The movie that made me win

(Finally some good news in the fag end of the year. I won myself a LG Chocolate mobile for this entry. It was for a contest in CNN-IBN’s movie show ‘Now Showing’, hosted by the king of critics Rajeev Masand. You had to write about the one movie you’re never tired of watching, in under 200 words (which was the biggest challenge). And the most personal and articulate entry wins.

This was mine.)

Jaane bhi do yaaro

This film gives me immense hope that lunacy and idiocy have a purpose. I work in advertising, and for years I was facing an existential crisis, wondering if my weirdo ideas could ever find a purpose.

Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron gives every madman the confidence that somewhere beneath his stupidity lies genius.

Which is probably why it makes me return to it each time I feel lost and suffocated in the company of  intellectuals, who defeat you with their superior weapon called logic.

It makes me feel at home, in the company of fools. Or people I’d call fearless heroes, who are unwilling to sacrifice the charm of their spontaneity by trying to seek sense in everything they do or say.

The more I see it, the more I’m convinced that you don’t have to have answers to every question.

This film is one of a kind, and nobody can tell exactly why it works.

I don’t want to ruin my experience by trying to analyse that. Not even for a Rs 30,000 prize.

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Mr Big B, Khush toh nahin hai hum

(This is a very old post of mine, that suddenly went missing from my blog. After a lot of searching…..I have unearthed it from somewhere. I cannot backdate it, and so I have no other alternative than post it right up here. Read it, if you already haven’t.)

Mr Amitabh,

Give me the real Bachchan.

I admit that you are one of the few actors to have evolved so finely. But I cannot help but miss the Bachchan who walked into theatres amidst deafening whistles.

amithabh_bachchan_deewar_20070521The Bachchan who triggered a frenzy even before the censor certificate appeared. The Bachchan who kicked us out of bed to rush to the theatres and join a snake long queue. The Bachchan who made us sacrifice the popcorn during intervals. The Bachchan who kept us glued onto the seat even if our bladders were bursting. The Bachchan whose films were reserved to only be screened during Diwali on Doordarshan. The Bachchan that made us aware of theatres we never knew existed. The Bachchan who made us grin and bear the shaky lines that appeared and reappeared in the rented VHS tapes.  The Bachchan where nothing else mattered as long as it was Bachchan.

If I had to pick up a poster of you to adorn my walls, it would still be from the pile of your earlier films.

If a Rajni can still do a Sivaji, why not you?

How can you enter the screen without background music anymore? Why is there no grand revelation to the God on screen? Why does the camera not take its time to scan you from toe to head? Why is there even an inch of space between you and the edge of the screen? Why are your opening lines not drowned in the din of the audience? Why is there no reverb to your baritone voice when you utter those first golden words? Why do you not do things that a Naseer or Om Puri can never dream of doing?

There are a hundred actors for us to go ‘wah wah’ about their acting skills. But there is still only one Bachchan to imitate in front of the mirror. So why have you stepped into those easily replaceable meaningful roles? Why have you retraced your steps to being an actor again?

kalapathar_amitabhIf all this is an attempt to cater to the new generation that wants ‘Bollywood’ to resemble ‘Hollywood’, then what happens to the crores of front benchers like me? Who do we turn to? How long do we rerun those pirated dvds? How many more dvds will you make us buy, by just changing the cover? When do we see you with DTS put to full use? When do we see the seats of multiplexes ripped apart? When do we buy in black again? When will you give us new fodder with which we could spend a few more years happily trying to imitate? When will you stop breaking the formula? When will you surprise us with a cliche that’s now rare?

‘Vijay Dinanath Chauhan…gaon Mandwa……’,

“line wahin se shuru hoti hai, jahaan hum khade hote hai’

‘Ae kancha, bandookh bhi dikhatha hai aur peeche bhi hat tha hai?’

‘Aadmi aisa do heech time bhaagtha hai, olympic ka race ho ya police ka case’……

Don’t you miss saying those lines anymore than competing with mere mortals who are hiding in the shadow of realism? Specially, when you’ve unanimously been granted the license to leap far out of it.

Don’t worry about the New Gen. After all, they are a giggly lot, laughing at silly MTV spoofs of your masterpieces, with no impact of the original on them. Moreover, there are sufficient people who’ve been put in the business to keep them happy. There are enough ‘thinking directors’ catering to them, engaged in remaking foreign flicks or inspired renditions of them. That should keep them busy in comparing it with the original. They have a good understanding going on between themselves. Leave them alone to enjoy that nonsense.show_fpicphp3

In the meanwhile, please spare a thought to forgotten front benchers like me and wake up the sleeping Salim Javeds, Kader Khans and Tinnu Anands, and let’s start from where we left off last….

Was it Hum?

Bhaktavar…Mein aaaa raha hoon…….tan tan tan tadang taaaaaaaaaannnnnnng…

Now go.

Emosanal connecsion

emotional

The pop corn seemed potent. And the coke tasted like neat vodka. Watching Dev D is like going on a dizzy ride into fantasy, rather ecstasy. The thrill is quite similar to screaming together in a rock show, watching the local band belt out ‘cocaine’. The intoxication is so misleading, that you start confusing the cheap liquor inside you to be something of an higher order. 

Fluorescent streaks of colour, crazy camera works, eclectic sound effects transport you to a world that you only hangovered about till now.  

It looks like the director, the cast, the cameraman, the spot boy, the editor were on dope throughout the making of this film. And the censor board was on a overdose  to pass it. 

The film is a narcotic pot boiler (quite literally) of a man who indulges in everything that you only had seventh hand information about. All said and done it was one hellofatrip in the name of modern cinema. All the weed that Anurag Kashyap sowed has reaped off. And it shows.dev-d-0a1

 

 

What distinctly catches your eye in that dark tele cine are a few scenes, infact single symbolic shots, like the sex starved punjabi kudi who cycles away to the some ganne ke kheth with a bed on her carrier, freeing the location from the clutches of Yash Chopra and his disciples, and putting it to better use. 

Or the scene where Abhay Deol walks in slow motion, out of a wine store balancing an entire carton of vodka on one hand, to depict the extent of his misery. Worth learning how to whistle.

Or the scene where the firangi girl turned prostitute, regrets why her father did not pardon her for all her sins, and Abhay Deol pulls her close and gives her a hug, reciting the same lines that she wanted to hear from her father. 

smoking-upYes, there could be people who would argue that this encourages alcoholism and drugs and spreads messages that are against our culture. But again, it is only a movie. Nobody set out to install lightbulbs in villages after seeing Swades. Maybe, movies can only do so much. So, it’s best to leave your moralistic viewpoints aside, and watch this movie for the sheer pleasure of watching good cinema.  

The guts behind getting a local brass band to lend their voice for the lead single ‘Emosanal Attyachar’ says a lot about the director wanting to redefine the tried and tested Sonu and Udit for delivering a hit, or for that matter  engaging a garage musician to score the music tracks.  

Apparently, most of the songs were written by the singers themselves, because Anurag had identified closet poets behind those voices.

This movie actually reminded me of someone closer home who tried what Anurag accomplished, a decade ago. Uppi.satyam42

Yes, if you follow closely, there is an uncanny resemblance to what Uppi set out to do when the audience had still not got their fill with run of the mill stuff (the rhyme happened without my knowledge, sorry about that). Right from the title, Uppi decided to be different, yes just for the sake of being different. Titles like A, Shhh, Om, Upendra, Swastik, H2O and other titles that weren’t as distinct as the ones above. 

However prepared you might have been for unpreparedness, Uppi still had surprises. Surprises that you enjoyed. Fleeting references to situations that you’ve been through in the past. He narrated stories from a place that you left behind to join a group that you actually don’t belong to. He sucked you in, releasing you from the trappings that you have so stupidly got yourself into. He welcomed you back to a world that is loud, unpretentious and mediocre, where appreciation required no additional knowledge or effort on your part. Letting you give in to the unpolished side of yourself, that you sometimes so desperately seek in the world you’ve graduated into. 

Crude dialogues, unpoetic lyrics and extreme performances found a method to creep into plots that made the last benchers of school, first benchers in the cinema hall. Weaved into stories where you willingly reduced yourself to the lowest common denominator. 

 

Sample this dialogue from A…”Indian culture is great, Indian tradition is great, Indian heritage is great….but Indians are not great.” This is juxtaposed against a rape scene, where he steps in to save the victim. Over the top and deshdrohi..ish, but thoroughly enjoyable when you become one with the crowd and whistle along.

The story lines made you uncomfortable in your seat, and the message was conveyed only after tossing and turning in your bed that night. For instance, Upendra was a film that set out to prove that a man can actually have relationships with three different women, one for love, another for lust and the third for marriage, as all the three from one person could be unsatisfying. Or H2O was a story about a Kannadiga and a Tamilian falling in love with the same woman called Cauvery. And just to make it more difficult for audiences used to regular cinema, he made it a bi-lingual film, where the two heroes (He and Prabhudeva), spoke in Kannada and Tamil respectively. What happened was not as surprising as the film. It was promptly banned.

Strangely, I find far too many similarities between these two geniuses of cinema.

I found the cinematic treatment of Dev D slipping into trance, quite similar to Uppi’s introduction shot in Upendra. A technique where still photographs are taken on a trolley that rotates around the subject, and then strung together in high speed, to give you a crazy rush. Apparently, Danny Boyle advised Anurag to use this technique to get the desired effect, while Uppi plainly learnt it from ignorance.  

Or for that matter, the shaky camera that blurs on and off as Dev D approaches his lover after downing a bottle, is quite close to the ‘helkolakke ondu ooru’ song where Uppi in a similar state goes swaggering all over the place, conveniently transferring the buzz in his head on to yours. And made it a universal favorite of every boozard in crowded cheapo bars, when alcohol began to corner them to solitude. Suddenly a lonely victim from under a zero watt bulb would break into this number, slowly drawing the fellow drunkards into his gloomy world. Eventually, the entire bar would echo his sentiments, pour their left over drinks to plastic tumblers and sway down the dark stairway, singing in chorus, bumping into each other and bonding like buddies, finding similarities in the shitty scripts that God  had written for them.

 

Uppi then offered further comfort to lonely love-struck boozards with an optional number in H2O, ‘Dil ilde love maadukke”, repeating his cinematic treatment with lyrics that conveyed feelings for his beloved by comparing them to alcohol, that roughly translated like this ‘If I see you, it is like downing a 60. If you laugh, it is like downing a 90. If you talk to me and laugh at the same time, it is like downing a full bottle.’ These automatically found an emosanal connection with Auto drivers and truck drivers, who paid homage in the form of distorted caricatures of Uppi on truck and auto backs. 

Uppi fused popular advertising baselines like ‘Boost is the secret of my energy’, or ‘Amul, a gift for someone you love’ into his film’s music track of ‘A’. As juvenile and crazy it might sound, it certainly boasted of a newcomer’s guts who gave into his raw instincts without letting them steer away into logic, without processing them till they came back without that spunk of spontaneity.  

Even the posters were eccentric. The poster for ‘A’ had Uppi pulling a handcart with a woman sitting on it. He narrated the script to a local artist, and asked him to paint anything that came to his mind after hearing the story. He then added a baseline under the painting that read ‘For intelligent people only’. The poster for the film ‘Upendra’ had Uppi screaming, with the letters “FRID’ in bold. He later told me that it meant nothing. He wanted to write something in the poster that meant ‘nothing’, just to get people talking about it. And it worked. The public went bonkers trying to decode that nonsense, and even drove them to buy a ticket, just to solve the puzzle. 

He then wanted to make a movie with no title. His distributors who were still clinging on to sanity, requested him to call it something, or they would not be able to list it in the papers. Uppi found an intelligent solution that could keep both of them happy. He gave it a symbol instead, the symbol of Swastik. The posters had nothing but the sign of Swastik. This time, he got people guessing, what the name of the film could be. 

Eventually, Uppi had to catch up with the audience, who had now returned to their regular cinema after that brief stint with insanity, dragging him there in the process.

Unfortunately, Uppi did not have the finesse to elevate his kitschness to an art form, that could be openly appreciated by MG Road audiences of Bangalore. Uppi restricted himself to kannada speaking audiences and failed to transcend beyond these provinces. Nevertheless, it was incredible to see him blend his learnings from world class cinema, suitable enough to an audience that he knew so well. Which after a long time, I now see in Anurag Kashyap, who operates in a language that is more fortunate. 

Sophistication is a curse on mankind, imposed by people who are too jealous of men being themselves. Dev D, Oye lucky lucky Oye, Slumdog Millionaire welcome loud, crass and over-the-top depictions of life into the basket of appreciatable cinema. Restraint and silence are replaced with energy and kitsch. Old fundas of realism in cinema that stretched the ‘thought for the day’ on your school boards to snail paced renditions of unattractive looking people enacting bodily functions like eating and sleeping to painfully long durations, with absolutely no background score, has thankfully been thrown out of the window. Tacky camerawork that masquerade as natural lighting have faded out. Stories on poverty are no longer supported with budgets that are similar. And dialogues that deserve seetis have percolated down to non-starry films. Thankfully, art cinema has progressed beyond serving these self obsessed audiences who take great pride and pleasure being amidst boredom.

Whatever you may call them- multiplex cinema, new age cinema, alternative cinema, parallel cinema or offbeat cinema or any other term, this too shall pass, and there will no longer be the great divide that separates films that are watched and films that need to be watched. The new brigade knows that the audience is there to be entertained, and not to support someone’s mission of picking up a national award. It’s relieving to know that you no more have to be subjected to subjects devoid of entertainment.  

It seems like Indian Cinema never had it better. 

Chandni chowk to china

Wow!! Finally here is a movie where you can take your two year old toddler along and chase him with a cerelac bowl in the aisle. Where you can speak non-stop on the cellphone without anyone complaining. You can suddenly whistle and it wont be out of turn, because nobody knows when is the right time to do so. You can actually go through the entire list of snacks at the cafeteria, and the guy behind won’t make a fuss.

It’s like watching a rerun of a 0-0 football match where you already know that noone is going to score anyway.

The director has put together a series of jokes of different varieties, so that you might end up liking at least some of them.

Let’s begin with the story.

Akshay kumar works as a vegetable cutter in a dhaba at Chandni Chowk .

Akshay Kumar is mistaken as a reincarnation of a chinese warrior.

Akshay kumar lands in China.

Deepika Padukone is an Indian who wants to go to china. She has a twin sister who is a chinese working for a goon who has murdered her mom and she doesn’t know that and she ends up chasing akshay kumar because he is suppose to be a warrior and then something something something……and mithun lands up and gets angry and something something something. Some singing, some dancing and romance and jumping on china wall and some kung fu hustle……..Kailash kher sings sidhu sidhu sidhu…ranvir runs around in a crazy hairdo…..and your popcorn spills and the baby beside screams and you get an sms and you respond and mithun dies.

INTERVAL

Akshay takes training in a special kung fu that combines his roti making skills and vegetable cutting skills and something something something.
dam….dim…..daka..phuku…..dishhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh…
mryuck-7132582
The experience of watching this movie is unexplainable. Writing a blog on it is more like a challenge.

When it comes to judging movies, I have the lowest standards in the universe. I’ve enjoyed movies so horrible that it could make people doubt my character, personality and judgement.

But this movie takes a new skill to appreciate it.

A fan of Rajni said this when someone asked him just after he saw Sivaji.

Interviewer: “How was the story?”

Fan “We’ll worry about that after the seventh viewing.”

Unfortunately, unlike Rajni, Akshay is not in a stage where he can do anything without questions popping up in your mind.

It’s not our inability to suspend disbelief.

This movie is suspension of anything that your brain questions innocently. Where you have to suspend things like why is there no continuity? Why is there no story? Why did this scene jump all of a sudden? Why is he here? Why is this happening? Who is this dude? What is he doing? What happened to that chap? Why is this Chinese speaking hindi?

Questions that are more than what a paranoid client would ask at a
disastrous PPM.

At least when I watched it, there was not a single moment in the film where the audience roared with laughter in chorus. It was I liked one joke. The person beside me liked the next. It’s like a bundle of jokes hurled at you and you decide when you want to laugh depending on upto what level you are willing to expose your stupidity.

Moreover the silly jokes force you to not take them sillily, because they are shot so well. It’s like packaging Pacman into Playstation. When Goundamani kicks Senthil you laugh. But if the same were to happen with hi-tech special effects, you are left cold.

The first 20 minutes of the film actually define that it’s a ‘leave your brains home’ comedy. But then they are spoilt by some emotional scenes that are shot with such sincerity and performances that it leaves you confused as to how to exactly react to it.

The fights in the movie are pathetic. They build you up till you are on the edge of your seat and just when it’s about to start, it looks like the stunt director went on leave.

And it also seems like that after cutting flight tickets for the entire crew to China, the production ran out of money for local travel. The only location that you get to see is the Great wall of china.

Deepika Padukone is best thing to happen to this film. She looks fab in her Chinese avtaar. Her make-up artist and costume designer deserve an Oscar for that.

The chap from 36 chambers of Shaolin is the villain named Hojo. The previous sentence is all that I gathered about him in the entire film. I think the Chinese interpreter they engaged to co-ordinate between him and the director was playing pranks. The lines he speaks and the emotion attached are as mismatched as the audio and video of any Chinese movie.

Akshay Kumar is totally relatable. He represents the state of mind that the entire audience is going through, on screen. He’s perpetually confused as to what is happening.

Mithun was smart. He figured out that this film is going nowhere so decided to kill his character with about 10 minutes of screen presence.

Ranvir is superbly convincing in his role. A role that is designed to make absolutely no sense to the script.

Overall, it’s like any ‘Made in China’ maal. It’s got lots packed in it, but nothing works.

The only danger is that this review might actually end up making this film seem interestingly nonsensical.

So, go enjoy.

Me and my Jhankaar beats

It’s strange that every time I sit back to think about incidents in my life, songs from Bollywood always make their way into the memories. After 33 years of uneventful existence, the only thing I can proudly showoff, is the shitty deep association I have with Hindi songs.

And they don’t include any Gulzar or Burman’s work of genius. I am one of the few who remember songs from inane films like Tum Mere Ho, Phir Lehraya Lal Dupatta and Bahaar Aane Tak.

As I think about my past, ear shattering tunes with a thousand violins reaching crescendo automatically form background score.

I used to stay in a locality where Bollywood was like Hollywood. In the sense, it indicated refined taste. In my colony, you would rarely hear a Hindi song blare in the neighbourhood. Devotional tracks and Kannada music were the only cassettes people possessed. Hindi was cool, irrespective of what it was.
In this ambience, an electrical shop, “Kathyayini Electricals’ in my locality decided to make Bollywood tapes available to this part of civilisation.

The optimistic fool, also stocked titles like the ones mentioned above, with a hope that once people covered the basics like QSQT and Tezaab, they would eventually stoop down to such trash.

He made a grand showcase and displayed Gulshan Kumar’s garbage in them.

Nothing of such sort happened. All the money he made by repairing fans and geysers, he lost on T-series. Slowly, the bright coloured Cholis and Lehengas of these heroines on the cover turned sepia with dust.

He decided to do away with them, and dumped them in a huge cardboard carton box of Cosmo switches or something like that, and scribbled with a marker ‘All cassettes Rs. 5/- only.’

This was a splendid chance to improve my collection of Bollywood tapes. To increase it from a disgusting number of 9 to above 50. To me it never mattered what the songs were, who the singers were or who penned the lyrics. All that mattered was that it was Bollywood.

I bought all of them. Maybe I left one or two behind, as the covers were unattractive. I disliked combo tapes as the pictures of the heroes and heroines were reduced by half.

So there it was, a new collection that included unheard titles like Habiba by Bappi Lahiri, English translations of Hawa Hawa performed by Babla and Orchestra, Trinetra, Runa Laila, Baap Numbri Beta Dus Numbri, Baaghi and stuff like that.

I connected two bright green ‘Meenu’ speakers to my flat National Panasonic Tape Recorder and belted out numbers like ‘Narangi Musambi kuch bhi pila’ or ‘Neeli neeli aankhen’ or “Super Dancer’ with extra jhankaar beats, every afternoon.

When I finally joined Christ College with this enriched knowledge on music, I found no gang worthy to belong to. Everyone had wasted their childhood listening to trash like Dylan and Floyd.

Oh Shit!! I had to make a start again.