Monday, July 19, 2010
Friday, December 18, 2009
From one of the funniest, most original films I have ever seen –
Monday, May 18, 2009
Amitabh Bachchan on Prakash Mehra –
May 17, 2009
Sun 11: 59 PM
Prakash Mehra passed away early this morning. An entire era of cinema and my association with him passed away with him. He was repairing well in hospital and was to be removed from the ICU to a general room. A sudden infection resulted in multiple organ failure and he breathed his last. A long fruitful and incredible period of his remarkable films that he did with me, flashed past. His first meeting with me at RajKamal studio where he had come to cast me in Zanzeer in 1971 right through to the mid 80’s, year after year of unbelievable successes – Zanzeer, Hera Pheri, Khoon Paseena, Lawaris, Muquaddar ka Sikander, Sharabi, Namak Hallal. What a huge bank of amazing films, right down to his last with me, Jaadugar. The only one that did not work. I still remember his phone call to me in Bangalore after the release. ‘Lalla’, as he endearingly called me ‘gadbad ho gayee hai !’ he said. Things have gone wrong. Honest and straight. He had always maintained that the day I cannot make a successful film with you I shall stop working with you. He never did anything after Jaadugar. A simple man who had the capacity to narrate great stories through the medium of cinema in the most simple manner. No fuss, no calisthenics. Just very ordinary camera placements and extraordinary content. A writer, a lyricist, a musician, he added all these qualities to his creativity behind the camera and gave me some of my most challenging roles. Never rewarded by any institution. And never sought one either. His films have lived out longer than him. A true mark of excellence. The music he gave to his films still ring in the hearts and ears of each generation that came after him. The performances he extracted from his artists were never ever considered for any recognition. It never bothered him. Critics panned his films and the greater the criticism the longer became their duration, at the box office. ‘Unko likhne do woh, jo bhi likh rahe hain, aur jahan bhi likh rahe hain. Main jaanta hun main unhe kahan likh raha hoon !’, he would often retort.
A friend and a colleague, gone forever.
Saturday, May 2, 2009
yeh duniya oot patanga
this world’s all topsy-turvy
kithe hath te kithe taanga
ate kukdi dendi baanga
ede chakde phatte
live it up, dude !
yeh duniya khel tamaashaa
this world’s a game, a show
ethhe jeene ki bhasha
kanu khich pich tan ke shoo shaa
ede chakde phatte
yeh duniya mast kalandar
a winner-take-all wild ride
taa ate utte baitha bandar
with a monkey presiding over the melee
samjhe apnoo sikandar
believing he’s in control
ede chakde phatte
yeh duniya vaari vaari
chakde saare nar naari
they all take turns chasing life’s many colors
tu kahnoo baniya bhikhari
why do you cling stubbornly to your beggardliness ?
ede chakde phatte
Sunday, February 22, 2009
The fanciful warrant of an actor’s talent has long been his ability to read the telephone book: a great actor will sound it forth like Sophocles or Shakespeare. By that measure Clint Eastwood is now up there with Garrick, Bernhardt and Olivier. In early scenes of the deliriously enjoyable Gran Torino – a clever, immaculately structured, wryly raw comedy-drama about racism, gang war and redemption – Eastwood has little to do but alternate between pronouncing names and calling them. He apostrophises people first, insults them soon after (or vice versa), in an ageing widower’s one-man campaign to resist détente with his family, his Catholic priest and, above all, his Hmong neighbours. This tribal diaspora from south-east Asia – the Hmong from Laos, Cambodia and other countries won refugee status after fighting alongside the US in the Vietnam war – is now encircling Eastwood’s house. The Korean War veteran’s brick-and-wood homestead, with his vintage Gran Torino nestling proudly in the garage, stands out amid untended clapboard neighbours noisy with extended-family conviviality and incomprehensible tongues. Cranky old Clint, who has an unnamed life-threatening disease (presumably cancer), is troubled of lung and toxic of tongue. When the neighbours come too close, he goes “Nngghhh”, a low noise like a teeth-baring mutt. If he has to address them, he calls them “Ding Dong” or “Charlie Chan”. When they invite him to a barbecue he refuses, adding: “And keep your hands off my dog.” F inally he takes a small shine to the next-door son Thao (Bee Vang), only because a greater xenophobia – aversion to the Asian street gangs trying to recruit the boy – conquers a lesser. Walt Kowalski is Dirty Harry gone mangy, even rabid. But Harry’s saving gracelessness was his ability to shut people up who needed shutting up. We know Walt will do the same: the twist in Nick Schenk’s debut script is how. Gran Torino has a startling end, ingeniously giving each spectator the different satisfaction he might want. He can hiss the baddies. He can giggle at racist abuse (disapprovingly, of course). He can even cheer as another Clint hero reaches for another gun whose magnitude is surplus to purpose. But finally his smile is wiped, leaving a deeper, interior grin that combines satisfaction with a pinch of stupefaction.
What is there left to say about Eastwood the actor? In his first role since Million Dollar Baby, and after threats to retire, he is more hypnotic than ever. A geological history as complex as Vesuvius seems to lie beneath those cracked, striated features, with their smoke-puff of white hair and the pyroclastic glimmer of their eyes. The voice is a sandpaper rasp, barely now even a whisper, but he knows how to make words scald or sting. He can put the “bitch” into “obituary” (even when it isn’t there); he can leave plainspoken wisdoms dinning in our heads as if they were scripted by Tolstoy. Someone says, of Walt’s Korean war traumas, that it’s terrible what men are ordered to do. Eastwood, summing up his character and hinting at his hero’s back story, replies with perfect pace and aim: “The thing that haunts a man most is what he isn’t ordered to do.” Game, set and match. We barely see the ball pass us before it hits the baseline, but Gran Torino has proved itself another effortless Eastwood Grand Slam victory.
Sunday, January 18, 2009
…..During Lasseter’s first stint at Disney he found himself being asked, “What would Walt do?” At the Lucasfilm computer division new ideas were not discouraged, partly because of Catmull’s background in science. “With science there is this culture of experimentation and most of the time those experiments fail,” says Lasseter. There’s a culture of failure, which is accepted and it’s become part of Pixar.” It was important, he says, to strike the right balance between technological innovation and storytelling. “Art challenges technology but technology inspires the art. Often you’ll see a film where it’s been caught up in the technology and it doesn’t captivate. What I learnt from those great Disney animators was that it’s what you do with the technology that matters.” Steve Jobs (who earlier this week announced he was taking medical leave from Apple) heard what the Lucasfilm computer division was doing and ended up buying it for $10m in 1986. Lasseter says Jobs funded the newly renamed Pixar for 10 years before it turned a profit. “Over the years he must have invested another $50m-$60m. There is nobody else that would have supported us for that long.”…..
Saturday, February 16, 2008
Khalid Mohamed, Hindustan Times
Mumbai, February 15, 2008
And the rest isn’t history – Jodhaa Akbar
Cast: Hrithik Roshan, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Sonu Sood, Poonam Sinha
Direction: Ashutosh Gowariker
…..Please, what is Ashutosh Gowariker’s Jodhaa Akbar trying to serve anyway ? A romance dopiaza ? Mughlai history biryani ? Secularism sushi ? Chandeliers-e-Azam ? Battle Stroganoff ? Absolutely no answers to that, except that you’re as disappointed as a guest who came away without a morsel from a wedding banquet. Sad. As you know, the romance is between Shahenshah Akbar (from the look of things here, a bachelor at 30) and Jodhaaji (not exactly in the prime of her youth either). She is coerced into a marriage with the Mughal but won’t allow him his conjugal rights till she feels up to it from her ‘dil’. Frowns she like Kill Bill. Till that belated Dil-Day occurs, they sword fence, she a crouching dragonette, he a patient tiger. Never mind, if her swashbuckling skills aren’t ever re-employed by the script. Misunderstandings and a patch-up later, the regal couple at last share common pillows-`n’-quilt. Takliya really. Vis-à-vis history, you learn about Rajputana kings who either acceded to Mughal supremacy or hatched plots culminating in battles starring scabbards, cannon balls, bows-arrows and helmets. Sorry but you’re not sure which soldier is fighting whom and why. The body count rises to Ramboesque proportions; the displeased emperor banishes a mulla and good ‘ole lieutenant Bairam Khan to Mecca forthwith. Surprisingly, the mulla looks as if he were being sent to Siberia. Is this history? Secularism is conveyed through such gestures as Akbar allowing Jodhaa her own temple space and approval of A R Rahman-composed bhajans. No mention of the emperor’s foundation of the all-religion-embracing Din-e-Ilahi faith. Moreover, how relevant is it to address the issue of Hindu tolerance of the minority today, instead of vice versa? Sufism is touched upon by a clap-a-hand-here-clap-a-hand-there qawwali in the course of which the emperor is zapped by a sky light, causing him to break into a jolly jig with the qawwals. Unintentionally funny. Did Akbar ever boogie woogie?
For a tribute to Mughal-e-Azam, a fluttering palace eunuch is recalled and durbar cliches abound like “Hukam ki taamil ho.” Inevitably, flighty handmaidens clasp secrets to their bosom, eavesdroppers lounge around at jharokas. And the venomous Nigar Sultana is supplanted by a diabolical daai, or Ila Arun, playing the role as if she were a harridan from Harry Potter. The Shahenshah’s mum, Poonam Sinha, is so benign that it hurts. So does one of her Eiffel Tower-tall hats. What a balancing act! In fact, the headgear displayed here – from Aladdin Cave turbans to those qawwals’ upturned ice-cream cones — are a gas. The action set pieces – involving a rather senior citizen elephant and the Troy-like one-to-one combat finale — are sound and fury amounting to nothing. Amitabh Bachchan’s voice-over commentary is stale. Kiran Deohan’s cinematography is conventional and Ballu Saluja’s editing is rather old-fashioned, what with the 1950s-style wipes. The length of three hours-20 minutes is a punishment. On the plus side, Nitin Desai’s sets and plush pageantry are eye filling. So is the elaborate picturisation of the Marhaba song in the style of the drum-stacked Chandralekha of yore. Still, like it or not Gowariker – normally a fine, conscientious director – has miscalculated the technical logistics and emotional content of a period piece. Crucial detailing isn’t the virtue here. The child actors playing the eponymous pair have coal black eyes which magically turn cat light on adulthood. Of the cast, Sonu Sood in a strongly written part fits the bill. But Hrithik Roshan is a major let down. His Urdu diction is laboured, his physical presence unequal to the role, and far too frequently he blinks his eyes like a neon sign gone out of order. The imperial gaze and carriage are conspicuous by their absence. Relatively, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan is more convincing. She carries off difficult scenes with unexpected fluidity, her eyes conveying the pleasure as well as the pain of a woman oscillating between love and rancour.
Bottomline: Toss a coin, whether you want to buy a ticket for Jodhaa AkBORE.. or not.