Sunday, May 29, 2011

hitchgopal varma?

In chapter three of his book Spellbound by Beauty, Donald Spoto writes:
Hitch could certainly take credit for his visual inventiveness, and for his brilliance in adding to a script precisely the right images, the proper tone and atmosphere. But screenwriters from [Charles] Bennett in the 1930s to Ben Hecht in the 1940s, Samuel Taylor and Ernest Lehman in the 1950s and Evan Hunter in the 1960s all quickly realised that this director's gift was not for writing dialogue but for minimising it and allowing action and reaction, gaze and glance, to tell stories. Perhaps because he wanted to write the script entirely on his own but could not, he often resented his writers, who quickly knew not to expect gratifying compliments.

As I read this passage, I found myself thinking about a similar problem with Ram Gopal Varma, whose Factory promised to offer cinephiles different stories interpreted without the trappings of mainstream convention, with interesting technique and in different creative voices. Unfortunately, if one looked at just his jaunt in Bollywood, one noticed that his writers (who even turned director under his wing) were soon fleeing the coop and trying to make hay elsewhere. The reasons may have been myriad and most of them have always acknowledged the value of their formative time with RGV. But the steady departure of competence has left RGV and his Factory hollow. Without decent writers, the quality of his recent output has been on the decline. Long gone are the likes of Saurabh Shukla, Anurag Kashyap, Sriram Raghavan, Shimit Amin, Prawaal Raman and Manish Gupta.

Spellbound by Beauty is Donald Spoto's third book on the life and work of Alfred Hitchcock. It is also likely his most controversial, because it describes the often "difficult and even painful circumstances" under which the leading ladies in his films had to work. I own a copy of (and highly recommend) The Dark Side of Genius: The Life of Alfred Hitchcock, the second book in the series.

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