Links: Trip to Moon and Ghanchakkar

Two reviews coming up. One is of a film that I loved and the other is a film that I totally wanted to love, but the director got in the way of my doing so.

 

From Trip to Moon. Do not miss the high-fasion space gear.
From Trip to Moon. Do not miss the high-fasion space gear.

Trip To Moon is possibly one of the coolest films ever. Generally, I turn my nose up when words like “cool” appear in a sentence, but this film deserves the word and how. There’s no end to the delights of this film in which Dara Singh prevents catastrophe in the Milky Way by preventing a war between the Moon and Mars. Being the overachieving Indian scientist that he is, he also manages for himself a lunar princess for a bride and fights everything from aliens to space hippos. All this while wearing (mostly) shiny tights. The film’s on Youtube, though sadly, without subtitles, which means only those who understand Hindi will understand it in its complete glory. That said, I don’t think language is much of a barrier.

The real genius of Trip to Moon is in the scenes where Simi and the king of Mars are seen secretly plotting. Keep in mind that this film was released in 1967, when the height of technological advancement in India was the trunk call and the television. Yet it didn’t stop the writer of Trip to Moon (who is sadly uncredited. The credits only acknowledge the dialogue writer) from imagining the digital camera, scanning, email and modern printers. When Simi spies on Anand being romanced by Shimoga, she pulls out a dinky little camera to click a suggestive photo. The photo is then delivered to the king of Mars instantly. His assistant pulls it out of a box-like contraption.

At another point, Simi dials a code and the King of Mars appears on a television screen so that the two can chat. That is, she Skypes him. Most impressively, Trip to Moon pre-empted Google Glass. When Simi wants to talk to the king of Mars urgently, she calls him and he receives the call in a pair of dark glasses. A live image of Simi appears on one of the lenses and they chat in real time. So there you have it: a wearable computer with an optical head-mounted display. And we thought of it in 1967, before Google’s Larry Page and Sergey Brin were born.

Ghanchakkar started off so well. It was funny, absurd but believably so, great premise, good acting, sharp dialogues… and then the director decided it was time to reveal he is the desi Quentin Tarantino. Except he isn’t and by the end of it, the film’s a bit of a mess both literally and metaphorically.

Gupta scatters red herrings all over Ghanchakkar, but doesn’t complete any of the sub-plots that are half-heartedly introduced into the story. However, what makes Ghanchakkar truly disappointing is the laziness of a script that churns and rechurns the same jokes in the hope of conning the audience into believing the plot is moving forward.

Those who remember the good ole days of Bollywood will see the bank robbing trio and remember Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s Chupke Chupke fondly and weep — because the beauty of Mukherjee’s scripts lay in clever gags that recurred just the right number of times.

Gupta, sadly, doesn’t possess this quality. After the first half, Ghanchakkar quickly becomes a bore. Gupta tries to wake up his audience by trying to discover his inner Quentin Tarantino and changing the tone from comic to violent at the end of the film. However, not only is this shift too abrupt, the logic is so wanting and there’s so much unnecessary bloodshed that the only thing to do is roll your eyes and wish you’d left at interval.

 

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