Posts Tagged ‘Peddlers’

Abhishek Kapoor’s new film Kai Po Che has released today. The reviews so far have been unanimously positive. But does it mean anything beyond that – The Big picture? Over to filmmaker Hansal Mehta who connects the dots.

Kai Po che

4 reasons for not watching the increasing number of films released every week –

  1. I am perennially broke
  2. I am lazy
  3. I need to work
  4. My wife is not in the mood
  5. I am hoping I get invited for a preview/premier.

The past few weeks have been different though. The spate of films released and due for release stared at me in the face because

  1. They featured friends in lead roles
  2. They were directed by friends
  3. They were produced by friends
  4. I was looking forward to the films
  5. I felt compelled to watch them

I am going to limit my post to the Hindi films I saw because in the case of foreign films:

  1. I feel inadequate commenting about commenting on them
  2. I did not feel like watching many of them
  3. I am waiting for uncensored DVDs of some of them
  4. I don’t get invited for previews of these films

In the past few years, most significantly 2012, I am seeing a pattern in films that are successful (relatively) and appreciated. A majority of them stand out for their choice of actors, their choice of subject, their non-formulaic narratives and a host of other similarly intellectually stimulating reasons.  One factor that has begun to increasingly stand out in these films is sheer audacity. The more I think about what drew me to watch the films, to like some of them, to dislike some of them and to find some of them memorable was the lack of apologetic film-making that has mostly led our films towards pathetic levels of mediocrity.

I’ve noticed that many film-makers no longer feel pressured to make the same formulaic nonsense with the same boring people over and over again. Many of the older directors also seem to realize the futility of formula and are trying hard to reinvent. Those who aren’t will soon be history.

Ever since I made Shahid, I’ve been asked over and over again about how the trend of biopics is on the increase. The media unfortunately reads trends very poorly and looks for convenient analysis. Trade pundits who have in the past thrived upon silly generalization are very shallow in their understanding of artistic/creative decisions taken by film-makers or in analyzing the success of films that don’t fall into their formulaic comfort zones. The truth is that book adaptations, biopics and stories inspired by true events are an indicator and not trends in themselves. We now have film-makers looking for newer stories to tell. We have film-makers looking for new ways to tell stories. We have film-makers who are fearless. We have film-makers who are not afraid of audacity.

Whether it is Talaash, Gangs of Wasseypur, Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu, Vicky Donor, Special 26 or Kai Po Che, I notice a fearless streak in the directors and the team that has made these films possible. Even potboilers like Dabangg, or before that Wanted, or the recently released ABCD have displayed a certain audacious vision. Rockstar had the audacity to be deeply philosophical and sometimes mendering while pretending to have commercial trappings. A certain Anurag Kashyap whose films either got banned or termed as jinxed is now celebrated because of his delightfully indulgent Gangs of Wasseypur or his subversive take on Devdas. Sujoy Ghosh redeemed himself with the surprising Kahaani. Tigmanshu Dhulia’s Pan Singh Tomar was commercially successful. English Vinglish marked the successful return of a Bollywood diva who churned out some of the most cringe-worthy films of my growing up years. The list could be exhaustive and I’m sure it will soon dominate successful box-office lists. On the other hand there has been a steady increase in films (Ship of Theseus, Miss Lovely, Peddlers etc.) that have found appreciative audiences in international film festivals and critics. These films have shown a fierce independence in their making while giving alternate Indian cinema a new lease of life and an unpretentious, fresh form of expression. They have been audacious in their abandonment of what we perceived as ‘art-house’ or ‘parallel’ cinema in India. They were unabashed in their treatment, style, narratives and expression. These and many other films that I have viewed over the past year and this year have challenged audiences, provoked critics and subverted formulaic convention with amazing audacity. Even more encouraging is the fact that producers, actors (including some stars) and trade have begun to embrace the audacious breed, backing them to the hilt.

So what is the point I’m trying to make? It’s simple. Audacity is in. Safe is not safe anymore. Take the second installment of Dabangg. It disappointed because it succumbed to ‘ingredientization’ and failed to live up to the fearless audacity of the first part. Films like ‘Zila Ghaziabad’  or ‘Jayantabhai Ki Love Story’ are passé. They will continue to get made. They will continue to remind us of everything that is unimaginative and about how we have allowed ourselves to be taken for granted all these years.

So here is my two bit gyaan. Whether you aim for the mainstream or the alternate space, make it audacious. Just making it big will soon cease to work – neither for the makers or the audience. Yes, we will have regular installments of successful franchises. We will have ridiculous remakes. We will have mindless, story-less films – but my guess is that all of them will work for their audacity and not for their adherence to convention.

Audacious will soon be safe. Safe is already dangerous. It could soon be suicidal.

Toronto International Film Festival’s focus in this year’s ‘City To City’ program is Mumbai and its showing Manjeet Singh’s Mumbai Cha Raja (The King of Mumbai), Anand Gandhi’s Ship of Theseus, Mohit Takalkar’s The Bright Day, Hansal Mehta’s Shahid along with Anurag Kashyap’s two-parter Gangs of Wasseypur, Ashim Ahluwalia’s Miss Lovely, Habib Faisal’s Ishaqzaade, Dibakar Banerjee’s Shanghai and Vasan Bala’s Peddlers.

TIFF has made the presser video online where are all the directors were present and they talk about various subjects – festival, female directors, reviews, bollywood vs indies, changing film making scenario,

16:50 onward – On reviews. Waah, Vasan!

19:80 onward – Ha! Good try, Mr Habib Faisal to defend the regressive Ishaqzaade.

39:15 – Balaji took bits and pieces from Miss Lovely and made The Dirty Picture – Ashim Ahluwalia.

40:15 – If you send a script like this, i will file a criminal complaint with the police.

The BFI London Film Festival has unveiled its complete line-up for 2012. And there are quite a few Indian films in the list.

– The only film with desi connect which is in official competition section is Deepa Mehta’s Midnight’s Children. Click here for more details.

– After its TIFF premiere, Anand Gandhi’s Ship Of Theseus is going to compete for “The Sutherland Award” in The First Feature competition category. To know more about the film click here and here.

– Mira Nair’s The Reluctant Fundamentalis had its world premiere at the Venice Festival. Now it will have its Gala in the “Dare” segment at LFF. More details about the film here.

– After Cannes and Toronto, Peddlers continues its fest run with screening in “Dare” segment of the fest. Click here and here for more details.

– Rani Mukherjee and Prithviraj starrer Aiyya will have its world premiere at the fest. This is Sachin Kundalkar first Hindi feature film.

– Prakash Jha’s Chakravyush will have a Gala in the Thrill segment and Satyajit Ray’s Mahanagar will have a screening in “Treasures” seection.

– The official website of the festival also lists two more films in Indian segment – Save Your Legs and Sri Lankan production With you, Without You.

– To know more about the film festival, films and the screening schedule, click here.

Toronto International Film festival (TIFF) has announced 10 Indian films in its “City to City” segment where the focus this year is Mumbai.

Out of the selected ten films, four film will have its world premiere at TIFF. These four are Manjeet Singh’s Mumbai Cha Raja (The King of Mumbai), Anand Gandhi’s Ship of Theseus, Mohit Takalkar’s The Bright Day and Hansal Mehta’s Shahid. The other six includes Anurag Kashyap’s two-parter Gangs of Wasseypur, Ashim Ahluwalia’s Miss Lovely, Habib Faisal’s Ishaqzaade, Dibakar Banerjee’s Shanghai and Vasan Bala’s Peddlers.

Since we have been covering Gangs Of Wasseypur, Miss Lovely, Peddlers, Ishaqzaade and Sanghai extensively, we are going to put out the info about the rest of the films now.

—> Shahid. Director : Hansal Mehta

Shahid is the remarkable true story of slain human rights activist and lawyer Shahid Azmi, who was killed in 2010 by unidentified assailants in his office. From attempting to become a terrorist, to being wrongly imprisoned under a draconian anti-terrorism law, to becoming a champion of human rights (particularly of the Muslim minorities in India), Shahid traces the inspiring personal journey of a boy who became an unlikely messiah for human rights, while following the rise of communal violence in India. This story of an impoverished Muslim struggling to come to terms with injustice and inequality, whilerising above his circumstances is an inspiring testament to the human spirit. Starring Raj Kumar, Prabhleen Sandhu and Baljinder Kaur.

—> Mumbai’s King (Mumbai Cha Raja). Director : Manjeet Singh


Rahul roams the streets with his balloon-seller friend Arbaaz. These two kids escape the grim realities of their lives by gambling, roasting stolen potatoes, stealing an auto rickshaw for a joyride, and chasing girls. But soon Rahul has to “take care” of his violent father, who has forced him to live on streets. Starring Rahul Bairagi, Arbaaz Khan and Tejas Parvatkar.

—> Ship of Theseus. Director : Anand Gandhi

For Poster, Stills and Official synopsis of the film, click here.

—> The Bright Day. Director : Mohit Takalkar

Yearning for meaning in his life, a coddled young man abandons his girlfriend and family to set out on a spiritual quest across India. Shot with sophisticated DSLR cameras and reflecting a new passion for personal filmmaking, The Bright Day finds images to chart a soul’s progress.

Ashim Ahluwali’s Miss Lovely and Anurag Kashyap’s two-parter Gangs of Wasseypur premiered at Cannes Un Certain Regard and Directors Fortnight section respectively.

This post is to track all the buzz from the Cannes – reviews, interviews, videos and more. For the Cannes buzz of Vasan Bala’s Peddlers, click here.

Starting with some generic news links.

– Edouard Waintrop, Artistic Director of the Directors’ Fortnight, talks about the new wave of Indian cinema. Click here.

– VIDEO : Tom Brooks’ Cannes edition of Talking Movies starts with Indian films. Click here.

MISS LOVELY

– Review published in the Screen International is here.

– The Hollywood Reporter’s review is here, which describes it as Bollywood meets Boogie Nights in stylized retro-sleazy thriller.

– Variety’s review is here. You need account to read it. But if you are too curious, go close to the screen, squint your eyes and you will be able to read through the black screen.

– A small review in Sight and Sound is here which says the film is mesmerising for the first hour or so, during which, the echoes of Boogie Nights aside, I found myself thinking of Wong Kar-Wai, Scorsese, Matteo Garrone’s Gomorrah and even Irma Vep. Unfortunately the film then palls somewhat – director Ashim Ahluwalia can’t hold onto a story, or develop characters. But while it’s good it’s very good indeed, and had it been that touch better (and shorter) it could have been a game-changer for Indian cinema.

– A french review is here which is not too complimentary. Use Google Translate (GT).

– Ahluwalia makes ‘Lovely’ impact, says Saibal Chatterjee in The Sunday Indian. Click here.

– New York Times piece on the film is here.

– Ashim’s interview in Another mag is here.

– Ad Vitam has picked up the French rights of the film. News link is here.

– VIDEO : Anupama Chopra’s interview of Ashim Ahluwalia is here.

GANGS OF WASSEYPUR

– Review in Screen International is here which says, this Tarantino-tinged Bihari take on The Godfather has what it takes to cross over from the Indian domestic and Diaspora markets to reach out to action-loving, gore-tolerant theatrical and auxiliary genre audiences worldwide.

– The Hollywood Reporter review is here which calls it a dizzying explosion of an Indian gangster film, whose epic structure and colorful, immoral killers capture the imagination for over five hours..

– Review on desi site DearCinema is here.

– In Italian. click here. Use Google Translate (GT).

– Long piece in french edition of Huffington Post is here. Use GT.

– Coverage on BBC website.

– Saibal Chatterjee’s report in The Sunday Indian is here.

– VIDEO : Anupama Chopra’s interview with Kashyap and Bala is here.

– Click on the play button to watch the official video of the screening

If we have missed any links, do post it in the comments section. We will keep on updating the post with new links.

Vasan Bala’s debut feature Peddlers premiered at the ongoing Cannes Film Festival in the International Critics’ Week section. This post is to track all the buzz from the Cannes – pics, videos, interviews, reviews and more.

PICS

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Latest REVIEWS

– An early review in French is here. Rated it 3.5/5 and to sum it up – I think this is a young director who can go very far if he continues this way.  (Thanks to Google Translate)

– Bikas Mishra of DearCinema.com has reviewed the film here. Bikas is also on the Critics Week jury this year. To quote the last line few lines, Sidharth Diwan’s restless camera adds amply in capturing the life in the megapolis. Prerna Saigal’s editing is worthy of a special mention.

Vasan Bala’s Peddlers marks a very promising debut. I would be looking forward to his next.

– Another French review is here. To quote from the review, Bombay shines here in all its ambiguous charms , angles sometimes hard, dry, and always flattering that one has rarely seen. ( Again, via Google Translate).

– The Hollywood Reporter’s review is here.

– Film critic Christain Jungen tweeted his rating 3.5 stars. And calls it an atmospheric gangster movie from Mumbai, half Hollywood halfway Bollywood.

– Saibal Chatterjee reviews the film for The Sunday Indian. Click here. To quote from the review, Vasan Bala is clearly a talent to watch. The way he handles the characters, paces the narrative, uses music and creates the dark and disturbing backdrop against which the film plays out reflect the kind of grasp that augurs well.

The deft touches that he brings to the table lift Peddlers well above the level of run-of-the-mill gangster flicks. It isn’t, to begin with, a gangster flick at all.

– Another French review is here. This one is mixed.

UPDATE – 23/05/2012

– New French review which rated it 15/20 and to quote, That said, the director shows a sense of rhythm and creativity in the staging that might interest the Jury of the Camera d’Or. Peddlers is an Indian film that has nothing in Bollywood and is the work of a director in search of gallons, but already talented.

– To quote another review, Peddlers is located in-between a relative novelty in Indian cinema, somewhere between the sweet and colorful to a Bollywood film and the roughness of a gangster movie. Efficiency is “quasi American,” but the exceptional photography and the use of music we bring in a definitely Indian.

Latest NEWS/FEATURES

– The Hollywood Reporter interview is here – on How ‘Peddlers’ Reflects the Indie Spirit (Q&A).

– In Variety’s Spotlight on India cinema. Click here.

– VIDEO – Excerpt from Rajeev Masand’s interview for CNN IBN. Click here.

– Another interview is here.

– Another report in Hollywood Reporter – Indian cinema moves beyond bollywood.

We will keep updating this post as more reviews and features come out.

Click the play button to see the video of the screening and presentation.

Pics Courtesy – Siddarth Diwan (Film’s DoP), TheLostFilmCritic, Rajeev Masand

Finally, the official trailer of Vasan Bala‘s debut feature Peddlers is out. The film is all set to premiere at Cannes International Critics’ Week.

So what works and what doesn’t? Since he is a good friend, i might be biased. But let me try. The visuals look gorgeous, there is a sudden tension in the mood but it all looks calm on the surface. Great! And the ‘ud jayega‘ raw vocals adds to the creepiness. But the text seems to be too vague. Actually it’s the same as that cryptic synopsis of the film. Why? Who does that? Also, font is dull and boring. And it comes on the visuals. Found it too be distracting.

What do you guys think? Do leave your comments.

To quote the official synopsis,

Peddlers – A ghost town, Mumbai, inhabited by millions. A lady on a mission, a man living a lie, an aimless drifter. They collide. Some collisions are of consequence, some not, either ways the city moves on.

And here’s the cast and credit list..

Director : Vasan Bala
Screenplay : Vasan Bala
Cinematography : Siddharth Diwan
Editing : Prerna Saigal
Sound : Anthony B.J. Ruban
Music : Karan Kulkarni

Cast: Gulshan Devaiah, Siddharth Mennon, Kriti Malhotra, Nimrat Kaur, Murari Kumar, Sagai Raj, Megh Pant, Nishikant Kamat, Neeraj Ghaywan and Anubhuti Kashyap.