Archive for September, 2011

Sir,

I am Pawan Kumar, the director of the Kannada film Lifeu Ishtene. On the 30th of August, you watched my film and you passed your views about it, and gave us a U/A certificate with a forced ‘voluntary’ cut. I’d like to bring it to your notice that if I had the luxury to fight for my right I’d not have accepted to cut what you insisted.

I am a first time director in a industry which is struggling to survive. Fighting for the cut meant you forwarding our film for further reviewing and that would take couple of weeks more, that would put a lot people involved in making of this movie in a very difficult position. Hence for their sake I simply shut up and bowed to your very tyrant behaviour. This letter is simply me putting out my thoughts, I am not challenging your decision through this. I want the people to know the truth, so that they can decide who was right and who was wrong. Am hoping that you will read this till the end and be convinced that you erred, that’s all I want, I don’t want you to change the decision or apologize, the damage you wanted to do is already done. The letter might seem long but I made it as entertaining as my film was, you will have a good laugh by the end of it.

This being an open letter, I guess the public should know what I am talking about. Here is a picture of the document that Mr. Nagaraj wrote down after seeing the film. He has listed his thoughts point wise, but before I dwell into those, I’d like to mention that I respect the man and his position. He is an IAS officer and I am sure it is pretty tough to be on the chair where he sits, I cant get there for my IQ levels. I like the man for the way he appears, he comes across as a through gentleman and has an aura of being smart, composed and intelligent. I was really hurt and shocked when he listed out his objections for my film. Something that I really didn’t foresee, especially by this person, whom I had met during the censoring of Manasaare and Pancharangi. I did and I still have high regards for him.

Mr. Nagaraj in the above document states “Remove the word sucker from the tag line of the movie, wherever visible in, Move on Sucker”. For those who don’t know, ‘Move on Sucker’ is the tagline of my movie title. Mr. Nagaraj had a problem with the word sucker. He simply said that I must remove that word. I tried arguing with him that it is not a bad word, that it is simply a slang term for someone considered gullible enough to fall for a very obvious prank or con and go about unaware of it. We all know what the word sucker is, we all have used it in phrases like ‘I am sucker for Chinese food’ or ‘I suck in maths’ or ‘the movie sucks’ etc etc. But he just didn’t want to listen to me. He said that he is not interested in the parliamentary meaning of a word, he is interested in how the word could be perceived by the masses and therefore I should cut it out from the film. There was no point arguing further because he was a man sitting there controlling the future of my film and I could see it in his eyes that he just didn’t want to understand even if I tried to explain. I said “ok I will remove it”. The word comes 3 times on the screen in the film, to remove that the producer has shelled out 45k till now. 45k is not a small amount, with that money I could have put an Ad in the papers and promoted the film more, get more people to watch the film and try to save our sinking industry, or I could have simply paid it to someone in the team who has been working day and night to offer something new to the people, but instead we had to waste it on a stubborn man with a lot of power. Look at the visual below, tell me how is removing of that word changed anything?

If sucker is such a bad influence on the society, what about the words ‘BoseDK’, ‘Ass Hole’, ‘Fucker’, ‘BlowJob’, all these words were featured in Delhi Belly. The same CBFC (Central Board Of Film Certification) passed it and the movie made pot loads of money!! I am not someone who encourages those words. I am a very clean guy, I don’t speak or promote bad language, you wont find it in my movie too. Before coming up with the tag ‘Move on sucker’ I did look through the internet to make sure the word Sucker didn’t mean anything wrong. Its only after I gathered enough information that I put it up. We are a small industry and we have very small budgets to make films. We are pitted against movies from Hindi, Tamil, Telugu and English; all these industries have huge budgets to take the audience away from us. If we have to get them to watch our movies we need to sound contemporary, talk to them in a language they understand. A line like ‘move on sucker’ would make the people in their 20’s connect to the movie, and they’d make an effort to watch it. Why is it that when Aamir Khan does it, its alright? He did way too much and it was still alright!!! By asking me to remove the word ‘sucker’ from my movie tagline, the Censor Board has been impartial to me. Mr. Nagaraj is aware of the financial state of the Kannada industry. He very well knows how much we are struggling to make people trust us. And he has seen my movie and he also said ‘your movie is 99% qualified for U certificate but sprinkled with some objectionable matter’. The word sucker was one of them. And the word was not simply a publicity gimmick, after you watch the movie you’d understand how that word makes sense in the movie. The guidelines by the censor board of India states – A film is judged in its entirety from the point of view of its overall impact and is examined in the light of the period depicted in the film and the contemporary standards of the country and the people to whom the film relates, provided that the film does not deprave the morality of the audience. Guidelines are applied to the titles of the films also.

People, please tell me and Mr Nagraj, if the word ‘sucker’ has in anyway depraved the morality of you all. What censor board needs is a sense of humour. It needs to grow up and wake up to the people who live around them and not in their guidelines. Television today has become horrible, it is impossible to see and hear many of the things that is aired on many news and entertainment channels. Something that you can probably watch with your family is Discovery channel and sports channels, not even the sanskar or astha who are using the dangerous weapon against the society, the religion . But the censor board is all quite about it. Television has no censor, it doesn’t come under their jurisdiction.

Mr. Nagaraj, we are all suckers, you are one, I am one too. And the people know that. They know that they are one too. And that’s the funny thing about it. When we accept our flaws and imperfections and laugh about it, we can put our egos behind and try to progress. That’s what my movie on the whole was trying to say. For some reason you didn’t see it beyond the word ‘Sucker’ without even knowing the meaning of it.

Now coming to the other angle to the whole issue, which I hope is not true but is very possible. I think it is the ego. I very strongly feel that it is the ego of Mr. Nagaraj that makes him do what he does. He sitting in his little cabin in the govt building, enjoys seeing us film makers dance to his tunes. I am sure it must be giving him a kick that he can in 2 hours 30 mins control a film makers 10 months of hard work by just using one word. He knows how difficult it is technically to remove those words from a completed film and that’s why he does that. For people who are not aware it might seem very simple, you must be thinking how difficult it is to just delete a word. If I get into the process I can do a 6 hour workshop and probably you’d learn most of the technical aspects of film making. In simple words, it took many people and many days of work in Banaglore and Chennai to erase that word. I hope all this makes Mr. Nagaraj very satisfied and gives him a good night’s sleep. This is the story of how the word Sucker got separated from the film Lifeu Ishtene.

Now, let me introduce you to some more blunders. But I could live with these because frankly I don’t give a damn whether my movie is U or U/A, and thankfully neither people are interested in those ratings anymore. Like I said the Censor board is so stuck up with their guidelines that they don’t see how people are today. My movie got a U/A because of a scene which is got something to do with condom. The government is trying really hard to reach out to people, they even come up with jingles, in kannada there is an ad – maatadidavane mahaashoora. But Mr. Nagaraj feels that it is very uncomfortable for adults to see such content with children. That’s precisely the point sir, that’s what government is trying to say ‘don’t be shy about it, talk openly and spread awareness’. Teenagers should get aware of it, they should be bold enough to talk about a condom and not make a taboo of it. But instead Mr Nagaraj goes to the extent of writing – delete comedy episode surrounding condom for a U certificate. But I didn’t agree with him, I agreed for a U/A instead and the scene is intact. In a week you will see it and you will know that it is not in bad taste and is for sure spreading awareness.

The second one is debatable, Mr Nagaraj has pointed out a shot where a woman is smoking. His justification was that it is not right to show women smoking and therefore he writes – also delete the visual of lady smoking. I am not going to defend this much. I don’t smoke and I am for anti smoking. I had even made a short film on the anti smoking subject.

In Lifeu Ishtene, the character which the lady was playing was of the types who would smoke and therefore I hade to make her light up. Deleting this shot would not change the reality though, we see so many women smoking these days, and it is really bad. Smoking is bad for both men and women, and I sincerely hope that smoking comes to an end. And in no way is my film promoting or glamorising smoking. The Censor guideline says – scenes tending to encourage, justify or glamorise consumption of tobacco or smoking are not shown. To show the bad result of a habit, the story needs to build up and then show the effect. That’s what my shot of the lady smoking was doing. No problem here, I will gladly take a U/A for this point.

The third is silly actually. In the third point Mr. Nagaraj says – delete lip to lip kissing in the song. Well not much defending here, for some reason we Indians want to think that showing love on screen is more dangerous than showing violence. On a funny note may be the government has a strategy behind this, Lets not teach people to express love, there by reducing population and lets show more violence so that they could kill each other and again reduce population!!!! Am I the only one laughing at this stupid joke??? Ok Mr. Nagaraj I will accept a U/A for this too. I am sure the 15frames (less than a second) of lip to lip pecking in the mayavi mayavi song would make the adults very uncomfortable to watch it with children under the age of 18 years old. However I have one question for you – How did you pass the song ‘Padmavathi’ from the movie ‘Johny Mera Naam’ with a U certificate? That one really shocks me. Because though I am an adult and my father is an adult too, we both would be uncomfortable watching it together in theatre or on TV. Please ask yourself if the very aesthetically shot 15 frames of a small peck on the lip in my movie was worse than what you can see in a 4 min song. Here is the link to that song if you want watch it again and wonder why you gave it a ‘U’.

Your guidelines clearly states the following – human sensibilities are not offended by vulgarity, obscenity or depravity; scenes degrading or denigrating women in any manner are not presented. Isn’t this song violating all of this?????

People please note that from what I can read of Mr. Nagaraj, he is a very good person, I am not being sarcastic, I might be against his decisions but I don’t hate him. Please don’t think that he was expecting a bribe or anything like that. I can for sure say that he is NOT a corrupt govt servant. He is doing his job but he has to simply get some of the realities in the right perspective. Lets help him know what he is not aware of so that he stays with us as the regional head of Karnataka for CBFC, and make right decisions and help us all save good kannada films. If you believe in this article and you want to support me, then please mail Mr. Nagaraj your views in a few words and a few words only, lets not waste his time. I hope you will not send abuses because I am not in support for that. Mail him on robanglore@cbfcindia.gov.in or nagarajk1@yahoo.com and cc a copy to me on actorinme(at)gmail(dot)com . I guess the subject line of the mail should be with a sense of humor, keep it as – Lets grow up, suckers! 😉

(Note: I still haven’t received the final Censor Certificate from Mr. Nagaraj, he is going to give it to us after he checks the film and finds no ‘sucker’ in it. We have followed his instruction and removed it and showing the corrected film copy on monday. I could have waited till monday to get the certificate and then put this article up. But I didn’t want to be a chicken in expressing my views. I hope Mr. Nagaraj will stand up to his gentleman image and not take this article to his ego and create problems to the release of the film on the scheduled date. He is in a position to completely reject this article but he is not in a position to take this personally to take revenge.)

( PS – This letter was first posted here)

With any Anurag Kashyap film, one thing is for sure – a debate. A divided house. We are also swinging from one side to another with every new post on the film. This is Salik Shah‘s first post here. Read on..

That Girl In Yellow Boots is Kalki Koechlin’s debut as a filmmaker. It’s written all over the film. Anurag Kashyap just happened to be there while Rajeev Ravi was busy setting up his camera on the ‘stage.’ Except for one scene where Ruth smokes against the dazzling red screen, the audience never notices his camera tricks. There is one scene though — where they abruptly cut from a close up to a mid shot of the two protagonists who seem to have finally accepted the tragedy of their solitary existence— which seemed to be an attempt to tease the audience by not allowing them to have their ‘emotional cumshot’ exactly where they needed it.

Pulp Fiction is an old trick—but can provide little ‘happy endings’ in otherwise an unhappy film. The happy diversions in That Girl In Yellow Boots are just that. The sad thing is the mistiming. In an otherwise comic scene, where Ruth spins a story about her father’s death, a little mischief was desirable. A camera angle or two, hinting at her playfulness, where she appears brutally honest to the innocent criminal but palpably mischievous to us, might have been forgiven by the neo-realists. Excess is bad, but so is overt restraint.

Sound is a tricky affair; the jarring background score wasn’t called for at key scenes—or was it placed there to deny the audience any sympathy for Ruth? How I wish I could mute to listen deeply to Ruth’s silences… A minimalist approach might have further polarized the audience—but the result might have been a rewarding experience. Years ago, I couldn’t understand Nobody Needs to Know (Azazel Jacobs, 2003), but the expressionless, unfathomable face of its female lead has stayed with me. That Girl In Yellow Boots works in silence, often brilliantly.

There are people as they are—and many of AK’s assistants have verily filled in as Ruth’s steady customers. Prashant, however, is the film’s most visible link to the theater. The words he chooses, the way he moves—all seem to be a reminiscence of an era behind us. Be it in the Skeleton Woman, Ek, Do (FTII) or That Girl In Yellow Boots, he is there—loud, unchecked, mimicking himself. You can see that he is acting—a constant reminder of the film’s limitation.

Cinema is not an actively participatory experience like the theater. When the human contact is lost, you’ve to employ literary, theatrical or cinematic techniques to fuel the audience’s imagination to fill in the gaps in the visual narrative. That is why you get the unborn child manifested in Three Monkeys. That is why whole sequences in After the Rehearsal are devised to ‘mesmerize’ the audience. Here we get face to face with Ruth and Ben as they are—helpless, victims of their own doing, hopeless—all in a very straight-forward, good in a theatrical way.

If anything, it’s an exercise—for Anurag Kashyap, for you and for me. Why should it be anything else? Making a film is all that matters to him; while we go to great lengths to obtain and frame a fake poster of a pirated film! Strip the cinema of its greatness, please. Today every man with a camera is a filmmaker. While I don’t expect them to be Wong Kar-Wai or Tarkovsky—which they might very well be; they don’t need to be—I do believe if given a chance, they could be more authentic. It’s a good thing for cinema. It’s the new pen of our times; let them write; let us write with it. That’s indie. And no one seems to understand this better than this father of ‘Hindie.’

Keep shooting.

 — Salik

Forget Salman Khan, even Fatema Kagalwala is on a roll. One day, two posts. Click here to read her hilarious dissection of Bodyguard, and scroll down to read her post on Anurag Kashyap’s latest release, That Girl In Yellow Boots.

Seedy is not Mumbai’s underbelly, it is the defining aspect of its identity. In this quagmire is a young girl struggling to survive. An English citizen in a strange city, she is but twenty years old. At a time when most of us our dreaming of building fancy careers, watching our weight, worrying about skin/hair problems while striving to date that hot bod, she is fighting to stay afloat in the dense-ness of red tape and sexual exploitation.

She is Ruth, Anurag Kashyap’s protagonist in his latest film, ‘That Girl in Yellow Boots’. She is as vulnerable as she is steely and as undaunted as she is brittle. She meets exploitation at every corner, simply because she is young, female, single and white-skinned. She is looking for her father who abandoned her when she was five. There is darkness everywhere she turns and she buys some light with the money she earns by giving massages and handjobs to willing customers, what she ironically calls, ‘happy endings’. As the official synopsis reads ‘everyone wants a piece of her’, and she obliges – if it will lead her to father.

Anurag Kashyap lays it out thick. Grime, blood, sweat and semen. Loss, pain, failures and trauma. Darkness is no stranger to the film-maker, his oeuvre almost revels in it. He always says it as it is, sometimes even too much. But TGYIB doesn’t suffer from over-doing. Ruth’s world is murky and steeped in pain but there is spirit in her struggle. Her existence seems doomed but there is assurance in her steps. There is an emptiness in her eyes and a desperation in her heart but her mind is focused. She is love-less but not lost. She is gathered and determined.

So is the narrative. It follows its story with focus even though it becomes unstructured and loose at times. It doesn’t give into impulsive cinematic expressions at the cost of her character’s journey and that seems to be symptomatic of a creative evolution of the maker. For that alone, this can be called a notable film.

This time round there is no shying away from emotions. There is no uncomfortable distance from vulnerability and neediness is not wrong. There is a unique objectivity which is a hallmark frame of reference with Anurag Kashyap’s films, something that made Black Friday the classic it is. Along with this objectivity there was also apparent a seeming reluctance to engage emotionally with the character. Hence Dev simply remained a lost drunkard, Chanda an unapologetic fighter and Paro’s vulnerability never found the sure footing to blossom enough.

But Ruth is not like that. She is almost life and blood. I say almost because she falls prey to a lot of unsure moments in the film which keep her from blossoming fully. Her interactions with her boyfriend seem half-heartedly performed and the fault does not lie with the protagonist but the choreography and uncultivated chemistry between actors. Her denouement is not intense enough but while she is on unsure ground she is also explored from more ways than one. However, she is not sentimentalised and therein lies the strength of the film. Wouldn’t that have simply undone the very premise of her character?

Kashyap employs child abuse as a prominent theme, perhaps to enforce yet another layer of brutality to the already dismal world of the film. But this he juxtaposes with a fatherly figure, Ruth’s only male massage customer who is affectionate to her without objectifying her. Female strength finds yet another towering personification in the massage parlour owner, Maya (A brilliant, effortless and sparklingly honest Puja Sarup). Their identification and subsequent bond speaks volumes about the opposing forces of exploitation and survival.

Cinematic elements come together in harmony to tell the story of Ruth’s journey. Even as Rajiv Ravi’s digital camera caresses Ruth’s dismal life with an expressive graininess, Wasiq Khan’s seamless production design melts grunge with the dullness of the ordinary. We notice the torn beige sofa and the darkly-lit, narrow parlour lounge almost becoming metaphors of Ruth’s dislocated life.

In the pursuit of defining its protagonist’s journey, the film however fails it’s peripheral characters. Shiv Subramaniam, Mushtaq Khan, Divya Jagdale, Makrand Deshpande, Piyush Mishra, all remain mere tools of the exploitative environment without completing an experience. This singularity becomes representative and seems forced and has much to do with broad-stroked writing, seeming to take the ‘easy’ way out.

There is also the sketchily written character of Kannadiga ganglord Chitiappa explosively performed by Gulshan Devaiah, easily the star of the film. He settles in instantly and shines through till the end, effortlessly balancing the Nana Patekar-esque eccentric stereotype with the defencelessness of a school boy. This balance is what Prashant Prakash never gets right unfortunately. His see-sawing volatile character had immense scope to capture a spectrum of moods, emotions, swings and even personalities but he never really manages to get under our skin.

The film begins on an unsure footing, taking us slowly into Ruth’s world, introducing it through her encounters. Dialogues are many a times listless, almost murdering moments. Improvisation shows in the body language of actors and sync sound catches the uncertain intonations of lines made up on the spur of the moment. For a film crafted to evoke a response beyond the intellectual and focused on following Ruth’s path to her father, this serves as an undoing.

The film largely works because of its choice of actors. Kalki’s oval-faced innocence, a full-mouth unable to hide the Bugs Bunny teeth and the clear sad eyes looking at you become synonymous with Ruth right from the beginning. The actress wears her character unlike any other she has done before, and it is this certain ‘giving up to the character’ that one senses, which becomes the most appealing. We never cry with her or hurt for her but somewhere the film convinces us to feel enough for her to know what will happen to her and silently wish her well. As a takeaway, that is big.

Luis Bunuel said – “Fortunately, somewhere between chance and mystery lies imagination, the only thing that protects our freedom, despite the fact that people keep trying to reduce it or kill it off altogether.” Team TGYIB uses theirs very well to give us a world that is precisely between chance and mystery. 

Bollywood has only one Bhai-jaan. Then there are the Bhai-fans, Bhai-trolls, Bhai’s Being Human fans and now there are Bhai-films too. Films which are critics-proof, meant only for Eid release & weekend business, and any kind of criticism of the film means You-Don’t-Mess-With-Desi-Zohan warning from Bhai-trolls. Bhai is our Bay (Michael). He is our Transformers, our summer tentpole movies, our 3(bodydguar)D and our Pirate Of the Arabian, all rolled in one. His films represents everything that’s big, bad and means only box office these days. Fatema Kagalwala tries hard to dissect his latest one – Bodyguard. Read on….

“Strength doesn’t come from the ordeals that are thrown at you, but from crossing them. And surviving to tell the tale”

Not some gyaan-guru, it’s the higher self that kicked in with this gem to help overcome the devastating sheerkhurma that Bodyguard made out of her Eid.

But then, I wonder if something is a medium of spiritual insight as powerful as this, can it be bad?

(I see one Mr Siddique and one Mr Shirt-utaro Khan desperately saying no, but my higher self is sushsh-ing them vehemently right now. Not that they will listen I’m sure. Our collective higher selves haven’t stopped Anees Bazmee and Sajid Khan either, have they?)

As I step back and mull with an objective mind, my intuition tells me that Bodyguard is really not what it seems. You know there is a real crisis at the heart of the story, which we, the self-important, ivory tower vultures of meaningful cinema are overlooking. The hint lies in the name itself.

Bodyguard is about identity. Why else spend two+ hours going round and round in circles but begin at a Sallu-Bodyguard and end at Sallu-successful-something? Why else go ALL the way to Pune and Lonavla and climb the tallest hill stations of Maharashtra to make the point? Why get Kareena Kapoor, an almost style icon (Sorry dear word ‘style’) and pin her into the tackiest Linking Road outfits? Why would Salman Khan do a seemingly meaningless film ? Because, didn’t you know, Salman Khan can do no wrong?

So the identity crisis, yes. It begins with Divya who becomes Chhaya. She wants to throw this newly-dumped-on-her bodyguard and does so by impersonating as a swoonie in love with Shirtlessji. How that was supposed to help is left unexplored (or maybe it is one of those deep mysteries of the Universe we as humans are meant to solve? Paulo Coelho would’ve loved this riddle.) So Divya-turned-Chhaya actually falls in love with Hulk Hogan. And Chhaya becomes Divya when Divya is actually Divya. But Divya cannot be Chhaya as long as she is Divya because Mr Muscles (chhee, not the toilet cleaner, I meant Sallu) won’t accept Chhaya if she is Divya. Get the identity crisis bit now?

It is all about becoming. This would be the tag-line if Osho had made this film.

But it is not over yet. Chhaya is yet to become fully. So Dancing Muscles keeps joking around with a terrible fat man who is so-not-funny-it’s-not-a-joke. (There you have a sub-text for another identity crisis. A non-funny funny man trying to be funny so hard that he is anything but funny. Poor guy but brilliantly thoughtful writing) But neither do the muscles run out of proteins nor is Mr Siddique’s Eid biryani getting cold, so everyone takes their own time finding themselves and each other.

While they are at it, we shall look at other peripheral (but important!) characters weaving this very meaningful theme together. There is Raj Babbar, the Maalik and karta-dharta and the most terrible actor we have seen in a century barring his son of course. His identity crisis is subtle, metaphysical even, wherein he is struggling ever-so hard to prove to himself (not us, mind you) that after all these years he hasn’t lost his touch in the art of hamming and he can outdo even a stammering King at the job! His efforts at desperately trying to regain his forgotten identity are touching. And kudos to the director for giving him a chance. What compassion to his fellow human beings he has… Mother Teresa would have been so moved.

Back to the Chhaya search. The metaphor in the name itself is enlightening. Chhaya is an image, not the reality. And then she becomes Maya, an illusion. An explosively intuitive use of language and semantics makes Bodyguard Cannes material. And it is That Girl in Yellow Boots that gets to do festival rounds. Pathetic and shameful is the state of Bollywood.

But then Maya soon gets some debilitating disease (which I am assuming should be the ever-dependable cancer or TB, the good old 60’s-70’s devil since the film is so pre-historic too) and becomes an illusion herself. Her identity now remains only in the pages of a diary she has written for her little son a-la Tina and Anjali in Karan Johar’s “Its all about loving your friends.” (Double-meaning beast! And he claims he makes family entertainers) Maya also runs on the station platform to catch the train that toilet cleaner oops Muscle-man is on. Like the millions of youth who got an identity crisis after watching Soooo Romantic Khan (gag) pulling his girl onto the train, Six Sigma Servant gives out his hand too and invites this cute little chashmish illusion into his already confused life. It is inter-texuality and cinematic references such as these that make Bodyguard a deep, meaningful film. I guess I interpreted my intuition right after all.

So Maya becomes Chhaya just like Bairan became Bhairon but their lives don’t remain narrow. They multiply. But Siddique is a Gandhian (dunno if he follows Anna Hazare though, do you? That’s another identity crisis there but for another day). He believes in change being the only permanent thing, so Maya’s illusions end with her death but our troubles don’t. The new and improved Bodyguard goes back to HAMare maalik for his blessings before he flies to Australia. (Why not US? Oh it’s not a KJo film, silly). Son finds Divya and since Maya said she is Chhaya he wants to dump himself on her. Divya is torn, oh poor girl, but the ISO-certified naukar ‘accepts’ her and agrees to marry her. Was there anyone so dedicated? Why don’t our customer service centres learn something from him?

The end is a beautiful tryst of irony and fate in meaningful cinema wherein it is the ‘hero’ who finds himself and ‘becomes’. He learns of Divya’s identity as Chhaya and is moved (as much as Sallu’s face muscles can move that is) beyond words. So Divya does become Chhaya and Body lets his guard down to accept Divya as Chhaya and Chhaya as Divya and everyone forgets Maya. Sab khaya, piya, pachaya. (Burp!)

(Oh, there is also a villain who used to be a hero but continues to think he is still a hero, he even claims it onscreen. This bloomingly creative touch strengthens the very well-defined theme of identity crisis and finding oneself. I am too moved by the very deep spiritual journey of these characters that has been revealed to me and I need to do some soul-searching to connect with my real self ‘within’. So long! Until my higher self kicks in again, that is.)

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)