Archive for June 17, 2011

If you are not familiar with Umesh Kulkarni’s cinema (features and shorts), you surely are missing something. And you also don’t have the right to crib about the state of the Indian cinema.

Starting with his FTII diploma film Girni (which bagged three National Awards), Umesh has been constantly making shorts between his features. Here’s Three Of Us, the film which bagged two National Awards ( in Non-fiction category) last year – one for direction and another for cinematography.

We are quite late on this one. And we are still a divided house. The reactions have been quite extreme. Sample some – Like it for what it is, What the F really – Anurag Kashyap Films is rehashing Anurag Kashyap films, it’s in amateurish territories, What a freakin’ headache, he is definitely exciting and with more content to back might make something really noteworthy, Major Hype Overkill, it is an unfortunate coincidence; we seem to have learnt the style to narrate at exactly the same time when we have forgotten what to narrate, all said and done…I loved Khoya Khoya Chaand. And the debate is still going strong.

So, here’s a post on Shaitan by Kenny Basumatary. He is actor, writer, director, and Kung Fu  can easily be his middle name. And yeah, he is music composer and lyricist too. Now even a published author…woosh!

And since there’s no good film at the theaters this friday, do check out Shaitan.

(SPOILER CAUTION: Preferably read this piece only if you have watched the film.)

 A maniac drives his vehicle at murderous speeds, weaving in and out of traffic and nearly hitting you and several other pedestrians and vehicles. You feel like shouting, or maybe you actually do shout, “Abbe saale marega #*&$% k$ *&#$^!!!!”

 In my opinion, Shaitan is that very shout. It’s a warning that says “This is what’ll happen to you, assholes!” to all those irresponsible kids who drive like saare raaste unke pitashree ke hain.

 I frequently see kids, especially on bikes, driving like they think they’re in Dhoom 3 and all the other people on the road are stunt drivers meant to give them way. It’s hardly surprising that accidents caused by such retarded jerks are on the rise. A few weeks ago I read of an 80 year old man who was hit and killed by a biker trying to race. Last month, a friend’s roommate was hit by another overspeeding kid on a bike. She was literally thrown some distance away, and couldn’t stand up or hear properly for two days – luckily she’s healed now. I was quite happy to hear that the sonofabitch who’d rammed into her was hauled off to the police station.

I toyed for a while with the idea of writing a film about the kind of serious consequences that can happen because of stupid deluded kids who think they’re becoming John Abraham by racing on public roads. In my film, two kids would be racing and get into a serious accident. One visual I had in my mind was one of them – helmetless, of course – flying through the air, and then his face – somewhere around the nose and upper lip – would crash into the footpath and shatter in extreme slow motion a la the crash scene in Death Proof. And then a truck would run over his skull and there’d be a loud popping sound – wait, I think I’m getting carried away here.

I’d have focused on the second kid getting grievously injured and having to spend a year in bed without being able to pee or crap on his own, and maybe even losing a limb or becoming unrecognizably disfigured. I’m sure many of us know of such cases. A college friend of mine drove his bike drunk at night and crashed into an electric pole. He needed months of physiotherapy to walk properly again. Another friend’s kid brother was pillion riding while his friend was playing the hero, with the result that the kid brother was the one who ended up in bed for months. A very talented chap who could play guitar very fast also drove his car very fast, and one fine night he crashed and not only landed in a very serious state in hospital, but worse, landed his friends in hospital as well.

My intentions would have been to scare irresponsible drivers so shitless than they’d never race even in their nightmares. Just like one would show people Requiem for a Dream to forever scare them off drugs, this film, if it had ever gotten made, would scare people off racing herogiri.

But now Bejoy Nambiar’s already made that film. And done an excellent job of it. I haven’t personally asked him what his intention was while telling this story, but I suspect it’s what I said at the beginning – a warning – “This could happen to you, assholes!”

Various friends have said that one doesn’t really care much for Shaitan’s characters, and they’re trying to be too cool, but I think that’s exactly the point – we’re not supposed to care for these characters, at least not KC or Dash. I, for one, relished all the trouble that they deservedly got into – KC getting slapped, for example. (“Aur maaro saale ko!”)

I wasn’t excited by the trailer at all – it looked like the film was trying too hard to be hip and cool – highlighting supposedly the most scandalous bits – a girl-girl hardly-there kiss, girls buying condoms, very violent violence, but the moment the accident happened, I was won over. Okay! So that’s what this film is about! It’s not about youngsters trying to be too cool and hip; it’s about youngsters trying to be too cool and hip and consequently getting into shitloads of trouble. Good. I like it.

This isn’t a review of the film, but I must say, I loved almost everything about it – the acting, the dialog, the shots, music, editing. I was a little surprised that absolutely no time was spent on the accident victim’s family, but that would probably be a different revenge film altogether. Even the divorce subplot was dispensable, but the divorce court scene made it worthwhile.

Rajeev Khandelwal was perfect. I would actually like to see another film with this same character – I felt Inspector Mathur was the real-world equivalent of Chulbul Pandey.

Shaitan isn’t easy to watch (unless you’re used to the levels of violence in, say, Chan-Woo Park’s Vengeance trilogy). Some bits are quite violent – do not take your kids along. But I would say the violence is essential to drive home the point the film makes. It’s worth a watch. High production values don’t automatically mean a film is mainstream crap and low production values don’t necessarily mean a film isn’t non-mainstream crap, and vice versa.