Sunday, October 14, 2012

aiyyaa: mainstream meets oddball

  • Rani Mukerji goes down Vidya Balan lane and does her own Dirty Picture (with aplomb, gumption and enthusiasm)
  • the first half works really well in setting up the oddball universe
  • after the interval, SSH kicks in, unfortunately
  • great showcase for Pune and Punekars (Sambhaji Bridge, Subodh Bhave, Satish Alekar)
  • Hats off to Amitabh Bhattacharya for the lyrics (please, just listen to them really carefully)
  • nice touch having the laavaNii backing dancers in savaa Daa.clar wield digital video cameras
  • Finally a film that features a poster of Chashme Baddoor (in addition to introducing fandom for Farooque Sheikh and Deepti Naval and resurrecting the name Dhurandhar)
  • A Bengali star plays a Maharashtrian girl who falls for a Tamilian played by a Malayali star (you can spot the accent when he speaks his lines in the second half) and gets her cue for Dreamum Wakeupum (this film's ooh la-la) from Silk Smitha dance with Chiranjeevi in a Telugu film called Goonda (you wonder why you've heard that name before? Surely, you've seen golii maar, the rip-off of Michael Jackson's Thriller): this is seriously twisted
  • What's this obsession with the statutory warning about cigarette smoking? The opening has the English and Hindi warnings presented on the screen with Rani Mukerji reading them offscreen; this shows up again after the intermission; each time we see Meenakshi's chain-smoking (literally!) Dad, the statutory warning reappears at the bottom right of the screen: This is just as bad as those tickers marketing cigarettes in those videotapes from the Gulf in the 80s and 90s. Please, Mr. Ramadoss and ilk, stop it!.
  • Sachin Kundalkar does really well expanding a story from ga.ndha into an oddball romantic comedy, but just needed some tighter editing and shuffling of sequences in the second half (ijjat paapaD, allthough quirky enough, just feels like a drag in its fuller form: it might have fared better intercut with another scene, waakaDaa could well have become the song for the closing credits)
  • most awesome device that later goes unused: the voice of Vividh Bharati providing introduction to and commentary about the goings-on
  • You can see Kashyap's universe growing in the references: John Abraham, Dev.D
  • +1 for featuring The Blaft Anthology of Tamil Pulp Fiction, Volume 2. Make that +2.
  • subtitle goof: Azharbhai Chawl for Azerbaijan
  • which part of Tamil Nadu was Surya's mother from? I thought I spotted some Malayalam in her Tamil

Saturday, October 13, 2012

playlist for an autumnal walk

  • a gypsy's kiss (deep purple, perfect strangers)
  • friends (led zeppelin, the bombay sessions (bootleg))
  • a.Nkhiyaan (füzon)
  • johnny gaddaar (shankar-ehsaan-loy, johnny gaddaar)
  • ruu-ba-ruu (a r rahman, rang de basanti)
  • kandisa (indian ocean, kandisa)
  • drive (r e m, automatic for the people)
  • four sticks (led zeppelin, the bombay sessions (bootleg))
  • knocking at your back door (deep purple, perfect strangers)
  • everybody hurts (r e m, automatic for the people)
  • man on the moon (r e m, automatic for the people)
  • help (deep purple, shades of deep purple)

Thursday, October 04, 2012

why viacom?

dear mr kashyap, Weeks have gone by since Gangs of Wasseypur never hit the marquee in the US. Weeks have gone by since "rumours" that this was part of some innovative strategy for handling releases overseas. Weeks have gone by since Gangs of Wasseypur II failed to hit the marquee in the US. The official DVD of part I is now available at Theatre rips and the like have already been making the rounds at Indian stores in the US. I resisted getting one, because I really wanted to watch these films in the theatre.

I got the feeling that I'd even watch each twice. Just like Kill Bill. I watched both parts twice. In the hall. Call me nuts. And I loved the soundtracks of both. Same here. Sneha Khanwalkar helmed what I think is the best, most original soundtrack of the year. I do not anticipate anyone mustering anything remotely close to this.

But alas. When movies like Paan Singh Tomar and Shanghai and your own That Girl in Yellow Boots (but neither Gulaal nor No Smoking) made it to the marquee here with ease, what stops something so much bigger? The machinery of releasing Indian films in the US seemed to have improved over the last few years instead of making obvious overtures to profit by importing mind-numbing product starring known names and stars of various candelas? Did Viacom want to release the two parts as a single unit (like Grindhouse) and test the limits of the patience of the fidgety Indian audience and the uninterested owners of weather-beaten theatres screening Indian flicks? I have no way of knowing. How long did Viacom plan to wait before sending prints (or packets of bits) over? After the last DVD bearing an illegal rip from a theatre has been sold? After the last torrent for these rips has been left without seeds online? I have no way of knowing.

What I know is that I am extremely disappointed. A few years ago, I'd envy my friends back home each time a smaller more interesting film hit the multiplexes (the saviours for such small films). Things seemed to be improving but now with this film, I wonder if we're heading back to those days.

If this is how Viacom 18 plans to treat their projects, I hope that you and other directors whose work I find interesting will find alternatives that will allow your films to reach a wider audience and generate more revenue so that you are not treated as financial risks. Even UTV (whose DVDs are unfortunately sullied with watermarks just like the rest of them) would do.

Thank you for your kind attention.

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