Monday, May 13, 2013
Monday, January 28, 2013
Friday, December 28, 2012
Let's shift focus to content. Let’s talk about unforgettable cinematic moments that won’t leave us for a long long time. And when I sit back and recall, 2012 looks like a year when a handful of women made a huge amount of difference. These weren’t sporadic highlights in one stream of cinema, but a consistent display of excellence in various streams. Here are some such wow moments and the women behind them:
Music - finally there is someone who can potentially change the game, and it’s a woman! After Roja in 1992, which completely changed how the audiences perceived what sound and music can do to cinema, we have another "perspective". Unassumingly uncompromisingly and undeniably ORIGINAL.
Make way for Sneha Khanwalkar – the music director of Gangs of Wasseypur.
Saturday, October 6, 2012
Tuesday, August 21, 2012
Ek Tha Cinema
K J Kartik
No. I haven't seen Ek Tha Tiger, but it doesn't stop me from believing in my gut which says it will , at best, be a mediocre film, full of unbelievable stunts that the can-be-christened-rajnikant-of-bollywood Salman Khan has done with a cockiness and expression that can put even Mr Bean to shame. But how does it matter. Just like it doesn't matter what the critics have to say, to determine if the film should work or not.
I cannot pin point when this started to happen - when did it stop mattering whether or not, the film is good, for it to succeed. It makes me, well, jealous!
Believing in the old and almost childish school of thought of meritocracy, I have lived to believe that he who deserves, gets success. That one must excel, to be rewarded. That content matters. These recent spate of so called "100 crore club" films have me wondering, if that really means anything.
RA.ONE, declared unanimously as a flop by all critics, still holds records of highest single day grossing. A barrage of Salman films - bodygaurd, wanted (to name of few) - make me squirm in disbelief on the fact that these are commercial successes. While intelligent films like Saheb, Biwi aur Gangster and Shor in the city, bite the dust. Why, even Chalo Dilli, was a better film than these mega-grossers. In recent years, the film that could get a cult status for its take on bachelor life - Pyaar ka Punchnama - is probably seen as a failure.
"These are brainless entertainers", I have heard many proclaim. It makes me wonder about the mental health of Indian audiences (me included). Has India, the melting pot of IT and ITES, made work-life so stressful, that we long for a weekend of Brainless entertainment. I say this with confidence, because I saw Rowdy Rathore and enjoyed it. I saw it TWICE - but it was in a week that I can describe as the most stressful week of my career so far!.. Thats what made me try and draw this macro megatrend - more stress in the audience, the more the likelihood of brainless movies raking the mullah. I also distinctly remember Kaminey being shunned by many a audiences for being "needlessly over intelligent".
Sheer starpower is enough to make movies work. If there is Salman, it is a 100 crore blockbuster. If there is Shahrukh, it will get there with above-below-over-the-line-over-markerting. If there is Aamir, at least he will dole out some worthy content, but he is sure to get an opening comparable to the other two. Akshay and Saif are still children of the lesser god - their movie collections still depend (however marginally) on their content.
And the worst is the bandwagon of self proclaimed superhits - read all of Sajid Khans films - each competing to be more brainless than the previous one. Yet that wont stop the anchor-turned director from establishing how his movie is the 10th most or 7th most or 2923245th most successful film of all times. Subtle, no?
In all this, I have learnt the euphimistic phrase that they now use for good cinema - multiplex movie. Meaning - show it on a small screen for just 1 or 2 shows per day, it will find a steady audience. Example: Do Duni chaar, PKP, Gulaal, GoW, and so on.. The combination of a commerical success and good content are few and far between - the latest being Kahaani - and thats at least 8 months old now. Do I foresee anymore in the recent future? Nope.
I have high hopes of English Vinglish, whose trailer promises to be a feel good heartwarming story with an actress who doles acting that we havent seen on celluloid for ages - but at best, it will be a "multiplex" movie. From its trailer, Heroine, seems to have content, but one that we have seen before - from the same director - over and over again. It looks like a new cast, a new theme, but in the same template. And then there is the Yash Chopra romance. I have really high hopes of it, but it has Shahrukh Khan - he has made me believe in the recent past that he is a better marketer than an actor, and the more he markets his films the worse they are. I hope Yash Chopra - the legend who has given us such unforgettable movies as Silsila, Kabhi Kabhi, Deewar, Lamhe - manages to make a film as good as Dil toh Pagal hai or Chandni and not a star spectacle that his last film Veer Zaara was.
But there is no speculating the box office fate of Khan-starrers. They will be hits. Their fans (and they themselves) will argue that they have earned this status. That their bank-ability is merely the output of years of work that has continued to build their fanbase. So is my supposed anger directed to the fanbase? Am I asking to be massacred? I am simply pointing to uneven playing ground that has become our cinema.
Like everything that goes wrong in a democracy eventually gets blamed on the public who put the leaders in power, same with box office collections, which are after all a yardstick of audience acceptance. And like I hate the public who bestow power on undeserving leaders, I hate audiences which make superhits of bad content. But in a democracy, I at least feel I can VOTE to express my individual opinion. What can I do for the movies? Blog? :)
Thursday, October 20, 2011
Highly inspired by Big Boss and helplessly irritated with the whole idea of reality, here is the layman guide to reality TV. Here’s presenting my version of “7 reality checks for Fake TV”.. Ooops, I mean Fake checks for reality TV.
- 1. The “sob” : Be it Kapil Dev or the aam aadmi, there something very magnetic about watching someone cry on TV. And what the viewers like, the channel lovvvvves… They are not as much concerned with the genre of their show, but want to ensure that there is enough “Masala” to survive in the Primetime battle. So be it singing, dance or anything else, it is oh-so-important to have at least one element of “human interest story” in that one hour. Wonder how many contestants who have participated feel that their emotions have been exploited for TRPs?
- 2. The “love story” of the show: ..Like any Indian Primetime show, even if it is a cooking show, can be complete with mushiness and lovvvvvve…. Out of nowhere, and obviously scripted infatuations spring into the reality TV shows.. Be it Judges or hosts no one can escape the “fan who is dying” to meet them. Funniest is the sight of watching the wannabe permanently semi clad femme fatales of Splitsvilla faking it towards the end of the season.. Remember the Saakshi-Siddhart Fake-a-thon on Splitsvllla.. ROFL
- 3. The “Vides ka maal”: “Mujhe Indi Nayi Awti..”, says an embarrassed ABCD contestant in his not so real American accent, to loud awes and guffaws among hosts, co-contestants and even a fake laughtrack sometimes. Our channels deserve the award for diversity as they ensure that with all the billions of unemployed youth, it is still difficult to find the top 10 dancers, singers, whatevers in our own land! Off they go hunting for “Talent” amongIndians whose ancestor chose to leave this mitti where suddenly the second or third or nth generation are evidently dying to participate – the umbilical cord ? Or the longing for 60 seconds to fame? And tell me if I am wrong, these are often the contestants who don’t even TRY to win, because really, what is a few lakh Rupees INR really in USD or GBP.. after tax, of course.. Sigh..
- 4. The surprise “Wild card”: Not so surprising comebacks are made typically by the alleged favorites of the judges. From Rakhi Sawant to Dolly Bindra – it is clear that the channel wants the TRP material contestants back on the show. The joke is when the Wild Card rounds in talent shows have marked difference in the performance levels of the first and the rest of the contestants. Can you blame them.. the channel has paid for the full hour, you see!
- 5. I Fake-Quit : “Mai ye show chhodke Ja raha/rahi hu” cut to vignette… shocked contestant, shocked co-judge – super slow-mo of the quitting judge rising from the seat… the host looks a the cameraman and “acts” like the means to say cut… BREAK… welcome back after the break, and there has been a miraculous recovery!.. WHATT!!! It is as if the urge to quit the show, was a knee jerk reaction to wanting to pee for a long time and the co-judges yapping on and on without letting the shot cut! Or a false labour pain..
- 6. The Marketed Difference… A call from the contestant to his parents is a Vodafone call.. a winning shot is a Kodak Moment.. The doors of the Big Boss washrooms have a fake-smiling John Abraham… These are probably the most real examples of the most important element of television – advertisers, who mean business. So while Amitabh asks computerji to phone a friend, he is advertising Idea. While you think the performer of the week is receiving a gift, a smartphone is being promoted. It’s tiring how every real task of the week, is a marketing gimmick and its only getting more detailed and sillier.. Perhaps soon enough, the undergarments and lingerie of Big Boss contestants could be seen as marketable commodities by advertisers… Will that be a bad thing, after all… ;)
- 7. Winner hardly matters… Very anti-merit and very anti-popularity, the results of our Reality show don’t matter, like the points of three judges. Rakhi Sawant lost all reality shows she has participated in, but she is the biggest winner, after all. Dolly Bindra, Sambhavna Seth (and pre-predicting this years loser - Pooja Missra) are other examples from Big Boss seasons who hardly won and it hardly mattered because they were the essence of the show. Ditto with talent based shows, which never go with the obviously clear winner on merit, but in the real world the better stars go on to make it big – Does anyone remember who won SaReGaMa the year which Kunal Ganjawala was a runnerup.
So there you go..! Spot any of these 7 gimmics and you know you are watch “reality TV”. Can you think of any more?
Wednesday, August 31, 2011
From the-flexing-biceps move in the title song, to the jump from train to another train to an overhead bridge; to the way the his boss at “Tiger Securities” introduces his credentials – within the first ten minutes of the movie, there is a sense of cockiness that one has learnt to associate with Rajnikant’s (and now Salman’s) movies. The tone is set for what you expect to be an out and out action film, with action sequences ranging from incredulous to well-choreographed to downright hilarious.
Was it with “Wanted” that Salman learnt he had a untapped and unexplored Rajni Quotient within him? That combination of cheeky humor, super heroic stuntability (and looks and body that take him beyond Rajni in a way) makes him a big hit with his already mad fan base. So let’s make it clear – irrespective of what I or the critics or Salman (or even Rajnikant thinks) thinks of this film, it is bound to be a hit. The formula works for sure – even if the same formula comes from the same guy not as rarely as Eid ka chaand ;) (Speaking of cockiness).
Is a good film? That’s a new thread all together:
Well, It is not a pathetic film at all - I speak from using that phrase for the other big hit of the year “Ready”. This one has a plot – however ludicrously dependent on creative liberties it may be – it does have a plot that is Bollywood. The problem for me, is that there are 2 (or is it 3) plots and subplots running in parallel.
First of course is the bodyguard plot who is trying to save Kareena Kapoor whose life is in danger for reasons beyond the script writers realm – and in true Scary Movie style, given a choice to run towards danger or safety, the heroine will choose Danger again and again, creating templates for Bodyguard action – who takes it very personally if anyone does him a favour. LOL.
Then there is the love story between Kareena and Salman, which is cute for sure, filled with songs and dance(s). And a unrequired comedy track, a silly friendship/betrayal track, a loyalty and identity track, so on and so forth. The BIG problem is that each of these plot seems to run in silos and the it never comes together as film. The action is too strong to call it a love story, the love story too shallow to pass of as a romantic film. So in the end, after the action sequence in the climax, one wonders why there a new (and forced) Kuch Kuch Hota Hai twist to the film – to drive this to the quintessential “Happy Ending”.
Performances? It’s a Salman film and Kareena is just a bit more than an arm candy. The rest of the cast and acting is incidental. Music? We’ve heard better but not to say this isn’t Impressive – a case in point that Himesh Reshamiya should stick to what he is good at –Composing Music. Shreya Ghoshal and Rahat Fateh Ali Khan lend their voices to the most haunting melody of the year (so far) - Teri Meri Prem Kahani.
To sum it up. It is better than Ready and makes Dabanng look like a great film J. Does that say it all?