Tuesday, April 25, 2006

mass mediocrity IV: the final chapter [and this is how you get here] {this is for JR, who kept reminding me about this message board with tantalising extracts}

There's another edition of Rediff's end game show called "Which film endings did you not like?" The results induce as much déjà vu as the trite structure of the majority of Bollywood flicks (and they're just worried about the ending??).

A lot of drivel is devoted to Rang De Basanti and some old favourites like the Karan Johar oeuvre, Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam (wonder if it's time to make the sequel Ab Aur Kya Chaahiye ...), Sadma. Some people complain about movies with cliché endings, wishing for some sequitur; and others complain about movies with downbeat endings, wishing for more clichéd endings. A few samples:


The movie should have been three minutes more. There is no change of heart of Shekar's father, where he should have been in the last scene showing a father's apology towards Shekar and Lolita whom he had hurt immensely.
How can a man who calls a young girl a "whore" welcome her in turn as his daughter-in law? This part still lingers in the minds of the viewers where a more certain clarity of relationships would have made the ending more perfect and much more meaningful.

can u imagine what would have been the state of SaratChandra, the actual writer of the novel, to see his hero breaking a 8 ft rock solid brick wall with another giantic stone and everybody around was not actually helping physically but inspiring by shouting \\\'tod de\\\'......and ultimately he succeeded...

All we want from Bollywood is clichéd entertainment[sic]. Turning deaths of Big B's characters in Sholay and Deewar and Muqaddar ka Sikandar into endings involving happy marriages, and rewriting the death of Satya seem mild when you consider this:


Veeru should embrace ISLAM and marry both Basanti and Jaya Bhaduri.
Thalur should get Jay's hands implanted.
This makes all the more reason that Jaya Bhaduri(Radha) should leave thakurs home.
Kalia should got the pachas hazaar inaam on gabbar.
Helen should present item no. on veeru's wedding.
Suurma bhopali should provide all the Lakdis for cremation of Gabbar & Jay
Hope to see all the same in sequal [sic].

Someone even wished that Teesri Aankh had ended with Amisha Patel regaining her power of speech and tied the knot with Sunny "Dhupia-less" Deol.

When the owners of the Friday the 13th railway train named the fourth edition The Final Chapter, they were kidding (they went all the way up to part X, before springing the cross-franchise Freddy vs Jason). Something tells me the mass mediocrity train's just getting started ...

high paa.Nch to oz

for snagging a nice interview with Anurag Kashyap at the screening of Paanch at the 2006 edition of the Indian Film Festival of LA. [noted here previously]. Lots of trivia (but one hoped for even more, alas) and the hope of catching Paanch, when (if?) it finally gets a release in June 2006. My favourite section of the interview lists the reasons that the Censor Board offered for not sanctioning Paanch:

* Too much hate in the movie. It is too stark. Not good to show to an Indian audience.

* Drug usage shown in the movie. The Indian public does not do drugs. Not good to show it.

* You can't shoot in such a dim light. It's bad for the viewers' eyes.

* This movie has no entertainment value.

Right. A round of applause for our Censor Board and Bollywood, ladies and gentlemen.

And here's a post about a theatre workshop that Anurag Kashyap conducted in March 2006 in Bombay. At one point, Fellini had 91/2, Kashyap now has 2.8.

Meanwhile, the local excuse called Film Festival of India 2006 kicks off at the High Museum today with Deepa Mehta's Water, the only film in the festival with a credit for Anurag Kashyap (assistance on the Hindi dialogues). Despite the ban in India, I don't think this film will have a problem finding distribution; a cast roster headed by John Abraham and Lisa Ray doesn't help much; and grumpiness at the absence of either Black Friday and Paanch hardly remedies the situation.

Other Anurag Kashyap posts in this space include:

* his Maqbool connection and the small matter of a deleted scene

* Kashyap's guilty movie pleasures (featuring classics like Loha)

* initial notes and more on the music of Black Friday, Kashyap's unreleased follow-up to his unreleased Paanch

* The primary strength of Yuva

* a hasty note on possible influences of Kashyap's second-now-abandoned venture Allwyn Kalicharan

* notes on a few flicks including Paisa Vasool, another producer-requested copy that Kashyap worked on

* the Black-lash where Kashyap and Mishra sounded truer than most of Bollywood about the "loudest film of 2005"

update/review: Oz's review of Paanch, the first fairly comprehensive take I've seen on the film so far, isn't heartening. One could blame the various elements at play that forced Kashyap to make several rewrites and concessions, and one could take heed of Kashyap's warning ("Don’t use logic"), but it all doesn't quite add up, especially when you consider paeans like Surely you're joking, Mr.Kashyap by Abbas Tyrewala. One can't also discount the unfortunate consequences of hype fuelled by years of anticipation and hope. Still, I'd give anything to watch it once -- I'm prepared to deal with any consequential disappointment, if at all.

Monday, April 24, 2006

new contribution to the song of the fortnight {previous post in thread}

A new article of mine has surfaced on the Panchammagic Song of the Fortnight page:

o ha.nsinii / film: Zehreela Insaan (1974) / lyrics: Majrooh
Zehreela Insaan was S R Puttanna Kanagal's remake of his Kannada hit Naagara Haavu based on a Talukina Ramaswami Subba Rao novel of the same name. That film made a star out of Vishnuvardhan but the Hindi remake directed by Kanagal himself didn't fare as well, making things a bit difficult for Rishi Kapoor. The most cherished artifact of the film, however, has been this Kishore gem, which, as rumour would have it, was originally meant to be a Shailendra Singh song.

This is a rather short song (a 2-line mukha.Daa and two 2-line a.ntaraas, minus all the repetitions for musical effect) and Majrooh employs simple Hindi and a handful of metaphors for a lover's call to his beloved. Pancham chooses to give the song a melody in a minor scale, a scale usually associated with sadness (although there are exceptions). The seed for the melody in the mukha.Daa seems to be Michelle Legrand's theme for the 1971 film Summer of '42. While Anu Malik used the same source to a greater extent in his prelude to tere dar par sanam in Phir Teri Kahani Yaad Ayee, Pancham limits his quote to "o ha.nsinii."
... [more]

[PS: The article gets a more permanent archive URL once a new post goes up; I'll update this post when that happens] may 02, 2006: URL updated.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

another cool google logo

Google's logo is dedicated to Spanish surrealist painter Joan Miró.

Google MirĂ³ 2006

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

the brownian ecosystem ... sans impact

After getting used to the sight of lanes and order (except for the frequently occasional idiot) on the roads and highways in the US of A, it's a little refreshing to see how things were (and still are, mostly) back home in desiiland. Here's a video of Indian driving close to its prime -- the lack of severe traffic allows for more visually stunning results. Each person did his/her own stunts; no one was injured during the filming of this clip.

Recommendation: Hit the "Pause" button and wait for a while till the player caches the clip (how long? depends on your bandwidth, ISP, fellow pirates and the like). Once enough time has passed, hit the "Play" button and watch closely.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

the sanjay gupta rip-off of the year award for 2005 goes to ... [december 25/31, 2005]

Ex-Rediff staffer and Screenwriter Suparn Verma's directorial début Ek Khiladi Ek Haseena.

If you thought Sanjay Gupta had walked away with the eponymous trophy for his lively[sic] tale of an Old Boy, you owe yourself a chance to view this masterpiece. For his directorial début, ekalavya SV decides to pay Drona Gupta his due without slicing off his thumb (unless, of course, he decides not to direct another movie). His "tribute to con movies" is a mash-up of Confidence (primarily), Matchstick Men (the lottery ticket swindle), David Mamet's House of Games (most of the Koena Mitra sub-plot) and Memento (aah, that coin). Oh, and there's even this club called Sin City, but that might just be a double-edged reference to Vegas.

duniyaa me.n ikasaTh kisam ke zahar hai.n jin me.n saaTh kaa mujhapar koii asar nahii.n hotaa
(sika.ndar / gulshan grover)

Clearly, a lot of goodwill was involved as far as Feroz and Fardeen Khan reappearing for a Verma script [see also: Janasheen]. If you regarded the whole movie as a hamfest, Feroz Khan easily steals the show just as he did in Janasheen. He even manages to do competent Manoj Kumar impression at one point! That patent-pending bald-pated dialogue delivery already received its due with Javed Jaffrey did his Crocodile Dundee take in Salaam Namaste.

you know the saying: drive like hell and you get there
(jahaa.ngiir khaan / feroz khan)

Suparn Verma's towering achievement with this movie is a notorious one. He gives Kay Kay Menon what could easily the worst role of his film career. Although the actor infuses his ill-written (weren't they all?) specious character with some nuances, the miasma of the proceedings is too hard to rise above. KKM gets the dubious honour of being in one of the most glaring examples of bad editing, writing and continuity in Bollywood.

pyaar se mat dekh, ##diabetes## ho jaayegii
(qaif / kay kay menon)

Koena Mitra tries in vain to convince audiences that she's in all this for the acting. However, there is enough evidence that the only things people will remember from this flick are her figure, her jiggling samba-friendly booty and her bamboochas.

##you know##, mai.n ##guilty## bhii ##feel## kar rahii thii lekin mazaa bhii aa rahaa thaa
(nataashaa / koena mitra)

The less said about the rest of the cast the better. Anupama Verma pops in for a cameo during the father-son scene that everyone[sic] was waiting for:

(Anupama Verma enters the elevator, drops a scarf, which Fardeen lifts up for her)
Anupama Verma: Thank You
Feroz Khan   : I love the scent of a woman. Chanel?
Anupama Verma: I'm impressed
(She later leaves with a "Bye boys" call)
Fardeen Khan : How do you do it?
Feroz Khan   : Experience, son. Practice, practice and more practice.

SV decides to assert his directorial smarts by quashing any respect we might have for his writing acumen. The film is inundated with badly written and acted (aren't they all?) scenes that will leave you cringing, whimpering like an idiot, diving for cover, laughing your guts out, ... you get the idea. A few examples follow.

Let's start with a simple pearl from the oyster of non sequitur:

Koena Mitra:  tumhe.n ##bastard## bolanaa bhii aurat ko gaalii denaa hogaa arjun
Fardeen Khan: sticks and stones, sweetheart, sticks and stones

Next up is a scene that owes a lot to The Usual Suspects. This is where Mukul Deo gives Fardeen Khan the lowdown about Sikandar. There's a personal computer on the desk in the background, but it has no role to play in all this. Cigarettes are lit. And Mukul Deo begins his nonsense ( log kahate hai.n sika.ndar vo inasaan hai jo kabhii mar nahii.n sakataa bachapan me.n usake father ne mill strike se pareshaan hokar apane aap ko aur apane puure khaanadaan ko zahar de diyaa ... sab mar gaye ... par sika.ndar 10 din tak aspataal me.n apanii maut se la.Dataa rahaa) which also includes a note that sika.ndar (Gulshan Grover) also killed his wife and kids [There's Keyser Söze for you]. He then talks about some other victims including the Khan brothers and gaNapat (fear not, no one knows who they are) and drops a reference to Sin City. At this point, there's a dead pause, and then Fardeen Khan looks at MD and asks tumhaaraa ##point## kyaa hai?. MD replies kuchh nahii.n yaar meraa ##point## ye hai ki usane tujhe naashte pe bulaayaa hai tuu kuchh khaanaa piinaa mat aur kyaa?.

Riffing on the "pointless" motif, we have another clunker later on in the film. This time it's a scene between Sharad Kapoor (Inspector Sardesai) and Fardeen Khan (who gets to utter the classic line again):

sharad kapoor: ek baar ek aadamii ja.ngal me.n gum ho jaataa hai; aur usake saamane ek sher aa jaataa hai; aur vo chillaakar kahataa hai 'he bhagawaan; mai.n barabaad ho gayaa'; us din bhagawaan mood me.n the; bhagawaan kii aawaaz aatii hai: e beTaa, tere paa.Nv ke saamane ek patthar rakhaa huaa hai, use uThaa aur sher ke sar pe de maar'; phir bhagawaan kii aawaaz aatii hai: 'beTaa, tu ab barabaad huaa hai'
fardeen khan: teraa ##point## kyaa?
sharad kapoor: ##point## ye hai ki ab tujhe koii nahii.n bachaa sakataa

{One would think that two such explicit hints would have prompted SV to run his script through a few rewrites and an enema or two}

Then there's the scene between Fardeen Khan and Gulshan Grover.

Gulshan Grover: tum kisase Darate ho?
Fardeen Khan:   (beat) bhagawaan se
Gulshan Grover: (looks at wristwatch) bhagawaan tumhaare liye kyaa hai?
Fardeen Khan:   taaqat; ##total and complete power## [pronounced: paa-wa]
Gulshan Grover: tum duusare inasaan ho jisakaa ye jawaab hai
Fardeen Khan:   kyo.n? pahale waalaa mar gayaa kyaa?
Gulshan Grover: [approaches] (beat) pahale waalaa mai.n huu.N; mere liye bhii bhagawaan wahii hai jis me.n ##total and complete power## [pronounced: paa-war] hai (beat) ##i like that##
Fardeen Khan:   kyaa?
Gulshan Grover: tumhaarii aa.Nkho.n me.n mere liye Dar hai; jo Galat nahii.n hai

Finally, there's this scene where Sharma (Dayashankar Pandey) and D'Souza (Rajesh Vivek) are in a car waiting for a junkie dealer to show up (the scene's a completely pulverised version of a scene in Confidence):

D'Souza:  mere beTe ko ##Baywatch university## me.n pa.Dhane jaanaa hai
Sharma :  tuu ##sure## hai maal vo roz yahii.n se nikaalataa hai?
D'Souza:  har din aataa hai; aur weekend me.n to zaruur aayegaa; har ##junkie weekend## pe maal khariidate hai.n
Sharma :  ek baar ye maal haath aa jaaye na to zi.ndagii me.n ##sex## aa jaaye
D'Souza:  are usake liye to mujhe apanii saas ko maaranaa pa.Degaa
Sharma :  maar do
D'Souza:  kyaa maar do ...
{and then they rush out to get the dealer}

The songs:
Pritam Chakraborty photograph (courtesy: The Telegraph)
Pritam continues to filch tunes and riffs and blend them with catchy electronic arrangements on the soundtrack. He's getting so prolific that Karthik's dedicated a page to the man. jal jal ke dhuuaa.N begins with a riff that came straight out of Sting's Fragile, but the song's a merry lift of most of Arabiyon Ana by Yuri Markadi; then there's a.Nkhiyaa.N na maar merii (not addressed to someone named a.Nkhiyaa.N, in case you were wondering) that cogs the catchy eight-note riff from Usher's Yeah; and jhuum, which cogged from a Britney Spears commercial for Pepsi.

Given all the effort that went into making each song video a standalone non sequitur wonder, the makers of this sorry flick could've easily created a release of said videos with a minor theme connecting them. Why subject us to this 2-hour-plus lard? The film's opening titles are graced by a dame in a suit cavorting around to jhuum. Let's also not forget the irritating CG coin floating about. The second song yaaro.n is dedicated to the "friends celebrating together" cliché and some Jack Daniels. It also gets chopped to fit the video, which means that if you're musical bone's going to get rattled. As if it wasn't bad enough that a.Nkhiyaa.N na maar merii owed its existence to a filch, they decided to attempt a desii take on the video for Christina Aguilera's Dirty. In keeping with the trend to include one ear-and-neck-sniffing, soft-core, family-friendly porn sequence, the makers have Fardeen and Koena getting PG-jiggy in a hotel room while jal jal ke dhuaa.N plays in the foreground. The makers even circulated an MMS of this scene in an attempt to build up some publicity. There's lots of sniffing, kissy-kissy, PG-rated disrobing, pinning to the wall, fondling of bare knees, a collaborative shower and suggested fellatio, all culminating in a scene where the two are in bed, well-showered, deflowered and covered in green sheets and backdrop. Some of the most howlarious subtitles are on display here:

lyric:    ehasaas pasiine se hai nam
subtitle: beads of sweat, moist all feelings ...
lyric:    sholo.n se Tapakatii hai shabanam ... zaraa ...
subtitle: in raging flames, we find the calmness of dewdrops ...

Just when you thought the songs were over, the filmmakers decide to try and tempt you to sit through the end credits, which run over a video of Fardeen and a gang of extras living a video game dressed in faux Kevlar and shooting guns and blowing things up. Somehow the lyrics of nashaa nashaa weren't begging for these visuals.

##Shetty## ke pass jaanaa; vo ##graduate## hai ##spelling mistake## nahii.n karegaa
(arjun / fardeen khan)

Other subtitular niceties: laal chii.nTiyaa.N are man-eating ants; the subtitling department continues to exhibit poor-to-non-existent English comprehension skills by streaming it's your time when the girl on screen's saying it's showtime!; the trend of subtitles to be more offensive than the spoken words is evident when an innuendo-laden question bachche to ho.nge naa? gets subtitled as I hope you've got 2 left!; sirf arjun chaahiye? usakaa to ham shaam ko hii ##encounter## kar dete hai.n becomes why don't we kill his friend Shyam?. Man! I pity the people whose understanding of flicks like these hinges only on the subtitles -- now you know why I'm a bit warier about watching foreign flicks: their subtitlers may be in incompetent cahoots with our brood here.

vo registaan ke us uu.NTh kii tarah hai jisane saalo.n se paanii nahii.n dekhaa;
to agar paanii bhii usake saamane chalakar aaye to use vo kiicha.D hii lagegaa
(arjun / fardeen khan)

Product placement: All this, and we have irritating product placement for Red Bull (wait for that scene where Koena Mitra asks for a Red Bull and Fardeen Khan enters with two. Whoa! That's Red Bull not Bisleri water.

Suparn Verma first came to my attention with Chhal (and then some more trivia), a movie that retroactively became my favourite Hindi film of 2002. Then the promising team went on to make a dismal remake of American Pie called Yeh Kya Ho Raha Hai (yeah, I know, that title should've said it all!). While Hansal Mehta vanished from the scene, SV, meanwhile, got some more screenwriting feathers: Qayamat (that would be The Rock in Hindi), Zameen (jingoistic vacuous Bollywood action masala mix fuelled by an interesting premise that derived from the 1999 Flight IC-814 hijack), Janasheen (the father/son Khan-fest that scored really high JaDe points), Karam (the directorial début of cinematographer Sanjay F Gupta that deserved to have been so much better ... more on that if I ever get around to going down the long road of pending posts). There was also this other film called Shaadi.com starring Fardeen Khan and Celina Jaitley, but I don't think that took off (what took off instead was a film just mentioned that featured CJ doing her own stunts by standing in a body of water dressed in a bikini and playing[sic] a violin). Only time will tell if Chhal represented a flash in the pan or was a portend of latent talent (aah, anagrams!). Meanwhile, it's time to applaud the winner.

Incidentally, a Hansal Mehta/Suparn Verma collaboration called Anjaan was supposed to hit the marquee in November last year, shortly after this rip-off. Does anyone know more?

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Bang! Bang! Bing! [copious outpourings dedicated to Teesri Aankh: The Hidden Camera] {April 07/09, 2006}

Harry Baweja, the father of such feists as Trinetra (featuring the classic bye bye bye bye bye bye (mai.n tujhe chho.D ke)), love triangles featuring death, officially comatose people, doppelgängers with maaraa-maarii and/or hot-selling music (Dilwale, Imtihan, Diljale, Karz: The Burden of Truth) had shifted gears to making cheap Hollywood rip-offs with Qayamat: City Under Threat (The Rock) and Main Aisa Hi Hoon (I Am Sam). His latest flick is the unofficial sequel to Jo Bole So Nihaal titled Teesri Aankh: The Hidden Camera. After "Sardar in New York" we now get "Wiggy in London." This mess takes a leaf out of the book of boredom defined by Mohit Suri's Kalyug and riffs on the Pune landlord webcam scandal from early 2005. Fans of mainstream cinema and people familiar with Baweja's work can rest assured that he delivers a product that does little to nothing with its premise and merely serves as the cinematic equivalent of half-boiled daal. B-mongers, however, have much to rejoice about.

The film opens without any starring credits. We get the other essentials against a CGI montage of images that convey the use of web email clients (Yahoo! Mostly) to send salacious attachments to recipients with implausible email addresses like amit_walia@yahoo.com.in. The opening sequence begins with an exterior shot labelled "control room." Where is this control room? Why should we care? These are unimportant questions. What we get next is a look at the events in this "control room." It's a meeting of cops and the agenda is the CM's rally on the 27th (the month and year are quite inconsequential, trust me). Sunil Shende appears in the thankless brief role of the head of the meeting (his rank is probably the equivalent of the Commissioner, but one isn't told more; besides, all this is inconsequential). Sitting next to him is Anjan Srivastava as Naik (Designation, once again, of a higher order but unknown; once again, no details necessary). In the audience we see several token extras dressed as cops, a plainclothes cop, Ayub Khan (who, as it turns out later, is Vikram from the foreign branch -- of the police, perhaps, or perhaps the Greengrocers Association of Great Nowhere; who cares, he's a cop, and a bad apple as it turns out, and that's all that matters), and finally -- how could we miss that bad misplaced wig? -- Sunny paaji in cool plainclothes. He is Arjun Singh, ACP as it turns out later, from the "Delhi cadre" (subtitled: caddell; WTF is caddell? Did they mean cadelle, a "small cosmopolitan black beetle destructive to stored grain"? Imagine that! A cosmopolitan black beetle). The camera pans cut between Shende delivering his dialogue and Sunny's reaction shots (deadpan). The CM's rally is a red hot herring, and realising this, Anjan Srivastava takes the liberty of drawing Shende's attention to a headline from some newspaper about parents in Pune who committed suicide on discovering a porn film featuring their daughter. Shende tries to restore the meeting's focus, but thundering responses from Sunny ensure a follow-up sequence dedicated to Sunny's thesis proposal. Added to the audience of higher-ups is Achyut Potdar, who plays yet another high-ranking official of unknown rank and origin. The gist: Sunny desires to put an end to the porn racket headed by an evil lech with the mythologically resonant name of Sudama Pande (itrans: sudaamaa paa.nDe) who operates from London. Just as Nihaal Singh inveigled his ticket to New York City in JBSH, Arjun Singh manages to get a ticket to London and also the complete cooperation of the British Government (to keep things simple, all scenes featuring the negotiation of red tape and diplomatic unpleasantness were deleted from the final edit). After this point, we never see Shende, Srivastava or Potdar ever again. Baweja ensures that we focus only on Sunny paajii and his exploits from here on.

Baweja now employs the familiar mix of flashback and desii tissue-friendly premises to introduce the character of Arjun Singh's fiancée Sapna (itrans: sapanaa) played by Nightmare Nymph Neha Dhupia. Dhupia wants to make something of her life before her marriage to Sunny paajii, the Protector of the Palluus. So she decides to go to London as part of this beauty gig called "Face of the Nation" (someone had extremely poor taste sending the likes of her there). She ends up being a victim of The Hidden Camera Gang led by Sudama Pande and ends up being knifed, chopped, diced and dumped into a trash bag. Enter Amisha "Jigglesh" Patel as the mute Amu, who witnesses the act of murder and is now on the bouncy run from the murderers. To round up the cast of unwanted faces, we have Aarti Chhabria playing Aarti (dang! No time for new names eh?) playing Amu's sister, who, unfortunately, has not lost the power of speech. We also have Ashish Choudhary (a person more qualified than the parts he had to play in flicks like Girlfriend and got some of his due in Shaadi ka Laddoo). Here Choudhary plays Rahul (no last name required), Aarti's beau and general PG-rated lech, a director trying to film a movie in Elstree Studios with actresses like Natalia who has never died on screen before. Natalia and a plump Indian face join Shende, Srivastava and Potdar in the Now-You-See-Them-Now-You-Won't List.

Mukesh Rishi as Sudama Pande is one of the few people relishing every moment of screen time they get. The other two are his henchmen Dinesh (Mukesh Tiwari) and Dinesh (Murali Sharma), who are also plotting a mutiny to take over his business. Mukesh Tiwari plays Dinesh Hasamukh with the kind of surreal brio that would make Buñuel proud. Murali Sharma lays out thick slices of ham in his reading of Dinesh Gambhir. Sudama Pande spends most of his screen time oiling the gears of his illicit business over a Bluetooth earpiece and being treated to skin displays by pole-hugging Caucasian lasses. You have to see the relish he pumps (no pun intended) into lines like Hey! Do something! Put some sex into it. He gets his own catchphrase too: Don't tell me the problem, tell me the solution, which brings to mind unpleasant memories of PHB and irate customers. Mukesh Tiwari decides to pay tribute to Ricochet Rabbit by randomly spouting the phrase "Bang! Bang! Bing!" All Murali Sharma gets to do is look serious and constipated in the sequence when he knifes Dhupia repeatedly. Norman Bates would be proud.

Which brings us to the stars of the film (aside from Sunny paajii). Amisha Patel's gazongas. They provide visual mirth, do their own stunts and threaten to overshadow Sunny paajii's action sequences (more below). And all that sign language is bunk. Howlarious bunk. Finally, Ms Patel realises that her true calling is better served by the moniker "Stuffed at Tufts." Faithful viewers are also rewarded with family-friendly gratuitous shots of Ms Patel in her bathtub advertising for an unknown bubble agent.

Song and Dance: In addition to hogging almost all the song and dance sequences, Dhupia tries to exercise her acting chops (for a similar form of physical exertion watch Bipasha Basu play the piano in Ajnabee -- you'll know what pumping weights in the gym looks like). Every song relies on traditional Bollywood non sequitur to make its appearance. With four music directors (the alliterative Sukh Shinder Shinda, Harry Aanand, Nitz and Sony) and four lyricists (Sameer, Karmjeet Kadhowala, Nitin Arora and Earl D'Souza), you would expect some variety. What you get instead of one peppy Punjabi patty after another. On display are metaphors like titaliyaa.N (butterflies), which, perhaps, are better expressions of youthful ardour than armadillos or cadelles. They even manage to rope in Asha Bhosle to sing sharaabiyo.n for Megha Chatterjee's sensuous moves (she gets rewarded by an end credit of "Megha Chetrjee") and Jazzy B to do an on-screen display of epileptic cool. As a consolation, there are no sad weepy songs.

Stellar subtitles: "Elstree Studios" gets subtitled once as "LCD Studios" and once as "L Street Studios," but never ever as Elstree Studios (despite the presence of a shot of the studio's banner).

Landmark sequences:

* Mukesh Tiwari doing a mix of Poirot, a bloodhound, a hippie on an LSD trip and someone who got the wrong textbook on dance and street theatre while in pursuit of the mute Amu.

* Sunny paajii in the jeep and attacking goons: Patel suspects that Sunny's not the real deal (cop-wise) and tries to jump out of his jeep, ending up decorating the front and windshield. Enter a gang of goons firing away like there's no end to bullets. Sunny paajii uses his sophisticated analytical skills and comes up with a solution: he punches through the windshield and pulls Patel into the jeep. A few more collisions later, the jeep is wrecked but all is well.

* Sunny versus the biker goons: Sunny grabs the front wheels of two attacking motorcycles and then gives them a whirl. Note that the riders are conspicuously absent in this wonderful sequence, thus robbing it of its impact.

* The whack-a-mole moment: Sunny enters a video store called TSK ENTERTAINMENT (what a name!). The guy behind the counter pops up with an "Excuse me?" only to be rewarded by the Patent-Pending Paajii Punch. The Punch gets some of its own screen time later in the film.

* When some goons grab Patel and get into a bus of their own, Sunny paajii uses the Long Stride Approach to give chase, eventually managing to get into the bus from the back, after which he proceeds to hurl people out through the windows.

It's when the end credits roll that you remember the controversy over Sunny Deol's role in the film. He gets top billing and is credited with a "guest appearance," even though by all existing standards of Billing And On-Screen Time employed in Bollywood, he is the star of the film. Baweja and Deol have had a fallout on this account, even though Ashish Choudhary's "special appearance" billing should seal the deal in Deol's favour. Dialogue writer Pathik Vats gets a starring credit, but I don't know what this form of life looks like.

Obligatory Sholay reference: Murali Sharma's bahut beinasaafii hai

The mystery of the title: Lord Shiva had nothing to do with this film. Perhaps the makers were wary of using the original title Shiva Ka Adhura Insaaf (after all Dharam paajii had appeared in Shiva Ka Insaaf, where he played Shiva, had very little screen time and let his name be used to get some market share). You never know. Like all the vanishing characters, missing last names, and uncomfortable wigs, this is a question that only Baweja can answer. Will he? Only the hidden camera can tell us.

postscript: Harry Baweja and all filmmakers of his ilk who decide to make movies on subjects like this should realise that the only way to add some measure of quality is to actually have some T n' A. "Nekkid" as Joe Bob Briggs would put it. You can't do the family-friendly porn thing and bore people out of their wits. You can't seriously expect us to believe that you want us to take these people up on their acting[sic] smarts[sic] or you on your ability[sic] to write [sic] and direct[sic] a film, can you?

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

High Museum of Art: Film Festival of India 2006

[the short verdict: <censored>]

The schedule {link destined to expire as soon as the next theme comes up} for the 2006 edition of the FFI @ the High (recent reference) is up. And it's a mixed bag. No chance of catching Vishal's The Blue Umbrella. No Anurag Kashyap here (where you should be if you want to catch Paanch). And they continue to pick selections that might easily be acquired on DVD, or on cheap VHS versions on heavily reused tapes at a local Indian store. There's nothing as bad as Baghban, but we have strong contenders (aka clear misses). I'm speaking as a person wont to watch most of the Bollywood releases of the year, and my POV might differ sharply from that of the average American, IBCD or ABCD who nurtures a general curiosity or nostalgia (respectively) about "Bollywood" (a term incorrectly applied to the entire unfortunate Indian film industry). The candidates this year (all screenings begin at 2000 at the Rich Theatre) are:

* Water: I haven't seen either Fire of Bollywood Hollywood and I wasn't really blown away by 1947: Earth, but this could be one of the few opportunities I'll get to catch Deepa Mehta's long-in-the-making-and-almost-unmade final edition in her element trilogy (hopefully she nurses no aspirations to emulate Douglas Adams). Tuesday (What? Don't you want people to show up?), April 25, 2006.

* Paheli: With this movie we continue to shoot ourselves in the foot by nurturing the clichéd view of "Bollywood" that the mainstream West has nurtured for years. Hero seems, at some levels, a similar kind of Oscar-friendly flick, but I found more poetry in its visuals than in Palekar's boring Rajasthan romp. {movie notes, rant about its selection as India's Oscar entry}. Friday, May 05, 2006.

* Memories in the Mist: Better known as Kalpurush, this film has Mithun Chakraborty exercising his rarely seen acting chops and also made more news than it deserved for Sameera Reddy's "art" plunge as a Bengali wife. I hope this is as rewarding an experience as Bariwali (the last Bengali film I saw at an FFI edition @ the High) was. Saturday, May 06, 2006.

* Turn Left at the End of the World: I don't know anything about this film that's been making the rounds at Jewish Film Festivals, but the inclusion here draws attention to the Indian angle. This might well be the most rewarding filmgoing experience of the series, simply because I'll be going in cold not knowing what to expect. Friday, May 12, 2006.

* Amu: Another movie that I've heard and read enough about, but have lost all hope of catching at the local Indian store. A welcome addition. Isn't this what Film Festivals are for anyway? -- to give us an opportunity to catch movies that are hard to find through the usual channels of distribution (multiplex releases, DVD rentals and such). Saturday, May 13, 2006.

* John and Jane: Of course I want to see a documentary about the call-centre industry that conferred splendour on that specious TLA known as BPO. As long as this doesn't disintegrate into a tank of clichés (and thus apply for membership to the Bollywood club of honour), we'll be fine. Friday, May 19, 2006.

* Raincoat: Are you kidding me? This is a 2004 release –- both audiences and Rituparno Ghosh have moved on since then. This flawed adaptation of an O Henry tale (also Ghosh's first directorial venture in Hindi) doesn't measure up to his quieter less sheen-drenched works like Bariwali and makes for a bad coda. The soundtrack by Debajyoti Mishra was more rewarding. Saturday, May 20, 2006.

I wonder if more films are going to added to the list later.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

how far back do you go to find an original?

NPR has a short feature (Warning: potential spoilers) dedicated to the similarities between Spike Lee's latest film Inside Man and a 1990 film called Quick Change starring (co-produced and co-directed by) Bill Murray. Following the movie connections link on the IMDB page tells us that even Quick Change has a predecessor -- a 1985 film called Hold-Up based on the same source novel by Jay Cronley. Seems like a case of crying wolf too early. Besides, knowing Spike Lee, one can expect to see his trademarks all over the piece -- the city of New York, race, social commentary.

In an interview with NPR, Spike Lee acknowledges a debt instead to two Sidney Lumet/Al Pacino classics Dog Day Afternoon and Serpico. An interesting nugget of trivia pops up too: Ang Lee was Assistant Director on Lee's thesis film Joe's Bed-Stuy Barbershop: We Cut Heads.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

rahul roy's not quite naughty [OR how #me meets his match]

As noted previously in this space, Rahul Roy is all set to return to the silver screen with Naughty Boy featuring the female equivalent of #me [medically, of course], Mona Chopra. Now, recently Roy refused to pucker up with Chopra leaving his co-star Rocky Sandhu to try and do a #me [indulge in multiple on-screen kisses]. Just as #me's been running a marketing campaign for himself using his lips and his kissing prowess [sic], Mona Chopra's been doing something similar -- from going topless to saying things like Let's [sic] the film release, it will prove my kissing prowess.

Something not really important to people would be knowing what the film's about. And YT is all about telling you about stuff that's not really important. Here's a synopsis: A multi-millionaire businessman and widower (Rahul Roy) hires a young governess (Mona Singh) to make his teenage son (Hitesh Kriplani) a man, and ends up falling for her himself [more]. You are forgiven for looking at those publicity photographs and thinking that this was some kind of a horror flick.

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