Archive for April, 2010

Time to forget the teaser! Now the full trailer is out…almost 2mins long. Check it out! Wanna shout…Go Vikram go, just kill Raavan!

Because calling him filmmaker would be disrespect to the medium. So, after his Hey Potty, he is back with HouseFool.

Check out his latest interview. There are some million gems in it. Its a must must must watch! So, click on the video, sit back, relax and take a deep breath. Its 25mins long but trust us, its all worth it!

Mani Ratnam’s Raavan – Official synopsis is out!

Posted: April 28, 2010 by moifightclub in cinema

Sorry to flood the blog with so many Raavan posts, but what to do, as they say, its all for Mani Saar. So, here it is. Time to put all the speculations to rest as the official synopsis of Raavan is out on its website. Read on…

RAAVAN is not a story. It is a world.

Beera Munda – Undisputed, Unlawful, Untamed (Abhishek Bachchan)

Dev Pratap Sharma – The Punisher, The Law, The Righteous (Vikram)

Ragini – Conscience, Beauty, Music (Aishwarya Rai Bachchan)

Dev falls in love with Ragini, a spunky classical dancer who is as unconventional as him. They get married and he takes up his new post in Lal Maati, a small town in northern India.

A town where the word of law is not the police but Beera, a tribal who has, over the years, shifted the power equation of the place from the ruling to the have-nots of the area. Dev knows, that the key to bringing order to any place is to vanquish the big fish; in this case- Beera.

In one stroke Dev manages to rip open Beera’s world, and set in motion a chain of events which will claim lives, change fortunes.

Beera, injured but enraged hits back starting a battle that draws Dev, Beera and Ragini into the jungle. The jungle which is dense, confusing, scary. And in this journey they must comfort their own truth.

A journey which will test their beliefs, convictions and emotions. Emotions, which are as scary and confusing as the forest. The forest becomes the battleground. The battle between good and evil, between Dev, and Beera, between Ram and Raavan.

But when the lines dividing good and evil are blurring fast whose side will you take? When hate turns to love and the good start’ looking evil, which side will you battle for? Love is a battle that nobody wins but everyone must fight. Even this Raavan.

Now that the official synopsis is out, try your CQ again.

The poster, music, stills, everything is out and now the first promo song of Raavan has been released. The song is behne de. Check it out.

With a day job that takes care of my bread and butter, and sometimes jam too, I happily give gyaan and quote Kieslowski wherever I can – Filmmaking doesn’t mean audiences, festivals, reviews and interviews. It means getting up at six o’clock in the morning. It means the cold, the rain, the mud and having to carry heavy lights. It’s a nerve- racking business and at a certain point everything has to come second, including your family, emotions and private life.

My roomie who wanted to become an actor once, is now happily settled with a day job and I taunt him, quoting Paash – Sabse khatarnaam hota hai apne sapne ka mar jaana. But then, someone tells me to get up at six in the morning, with cold, rain, mud and carry heavy lights, i will probably turn to other side. Aha, we romanticise everything. Kartik Krishnan isnt. He quit his day job, jumped into the pool where it matters and is trying to swim through. Read on.

Firstly just a clarification – BC refers to Before Christ and not ‘Bad Character’ in the police books or Behe**** in the goon books.

(Note – the word ‘AD’ usually refers to an Assistant Director. Spelt the same but pronounced & meant differently than the abbreviation AD. i.e. an AD film)

Like all ‘outsiders’ in the film industry till 2 yrs ago, I always perceived the easiest way for us to get into the film industry was to go upto an RGV, Mani Saar, Vishal bhardwaj, Anurag Kashyap, Sudhir Mishra etc etc and the other “sensible” directors (whose films we swore upon), prostate in front of them and beg for an AD job. That you might be paid peanuts, survive on vada-pavs & four square cigerettes, was a given (classic milds are for established directors and established ADs, some of whom also smoke the gold flake lights/davidoff lights/B&H Lights – I learnt later). Earlier it used to be haven with the complimentary ‘chakhna‘ (snacks) provided along with a quarter royal stag, which you could ask for as many times as possible in a local BAR ‘aani’ RESTAURANT, without having to loosen your purse – and could even pass it off as a ‘light dinner’. Now it is 20 bucks for peanuts/salad/’kakdi’/chakli etc.

But I’m digressing. Anyways the deal ‘percieved’ was that saying a ‘yes’ to all these factors (low pay,running around work, not so ‘rayeesana shauk’) would be AN OBVIOUS PAY-OFF FOR THE ‘CREATIVE LEARNING’ or ‘kitna kuch seekhne ko milega‘. This perception got strengthened more if you were a struggler like me – no degree in fimaking/mass media/mass comm from SRFTII/FTII/Xaviers/ZIMA/IP University/JMI MCRC and were simply a TY BCom (as they say it in Mumbai – Third Year) dropout/passout, or a former engineer like me. So basically we learn as much about filmaking on the job and eventually pitch our screenpays/ideas to someone willing to listen, in the hope they would may be arrange a producer-one-on-one, and lo behold – before you know we have a film being made. Your film. That would take some time but yes the path was there for the taking.

So we struggle around to be an AD. Approach directors and prostrate (thank god – these days they offer a handshake and make you feel professional and not a ‘bhakt’). Convince them of your bit knowledge and passion for films. In the event that we get the job, great. In case we don’t, we might have to fool around.

‘FOOL AROUND’ ?

It means try and act in short films made by your peers, write some stuff, make short films, and if sometimes you are lucky, play the hotel manager in your filmaker friends’ film in a one scene appearance for three thousand ruppees or so. Anything that either keeps the kitchen fire burning and/or you getting some dabbling filmaking experience. And the tricky thing is, there is no ‘way’ laid down. You have to learn it yourself meeting like minded ‘strugglers’ who rarely drink the Barista coffee @ Yari Road/Royal stag at Adarsh/Madhuban Bar aani Restaurant; working and interacting with them, often for no pay; and fooling around in the creative medium. And in case you are lucky (which I might not), you sometimes also get work in AD.films/corporate films/music videos etc as an AD. (AD-ing in an AD. Film/corporate film/music video pays much more than AD-ing in a feature film, and is usually over 10 times more number of shoot-prep days)

And then you actually get that break as an AD in feature films-

Yeah. You’re on your way. Getting a monthly salary (not much but just enough) and working.

And then THE ‘BUBBLE’ BURSTS

Being an AD has very very little ‘CREATIVE’ learnings.

I repeat an oft repeated statement – BEING AN AD HAS VERY LITTLE TO DO WITH THE CREATIVE SIDE OF FILMAKING.

1.Location recce or Scouting (going to the location and taking pictures to show to the director – maximum coverage from all angles – exterior & interior – sometimes indicating the directions – meaning North South East West)

2. Continuity excel sheet (unless the 1st ADs have generated that beforehand using Movie Magic/EP Scheduling)

3.Day Night Breakdown – which scenes are to be shot in day and which ones at night

4.Weapons breakdown

5.Location list breakdown

6.Email list of all HODs

7.Props

8.Making sure everything and everyone is at place.

And the like. I’m listing very few of the many such excel sheets/filtering work/running around etc. I’m sure much more experienced ADs can add more (I only assisted on a few months on pre production on a feature film. Why ? I wont get into that)

So you get a bit disillusioned. Luckily if you are from the TY BCOM/BE category, you take it in your stride and go on working. If you are some film school passout – well you have to ask them but I’m guessing there is a jump cut from discussing Godard/Truffaut/De Sica into doing IT related work/organisational – administrative tasks – which might disillusion them too. For once, we feel like we’re in the same boat. But some of the savvy ones know the truth beforehand – Being an AD has very very little ‘CREATIVE’ learnings. So they move on.

WHY IS IT SO? SOME THOUGHTS “

Leave the creatives to the Director,DOP,ART director (very rarely is the writer mentioned along side the aforementioned list, but we’ll let that pass too). An AD’s job is executional and administrative.”

Hmmmm.

“It’s like making arrangements during a family wedding. Just because you run around getting shaadi ka laddoos, printing the cards, arranging liquor for the lousy group in ladke-walas, making sure the dinner is served on time, getting pure ghee for the havan; doesn’t mean YOU WILL ALSO HAVE A SUHAAG RAAT”

Ohh I get it. So basically doing all that doesn’t mean you will be a good groom, just that you are a good guy. Since the groom will simply sit with a plastic smile and wait for the first night. A very different skill set from the shaadi-mein-kaam-karnewale-honhaar-ladka set.

“As an AD, you are executing someone else’s vision, eventually so that you get to know how to execute yours”

But if you start out as an AD, 3-4 yrs and 4-5 films down the line, you have learnt the processes involved in making a film. It neednt necessarily mean the film you make is equally good as the ones who you have worked on, and of course vice versa. For eg: so many of the RGV proteges. Hazaron Khwahishein Aisi & Kal,Aaj Aur Kal; Lagaan & Mumbai se Aaaya Mera Dost/Mission Istanbul.

Recently, unemployment forced me to ask around for work – AD-ing on AD/corporate films. Was also looking around besides fooling around. Had an interview for a 3rd AD postiion in an AD film.

“Yours is a more creative resume. But for a 3 day AD film with 400 odd extras involved I don’t know how good you will be able to handle it.”

That’s a fair enough apprehension. Even I wouldn’t know if I would be capable of handling it.

A friend of mine said – “An AD turned director on his first feature film – was more interested in the things falling in place – all shots getting in time before the light goes away as opposed to discussing with DOP the ‘creatives’. The DOP was getting frustrated.”

So a couple of points

1. Bottom line – Not all good ADs make good directors. They’re different skill sets.

2. If being capable of handling 400 extras, costume continuity, excel sheets etc etc is one of the criteria of employing an AD – then why don’t the directors employ BBAs & MBAs ??? “Because the MBAs are sitting atop corporates deciding how a film should be made” – is what my friend joked. “Which MBA would do a managerial/executional job for the peanuts paid ?”

3. Unless an AD works how will he get experience ? And since 1st ADs are usually looking around for junior ADs who have experience, how will the junior AD get to work ? The Catch 22 problem explained so eloquently by Sachin in Trishul in a job interview to Shashi Kapoor.

4. Why should the fact the prospective AD did some writing/acting jig to learn the craft of filmaking/get titsy bitsy experience/money be a deterrant to his employment as an AD in features/AD films ? Agreed the skillset is different – but cummon man, one can learn. Managerial/Executional skills are easier to acquire than the ‘creative’ ones. Correct me if I’m wrong please.

5. 1st ADs at times get paid more than the writer. It’s a marvel of the industry which I haven’t understood.

6.”You have acting & writing experience on your resume. Why do you want to assist ?”

Hmmmm for these – experience in the process of filmaking; money, money & money; writing rarely pays if at all on time; Acting roles are extremly limited since a friend says “You’re the ugliest guy ever exposed to film stock”

7. “But You have writing & AD-ing experience on your resume. Why do you want to act ?”

Err… Refer to Q 6

8. “Doesn’t it create confusion to the employer as to what you want to do in life ?”

As if the film industry, why even our country, parliament, cricket team act in a Six Sigma Mumbai Dabbawala organised way ! If I’m good at the job should it really matter if I fuck around, beat my wife, walk in my house in undies Ransa style etc etc ?

Or better still – Did you ask this question when you knew I knew Java, MS Project Server, C++, Visual Studio and MS SQL ? Does this mean I cannot code in Java because I knew the other skills ? Or does this imply given an opportunity to learn & work on Main frames, I wouldnt be able to do so ?

Or better still – don’t you also know Hindi, Indian English, American English, Marathi and your mother tongue Tamil/Gujrati/Bengali/Punjabi/Bhojpuri/Telugu/Urdu/Sanskrit or whatever ?

Hmmmmmm

And she tries to make sense of his new production Phoonk 2. Though she didn’t win the 5 lakh cash but she managed to sit through the film. Here’s her Phoonk-y dissection. PS – If possible do play Rekha Bhardwaj’s Phoonk phoonk phoonk de to go with the post as its need lil bit of patience to read. In short, lamba hai!

RGV is dead! Long live RGV!

No, it is not sarcasm. I have never understood the import of the above conundrum fully but I think it does apply to our all-time, blue-eyed hero Ram Gopal Verma who loves killing himself with every film in the hope of resurrection with his next. With Phoonk 2, he delivers a punch in the gut to every self-respecting horror film and horror-loving audience, horror-knowing critic. RGV’s word in film-making is final. And will remain so. That was a horrific punch, sorry.

RGV has always done path-breaking films from Shiva, to Satya to Go to RGV ki Aag. He has always pushed the boundaries of conventional narration and formula and made his own language. From Shiva, to Satya to Go to RGV ki Aag. He has engaged with psychology of the characters and pushed the idiom of right and wrong, individual vs society and film vs cinema. From Shiva, to Satya to Go to RGV ki Aag.

With Phoonk 2, RGV, breaks new path. (One wonders how many times this so-called ‘new path’ will be broken? Time and again people say that fellow Anurag Kashyap does it, then recently the town went mad claiming one Dibakar Banerjee too did it. Do they do it with an axe, break this new path, I mean? Must ask RGV, he should know.) The film breaks every ground of conventional narration and has to its credits technical breakthroughs that neither stalwarts nor genius kids can imagine. It covers potent philosophical questions and gives it to its unsuspecting audience as a side dish much more savoury than the main. The sub-text for the uninitiated. We shall talk about the sub-text of Phoonk 2 here.

Phoonk 2 asks some deeply disturbing philosophical and existential questions. Its basic premise, as is that of any film worth its salt in the history of Indian or even phoren cinema is the premise of good vs evil. Phoonk 2 treats this empirical question of human existence as a pedagogical subject of epistemology. The depth with which the lady ghost engages her detractors on her trap of death is an intense viewing experience, especially noting the ease with which she does it. The first one is finished off with a neat head cut off dripping blood by the gallons and the second in superbly crafted acrobatic action. Both these ‘babas’ (no not of Ba-Ba black sheep fame, but then yes maybe) represent the force of good and the ghost lady of evil. The thunderstorming violence with which she unleashes her evil on these two brings into question the very essence of the fight of good vs evil and the strength of each? Well, the battlegrounds are a bit unequal here to raise such significant questions as the evil is so well-endowed (with make-up expert fight masters et al) and the forces of good are? Dhongibabas. Not really a fair representation and hence the question remains unanswered.

The hero, the savior and be all and end-all of everything in a Hindi film steps in gallantly to address this question. But he brings in more layers to this already deeply complex philosophical issue. Can a man with the help of mere continuity jumps, axis jumps and bad Big B imitation save his child from the forces of evil? Does his will alone, helped largely by these instruments succeed in towering over these forces? RGV refuses to stay objective but has the gumption to take a stand here. He boldly steps forward and says, yes, he can. If the film is a Hindi film especially a horrific RGV one, he can do anything. So the hero does. And solves this question of philosophy which would have disheartened Plato.

Phoonk 2 at various levels also engages with existentialism. RGV takes Sartre’s philosophy of existentialism as humanism and turns it succinctly on its head by proving that freewill is not only an attribute of humans. Even camera’s can have it and cinematography and editing shall own the responsibility for it. In a path-breaking manifestation of this philosophy he makes his camera roam here, there and everywhere, making it independent of any conventional language/barriers/notions that society has set upon it. Thus it frees the language of cinema from its own barriers and one sees thrilling, liberated cinematography totally in love with itself.

It is not in the realm of the philosophy alone that RGV resides in. He does address concerns of sociological interest too. Those of relationships and growth while living within the society (yeah sounds contradictory na, to me too). By having the wife refusing to kiss her husband even years after they are married and SO MUCH in love, he arouses(pun unintended) a question pertinent to the Indian society.  That of the sanctity of their conjugal life, that of the privacy of the moment and the non-sexual, pristine image of the woman as wife that should not be broken by kissing your husband goodbye. Similarly, the child, in her pre-teens exhibits similar notions of society-bound rules of growth where she is continuously enamoured by a doll and is drawn to it with a fascination that belies her age and which must also be beyond the ghost who put it there. RGV addresses these very severely important notions of regressions and makes a stinging social comment on society through his protagonists.

In a drama panning several ideologies of human philosophy, RGV does not shy clear of addressing perhaps the most controversial of them all, gender issues. Phoonk 2 is a path-breaking chapter in gender-studies with an ever-evolving lady ghost who chooses to enter the lady of the house’s body and chooses to quiet down as soon that body is killed. One might think this is an extension of the existential question but such is the genius if RGV that he notices and tackles the subtle differences sensitively. The lady as a ghost in the body of the lady of the house is a universal symbol of how women are women’s own enemies. This is also reflected in the ghost killing off the only semi-good-looking girl in the cast, evidently out of jealousy as she is not much to look at now that she is dead and neither was she when alive. In a subtle twist in the tale, RGV beautifully changes the protagonist into the antagonist and quickens the pulse of the film by thrills and chills but also manages to relay his sub-text which examines gender issues as vastly potent as these.

Secondly, it must be noticed that both the babas are male. And the primary subject of Madhu, the ghost’s revenge is also male. The only other victim besides the hero’s sister is also male, the hero’s best friend. This brings clearly into focus the question of the fight of females against their subjugation and male domination. Madhu single-handedly wages this war against male hegemony and patriarchy in her war against this family and RGV succinctly portrays the difficulties a woman has to survive and make her mark in a male-dominated society. That the lead protagonist to bear the torch of such an important question be a ghost, only the great RGV could have thought of it.

In its attempt to elevate our mundane existence to greater heights by engaging our minds to higher domains of philosophy RGV does not forget his environment. He continues to engage with everyday concerns and addresses some deep-rooted questions relating to the film industry too. The impoverished fake blood industry for instance. The coming of Sooraj Barjatya and Aditya Chopra had sounded their death knell. But RGV, in Phoonk 2 made sure they made good their losses of the past ten years or so. Such deep is his commitment. Such deep also is his commitment that he has generated employment for people based on his conviction alone. Jobs for stadicam operators for instance. The one of Phoonk should be eternally grateful to RGV to have got to shoot an entire film in this manner. Secondly repeating actors.  In an industry that changes colours with every hit and flop RGV maintains his loyalties. We have seen that consistency with his heroines in the past and have admired him for that.  Repeating actors despite their bad performances shows solidarity, something that the likes of Farah Khan also don’t do even if SRK is a buddy and delivers a hit with her everytime. That is because it requires a man like RGV to do and I am not engaging in gender issues. Leave that to the masters.

Ultimately, Phoonk 2 becomes a spiritual experience. From the realm of sociology to philosophy it reaches its zenith in spirituality elevating one’s soul when it forces us pray for a speedy end and hope that this time the end does mean the end.

Long Live RGV!

First the teaser was out and now, here are the posters.