Archive for September 16, 2010

Why ? Read on.

Let’s call it observations…

I love paisa vasool cinema. The front-bencher, seeti-maar type. The brazen ‘I am what I am, take it or leave it’ type. And if it has Sallu in an earthy, small-town part then I suck my teeth hard in anticipation. After all, at 14 this was the first man in my life to take my breath away.

Over the years, especially the last five or so he began to take my mind away and I relegated him to a parenthesis in my Bollyland likes.

But when the news of Dabangg hit the film circuit my ears perked up. No, I am not a dog, what I meant was I was all attention. Unusual name, small-town setting, earthy appeal (It looked like that at first!) and Sallu in a mouche! Touché! (No, I am not KM either.)

So the wait was a WAIT. Long-time since I had really waited for a film to release. Hud, hud Dabangg, Dabangg, Dabangg and Munni Badnaam Hui were playing endlessly in my mind.

Cut to stalls in a single-screen theatre, first day first show. I was tucked in quietly like an abla naari in a corner seat among jeering, leering, cheering crowd unable to hide her own enthusiasm. The audience was on an incredible high, catcalling and hooting much before the film had started. Even on trailors. If a director of those films had sneaked in to see audience reaction to his trailor, they just might have gone home thinking he has struck gold. No, the fact is Abhinav Kashyap, Salman Khan and Dabangg have struck gold.

Dabangg turned out to be an unabashed entertainer in love with its own gimmickery and un-self-conscious style. Sallu made me fall in love with him all over again, mouche and all.

He came striding against the sunlight in slo-mo against a thumping ‘Hud., Hud’ score and I knew I loved him again…you know that feeling…when you have loved with the gush of first love, heart beating at every phone ring, blushing-by-his-mere-mention type of love everyone scorns but secretly wishes for…and then you grow up and become all like a dry leaf with a stone for a heart pretending to be ‘mature’ but one day you meet that guy who made you understand the magic of spring…he looks different but that boyish charm is still there and you don’t know if he has changed…or forgotten…and you don’t know if you have forgiven…but then he smiles and you smile back and in that moment you love him again…a different kind of love that will remain and will now keep beating silently next to your heart asking for nothing…Well, I got carried away there, but you understand. Yes, I was back in love with Sallu. With that kind of love.

And Dabangg IS Sallu.

In marketing terms it means a repeat of the mad success of Wanted but in cinematic (I cringe to use a dignified word as that but I can’t find an alternative) terms it means Salman can get away with whatever he does.

I smiled and grinned as much at his antics, silly, stupid, oddball, endearing and all along enjoying the audience antics too. (This guy in formals sitting next to me evidently had bunked office to watch ‘first day first show’ kept dancing and laughing his guts out and every time he laughed he looked at me to share the joke. Quite cute. The ‘mature’ woman that I am I never looked back.)

But Dabangg works not because Sallu can get away with anything. It works because only he can do what he does. And he does it best here, by far. THAT is charming.

We have enough superstars who think they can get away with murder because their name sells, (AK, SRK, this K that K) and Sallu was one too until Dabangg happened. I mean, not that he is humbled or anything, anything but. I mean he kept committing murder till now and after a long long time has redeemed himself. Somewhat.

So what if it was with a film that had no story.

I can hear you waiting to shout, ‘you expected a STORY?’ What’s WRONG with you?’

But I thought that was the minimum I could expect, nai? Especially from a dhamaal, chavanni chhaap entertainer like Dabangg? (To be frank guys, I was expecting a LOT more but I always give credit where it is due.)

But I was willing to give up anything but not the small fact that it had a story missing…because it not only killed the film for me (I am a big girl, I can handle disappointment, you know.) but it killed itself. You know when a child has brilliant potential but he squanders it as he grows up by making the wrong choices? How do you feel when you look at that grown up? I felt the same way…

And why did I feel it let itself down when it promised dhamaal and gave dhamaal? I will illustrate with an example, the only one that has been continuously on my mind since I watched it. The 90’s saw a class act in the form of David Dhawan’s ‘Aankhen’. It starred three monkeys but what a show all three of them put up! As silly, stupid and oddball as it could get. Sometimes so slapstick you wanted to slap your forehead in frustration. But the film worked like a charm. Was it because of the charm of the central monkey who is still that generation’s Hero No.1? Not quite, it was because the film had a story and a crafty screenplay.

Dabangg did not have a story or story idea leave aside a screenplay. Its creative brief was ‘Salman Khan as he is’. For a ‘Coolie no.1’ or ‘Aunty no.1’ its ok. But it would have been criminal if ‘Aankhen’ went that path. All of us still love ‘Coolie no.1’ and ‘Aunty no.1’ (Oh, shut up, we all do. Next time, you are drunk tape yourself and listen to it the next morning!) but not as much as we love ‘Aankhen’. I loved Dabangg as much as I loved ‘Coolie no.1’ when it could have become an ‘Aankhen’.

Story-telling is an art fast dying in Bollywood. Style, technique and botoxed heroes are taking care of the gap.

But what was it that made kitsch so cool back then? Indraneel, one of the commentators makes a great point here. Kitsch entertainers were so superbly entertaining because side-characters were equally well-fleshed out and supported the hero every step. Same goes for the villain. In Dabangg neither the side-characters left an impact (and that was because of the way they were treated) nor did the villain. The enmity between the characters of Chhedi Singh and Chulbul Pandey was almost an after-thought, because the romance angle and father-son trouble angle ran out of steam. But WHY did they run out of it steam when each angle hand enough potential to contribute to making a complete enetertainer? Because the focus was the hero and nothing else.

Sad, when Salman Khan can be so much more than Salman Khan is. Oh, keep the chappals in control, he can. Of course he is not great, is often lazy but he is not as limited as he has been type-casted as. Not only is he a malleable actor, he is also is a class entertainer. He has vulnerability, can cry MUCH better than SRK and get into a character MUCH better than Aamir (even if its only of ‘Prem’, its STILL a character). Oh, and Sonakshi Sinha and he make a great pair I must say. Well, mostly because the way she has been styled. That sex appeal was electric and I was wondering, was it the same woman who looked so ‘saas-bahu’ type in pics??? And Dimple Kapadia and Vinod Khanna made me interested to watch the dynamics of a small-town middle-class family. Arbaaz Khan was err…never mind, and Mahi Gill made me cry. Not because of her great acting, but because of the miniscule role this super-talented girl was relegated to. Does the industry really have to be so unfair? I won’t even talk about Anupam Kher, Om Puri and Murli Sharma’s roles…

And so after, all my rambling the point is, the film is a super-hit, the audience tore a lot of clothes (and my eardrums) and Sallu is a hit hero again after a series of flops.

But there is also a tiny point we miss out on, in this hullabaloo about Sallu. (Hey, it rhymes!:D) Dabangg is made by a debutante director whose first film is so assured it does not seem a debut at all. The choices he makes in story-telling (or rather whatever is there of it) are discussions of another day but the promise he shows is a gleaming hope for the otherwise gloomy Bollywood horizon. Because this kind of film is the toughest to make AND pull off. You see, all of the old guard have become senile and the new guard knows nothing but malls and the other section who knows tons more will not touch Dabangg type cinema with a barge pole. So it’s heartening to see that there is still some hope for the regular badnaam masala Hindi film.

Just next time, Abhinav, please remember to put in a story. More than anything else, I think you deserve better.

And Sallu, you deserve much better too. And so do we. Keep our hopes alive!

The sequel to East Is East is here. The film is being screened at the ongoing Toronto International Film Festival. Starring Om Puri, Aqib Khan, Linda Bassett, Ila Arun and Jimi Mistry, its directed by debutant Andy De Emmony. Click on the play button to check out the trailer.

And here is the official synopsis…

Manchester, Northern England, 1976. The now much-diminished, but still claustrophobic and dysfunctional, Khan family continues to struggle for survival. Sajid, the youngest Khan, is under heavy assault both from his father’s tyrannical insistence on Pakistani tradition, and from the fierce bullies in the schoolyard. His father decides to pack him off to Mrs. Khan No 1 and family in the Punjab, the wife and daughters he had abandoned 30 years earlier. The sequel to East is East, West is West is the coming of age story of both 15-year-old Sajid and of his father, 60-year-old George Khan.

And click here and here to read two early reviews, published in Screen Daily and The Hollywood Reporter.

The Best Feature Film Category were announced under the Chairpersonship of Ramesh Sippy, Non Feature Film Category under the Chairpersonship of Mike Pandey, and Best Writing on Cinema under the Chairpersonship of Samik Bandhopadhyay.

In the Feature Film Category, 136 eligible entries were distributed between five Regional Juries. The selection process returned to a Two Tier System of Selection. The Chairperson for the Northern Region was Sushma Seth, for the Western Region M.S. Sathyu, for South –I Region T.S. Nagabharna, for the Eastern Region B. Lenin and for South- II Region Shri Pinaki Choudhry.

BEST FEATURE FILM – Kutty Srank (Malayalam)

INDIRA GANDHI AWARD FOR BEST DEBUT FILM OF A DIRECTORLahore (Hindi) – Director : Sanjay Puran Singh Chauhan




BEST CHILDREN’S FILM – Putaani Party (Kannada) & Keshu (Malayalam)

BEST DIRECTION – Abohoman (Bengali) – Rituparno Ghosh

BEST ACTOR – Amitabh Bachchan for Paa (Hindi)

BEST ACTRESS – Ananya Chatterjee for Abohoman (Bengali)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR –   Farooque Sheikh for Lahore (Hindi)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS – Arundhati Naag for Paa (Hindi)

BEST CHILD ARTIST – Pasanga (Tamil)

BEST MALE PLAYBACK SINGER – Rupam Islam for Mahanager @ Kolkata (Bengali) –

BEST FEMALE PLAYBACK SINGER – Neelanjana Sarkar for Houseful (Bengali) –

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY – Anjuli Shukla for Kutty Srank (Malayalam)

BEST SCREENPLAY – (Original) : P.F. Mathews & Harikrishna for Kutty Srank (Malayalam). (Adapted) Kanasemba Kudureyaneri (Kannada), Dialogues : Pandiraj for Pasanga (Tamil)

BEST AUDIOGRAPHY – Location Sound Recordist : Subash Sahoo for Kaminey (Hindi)

Sound Designer : Resool Pookutty for Kerala Varma Pazhassi Raja (Malayalam)

Re-recordist of the final mixed track : Anup Dev for 3 Idiots (Hindi)

BEST EDITING – Arghyakamal Mitra for Abohomaan (Bengali)

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN –  Samir Chanda for Delhi 6 (Hindi)

BEST COSTUME DESIGNER – Jayakumar for Kutty Srank (Malayalam)

BEST MAKE-UP ARTIST –   Christein Tinsley & Dominie Till for Paa (Hindi)

BEST MUSIC DIRECTION – Music Director (Songs) : Amit Trivedi for Dev D (Hindi),

Music Director (Background Score) : Ilayaraja for Kerala Verma Pazasi Raja

BEST LYRICS – 3 Idiots (Hindi) – Swanand Kirkire “ Behti Hawa Sa Tha Woh……………”

SPECIAL JURY AWARD – Sreekar Prasad for Kaminey (Hindi) & Kutty Srank (Malayalam) & Kerala Varma Pazhassi Raja (Malayalam)

BEST SPECIAL EFFECTS – R. Kamal Kannan for Magadheera (Telugu)

BEST CHOREOGRAPHY – K.Siva Shankar for Magadheera (Telugu)





BEST KANNADA – Kanasemba Kudureyaneri

BEST KONKANI – Palatadcho Munis

BEST MALAYALAM FILM – Kerala Varma Pazhassi Raja




In the Non- Feature Film Category the following awards were announced:

BEST NON-FEATURE FILM – (Sharing) The Postman  and Bilal

BEST DEBUT NON-FEATURE FILM OF A DIRECTOR – (Sharing) Vaishnav Jan Toh – Director : Kaushal Oza and Ekti Kaktaliyo Golpo Director: Tathagata Singha




SPECIAL JURY AWARD – Kelkkunnundo Child artist : Aasna Aslam

SHORT FICTION FILM – Boond – Director: Abhishek Pathak

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY – Gaarud Cameraman: Deepu S. Unni

BEST AUDIOGRAPHY – Gaarud – Re-recordist (final mixed track) : Lipika Singh Darai

BEST EDITING – In Camera Editor: Tarun Bhartiya

BEST NARRATION/VOICE OVER – In Camera Best Voice over : Ranjan Palit

SPECIAL MENTION – VILAY – Cinematographer : Nitika Bhagat – Certificate only

In the Best Writing on Cinema Category following awards were announced:

BEST BOOK ON CINEMA : CINEMAA YAANA (Kannada) – Author: Dr. K. Puttaswamy

SPECIAL MENTION – Eka Studioche Atmavrutta – Prabhakar Pendharkar

BEST FILM CRITIC – C.S. Venkiteswaran (Malayalam)