Archive for January 26, 2011

Not sure when was the last time it happened – so many extreme reactions to a film. From pretentious, fuck boring to one of the best debuts, even best thing that happened to Indian Cinema in recent years.  They said it all. And the critics’ ratings varied from 2.5 to 4 stars. Click here for all the ratings.

Sunayna Prabhu loved every bit of it. When she did cinema journalism in Bombay, she bothered least about films. And when she had nothing much to do after moving to USA, she got so interested in films that she surprised us all. And when she decided to go for screenwriting course at UCLA, it was hard to believe that she was the same ‘dihadi‘ colleague we knew. Now she just loves her everyday struggle with words. She saw Mumbai Diaries ( Note – its not Dhobi Ghat there) recently and blames Kiran Rao for making her so nostalgic about the city. Read on…scattered thoughts from her diary….

Any one with an aversion to evocative text can stop right here. This post is as much an intellectual masturbation as the movie that sent me out groaning to my husband “I’m leaving you for Pratiek Babber”. ‘Mumbai Diaries’ released in Hollywood this Friday and I ran to see it merely for nostalgia but it pierced through my gut and took a bit of me in every beat.

The movie seduced me despite the desolation it portrays. I yearn to return to my city against the threat that I might never have a real friend on speed dial and chances are I’ll empty my heart to a rickshaw driver. I even had a heated argument with a roommate who called it dark, depressing and disjointed! The moment I learnt her favorite movie is ‘Yaadein’, I pushed her out and slammed the door. “Movie whore” she yelled at me.

Character is You

Once I had locked myself in my studio apartment for two months. No cellphones, no radio, no TV, just writing a story that wrapped my whole existence. When I wrote like a reclusive creep, I literally became that woman in my story. I wore reds, smudged more kohl in my eyes and spoke in a husky voice that wasn’t mine. I lived her! When Aamir’s character Arun, wears Yasmin’s silver chain and ring, I get it! When he goes to the beach and writes on the sand, I get it. When she dies, a part of her that he’s been living, dies. He becomes his own muse and that’s why the storm in his stomach! He bursts out the door to seek someone, but cringes and mourns like a baby in front of a neighbor who won’t even blink.

Mumbai is not Madhubala

So many times I’ve walked the streets of Mumbai after a fight with a bare face to the world “No one cares.” Yet, there’s always the flower girl at the traffic light who’ll stare into your eyes like she knows, the Eunuchs who’ll bless you without a penny, and the rickshaw driver will play Burman in the rain. The city has it’s own morphine. Just like the movie, scattered with images of people that make it livable. Whoever says the filmmaker should have shown a bit of Mumbai’s beauty, go take a flying fuck because Mumbai is not Madhubala. Mumbai is that dirty, raunchy, intoxicating temptress who’ll whip you to tears of ecstasy.

“Mumbai my love, my whore!” Don’t all artists ejaculate their inspiration and breathe like they’ve had an orgasm? I do!

Aah Aamir, Ooh Prateik

Also loved Kiran’s choices, except Aamir Khan. Why does he arch those eyebrows and bulge pupils into the camera to prove he’s intense? Leech. He sucked the flesh and blood of his own character. Oh the long drags, perfect rings of smoke, the pompous Marc Jacobs and Calvin Klein’s and that cocky grey hair. A twit- stuck-in-Ghajini murdered a delicious, fragile, sensitive character! Aah Aamir – You give men blue-balls and the reason why women never hit the big O! Exhale honey, will you?

Few, very few, snippets of Yasmin Noor’s dialogue through her ‘Mumbai darshan’ videos were corny, but they were true to her character. Yasmin, an immigrant like me, tries to introduce the beauty of a foreign land eagerly to her family that probably has taken her absence for granted. She’s that “outsider” within many of us. I often get philosophical while saying the most trivial things about America. I’ve recorded the streets of Hollywood and Miami while ‘Des mera rangeela babu’ played the background score in my car. Yasmin’s background score is her ‘voice’ “Yeh samunder sab kuch apne aap  mein samet leta hai’ although cringe-worthy, it’s real! Perhaps the director nailed it! My heart flipped out when she talks about the taste of mangoes in the city versus her hometown. Agreed it’s not poetry, but I get it. When I walk into the aisles of American grocery stores and find hormone-injected produce everywhere, I lose my appetite. “yahan ke aam mein wahan jaise taste kahan” That voice is real.

Munna! I don’t care who he bangs – rats, clothes or hideous women. Pratiek is my “bitter-chocolate boy.” Irresistible. Unstoppable. A guy I’d love to remake ‘9 ½ weeks’ with. He’s not just going to eat up those blue-blooded run-of-the-mill kapoors and stone-faced Imran’s, he’ll hopefully force great writers and talented filmmakers to surface. Hope he won’t drink n drive and kill people on the sidewalks, rest assured, in all my dreams I’ll have his babies.

Shai is an Indian-American like me. She doesn’t rely on subtext; she just knows her shit too well. She’s just being a true friend to Munna hoping not to polarize him like her maid Agnes who brings tea in a separate cup for him. Shai connects with Arun but doesn’t ever impose herself into his life. I saw a typical liberal woman, confident of her sexuality. That’s not as rare in Mumbai these days, or is it ?

Loving Strangers

Loved the neighbor. Such a strong metaphor for the people who live next door. None, I mean it, none of my neighbors in Mumbai ever spoke to me. I saw them only in the mornings putting garbage bins out the door. I didn’t care. There are nosey neighbors, but who is committed to your daily life? No one! The mute neighbor runs like an understated theme throughout the timeline of the movie. Gorgeous.

‘Mumbai Diaries’ is a rare mood piece to indulge in. Like the gooey, viscous chocolate lava that makes your hands dirty and leaves a flavor in your mouth that keeps you drooling for days!! Here’s last few words for those who hate this movie like my roommate who called me a movie whore–aahhh aaahhh aaaahhhh yes yes yessss…OMG that was so good! Suck it bitches.

(PS – Just plugged in the “Lovely Strangers” song once more)

And as expected, the song has been picturised on John Abraham. Can someone please tell us which lucky man has got the  best song  of the film –  Tere Liye.

Header – From Raja Sen’s tweet

And this one comes straight from the Sundance Film Festival where Fox Searchlight has bought the remake rights to The Bengali Detective.

For those of you who are not aware of The Bengali Detective, its a documentary and here is the official synopsis –

In response to police corruption, the private detective business has become increasingly common in India. The Bengali Detective follows the life of detective Rajesh Ji, who, along with his ragtag team of assistants, investigates cases ranging from counterfeit hair products to a brutal triple murder. When Rajesh is not sleuthing, he has big dreams of competing on a televised national talent show, so he and his detective gang form a dance troupe—which must be seen to be believed—and rehearse for their big audition.

Set in chaotic Kolkata, formerly known as Calcutta, the film is shot with atmosphere and immediacy, complementing the mystery and suspense of the investigations. Director Philip Cox finds a riveting subject in Rajesh. He’s all at once a showman, a dedicated husband, and a humanitarian. The Bengali Detective is a layered, wildly entertaining film: a poignant profile of a delightful character, a gripping detective narrative, and a detailed look at the middle class in contemporary India.

The film is directed by Philip Cox and produced by Giovanna Stopponi, Annie Sundberg and Himesh Kar and had its premiere at the Sundance.

But remake rights of a documentary film ? Not very usual and it got us bit confused. So, will it be a feature now ? Click here to read the Variety report though it doesn’t say much. And even the official press release doesn’t give a clear picture. Claudia Lewis (President of Production at Fox Searchlight) said : We adored this film and are delighted to have the chance to work with such entertaining, funny material. We were charmed by this story of a dedicated husband and self-made detective who dreams big.

Will update as soon as we get more details. And if you are still wondering about the header, well, that’s Mira Nair’s favourite quote and we endorse it too – If we don’t tell your stories, who will ? Seems not any more. We might end up losing what we never bothered to endorse! Remeber Slumdog Millionaire ? One of the best masala movies in recent times – aha, that’s also not by Farah Khan!