Tuesday, January 31, 2012
NURTURE INDIE ATTEMPTS: Throughout the calendar year, we barely notice any independent work hitting the theatre. This situation can change if big movie banners throw their weight behind these small-budget filmmakers without interfering much in the creative process.
GO RURAL: Since the majority of India resides in villages, Hindi cinema can always tap this part of the country for stories. A fully rural- based work like Lagaan, Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi, Swades, Welcome to Sajjanpur, I am Kalam happens far and between. With Peepli Live, Aamir Khan proved that marketing skills makes all the difference at the Box Office.
DESI ANIMATION SOMEONE?: A majority of the animation we consider worth watching are imported from Hollywood studios. The reason behind this trend is pretty naïve: Our industry can’t match their standards nor wish to catch up with them. Intriguingly, Japan’s anime industry doesn’t ape the West in this regard as they created a niche for themselves with indigenous work like Ponyo, Spirited Away and Akira.
WHERE ARE THE DOCUS?: We have issues. Lots of them in fact. The reality is that there are documentary- makers out there whose work never hit the theatre due to absence of financial backing. This is precisely where Bollywood stars can step in. They can take a leaf from Leonardo DiCaprio who produced and narrated The 11th Hour. George Clooney did the same with Sand and Sorrow. Matt Damon asked all the grinding questions in the muchacclaimed The Inside Job.
BACK TO BLACK AND WHITE: We aren’t tired of colours but what’s the harm in churning out reels in monochrome or sepia for a change? The world cinema, if not just Hollywood, have done exceptionally well by reliving the good old charm. To boost this argument, flicks like The White Ribbon, Sin City, Good Night, and Good Luck and most recently, The Artist, were appreciated.
SAY AYE TO GAY: In the last few years, there have been commendable attempts by some filmmakers to bring homosexual characters to the forefront of screenplay. This trend is worth encouraging. So superstars, drop your inhibitions and say yes to a gay role.
RECLAIM THE ERA OF SILENCE: Silent cinema was considered to be passé. Until The Artist took place. With the kind of reviews it is earning and the number of awards it’s picking up, one can safely say that perhaps we need to think twice before calling this genre passé. If our memory serves us well, Pushpak ( starring Kamal Hassan) set the tone right for modern silent movies in India but unfortunately nobody followed the trail. Maybe it’s time.
WORK IN PROGRESS: Western cinema adheres to a concept yet adopted by ours — suggestions from peers during production phase. The producers there conduct trial shows the movies they’re working to get a better perspective from experts. Why not take off blinkers and ask an outsider’s honest point of view before release?
Bollywood could reach greater heights if only it stepped out of its safe cocoon more often. Everything said and done, as beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder, cinema too lies in the eyes of the viewer. Ideally, Bollywood will surprise us. Hopefully, Bollywood won't disappoint us.
PS: MiD DAY puts the on in office when it publishes a hypothetical article such as this.
Sunday, January 29, 2012
Wednesday, January 25, 2012
As scripted, she patiently waited by the French window day in and day out. She hoped PC would arrive someday on a white horse (which aptly makes her a bit racist!) and help escape her moribund existence. Of course, she wasn’t sure what kind of life PC might provide her once she hops on to sidesaddle him. But the fact that she didn’t know how to clean or cook kept her confidence high and expectations low. More or less, the future was bound to be better out there on the wrong side of window.
Holding all these reasons in her empty head safe, she persisted. In the meantime, PC took a lengthy detour and got killed in the ensuing freak accident which involved his horse and a mare.
End result: He didn’t show up.
The poor Princess, unaware of this bone-breaking news, kept her faith. While she was at it, she lost some weight too. No one bothered though as she wasn’t suffering from anorexia. Besides, the worst that could happen was some modeling agency landing up at her doorstep and window-shopping her. It didn’t matter who rescued her as long as she was loved by the idea of freedom. Whatever that means.
Meanwhile, weeks grew into months and months got substituted by years and eventually time lost track of itself. Neverthemore, the frail Princess was still lonely with no Twitter timeline to pour her frustration on nor Facebook friends to photoshop her emotions with. It was advisable to learn something new like cooking, gardening or knitting but she simply wasn’t interested. Her thoughts were with PC (who should have been alive had he respected equine privacy) and prayed the feeling was mutual.
One afternoon, a frog gatecrashed this story and startled her. He croaked, “Sweetheart, this is me – the one you’ve been waiting for all these years.” On witnessing a frog that spoke fluent English, the Princess turned pale and was about to faint before she blurted out, “Are you my PC?”
This abbreviated question knotted frog’s long tongue and infuriated him, “Now who the fcuk is PC?” Having a pair of ears that weren’t subject to harsh words, she got scared and instantly replied, “Prince Charming!” The frog smiled like they aren’t supposed to on Animal Planet and was relieved to say, “Yeah! That dude’s me.”
There was a long silence and a longer staring contest between the two before the restless frog interrupted: “Well, this is the part where you kiss me and we live happily ever after.” Taking the cue, she lifted him up on her soft palm and closed her to eyes to oblige. At this very instance, the inevitable happened. She turned into a frogess and there was no way to go back other than live croakily ever after.
Sunday, January 22, 2012
Since everyone’s talking about Salman Rushdie, let’s stick with him. The latest score indicates the bigots have won. Hands down. Once again. They generally do in our country but this time around the story’s a bit different. Legend has it that ultra-religious folks got furious at somebody who once wrote a humorous yet defiling book in 1989 that got banned across a majority of the Islamic world. (Why the so-called secular India decided to become the first nation to join the bandobast still haunts all non-political answers.)
Anyway this acclaimed writer was planning to attend an event in Jaipur which interestingly he had already been part of back in 2007 without the ongoing banfare. Now here’s the most intriguing facet: the ones who are enraged are Muslims and the one they are engraed at is also a Muslim. The only difference between them is that the latter has read the book by default.
So what gave rise to such a beautiful conundrum? Election. Yup. It’s around the corner so politicians got interested in a literature festival that they otherwise wouldn’t have. Vested interest and narrow vision has more to do with this hapless scenario than anything else. Whatever has happened, is happening and will happen is a lesson in progress for all. Human history has not only seen how religion makes people go crazy but also how bigotry makes them do worse. Add politics to the bonfire (or banfire, if you will) and try to imagine God praying heavily for our sanity.
The worst aspect about this current situation is we’ll never know who is right and who isn’t. At the end of the day, religion is a subscriber’s product and God, a belief system. One can join the party or not. It firmly depends on the given person’s sense of rumour. And as long as everybody is cool and nobody’s shouting “My imaginary God’s imaginary dick is bigger than your imaginary God’s imaginary dick!”, no one’s going to regret non-silence.
Excuse moi for digressing here but once upon a train, there was a little boy traveling with his granddad. He was pestering the elderly gentleman with ceaseless questions but with an unassuming innocence. One such query was related to the passing paddy the kid saw through the window. The wise old man was asked who created those green paddy fields. Instead of going into painstaking details, the former decided to snitch on God and stated, “God did.”
On hearing this, the zealous kid’s eyes got excited and started verifying everything they could set themselves on. “What about those trees?” to which the elaboration-free response “God did that too!” echoed. This enamoring charade went on for a long while. All of a sudden, God was the perfect answer to everything the boy had to ask. It didn’t even spare the non-living things either. With “And this train, grandpa?” getting “Who else? The almighty God!” on the conversational track.
It was at that very precise moment the idea of God was born in that child’s moulding mind. The very God who must be mighty pleased with those offended nincompoops’ ability to be well-versed in the tenets of Satanic blasphemy without even giving the godfatwa’d book a try.
Tuesday, January 17, 2012
Don’t listen to them, ignore what you hear
They’re just a crowd
They’ve got to talk
Don’t be selfish, give them something to gossip about
Your moves invite envy for a reason
Your gaze has a story of her own
What’s the point in staying coy
When there are gaits to be shown?
Beauty chose you while you were fast asleep
It’s beyond you – it’s beyond them, too
Live your life as per you wish
Like living-things are supposed to be
Grinless yet smiling
Strong yet fragile
Hold yourself high for the days are few and nights, dark
The memory will play with your youth no matter what
So better make it worthwhile
There’s no need to bow if your heart doesn’t ask you to
You are wonderful as you are
Far more than just what the word ‘unique’ has to say
Your wicked chortle shall echo in the minds of your loved ones
Waiting for their eyes to be flooded again
Akin to the wind that carries the weather wherever it wants
If sad, write some painful verses
For you are a part of something bigger than anything else
And wilder than the universe’s imagination
Nothing ends with you except your thoughts
As well as your laughs
They know you are used to forgiving
As a question mark at the end of a meaningless sentence
You are nature personified
You'll stay unbeknownst to them yet seen.
Thursday, January 12, 2012
It’s an ongoing trend in Hollywood to make biographical films. A Beautiful Mind, Alexander, The Aviator, The Queen, Frost/ Nixon, The King’s Speech, 127 Hours, Moneyball, J. Edgar and The Iron Lady are some recent examples. Bollywood hasn’t replicated this fad. Yet.
Interestingly, India’s first feature film Raja Harishchandra was a biopic. But the Hindi film industry continues to shy away from this genre for commercial reasons. Audience’s lack of zest for history is also to be blamed. Asoka, Rang De Basanti, Mangal Pandey — The Rising, Jodhaa Akbar, Guru, Bose: The Forgotten Hero and No One Killed Jessica were a handful of brave aberrations.
There is certainly no dearth of characters from our history to inspire film writers.
Here are some personalities who could inspire an interesting watch and the actors who might do justice to their role.
Sardar Patel (Aamir Khan): For a man who drew our map as we know it today, we barely know anything about him. After all, he was not called the Iron Man for nothing.
Dara Shikoh (Ranbir Kapoor): He was the rightful heir to Shah Jahan’s throne and a cheerful hedonist but a political fool. A Sufi liberal whose advocacy of Hindu- Muslim unity proved to be his undoing.
Sanjay Gandhi (Saif Ali Khan): Not only a Nehru scion and an apparent heir to the political dynasty, he was also someone who was a rebel and was drawn towards commotion. His magnetic demeanour mixed with hyperactivity and an eventual premature death makes his life quite cinematic.
The Emergency (Multiple Cast): A proper mainstream film on the 21- month long blemish on the face of Indian democracy is prone to drama… and dramatic characters.
Premchand (Irrfan Khan): The discoverer of the soul in rural India — the unsung Tolstoy of India. He influenced both Hindi as well as Urdu prose. Fortunately, we are aware of his beautiful stories. Unfortunately, we aren’t aware of his story.
Jyotirao-Savitribai Phule (Pavan Malhotra-Shahana Goswami) This Maharashtrian couple with their modern mindset faced huge opposition from the society but made long strides in the field of education and the upliftment of women and untouchables. Jyotirao was labelled the Mahatma long before Gandhiji and Savitribai set up India’s first female school.
Dhyan Chand (Shah Rukh Khan): The very symbol of Indian sportsmanship and the undisputed wizard of our national sport. His successful legacy stays surprisingly humble. He is party to awe- inspiring anecdotes that involve Bradman as well as Hitler.
Swami Vivekanand (R Madhavan): He died young, leaving behind a legacy of spirituality and the idea of a global Indian. The monk who made the West buy the eternal philosophy of Upanishads ought to make a wonderful script.
Bahadur Shah Zafar (Victor Banerjee): The last emperor of India and his melancholic final days in the country before being deported to Burma merits attention — not to mention his mental vagaries and poetic indulgences.
Budhia Singh (Irfan Khan of Chillar Party): The world’s youngest marathon runner who made the media wonder whether he was a victim of torture. They’ve already made a documentary on him. A movie would be going a mile further.
PT Usha (Poorna Jagannathan): Her journey towards becoming the fastest Indian woman wasn’t an easy one. Coming from a humble village, her life story has what it takes to make an enthralling sports flick.
JRD Tata (Naseeruddin Shah): A humane capitalist who provided a better meaning to the word enterprise in free India. Though we are familiar with the brand Tata, we don’t have much clue about his life.
Birbal (Kay Kay Menon): Arguably the wittiest person from the Mughal era. Apart from his brainy exploits in Akbar’s court, very little is known of him. This allows the writers to complement fiction with legends.
(NB: This over-imaginative article appeared on MiD DAY's Hitlist today.)
Tuesday, January 10, 2012
So he decided to confront her in the office canteen. Accordingly, he walked straight up to her table where she was having lunch alone. He leaned forward and looked straight into her bespectacled eyes and asked, “Do you like strawberries?” Needless to say she was startled and could barely manage a perplexing “o_O” in reply.
But for him, it was as if every sound dropped mute. Time froze back to Ice Age. Life seemed meaningful after an interval of a lifetime. He just stood there like an idiot which he was and witnessed her beauty create a never-imagined-before frown. But being a true lover, he simply couldn’t quit admiring the art form that her face had turned into. All thanks to his one benign question. This episode must have carried on for about 189 seconds when suddenly she changed her stance and uttered, “Yes, I do.”
Sensing an incredible opportunity, he pulled the chair in front of her and started talking in his native tongue Gibberish. Within moments, the equation rolled down to status quo and things went f—ing downhill from then onwards.
Moral of the story: Strawberries are helpful for budding love-stories during winter but some languages ought to be banned for good.
Sunday, January 8, 2012
It's high time they made a movie on Calvin and Hobbes. But they won’t. Of all the animals on this planet Calvin chose a stuffed Indian tiger to be his imaginary friend. Or perhaps, it was the other way around. Any which case, it can’t be a mere coincidence though. There must have been multiple layers of metaphysical factors at work to make this event a reality. OK. Even if there weren’t, let’s believe otherwise.
The reason why we should do so is Calvin and Hobbes don’t happen everyday. They are not only unique but also unique. Their friendship is the ultimate paragon of a human being’s verbal interaction with another entity – real, imagined or both. Sadly, there is a limitation too. Both of them are characters from a comic strip illustrated by Bill Watterson. Like all cartoonists, Bill doesn't let Calvin learn anything from his misapprehensions lest wisdom corrupt his delightful eccentricity. And we are so grateful to him for that.
Being cartoons, they’ll never age. In a way, this is precisely what makes both of them adorable. The fact that Calvin might never grow up fills millions (like me) with hope. On the other hand, as much as Calvin’s parents might want him to mature, Hobbes would never let that happen. You see, he’s not an ideal friend. He might be a wise tiger who blabbers not as much as Calvin does but he rarely roars any sense into the li’l boy’s wicked head.
One can go a step further and state that Hobbes is an Indian tiger who happens to have a crazy American friend in Calvin. It’s all about multicultural perception. Talking of culture, Calvin's popularity and longevity owes a lot to his parents not being Indian. Had they been Indians (like mine do), the kind of stuff Calvin pulls off every other strip wouldn’t have been viable. Parents in India are, well, you know, quite un-American when it comes to parenting.
Anyway, let’s take this analogy one more step further: In Soviet Russia, Calvin would have been just another boy and Hobbes, just another toy. (Ahem. There was no need to add a communist tangent here but who gives a damn about Lenin-Stalin duo anyway?!) Speaking twitteratically, every tweep is a Calvin and every timeline, Hobbes. (At least no one can dispute this primarily because all the concerned parties are busy tweeting.)
By the way, the most interesting aspect however is we conveniently overlook the possibility that Calvin could well be suffering from a severe mental disorder. Children are meant to be delusional. It helps them in their development but abusing imagination is something else. Anyway the day everything comes to an end, Calvin and Hobbes might be the ones having the last laugh. With us.