Monday, November 28, 2005

Quixtar and Amway

My first exposure to this menace of Egyptian proportions came while I was at graduate school (officially graduated, but still not quite gainfully employed) here in the US of A. It started with a vague description from an Indian student who had worked with me as part of a research group, had graduated, and left town, but was back for a few days to visit. This was when I (having little other pressing activities) decided to go ahead and see what this vague "independent business" was all about. The traditional signs were manifest. This guy's "mentor" (another Indian) gave us the usual gaseous drivel about "retiring young", "legally making more money with less effort" and such. Selling the clichéd version of the American Dream. Now, I hadn't heard about either (honest). In retrospect, I wonder how I could have forgotten the big Amway office on the Bombay-Pune highway. But then, I wasn't terrorised back home by these money-hungry types. The presentation ended with most attendees (few that they were) not evincing too much interest. The prevalent mood seemed to be a mix of skepticism and doubt. Mercifully, things didn't go beyond this thanks to my inertia and general inaccessibility.

Flash-forward two years. I'm in Wal*Mart with friends. We'd all moved, and were stocking up for our respective new abodes. A guy accosted me in one of the aisles (paradoxically, I think this was the aisle where you found trash cans and the like). The usual introductions were exchanged. The notes about my name and where I might come from followed. I have to take some pride in sending this guy's assumptions for a toss thanks to the fact that my birth place (as indicated by my full name) was not the place I was "from" (the place of my schooling). The encounter was terminated with him giving me his business card.

Flash-forward to about a month or so later. I'm back in the same Wal*Mart. Same store, different people accompanying me. I see this guy approaching, and knowing what to expect, manage to make myself socially invisible. My roommate isn't so lucky, and ends up getting another business card. Being a nice guy, he also gives the guy our phone number. Being a reticent and guy, he proves to be inadequate as a prospective victim. A phone call arrives, inevitably, a few days later. But my roommate adroitly handles the situation and terminates further communication by expressing as much interest as a vegan would in a T-bone steak.

Flash-forward to January 2005. I'm back home in desiiland, out at dinner with a childhood friend. While catching up on what we've been up to since we last saw each other (roughly around the time I boarded my first flight out to Social Security land), he mentions that he and his wife have joined the Amway way of business, and he's looking forward to the possibilities. I'm shocked. I can't see how this friend, for what I know him to be, could make such a decision. That disappointment aside, he doesn't try to sell me on the idea. He doesn't try to turn this catch-up dinner into a mini-marketing fest. I note my aversion to all things Q and A. And we move on to other topics. I'm still rankled by the news, but I give him loads of points for "knowing" me and not trying to push his luck. Or was it because he knew I was not going to around in town for long and would thus fail to be a prospective multi-level marketing ally?

Flash-forward to about a week ago. Different roommates. Different location. We're now in the Indian store. I'm picking some B-movies to update our cache of movies. We're conversing in Marathi. A voice asks if we're Marathi speakers. We turn around. I recognise the guy. A peer from another department in my undergraduate days. And a fairly well-known guy too, especially given his success on both the academic front and on the extra-curricular front. It's great to see a familiar face from the past, and we're chatting for a good 20 minutes or more. A phone number is provided from our end so that we can get together some time, especially since he's new to this place (moved about 2 months ago or so), and some old acquaintances will always help. Yesterday, he calls. He'd like to come over today evening some time. Nothing strange about all this ... except he then drops the dreaded phrase "independent venture business." I give him the benefit of the doubt by not jumping to conclusions that this might be another Q* spiel. After all, I'd credit this guy with some basic common sense to see the thing for the sham it is. Yet, my suspicions are confirmed. My worst fears realised. Direct persistent questions are enough to inveigle the information. And I have to do something unfortunate. I have to politely caution him against even mentioning this should he still choose to pay us a visit. I have to tell him that no one in our apartment agrees with the Q* philosophy. And no, we don't think that simply answering "yes" to the question "Wouldn't you like to make more money?" means that we're gullible ninnyhammers ready to get sucked into an Egyptian sarcophagus. Irony: A re-run of The Mummy is playing on some cable channel.

In an IM conversation today, JR is reminded of an old post of Hirak's on the same issue. I manage to dig it up and the shock factor goes up. It's the same guy. Now, I don't think I harbour any remorse at what I did yesterday. I feel exploited (you meet me after all these years, and the first thing you think of is trying to snag me into some chicken-poop money-making scheme?), and that's a very good reason for me to stay away.

at the risk of being redundant, here's how/why Amway and the like suck

Sunday, November 27, 2005

the peak of pointlessness

I'm convinced that the cream of our marketing talent finds gainful employment in Bollywood. Writing gaseous movie preview copy. Consider the "character sketches" provided for John Matthew Matthan's next venture Shikhar. We have peaks of ambition, idealism, conflict, deceit and devotion. And some nonsense about wine, women and wealth. Buried therein seems to be a conflict of environmental concern. And perhaps even a love triangle. And if you think the previews are going to give you some idea about what the film's about, perish the thought. The online preview merely provides a fragment from a jaded dance video for one of the songs on Viju Shah's soundtrack. How exciting. Clearly the people responsible for the character assassination and the people associated with producing previews were not on the same page. Or is the same peak? Time to jump off. Standing in line to pay your electricity bill seems more exciting.

As keen followers of movie naamakaraN ceremonies will know, Shikhar's moved from first being the moniker for a Ghai film starring Jackie Shroff with mijhik by A R Rahman (ishq binaa kyaa resurfaced on the Taal soundtrack). Then it reportedly landed in RGV's lap (although YT knows little else about this). Finally, JMM gets to use the name for his star vehicle.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

old Factory notes about uxoricide [sep 18, 2005]

The problem with My Wife's Murder is nothing really happens. While debutante director Jijy Philip is supported in his steady efforts by an eager cast, there's a prevailing sense that there's some payoff at the end (and there isn't). Can't quite put my finger on it, though. All other departments function in the well-oiled fashion typical of RGV/Factory products. Anil Kapoor manages a great match between looks and a sincere portrayal of a husband tossed into a whirpool of confusion and remaining dangerously unperturbed on the outside. Suchitra Krishnamurthy makes a great corpse. Nandana Sen's performance eerily straddles a thin line between a ham sandwich and muster. The background score works for the most part. Boman Irani does his bit, although you get a strong sense that his take on the character belongs more in a Buñuel opus than here.

This isn't to say that the film's a tank like Vaastu Shastra. Call it my soft corner for RGV and his camp. I still think it's a fairly bold attempt at shaking mainstream audiences out of their formula-induced stupor. RGV's already eschewed all song-and-dance. And there's an emphasis on tightness in the different technical departments. Now we have this film, which refuses to yield to the temptation to spike its narrative with a few (clearly unnecessary) thrills. This modest effort thus works best as a challenge to the off-the-shelf component-based film production that seems rife in Bollywood today: Everything's a cliché everything induces a strong stench of déjà vu. All variations from the norm are coated in conventional foil (side-effect: any useful impact is dulled to the level of mashed potatoes without gravy). Hats off to RGV, even though I now wish the makers had (a) either retained the original ending of Madhyanam Hatya (could someone tell me who actually directed it? JDC or RGV?) (b) or gone ahead with the Galti Se/Jaan Boojh Ke experiment.

There are a few nice details evident in the film. There's the obvious irony (made even more obvious by a remark by Boman's character later on in the film) that a film editor manages to "edit" his wife out of his life.

Obvious excisions: the flashback montage when Ravi (Kapoor) tells Reena (Sen) the truth. A little more tightness in other sequences might have made this a leaner (and arguably better) effort.

Movie quote: The Boman subtext in the film seems to have come straight out of Hitchcock's Frenzy, where Chief Inspector Oxford tries (often in vain) to survive being a guinea pig for his wife's cooking experiments.

And that was all YT had to say about a film about nothing (which might disappoint people expecting a "thriller").

Question: Is it possible for the cops to have caught up with the bus?

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

mass mediocrity III: dream warriors [and this is how you get here]

The third edition in Rediff's change-the-ending game is a mixed bag featuring some nifty twisters but a lot more members of the "I don't really get it, I just want a happy ending" club. Time to change the ending of Titanic or even Gibson's brutal paean to Golgotha.

Monday, November 21, 2005

returns summer 2006 [Superman, that is]

The preview's out [mov link]. First good signs: it's just as sober about the red-underwear-outside-blue-tights super hero as the preview for Batman Begins was (not surprising since Bryan Singer chose to adopt the toned-down sober feel of Nolan's film). Anthony Hopkins, scheduled to play Jor-El, had followed Brett Ratner on his way out. I almost thought that was his voice (it's Brando's) accompanying the preview. And there's also a chance to catch the original score. And there's reportedly even more homage in the film. Should be fun. Time to bone up on the Reeves canon (even if it means watching the last two entries, which were mostly DOA).
kudos to sony [link courtesy: Amogh]

For being backward compatible.

How else can one explain that the workaround for their recent rootkit/DRM solution sounds so much like what you had to do to counter their first expensive dumb DRM solution?

Here's a nice comparison of the two smart[sic] DRM strategies from everyone's favourite entertainment company ... {link courtesy: Boing Boing}


While Mimoh's all set to make tracks in films, there's more news about him and his other siblings waiting in the wings.

There's 18 year-old Rimoh (real name: Ushmey) all set to hit NYFA for a course in directing

Then there's 13 year-old brother, Namoshi, who wants to become an actor

And an 8 year old sister, Dishani, who wants to be a model

The coolest thing about all this is Mithun's attitude: Having made it the hard way, he wants his kids to do the same. No luxury road to success. Now if only some other parents had been so smart. We wouldn't have the likes of Fardeen Khan, Esha Deol, K* Kapoor, ... usw.

mass mediocrity II: how much sugar would you like in your hot sauce? {where we came from}

Rediff's sequel to their movie endings that readers would like to change page begins on a promising note: someone wants to change Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar's predictable upbeat encouraging ending to a downbeat ending one would associate with what most film viewers term as "art cinema": The end would be that Aamir Khan loses the race and becomes disillusioned with cycling. He feels that in spite of his hard work, nothing happened. He completes his schooling, and since he is good at nothing, he opens a cycle shop. I kinda like this ending, but it doesn't fit with everything the rest of the film was set up for. The film wasn't meant to be a peek into a life of jealousy, competition and defeat. It was supposed to be Breaking Away with songs, oomph and miscellaneous Bollywood spices, despite which it still managed to remain an above-average product (if only because there wasn't any of that dog/blood vegeance and vituperation). The rest of that note takes the film to new frontiers. Literally. It now enters Rocky territory: He hates cycles but still he does it to earn a living. By then, he gets married to Ayesha Jhulka. Then one day, a polio-affected student comes to buy a cycle from his shop, and he sees the harship the kid goes through to learn cycling. He gets inspired by this, and decides to become a champion racer. To add drama, we could make his wife pregnant during the big race. He becomes a champion by winning the Tour de France where Deepak Tijori (his old rival) is also competing!.

Most of the rest of the results hold up to the promise of this initial offering. This is promising. Keep 'em coming. Like that last one on Dhoom. Yes, Point Break was definitely on their minds, but only through its rip-off The Fast and the Furious. The Reeves starrer had more shades than an average blow-'em-up brain-dead chicks-and-wheels noisy action flick that the latter was. But both enjoyed open-ended endings. Who knows, John Abraham probably survived to dish out more pizza. In more ways than one. What a scary thought.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

michael jackson + mohd. ali: coming soon

Although late in the making, this post must see the light purely in the spirit of things. YT cannot resist making it public that YT is aware of the happenings (was there any doubt?). Here's da juice.

Mo(a?)hakshay, s/o of Mithun Chakraborty and Yogita Bali aka Mimoh (that's MIchael jackson + MOHammed ali), is all set to make his debut on screen. Current visual profiles confirm a strong likeness to the long-haired avataar of Brad Pitt. Only just. Probably came from the Yogita Bali side of the gene pool.
There is no confirmation on his first film; there have been several contenders/rumours

*[early on] in his father's production (typical Bollywood style; probably just as well that he didn't go down this path)

*a movie produced by Venus and directed by Vikram Bhatt

*a movie directed by Deepak Sarin (remember Aaina, Jab Pyar Kisise Hota Hai [the salman khan version] and Albela [the govinda version]?) and starring Sneha "I look just as dumb as Aishwarya" Ullal (last seen in that unlucky movie with plenty of time to bore us out of our wits). Shooting is supposed to start in January, but there are already rumours of funding problems (a common question running around being "ye diipak sariin kaun hai?")

*Then there's the latest, a remake of a Telugu flick called
Athanokkade produced by G V Prasad with music by catchy-jingle-bad-lyrics master Himesh Reshammiya. Shooting starts in December.

That last item looks like the most likely candidate to hit the marquee first.

In the meantime, all we can do is wait and watch (I recommend Gautam Govinda -- not the Ghai flick but the delicacy embellished with aii-dacious dialogues, rib-tickling lyrics, pointless scenes, infallibly impossible logic, and more)

Friday, November 18, 2005

mass mediocrity

i should vow never to hope for a victory for the discerning mainsteam (is that a contradiction in terms?) Bollywood audience. Rediff recently asked readers "which film's ending would you change?" The results are depressing (even though the ending is still one of Bollywood's biggest problems -- aside from the more common desire to cast lookers instead of actors in screen-hogging parts). Some of the responses are arguably reactions you would expect based on endings designed for impact (Ek Duje Ke Liye, Tere Naam). But, in general, it's rather depressing that all people (as represented by responses in this survey) go to the theatres to see "happy endings" No wonder Bollywood filmmakers[sic] are hell-bent on filling the space between the opening titles and the "ending" with tripe galore, filching plot points and techno-gimmickry merrily from all over the place.

addendum: In an IM exchange with JR points me another nugget on the page. The reader says "I wish Rajesh Khanna had survived in Anand" You frigging retard! The film's name was meant to serve as ironic counterpoint for the fact that Anand Sehgal, born in October, was terminally ill and yet managed to summon more joie [thanks for noting the dropped-E Abhishek] de vivre than your 10 pushte.n you puTTan!

Thursday, November 17, 2005

MadwyfSetsFyr2Haus:textually yours [ref: vivek]
Damn! Looks like Hirak beat me to it; so I'll just direct you there for some Shakespeare-to-text-message conversions... John Sutherland seemed to have nursed some reservations about text messaging earlier ...
neal 'n' nikki: time to outsource our lyrics {other illustrious entries}

neal n nikki
After the "success" of Salaam Namaste (the film and the soundtrack), Yash Raj Films have decided to ride this hobby horse to the ground with their home-grown take on this currently successful piece of high concept. And the people behind the background score, Salim-Sulaiman, who made their mainstream music-directorial splash with Kaal (great for the ears, bad for the eyes), are roped in to do the hip honours. Someone called Anvita Dutt Guptan (watch that name; after the YRF publicity machinery is done inundating your senses and milieu with this film and all things associated, you will remember it well) gets to pen the lyrics. While S&S produce a reliable mix of sounds, it doesn't make as much of a splash as Kaal. And the terrible lyrics that draw attention to themselves are to blame, in all likelihood.

You know things are bad as soon as you take a look at the CD. Thought bubbles decorate a shot of Uday Chopra (fat arms, puny head, no talent) and Tanisha Mukherjee (is that how you spell it? With numerology and personal preferences, I'm lost) [who was one of the weak links in Sarkar and also played a character called Mehak {iTrans-pron: mahak} in that stinker (pun away) called S4H3...]. The gal's (that's Tanisha, FYI) thought bubble reads "Yuck! Puke! Tum Aur Main! Kabhi Nahin! You're A Jerk!" UC's bubble goes "Really! So Why Are You Giving Me That Come-On-Baby-Rock-My-World Look?" See, the use baby confuses me as far as UC is concerned. I'm sure the screenplay[sic] will make sure. The designated director for this piece of corn, BTW, is a dude by the name of Arjun Sablok (wouldn't be surprised if he had something to do with the famous[sic] Sablok Clinic in Delhi), who was responsible for a piece of long-drawn tripe called Na Tum Jano Na Hum.

The tracks begin to play. A sample of the lyrics from the surefire hit title song (which, in order to guarantee appeal, even quotes the riff from DDLJ's tujhe dekhaa to ye jaanaa in post-modern agony) voiced by K K and Shweta Pandit with generous inputs from the lead pair.

mai.n shaayad chaar saal kaa thaa
jab mujhe pahalii baar pyaar huaa
usane mujhe dekhaa mai.nne use dekhaa
ham dono.n me.n iqaraar huaa
mai.n tab bhii kitanaa ##cool## thaa
jitanaa mai.n aaj huu.N
mai.n tab bhii ##super-cool## thaa
jaise mai.n aaj huu.N

female chorus: neal neal neal neal

##i'm the neal i'm the man rock star super star## (2)
o k ... so what about you? what's your story, girl?

well, mai.n to yuu.N dil de baiThii
jaane binaa mai.n pyaar kar baiThii
##i was nine## mai.nne use ##TV## pe dekhaa
##george michael## usakaa naam thaa

oh! that singer??! he's gay.
you know he (pause) swings the other way



um mai.n bahut chhoTii thii (pause) and anyways ...

##i knew## meraa shahazaadaa gho.De pe aayegaa
kaano.n me.n dhiire se wo yuu.N gunagunaayegaa

male chorus: nikki nikki nikki

she: yo!

female chorus/she:
##nikki bakshi sweet n' sexy full-on rocking hot an' happening## (2)


##two ones are two, two twos are four## ...

Go get yourself a copy and check out the rest of it while I LMAO.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

secrets revealed: why bollywood continues to churn out brain-dead crap and why people with talent comparable to roasted thermocol end up being stars and "actors"

With Ek Khiladi Ek Haseena about to smack the marquee in the face soon, Rediff sponsors a Koena Mitra fan chat. Background: Koena Mitra is the wiggler with the highest frequency and highest coefficient of emaciation (see also: Musafir). The chat transcript provides some insight into the kind of people who actually pack the cinema halls, avidly surf the Internet, read Rediff regularly (and inundate articles with their comments), and who ultimately provide the grist for the mill of all that guano our producers keep churning out. A few samples (all answers provided by Koena Mitra):

A: :-) My brains!!

Q: Whom from have u got ur motivation 2 b a super model? Who is ur inspiration?
A: Arjun Rampal

And for those who wonder where she got that Brazilian sass in the ***:

Q: Koena since you are a model from where u learnt ur dancing skills for films
A: From Kolkata .. I got trained in Indian and western classical for 11 years.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

how true ... yet how polar

In an interview with Shobha Warrier (titled, in true marketing flair, "I want to write Rajnijant's[sic] biography...", Roopa Swaminathan, author of the National Award-winning book, Star Dust: Vignettes from the fringes of the Film Industry, provides a pertitent note about Bollywood and Indian cinema:

Why did you decide to concentrate on the Tamil film industry?

For a couple of reasons. One, I genuinely found more interesting people in Tamil cinema. They are altogether smarter and more passionate than those from Hindi cinema. Tamil cinema is a lot about wanting money, fame etc, but it's also about making different kinds of cinema. Technicians are constantly pushing themselves to become bigger and better. Secondly, I wanted to highlight the fact that Bollywood is not representative of Indian cinema. There's more to Indian cinema than that.

True. Very very true. And yet Bollywood wins by visibility. Tsk tsk.

On the other hand, some things in Kollywood still continue to be baffling: the recent development in the Khushboo affair is case in point.

Friday, November 11, 2005

an overdose of kores continues ... and the smell of kerosene persists

The next Indra Kumar/Ashok Thakeria collaboration is "a film that will make you laugh, cry, smile and think". So far, Pyare Mohan features two dudes ... Pyare and Mohan (Duh!). One is blind while the other is deaf. Sound familiar? Try, See No Evil, Hear No Evil.

Just in case the title didn't ring any bells ... That should help make sense of all of it; if not, we need a mind meld.

dousing the flames

The big question behind Aditya (thanks Zero) Apurva Apoorva (that's how the credit reads on the soundtrack CD sleeve) Lakhia's Ek Ajnabee [a quick refresher] becomes a non-issue. It's Man on Fire indeed. And the events reported make me sick.

Lakhia had no qualms admitting that his film was inspired by Man On Fire, which is based on a novel by the late British author A J Quinnell.

"Man On Fire has been made into four films in five different languages," the director said. "So this is the Indian version. It has all the necessarily ingredients required for a movie to come out of India."

Consider the versions of Man on Fire. There was the 1987 and then the recent Denzel starrer in 2004. That's as much as IMDB knows. Even the Wikipedia page dedicated to Quinnell mentions no other films. What four films in five different languages are you talking about? The only concession I can grant you is that the languages listed on the IMDB page for the 1987 version are French, English and Italian. That makes 3. Not equal to 4. Not equal to 5. I refuse to grant the licence to make a colloquial wave of hands as far as facts like this are concerned.

Dude! Here's how you can put all accusations to rest. Credit Quinnell in your film. Then we'll have something in your favour. As of now, you're just another plagiarist in denial. And all you have to boast are slick previews (yeah, been there, seen that, move on) and an item number featuring Arjun Rampal.

Time to give RGV credit for Sarkar. The source (ignore the whiff of the sequel) was acknowledged and credited right from inception to the final print. I'll wait to see something like this on Ek Ajnabee. Meanwhile, it's time to rue the fact that No Entry is the highest grossing Hindi movie of the year.

addendum [november 15, 2005]: A delightful speculative breakdown of the various elements in Lakhia's flick. While you're there, you should see how beTelaal discovered the truth behind Zinda.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

what's it with sujoy ghosh and bikes?

jhankaar beats
Liked the soundtrack for the one on the left. And the soundtrack for the one on below finds Vishal/Shekhar in Musafir mode (right down to Sanjay Dutt warbling again), yet slightly toned down; a nice mix of samples, riffs, melodic contours, and general TP. A lot less of the frenetic rock influences on Dus. And plus points for a new POV on Diwali greetings. So far, despite the echoes of Ah! My Goddess (thank Sudarshan for that tip; he's the anime/manga guy; I just read a few), the film looks promising. But then we have the annoying problem of Vivek Oberoi. Then there's a horde of cameos (including Karan Johar). Novelty is guaranteed.
home delivery
big screen to small screen

While RGV's sequel to Darna Mana Hai, Darna Zaroori Hai is still taking its own sweet time getting to the marquee, another seldom-seen(?) event occurs: former partners K Sera Sera are all set to hit Star ONE with a TV series based on the film. Famous names are scheduled to direct, while famous names inundate the cast of RGV's sequel.

There are numerous examples abroad of TV shows spun off from movies, with cases like M*A*S*H, where the TV show came out of the shadow of the film and made a mark for itself. Can't think of any Indian examples off the top of my head, so it's time to throw this question out there to the few visitors that this space sees. What other examples exist in desiiland?

on being completely pointless

Does someone actually get paid to write stuff like this? If this person's trying to be as funny as Anthony Lane {try a sample}, fuggedaboutit! A sample:

On the one hand, you say you want to be known for your work. On the other, you claim you are in love but don't reveal the name of the person, thereby fuelling gossip. What do we do? Should we write about how unfairly you missed an Oscar nomination after your work in Jaanasheen?

The irony that this thing's being hosted on Rediff Movies is the only aspect you can relish.

Did Stardust just let their worst writers go and take up positions at Rediff?

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

correspondence update

Although unbelievable, some of this space's visitors actually want to send notes to the author via e-mail. YT has been foresighted enough to provide an email address to facilitate such communication. Unfortunately, the domain for the old email address decided to go play soccer with the bucket, and YT was provided an opportunity to pick an email address that would provide enough evidence that YT was a nestless cuckoo with a mübian mind. And the old space for the email address has been filled with this new address: jaa.crjathaa.cmas at gmail dot com

That gibberish makes sense in a transliterated vernacular way, and represents no intention to alienate readers or visitors who don't know WTH it means. If anything, it should at least get YT a few emails asking the question "WTF does that mean?" Copy, replace " at " with an amphora, paste it into the "To" field of your favourite e-mail client, and type out your most venomous thoughts.

That is all.

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.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

a stranger on fire

The burning (stinking pun there) question about Apurva Apoorva (that's how the credit reads on the soundtrack CD sleeve) Lakhia's Ek Ajnabee was: is it Léon or is it Man on Fire? Well, one of the greatest non-actors that Bollywood has been encouraging over the last few years, Arjun Rampal, has something to tell us.

First, the usual "this is not a copy, but a " nonsense. And then, the beans spill out (with some emphasis of my own):

I have seen Man On Fire and our film is very different from that. Like [sic] my character is not even there in the English film. In fact, Apu has adapted the original French novel for his film and has incorporated elements of his own.

French??? Man on Fire was based on an A. J. Quinnell book. No French here. The only French elements come from Léon (Luc Besson, to be precise).

Which means we might be a little shy of square one at this point.

Confusion reveals multiple inheritance? The strange darkness persists.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

filch(flich(source)) [a diwali nest]

Priyadarshan is all set to achieve a new dubious record of sorts with his 2/3 contribution to the comedic[sic] releases for Diwali. Not for maximising his contribution, but for achieving a two-level remake on each entry. Kyon Ki is a remake of Thalavattam, which was his remake in Malayalam of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. And Garam Masala (nothing in common with the Mehmood starrer in 1972 that boasted some fine songs from the late great R D Burman) is a remake of Boeing Boeing, which was his remake of a 1965 comedy of the same name.

Want to hear something more ridiculous? Try this. Priyadarshan was accused of filching Garam Masala from a play called Plane Crazy for Love (weak pun there) written and directed by Naved Aslam. This play is also based on the Marc Camoletti play that Priyadarshan filched in Malayalam (and is now filching therefrom in Hindi!). Classic case of the Pot and Kettle standoff.

more about Priyadarshan's wheel "reinventions" elsewhere in this space

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

a diwali bonus?, who have long been Salman lovers/supporters/fanatics, have decided to go ahead with their collective tongue firmly in cheek with a short interview in the milieu of Kyon Ki [we've had something in this space about what he had to say at an earlier point in time]. Despite their facile attempts at wit, it seems like he's giving them a hard time for asking him honestly dumb questions like Kyon Ki is a love story like Tere Naam. What is the difference between the two? or How do you feel about the fact that D'damas is associating with Kyon Ki?.
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.