Archive for September 2, 2011

And worst even, why should Bodyguard be his benchmark?

Is that even a nursery level contest – to make a film better than Bodyguard?

And if it’s so, you are on the wrong page. Like other film buffs, i have been following his campaign to sell 6,50,000 tickets so that he can keep on making his kind of cinema. Well, i hope it happens. And we need it to happen. Because as my twitter buddy @rmanish1 tweeted, kyunki har ek cinema zaroori hota hai.

But that should not be the reason to celebrate a mediocre attempt as the best thing to have happened to our cinema in recent times.

Anurag Kashyap and his brand of cinema needs no introduction. Few directors in this country can claim to have genuine fanboys. And believe it or not, a friend told me that a classmate of his from St Xavier’s even had a poster of AK in his room. To some extent, one of the reason is that everyone loves a good underdog story. He represents that. Everyone loves a good middle finger to be shown to the world that they hate but can’t do. He is been there, done that. And then there’s his filmography. Long list of films written and directed by him.

In the last few years he has almost become the messiah of everything independent. But since we are not sure how to define “indie” in India, let’s just say he is the strongest voice for anyone struggling to make a film. He is also easily the best filmmaking school in the country. Plus his talent to spot and back some of the best talents in front and behind the camera. Amit Trivedi, Amitabh Bhattacharya, Rajeev Ravi, Mahie Gill, Vikramaditya Motwane among many others.

Also, at a time when we are dying to find a connect with the auteurs of the world cinema and the film fests,  he became our window to the world. Name the fests, the actors or the filmmakers, and he is there.  The list is again long – Quentin Tarantino, Michael Winterbottom, Ang Lee, Wong Kar Wai, Tilda Swinton, Danis Tanovic and others.

So what do you expect from the filmmaker?

His last film released almost two years back. And in those two years, the cinema world map and awareness has also changed accordingly. With various legal and illegal means to source the best cinema from across the world, why should our benchmark be so low for any film, made in India or outside? And that’s why That Girl In Yellow Boots fails miserably.

I had read the script too. Well, only because he is one filmmaker who doesn’t fuss about his scripts being read and he will even happily show his unreleased film to anyone. All respect for that. Even when i read the script, i could not believe it was written by AK. Scenes would start and end with, Hi. Hello. Ok. Blah blah blah. Bye. I had to fight with a friend because i could not believe it was written by AK.

Then i saw the film. Twice. For me, it’s his most simplistic tale till date. Shocking? Morality? Huh! And i still can’t find the point of the film. What’s the motive behind making the film? What’s the point of telling this story? Hell yeah, what *exactly* are you trying to tell? I know, all artists have all the rights to do whatever they want. But to ponder and blabber over it, that’s mine.

Selling shock? There are Korean Masters.

Selling sex? There is Lars Von Trier. And then the French are there.

Selling indie? There is Once. Monster.And many many more. It doesn’t even come close.

Selling struggle? Jafar Panahi is in jail.

So where does TGIYB stands in the context of the world cinema, the cinema that we know, talk, discuss, follow, love and get excited by and aspire to be ? Sadly, nowhere.

TGIYB’s magic is only in the making. Someone can get the cast and crew excited about the script and complete the shoot in just two weeks, that’s a great achievement. But why should i count your struggle in my film viewing experience?

Gulshan Devaiya and Puja Sarup are just delicious. The film belongs to them even though they hardly matter in the main story. Dear Bollywood, can we please see them more? Kalki’s acting is uneven. In some scenes she is the perfect Ruth, you can’t think of anyone else, and then there are scenes that make you feel that she is Kashyap’s wife. Taken for granted. Prashant Prakash is so loud and theatrical. Someone needs to tell him that it’s not stage, there is a camera that register every nerve movement. AK’s brand of dry humour elevates the impact of many scenes but he fails in the finale. The scene which is designed to give the final blow, you cringe in your seat wondering how could he let it pass because the actor looks so clueless. It seems nobody was sure about his emotions.

With AK, you don’t need to worry about the craft, the sound or the visuals. Loved the scene where Kalki and Puja are on the phone, both talking to two different persons but it follows so smoothly. That’s the mark of a good director.

But all you worry about is why TGIYB is even a feature film? Why it couldn’t be a short? Some of the best filmmakers worldwide indulge in shorts whenever they feel like. TGIYB’s story even follows the pattern of a short. Then?

Was it designed to woo the fests? He should have sent his Black Friday then. Was it written/directed as a gift to Kalki? People do crazy things in love. It’s ok then. Or was it really written because he and Kalki felt like telling this story? Then it’s quite a lazy piece of writing.

To quote Kashyap’s review of Black, i would say TGIYB is best (or shocking or whatever you want to call) for those who haven’t seen better.

Let me quote few more lines from the same review,

On a day such as this, I can only hope we make better films than statements. Our best is far, far away from the world’s best cinema. They are not even a mile within the threshold of the top 100 films of world cinema.

It was written in 2005. We are still struggling. And the filmmaker who wrote these lines, if he can’t deliver, then whom do we expect to do it? Why should he get a concession?

Though it’s a great thrill to see the names of some of your best friends in the opening credits but why should that be a reason for not shouting out about the emperor’s clothes.

And strangely, for the fans of Salman Khan and Anurag Kashyap, who belong to two different extremes, one thing is common this weekend – disappointment. Both deserve much much better.

UPDATE (3rd September, 2011) : The trailer has been removed because it’s not the final one.

The trailer of Ribhu Dasgupta’s debut film Michael is out. Its produced by Anurag Kashyap and Studio18. The principal cast includes Naseeruddin Shah, Mahie Gill, Purav Bhandare, Sabyasachi Chakraborty and Irawati Harshe.

Other credits include Screenplay : Debaloy Bhattacharya and Nilendu Guha, Cinematographer : Somak Mukherjee, Editor : Lionel Fernandez, Sound : Kunal Sharma, and Music : Vinayak Netke, Aatur Soni, B. Gauri (lyrics).

The film will have its world premiere at Toronto International Film Festival. And scroll down to read TIFF Programmer Cameron Bailey’s note…

Producer/director Anurag Kashyap (who also exhibits his acting skills at this year’s Festival in Trishna) is leading a whole new wave of vibrant independent cinema in India. With Michael, Kashyap’s latest collab­orator, first-time director Ribhu Dasgupta, takes on a slow-burning, character-driven psychological drama.

In the film’s opening shots, Michael (Naseeruddin Shah) stands paralyzed as Kolkata traffic swirls around him. The film then flashes back to a younger Michael, in the days when he was a police officer. We find him nervously surveying a swell­ing crowd of protesters. When the order comes down to open fire on the peaceful demonstration, Michael shoots low to avoid causing death. Nonetheless, a ricochet strikes and kills a twelve-year-old boy. At this point Michael’s life begins to unravel. His eyesight worsens, he loses his job and he struggles to care for his son. When Michael finds work illegally pirating Bollywood films, he starts receiving phone calls from the father of the boy he accidentally killed, threatening to kill his own son when the boy turns twelve. Michael is sent into a paranoid race against the clock.

Dasgupta uses intricate camera move­ments, angular framing and hazy point-of­-view shots to explore Michael’s psychological and physical deterioration. Kolkata’s rainy, hectic streets, captured in mesmerizing detail by the late cinematographer Somak Mukherjee, provide the bleak and progres­sively nightmarish backdrop. Performing with strength and subtlety, Shah (Monsoon Wedding, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen) carries the film. Opposite him, Mahie Gill (Dev D) delivers a gentle and sympathetic performance as the nurse who becomes Michael’s companion. As Michael’s sight weakens, so too does his grip on real­ity, resulting in a heart-wrenching tale of a father on the cusp of losing everything.

(PS : Note is from TIFF’s official website)