Archive for October, 2011


Make him fly, make him cry,

make him stretch his arms, let him spread the charms.

And then give a latex suit. Aha, try that again.

It wasn’t very long ago when i had accidently discovered a picture of Shah Rukh Khan in my sister’s diary. Floppy hair, dimpled smile, casual attire – a working still from Darr which she had cut out from the newspaper and saved it in her diary (Do kids still write diaries?). And then there was a time when i would come back from school and would religiously play the entire soundtrack of Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge few times before settling down for lunch. Unlike others, I was never a die hard DDLJ fan but i enjoyed it till a teacher dissected it for us one day in college and said, he’s a sissy hero. Mama’s boy is here, he can’t run away with the heroine, he wants to impress her mom and dad. And over the years, SRK managed to do it in a better way – wooing the daughters, moms and mother-in-laws at one go.

Everyone loves the story of an outsider making it big in bad and bloody bollywood. But the problem with being big is that you start playing it safe – when bigger things are at stake, the mantra is give them what they want. In the last few years, if you have seen the kind of films SRK has done, it’s easy to predict that all they wanted him was to spread his arms, smile, nod his head and be the Prince Charming. Even the ham-fest was excused beacuse he could sweep you off your feet. Not us, ask your mom, sister, sister-in-law. It’s not that difficult to find a SRK fan.

His off screen personality is an advantage. He can speak at World Economic Forum and a jhopad-patti gathering with equal ease. Unlike other dodos of bollywood who have nothing much to say, SRK is spontaneous, can tackle any question and he just doesn’t get tired. And when the off screen personality becomes so huge, it’s difficult to imagine him in any character. Brand endorsements, appearances at events, tv shows, band-bajaa, 24 hours bollywood news, documentary on his life – he does it all and then uses the smartest trick to disarm his critics – self-deprecating humor.

The question is how much of SRK can you digest? Seems we can take it all and want some more. And if that’s the reason, why play around with your brand equity, SRK?

But if he doesn’t try anything new, we will say, enough of spreading those arms. If he does, it’s a mess. Remember Paheli, Ashoka, Swades to name a few which all turned out to be big duds at the box office. So is that the reason why Ra One is lets spread the arms, do the chamak challo and let’s try something new along with it? Maybe.

Problem is what do you do with a star like Shah Rukh Khan? Make him wear the latex suit, make him fly, and do endless jokes around the crotch? The only way to claim the throne?

But crass & crotch was never his mantra. He has often said in his interviews that he is not comfortable doing intimate (kiss/nude) scenes because he knows his audience is ma-behanbhabhi-family audience. And that’s why i failed to understand what forced him to go for such extreme shift of gear and in such bad taste. I am fine with everything on screen but when you target the kids, you don’t play around with the crotch, gay jokes, condom-condom and booby key tricks. Do Aryan-Suhana approve of this humour? If yes, great. The man who taught us that it’s all about the dil, when and how did crotch became the ‘main part’? Disturbing signs indeed.

Apart from the role of eternal lover who can stretch his arms and let the music play, the only roles which has been able to cash in on his brand value are of two kinds – the irreverent and the menacing one. Main Hoon Na (without the Indo-Pak bit) and Om Shanti Om are desi comic book films filled with irreverent fun. Nobody takes nothing seriously and what a fun it turned out to be! It might be bit too early to say that Don is all about back to Darr-Anjam days, a sleeker version, and without the streaks of a violent lover – he is bad because he is bad. The idea of turning our dil-ka-hero into a superhero-with-a-hart was a great idea but then you don’t mess it up so badly – comic book meets family entertainer meets super powers meets sufi alaaps meets sci-fi meets god-knows-what. Even Spiderman has family issues, right? First things first, sack the writing team, SRK. Four writers and they could not design a conflict for the Super-hero?

And then get out of that cocoon of friends and family friends and friends of families. Yes, they will always wish the best for you but they might not be the best in the business. Time to try out new partners. Remember Chak De India – Before the film’s release nobody believed that people will come to watch 13 unknown heroines with SRK in scruffy beard. So why not a Vishal Bhardwaj, Raj Kumar Hirani, Dibakar Banerjee, Sriram Raghavan, Imtiaz Ali, Anurag Kashyap or may be someone completely new. May be they have some better ideas to Un-shahrukh the Khan and that too without the latex suit. Or may be a better latex suit for you if you decide to go for the sequel. It’s easy to appreciate the effort, the intention, and the grandeur of some of the sequences but nothing beyond that. Even the story idea was good but that’s about it.

Do it Khan, do it. Do it before it’s too late. The new generation accepts and discards super-heroes everyday. My 2 year old niece is already glued to tv for a robotic cat called Doraemon. This week she took baby steps in bollywood nursery as i showed your pics to her and now she can easily spot Sarook Kaan. After watching the film, as an afterthought i taught her the Rockstar move. Now every time we say Rockstar, she does the kiddie version of headbanging by violently shaking her head in all directions and ends the performance by removing her unkempt hair from the face.

After seven days of cinema, conversations, chai-coffee and standing in long queues, it’s a wrap for this year’s Mumbai Film Festival. And since I had put an open bet on the Dimensions Mumbai shorts, it’s time to say, we told you so. Click here to read the post with short reviews of all the shorts selected for this year’s Dimensions Mumbai. Out of the four shorts that I had put a bet on, three made it to the jury’s list.

Dimensions Mumbai

The Silver Gateway Award and cash prize of Rs 100,000 for The Best Film was presented to Ameya Gore and Sunaina Mahadik for ‘Facelift’.

The Silver Gateway Award and cash prize of Rs 50,000 for The Second Best Film was presented to Abhay Kumar for ‘Life is a Beach‘.

The Jury Special Mention Award was given to Chinmaya Nagesh Dalvi for ‘Bombay Snow’ and to Harshvir Oberai for ‘The Circle Is Mine’.

International Competition

– The Golden Gateway Award and cash prize of US $ 100,000 for The Best Film was presented to French film ‘My Little Princess’ directed by Eva Ionesco.

– The Silver Gateway Award for Jury Grand Prize and cash prize of US $ 50,000 was presented to Canadian film ‘The Salesman’ (Le Vendeur) directed by Sebastien Pilote.

– The Silver Gateway Award for Best Director was presented to Eva Ionesco for the movie ‘My Little Princess’.

– The Silver Gateway Award for Best Actress was presented to Isabelle Huppert and Anamaria Vartolomei for their performance in the film ‘My Little Princess’.

– The Silver Gateway Award for Best Actor was presented to Gilbert Sicotte for his performance in ‘The Salesman’ (Le Vendeur).

– The Silver Gateway Jury Award for Technical Excellence was presented to Diego Poleri for ‘Las Acacias’.

– The Silver Gateway Special Jury Award was presented to Markus Schleinzer for ‘Michael’.

Mumbai Young Critics

– The Mumbai Young Critics Silver Gateway Award was presented to Markus Schleinzer for ‘Michael’.

Celebrate Age Category

– The Silver Gateway Award and cash prize of Rs 50,000 for The Best Film was presented to ‘Grandma, A Thousand Times’ (Teta, Alf Marra) directed by Mahmoud Kaabour.

– The Silver Gateway Award and cash prize of Rs 25,000 for the Second Best Film was given to ‘Fear of Falling’ directed by Bartosz Konopka.

– The Celebrate Age Jury Award Certificate of Special Mention was given to Zubin Sethna for ‘The Usual’ (Wie Immer).

And the Lifetime Achievement Award was given to Gulzar.

Except some minor hiccups here and there, Mumbai Film Festival turned out to be great success this year. What makes a fest good? Films. And that’s where MFF scored. We can live without the stars and the celebrities. Hopefully next year will be bigger and better, and the queues will be smaller. Can we please get Chandan Theater as the big venue along with a multiplex as the main venue from next year. Team MFF, thanks a ton.

This has to be the height of cheap thrill. Hong-jin Na, director of the Korean film Chaser, is in Mumbai for the Mumbai Film Festival. And since he has no clue about our Bhatt Factory, which specialises in importing films from across the world to give it a desi makeover, our good friends Mihir Fadnavis and Sudhish Kamath decided to burst the bubble.

Murder 2 was copied from Chaser and so Hong-jin Na was gifted an “original” dvd of the “plagiarised” film.

Sumit Purohit, who has been doing some interesting sketch work based on films, also gifted him a sketch based on Chaser.

There’s at least one film in each one of us. For those of us who make it our vocation (not profession) there are many. Debutante director Sandeep Mohan’s done with his first. Indie, short, sweet and with a home-grown, quirky sense of humour, ‘Love, Wrinkle-free’ played at MAMI yesterday. And plays again tomorrow, 20th Oct at 12.45 pm, Cinemax, Sion.

The film is about a middle-aged couple struggling with middle-age issues. The passing of youth, the wilting of relationships under the dryness of everyday living. The excitement of finding new love and all that it affirms about oneself. Well, it’s not half as serious as all this sounds, but lightly touches all these ‘deeper’ strains with a certain idiosyncrasy. Then there are crooks and fools in love making the capering continuously ticklish.

Watch the trailer to get a glimpse of what I am saying.

“Love, Wrinkle-free” trailer from Sandeep Mohan on Vimeo.

We rant enough about how difficult it is to make any movie, leave alone the one you want to make. Sandeep found that out first hand too and then simply decided to drop everything and make his films one way or the other. No he didn’t rob a bank. He simply, “Spent close to a year trying to raise funds – made couple of wrong moves. Learned and moved on.”

To finally find funding. “Giju John and Kamal Shah came along to help. Giju is a childhood friend. Totally trusted me. We managed to rope in close to 30 more friends (in a crowd funding of sorts!) to put in whatever they could.” It not only sounds difficult but we all know how much passion and conviction is required to convince someone to part with pennies for a film. Film! A form which has been reduced to little more than nautanki these days. Why would anyone bother with it unless the ones making it had ‘it’ in them to want to go beyond?

The film took two years to evolve from idea to image. The script was fleshed out over a period of 3-4 months. And the film completed within 22 days, within schedule, fully shot in Goa. Extended reading sessions happened with each one of them. And from there on the experienced folks took off well. As said here, “The film boasts of some good performances from the ensemble!

Sandeep’s pre-prod office and editing studio was his own house. “So in essence this is a Vikhroli West movie as opposed to an Andheri west movie” he jests.

Cutting costs was of course, primary. No AD for entire post-production. But ensured actors were well-taken care of. “We gave the actors whatever we could. But once they realised what we were attempting, they became part of this journey, and it was smooth going.”

Indie, from start-to-finish and not just for the sake of it. That’s refreshing. Independent not only in thought but action. Not only what it creates but how. A healthy mix of both is probably the whopping leap our cinema needs to take.

This route was and wasn’t a choice for Sandeep. If you want to do something you got to get out there and find ways to do it. He had no choice but that and hence willingly made that choice.

It all evolved after my father passed away 3 years back. His death taught me that we are not here for ever. I could just conk off one day complaining that I never made a movie. So went ahead, worked hard, didn’t complain, respected actors and crew members, restrained myself even when I got angry at times, and grew as a human being and as a filmmaker through this last 2 years.”

Every such film is a labour of love, some maybe more than the others. What matters in the end is the intention and effort. The applause then, becomes so much more sweeter.

In Sandeep’s words – “The film truly represents the indie spirit – and I hope more such films get made – the idea being not to wait for anyone to come and help me, but to go ahead and do it.

MAMI is the World Fest Premiere of Love, Wrinkle-free. After that, it is SAIFF in New York where the film is scheduled to be screened on the 11th of November. Meanwhile, for those of you who haven’t seen it yet, catch it on 20th Oct at 12.45 pm Cinemax Sion.

Let’s show some love to the spirit of indie cinema.

Fatema Kagalwala

Mangesh Hadwale made his debut with a marathi film called Tingya which was well received. And now he is ready with his first hindi feature Dekh Indian Circus.  It stars Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Tannistha Chatterjee and recently premiered at the Busan Film Festival.

Here’s continuing from our Mumbai Film Festival. The recco list is here, click here for Day 1 & 2 report and here is the post on Dimensions Mumbai.

Moving on –

Day 3

1. Jesus Henry Christ – A super non filmy yet subversive (you-dont-know-where-it-is-headed) film, my little miss sunshine of this year. Eccentric & weird american family-comedy. Trippy and funny all the way. Recco for everyone and especially for aspiring screenwriters

2. Toast – Stanley ka dabba meets Udaan. At first felt like a food porn film but slowly goes onto becoming a coming of age film set in UK 60s-70s. Very good film based on the life of a famous british chef. Also stars Helen Bonham Carter (and she’s not the only reason to watch the film)! Dont watch it on a hungry stomach !

3. Monster’s Dinner – ok clearly the most bizzare film of the day inviting maximum different opinions. Two couples have dinner in a dystopian turkey urban town. Smoking banned, painting banned, child abuse allowed and become a buisness, social norms are abnormal, satire on everyone under the sun. Clearly set up like a “play” with a single house setting (read low budget and limited resources so maximum innovation). Dark and creepy without showing a single violent act but puke-inducing. Many felt the film doesn’t move after the first 30 min (and may be even after the first 60 min), but personally felt it was very well directed. Very interesting film to watch it for sure – depending on if you decide to hate/love it later

4. First time for everything – Another russian Udaan father-son bonding story. Walked out after 70 min since it was taking way tooo much time to make a point.

5. Ides of March – Big Q for this one. Guess I know the right people. Nevertheless managed to sneak in. Must watch. Shiva the God Of Death goes corrupted. Wow. Watch it. Just felt longing for more by the end of it. Depressing film in a moral-istic way.

6. Aadukalam – national award winning tamil film. Had seen it already. But neverthless do check it out. A super film (yes made in commercial tam film format) And as a friend said – the drama is pretty “shakespearean”

Other mentions – Wrecked starring adrien brody, saamna, king of devil’s island (starring the super stellan skarsgard), armadillo. Didn’t see them since they are available (you-know-where). Will check them out. Comments welcome in case you did watch them

Day 4

1. Chinese takeaway – super stud ricardo darin (secret in their eyes, aura, 9 queens, carancho, signal) is reason enough to watch this quriky comedy film. An irritable common hardware shop owner’s life gets disturbed by a chinese man who comes into his life. Very well written and expertly directed. Recco’d

2. Tabloid – docu by Errol morris – a “simple” case gone awry thanks to the scandal-loving Brit media. Based on a true story. Highly recco’d. Offers multiple insights (pov’s) into the case – what happened, what was witnessed, what was reported.

3. Mountain – another low budget film with two characters and a “setting”. Thelma & Louise meets Kids are all right meets Rabbit Hole. But wow. And for a change great to see the dir not just relying on the lovely visuals of snow capped peaks but also wonderful drama. And someone give the leading lady an oscar for the best performance please. Was also part of an (informal) Q&A. Shot on Red. Must must “mast” watch. Silences, minimal dialogues but superb.

4. 17 girls – Based on a real life incident. 17 rebel-without (or with)-a-cause high school girls decide to get pregnant simultaneously. Liked it a lot despite the fact that pregnant women freak me out (I know I know, I’m sorry. Just have a phobia). Recco’d. And the girls are such good actors. I wondered how does one write the script of one such film.

5. Sleeping beauty – Epic fail super NG film. Everything established in the first 45 min, after that its purely one tharki budhdha after another. As Prof Saab said – “Pure mind fuck but no penetration”. Avoid. Allegedly an indian well versed “indie” director asked the dir of the film “Were you aware of what you were trying to do?”. Didnt get a satisfying response. I cursed myself for going for this and not standing in the 500 odd queue off Pina !

Other mentions – Win win by station agent, visitor dir, 36 chowringhee lane (arguably best film by aparna sen), Pina (still to be seen but have heard great things about it)

Day 5

1. Aparoopa – Finally saw a Jahnu Barua film on the big screen.. His debut film based on a real life incident which happened in assam in the 60s. A gorgeous suhasini muley and breathtaking assam visuals (DOP – Binod Pradhan), lovely music. A story and treatment which might seem a little dated today but for it’s time it was quite “progressive”. A typical HKA-ish/Charulata-ish Love triangle in which there is no bad guy (villain). And the good news is that he is trying to get all of his films released on DVD. Fingers crossed.

2. Love Wrinkle Free– A good first time effort by dir Sandeep mohan. Goa eccentric family comedy of sorts, in english. Couldve been trimmed by 20 min or so. Low budget film but which boasts of some good performances from the ensemble.

3. OR (Mon tresor) – Minimal dialogues, long takes, lovely visuals, self destructive characters, Father-son character from Aaranya Kaandam into a mom-daughter track.This is what Sleeping Beauty should have been. Highly recco’d. Last 5 min couldve been trimmed but still.

4. Almanya – Funny german family comedy. A man travels from turkey to germany to start a life. 50 yrs later family moves back on a vacation to turkey. Film cuts back and forth. Slightly meta-filmy (and hence also) super. Recco’d.

Other mentions – Salt of life, Habesu Papam (heard they were good), JBDY (need one say more?), Yellow Sea (hmmm-need repeat viewing. Some superb action sequences), Even the rain (available you-know-where), Another Earth, Melancholia (ho-hum, except super performances)

Mumbai Dimensions is a unique initiative to spot the young and the emerging talents in the city. And the rules are simple – 1. You have to be Under-25. 2. Duration can’t be more than 5mins. 3. The film should be about the city. The prizes include Silver Gateway trophies and cash prize of Rs. One Lakh and Rs. 50,000/- for the best two shorts. This year’s jury includes Kiran Rao, Vikramaditya Motwane, Nishikant Kamat, Onir and Renuka Shahane.

Shorts are always challenging. And when there is a restriction on duration and subject, it’s bound to get tougher. Surprisingly there was a long queue for the shorts too. But thanks to some last minute smartness, some of us managed to get in at the right time. This year there are 20 films in this section. I have a film theory called U-25 which i generally use to dismiss the views of kids ( read U-25) when we are discussing cinema. Well, it’s a joke, but after watching all the 20 films, i think there is some truth in my U-25 theory. The simple logic is if you haven’t seen/lived/experienced life enough, you can’t make a good film. And 25 is just too little to do that. Of course age is just a number, and a theory is a theory. But why are we making such terrible films and telling bad stories with such a cliche treatment? We all do shitty stuff but as long as you can separate the shit from the rest, I think you are in right direction.

For many young filmmakers this must have been a big news that their short is selected for MFF but if this is the best we got, we seriously are not telling them the difference between good and bad cinema. I may be completely wrong but here’s my reactions to the shorts and the bets on the best.

1. Unearthed – Split screen is not experimental, it’s passe. Montage is NOT a film.

2. The Few Unfortunates – Parallel stories criss-crossing each other. Nice idea but better execution could have taken it to another level.

3. Aakra-man – A mockumentary on a superhero who speaks in Marathi,  loves the Mumbai city but can’t do much. Smart and easily stands out from the rest.

4. Ek Titli Ka Aks – You hear a voice-over and can make out that it’s by an old person but you see a young man on screen. Credit roll tells us it’s Tom Alter’s voice. So Alter recites a poetry and a young man tries to experience Mumbai. There is no sync, no emotion.

5. Krishanna – A monologue shot as a dialogue where characters are narrating their experience about the city. Great idea, very badly made.

6. Bombay Snow – Pure cinema, pure joy! This one stands out and how! Miles ahead of the rest. Unlike others, it doesn’t even try to force the “Mumbai” factor in the narrative but touches upon so many subjects beautifully – displacement issue, rural versus urban, and a young kid trying to understand the equation between dad, mom and a prostitute. Director is Chinmay Nagesh Dalvi. Dear Festival Programmers, if you are looking for shorts, pick this one!

7. Vani – The city through its sounds and visuals. Another montage.

8. This Circle Is Mine – A documentary on the guy who stands at Mumbai’s Juhu Circle holding a placard to spread the message of love and peace. Many of us have often wondered about the old man. The film tells us bit more about him. A straight narrative that doesn’t do much justice to the man’s mission or life. Great idea to pick this interesting character but a great opportunity lost too as it keeps on repeating the same things.

9. Life Is A Beach – A love story between a geek and a ship (or aliens). Very interesting take, nicely executed but this one reminds me of Abhay’s previous short Just That Sort Of A Day – similar mood, same style of voice-over.

10. Face To Face – A funny little story in this big bad Mumbai city.

11 The Waiting City – Blasts happens. People wait. Badly done.

12. Facelift – A silent short which beautifully captures the issue of mills turning into malls. The film is DOP’s show-reel for sure.

13. ‘O’ Brother??? What Art Thou.. – Finally, a short with political context. Perhaps the only city in this country where “Bhaiyya” is an abuse. And those who have never visited Mumbai, will never understand this weird problem. Nice attempt.

14. Mehrooni – This could have been set in any other city and it wouldn’t have mattered. A saccharine love story of a couple that’s says everything it shows and shows everything it says. The voice-over is unnecessary, it’s too sweet, too fake and overtly sentimental. Even Rekha Bhardwaj’s vocals could not help. Only good point – it’s well shot.

15. Adrak – A nice little love story between a photographer and a tourist that happens at the Gateway of India.

16. Khawacha – Tries to capture the politics of the game that kids play. Good idea, bad treatment.

17. Duplicate – Captures the life of three duplicates – Anil Kapoor, Govinda and Devanand’s lookalikes. But doesn’t say/discover much beyond what we all know. Also, the subject has been covered million times. If only it could have tried to dig deeper.

18. 2733-see You On The Other Side – Works at the idea level but very tacky production.

19. Life Line – Story of Trains. It just doesn’t translate what the director is trying to say. Bad.

20. Rastaa – Story of two street urchins that doesn’t say anything new or in any new way.

And here’s my pick –

1. Bombay Snow – The best. Has no competition.

2. Aakra-Man and Life Is A Beach.

3. Facelift

Let’s see what the jury decides to go with. And if the best one doesn’t win, always remember that any cinema award always says more about the jury and less about the films. Waiting and how!

Since the day MAMI unveiled its line-up for the Mumbai Film Festival 2011, we all have been waiting eagerly for it to start. Just back from the screenings of Day 2, more cinema, better company and some more conversations. Today’s score – five films, five burgers, tea-coffee, cold drinks and few gallons of water. Dead tired now and so it will be mostly short and sweet ( read copy-pasting the tweets). Here’s the good, the bad and the ugly report of Opening ceremony, Day 1 and Day 2.

Registration  – The online system worked fine. Even the registration desk at the venue is quite efficient. Though heard about some bad experience on the first day but when i went, it just took 5 minutes to get my registration done. Also, good job with all the updates through the festival twitter handle – @mumbaifilmfest.

Opening Ceremony – Whoever came up with the idea of this shortest possible opening ceremony in the history of film festivals, he/she deserves applause. Late year it was a mess. This year the venue was Cinemax Versova. There is no place for the ceremony other than the lobby. So a small dais was created at the centre and sitting arrangements were made in all three directions. By the time we entered the lobby there was no place to sit or stand. But since the wait wasn’t long, we were happy. The main issue was the pass – opening film Moneyball was by invitation only. But thanks to those good souls who helped us out. All of us managed to watch it.

Moneyball – Good film to open the fest with. You have the stars but not completely hollywood and there’s a good buzz around it. The film was so little about Baseball and more about one man’s persistence. Jonah Hill stole the show. With such a fine command over his craft director Bennett Miller is surely going to have a long run. Capote and Moneyball – there is no common ground but both brilliantly directed. The best part of the film was the way it’s shot. Not sure how you define it technically, it was dark, moody, half-lit frames, atmosphere that you can breathe in. Or as Ebert wrote, this is a melancholy movie.

Opening Day Highlight – We suddenly saw that Hong-jin Na, director of Chaser and The Yellow Sea, was sitting in front of us. Varun Grover almost kissed him.

Post-film – Thanks to those good souls again, we went to Sun n Sand, Juhu for the opening ceremony party. As expected, it was too crowded. And the cinema bakchodi continued till late hours.

Day 1

Recruited Love (Zwerbowana Milosc) – Police, prostitution, politics and the politics of love. It’s like Polish version of Lives Of Others which is absolutely brilliant and do watch it if you still haven’t. This one turned hollywoodish thriller mid-way and then redeemed itself a bit in the end.

The Turin Horse (A Torinoi Lo)- We managed to catch the first 20 mins, some without subtitles, bit of it in wrong aspect ratio and then it stopped suddenly. The Horse was killed. We had no choice but to walk out. It was re-scheduled for 10pm.

Deool (Temple) – It was the opening film of the Indian Frame and its director Umesh Kulkarni is one of my favourite filmmakers. He goes to the other extreme with this one, far departure from all his shorts and features. Revolves around the madness, mess and marketing of religion, and Godly affairs in a small village. The stamp of Kulkarni is very much there – characters, humour, plot, but with item numbers and dhol-nagadas going dhoom-dhaam-dhadaap, it went into the Peepli Live zone. Always thought that Kulkarni loves playing with silence, this time it was the opposite. It could have been another kind of Ghabricha Paus too (a brilliant black comedy on farmers suicide issue) but Deool is too ambitious, wants to deal with too many affairs, reflect too many sides and it’s too noisy. It’s easy to understand what the film is trying to do but it’s difficult to endorse this one completely. It’s releasing soon in the theatres. Do watch it.

The Salesman (Le Vendeur) – There is something surreal about an old white man with white hair struggling in a completely white background (snow + sun) on a sunny day. But it could not go beyond the obvious. Too long and offers too little. The lead actor carries the film on his shoulder. By the time it ends, you just want to hug and comfort him.

The Turin Horse (A Torinoi Lo) – We tried our luck again. This time it was a bad copy with time code running on it. The subtitle was correct but it again stopped suddenly after 30mins or so. They killed the dead horse again. We had no choice but to leave. It was re-scheduled again for Day 2 at 10pm.

There was problem with the screening of My Little Princess too. The technical head of the screenings needs to wake up, smell the coffee and check the prints and the projection before showing the films. Don’t embarrass yourself so badly! Day 1 and major problems in three screenings – wow, that’s some score!


The Slut (Hanotenet) – With a title like this, it’s bound to get some attention. But with a female director who also plays the lead role, the gaze is completely different. Takes its own sweet time to unfold and the worst thing you fear, the director goes for it, ending it on a very disturbing note. Has male and female nudity and a long sex scene.

Distance (Distancia) – I thought NSP (Needs Some Patience) genre will be enough to describe some of the films selected for the fest. But this one is NLP where L is for Lots, and lots and lots more. There is so much story that you just hear but don’t see on screen. Was dead by the time it got over.

Generation P  – Quite a heady cocktail of art, culture, religion, pop, politics, philosophy, advertising, consumerism and Che Guevara. Who better than Che to answer some advertising questions. After all who sells more T-shirts than him? A trippy experience where it’s difficult to get all the religious and political context but worth a watch. It’s like an installation art of our pop-culture.

Generation P – Q & A – A QnA session with Victor Ginzburg, director of the Generation P was scheduled after the film. But since the poor soul was lost as there was nobody to do the Q and A, we decided to do an informal discussion. We tried our luck at The Artist but the queue was so long that it went up to the Landmark store on the next floor. We thought QnA was a better idea. The Artist was given another screening at 10pm. The director of the film VG told us that big brands (Coke, Nike and many others which feature in the film) gave him money to make fun of the brands in the film. That’s rare and what a fun it was. He was also unhappy about the bad projection of his film.

Chinese Take Away – We wanted to watch it but it has been re-scheduled on Monday 10am Screen 3.

Michael – We knew that this was the Uneasy film of the fest but had no clue that it would turn out to be so bloody brilliant. Waited in queue for almost 1 hour and it was worth it. Inspired by real life incidents, Michael looks at the day-to-day life of a paedophile who has locked up a 10 year old in a cellar. It sounds creepy and disturbing but the film is completely non-judgmental. Who are these paedophiles? How do they look? Do they come from a different planet? The director doesn’t go for the shock value but gives it a human face and captures the predatory relationship in a unique way that will stay with you for a long time after the film gets over. Easily the best of the fest so far. Must watch.

The Artist– We tried our luck again. As soon as Michael got over, we ran through the exit to be in the queue for the film. But by the time we reached, the queue was already about a kilometer long. This time we managed. A delicious love letter to the silent era, the film not only sets the story in that period and captures the era beautifully, but it also uses all the film-making tools of that era to tell a simple love story that we have seen million times. But the magic is in “how” and not “what”. With almost no dialogues, the lead actors don’t just act, they make you fall in love with them. Easy to understand why it was the Cannes favourite earlier this year. Aha, the magic of movies!

DAY 2 HighlightKartik Krishnan suddenly spotted a actor who had played the role of a Don in Bobby Deol’s Bichhoo. Remember? Nobody does. But we still tried to capture him. Varun went to him and asked him about Bichhoo. Kartik was right. Check out the pic – the bald guy in the background.

Enough for today. Tomorrow is another day. Mihir Desai‘s film Aakra-Man is playing with George Clooney and Ryan Gosling’s The Ides of March, and he is trying to copy their act as you can see in the picture. Good luck, Aakra-Man!

See you at the movies!

(PS – It’s been great fun meeting all those people whom we know only by their twitter handles. The world is indeed small and round.)

( PS1 – To read more about the festival films, click here to read Varun’s blog who is trying to write a fest diary.)

Mumbai Film Festival has unveiled an impressive line-up of some 200 films this year. And we are trying to make your life little bit easier with the help of google, wiki, imdb and that DNA which has some cinema in it. The films which are making noise all over and the filmmakers you shouldn’t miss. Read on…

Moneyball  : Its the opening film of the festival. Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin. Brad Pitt. Dir : Bennett Miller (directed Capote). Ebert loved it too. Go for it.

Sleeping Beauty (D – Julia Leigh. Debut film) : The film was in Cannes competition section this year. According to Peter Bradshaw, Julia Leigh’s adaptation of her novel about a student drawn to prostitution is an elegant, if occasionally preposterous, debut.

Michael ( D – Markus Schleinzer ) :  Premiered in Cannes competition section this year. A drama focused on five months in the life of pedophile who keeps a 10-year-old boy locked in his basement (IMDB Synopsis). It’s the Uneasy cinema of the fest.

She Monkeys (D – Lisa Aschan ) : Won the Best Narrative Feature at Tribeca Fest and Special Mention at Berlin Fest. The film focuses on psychological power struggles between two teenage girls engaged in equestrian vaulting (via Wiki).

Melancholia (D – Lars Von Trier) : Lars Von Trier. That should be enough. Though this  time LVT made much more news than the film since it premiered at Cannes.

– George Harrison: Living in the Material World (D – Martin Scorsese) : One reason – Scorsese. Another reason? George Harrison. Enough?

Pina (D – Wim Wenders) : WW goes 3D with this dance film. Homage to German dancer/choreographer Pina Bausch. It’s gorgeous but you will Need Some Patience (NSP). Mark this NSP, we are going to use it again and again.

Turrin Horse ( D – Bela Tarr) : Tarr’s latest which won the Silver Bear at Berlin Fest. It recalls the whipping of a horse in the Italian city Turin which is rumoured to have caused the mental breakdown of philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. The film is in black-and-white, shot in only 30 long takes by Tarr’s regular cameraman Fred Kelemen, and depicts the repetitive daily lives of the horse and its owner (Via Wiki). If you are not aware of Tarr’s cinema, it NSP.

Dad Made Dirty Movies – Because the trailer looks super and the title is delicious! But the bad news is can’t find it in the schedule. It was there in the list earlier. Do watch the trailer anyway.

The Artist (D : Michel Hazanavicius ) – It’s the film that everyone loved at Cannes. It was also nominated for Palme d’ Or and the lead actor Jean Dujardin bagged the Best Actor Award. The story takes place in Hollywood between 1927 and 1931 and focuses on a declining male film star and a rising actress, as silent cinema grows out of fashion and is replaced by the talkies. The film is itself a silent film and in black-and-white (via Wiki).

Once Upon A Town In Anatloia (D – Nuri Bilge Ceylan) : Premiered at Cannes Fest (Competition) where it was co-winner of the Grand Prix. Like other films by NBC, this one also has lot of moods, melancholy and atmosphere.  Again, if you are new to NBC, beware. NSP.

 – Restless (D – Gus Vant Sant) : It premiered in Un Certain Regard section at Cannes. No great reviews so far but when it’s a master like GVS, you can’t miss it.

The Yellow Sea (D – Na Hong-Jin ) : From the director of The Chaser – that should be enough. Premiered at Cannes (Un Certain Regard). Also, NSP.

Ides Of March (D – George Clooney) : Clooney’s latest directorial venture which opened the Venice Film Festival. Has talents like Ryan Gosling, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Paul Giamatti.

The Forgiveness Of Blood (D : Joshua Martson) : From the director of Maria Full Of Grace.  It won the Silver Berlin Bear for best screenplay.

Red State (D – Kevin Smith) : Not much encouraging reviews but KS created much hullabaloo  and headlines  at the Sundance fest with this one. Watch it if you can or it’s out you-know-where.

–  Adaminte Makan Abu ( D – Salim Ahamed) : The Malayalam film which bagged 4 National Awards this year – Best Actor/Film/Cinematography/Background Score. Click here for our separate recco post on the film.

Deool ( D : Umesh Kulkrani) : Two reasons – Valu and Vihir. If you haven’t seen the movies by one of the best desi directors, you surely are missing something.

Painted Rainbow (D : Geetanjali rao) : India’s best animation filmmaker that most don’t know about.The film opens the Cannes Critics Week segment at the fest as it was in Cannes Critics Week 1996. Don’t miss this one. Click here to know more about the film.

Mushrooms (Chatrak. D – Vimukthi Jayasundara) – This Indo-Sri Lankan co-production was screened at Cannes and Toronto Fest. Later on it made headlines for frontal nudity and sex scenes which got leaked out on the net.

Yeh Woh Manzil Toh Nahi ( D – Sudhir Mishra) : Someone finally found a copy of the film! Last time we tried to find a copy, even Sudhir Mishra had no clue about it. A film that most of us have heard about but haven’t seen yet.

Dekh Indian Circus – Mangesh Hadwale’s debut film in Hindi after his marathi film Tingya.

Love Wrinkle Free (D- Sandeep Mohan) : For some of us who have been following Sandeep’s quirky short films for some time, this one looks quirky enough. From the synopsis here, it looks like desi woody allen film set in Goa. A full independent production, should be an interesting watch.

Some more fests favourites:

Historias que so existem quando lembradas  (Or Historias. D – Julia Murat ) : Premiered at Venice fest. Had screening at Toronto fest.

Le Vendeur (The Salesman) : Nominated for Best jury Prize at Sundance Fest

Another Earth (D: Mike Cahill) : Won the Special Jury prize at Sundance.

My Little Princess : Premiered at the Cannes 2011

The Mountain ( Ole Giæver’s ) : Premiered at Berlin Fest, 2011

Out Of Bounds ( D : Frederikke Aspock) Screened at Cannes 2011. Director is 2004 Cannes Cinefondation short film winner.

The Slut (Dir. – Hagar Ben Asher) : Screened at Cannes. Cine Foundation winner.

My Best Enemy (Mein Bester Feind. D : Wolfgang Murnberger) Out Of Competition at Berlin Film festival

–  Life Without Principle ( D : Johnnie To ) : Nominated for Golden lion at Venice Fest, 2011

Azhagarsami’s Horse – The Tamil film which screened at Toronto and Tribeca Fest recently

Indian Retrosepctive includes some classic like Shaji Karun’s Piravi, Pather Panchali, Ghatashraddha, Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron, Jahnu Barua’s Aparoopa, Unishe April, Ankur, Seeta Raati, 36 Chowringhee Lane, Swayamvaram and others.

Dimensions Mumbai – Will have 20 films including our AuterMark & Reel Reptile‘s latest short Aakra-Man.

– Click here to download the (day wise) schedule that makes it easy to pick the film. And say thanks to Kartik Krishnan. This one is only for Cinemax Versova.

If you want more film reccos, click here to read Mihir Fadnavis‘ list, here for Aseem Chhabra‘s list, Rahul Desai‘s recco list is here and Time Out Mumbai’s list is here.

For more info and official website, click here.

( PS – Am sure we are missing many other great films, do keep the recco going)

Suresh Mathew caught up with filmmaker Dibakar Banerjee on the sets of his forthcoming film “Shanghai”. While all the questions and answers relating to “Shangai” will be out closer to the film’s release, here Dibakar speaks about his previous films, chasing stars, the craft of filmmaking and more.

Q: Do you always manage to make the film that you set out to make, or do pressures from the producer and the market finally work their way into your film?

DB: You see market is wavy kind of flag that’s waved in front of you; I generally don’t know what the market is. You see when the film is made, the biggest truth is at the point of making and selling a film, it is made for two markets, one is for the audience that will pay the ticket price and one is for the distributors and producers and exhibitors who will buy the film off you and exhibit it to people, so sometimes you have to keep the sensibilities of the people who are buying from you to sell it to the audience in mind but generally the way I survive is this that I have definitely a clear idea of what I am trying to do.

I am under no illusion that I am not selling any kind of happy utopian dream. Most of my films have something grey about them; most of my films have something which is positive and negative about them. So their is a certain amount of grayness involved in it, there are no heroes, there are no heroes abject heroes, abject villains, when you tell it like that to an audience, you know that it is not going to be all is well. You essentially understand that your audience basically slightly more interested in a typical romantic comedy or a nice melodrama about how our lives are the best that we can have. My audiences therefore are the kind of people that have time to think and yet be entertained.

Therefore the trick that I employ to my films is that I keep the budget as low as possible and within that budget with planning and with our own inventiveness, give the maximum production values as possible and keep your narrative, keep the subject, keep the treatment as engaging, as relating, as entertaining as possible because I want my films to be seen by as many people as possible. I don’t want to live in an ivory tower or in a bubble and think that I am creating some piece of inert art, no I am not. I want to earn money from my films which I have. So therefore what I say has to immediately relate to the ordinary Joe on the streets who sees those films. The rest is the luck of the film, which I can’t control so I don’t think about that. Fortunately its not that I impose upon myself, because of the way I have been brought up, or what ever it is, I haven’t had a very elitist kind of an upbringing or an existence. I know what the man on street thinks, how he speaks, I know the behaviour of people, the general common man of India so I relate to that and I make films about that and I hope that gets seen by the maximum number of people.

Q: How do you feel when films like “Singham”, “Ready” and “Bodyguard” set records at the box-office? Are you happy that there is an audience out there that is expanding, so a film can rake in so many crores at the end of the day, or are you disheartened about the sensibilities of the audience that you have to cater to?

DB: It’s like saying that when I am driving around my Innova and somebody passes by in a Porsche; do you feel happy or sad? I mean of course you wish that I could have that Porsche but to have that Porsche you will have to do something that you don’t want to do. So ultimately it becomes the same thing. The fact is that I would love to have my films earn 300 crores at the box office if I didn’t have to change my film. Till the time that I don’t want to change the way I make my films, I will wish for a 300 crores box office but I will be very happy with 30.

So I am very happy because that way I exercise the discipline on myself, make my films in a budget that always return a profit and that’s the way I have learnt to survive. So the kind of figures that you are talking about is the result of star power and stars. True, stars who bring in that kind of money at the box office exist because even now in India, cinema and the urge to watch cinema is not to go and see a story unfold in front of your eyes, its also to see a star, become a star and behave like a star and put up a starry spectacle in front of your eyes and that’s because most of our ordinary lives are so tough and so unbearable to be with that those 2-3hrs in an air conditioned cinema hall, Salman saves our lives, Aamir and Shahrukh save our lives so that life saving experience can only happen with a star. So if I ever find a film where the right star meets the right role and I am assured of a 100 crore plus box office, I will definitely go for it till that time I will go on making what I can and make a profit out of it.

Q: Do you also first go after saleable stars after you finish writing your script?

DB: Absolutely, otherwise how do you survive? When I cast Anupam kher for “Khosla Ka Ghosla”, he was not just a good actor, he was the character star. When I cast Abhay for “Oye Lucky Lucky Oye”, he was an upcoming face that people were interested in and I knew that Anurag and I were making “Oye Lucky” and “Dev D” together and we knew that one film will rub off on the other and something will come out of it. Whenever you make something that earns its commercial existence out of people’s interest in the central character, of course you will have to go for a star.

The fact remains that whether the star matches your narrative and your character as you have designed it or are you designing your story around the star? That I refused to do currently, so therefore I meet every star available and every star available meets me and they meet every other director because its an ongoing principle in our industry, we meet each other, we ask each other, ok what are you doing, I like your work, can we work together, what suits us and therefore out of every 10 meetings only 1 converts because everybody is hearing different stories, a multiple choice of narratives and they are making their choices according to their careers. So the fact is that I will always go to stars and I will always go to character actors and I have always have new people introduced in my films as I have constantly done in all my films, “Khosla Ka Ghosla”, “Oye Lucky” and “LSD”, each gave actors to the industry who are now carving their own careers, basis their debuts, same way in Shanghai. So it’s a mix of everything and if you give me a star who matches my character and who fits the narrative as I have designed it, I’ll take him any day.

Q: Are you happy with the way your films have done commercially? Of your three films (Khosla Ka Ghosla, Oye Lucky Lucky Oye, LSD) which is the one you are most happy with?

DB: To tell you truthfully, as far as how it’s done commercially, I’m reasonably ok. I couldn’t, you know… hope for more because for someone like me who had no film background and film experience, to come out and make a film like “Khosla Ka Ghosla” as your debut film and you know people all over the country liking it, and me going over and making another maverick kind of film like “Oye Lucky…” and then downscaling my budget to make something even more maverick like “Love Sex aur Dhokha” and it being appreciated and being very good commercial success again. I really think I can’t complain and I have been lucky.

As far as my own satisfaction with my own execution of my film, you know I mean… I am very reluctant to tell you this, but actually I hate them because what happens is, that a film happens over a period of a year, 12 months, 14 months and the moment it finishes you realize that you have grown in that one year. And the moment the film is released you can’t do anything to it. You can’t change it, you can’t edit it, you can’t improve it, it becomes inert. It becomes this piece of inert stone, you can’t think about any change. You have grown in the meantime, you have left the film behind and when I see my own old films, all I see is mistakes. So I therefore generally don’t have a very comfortable relationship with my earlier films because I’m slightly embarrassed to look at them, infact one of the reasons why I make my next film is because I’m slightly embarrassed with my last film. And in the next film I am trying improve and you know kind of set right the mistakes that I thought that I have committed in the last movie. This is truth because on the other day I was watching “Oye Lucky…” on a flight and couldn’t watch it, because I knew every cut that was going to come and I could see the mistakes and I just looked away from it. So I don’t have a very comfortable relation with what I have done.

Q: How involved are you with your films’ technical aspects? You are known to be completely absorbed with your script, music and actors – the emotional content of your films, does the same apply to the technical side as well?

DB: Well, if you don’t have technique, then you don’t have anything, that’s what I believe, that’s my school of filmmaking. I don’t think its enough for a director to feel that emotions and then be at the set and feel that by some divine intervention what he feels is what he will be able to translate to the audience and the audience will feel that… that’s actually bullshit…. films don’t get made that way. Without the knowhow and essentially a technical knowhow of which shot to take and how to take it and which piece of sound and which piece of music to put to which shot to get that emotion that you want the audience to feel. And translate what’s here to what’s there, you need technique so as far I’m concerned that technique and emotion cannot be separated.

The tool by which you translate your emotion to the audience is technique. And the better your technique is the better you translate. All the greatest directors are the greatest technicians. Kubrick could actually tell each and every lens of each and every shot that he ever took in his life and he started shooting still pictures really early, by the time he got to making his 1st film he’d had a good understanding of optics and lenses. Unless and until you understand that, how will you understand where to put the camera and where to take the close-up from to have the most telling effect of the actors’ emotion? So I generally don’t believe that as a director you have to feel something and not have the technique. I think you must have the technique, I’m totally involved in everything that I do… having come up from the world of advertising and promo-making and all that, having edited, having painted my own set, having plotted each and every move of the camera, having choreographed this move or dance or whatever it is and learning from other people, filmmaking is a kind of school for me so I’m still learning. And I think there is no other way to get around it.

Q: There have been so many Hindi film teasers out recently, any that have caught your eye?

DB: Don 2, I saw it on a big screen and the music and the way Shahrukh’s character enters, it was a nice kick, very interesting, and I liked that.

Q: Which was the last Hindi and English film that you saw that impressed you?

DB: Last impressive Hindi film was “Zindagi Milegi Na Dobara”, it’s extremely pretty candy floss and the three characters have to go either below the surface of the water or above the surface of atmosphere or braving the bulls to come up with their own catharsis and the coming of age experiences. But in spite of those rather big thematic set pieces, the film is amazingly heartfelt and in spite of all the glamour and the all plethora of good visuals and good life style and every thing, it was not artificial. You will really get engaged in the crossfire of these three friends, you know Hrithik’s character reminds me of a friend that I still have from my school days, who is a system analyst in New York. I mailed him in the other day, you know… another character reminds, I mean, Farhan’s character reminds of myself, I always used to be the cynical buffoon in my group of friends, you know so its a very interesting look into the nature of friendship, and I thought that bit came out with extreme candor and with out any artificiality and that’s very difficult to achieve in the framework of a very typical Hindi commercial film with stars and extremely glamorous lighting and look and all that because a Hindi commercial film basically what its trying to do, is to sell a kind of Utopian life style to the Indian audience. It’s very difficult to portray a real relationship according to me within the framework of that kind of necessity, and that “Zindagi…” did very very interestingly, very convincingly. While I was watching the film I was totally drawn in to the world of these three friends, that I think is very impressive, I told Zoya that.

My favorite foreign film has been “Gomorrah”, an independent Italian film which is made on the mafia, though they are not called mafia… the underworld of Central Italy and they are called Camorra. Its a very interesting look into how the underworld permeates every strata of society in that region of the world and I don’t understand a word of Italian, I saw the whole film in subtitles but the treatment of the film and the way it brings those people alive, I thought I knew them, I could understand each and every bit of emotional change that those character in that film went through and it is a multi-character multi-strand film and I think the camera work the technique the invisibility of the director, and the camera and the making is par excellence. And I got really inspired and intimidated at the same time because I hope to be able to make films like that but I don’t think that I rate up to that kind of skills yet so that was a very inspiring film.

( The interview was first posted on Suresh Mathew’s blog Word Of Mouth)