Archive for February, 2006

The Rising as a classic

Posted: February 19, 2006 in Cinema
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I am probably among the very few who believe that The Rising is an Aamir Khan and Indian cinema classic and should have been India’s nomination for the Oscars in the year that it was made. But I stand by that.

Five reasons why The Rising makes for outstanding cinema …
There are different reasons why a film comes to be viewed as a classic. But for me, The Rising makes for outstanding cinema because…

1. In the sometimes cliché ridden world of modern Hindi cinema, the telling of the friendship between Mangal Pandey and Captain Gordon was interesting and one of the most real portrayals of friendship across cultures.
2. The performance put in by Toby Smith as Captain Gordon. He gave his character different levels of complexity, and yet left behind a character of flesh and blood.
3. At that time, Aamir was taking on a role different from the roles he had had done thus far. It is a landmark film in terms of evolution Aamir’s evolution as an actor. At the point when Aamir walks to the hangman’s noose, he is not acting the role of Mangal Pandey. He is Mangal Pandey.
4. Good photography. There are stills from Mangal Pandey that are perfect – to change one element would be to change the meaning of the scene.
5. Like all great cinema, Mangal Pandey has the tendency to linger with you…sometimes through the photography, sometimes through the music, sometimes through the performances. Even those who were quite bored with the film just need to see a picture of Aamir in the film a couple of years later, and the first word that flashes to their mind is “Mangal Pandey”. That’s tremendous recall for a film that is supposed to have had an average run at the box office.

While we as a nation have a great history, we have very few great historical epics that have been told by Hindi cinema filmmakers. This film stands out in that genre.

At the same time, it is also true that most of our epics (with the exception of the religious ones and Mughal-e-Azam) have not done well at the Indian box office. This film will probably be better appreciated by an international audience. Well, at least if you are non-British.

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Finally… RDB

Posted: February 18, 2006 in Cinema
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We finally got down to seeing RDB last evening… Well, we tried for tickets last week too… But it was houseful. And so, following Bunty and Babli, Parineeta, Murder and The Rising…my beloved husband was subjected to watching another Hindi movie with me 😉

Well… Both of us will probably be among the very few to say this… But, we prefered The Rising.

Aamir Khan was of course, as always, eminently watchable. But the script suffered from the twin Bollywood signature characteristics of predictability and melodrama. I didn’t know the story before it began… but as soon as Madhavan (ie Ajay) walked onto the screen, I knew that he was going to die and the rest of them incited to take revenge.

As always, with most of Bollywood productions, being Indian was equivalent to being Punjabi. The Muslim had to be the ‘good Muslim’ in a conservative community.

The characters were not real enough as well… They were your typical Bollywood stock types… The only Bollywood film to have created real characters in recent times was Dil Chahta Hai. But after that, with Lakshya, Farhan got caught up with all the Bollywood baggage.

Incidentally, on the theme of young men who rise up against the system, it was better handled in Yuva.

This seemed more like a cross between Dil Chahta Hai and The Rising… but lacking the greatness of both of them.

And so, I would be among the very few who believe that The Rising is Aamir’s classic, not RDB. Incidentally, I also think that The Rising should have been India’s entry to the Oscars. But then, I think many things 😉

Still, as after Black, I came out with the disappointment of one who had gone in to see a great film and was short changed. At that time, I remember thinking that Hum Dil de Chuke Sanam was a better film. I had also seen similar themes a la Black being handled with greater sensitivity, minus the histronics, by Hollywood.

And was Black Amitabh Bachchan’s greatest performance in recent times? Honestly, I believe Mohabbetein was better. And that’s probably because I’ve watched Dustin Hoffman carrying off a similar role (Bachchan in Black) with greater subtlety

I often wonder when will we as a nation truly recognize great cinema?

But then, who am I to define great cinema?

If everyone looks at a film and proclaims it to be great, and I feel otherwise, it could perhaps be that I am mistaken???

So let us leave the absolute and universe encompassing statements behind 😉 …And let me just say that RDB was a disappointment. It was also true that not many felt the same way.