Golmaal: Fun Unlimited: No patch on the original Pancham/Gulzar The "hip-hop fakers" vishal-shekhar notch up another dancehall pastiche with the title track (even the Abhishek Bachchan singing vehicle Right Here Right Now/ek mai.n aur ek tuu hai in Bluffmaster was more dancehall than hip-hop although the video didn't help matters much). Their real ace is the revisionist kyo.n aage-piichhe Dolate ho, which harks back to the black-and-white days of film and film soundtracks complete with nasal contributions and the like. The rest of the album attempts to comply with the "fun" that the film purports to offer. A humble request to the brain-dead people who compile and transfer soundtracks to CD: could you please put the original track before the remixed version? Sincerely yours.
Katputtli: strange spelling that. DOA Dev Anand discovery Mink turns producer with a film with confused aspirations (nothing surprising here). Must be tough to be " a psychological thriller with surprising and chilling twists and turns, which guarantee to keep you on the edge of your seat" and " an out-and-out entertainer, which will drive your blues away ". Her brother Punnu Brar co-produces and shares the honours on the soundtrack with Bapi-Tutul. mitraa nuu, with its Punjabi dancehall and rap, meets all the requirements of assembly-line déjà vu to merit a skip. Bapi-Tutul produce a decent nugget in man meraa: the guitar scores over fair vocals from Shweta Pandit and a bland contribution from Sa Re Ga Ma champion Gaurav Bangia. Punnu Brar scores a plagiarism ace with Wild Dreams, which cogs the melody of Sweet Dreams, filches the mukha.Daa (in a manner of speaking) with sweet changed to wild, boasts angry arrangements that echo Mother by The Police, and tosses in references to The Sandman. Brar's pronounications ruin niile aasamaa.N; even the guitar fills don't save it. Bapi-Tutul's raftaa raftaa is a little gem: the aural scape conjures visions of the angry desert with rock-revisionist vibes of Morricone and Cooder. Ishq Bector's Snake Potion is a sample loop waiting for clever rhymes to run over it. It just goes straight into the bin with mitraa nuu. Wait for the movie to hit the marquee before things go kat-putt.
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
Monday, July 24, 2006
There's been some buzz about the Sanjay Dutt/Arshad Warsi starrer Anthony Kaun Hai?. The Nose's tunes are already raking in the moolah. There's not much meat as far as story of Raj Kaushal's new film (Pyar Mein Kabhi Kabhi, Shaadi ka Laddoo) is concerned. Providence, however, led me to a film called Who is Cletis Tout?. Lo! The similarities are scary.
Critical Jim is a hitman who "sees everything in terms of movies." Tim Allen's character maps to Sanjay Dutt's Master Madan (nice name that; was the reference to the child prodigy who died in 1942 intentional?).
Trevor Allen Finch is a forger with an identity crisis (that's the Cletis Tout/Anthony angle for you). On our end, we have Arshad Warsi's character Champ, an "ace conman who's changed his identity more than his underwear." What do we have next? The Soggy Bottom Boys?
Richard Dreyfuss and Portia de Rossi play Micah Donnelly, a magician-thief and Tess Donnelly, his alluring daughter. Jump cut to Bollywood and we get Raghuvir Yadav as "the ingenious magician Raghu, who can work magic with his deft hands. But one trick too many costs him his freedom."; we also have Minissha Yahaan Lamba as Jiya the "beautiful daughter of ingenious magician Raghu."
More mappings will be clear when YT gets a chance to catch both films; but this exercise feels so much like the discoveries on Rakht/The Gift.
Friday, July 21, 2006
Manish has a nice take on Gulzar's lyrical explorations in Omkara. It would also be unfair not to mention JR's detailed review (with footnotes). The updated post now also contains a reference to Manish's post. Watch that space. Watch this space. Go watch the film when it hits the theatres.
addendum: Manish posts an addendum about the dialect and ends with a note that all this attempt at being true to the milieu of the film's events is likely to hurt the commercial prospects of the film. Sad times are upon us if an attention to detail is at strict odds with commercial success. The Reign Of The Nose only underscores this concern.
elsewhere hereabouts: the music review
Monday, July 17, 2006
First, we have (courtesy: amit varma) a ... um ... "mad" cow. Actually, an opinionated one. NSFW. Please relish.
Oh! My! God! Priyanka "the living woman I admire the most (in 2000) is Mother Teresa (who died in 1997)" Chopra turns 24. Please please make haste and wish her. [link courtesy: amogh, a fan of PC's contributions to mainstream entertainment]
A full-length article on Rediff yesterday announced that Mimoh was ready for action. A few people have pointed me to the article after recovering from ROTFLMAO sessions. Although devoid of any memorable nuggets, the article is still a fine example of the kind of disconnected stream of consciousness writing that adorns the Rediff Movies section. The names of the siblings waiting in the wings? Ushmey (Rimoh), Namashi, Dishani. A sample:
When I first faced the camera, I was petrified. My legs were shaking. But my first shot was accepted in one take. My father gifted me an Omega watch, as promised. He does not star in any of my films because he feels I will be overpowered by the image he carries. He will work with me later when I have proved myself.
I already have friends in the industry. Salman Khan tells me I should stay with him whenever I come to Mumbai. Abhishek Bachchan says he is like my big brother and that I should spend time with him. This is all because of my father and the respect he has in the industry.
Friday, July 14, 2006
A coffee table book about the making of the film (and loaded, in all likelihood, with eye candy) was released in May 2006 at Cannes. Two extracts have made their way online. Something to savour before I get my hands on the book:
I set the story in the political mafia of Uttar Pradesh... a strife ridden political melt pot in North India... I spent my childhood in the small town of Meerut in UP... This interpretation of Othello as my characters populate a place and language that I have known closely... Somewhere they have left their Shakespeare roots far behind and surrendered to me... For example I based the character of the central antagonist, Langda Tyagi, on a childhood friend whose growth as a gangster had happened in front of my eyes.
When it came down the look I am a big fan of the "wild west" genre of Hollywood films. I reworked Othello and his gang, on page, into a band of outlaws from the great outback. The workings of the gang would be rooted in reality. But the mood of the film was deliberately chosen to resemble the dusty westerns of the 60s.
Discussions during this phase also led to some of the film's grammar such as ending sequences at extreme wide shots and jumping the axis at various points to embellish the narrative.
Tassaduq made Vishal see Roman Polanski's Chinatown as a template for the lensing of the film. They decided to go for a lot of 25-30 lenses even for the extreme wides. It was also decided to shoot on super 35 with Cooke lenses which added that extra amount of detailing to the wides.
[all this and more]
In a Mumbai Mirror interview, Vishal offered some more interesting tidbits about his vision for Omkara. MM is notorious for generating and using dud URLs that don't survive more than a few several hours; so, it's a mercy to find the contents on Naachgaana.com:
In the original, Iago overhears Othello's conversation, but in my film I have adapted this and used mobile phones and speaker phones instead. It retains the essence of the play and also brings in technology to make it contemporary. If Shakespeare had written Othello in today's time, I am sure he would have also used mobile phones and spy cameras.
Thursday, July 13, 2006
Tuesday, July 11, 2006
After the rib-tic-tic-tic-tic-tickling experience that was eef you come today, the late great Dr Rajkumar is back. This time he's strumming a guitar (all on playback, of course, given the texture of the sound). It's all very much like the 70s in Bollywood with some nice chords. The film is Shankar Guru and the mukha.Daa is 100% English (Love me or hate me / kiss me or kill me / O darling please do something for me). The a.ntaraas derive from the salacious hints (if the subtitles are to be believed, my body is light and floating / your demands exhaust me) that laced several blues songs of yore. There's a Ravi vibe to the melody (I found myself humming the a.ntaraa of aage bhii jaane na tuu a few times). Quite entertaining in a kitschy way (is there any other?). All you can say is Aaaahhh!
Wednesday, July 05, 2006
How could I have known that all the trepidation and FUD exhuded by the name Brett Ratner was more than justified? How could I deny the rank mediocrity of Red Dragon? First off, they lied about the last in the title. That post-credit sequence is the worst cop-out I've seen in a while. Then they decided to behave as if this was the last edition in the trilogy (in 5 parts?). So they made some obvious moves. Taking a hint from the mass don destruction in The Godfather III, the scriptwriters proceeded to bump off one character after the other. They also attempted to play a crazy balancing game by tossing in as many new characters from the canon as they can find. To top it all, they decided that the Phoenix arc was a really cool idea to use, stuck this square peg into a round hole and hurled the resultant mutant shape at the audience.
The Wolverine/Jean/Cyclops love triangle could now be exploited for some PG-13 on-screen heat. They managed to rope in Kelsey Grammer for one of the thankless parts (Beast). They scripted a ton of "clever" one-liners giving the audience ample opportunity to play "guess what this character's going to say next" all through the film. Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellan add some seriousness to their parts and Hugh Jackman's Wolverine continues to be an interesting character. However, Halle Berry's Storm continues to be one of the most uninteresting parts in the series (a real surprise if you've read the comics). Guess who threatened to back out in the absence of a meatier part? The result is a lot of useless dialogue delivered by a worthless character. It's so bad that it overshadows her acting inabilities.
Cain "Juggernaut" Marko is reduced to an all-brawn-no-brain bozo who delivers crowd-pleasing lines like "I'm the Juggernaut, bitch"
A wave of Maine Pyar Kiya nostalgia might flood in when Wolverine socks a regenerating mutant in his nuts.
Why choose Alcatraz as the location for the pharmaceutical company's research facility? Because it capitalises on the movie allure of the place, makes for more $$-spending, and allows our filmmakers to create and execute a rather silly sequence where Magneto turns the Golden Gate bridge around to create a path for the mutants to the island. I wonder if that shot of rush hour traffic on the broken bridge was a nod to Ratner's comic venture.
The music kept reminding me of The Lord of the Rings
Where TF is Nightcrawler? What's your fetish with vistas? Did you take cinematographic lessons in Bollywood?
The SFX are involved and dedicated to the sole cause of fulfilling the expectations from a summer blockbuster. Patrick Stewart's face looks a tad stretched during the flashback sequence, though.
Bollywood fans will relish the presence of a "twenty years ago" message.
Didn't know d**khead qualified for a PG-13 rating.
The best thing about the film happened before the previews began. A lady stood before everyone and requested that all cellphones, text messaging and blackberry devices be turned off (or set to vibrate) and if they weren't they'd have to first warn the person and then next time ask him/her to leave; she also asked people to wait till the credits were done for a special sequence (which didn't matter for me, because I sit through the credits anyway). Unfortunately, some well-educated individual did not heed this directive and you could hear a cellphone while the feature was on. Some morons never learn.
Monday, July 03, 2006
[July 05, 2006] A slightly modified version of this appears on Naachgaana.com
Aah. Sheer bliss this. Worth every nano-ounce of the wait. Gulzar's way with words, Vishal's sense of sound and the flavour of the region where the movie's events transpire come together in a delicious aural offering. I don't remember sitting back like this with a smile on my face since ... Maqbool.
The title song OMkaaraa opens with an infectious plucked-string riff that situates the song in its locale. Sukhwinder's voice is accompanied by more rustic percussion (the pattern's the same as the one on City Don't Cry from No Quarter), a swirling sound sample, and an enthusiastic multi-part chorus. There's even a riff from the strings that's as addictively dissonant as the central riff on David Bowie's The Hearts Filthy Lesson. Gulzar's lyrics mix onomatopoeia and dialect and metaphors that only he is capable of.
Up next, Vishal steps up to the microphone and joins a restrained dulcet Shreya Ghoshal on o saathii re. The jaw drops as he begins to sing. This man is (to borrow cricket metaphor that's not so inappropriate for triviamongers) an all-rounder. So far, he has written lyrics, composed music, scripted and directed films. All that is left is an acting turn. The lovely second interlude played out the guitar is a reward for people like me who love listening to songs on headphones. It's a wonderful split across the ears... and I'd love to see how it was done. Lovely segue from the mukha.Daa to the a.ntaraa sans interlude. With wonderful lines (aa chal din ko roke.n / dhuup ke piichhe dau.De.n / chhaa.Nv chhue naa) Gulzar also gets away with more than murder (terii merii aTTii-baTTii / daa.Nt se kaaTii kaTTii). This man never loses his power to amaze.
With her effortless impassioned performance on bii.Dii, Sunidhi Chauhan's going to have a tough time shaking off her image as an "item song specialist." Sukhwinder Singh, Nachiketa Chakraborty and Clinton trade turns as Gulzar goes on a wild rhyming spree (naa Gilaaf naa lihaaf / Tha.nDhii hawaa bhii Kilaaf). There's a receptive chorus complete with harmonies and then smack in the middle there's a segue to the harmonium. A minute later, the harmonium and the tabalaa take over for about 10 seconds or so.
When was the last time a lorii began with the words jag jaa? The bouncy interlude featuring the flute and the string section (the Chennai String Orchestra) doesn't help matters much. The irony is absent in the calming rendition from Wadkar or in the short first flute interlude. And lines like halkaa-saa kosaa, subah kaa bosaa help. Stay tuned for a reference to king dasharath's promise.
Rekha's first song on the album finds me still at sea about just how talented she is. namak, with its earthy flavour, percussion, the harmonium, the occasional tinkling piano, able support from Rakesh Pandit, and a host of supporting singers is a revelation.
The first thing naiNaa does is give me a far far better idea of what Rahat Fateh Ali Khan is capable of than man kii lagan had in Paap. Toss in a rippling electronic riff, a motif on the guitar and a swirling heady trance mix. The eyes have been a familiar object of Gulzar's poetic interpretation (juuThe nainaa bole, juuThe tere nain) and their fickle intent receives a fresh salvo here: bhalaa ma.ndaa dekhe Naa paraayaa Naa sagaa re / naiNo.n ko to Dasane kaa chaskaa lagaa re / naiNo.n kaa zahar nashiilaa re.
laaka.D is Rekha's second song on the album. It opens with the sound of oars hitting water before Rekha's voice breaks in against a 14-beat cycle. Vishal's uncomplicated melody includes a wonderfully expressive touch when Rekha sings the word khaak the first time. The arrangements mix multitracked echoes and reverbs, acoustic and electric guitar riffs and rich sweeps lending a general feeling of suspension to the lyrics: laaka.D jal ke koyalaa hoye jaaye / koyalaa hoye jaaye khaak / jiyaa jale to kuchh naa hoye re / naa dhuaa.N naa raakh / jiyaa naa jalaiyo re.
the tragedie of omkara rounds up the album; it's the sole instrumental cue on the soundtrack release. Carmina Burana-esque with a portentous crescendo fraught with despair.
This is the best Hindi film soundtrack of the year.
Sunday, July 02, 2006
Another new article of mine has surfaced on the Panchammagic Song of the Fortnight page:
naa jaa o mere hamadam / film: Pyar Ka Mausam (1969) / lyrics: Majrooh
Our song for this edition, Lata's haunting naa jaa o mere hamadam comes off the Pyar ka Mausam soundtrack, which boasted nine songs that saw Pancham in fine form. Majrooh pens a familiar staple of Bollywood films: the heroine beseeching her lover to return to her after a lover's quarrel, or perhaps a misunderstanding of sorts. In addition to being one of Lata's best renditions, the song also boasts another example of Pancham's penchant for experimenting with arrangements and sounds: the striking (no pun intended) use of church bells. It's a Morricone-esque flourish employed for a different mood. But what mood is it? Despite the familiar territory, the trademark mix of elements makes the intent a bit ambiguous.
[PS: The article gets a more permanent archive URL once a new post goes up; I'll update this post when that happens]
addendum: [august 25, 2006] The page has just received some cool embellishments: the LP cover and some sample audio clips.
[august 14, 2007]: URL updated.