Archive for October, 2008

September Dawn

Posted: October 18, 2008 in Cinema

The film released a year ago in 2007,  and  is  meant  to be a Hollywood style  representation of the Mountain Meadows Massacre of September 11, 1857 in Utah. (BTW, on the offside, what is it with September 11 and the history of the American nation?)

The historical accuracy Hollywood’s account of the massacre, allegedly undertaken under the instigation/inspiration of the Mormon church, is under debate. But, I thought that it was an interesting comment on the workings of religious intolerance.

All religions teach that God is good and that one must act in the spirit of that good God.  So, how is that then that people pick up a sword and mow down unarmed women and new born infants in the name of God? How does brother kill brother? How does your mind and your soul stop protesting as your hands commit/you watch the most terrible atrocities being perpetrated?

The movie is a comment on all of that. Not in terms of historical accuracy, but on how it happens.

Finally, the film is also one of those rare glimpses into the religious conservatism that shaped the history of the making of America and that continues to linger on (especially every time Sarah Palin does a little jig – laugh!)

So while this would never be a landmark film in the history of cinema, it still makes for interesting viewing from all these different perspectives.

After all those recos, I finally got down to watching Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na, and I must say that there no regrets. It’s lovely little film, and an example of how great cinema is made.

I don’t really want to rewrite all the great reviews on the film that have already gone before. But, I’d just like to make a little note on why this film worked so well for me:

  • A great script
  • Sincerity, freshness, originality… Another way of saying this would be that it’s a story about everyday people told from the heart.
  • Every little bit of the film is there for a reason.
  • Great dialogues
  • Whacky humour.
  • Music that makes you want to dance, think, travel.
  • In conclusion, a nice, clean film… And the greatest past about it was that it worked… Every little bit of it:)

It’s also true that Imran Khan has great screen presence. Here’s to the “next big thing” Khan.

Abbas Tyrewala… Hats off to you… You’ve added another little gem to your repertoire. Of course, we expect no less from the master craftsman who created the screenplay for Maqbool and penned the dialogues of Munnabhai MBBS.

Aamir Khan… Take a deep bow… This film has the simple understated conviction that the more overrated Taare Zameen Par (also from Aamir Khan productions) always lacked.

Each generation has a film that captures the essence of being young. Thank you for adding Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na to that list.

The last legion

Posted: October 12, 2008 in Cinema
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This film was in the news sometime ago because it was one amongst many of Ms Aishwariya Rai Bachchan’s famed international projects. But, the film was finally released quietly and bombed at the box office, without creating much of a flutter.

I was still curious about the film though. After all, I am a great fan of the traditional Greco-Roman epic film. From an Indian perspective, it was also interesting to see how the cast of Ben Kingsley, Colin Firth and Aishwariya Rai came together for the telling of this story.

Now, having watched the film last week, I must acknowledge that the tradition of the Hollywood Greco-Roman epic film has truly lost its way.

What ever happened to the element of brilliant spectacle and editing that keeps you at the edge of your seat? Or what about mighty dialogues reminiscent of the tradition of honour of yore? Finally, what happened to larger than life stars who could carry a film on their own shoulders?

Ben Kingsley is a remarkable actor. Yet, he does not at any point give Charlton Heston a run for his money – at least not in this particular film.

The film is also notable for the complete absence of chemistry between Colin Firth and Aishwariya Rai. Passion that broke across the boundaries of ancient cultures never left you so completely unignited.

Also, how does Aishwariya Rai do it every time? She must hold the award for converting the maximum number of international cinematic dream projects into box office duds.

As has been correctly observed in the past, the problem begins when she opens her mouth 🙂 Our most international looking heroine, with the most rudimentary of acting skills – and the cliched Bollywood traditional sati savitri style at that, rendered in Greco-Roman style costumes. It needs to be seen to be believed 🙂

My favourite Bollywood moment in the film was when Aishwariya introduces herself as a kalari pattu practitioner from Kerala, in an affected “convent school” English accent. I didn’t know whether it was appropriate to laugh or cry 🙂

Watch The last legion to add a new dimension to the word ridiculous. You could also watch it to find out how a Greco-Roman epic film is not made.

It’s been three years

Posted: October 4, 2008 in Life and Living

Three years in a marriage is not a lifetime. Yet, when you get up one morning to realize that you are celebrating three years of being married, you wonder how that happened so quickly. Where did the last three years pass me by in the twinkling of an eye? 🙂

Like all marriages, we’ve had our share of highs and lows – if I may add, more highs than lows.

It does sometimes still annoy me that I have married a family and not a person. As an only child of a very individualistic family, there is no personal experience that I came with that would have made me run in the opposite direction from a situation like that or warned me that it would be difficult.

But if I were celebrate one of the many great things about our marriage, it would probably be that we both have the space to exist as completely different people. With the individualistic family background baggage, that is more important than I realized.

It is indeed a special thing to always have the freedom to pursue your dreams or just the space to be the person that you want to be everyday.

Thank you Manoj! Thank you life!

Tolerance

Posted: October 2, 2008 in Life and Living
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On the occasion of Gandhi Jayanti…

I
We remember the Mahatma not because of what he said, but what he did.

Tolerance is not you standing on a mountain, banging your chest, and proclaiming to the world, “I am tolerant”.

That is aggressive arrogance.

Tolerance is lived in our lives everyday.

How tolerant will I be today?

II
I say that my tolerance has reached its limits.

But isn’t my tolerance, with inscribed limits, another word for intolerance?

(PS. To you lovely ladies out there, Eid Mubaraq!)