Friday, August 11, 2006

KANK review of the moment

[not to be confused with this]

Now that Karan Johar's latest venture in playing the audience to the box office has flooded the marquee, one can expect to hear loud hosannas from the devout fans of the leads, $$s ringing away abroad as NRIs starved for shrink-wrapped sugar-coated bourgeois relish, and Karan Johar laughing all the way to the bank to collect. One must also not forget the potential rise in the sale of tissues.

While Tenacious Trademaster Taran fellates the film, Raja Sen scores the best line with his review: A tense romantic drama between two married couples -- and the most compelling character in the film is a dad who dresses like a pimp?

Readers of DNA India's Limelite section may await a Khalid Mohamed review going the Taran way. This is, after all, the man who had lavished all the praise he could for Karan Johar's last venture, K3G.

Thanks to an early (IST; late EDT) note from JR, I get to read Aseem Chhabra's take on the film from the heart of its location (which like a lot of things in the film offers nothing more than a prop to attract the lemmings with the $$). Buried therein are some nuggets like What KANK offers us is a three-and-a-half hour long, over-blown, candy-floss fantasy about the lives of the ultra rich and good looking Indians, who wear expensive clothes, live in beautifully furnished, stunning apartments and mansions, dance in crazy discotheques, walk in snow and rain, and cry a lot. You see, Johar's characters are meant to be sad people.

So far the only good thing about Karan Johar's flick is that it's offering me some good reading material.

addendum [august 12, 2006]: Baradwaj's eloquent review is up. He notes the problems of length and the need for tissue, but he also contextualises the film and Johar well:

you can't deny that he's one of the very few young directors who's interested in – and who knows his way around – old-fashioned, Bollywood storytelling, where the emphasis is on emotion rather than reason, where the point of a scene isn't in drawing out truth or detailing reality but in the sensual experience of the moment: foreplay, climax, afterplay (or, if you will, buildup, detonation, cool-down).

addendum [august 12, 2006]: Khalid Mohamed's given Johar another 4-star rating. Aren't we surprised? The verdict was just as predictable as the box office success of the film. Khalid Mohammed has surely come a long from being an entertaining acerbic film critic with some taste in cinema to surviving on a diet of sour grapes after laying three big fat rotten cinematic eggs (Fiza, Tehzeeb and the numerologically challenged Silsiilay) and spending his time being nice to the Chopra and Johar camps and writing reviews that are distinguished from Tenacious Trademaster Taran's tripe solely by better English, a more varied vocabulary and the occasional puns. He's been reduced to writing reviews that begin with Here’s Karan Johar’s smashing coming-of-age movie. It’s mature, bold and dares to say it loud and clear ... and end with For its non-judgmental and progressive take on marriage and infidelity, see KANK with someone you love..unconditionally. Mercifully, he saved the 5-star outstanding rating for the next Johar flick (in all likelihood). Perhaps he'll even write the screenplay for it, with a seamless blend of Godard, Antonioni and Dharmesh Darshan.

addendum [august 13, 2006]: Jai Arjun Singh confers upon the film more value than it's worth by describing the Karan Johar-Shah Rukh Khan relationship as a parallel of the famous Herzog/Kinski association. Don't be misled by the artistic visual he devotes a paragraph to; I thought Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna was quite bad, though thankfully it was bad enough to be entertaining in parts. It's a mercy to know that. A talkback viewing meeting will be called once the original DVD hits the market. Don't skip the P.S. in his post -- more gems lie therein.

It might not be presumptuous for me to put up a review post saying KANK stank, but the pun seems too weak against the colossus of cow caca that this offering seems to be.

addendum [august 16, 2006] The NYTimes decided to post a review of the flick. Although meriting only a cursory glance, emails and messages from friends suggest that this article might be a significant thing as far the rising Western fascination for Bollywood is concerned; and that view continues to focus on the aggravatingly limiting crutches of our mainstream crop:

A French version would have a lot more sex and cigarette smoking. An American one would probably end with a letter opener in someone's back. But only in Bollywood would the standard-issue marital-infidelity tale include disco-style musical numbers and clock in at almost three and a half hours.

But all's well that ends well:

As for the story's central lovers, it's never quite clear what Maya sees in Dev, whose emotional switch has only two settings, angry and morose. Perhaps that eye makeup is clouding her vision.

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