Friday, April 29, 2005

winding up looking like a hamburger [april 28, 2005]

If the name Shattered rings a bell, the bell tower may be found in a recent post about the suspension of belief (aka Yakeen). Wolfgang Petersen serves up a serviceable thriller (which seems destined to look like Citizen Kane once Yakeen hits the marquee) starring Tom Berenger (great choice), Greta Scacchi (good fodder for the erotic visions that Berenger's character and the audience are showered with), Bob Hoskins (the only one who makes a mark in the whole enterprise as Gus Klein, an asthmatic private eye whose day job involves tending a pet store), Corbin Bernsen, and Joanne Whalley-Kilmer. The name Jack Stanton rings a bell ... John Travolta's character in Primary Colors. There's some great production design and camerawork and if you are reminded of the planet surface and the wrecked craft in Alien, you're not alone. The most satisfying aspect of the film for me comprised the numerous odes to Vertigo: elements of the plot, frames and sequences (like the woods during the car chase in the latter half), quotes on Alan Silvestri's soundtrack, and of course, San Francisco. The sole grievance was that the public library only had a formatted-for-your-TV VHS copy. Enjoy the psychogenic amnesia served up on nights in white satin. And yes, Gus Klein's phone number was 555-6176.

Prediction for Yakeen: Saurabh Shukla's detective (the Klein equivalent) may also employ an aspirator (given that it has a crucial role to play in the final act).

Elsewhere: a few notes on X2 appear on this blog ...

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Have you ever loved anyone so much you didn't care what happened to yourself? [Showtime from a StudioPlus hotel room] {april 26, 2005}

The Showtime set of channels is a strange one. I still don't understand (although only after two nights of viewing) how they decide which movies to butcher (aka stretch out) for the TV screen and which to retain with "those strange black bars at the top and bottom". The elasticity of Die Another Day [thoughts elsewhere] was challenged, but Starship Troopers stayed untouched (perhaps because the toothy Denise Richards grin/smile, when "formatted to fit your screen", was scarier than the arachnids).

Which brings us to The Hole. Aside from being unfortunately stretched to fit the confines of the TV screen, this flick has merits in the performances and the atmosphere. The elements are familiar, as is the denouement. But there's enough to raise some creeps. If only the hole lived up to the macabre tone set by the narrative and the background score. The lighting just sucks sometimes (although the texture boasts a great descent as the story gets darker).

Friday, April 22, 2005

The underprivileged are beating our goddamned brains out

At long last I managed to catch Death Wish. This is perhaps the definitive vigilante flick. I've already caught Part III. That one inherited all the mechanics of Paul Kersey's actions (having now almost turned into a killing machine with a set of cold absolute morals), but somehow left the heart and soul waiting at the train station. This one provides all the reasons that should make it a classic. Having read enough about the series already, there weren't too many surprises in this story about a liberal architect (a development engineer for the Blue Ridge Corporation) who begins to assume the role of a vigilante in the aftermath of the brutal attack on his wife and daughter that has left the former dead and the latter (devastatingly raped) in a pathetic mental state (a mix of catatonia, dementia praecox, and passive schizoid paranoia). There's the wonderful score from Herbie Hancock and some nice camera work.

As we follow the events (the tragic change in Kersey's otherwise peaceful life, Kersey slowly losing faith in the system, Kersey slowly turning into a hero for citizens living in daily fear), the film works its devices wonderfully. There are a lot of details packed into what might seem like a fairly average thriller filmed in a deadpan stripped-of-style fashion. Take the party where there's a lot of faux-intellectual talk typical of people who have only read about and never experienced the horrors of crime ("racial equality among muggers"). Take Kersey's first weapon: two pipes of quarters (each amounting to $20 in change) wrapped in a sock. There's no drastic jump to sophisticated weapons (you see more of that in Part III. Take Kersey's first "attack" (he lashes back at a mugger with this makeshift weapon): it plays out like a sudden (yet expected) response resulting from an adrenaline rush; when he gets home, his hands are shaking violently as he pours himself a drink; Kersey has done something that violates everything he has stood for; and then with mixed emotions of rage, shock and confusion, he swings the sock a few times until it rips open, scattering quarters everywhere. We have just witnessed the first stage of the transformation, and it has not been pretty. Shortly thereafter, when Kersey begins his mission of drawing the "scum" out and claims his first victim he returns home only to throw up.

By the time we get to Part III, Kersey has become more used to what he does; he has now become the "cool" vigilante, who might serve as fodder for the "life imitates art" crowd. It's probably when the series might have deserved more flak for glorifying violence (although I'd still argue in its favour simply because Bronson's performance manages to inject a strain of helplessness in his character, making him more of an unfortunate victim who doesn't quite enjoy what he does rather than a cool killing machine with a fine sense of armament). As Kersey graduates to becoming an inspiration for citizens to shed their fears and strike back, he also becomes a menace and a dangerous element as far as the police is concerned.

As if the film hadn't done enough to make the events more horrifying at a much deeper level, we have another seemingly innocuous sequence early on in the film that offers some counterpoint from another genre that is rife with vigilantes, the western: Kersey visits a phoney western town and witnesses a fake shootout staged for the benefit of the audience. The event concludes with the announcement "The Wild West lives again", an allusion to the classic way of getting justice and to the vigilante spirit, thus anticipating Kersey's own transformation.

Noticed a few movie posters at the gun club and the only one I could make out clearly was for a movie called Pirates on Horseback. For the others, I call out "Help!"

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

dumb and dumb( h)er

Things have really gone black. Amisha Patel steps up to attack the role of a dumb girl for a new Baweja production. What really cracks me up is the last line: Amisha has started her training for her Dumb role. *Rolls down the dark spiral alley giggling hysterically*

usage pitfalls

The use of the word factoid on a blog post made me look up M-W. Blame it on a lurking suspicion that the usage was tricky. And the dictionary entry (reproduced below) sheds a spotlight on my darkest fears:

1 : an invented fact believed to be true because of its appearance in print
2 : a brief and usually trivial news item

Read those items carefully, and the most evident conclusion is that the intuitive meaning of factoid is counter-intuitive. Something described in a factoid ain't no (rule: eschew double negatives) little fact, it's a member of genus apocrypha; a potential urban legend. Definition (2) might give you some respite and leeway, but definition (1) is what you should use as a safeguard. Punning playwrights may find fodder here.

Monday, April 18, 2005

so... she's an anti-Terminator Terminator [april 16, 2005]

Two things were instrumental in Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines finding its place in my movie queue: the first was a newsgroup thread about how even the faithful "widescreen" version on DVDs often failed to match the theatrical version (and how the "fullscreen" version was a closer approximation) [this was a movie mentioned in that thread] (b) Sudarshan's comment that this movie had an ending that was superior to the endings of most sci-fi/fantasy flicks. I agree with (a) and (b). The ending definitely seems like the work of someone else, while the rets of the film is a tired compilation of clichés, action sequences that in themselves are wonderfully done, but fail to serve the global cause. And how much novelty can a variation on the popular quote offer (she'll be back). I'm not sure how making the Terminator a woman added to the plot (except from the POV of asset display). Some of F/X were so obviously fake I kept thinking of the first X-Men movie. The introduction of the flying machines in the opening was nicely done, IMHO. And there's a cute bit about John Connor dying in 2032 on the fourth of July (aka independence day). What is also very obvious is how the obvious references to the first two films (especially in terms of characters and the people playing them) are elided. You don't see Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) (conveniently, she's dead) although there are references to her; you don't see Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn) either. And I'm not sure if they even mentioned Cyberdyne. Brad Fiedel's familiar theme (abused in the Ghulam previews) appears only during the end credits. Aah well, hopefully the series has been laid to rest. A more intellectually satisfying version of this film definitely exists, and perhaps only market failure of the franchise might persuade someone to make a sequel with more artistic integrity and less emphasis on the box office.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

ripping off a rip-off or adding icing to a B-cake?

It was with great pride that I posted already my notes on the source for the latest Bhatt camp product Yakeen. And it's with even greater pleasure that I now post an addendum: this is a case of someone-else-has-been-there-and-done-that. Remember the Puru Raj Kumar flick called Uljhan? Well, it's the same damn source. I wish Bollywood would set up a rip-off guild so that you could register your rip-offs and keep them there (like titles) for a longer time, thus forcing other wannabes to seek fresher pastures.

Friday, April 15, 2005

2 google logos

On Sunday, Google celebrated National Library Week
Google celebrates National Library Week 2005.

Today, it's da Vinci's birthday. Flip his initials "LDV" to "DLV" and you get the Roman numeral for 555. Detergent or 5 nelsons, anyone?
Happy Birthday LDV 2005

Thursday, April 14, 2005

insan [april 04/05, 2005]

From director K. Subaash (who TF?) and producer Keshu Ramsay (representing the reoriented Ramsay Brothers production house) comes another welcome addition to the JaDe project. Insan is mostly a tired reminder of the assembly line flicks that inundated the 80s and 90s featuring communal discord, violence, murder, vengeance and pointless song and dance sequences. This film revisits that bygone era with renewed vigour and a "naaTak in generals" look that makes it look more like a sad production for DoorDarshan than a movie for the cinema hall (perhaps it was appropriate that I was watching a video tape!). Onward ho!

the characters and players: Ajay Devgan is Inspector Ajit Rathod, an enraged righteous inspector grieving the death of his skinny wife Sonali (played by the emaciated thong-thrashing Koena Mitra). Devgan gets to smoke cigarettes in his patent-pending style, behave like a clichéd patriot, indulge in a heart-rending flashback, and find a chance for second love with Lara Dutta's Meghana. The only thing we really know about Meghana is that by the time the climax is due, she is a TV journalist/reporter. Tusshar plays a struggling actor sick of star kids and their tantrums (the irony, the irony). For his efforts on the screen, he finds his foil in another struggling actress Laila. Akshay Kumar plays Amjad, a fast-talking wise-cracking rickshaw driver. Akki is the only one who makes good in this enterprise. Lacking any measured acting abilities, he simply lets his lines gush at the speed of silver lightning with a now-trademark style; and somehow it works (which only indicates how sorry this whole affair really is). The object of his affections is Henna, played by the scarecrow Esha Deol. Rahul Dev plays the villain of the piece, Azhar Khan, Amjad's disillusioned-now-sociopathic brother.
Also on the roster playing parts that are barely written out even in the basic form, or parts that have been done to death are the late Laxmikant Berde as Laxman, Archana Puran Singh and Sharat Saxena as Henna's parents, Asrani as a director, Vivek Vaswani as a lecherous movie producer, Viju Khote in a short uncredited appearance, Mac Mohan as the short-lived Parvez, Beena as Amjad's mother, Himani Shivpuri as Laila's aunt. The award goes to this dude (whose name I didn't catch) who plays Masoud Ali (Azhar's comrade, now in prison) �- this guy uses a Sanjeev Kumar imitation to deliver his lines.

the song and dance: Himesh Reshammiya delivers yet another disgustingly cheap-catchy tune with chunarii re. Dude, don't you have any other way of getting a dance number out? The other songs in the film give the various players a chance to shake a leg (or in the case of Koena Mitra, shake everything in a distributed fashion). kuchh garamii kuchh sardii (rain rain rain) makes its way to the bad lyrics bank (see also: on the roof in the rain), and despite the lyrical references, fails to fulfil the need for a rain song. Fake sets abound in jab se (rabbaa) (as well as during the climax) and is tarah diiwaane features Koena Mitra's jiggle-a-thon.

classic sequences: patriotism: Ajit Rathod arrives at Masoud's cell at night. Masoud has said a lot earlier in the day, and the presence of his superiors had forced Rathod to stay silent. He has now come to proffer his response. He gets Havaldar Ram Singh to hold up a tricolour (one of those kiddie versions), gets Havaldar Bashir Ali to hold up a printout(?) in Urdu of a précis (it would appear) of the Indian national anthem and then gets Masoud to recite it and then salute the flag. While this tasteless, brain-dead and pointless, I wonder why none of those political organizations concerned about national pride had anything to say about this.

classic sequences: torture: This sequence is enough to make the film worth the watch.

Here's the set-up. Masoud has just been captured. He is sitting on a chair near the centre of a room. The only other people in the room are Rathod (Devgan) and his associate. An interrogation is in progress, and Masoud is not talking. Rathod now steps in to guarantee results (taking generous stylish drags of his cigarette).

Rathod: tumane kabhii ##carrom## khelaa hai? ... (at this point, he realizes that perhaps the game was banned in the place that Masoud came from) dekhaa to hogaa. kabhii kabhii ##right side## kii goTii ko nishaanaa lagaane ke liye ##striker## ko ##left side## se maaranaa pa.Dataa hai. ise ##ricotiation## kahate hai.n. (note: the actual word, in case you were wondering, is ricochet)

Rathod then proceeds to demonstrate by firing at the plate on the front of a cell door. After a splash (cheap CGI) of light, the bullet rebounds (mercifully this is hinted at using sound) to knock off a soda can strategically placed there at the beginning of the scene.

Rathod: ye ittefaaq nahii.n tha. ##wasn't a fluke##. phir dekhanaa.

Rathod proceeds to demonstrate again. This time the victim of the bullet is on the other side. He then slowly brings his face closer to Masoud's.

Rathod: mai.n jaan gayaa huu.N ki tum jaan gaye ho ki mai.n achchhii tarah jaanataa huu.N ki ab mujhe golii kahaa.N chalaanii hai aur tumhe.n kahaa.N lagegii. ye ##incident## nahii.n ##accident## hogaa.

other lines of dialogue: The film gets an 'A' certificate, and perhaps that is enough to explain the use of the word Tharakii. And there's a moment when Avinash (Tusshar) gets his family jewels kicked and Amjad notes avinaash, tere akroT gaye. And we have Pakistani terrorists played by extras who can't speak Urdu to save their lives.

contributions to history: Lashkar-e-Jihad is the terrorist group that Azhar and Masoud belong to. At one point, a reference is made to the Gujarat riots and credit is claimed for the September 11, 2001 disaster in the USA.

miscellany Notice the product placement for Pepsi. The prisoner's outfit that Avinash (Tusshar) dons at one point in the film bears the number 420. Titles of fake movies include Krantikari and Mughal-e-Azam: the Love Story 2005. Before the end credits roll, a few words pop up on screen: The world is my country. All mankind are my brethren. And to do good is my religion. After all there is but one race -- humanity. Should we begin to address the fact that mankind is a singular collective?

trivia: Apparently, this is a remake of a Telugu film called khadgam directed by Krishna Vamsi. Vamsi, married to Ramya Krishna, has one Hindi film to his credit, Shakti � the Power, an adaptation of his Telugu flick Anthapuram, which in turn merrily lifted material from Not Without My Daughter. Another remake raajaa?

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

yet another rambunctious ripoff

The Bhatt camp is back. Vikram Bhatt gets screenplay credit. The directorial reins fall in the hands of Girish Dhamija, a regular Bhatt camp contributor to script, screenplay, and dialogue. The film is called Yakeen (now if only Priyanka Chopra would do good on the promise in that pose on the poster ...). And the source (*trumpets*) is a 1991 Wolfgang Petersen film called Shattered. Tom Berenger's Dan Merrick becomes Arjun Rampal's Nikhil Oberoi, Greta Scacchi's Judith Merrick becomes Priyanka Chopra's Simar. Oh boy!

Irony and coincidence: Guess what? According to IMDB, Shattered was referenced in the American version of The Ring (it's one of several video tapes seen on a shelf); and I just blogged about that whole cycle of films in a previous post about another forthcoming ripoff, Naina.

recent revivals

A few posts just went online after languishing as drafts for a relatively short while: being notes on danav, dawn of the dead, sutradhar, jackie brown, out of time, return of the living dead 3 and autumn sonata.
the rediff poop-fest continues...

You would think that with the piecemeal interview (not sure how many printable pages it comes out to because their "Print this article" hyperlink opens up a small browser window that proclaims "Can't contact servlet runner at") with Kamal Haasan about Mumbai Xpress [link to article], the Rediff folks would refrain from tripping the line fantastic between fact and fiction when it came to choosing a header. 'Mumbai Xpress is better than Munnabhai!' it screams. Read through the article and you will find no proof that KH ever said this. The only time he references that over-rated treacly headache is in the following fragment (with some colour coding to help you see what I am talking about):

How does this compare to recent quality comedy fare, like, say, a Munnabhai MBBS?
It's way different. You'll see. The performances are far superior. I mean, I did the remake down South, Vasool Raja MBBS, and I still feel Munnabhai is a much superior version.
But what I feel is that it's hard to get a performance when everybody does so well. Boman Irani is such a fabulous actor that if he does anything less than excellent, the audience will lynch him. So, leaving him out, if you look at Mumbai Xpress, the performances are unanimously far superior.

Monday, April 11, 2005

ICMS 2005: ustad zakir hussain and pandit shiv kumar sharma [april 10, 2005]

The big bang to begin the year for the Indian Classical Music Society of Greater Atlanta. The venue: Glenn Memorial Auditorium at Emory. Everything I feared came to pass. The audience (who clearly were drawn by the name "zakir hussain" than by "shiv kumar sharma") was chock-full of people who had nary a clue about hindustani classical music. And I don't mean formal knowledge. I mean a basic awareness as a fairly regular listener (check out a regular low-profile ICMS concert event and you'll know the rasiks I'm talking about). Which meant a lot of waah-waah and clapping at the wrong moments. Performers rely on audience reactions to fuel their improvisational urges and creativity and I saw nothing positive propagating to the stage. Add to that, an ineffectual sound system that made the place feel like the Echo Lounge on a break. Consequently, I came away knowing what I already knew: these were two great performers who deserved all the praise showered on them for talking their vocations to new heights. Aside from that, I was neither impressed with the performance (I could get much better from a CD at home) nor with the set-up. The goals of ICMS were probably served well (getting their name out to more people, gathering funds to support future concerts), but I don't think they attracted too many musically keen listeners. Only subsequent concerts will either confirm or refute the success of this endeavour. Unfortunately for me, I'd rather have higher-quality performances by talented people with a much lower profile (almost everything that I've been privileged to experience thanks to ICMS has been thus). Call me a snob, call me a critic of the mainstream. Here's my spin as a consumer: I paid my $$s too, and I didn't get my money's worth.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

X2: better than the first [april 08/09, 2005]

Bryan Singer makes up for most of the SFX damage in the first part with this redeeming and far better sequel that has a lot in common with Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (add to that (a) the connection Patrick Stewart has with the Trek universe, and (b) the presence of a cast member called James Kirk (as Ronay Drake), and you may take a moment to get your breath back). HINT: the opening and closing voiceovers and a third-act plot point (spoiler!). Smart viewers will note the importance of T. H. White's The Once and Future King. Two sequences I liked were: (a) Senator Kelly changing into Yuriko (eventually Mystique) while walking past pillars (a nice use of edits?) (b) the low angle shot of the base of the drugged beer glass (a similar shot occurs later for a fridge interior). Also liked the (ab)use of N'Sync's Bye, bye, bye.

I'd love to go back and read more of the X-Men comics. If only for the undercurrent of alienation, McCarthy-ism, and a desire to belong. Who said comics were supposed to be mindless entertainment anyway?

Friday, April 08, 2005

w(h)ither english ?

There is a small tidbit running about in syndicated form on several desi entertainment portals about Urmila's next movie Naina (Let's ignore the reasons why I keep thinking about Blink). The text seems like the product of linguistically challenged forms of life. Take the title: Urmila plays a blind in Naina. A blind what?? Aardvark? Rhinoceros? Pseudopodium? And then near the end we have another eery thriller. A simple tree-killing or electronic dictionary would have helped. Or even using a component in a very popular word processing package from the M-zone. Hope there are no typos in this post, though.

Aha! Bollywood decides to follow in the footsteps of major Hollywood steps along another avenue: remaking Asian flicks. What started with The Ring [the cycle of the films] (let's not even begin to discuss blocking the theatrical release of the original, releasing the US remake, and then unblocking the original), continued with its sequel. While the Urmila starrer prepares to hit theatres, it draws attention to the original, a film called The Eye. A US remake is already in the works. Let's see who gets to the finish line first. Incidentally, even though it took me some googling to get my answer, I should have just gone down the straight road. The IMDB page for Naina provides a link to the original in the movie connections page. As if that weren't enough, it turns out that the guys responsible for the original, the Pang brothers, were editors on Infernal Affairs.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

typo ... intentional? [RIP: Saul Bellow]

There's a Financial Times feature today titled Inventer of a American language. Is that typo ("Inventer" instead of "Inventor") intentional given the complete title or just a big gaffe that adds some unintentional irony?

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

fragments of memory: from the recent trip to India [being mostly a collection of movie memories]

* Qayamat se Qayamat Tak: So many movies of late have been quoting Sholay. Perhaps that made me sit up for a short sequence in QSQT, when Aamir Khan and Raj Zutshi riding a motorcycle approach (frame-right) a storyteller (frame-left) at the foot of a tree. Echoes of the Soorma Bhopali encounter?

* Sajan: A lesser flick starring the ever-clueless Asha Parekh and the morbidly serious Manoj Kumar. The film boasts yet another early appearance by the Shotgun himself (as Inspector Tiwari), as well as a trait in some of these oldies of casting local talent [sic] (presumably in the family friend circle) in aggravating supporting roles (the role in question is Mrs. Gidwani). Om Prakash's character spouts a lot of shuddh Hindi (see also: Chupke Chupke), and even snags a meritorious line like tum ho ##Queen## mai.n huu.N ##King## / kyaa banogii ##Darling##

* The second obscure Rani Mukherjee vehicle Mehndi deserves an honorary (without examination) induction into the JaDe project

* Tahalka: Another JaDe project nominee (including a special mention for Anil Sharma). One of the cool motifs includes the salutation bom chik bom bom / long live Dong!.

* Kya Yahi Pyar Hai: This film might be remembered solely for casting Jackie Shroff as Aftab Shivdasani's elder brother. Also featuring Ashish Vidyarthi hamming gloriously as Raj Patil Raja ("raajaa ko prajaa kabhii dhokaa nahii.n de sakatii"). Product placements include Philips and Tips. Also noted is Aftab's character's birthday (February 29).

* Mujrim: Classic, mainstream Mithun, featuring Nutan as his distraught, hard-on-luck, widowed mother who has to support her children (Mithun and his sister played by Pallavi Joshi) while sticking to the path of righteousness. Featuring Madhuri Dixit as the Bengal Tiger's co-star. Music director Annu Malik provides a score that deserves to be cultified: From composing and warbling boom boom shakalakalaka boom (and filching the riff from Stevie Wonder's Part Time Lover for the musical interludes) to raat ke baarah baje to the obligatory devotional daataa pyaar de, which filches va.nde maataram, to the plaintive title song, to the "bad lyrics" candidate kuka.Duu kuu picturised on Madhuri Dixit. Also features Tej Sapru paraphrasing Mirza Ghalib (ba.De be\-aabaruu hokar tere kuuche se ham nikale).

* Sanyasi Mera Naam: Another Mithun classic. Echoes of the Rajesh Khanna starrer Dushman [correction: thanks to Harish for pointing out that it's Roti and not Dushman] (and perhaps even the sober Kinara): Mithun's character bumps off a guy, only to later run into his parents (and find out later that the dead dude was their son and sahaaraa). He then goes through a change of heart and proceeds to wage a battle against the forces of corruption afflicting the village. This is probably the first film to inform us that Yamaraaj has a cell-phone (although the number is not revealed). Featuring Mohan Joshi as Trikaal (trikaal kaa kaal mahaakaal) and some innovative acts of humiliation effected by the Bengal tiger (including a slap-fest at a canvassing rally). Recommended.

* Diljala: Stars Jackie Shroff (doing the also-seen-in-Hero transition from clean-shaven-no-moustache to bearded-with-headband), Danny, Rajesh Patel, Annu Kapoor, Tanuja. Featuring a legendary fake phone number (4209211) [chaar sau biis nau do gyaarah] and a fake address to boot [pa.nch maar ko.Daa, badalaa nagar pulis sTeshan. The songs tuned by Bappi Lahiri include jaa.N tan se tan jaa.N se.

* Main Khiladi Tu Anari: Much has already been said about this, but repeated watching cements the memory of gems like tum ek ##inspector## nahii.n, tum ek jhuuThe ##character## ho.

* Police Officer: A trademark "produced by Salim" movie. This one's opening sequence involves Aruna Irani delivering twins in a hospital on a rainy stormy night (sure!) while her husband (Tinnu Anand in a special appearance credited only after his character has been bumped off) is viciously murdered downstairs outside. The twins grow to be Ram and Kishen, Jackie Shroff and Jackie Shroff respectively. One of them has eyes of a different colour (thus promising us scenes of confusion, obfuscation, substitution and confrontation). Ram gets bumped off by his father-in-law (Ajit) and then Kishen reappears to proxy while attempting to find out who the murderer was (and Ajit's character spends a lot of time analyzing this puzzle). Ajit's character also gets to mouth if you want to shoot, shoot, don't talk. The film also features a Hamlet-esque Mousetrap moment when a play is staged to accuse the chief guests of murder.

Elsewhere, in unrelated business, my PIFF 2005 rant finally sees the light of day ...

Monday, April 04, 2005

bombay: the nostalgia of gyan prakash [sunday, april 03, 2005]

This is one of those randomly different ways to spend a Sunday evening. Attend a humanities lecture (with a suspicious whiff of the history of town planning) at Emory University. The speaker: Gyan Prakash. The topic: the city of Bombay. To be precise: The Modern City in Ruins: The Memory of Cosmopolitan Bombay. If you thought that this would offer insight into the rich factors that influenced the city of Bombay (Mumbai for the SS followers) as it stands today, as did friend who convinced me to tag along (and who also has been responsible for my growing interest in town and city planning), you were mistaken. All this talk amounted to was a nostalgic journey peppered with interesting phrases(Dude! This guy is from the humanities folk; they know how to weave complex tapestries of words) and some nice humour. The piece de resistance for me was the food treat at the end of the talk. Hogged on the samosas and the free soda. And thanks to his name-dropping, I've begun to read some Rohinton Mistry (Family Matters).
The downside of coming off junk was I knew I would need to mix with my friends again in a state of full consciousness. It was awful. They reminded me so much of myself, I could hardly bear to look at them. [april 02/03, 2005]

Wow! Compelling, oddball, eccentric, frenetic, manic. All these and more. That's how I'd describe Danny Boyle's adaptation of Irving Welsh's novel Trainspotting. This film feels like Fincher's adaptation of Pahlaniuk's novel in the amount of visualization employed (checked out the obvious trip sequence, the not-so-obvious framing and tracking that elevates seemingly simple sequences). And then there's the soundtrack too. Peter Mullan ("Mother Superior") was also in Session 9. Also noted: the explicit references to Sean Connery, a poster of Robert De Niro from Taxi Driver, and the inundating crash course in slang.
my brother nikhil [april 02, 2005] {official site}

The most tragic aspect of watching this honestly made tale boasting great performances was the quality of the DVD. Bad mastering, and questionable mix quality. Pity. Other fatuous mainstream fare somehow gets better treatment. Ignore that, and you have a good directorial dé from Onir, and a calm tale that reminds you (simply because of it s content) of Philadelphia (and its Indian cousin Phir Milenge). And Viveck Philip's sole melody in the film is a gem. The song le chale (in three different versions by Shaan, K K, and Sunidhi Chauhan respectively; there's also a version with English lyrics strung onto the melody on the soundtrack) is one of the best songs of the year. Keep 'em coming.
glen miller, shirley jackson and some nightmarish interior design {march 31, 2005 / april 01, 2005}

With Rose Red Stephen King got another shot at exercising his writing in the medium probably best suited for adapting his works -- the small screen. The mini-series has always afforded King's works a better chance at breathing and growing on viewers that the movies have. King's rich descriptions and characterisation are a strong hurdle for any screenplay adaptation. He manages to overcome the lack of the visual aspect of the written word so well that when it comes to adapting his stuff to the screen, screenplay writers are faced with the challenge of coming up with something even more visually striking. Add to that a rich pool of clichés in the genre, and we have an insurmountable problem of coming up with a new way to send a jolt up your spine.

This mini-series has King exploring a familiar icon in the horror genre -- the haunted house. Correction: the evil house. The strongest influence would be Shirley Jackson. The Haunting of Hill House, in fact, is an influence that King refers to in numerous interviews. (As an aside, I'd recommend The Haunting, a creepy experience that works on the Tournier-tested principle "that which we don't see scares us more"). But noting the Shirley Jackson influence won't get you any points, because the dialogue is peppered with explicit references (Shirley Jackson was right; some houses are born bad).

So we're treated to a bunch of rather unsavoury characters distinguished only by the focus of supernatural attentions -- the equivalent of Danny in The Shining, if you will. She loves listening to Glen Miller and so you're treated to a lot of big band jazz. The mansion's filled with several interesting rooms boasting interesting deceptive designs and miscellaneous evil vibes. However, everything else is strictly cheesy and headed downhill. Every character is a recognisable stereotype, there's a "People Proximity Counter" that keeps running through some integers of little to no consequence. The trade-offs in quality for filling out the length of a miniseries are evident: why else would Joyce Reardon choose to ignore the vastly more entertaining psychic demonstrations of Annie Wheaton and focus instead on a house that seems less inclined to provide demonstrations to guarantee her tenure. Imagine watching something like this in real-time with commercials on television. Now, that's horrifying.

Friday, April 01, 2005

april fool's day 2005

While Google Gulp will reign high, our own Bollywood comes up with the best one this year: Priyanka Chopra, in an interview, notes "They've started seeing me as an actress rather than a glam doll". Other tidbits include "I'm very grateful that I was accepted as an actor rather than a man-eater", "There are two categories of actors. The trained ones like Karisma and the untrained ones like Kajol. And they're both equally competent. I don't know where I belong", "This year I'm working in just two to three films. I want to focus on one film at a time" and "To be a singer. That's my first love. Everyone thinks "Tinka tinka" in "Karam" is sung by me. Alisha sounds so much like me. I used to be a big fan of hers. And today she has sung for me".
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