at gmail dot com.
he ... the only one

That's the name of Mimoh's [ye kaun hai?] first release, a remake of a Telugu flick called Athanokkade. Produced by G.V. Prasad. Directed by Dhanraj. Lyrics by Sameer. Music by Himesh Reshammiya. The launch is tomorrow, December 07, 2005.

Monday, December 05, 2005

and now, rediff's entertainment[sic] editor [previous thread in the Rediff-chat-coverage department]

answers questions from avid Rediff readers.

Q : Why are there no good children's movie[sic]?
Ronjita Kulkarni : Children's films in India are poor-quality films. Special effects is one area Bollywood hasnt been able to master yet.

Implications: a movie with SFX is a children's film; children's films need to have SFX.


Q: which is your fave hindi film forever?
Ronjita Kulkarni : I loved Hazaron Khwaishein Aisi. My all-time fave.


Q: it would be great if Amir khan would make an epic gangster film with sanjay leela bhansali shot somthing like maqbool or the godfather but different with shakespeare type u know it would be great for slb to try a different genre
Ronjita Kulkarni : Yes, it would be nice to see Bhansali doing a gangster movie!

This transcript is intuitively titled Filmi fundas from the horse's mouth

Sunday, December 04, 2005

strings of life

Sanjay Gupta scores his first ace with Zinda by roping in Bilal Maqsood and Faisal Kapadia (aka Strings) to do a song for the soundtrack. ye hai merii kahaanii is classic Strings material and a very very enjoyable track. The video, shot in B&W, features the two lead annoyances of the film, Sanjay Dutt (busting his chops trying to show off playing the drums) and John Abraham (mouthing some verse smack in the middle of the song). Both Dutt and Abraham also figure on the original track, and this takes some coolness points away from the song.

The other famous soundtrack that Strings featured on was Spider-Man 2 (with naa jaane kyo.n). Technically, this is not the OST by an ancillary album of "music from and inspired by the film." What's interesting is that the American release listed on Amazon has Aerosmith's cover of the TV theme as track #19. The release that made it to India (IE-loving track listing on Sony India, review) substitutes Aerosmith's track with the Strings track.

Meanwhile, the producers of the original are intent on some serious action as far as this rip-off is concerned. Regardless of the fact that Gupta's ventures are usually accompanied by cool soundtracks, I hope something comes of this venture.

For those who've heard about the IFFI being held in Goa this year, Sanjay Gupta's been even more audacious by hogging the closing ceremony by inflicting his plagiarism on the audience. This guys has b***s, and he's going to lose 'em soon.

let's get things straight

An old trivia nugget surfaces online in the MSM (perhaps thanks to the Daniel Craig angle). Bond fans and general triviamongers have devoured this piece of information already: Monty Norman had reused a melody he had composed for a musical version of Naipaul's A House for Mr Biswas. Norman even won a libel suit against The Sunday Times when they credited the theme to John Barry. What really rankles me is the title of the news bit: Bond Music Is Bollywood Reject. Dudes! Bollywood refers to the Bombay-based film industry in India (responsible for producing piles of trash, littered with cheap rip-offs of flicks mostly from Hollywood). Methinks the name's quite apt, but the article is clearly in error. Nothing Bollywood about it. Pooh!

Saturday, December 03, 2005

the panchammagic song of the fortnight

The folks at are a swell enthusiastic bunch, who've been responsible for organising two shows in Pune every year dedicated to the music of the late great R D Burman. The first is on Jan 04 (RDB's death anniversary) and the other on June 27 (RDB's DOB). They've had a wide array of themes and several generous guests both famous (Gulzar, Amit Kumar, Bhupinder, Shailendra Singh) to the lesser-known (Homi Mulla, the late Marutirao Keer, Manohari Singh, Nitin Shankar).

They've been running a series called "Song of the Fortnight" with articles on RDB's music and had been kind and generous to ask YT to write something up for the series. Since I sent my first article, a few more have made it to the page. Pointers follow (with only extracts, so that these guys get some more hits)

dha.Dakan pal pal / film: Arjun (1985) / lyrics: Javed Akhtar
The song opens with a spacey mix of sounds (dominated by a recurring synth motif and short flute passages) conveying a sense of mystery.

The electric guitar (which has a greater role to play later) makes its appearance with a few strums, as the music moves to a crescendo on the strings. Inexplicably, the music company (then MIL, now Universal) decided to exercise their "creative" veto and chopped off this opening minute of the song on subsequent non-vinyl releases.
... [more]

pyaar jab na diyaa / film: Sitamgar (1985) / lyrics: Majrooh Sultanpuri
The case of the "Sitamgar" soundtrack is a strange one. All the songs on this album were gems. Even the unreleased seldom-heard Shailendra Singh song "kisii Gariib ke dil se" (having had the privilege of hearing it a couple of times, I am willing to accept this as his best song ever) was testimony to Pancham's ability to elevate even mundane common place lyrics with his melodies and musical embellishments. Yet, the soundtrack languishes in the doldrums. It's very rare, and neither the CD nor tape is as easily available as some of his other soundtracks. You'll be in luck only if you snag a few of those rare compilations with strange names and manage to find a stray inclusion. All this means that the soundtrack remains relatively "under-sung". Although the ISB transcriptions are almost all there, they can only present the lyrical content with hardly any hint of what Pancham had to offer to the song. It thus seems fitting to choose a song from the album (also the first song that I remember having heard from the list).
... [more]

har ek raasataa / film: Ameer Aadmi Gharib Aadmi (1985) / lyrics: Nida Fazli
In the early-to-mid 80s R. D. Burman was very busy. He boasted a full workload and was a favourite of the big banners. One camp of listeners lauded his creativity while another contended that he was overworked and headed for burnout. What could not be denied was the persistent diversity in his music. He continued to be a favourite for new launches: directors and actors making their débuts (and sometimes even their shot at a second coming). Amjad Khan was one such example. The talented actor chose Pancham as the music director not just for his directorial début (Adhura Aadmi), but also for the next two films he would helm (Chor Police, Ameer Aadmi Gharib Aadmi). Reportedly, these were above-average efforts and indicated that Amjad Khan was definitely a cut above the rest in mainstream filmmaking, but alas, the 80s did not prove to be a good time for either Amjad Khan or Pancham, who, as the 90s drew near, hit his worst streak of all time (paradoxically, so close to his winning run of work). He became box office poison, people withdrew from him, and he was left to watch one great song after another go down the drainpipe of anonymity as the films bit the dust at the box office (or worse, never made it to the box office). Amjad Khan had a couple of other movies to his name too, but these died either in pre-production or on their way to the marquee. And then there was Abhi To Main Jawaan Hoon.
... [more]

jiinaa to hai / film: Paanch Dushman (1973) / Daulat ke Dushman (1982) / lyrics: Majrooh Sultanpuri
This lament from Paanch Dushman found new listeners thanks to featuring (with the original film name), along with other rarities, on the splendid 2-CD compilation Tumse Milke from HMV (the first of hopefully many more collaborations between this music publishing behemoth and the cleansing efforts of Pancham Studios). Its previous CD avatar (CDF 120419) was one of several attempts by HMV at squeezing several less-lauded movie soundtracks onto CDs. There it shared space with Balika Badhu and Doosri Sita under its revised moniker Daulat ke Dushman.
The omission of the third allows the bass pattern to remain consistent throughout the song despite the shifts between a major and minor key. And in the mukha.Daa, the use of the F betrays an overlap of the prevailing E natural minor with E Phrygian. There's also the use of both sevenths, which would suggest the use of the harmonic minor scale.
... [more]

merii nazar hai tujhape / film: The Burning Train (1980) / lyrics: Sahir
Set primarily in Abminor in standard tuning (and liberally exploiting the natural harmonic and melodic variants), the song opens with a flourish of brass after which violins backed by chord strums on an acoustic guitar join in. A drum roll marks the end of this fragment as the bass guitar tumbles in overlapping percussion spliced across the left (claves) and right channels (hi-hat) complement off-beat chord stabs on the synthesizer. The string section joins with three-note-fragments starting on the second count of each measure. The chord strums continue on the acoustic guitar. A short solo phrase is up next on the electric guitar with the brass providing a resounding response at the end of it. The brass section launches into a four measure contribution, before a percussive improvisation section featuring, among other things, the bass guitar, a shaker, congas, the hi-hat and the triangle. As if this was not enough, RDB now throws in the South Indian element by introducing the mridangam, which then proceeds to accompany phrases played out on the sitar. The return to the western element isn't too far away as the next segment features melodic phrases and chords played out on an acoustic guitar while another acoustic guitar provides constant strums of chords. The trumpet replaces the first acoustic guitar for the coda of the prelude as the bass guitar punctuates the measures. The off-beat synthesizer stabs return with the shaker and the acoustic guitar to provide the rhythm introducing the song.
... [more]

Friday, December 02, 2005


A quick note before the excitement[sic] dies down. The soundtrack {brief early mention} for Dev Anand's next opus Mr. Prime Minster has hit the stands and the airwaves. No idea about previews/promos on TV and the like, so someone please fill me in. Barring Sunidhi's chuii muii sii zi.ndagii by Darshan Dave, Bappi (/dev/anand's favourite from Awwal Number, Sachche ka Bol Bala (try ye hawaaye.n that begins in Rajesh Roshan mode and has the male and female voices going kiss me, kiss me), and associated with Hum Rahe Na Hum, the abandoned Vijay Anand-helmed projects Main Tere Liye and Jaana Na Dil Se Door) does the honours. The piece de resistance (nay, existence!) is undoubtedly the titular "rap" song written and performed in two flavours (English and Hindi) by Dev Anand. There're a lot of familiar samples on the tracks, but the clear winner (especially for those who forgot what a laughter-induced bellyache feels like) is a combination of Mr. Anand's poetry[sic] and rendition. This is Scatman John in slow-mo. On Tomorrow Never Knows John Lennon wanted to have a microphone placed in the centre of the studio while he was to be swinging on a rope in order to create a swirling effect(a Leslie speaker eventually did the needful). Sounds like Mr. Anand did something similar (perhaps minus the swinging-on-a-rope part). As soon as YT can figure out every word he butchers and every rhyme he drops, YT intends to share the goodies. In the meantime, here's a teaser:

betaaj baadashaah
man shahanashaah
na jeb me.n paisaa
na chaay me.n shakkar

Addendum [december 03, 2005]: Heard from Mr PM at the music release function.

##picture## bahut ##tight## ... shaayad mai.n isakaa ##interval## bhii nahii.n karuu.Ngaa ... log ghuse a.ndar aur dekh ke baahar aa gaye ... ##in one go##

##rap## is liye kyo.n ki ##rap## is ##picture## ke (pause; keeps making that famous right hand yo move) ##character## ko ##define## karataa hai (pause) achchhaa lagegaa ... log hameshaa puuchhate hai.n ##mister ... mister prime minister## kyaa hai ... to ##mister prime minister## ko mai.nne ##define## kiyaa hai ##rap## ke a.ndar ...

##mr prime minister## sirf mai.n hii soch sakataa ... aur koii nahii.n soch sakataa

Thursday, December 01, 2005

misc thoughts

Chiranjit Goswami, in his review of Terry Gilliam's Tideland:

It's generally assumed that you have to enjoy watching a film in order to perceive that it has value. I'm not always sure this is the case for film enthusiasts. Personally, the experience of watching a film doesn't necessarily have to be enjoyable in order for me to consider the film to be worthy of merit, though it certainly helps. Occasionally, a film provides an excruciating viewing experience but also demonstrates great filmmaking skill, offers a novel viewpoint, or stimulates a provocative train of thought. Thus, enjoyment is not necessarily a requirement to making a quality film. However, as a personal requirement, a film that doesn't supply a pleasurable experience should at least be engaging on some level and absorb the viewer's attention.
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