Links: Garam Hava, Boyhood, Kill/Dil, Film Bazaar and banning ‘feminism’

MS Sathyu’s classic film Garam Hava was re-released and it’s a film that doesn’t seem dated or irrelevant decades after its original release in 1974. A look at how differently India’s political establishment has changed its attitude towards the indie film:

Whether it’s the shame and heartbreak of being jilted, the frustration at being qualified but unemployed or struggling with stereotypes, much of Garam Hava is still real and relatable. The difference is in the world surrounding the film — can you imagine Prime Minister Narendra Modi using his considerable powers to ensure a tiny little indie film gets released?

Read the whole piece here.

My review of Richard Linklater’s remarkable Boyhood.

My review of Kill/Dil, which is far from remarkable.  

NFDC’s Film Bazaar has a section titled Knowledge Series and here’s a glimpse of what happened there:

Tony Leung came to Goa! I didn’t meet him. But one woman did, and she ruined the rest of us brown women’s chances with him.

TIME magazine had its annual word banishment poll and this year, one of the candidates was “feminism”. Sigh.

If there’s one thing that has become increasingly evident, then it is how difficult equality is as a concept. Possibly as a result of generations of patriarchy, we can only envision one group overpowering the other, which is why there’s that curious vision of feminists toppling men from their position of power and reducing them to leashed pets. Since that’s what men did to women in so many parts of the world, it makes sense to many that women will return the favour when the power balance shifts to them. That isn’t what the feminists are saying, by the way. It’s the vision put forward by those who oppose feminists.

This is why you need feminism and feminists to appear like that ticker that TIME so dislikes – because otherwise misconceptions persist and people remain illiterate.

Read the whole piece here.



Links: Reviews of Ishkq in Paris, Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani

I should have updated ages ago, so instead of going chronologically, I’m going to organise the posts by subject or theme. Hush. In my head, it sounds more logical.

First up, the film reviews. Ishkq in Paris, starring Preity Zinta, released week before last and I admit it, the review is one of the cruellest I’ve written. But let’s not forget, that was one of the most senseless films I’ve seen. Why is there a k in the title? Why did Isabelle Adjani in that film? What did they do to the real Preity Zinta? And as if all this wasn’t bad enough, the film managed to do something that should never have happened — Chunky Pandey and Isabelle Adjani now have something in common. That’s just wrong.

In Ishkq in Paris, Zinta plays Ishkq Elise, whose mother is Marie (Isabelle Adjani). From her unnatural chirpiness, we may deduce that Ishkq is a bimbette teenager trapped in a 38-year-old’s body. It’s either that or she’s suffering from the trauma of looking at the Cubist sculpture that is Isabelle Adjani’s botox-and-plastic-surgery-devastated face and realising she could look like that one day. The horror, the horror.

Whatever the underlying reason, Ishkq is an odd bird. It seems she doesn’t know how to walk. She either skips (when she’s happy) or shuffles (when she’s sad). Her mood changes quicker than the weather, but her facial expressions stay much the same (give or take a glycerine-induced tear). When she wants a shift in the course of conversation, she hollers “Topic change!” but doesn’t actually change the topic. She’s commitment shy and pretends to be “psycho” when the craziest thing she does in the movie is go looking for dinner at midnight in Paris. As anyone who has been to Paris will tell you, that’s no time for din-din.

Then again, the Paris in Ishkq in Paris isn’t precisely the city of love that the French tourism board keeps telling us to visit. For one thing, a lot of it looks like Prague. Sure, it has the Eiffel Tower, but many of those streets and buildings are distinctly un-French in terms of their architecture. Most importantly, if you can find me a Parisian home that has a black woman dressed in a French maid outfit opening the door for you, I’ll swear off macarons for a week.

Ishkq in Paris begins as Zinta’s attempt at Indianising Before Sunrise. Ishkq (Zinta) meets Akash (Gaurav Chanana) who suggests she spend one night showing him the sights and sounds of Paris. After 24 hours, they’re going to go their separate ways and never see each other again. What follows is one of the most inept attempts by mankind to hit on a woman and convince her to sleep with him. It is no surprise Akash doesn’t get any, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Here are some tips from Ishkq and Akash’s guide to Paris by night:

1. Clubs in Paris have can can dancers. Because it’s the city of Moulin Rouge. Duh!

2. There are places in Paris called Montmarte and Park.

3. Belly dancers are psychics.

4. Lots of people in Paris know Hindi, including faded movie stars and belly dancers.

5. Chunky Pandey is now a belly-button baring street performer in Paris.

From my review of Ishkq in Paris.

Ranbir Kapoor celebrates, in YJHD.

Now on to movie review number 2: Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani. The film’s a huge success, having made some Rs. 70 crore in the first three days. Honestly, I can see why people would see the film even though I didn’t love it personally. It’s full of triteness but keep in mind we’ve been drowning in ghastly and gory action flicks ever since the first Dabangg. So maybe one of the reasons that films like Aashiqui 2 and YJHD are hurtling into the Rs. 100-crore club is that they’re a pleasant break from what’s been in the theatres of late. If only this meant good rom-coms, instead of either weepy or hackneyed stuff. This is particularly sad because actors like Ranbir Kapoor and Aditya Roy Kapoor are well capable of doing more than the flat, predictable roles they’re given. Ah well.

Ranbir Kapoor is full of the easy spontaneity and charm that has made young hearts go pitter patter ever since he appeared in a towel in Saawariya. He plays Bunny, who is essentially Sid from Wake Up Sid but with video camera and a love for travel. Bunny sweeps Naina the Nerd (Padukone) off her feet metaphorically and does the same literally to his best friend Aditi (Kalki Koechlin). Not only is the role spectacularly un-challenging for Kapoor since Bunny’s character hardly grows, but we can’t help wondering if Kapoor isn’t sick of playing the carefree, wisecracking guy who must, by the end of the film, find his serious side. Kapoor has had to act more in Pepsi commercials than he does in YJHD. …

Much like in Hum Aapke Hain Kaun, there really isn’t much that you can pick on or criticise in YJHD because there’s just so little meat on this bone. The point of YHJD is to show you pretty people having fun in pretty places and – if the feminine sighs in the audience were any indication – to see Ranbir Kapoor play the romantic lead. On all these accounts, the film scores. Everyone and everything looks fantastic. And for those so inclined, Kapoor has approximately four on-screen lip locks.

From my review of Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani.

The Dark Knight Rises

Here there be spoilers and a grouchy moviegoer. You have been warned.

First, there are three good things in The Dark Knight Rises:
1. Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle. She’s funny, dangerous and the only one who can make you momentarily forget the pomposity of the script.
2. the possibility that Joseph Gordon-Levitt may get his own movie, even if it is as Robin (meh).
3. From the end, it seems fair to conclude that this is the last Batman film Christopher Nolan will direct, which is superb news because clearly Nolan is bored of Batman. (Hello, Man of Steel).

The promotional material for The Dark Knight Rises was much, much cleverer and more striking than the film itself.

While coming out of the theatre, a few women wondered about this alternative dimension in which a Rajasthani warlord’s daughter and an Arab produce a child that looks like Marion Cotillard. Then again, if Liam Neeson can be an Arab then Cotillard can be half-Indian half-Arab. It’s also a world in which Jodhpur is a few hours’ trek from Amrika and a broken back can be reset so that our hero is fighting fit within 20 days of his vertebrae being popped out of shape. Just so you know the logic of the world in which The Dark Night Rises operates.

Now for the longer list. It’s not comprehensive because I wasn’t in reviewer mode (which means I wasn’t taking notes) and I didn’t find it a particularly memorable film so I don’t remember everything that seemed tiresome/problematic, but anyway. Here we go.

1. Did Deepak Chopra write the dialogues for this film? Everyone, from a nameless orphan to Alfred to Bane, spouts lines that are so weighed down by the need to be symbolic and *deep* that they end up sounding bombastic. And, contrary to what Shaggy said, that isn’t truly fantastic.

2. Congratulations, Christopher Nolan. In the scene at the grave, you’ve managed to make an actor of Michael Caine’s calibre come across as hammy as a weepy mother from vintage Bollywood. Also, this might be just me, but I kept remembering Rajesh Khanna’s last scene in Disco Dancer when Marion Cotillard was crumpled in that weird way and expending the last of her energy reserve to tell us how she’s flooding the reactor.

3. I seriously don’t get it. You have Tom Hardy and you cover his face, obscure his voice, hide his body. Might as well have got Hrithik Roshan to play Bane.

4. Erm, why was that attack on the stock exchange needed? And before you tell me, “to leave behind an iPad-type thing that has Wayne’s fingerprints to make it seem as though he’s gambling with his money”, surely billionaire Bruce Wayne would have someone who does things like buy and sell shares for him? Daggett didn’t need to do any of this fingerprint business to reduce Wayne to bankruptcy.

5. You’ve funded an extremely expensive project that is critical to your secret plan of blowing up Gotham a la Hiroshima-Nagasaki and you’ve not been allowed to see any developments made for the project. Yet you have continued funding it (because you’re patient and biding your time, presumably). Then, the only people standing between you and  the project give you access to it and tell you everything you need to know, including emergency settings etc. Now you can carry out what you’ve spent years planning. What do you do?
a) Carry out your dastardly evil plan immediately and get the hell out of there so that you can savour your victory by seeing disaster footage of Gotham on tv
b) Give yourself a deadline of 23 days and hang around Gotham, chilling with your anarchist buddies.
If you picked b), you’re an idiot. You’re also a weird villain and your name is Miranda Tate/ Talia. Or you’re Christopher Nolan and you need to make the movie last longer than 40 minutes. This is why I tweeted that it was a pointless film. We spent 3-odd hours watching what was achieved on the basis of resources, opportunities and information provided within the first 45 minutes.

6. The other reason for the 23-day time limit is that if Miranda Tate/Talia blows up Gotham the moment she has access to the reactor/bomb, then Bane — who seems to have sleek Bose speakers attached to his mask; how else is he heard by prisoners inside the high-security prison even though he’s standing miles away, outside the main gate? — can’t come in to establish Nolan’s version of a parallel to the Occupy movement. Not only is that part of the film completely unnecessary, more significantly perhaps, Nolan seems to suggest that the equivalents of the protestors are the violent scum of the earth whose rightful place is behind bars. Left-leaning Hipsters, weep.

Random note 1: The reason Bane is pro-anarchy? We never really know. Is it because he just likes to watch things fall apart? Is he working according to Miranda Tate/Talia’s orders? That’s another bizarre relationship. She keeps leaving him to die. At least when she was breaking out of prison, she didn’t have a choice. But she’d rather leave Bane to die in a nuclear blast than truss up/ kill Batman and take Bane along with her. But then, Miranda Tate/Talia is one of the more hastily-drawn characters in the film. The explanation given for why she goes all “Die Batman/Gotham Die” in the first place is cursory and unsatisfactory.

Random note 2: There’s a short romantic film to be made in which Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle go from cafe to cafe in Florence, hoping it’s the one Alfred comes to for his glass of whatever it is he drinks.

To sum all this up in one gif: