Posts Tagged ‘Danny Boyle’

Until very recently I was quite unaware of a concept called creative diffidence. Or let’s say creative insignificance. I always thought talent was immeasurable. Everyone had their own share and it’s really upto you to do what you will with it. And even if you had been passed up your share then passion, intellect, skill or some such thing made up for it. Then one day I was speaking to a copywriter friend who is an ardently devoted worshipper (notice the redundancy, its purposeful) of Frank Zappa. This friend plays the guitar, composes and also has set up this small studio at his place to further his passion for music. That night along with waxing eloquent on his studio he was going on about Zappa too and he caught my breath (yes, note that disjunct too) when he said that listening to Zappa makes him feel totally disheartened. Why? The bewildered me asked. He replied, ‘Because I feel so inconsequential as an artist when I listen to his genius. I mean, here is Zappa who is a genius and here I am, doing what I am doing which doesn’t even compare. So why I am doing it at all?’

The stubbornly optimistic, idealistic girl inside me refused to understand what he said then. But those very words and that drowning sort of sentiment in his voice kept coming back to me as I watched 127 hours.

I knew Boyle is a genius. And so is Rahman. I like Franco and loved the premise. It had got spirit, adventure, optimism, fight, survival written all over it, things that make me go very smack-my-lips even in real life. In all truth I went to watch the story of Aron Ralston, not a Danny Boyle film. What I got threw me off with a 50,000 mph force of a meteorite, probably the same ancestor of Ralston’s boulder…

I went in with the expectation to be ‘inspired’ by the story but kept getting awe-struck at the shot-taking. All throughout, right till the end I kept thinking, ‘How the fuck did he shoot that? How the fuck did he execute that? But before execution comes thinking. Imagination. Every time I am bowled over by genius I always ask myself this bewildered question, ‘How did he even think of this?’ Ralston’s story has courage, human spirit, and all elements that have the 100% potential of the drama kind of romance. But Boyle chooses to tell the story just how it happened. Or must’ve happened (I’m not googling now, you do it.) No yarn about spirit, no yawn about courage, no senti about spirituality, no unnecessary emotion. When I first heard of the story and the digital medium and the approach I told myself, ‘Documentary-ish! No, I don’t think I am gonna watch this.’ Oh, dear meteorite in heaven, am I glad I did?

As soon as Ralston gets stuck, I was like aaah, now he is gonna get heroic. He didn’t. Then I thought now he is gonna get emotional, he did a bit but so not hysterical. Then I thought now, its just time for him to get all super-human. In a sense he did otherwise he couldn’t have done what he did, but that was so loaded with sheer desperation and that very vulnerably human wish to live that it all fit in so beautifully. Actually it was a revelation…of realism. At every step my melodrama/drama-fed/trained mind kept getting pleasantly surprised at being second-guessed and being told, ‘Wait, THIS is how a young man trapped by a boulder in a crack in a canyon without a hope for survival would react.’ And yes I agree, that was indeed how a man would react…Funny how a film can take you closer to real life.

While Boyle was keeping me enthralled with the brilliant character disclosure layer by layer he was also doing his own thing on the sly. Ace-gimmicker (I know that’s no word but you know what I mean and its all GOOD!) his aces in his sleeves kept falling out one after the other like Ralston’s hope. His dreams, his hallucinations and his attempts to rescue himself. To completely cliché myself I have to say those are set-pieces of cinematic brilliance that we don’t see often. With the razor-sharp editing Boyle blends the reality, unreality and surreality of Ralston’s situation such that all one is left with is a breath caught in one’s throat. Like when he blends Ralston’s dreams of being rescued by the rain and the other brilliant illusions he sets up for that catch of breath. How did he even think of those?

Like everyone, I had tons of issues with Slumdog and it wasn’t all to do with the portrayal of India. That’s why when I read, Screenplay – Danny Boyle and Simon Beafuoy, I was like, ‘ahem’. But this time it is sheer brilliance. The character arcs, plot points, drama and suspense are perfectly poised. At the same time retaining the essence of the story and telling it with complete honesty and respect.

I am no encyclopedia on film-making but I’ve never watched an exposition of the film as brilliant as this one. Tight, concise and full of adrenaline. And unlike most films who bother a little too much about story or experience this one was all about character. He did not need to but he did. We know Ralston as a carefree, sanguine young man in love with his expeditions. Canyon is his world he has been here many many times. Watching his exuberance at doing what he loves doing we feel, ‘Yes, this is how a man in love should be like. Happy.’ And it is this sense of security that is shattered but without shattering the man behind it. Was it that Ralston had genes from Krypton? Maybe. But what Boyle shows us is clearly a psychological study of a young human with, well, a very vulnerably human wish to live.

I thought I’d come out all blushed about the spirit of survival and all that but in fact I came out gushing about the sheer artistry with which this has been crafted. There is no mood to evoke, just the starkness of events as they happen. Not documentary re-telling but sharp, precise and edgy narrative. Not soft at the edges but yet blurred with the in-n-out surreality to suck us deep into Aron’s desperately befuddled senses.

It is tempered throughout by Rahman’s music like a perfectly matched couple doing a tango and then ballroom and then ballet. And the use of silences was almost post-coital bliss-like…He doesn’t miss a beat like Franco doesn’t. It’s unimaginable to believe he is acting or he is being filmed…the tenseness, the fatigue, the pain and the desperation, it’s palpable without a false note.

The film ends on a soft note of Aron living a happy and fulfilled life today, still doing what he loves that is adventure sports. But again, it is the part-quirky, part tongue-in-cheek, part-sentimental note it ends on that showed me Boyle for the genius that he is. It could have easily ended dead-pan or dramatically. Or it could suddenly put a sentimental spin given the climax is quite cathartic. But Boyle chooses a lighter tone yet conveys so much more! For all those who have watched it you know what I am talking of. For all those who haven’t, please watch it and experience it for yourself.

To come back to my opening para and heading. The film made me dazzlingly optimistic about human genius and the explosive talent that we as a race are so capable of. You know the kind that totally makes you proud to say you are a homo-sapien if you met an alien from Mars? It made me believe that its so possible! There IS vision, there is talent, there is imagination and there is skill and there are also those rare moments in history when all of these come together in all the men/women working with you and you make something like this. Maybe someday even I will discover this dazzling genius inside me and the product of my creative imagination will be my nirvana because if I made a film like this I’d happily die and go to heaven. But then I look at our geniuses again and think, ‘Here they are, these geniuses and here I am, doing what I am doing which doesn’t even compare. So why I am doing it at all?’

FC Ed – Click here to see the real Aron Ralston narrating his story.

POTD : From AR to AR

Posted: December 10, 2010 by moifightclub in cinema, pics, POTD
Tags: , , ,

A thank you note – from Aron Ralston to A R Rahman.

Danny Boyle’s new film 127 Hours is based on the real life story of moutain climber Aron Raltson, who had to amputate his arm to save his life. And A R Rahman has composed the music for the film. Click here to hear the story of Aron Raltson in his own words.

Pic courtesy – Rahman’s FB page.

The first trailer of Danny Boyle’s new film 127 Hours is out. Wondering why we are posting it here ? Two reasons. Well, if Vishwanathan Anand is not Indian, then Danny Boyle can be half-Indian. And it has music by A R Rahman. Check it out.

Wow! What energy. And the best part is that Boyle goes to other extreme after Slumdog Millionaire. From populist desi masala to a film revolving around just one character. The film is going to have its premiere at the Toronto International Film festival. And here is the official synopsis of the film….

127 HOURS is the true story of mountain climber Aron Ralston’s (James Franco) remarkable adventure to save himself after a fallen boulder crashes on his arm and traps him in an isolated canyon in Utah.

Over the next five days Ralston examines his life and survives the elements to finally discover he has the courage and the wherewithal to extricate himself by any means necessary, scale a 65 foot wall and hike over eight miles before he is finally rescued. Throughout his journey, Ralston recalls friends, lovers (Clemence Poesy), family, and the two hikers (Amber Tamblyn and Kate Mara) he met before his accident. Will they be the last two people he ever had the chance to meet?

A visceral thrilling story that will take an audience on a never before experienced journey and prove what we can do when we choose life.

And if it sounds interesting, do check the two videos where Aron Ralston talks about it….

Yes! F-I-N-A-L-L-Y! Aur mere aankhon me khushi ke aanson aa gaye! Great for him and good for us becuase we cant take any more flooded timelines with his Paani tweets!

It was offcially announced at the ongoing Cannes Film Festival where Shekhar Kapur is on jury. Click here to read the full report by The Hollywood Reporter or scroll down if you are interested in knowing only the key points that matter.  Plus pic and a video attached.

– Shekhar Kapur will direct “Paani” (Water) and the script is by David Farr.

– The budget of the film is $30 million and is produced by Swarovski Entertainment and Adlabs founder-turned-producer Manmohan Shetty.

– Kapur plans to shoot in November with additional backing from Walk Water in Singapore, Dubai and on large purpose-built sets being designed by John Myrhe.

– The project also marks the first full-length feature backed by Swarovski’s start-up entertainment arm.

– A R Rahman is on board as the music director and has already composed two songs for the project.

– Its a love story set in a mega city in a future where precious H2O has all but run out and corporations go to war over its control. The city is divided into two conflicting halves, in which the upper city hoards all the water and drip feeds the slums of the lower city. A girl from the upper tier meets a water rat boy and falls in love against this backdrop.

– “Blue Covenant” author Maude Barlowe is aboard and hopes Kapur’s film will play a part in taking awareness to a whole new level. Danny Boyle will also get producer’s credit.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Because he did a great and grand job there and you had all the voyeuristic pleasure. Because dil pe hath rakhkar you cant do that! That would be a great fake job.

What We Thought

1. Chetan Bhagat is a shitty writer who is like Priyadarshan of desi english writing. His PR guys are always working over time and going for the over kill. There is no reason to like him or his writing.

2. Raj Kumar Hirani was the Rocket Singh of Bollywood. He would not commit any wrong. Jadu ki jhappi and Gandhigiri happened because the man seriously believes in those virtues. The man who can say no to Shah Rukh Khan and his 20 crores, he surely has some ethics.

3. Vidhu Vinod Chopra is insane and passionate about films. The only producer who doesnt mind sharing profits with his cast and crew. But he loves talking only about himself and his films and has even passed his genes to his one time AD Sanjay Leela Bhansali. But he is here for cinema and nothing else.

Now, forget what Chetan said, what RajKumar Hirani replied, how VVC reacted and what percentage of the book is the film debate. Because their story has more twists and turns than the film. If you are still interested, you can click here to know more. Lets see what we got to know.

The Problem

The problem is simple. As Vir Sanghvi has put out in his blog post here. Imagine a producer like Vidhu Vinod Chopra and a filmmaker like RajKumar Hirani wanting to buy the rights of your book. Ask any sane writer, anyone will happily go for it and will settle for whatever decent money is offered.

When a writer is starting his career, most of them dont care much about the contract or the money. Because contracts are difficult to read and they are never in favour of writers anyway. And money doesnt matter much because its your first one. You just want to step in. For Chetan, am guessing it most have been the opposite. With IIT-IIM degree, how much more do you want ? 

When signing a contract in bollywood, try asking for a fair deal and they will show you the door. And nobody wants to lose an opportunity in this cut-throat competition. Argue a bit and they will tell you that they have million other stories to tell, trillion other books in mind and drillion writers waiting to write for free. Go figure! And Chetan was ofcourse more than interested to make an entry into bollywood, as he sent the copy of the book to Hirani first, who found it interesting and thought about adapting it.

The way bollywood works, its mostly based on relationship. You take the spoken words for guarantee. The bigger the other party, the lesser power you have to talk. Writers are asked to start writing, money comes later on depending on the mood of the producer/director and then the contract is signed. And when any writer is desperately looking for work, he/she will go ahead and sign any contract. Dont look at this case, look at the contract.

Let me tell you the story of the lyricist who wrote one of the cult songs of this decade. It was in a cult film directed by a well respected director and produced by a well known production house. Since it was his first song, you would not believe what he was offered. Listen to this carefully, he was offered to take some costumes fom the film which was ordered for the lead character. He didn’t say anything, entry was important. No doubt he is doing good for himself now and can ask for a fat cheque.

Curious Case of Contracts

In bollywood, its just another way of full proof exploitation unless you belong to the league of Kashyap & Tyrewala . Its a document that state the writer agrees with all their terms and conditions. In an industry where there are millions waiting for a door to open, people go for whatever they get. In this scenario, it totally depends on the other party, the one who has all the powers, to decide the deal he/she is going for. And if a big producer like VVC goes for this kind of contract, you can imagine the rest.

Its true that Chetan signed the contract and accepted a rolling credit. But the contract itself is UNFAIR! He accepted it for whatever reasons. But to even offer a credit in the end is like trying to sabotage the credit. VVC could have atleast consulted his in-house film reviewer Anupama Chopra, who contributes for many international newspapers and magazines.

Everywhere in the world, everywhere, when a book is adapted on screen, its always credited in the opening credit roll. It doesnt matter if its a 5 percent, 50 or cent percent. Whats surprising is that Vidhu Vinod Chopra gets a credit for Associate Screenplay in the opening titles. Also, since there is lot of similarity between the book and the film as pointed by those who have read the book, Chetan deserves a story credit as well.

Rahman Cant, Chetan Can ?

Many believe that its Chetan’s mistake because he signed the contract. Well, he signed it but was there any other choice ? I doubt. Those of you who have any bit of info about how the industry works, will understand.

Do you know that all big and small musicians and singers who are currently working in the industry have to pay a fee to the music company every time they perform their own songs ? Because none of them own copyright over their own creations. How weird is that! It happens only in thie country and nowhere else. Blame it on contracts again. Because you have no choice but to sign it or you will be out of work soon. They will tel you  forget intelluctual property, count what you are getting now! And we are talking about big names here. When A R Rahman asked for rights of music of Om Shanti Om, which he has suppose to compose, he was shown the door. He didnt even ask for complete rights but just wanted to share. The makers replaced Rahma with Vishal-Shekhar. Imagine if this can happen to A R Rahman, what can a new writer or even Chetan Bhagat do ? Even if he had asked for it, doubt it would have any kind of difference. You can read more about it here (Rahman episode) and here (artists & contracts).

In many countries including France, where the copyright issue was sorted out first, the contract is not counted for even if the artist has sold his intelluctual rights on the basis of contract. Because the creation of any artist always remains his/her, those are non-transferable rights, by any kind of contracts.

So, fuck the contracts. And its great that VVC and his gang put out the contract in the public domain. Now everyone can read and see for themselves, the way bollywood goes for bonded labour.

Forget Filmmaking, Learn Creditmaking

Learn it from Danny Boyle. He didnt bother even sharing the direction credits. It was not mentioned anywhere that Loveleen Tandon would get the co-director’s credit but Boyle felt that she deserves more. He even called his Chief AD Raj Acharya onstage at the Director’s Guild Award. It doesnt make him any less talented but  just better human being.

Closer home, look at the credits of Kaminey. Cajetan Boy, whose short story was the trigger point for the film gets the first credit in the opening title and a font so big that can be spotted from a distance. Whats more, even a character in the film is names Cajetan.  

What We Think Now

Chetan was never holier-than-thou, no doubt about that, and he still isn’t but all this is happening with those who taught us jadu ki jhappi and gandhigiri! Why fool us any more, Sir ? Wasnt there an easy solution ? When your cinema is all about commerce and credits, spare us the great gyaan of life. This real life story taught us more and hopefully our bollywoodwallahs are watching and learning too!

Yes, after much speculations Variety has confirmed it. And to quote Variety, here is the synopsis of the film.  

After his right forearm got pinned for nearly five days under a boulder during a climb in Utah in May, 2003, Ralston used a dull knife to amputate the limb. He then scaled a 65-foot sheer wall and hiked out before running into a family that gave him water and food. He was finally rescued by helicopter.

And if the synopsis doesnt excite you, check out the video. The amazing story of mountain climber Aron Ralston, in his own words.

Well, thats the rumour doing the rounds.Aamir-Khan

It seems Danny Boyle will present Anurag Kashyap’s next film titled Bombay Velvet (BV). Its a period flick set in the early 1940’s Mumbai. According to this report in Mid-day, Aamir Khan has already heard the narration of the film but still to give his nod to the project.

What we know is that Bombay Velvet is planned as a triology and will be produced by Studio18.

prateik-babbarThe other casting news is about Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s next titled My Friend Pinto. The film will be produced by Bhansali and will star Prateik Babbar. It will be directed by debutant Raghav Dar who has assissted Mani Ratnam and Abbas Tyrewala.

You can read the full report here. And since this report is by Subhash K Jha, who is known to be close to Bhansali, you can trust this newsbit.