The last update of 2013

2013, we’re almost done and dusted. Here are the last set of links to articles for this year. (Cue melodramatic string section.)

On the Koffee with Karan episode featuring Kareena Kapoor Khan and Ranbir Kapoor.

My review of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, which was GREAT fun:

There’s no doubt that Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings (LOTR) trilogy haunts the second part of his telling of The Hobbit series. Whether it’s in terms of characters, storytelling or cinematography, the resemblances are many. It’s as though stories in Middle Earth follow a formula. Instead of the Fellowship, it’s a band of dwarves. Just as we saw the Fellowship cross distances in panoramic shots of the gorgeous New Zealand countryside, the dwarves do the same with Gandalf. In LOTR, Saruman splattered Gandalf against a wall; this time, it’s the Necromancer. Elves, diligent and spooky-eyed as ever, keep saving the day.

Bard is this series’ Aragorn: son of a man, looking to redeem himself for his ancestor’s mistakes, a skilled warrior who hides his royal lineage by doing unglamorous work (Aragorn disguised himself as a Ranger; Bard is a boatman). Although the love story isn’t between Bard and Tauriel, the she-elf is very much the equivalent of Arwen. She even has a let-there-be-light moment while healing a dwarf, just like Arwen did. However, none of this gets in the way of The Desolation of Smaug being a fabulous entertainer.

The untitled painting by VS Gaitonde that's now the most expensive work of modern Indian art.
The untitled painting by VS Gaitonde that’s now the most expensive work of modern Indian art.

Two little pieces on the first auction conducted by Christie’s in India. One was a preview of sorts, and the other reported the crowning of the new most expensive work of modern Indian art (an untitled painting by Gaitonde).

On the Devyani Khobdagade-Sangeeta Richards case. When this was written, there was next to nothing on Richards in terms of media reports and a lot of jingoistic chest beating. Since then, there’s been a little more about her.

A running commentary of Dhoom:3.

My review of the new 3D animated Mahabharat:

This new Mahabharata isn’t so much a kid-friendly version as one made for dummies, by dummies. It’s awkward, sanitised and dissatisfying to those who know the epic and to those who don’t, it’s boring and ugly. What we learn about Indian culture from this Mahabharata has more to do with our present than our past: we’ve lost the imagination that we were supposed to have inherited from antiquity.

Two flashback pieces (there will be a third tomorrow) of which one looked at box office …er, stuff:

It’s strange that we’re so enamoured by box office results when there’s no way to verify the numbers that are trumpeted by different trade analysts. Whether an analyst tweets a certain figure or a news channel declares it or a trade magazine prints it, it’s impossible to know much a film has actually earned. it all boils down to how much you trust the person or publication giving you the information. There is almost always a difference between the numbers put forward by different agencies and sometimes, like in the case of D-Day, the discrepancy is big enough to raise eyebrows. Another film that may have overstated its earnings is Krrish 3, which according to some reports has earned as much as Rs 255 crore and less than Rs 200 crores according to others. But whatever the figures, the fact is that in terms of earnings and the kinds of films made, it’s been a good year for Bollywood.

The other was a selection of trending topics from Bollywood this year, which included the death of the masala macho man, the rise of Deepika Padukone, the dumbest lyrics ever and (my favourite) how science was pwned in Bollywood films this year.

Finally, a sad note. Yesterday began unpleasantly for many of us as news came in the morning of Farooq Shaikh’s passing. This is a little in-memoriam-esque piece on him:

In 2002, a talk show titled Jeena Isi Ka Naam Hai appeared on Zee TV in which celebrities, like Shah Rukh Khan and MF Husain, were interviewed by a host. The host at the start of the first season was Shaikh, who was returning to public life after a hiatus. Shaikh was one of the selling points of Jeena Isi Ka Naam Hai and suddenly, there were interviews and profiles of the actor in an array of publications. One interviewer asked him how he’d like to be remembered. Shaikh replied, “I would rather not be remembered. Everyone comes into and goes from this world. I have no great desire to be remembered after I am gone.”

And yet, when the news came this morning of Shaikh having suffered a lethal heart attack while holidaying in Dubai with his family, heartbreak cracked its way across Indian cinephiles because Shaikh embodied a certain old-world grace that is terribly rare today. He lived by an idealism and liberalism that was so much an integral part of Indian cinema in his generation and has almost entirely disappeared in the present. Regardless of what he may have imagined, for the work that he has done and the human being that he was in an industry of wannabes, Shaikh is immensely memorable. Rest in peace.

And five favourite Farooq Shaikh films. It’s tough to pick five because he really has done some wonderful films, but this isn’t a bad list to start with if you haven’t seen much of him. If you have seen his stuff, you will undoubtedly have very valid arguments for other names being included. Such is the nature of the beast called list.

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