Imagine a movie without sound. The era of silent movies has long gone by. Nowadays one cannot think about a film without sound. Hence music, too, as an extension, becomes an integral part of this sound and therefore the film.
Music can enhance or ruin a film. At times, it can be the only redeeming factor in a film. The music can, sometimes, add to the overall effect of the scene. The Shower Murder Scene in Hitchcock’s Psycho wouldn’t be so horrifying if it weren’t for Bernard Herrmann’s screeching violins. More recently, Inception always reminds you of the Edith Piaf song ‘Non Je Ne Regrette Rien‘ or the Horn (also called the Inceptionator) which has now become synonymous with film trailers worldwide. Harry Potter wouldn’t have been the wizard-boy next door if it hadn’t been for his trademark theme. Pulp Fiction always brings back memories of its opening credits played to Dick Dale’s Misirlou.
Music is the spine to a successful, enjoyable and, sometimes, iconic film. At the same time, one should also give a thought to the element of dance in movies.
From John Travolta’s classic disco moves in Grease and Saturday Night Fever to the Twist with Uma Thurman in Pulp Fiction (Tarantino is a genius when it comes to these things!); Joseph Gordon-Levitt dancing to Hall & Oates’ You Make My Dreams in the middle of the street a la Bollywood style in (500) Days Of Summer as an expression of unbridled joy and unparalleled happiness (also earning the song the “I Just Got Laid” tag while inspiring men to propose to their love in the same manner).
Leonardo DiCaprio & Kate Winslet doing the polka dance in Titanic was one of the happiest moments in the film. Aronofsky having Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis prance to the gracious ballet in Black Swan depicts how dance became not just the subject but also a character in the film.
For ages, musicals have enchanted audiences worldwide. From the classics: The Sound Of Music, My Fair Lady to modern hits like Chicago, Dreamgirls and even the penguin-tapping Happy Feet, people sing and dance to these tunes till date.
Most of the Indian film industry thrives on this formula of music + dance + film. Be it Salman Khan romancing Madhuri Dixit in Hum Aapke Hain Kaun or Hrithik Roshan clubbing away in his debut Kaho Naa Pyar Hain; it can be Shah Rukh Khan, Saif Ali Khan and Priety Zinta in the disco or at a Punjabi wedding in Kal Ho Naa Ho or even Amitabh Bacchan celebrating Holi to Rang Barse in Silsila; these song-dance routines are iconic. Music and dance have been a huge part of Indian culture and it has been justifiably adapted into the Indian film scene.
This blog will talk about exactly these things. The uninhibited flow called Dance, the sweet aural essence called Music and the marriage of visuals and sound into a culmination called Film by three people who are passionate about each. Welcome to Rhythmoveejhatkas.
Written by Runcil Rebello.
Today I got out of the house in a hurry. I was running real late. One could call it the typical Hollywood ‘leaving-late-for-work’ scene. With my breakfast in my hand, a jacket put on halfway and grabbing all the things I needed for that day, I rushed out of my house to catch the train.
They say art imitates life, but sometimes life does imitate art. At times, it is difficult to say in what direction the imitation is taking place. Art and life are having its lines blurred.
Everyone remembers The Devil Wears Prada’s opening sequence where Anne Hathaway (Catwoman!) puts on her clothes in a crazy manner to rush for her interview. Surely art imitated life further in the film, with the character of Miranda Priestly played by Meryl Streep. Everyone has a boss from hell; Priestly seemed as if she were the boss of hell.
When director Marc Webb (Spiderman!!!) in (500) Days Of Summer employed Joseph Gordon-Levitt (JGL) and Zooey Deschanel to enact an expectations/reality montage, I was chuckling to myself. How many times have we expected things to happen but in reality they never do. Webb really caught on camera one of the best scenes that year.
Many of the scenes and films we endear are due to the fact that they resemble our lives to an extent where we want to believe that the character on screen is actually based on us.
In a reversal of sorts, people have been inspired to copy scenes right out the movies, frame by frame. In my previous post, I mentioned about a man proposing his fiancee by dancing to Hall & Oates’ ‘You Make My Dreams’ in exactly the same manner that JGL danced on screen. (If you’re wondering, yes, I am a big fan of (500) Days Of Summer!)
I bet many lovers wanted to copy the memorable Spiderman ‘upside-down-in-the-rain’ kiss from the first Sam Raimi film. Everyone at a point in time has wanted to hold a lightsaber in his hand or wear Gollum’s Ring on his finger.
Therefore even fantasies and science-fiction stories flourish. Although they are not real, they are based on real-life. We want things that happen in films happening to us. It’s a vicarious pleasure when we see it larger than life on screen and we always feel the need to imitate these voyeuristic events in real-life.
Come on! I’d know I’d be happy to be involved in an anti-gravity fight scene a la Inception. Wouldn’t you?
Written by Runcil Rebello.
As the popular phrase goes, “Dance Like No One’s Watching” is a term I believe in. The dance shows like “Do You Think You Can Dance” has taken your average Joe who dances, jerks and romps in front of the bathroom mirror to the Center Stage. Dancing is a talent and a skill if someone asks me. It can be inborn or a lot of practice can turn it into a skill. When Leo Sayer sang, “You make me feel like dancing, I am gonna dance the night away”, he wasn’t merely referring to just the physicality of the talent, it is also the feeling that goes with it. Dirty Dancing and Grease have been the two iconic films on dancing, with John Travolta Hand Jiving or Patrick Swayze, taking Saturday Night Dancing to a whole new level.
The references always go back to the movies. Lately, there are several dance shows abroad which has the audience foot tapping and women wanting to becoming ballerinas watching the participants as they smooth their way onto the dance floor. Recently, Black Swan had Natalie Portman killing herself on stage in a furor to become “perfect”.
Close to home, there is always Bollywood music and dance – movies, magic and jhatkas. Ask me and I shall tell you, Bollywood dancing is overrated. Classical form of dancing is loosely incorporated into the dance formations. There is a whole of costume drama going on, with the background dancers synchronizing their steps in accord with the ’Heroine’. But surprisingly, Bollywood dancing has become a separate category in the west, with foreign dancers ‘overdressing’ themselves in gaudy costumes, nonetheless looking perky and pretty.
All dance forms, Indian or Western keep borrowing from one another. We make them happy and the favour is reciprocated. Moulin Rouge had Nicole Kidman grooving to Chamma Chamma, dashing in her funky costume and garish makeup. How I wish to see a couple of Kathakali dance forms incorporated into Bollywood which will only provide an international platform for our rich cultural diversity.
We keep waiting for the dance and can’t stop once we started! Till the next post, keep one foot up and let your hair down. Clichéd, yeah? What the heck? No, you don’t need your Pumas, even two left feet would do.
Written by Shubhra Rishi.
After watching Dhobi Ghat today, I ventured onto the film’s IMDB page. One of the questions on the discussion forums was “What change are you expecting in Bollywood after watching Dhobi Ghat?” After a sprinkle of answers saying that people are now switching from mindless comedies to serious films came an answer, by a user ‘colour-me-kubrick’, so short and so positively cynical.
And that is exactly what I feel about the film too. Not that I’m saying it is bad. It is, indeed, a well-made film, and a montage of stories well-portrayed. But if you expect any major changes to take place among Bollywood producers or directors or in the viewing patterns of the general public, then we can only keep on hoping.
But to talk about the after-effects of such a film would be to take away from this film. Some films can bring about a change; a revolution too (case in point Aamir Khan’s earlier Rang De Basanti) but Dhobi Ghat is not that film. It is a film that will affect you, more so if you are a Bombayite (Mumbaikar, if you prefer!) The characters in this film are believable, not like those just handpicked out of one’s cloud of imagination and put onto the drawing board.
You believe that a character like Munna (played by Prateik) exists. You’ve probably heard the class-difference love story many times before, but you don’t mind it again. Munna captivates you. You wonder how many boats this boy has got his legs into? Dhobi. Rat-killer. Guide. Wannabe actor. ‘Extra services’ free of cost. And yet he is likable because we too have so many different roles in our day-to-day lives. Roles taken up by the left hand that the right hand is not aware of.
Shai (played by Monica Dogra), the returning Indian from abroad. Why? To take some time off. To connect with her roots. We’ve seen such a character before and yet we don’t mind it. She is looking for love, for friendship: a relationship. But she’s confused. Aren’t we?
The painter Arun (played by Aamir Khan) comes across as a rather stereotypical caricature of an artist. He doesn’t want to be in serious relationships, has mood swings, says stuff like “Mumbai, my muse, my whore, my beloved city”, obsesses about a girl whom he doesn’t even know. We’ve seen such an artist before. And yet we know what it is to have a muse. To be obsessed with someone we know we will never meet.
Yasmeen (played by Kriti Malhotra) is the wife who has been married off against her wishes and brought to the city. She finds out that her husband’s business trips are actually dates with a mistress. She commits suicide. We’ve seen such a character before. And yet what she does differently is that she makes a video documentary of sorts capturing the different sights of Bombay which eventually becomes the crux of this film.
Bombay is the fifth character in the film. The torrential rain, the unending traffic noise, the relentless chugging-by of trains, the piercing silence in the subways or at night: all of this form our four earlier characters into what they eventually become. But Bombay remains unchanged.
The cinematography by Tushar Ray Kanti is terrific. The background score by Gustavo Santaolalla is not your typical Bollywood score. It provides support to the scenes, though I wish we had a little more of it. The acting is top-notch, except for Aamir Khan who doesn’t seem at ease at all in his role as the artist. Surprising.
Sometime ago, Aamir Khan said that Dhobi Ghat was an intelligent film; his exact words were, “I fear that masses may not like Dhobi Ghat because it is a very fine and delicate film. People who understand film, people who are sensitive - this film is for them. This is not a mainstream film.”
I agree that Dhobi Ghat is a fine film. I agree that it is delicate. But I think Aamir should have let the judgment of whether a film is good or not be left upon the public. Agreed that this is not a mainstream film, and that as ‘colour-me-kubrick’ mentioned, “Nothing” will change. But we can hope. Isn’t that what the film tells us as well?
Written by Runcil Rebello.
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.
“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.
In 2007, the Scottish band Travis came out with a song called Closer which had lyrics like “I seek the truth/we set apart/thinking of/a second chance.” I do not know what the inspiration for the song was, but I can surely say that it bore a strong resemblance to the 2004 Mike Nichols-directed Closer, starring Jude Law (Dan), Natalie Portman (Anna), Clive Owen (Larry) and Julia Roberts (Alice).
Closer, adapted from a 1999 play of the same name by Patrick Marber, tells the story of two couples in England and how their lives begin to fall apart once they come to know each other. It may not seem like an innovative storyline, but it should be lauded for the way the story is told. We are just shown snippets into the lives of Dan, Alice, Larry and Anna, flitting across months and even years of their seemingly lovelorn and strife-ridden lives. As one of the plot summaries on iMDB aptly says, “The film … puts the four leading characters in a box and then takes them apart.”
Very few films manage to delve into human relationships and the feelings of love, trust, betrayal as well as Closer do. Closer wants us to embrace the truth, but also asks us to what extent can we do so. The truth hurts, and even destroys as we can see from the film. Two of the characters at different times in the film point out that without the truth, we are just animals. It marks out a characteristic trait of humans who want to be happy and yet want to be familiar with the truth, even though they know that it will mar them, devastate them to a point where life is very difficult to build back, yet is possible.
Closer also reminded me of Derek Cianfrance’s 2010 Ryan Gosling (Dean) and Michelle Williams (Cindy)-starrer Blue Valentine. Blue Valentine chronicled the disintegration of a marriage in a raw and tender manner, such as was rarely seen before. Blue Valentine, with regards its treatment, was opposite to Closer; we got to see the most intimate moments of Dean and Cindy, when they were puppy-eyed lovers, in love, in hate, when they fought, when they were distraught, and when they separated too: when there was nothing left but fireworks.
Both the films were also immensely helped by brilliant soundtracks. Grizzly Bear scored Blue Valentine; their folk rock background giving a boost to the realistic texture of the film. Everyone will agree that when Grizzly bear’s Alligator takes over once the surreal end credits begin, you can’t help but shed a tear. Another telling scene is the one when Dean plays the ukulele and gets Cindy to dance to his imperfect, yet beautiful singing. The film, too, is like that.
Closer, on the other hand, has one of the most memorable opening scenes. It may be a clichéd shot in cinema, but once again kudos to Mike Nichols for shooting it that way; it still stands out, also thanks due to Damien Rice’s fluent voice over his acoustic guitar. The remainder of the film uses a lot of classical music, Mozart is in demand here. Check out the sex chat scene set to Mozart; I think it was cinematic brilliance.
In the end, both are different films, yet have a similar core. RMJ’s co-writer Shubhra Rishi suggests that Candy is another film that is similar to these. These are not films that one can view every now and then, regularly. But these are films that one cherishes, it grows on you. And unlike the end of these two films where, coincidentally, a character walks away into oblivion, they will cement themselves in the closeness of your heart.
Written by Runcil Rebello.
“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).