Recently, I read a blog post which bellowed on about the dearth of good film and television content on Indian shores and how we should, if we “want real entertainment”, switch to watching Hollywood films or stream shows off the net. (No, I shall not link to that post; thus saving you from Dumbness Syndrome.)
I agree that we have very few films in India that are capable of being called “world-class” films. But it is not as if we are not trying. We have an earnest batch of filmmakers that do try to maintain a certain standard in their works, no matter how bad the losses are eventually.
Yes, losses. That is another problem with our films, rather the well-made ones. For instance, let us take into account the best films of the previous year i.e. 2010: Udaan, Ishqiya, Love Sex Aur Dhokha (LSD), Do Dooni Chaar (DDC), Peepli [Live] and a few others. How many of these were blockbuster hits? Frankly, none.
Udaan received the recognition it deserved, thanks to Cannes. Peepli [Live] got its due thanks to it being India’s official entry to the Oscars. LSD was heralded for its innovative camerawork, cinematography and direction. DDC was held high for its simplistic story and sublime acting. Ishqiya, praised a lot as well, was, perhaps, the most successful of the lot.
Yet, they do not feature on the list of the top money earners of the year. Films like Dabangg, Band Baaja Baraat and Robot which are typical masala flicks reach the top of the roster. Now I’m not against masala films. They have been on the menu of India’s film viewership for years. And, come on, who doesn’t like a good masala film? I know I do.
Hence it is very refreshing to see that the audience are not being ignorant anymore. Bad masala films which lacked logic and sense like Action Replayy, Housefull and Tees Maar Khan have been rejected by the audience, which is an ominous sign.
Now I wait for the day when people will understand that good cinema is beyond mindless comedies or plagiarised melodramatic sagas. (Yes, Guzaarish, you were that! Oh, sorry, that was inspired.)
Another issue to point out here is that we’re not the only people facing this problem. Sure the US has a fledging film industry with critical successes coming out in more abundance than back home. But they too have their share of flops. In fact this article talks about how films like Gulliver’s Travels, The Tourist and Prince Of Persia: Sands Of Time, although miserable flops in Uncle Sam’s hometown, go on to make huge profits throughout the rest of the world.
Let’s analyse a little more. Out of the ten Oscar Best Film nominees this year, how many have been runaway hits? Toy Story 3 ($414,806,932*) (the highest grosser of the year and one of the best-reviewed films), Inception ($292,568,851), True Grit ($137,963,519). That’s it. Even The Social Network ($95,408,473), Black Swan ($83,250,375), The Fighter ($72,680,740) and The King’s Speech ($57,313,881) have been moderate hits. The rest have done just fine.
Just an Indian phenomenon now? Not quite.
I have no solution to this problem. The only thing we can do, through this blog of ours, is to encourage more people to watch films that are worthy of being called “good cinema”. But totally ignoring the good efforts by our fellows is not the way to counter the bad cinema. We can just hope. Sajid Khan has just announced a sequel to his tedious Housefull. Give me a small film anyday.
Written by Runcil Rebello.
*All figures are as of 23 January 2011 and taken from the imdb pages of the respective films. Some films are still running in theatres and so may improve upon their earnings.
Recently I came across this hilarious article by TotalFilm wherein they listed a few characters from the movies that could hand over the Oscar statuette to the winners. A well-compiled list, I began to wonder about our own Hindi films and our Hindi film characters that could give out awards. I had a conversation with a few of my friends about well-written or memorable characters in Hindi films. And we came up with quite a few who we thought could give away awards.
Mogambo (Amrish Puri’s cult villain from Mr. India)
Lucky (Tushar Kapoor’s mute character from the Golmaal series)
Rahul Mehra (Shah Rukh k-k-k-k-Khan’s stuttering persona from Darr)
Munnabhai and Circuit (Sanjay Dutt and his sidekick Arshad Warsi in the Munnabhai series)
Jadoo (Yes, that alien from Koi… Mil Gaya)
Gabbar Singh (The menacing Amjad Khan from Sholay. “Kitne Filmfare The?”)
Ravi Verma (Shashi Kapoor in Deewaar. “Mere Paas Filmfare Hain.”)
Guddu/Charlie (Shahid Kapoor’s lisping and stammering claim to fame in Kaminey)
We then realised that this list was heavily populated by male characters (with the possible exception of Jadoo, whose gender was left undetermined by the Roshans). So we started thinking hard of strong and worthy female characters that could give away our imagined awards.
Sweety Bhope (Marathi girl Priyanka Chopra in Kaminey)
Meera Gaity (Overdramatic and over-swearing journalist Rani Mukherjee in No One Killed Jessica. Would love to see her give some choice gaalis when the Best Supporting Actress award goes to someone else!)
Basanti (Hema Malini from Sholay)
Makdee the Witch (A wonderful spidery Shabana Azmi in Makdee)
The Indian Women’s Hockey Team (Chak De India)
Well, okay, the last one was added because we were falling short of female characters; rather female characters that are quirky and not stereotypical.
The Indian film industry has always been patriarchal in nature. Most of the traditional film scripts have always had the actor as the protagonist in the film with the female either supporting the actor or having a miniscule role in the film. Or sometimes just as an item song dancer (read: object of the Male Gaze) a la Munni and Sheila.
Yes, we have had female centric films: Ardh Satya, Arth, Masoom, and more recently Chandni Bar and Fashion, but they are few and far between. Why so? Why are female characters not sought after in our film industry?
Because they are not a draw at the box-office? Perhaps. All of the above mentioned films, dealing with serious issues, with strong female characters have been critical successes, though not necessarily big box office hits.
But then, it is not necessary that only films which are serious should have intricately developed female characters. The recent film Band Baaja Baraat has shown how a female character can be the driving force in a nice feel-good film too. But our audience is perhaps not yet ready to savour films with females in the forefront.
That does not mean that we stop making films with females in the lead or with a better developed character arc. Madhur Bhandarkar, with his films Chandni Bar, Page 3, Fashion and Corporate showed that films with a female lead can work. Chak De India had, among others, a women’s hockey team as one of its subjects. The film, perhaps, no matter how brilliant it is, would not have been a success if not for Shah Rukh Khan’s presence in it. But that did not stop Shimit Amin from making the film.
Vishal Bhardwaj has always featured strong female characters in his films. Be it his debut Makdee, or the Shakespearean adaptations Maqbool and Omkara (Shakespeare is renowned for strong female characters; a gift that Bhardwaj received while adapting his plays), or even Priyanka Chopra’s character Sweety in Kaminey. Kaminey was a film where the male was the lead, but that didn’t stop Bhardwaj from sketching out Sweety’s character to someone so fierce, yet lovable.
Recently there have been a spate of films which have well-drawn out female characters. Vidya Balan’s Krishna in Ishqiya was the center-hold of the film. Peepli [Live] revolved around two male characters but had fascinating female characters, be it the wife Dhaniya played by Shalini Vatsa or the Barkha Dutt-based reporter Nandita played by Malaika Shenoy. No One Killed Jessica had two women: Vidya Balan and Rani Mukherjee in its lead. Dhobi Ghat, too, had two well-sketched female characters in Shai (played by debutant Monica Dogra) and Yasmin (played by Kriti Malhotra).
All in all, things are looking up for the womankind of our society. Bhardwaj’s Saat Khoon Maaf releases later this month with Priyanka Chopra in the lead once again alongside seven husbands. (Wow!) We hope to add her to our list of Hindi film award presenters. Don’t you?
Written by Runcil Rebello.
"Six billion people in the world, six billion souls, and sometimes, all you need is one" - One Tree Hill
It’s been just an hour since I watched the movie and I can vouch that the movie delivers a lot more than the eye can perceive.
It‘s not every day that you watch an Indian thriller with the woman protagonist on a husband killing spree. A director who’s famous for painting grey shades into the conventional heroine: who better than Vishal Bhardwaj to make it? After Kaminey and Ishqiya (he was producer on it), Audience! Gear up for Saat Khoon Maaf! No, I’m not going to reveal the plot, but my inputs will cease all criticism and make you spend your average 200 bucks on a Hindi Phillum. The screenplay has been executed brilliantly. Watch it for its delicious theme, laugh-a-riot clever dialogues, bold in-your-face scenes, and yes, the dark thriller feel which only a James Hadley Chase Novel can provide.
Warning! Do not contrast it with your regular Hollywood thriller.
Bhardwaj seems to have measured and designed his characters around the movie and the sets. All the sequences have been described in a different way, complete with a new avatar for Priyanka Chopra as Susanna. Unlike her #What’sYourRashee days, Bhardwaj has actually made her act. I can effortlessly label this as one of her best performances, so much so that she is close to being stereotyped with regards to her role in Kaminey. (Spot the coincidence!)
One thing is certain; John Abraham still struggles to act. Give him a good script, a great director – the man just refuses to emote. But the rest blend perfectly into their characters.
A note of mention for Annu Kapoor for his proverbial skills in acting; another winner was Aleksandr Dyachenkop, the Russian actor who looked quite the blown-up version of Amitabh Bachchan, who played one of the seven husbands of Piggy Chops!
The film is engaging, keeps you on the edge of the seat apart from your scheduled/unscheduled breaks. A lot of rumours doing the rounds about how the end of the movie could be a little more tasteful, for them just one word – Not every movie needs a link to a sequel. And it promises NOT to be a run of the mill Bollywood potboiler intermixed with sound and dance sequences, but seizes your attention for the entire span of 7KM.
What’s Hot? Priyanka Chopra’s ACTING
What’s not? John Abraham’s ROCKSTAR look
For a different opinion on the movie, keep reading Rhythm Movies and Jhatkas…
Written by Shubhra Rishi.
I AM, directed by Onir (My Brother Nikhil, Bas Ek Pal) is in the news for a lot of reasons. It has been financed by people from around the globe by their contributions through social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. I AM also stands out due to the fact that it is not a single film but four different stories, four short films based on the theme of fear and also based on real-life happenings.
I AM also has multiple music composers on its soundtrack. Very few Hindi films go the way of having many composers. There have been instances in the past when one music composer has had problems when another one was brought on board (read: Anu Malik) But that does not stop the new breed of composers from handling a film together.
Amit Trivedi is the first composer on the soundtrack and also has majority of the songs. Baangur is typical Trivedi fare: Western instrumentation, yet Indian vocals and a Sufi feel. And still, it sounds so different from his previous work. Mame Khan (who was last heard on Trivedi track Aitbaar from No One Killed Jessica) and Kavita Seth (who has worked with Trivedi before on Iktara from Wake Up Sid) lend their bucolic voice to this fabulous opener. Baangur with its lead guitar sounds straight out of the seventies rock culture and then in comes the harmonium to remind you of its Indian roots, followed by Kavita Seth’s laidback yet heavenly and intense voice. Khan’s voice blends well with Seth’s to give us another rich and layered Trivedi song.
Issi Baat Pe, also composed by Trivedi starts off with the strumming of the guitar and a sitar too, but takes off into power-rock territory within no time. This time, it is KK behind the mic, someone whom we have not heard sing with Trivedi before. KK has sung such songs earlier, but it doesn’t matter because the song ends up as a refresher due to Trivedi’s musical leanings now veering towards the eighties, with synth and keyboard sounds making themselves more apparent.
Saye Saye starts off with the Muslim religious call and then Rekha Bhardwaj’s local flavour taking over along with Mohan. Saye Saye is very Rehmanesque in its approach. Trivedi allows the synths and strings to completely take over this song. At the same time, it allows for the two singers to show off their vocal prowess. Yet, it doesn’t quite hook you the way Baangur and Issi Baat Pe do.
Rajeev Bhalla is the second music director on the soundtrack and one that least impressed me. Bhalla in his debut film as a composer creates two tracks: Bhojhal Se and Wundoo Yeredoo. Bhojhal Se is an acoustic number with KK as its singer, and while it is better than most of the stuff that is thrown onto us by Hindi film composers in the name of songs; Bhojhal Se suffers because of its repetitive structuring. KK is as melodious as ever, and with this track coming immediately after Issi Baat Pe, KK displays his vocal strength. The song’s not bad, but when in the same soundtrack as Baangur and Issi Baat Pe, it slightly loses its sheen. Wundoo Yeredoo, on the other hand, comes off as weird as its title. With haywire synths and beats and auto-tuned voices, this one is best skipped.
Now we come to the third composer, Vivek Philip who was, surprisingly, the lone music director for Onir’s previous films. For I AM, he composes just one song: Aankhein. This song is the light-hearted, fluffy romantic tune of the album. Karthik croons this song and gets us to hum along as well. A cheerful song after the serious lyrics in the other songs in this soundtrack.
As with every other other Hindi film album, I AM, too, comes equipped with remixes. The first one is a remix of Bhojhal Se, with Rajeev Bhalla himself mixing it. The only difference between the original and the remix is the added synths, beats and Paroma Das Gupta mouthing unnecessary English lyrics. Better avoided. Issi Baat Pe, mixed by DJ Lloyd, is again a track that could have been left alone in its original style. Just adding beats to a song does not a remix make. Baangur appears as the final remix on the soundtrack, once again mixed by DJ Lloyd; for the third time, unnecessary.
A special mention to lyricists Amitabh Varma and Amitabh Bhattacharya. Bhattacharya has formed a constant duo with Trivedi, and here too their partnership shines through. Overall, if we remove the remixes aside, this soundtrack remains one of the better ones we’ve had this year.
Standout Songs: Baangur, Issi Baat Pe, Aankhein.
Written by Runcil Rebello.
Thanks to Julie Sam who helped with the Anu Malik link.
Image Courtesy: Google
“To one generation, Bose meant the freedom struggle. To another it was audio speakers. I shudder to think of the next. #delhibelly” – So went a tweet by journalist Madhavan Narayanan (@madversity) on Twitter. Now people have every right to say what they feel. Twitter is, after all, exactly that. A place for people to tell the world (that is, if said world is following them) their every whim, fancy, and, most importantly, rant.
Anyway, I digress.
The reason I write this post today is because Mr. Deekay Bose has managed what the femme fatales Munni and Sheila couldn’t. Bhaag DK Bose from Delhi Belly has polarised listeners. Some find it plain catchy; another song to listen to while travelling. Few find it to be inspired: by Green Day’s music. A large number of people hate it for its sheer audacity to hide a famous North Indian cuss word within an addictive tune, as well as lyrics where a father defames and discourages his own son.
“Daddy mujhse bola, tu galti hain meri.” / “Daddy once told me, that I’m his mistake.”
The people who hate Bhaag DK Bose are vociferous about it, while those who love it, well, they just love it. After all, what’s not there to love in it? MW (@menakasays) says on Twitter that it is “addictive. And energetic. And lively and did I mention addictive?” Zena Yarde, a student just out of college, feels that it has innovative lyrics. I agree. So did Dev.D’s Emoshanal Atyachaar which slyly inserted a ‘whore’ and ‘bitch’ into the lyrics.
But no one carried out a morcha then. Then why target DK Bose? Notice, most of the people targeting this song are people who have well reached past their thirties now. The youth of today, on the other hand, enjoy Eminem passing cuss words at the speed of rapper’s light in his songs. They love it when Linkin Park vents it out in their songs. So now if these same youth take pleasure in a song from our own country, that I would say, to some extent, is songwriting genius, is it a crime?
If I’m not mistaken, the people hating Bhaag DK Bose are the same who enjoyed Choli Ke Peeche Kya Hain when it came out? Entendre okay, open cussing (not even open) not?
“Tumhara ishq, ishq. Aur humara ishq, sex?”
Jay Maniyar (@jayblawgs) says that Bhaag DK Bose is “very populist.” But then if it is out to please all, why is it getting the backlash that it is? Nishtha Kanal (@RootKanal) says that “you cannot explain having bhosdike in your song to the parents of a ten year old kid.” True. When Kaminey released, a newspaper article said that there was a rise in the use of the word kaminey. I wondered then, what would happen once Inglourious Basterds released. Nothing did. Why? English film. It’s the popular culture that Indian folks are worried about. Nishtha adds, “I don’t approve of gaalis in mass culture; loses its sheen in a way.” But which ten-year old child isn’t exposed to cuss words, or sex scenes, or violence in movies? The best parents can do is explain to their children what it its implications are and why they shouldn’t go about singing it at their school during recess.
And then, the perplexing question. Where were these people during Munni and Sheila? So it is not okay if a father calls his son the foam from the soap (“saabun ki shakal mein, beta tu toh nikla keval jhaag”), but Sheila’s jawani being too sexy for us is acceptable. (The problem caused to people named Munni and Sheila is another issue altogether [men to blame, no denying that]; at least I don’t think there exists anyone named DK Bose; it’s an old joke anyway.) Weren’t ten year old kids singing “I’m too sexy for you” and gyrating to Munni’s Zandu Balm moves? Where was the moral brigade then?
Back to Bhaag DK Bose, I still consider it to be the catchiest of the lot. The interesting part is that bhosdike being a North Indian cuss word, many people were not familiar with the running joke (pun unintended) in the song. And these were 20-25 year olds I’m walking about. What’s the probability that a ten year old child will know the intricacies of the wordplay? Whose dirty mind is at work?
At the end of it all, I’m in favour of Mr. DK Bose running away from the storm (which he invariably is doing). Are you?
Written by Runcil Rebello (@MrNarci).