Posts Tagged ‘raja sen’

CR1oEBvXIAAZJsi

11 Storytellers. 11 Perspectives. One Crazy night!
11 eclectic filmmakers come together to bring you one exciting cinematic vision.

That’s how the makers of “X” have described their film. Interestingly, it’s one-of-its-kind film because eleven Indian filmmakers with disparate styles of filmmaking have come together for this one.

So what is it about? Here’s the official synopsis

A filmmaker with a mid life crisis meets a mysterious young girl who reminds him of his first girlfriend at first, and subsequently, of every woman in his life.

Who is she? Is she real or imaginary? A stalker or a ghost? His past catching up or a character from the script he is writing?

Do check out its new trailer. The film releases on 20th November, 2015.

Cast & Crew

Cast: Aditi Chengappa, Bidita Bag, Gabriella Schmidt, Huma Qureshi, Neha Mahajan, Parno Mitra, Pia Bajpai, Pooja Ruparel, Radhika Apte, Richa Shukla, Rii Sen, Swara Bhaskar, Anshuman Jha and Rajat Kapoor

Directed by: Abhinav Shiv Tiwari, Anu Menon, Hemant Gaba, Nalan Kumarasamy, Pratim D Gupta, Q, Raja Sen, Rajshree Ojha, Sandeep Mohan, Sudhish Kamath and Suparn Verma

Written by: Abhinav Shiv Tiwari, Anu Menon, Hemant Gaba, Pratim D Gupta, Q, Raja Sen, Rajshree Ojha, Sandeep Mohan, Sudhish Kamath, Suparn Verma and Thiagarajan Kumararaja

Directors of Photography: Anuj Dhawan, Aseem Bajaj, Dinesh Krishnan, Gairik Sarkar, Katyayani Mudholkar, Maeve O Connell, Q, Ravi K Chandran, Sandeep Mohan, Siddhartha Nuni, Sidharth Kay and Viraj Sinh Gohil

Edited by: Sreekar Prasad, Vijay Prabakaran, Vijay Venkataramanan, Biplab Goswami, Gairik Sarkar, Dhritiman Das, Shreyas Beltangdy, Ankit Srivastava, Ninaad Khanolkar

Post Production Management & Grading: Siddharth Meer

Sound Mix: Dipankar Jojo Chaki

Lyrics: Pratyush Prakash & Raja Sen

Music: Sudeep Swaroop

Additional Screenplay: Thiagarajan Kumararaja

Executive Producers: Shiladitya Bora & Sudhish Kamath

Produced by: Manish Mundra/Drishyam Films

 

The first look of the film X is out.

The film will open the South Asian International Film Festival (SAIFF) which runs from Nov 18-23, 2014. Interestingly, it’s 1 film with 11 segments directed by 11 filmmakers. The directorial bunch includes Sudhish Kamath (Good Night | Good Morning), Q (Gandu), Nalan Kumarasamy (Soodhu Kavvum), Suparn Verma (Aatma, Ek Haseena Ek Khiladi), Raja Sen, Sandeep Mohan (Love Wrinkle-Free), Pratim Gupta (Paanch Adhyay), Hemant Gaba (Shuttlecock Boys), Abhinav Shiv Tiwari Sankhnaad (Oass), Anu Menon (London Paris New York), and Rajshree Ojha (Aisha, Chaurahen). And this includes 3 film reviewers. If you don’t like the film, well, you get the drift.

 Check out the first trailer of the film. And scroll down for detailed synopsis, cast & credits.

Official Synopsis :

Is man meant to stick to one woman? Is film meant to conform to one genre?

X is a one-of-its-kind film because eleven Indian filmmakers with disparate styles of filmmaking have come together to make different parts of the same film. In strikingly different styles as a bridge between the various cinemas of India. Mainstream, Arthouse, Popular, Underground, Regional and Global – all at the same time. NOT an anthology but a single story.

The story of K (Rajat Kapoor), a filmmaker with a mid life crisis, who meets a mysterious young girl (Aditi Chengappa) who reminds him of his first girlfriend at first, and subsequently, of every woman in his life. Who is she? Is she real or imaginary? A stalker or a ghost? His past catching up or a character from the script he is writing?

Each episode, directed by a different filmmaker (since every woman/story required a different genre) unravels the role of a different woman in his life. Every woman is different and through the lens of different filmmakers, X hopes to explore the role women play in shaping our lives.

What is it that makes us tick or stop? What is it that keeps us anchored or free falling? What is it that makes us move or let go? Are we products of our past or present? What is that X factor that defines who we are?

X Cast & Crew

Cast: Aditi Chengappa, Bidita Bag, Gabriella Schmidt, Huma Qureshi, Neha Mahajan, Parno Mitra, Pia Bajpai, Pooja Ruparel, Radhika Apte, Richa Shukla, Rii Sen and Swara Bhaskar with Anshuman Jha and Rajat Kapoor

Directed by: Abhinav Shiv Tiwari, Anu Menon, Hemant Gaba, Nalan Kumarasamy, Pratim D Gupta, Q, Raja Sen, Rajshree Ojha, Sandeep Mohan, Sudhish Kamath and Suparn Verma

Written by: Abhinav Shiv Tiwari, Anu Menon, Hemant Gaba, Pratim D Gupta, Q, Raja Sen, Rajshree Ojha, Sandeep Mohan, Sudhish Kamath, Suparn Verma and Thiagarajan Kumararaja

Directors of Photography: Anuj Dhawan, Aseem Bajaj, Dinesh Krishnan, Gairik Sarkar, Katyayani Mudholkar, Maeve O Connell, Q, Ravi K Chandran, Sandeep Mohan, Siddhartha Nuni, Sidharth Kay and Viraj Sinh Gohil

Edited by: Sreekar Prasad, Vijay Prabakaran, Vijay Venkataramanan, Biplab Goswami, Gairik Sarkar, Dhritiman Das, Shreyas Beltangdy, Ankit Srivastava, Ninaad Khanolkar

Post Production Management & Grading: Siddharth Meer

Sound Mix: Gita Gurappa

Lyrics: Pratyush Prakash & Raja Sen

Music: Maitreya

Additional Screenplay: Thiagarajan Kumararaja

Executive Producers: Shiladitya Bora & Sudhish Kamath

Produced by: Manish Mundra

If you were not among those lucky selected few who were invited to attend the Spielberg-Bachchan session, don’t worry, we have got it for you. Click on the video and enjoy.

Steven Spielberg is currently in India. All thanks to Anil Ambani’s Reliance Entertainment. All the prominent filmmakers of the industry were invited to attend the session.

The Hollywood Reporter has also done an extensive report on the session. Click here to read it.

Rediff’s Raja Sen has written a column on “How Steven Spielberg brought Bollywood closer”. Click here to read it.

So, what’s next? Reliance will release Commando. Himmatwala is our next big release. David Dhawan has remade Chashme Baddoor. And Bollywood will keep chasing 100 crore films. Aha, beauty.

We were bit clueless about how to approach this film. Sudhish Kamath is a good friend and that means we will do whatever we can to support the release of the film and make it more visible. But how good or bad the film is – that’s a completely different question where friendship has no space. You can be our best friend and make the worst film that we will not endorse publicly. And you might be the biggest dodooth* in the town and deliver the best film which we will happily endorse. Also, to be honest and fair with your friends’ films is quite a difficult task. And while we were in this dharam-sankat, Shubhodeep offered to review it. We were more than happy to share the burden. This is his second post here. To read the first one, click here.

Read on.

The guy introduces himself as Turia to the girl. I wonder aloud what the name means. Indeed, whether it means anything at all. A couple of minutes later, the girl says: “What kind of a name is Turia?” I grin and prepare myself for their night-long conversation.

Sudhish Kamath’s Good Night Good Morning is that kind of a movie. Shot in gorgeous black and white (curiously under-produced at a couple of spots) it surprises, amuses and frequently offers situations and dialogue that resonate with déjà vu. All this in accompaniment to a jazz soundtrack that sweeps across the movie and infuses it with much life.

The story straddles New Year in New York: a time usually defined by merriment and debauchery. Neither element is present as this story begins. He is a hopeless romantic unable to get over a broken relationship. She is, at least on the exterior, a cynic who doesn’t believe in relationships. They both have troubled pasts. Both of them appear to be in need of comforting company. We’ve met both characters before in reel as well as real life; nevertheless, the two occupy these comfortably stereotypical characters with an unexpectedly invigorating freshness. He drunk dials her number while riding in a car with three sloshed friends. What follows is an engaging and witty conversation that almost anyone will identify with. I’m certain the movie had snatches of conversations that I’ve actually had verbatim in “real” life. Love, losing love, the oft-perceived hopelessness and uselessness of relationships, are sensitively articulated in the movie. It’s easy to lose yourself in a melee of your own ruminations once you start thinking with them.

As the movie progressed, I became acutely aware of the two writers at work, weaving their words on a fabric so tenuous as to not exist at all. Writing near-endless lines of dialogue, interspersed with little or no action, can be a forbidding task. Not only have Shilpa Rathnam and Sudhish Kamath managed to veer away from schmaltz, they’ve done a telling job of keeping the pace of conversation mostly even. I remember reading that the screenplay of Richard Linklater’s Before Sunset (which, along with Before Sunrise, is perhaps the best “conversation movie” of the past two decades and is indeed referenced in GNGM as well) were largely written by the two leads, Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, who drew on their “real” lives for parts of the story. I might be grossly overstating my case but the writing in GNGM seems to suggest that Messrs Kamath and Rathnam share an affectionate camaraderie that has helped them produce a truly well-written script. The chemistry of their writing shines through in the virtual chemistry of the protagonists.

The only real gripe, and a minor one at that, I have with the movie is that it could so easily have been even more relatable and enjoyable had the writers (and director) chosen to do it Hindi (or even Tamil). Indeed, half-way through the movie I was dreaming up a gloriously fun Hindi movie on the lines of GNGM. Even though the dialogues and situation were overwhelmingly familiar, I found it hard to find any sense of belonging to the boroughs of New York. Perhaps because this is a film by an Indian filmmaker I really pined to see a more “accessible” movie as far as the setting was concerned. Of course, choosing what to make and where is a decision that is best left to the filmmaker, but I feel this movie could have stayed indie and yet explored a more Indian setting precisely because it had the potential to be quite a successful entertainer for the masses.

However, back to the movie. Conversation flows freely in GNGM. The lines are incisive and intelligent – sometimes a bit too intelligent – but never over-smart. That is one of the most enduring virtues of the film. Apart from a few moments that fall prey to kitsch, the dialogues sparkle with vim and wit, throwing in memorable lines now and then: “Long-distance success stories are a work of fiction my boy”. “Stories are meant to be simple.” When the dialogues become laborious, the action cleverly changes to the antics of Turia’s three inebriated companions in the car. It’s curious however that the best lines seem to have been reserved (by design or chance) for Seema Rehmani who occupies, with glorious vitality, a character that has been done to death.

Ms Rehmani does a star turn, outshining her male counterpart and keeps us interested in the movie till the end. Manu Narayan is reliably consistent, and even remarkably good at places, but I wish the script had more for hm. Raja Sen and gang exhibit much promise initially but are eventually let down by the script. They’re efficient in the beginning – with Mr Sen turning in a few sharp lines accompanied by epic expressions magnified by his magnificent tache – but seem to dwindle in importance and utility as the story progresses. Ultimately, their tomfoolery becomes mildly irritating in a movie that stands out due to its consistently winsome glow.

GNGM is not a movie that will make you froth at the mouth with amazement or feel giddy with euphoria. Indeed, that is perhaps its most becoming virtue. It neither wallows in conceit nor lays claim to greatness. Instead, like the rising warmth of a hot cup of coffee, its fingertips will lovingly graze your skin like that of a soulmate and that sensation will linger many hours after you’ve watched it. And like the tender glow of a winter sun descending into the fog, it will lure you into cosying up to it again on a rainy day.

I’m eagerly waiting for that day.

Shubhodeep Pal

The film has been released by PVR Cinemas and is currently showing in Mumbai, Delhi, Gurgaon, Ahmedabad, Bangalore and Chennai.

(PS – If you still haven’t read Sudhish’s now famous rant (The Truth About Films : Ungrateful. F***ing. Bitches), click here.

(PS2 – Karan Johar reviewed the film for Rediff as Raja Sen makes his on screen debut in this one. Click here)

(*doodoth = dodo + ch**th the word has been devised for that rare tribe)

Its that time of the year again. The only time when we love making, reading and sharing lists. We decided to compile all the filmy lists and compare them. So here it is – all the year-ender lists . And any critic who puts I Hate Luv Storys and Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey in his/her list of  Top 10 films of the year, needs to stop reviewing films. Now.

Anupama Chopra (NDTV)

Top 5 – 1. Udaan 2. LSD  3. Peepli Live  4. Ishqiya  5. Robot

For the video, click here

Rajeev Masand ( CNN IBN)

Hits – 1. Udaan 2. LSD 3. Ishqiya 4. Peepli Live 5. Phans Gaye Re Obama & Do Dooni Chaar

Pits – 1. Anjaana Anjaani 2. No Problem  3. Action Replayy 4. Teen Patti 5. Raavan

For the video click here.

And for The Five Lessons We Learnt At The Movies this year – click here .

Raja Sen (Rediff)

Best Actors –  1. Ranver Singh 2. Rishi Kapoor 3. Anshuman Jha 4. Naseeruddin Shah 5. Nawazuddin Siddiqui 6. Satish Kaushik 7. Arshad Warsi 8. Ronit Roy 9. Pradhuman Singh 10. Shah Rukh Khan

For why and how, click here.

Best Actresses – 1. Vidya Balan 2. Neetu Singh 3. Anushka Sharma 4. Shruti 5. Katrina Kaif 6. Vishaka Singh 7. Amrita Puri 8. Aditi Vasudev

Click here for details.

Best Trailers – 1. Dabangg  2. Yamla Pagla Deewana  3. Road, Movie   4. Ishqiya  5. Yeh Saali Zindagi  6. Love Sex Aur Dhokha   7. Once Upon A Time In Mumbai   8. Tere Bin Laden  9. Peepli Live 10. Udaan.

To know why and how, click here

Film Soundtracks – 1. Ishqiya 2.  No One Killed Jessica 3. Love Sex Aur Dhokha 4. Aisha  5. Udaan For details, click here .

Sukanya Varma ( Rediff)

Best Films ( In no particular order) – Peepli Live. Ishqiya. Robot.  LSD .  Tere Bin Laden.  Pas Gaye Re Obama.  Udaan. Do Dooni Char. Band Baaja Baarat. Dabangg

For more, click here

Mayank Shekhar (Hindustan Times)

Golden Trophies – 1. Peepli Live 2. Do Dooni Chaar 3. Love Sex Aur Dhokha 4. Ishqiya 5. Udaan 6. Rajneeti 7. Tere Bin Laden / Phas Gaye Re Obama / Well Done Abba 8. Dabangg / Guzaarish / My Name Is Khan 9. Kartik Calling Kartik 10. Striker / Antardwand

To read in detail, click here

Best Of The Worst – 1. It’s A Wonderful Afterlife 2. Krantiveer 3. Knock Out 4. Mumbai To India 332 5. Teen Patti 6. Accident On Hill Road 7. Sadiyaan 8. Bum Bum Bole 9. Hiss 10. Dunno Y… Na Jaane Kyon. In details Click here

Namrata Joshi (Outlook) : And the one that touched the heart: Ab bhool gaye hain joote kahan utaare the…

For Liberalisation’s Children, click here and for a very personal recap, click here.

Shubhra Gupta (Indian Express) : Can you tell a story, Mr Fink? Can you make us laugh? Can you make us cry?” Onwards, to 2011.

Click here

Harneet Singh (Indian Express)Y: YRF – The return of the banner with the sleeper hit Band Baajaa Baaraat.

For  A to Z of Bollywood 2010.  Click here

Nikhil Taneja ( MTVIndia.com): WTF English of the Year – Shahid Kapoor’s attempts at tweeting

For more WTF Moments of The Year ( The Bad, The Ugly and The Good in 2 parts), click here and here.

And Best Reviewed film of the year ? Well, thats easy. Udaan. To see all the four stars rating, click here

As promised, ButtUpSajid is back. With 2nd part of his post on Aamir, Dhobi Ghat and more. Click here to read the first one.

It all started with a column. Yes.

Hello, again folks. So, is Aamir a star only because we’re too dumb? Does he ‘know his audience so well that he confidently feeds them tripe’?

Well, I’ll say he clearly does know his audience pretty darn well. As for feeding them ‘tripe’, perhaps that would be going overboard. Aamir’s films (and I’m obviously not talking Fanaa, Ghajini or his cult-classic Mela here) are anything but tripe. Yet, they’re hardly works of great artistic merit or as daringly different as they’re widely propped up to be, right?

Is he a star because we’re too dumb? I wouldn’t say yes to that, because that would be condescending and not completely true. However, part of the appeal of Aamir’s films is that they make us feel intelligent. They’re clearly way above the average tripe Bollywood serves us, and certainly don’t ask us to ‘leave our brains at home’ like a lot of films do. But they don’t particularly require us to use our brains either. Did we really have to exercise our intellectual capabilities watching Taare Zameen Par, however un/limited they might be?

So, while the content is meaningful and not run-of-the-mill, it’s hardly challenging. Or penetrative. It’s astute entertainment, not quite junk, like the low-fat snacks and cola Mr. Khan so convincingly hawks, but easily digestible and spoon-fed, all the same. In the Great Taran Adarsh Book of Cinema, it fulfills all the three Es: Entertainment, Education and (sic) Enlightenment. But it doesn’t challenge us. And we, the frogs in a well, are happy to believe we’ve just watched something mighty smart and sophisticated. Some find it ‘phenomenal’ and some even feel ‘shell-shocked, challenged and motivated’! Jai Ho!

Which is why Dhobi Ghat– a film that is so far removed from anything Aamir has acted in so far- becomes an important and interesting film to look out for. When Aamir talks about how it’s ‘fine cinema’ and ‘not for everyone’, he’s not just saying it’s out of his audience’s comfort-zone- he is also pointing out that it is way out of his own league and territory.

In the world of Dhobi Ghat, it’s Aamir who’s the real newcomer- a highly capable actor, but one who comes with the layers and baggage of years of ‘popular’ cinema, one who’s used to flashing his schoolboy charm and playing to the gallery when required. Here, he’s in a naked, alien space, without the comfort of the props he’s usually equipped with. It’s natural, the nervousness- right? Far from being condescending, as Raja dramatically puts it, I’d say he’s being very honest… and refreshingly human.

I’ve often been accused to being anti-Aamir. It couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s just that I find the entire ‘perfectionist’ persona and the excess hoopla around his performances/films a little overbearing. But nothing takes away from the fact that he is one of our best mainstream actors. And there’s all the more reason to applaud Aamir, now that he’s actually living up the hype of being ‘different’, at least in his choices as a producer: Peepli Live, Dhobi Ghat and Delhi Belly.

At a time even UTV doesn’t want the tag of making ‘meaningful’ films, Aamir is now admirably backing films that are a marketing nightmare without majorly compromising on their spirit. He managed pretty well with Peepli Live (though Anusha Rizvi’s film, with its earthy, ribald humor had some popular appeal despite its style) and turned a small film big. But Dhobi Ghat and Delhi Belly will be harder to sell, with their moody, urban landscapes and English dialogue. (I’m making an assumption about Delhi Belly, but it reportedly being a dark, urban sex-comedy majorly in English, and the fact that its been completed for a while now gives me a feeling that they’re still figuring what to do with it.) I sure hope he succeeds; these are the kind of films that might help open a lot of new doors, especially for Indian films in English.

Ah, back to the column:

Calling the Indian audience short of sensitivity or emotion is a stretch in any book. We’ve always been suckers for high drama, even in comic scenes. You know, the kind of films where vacuum cleaners birth infants just so caricatured fathers can have changes of heart? Yeah, those wouldn’t work if the audience didn’t react with its heart and forgive all the farce.

Yes, Raja- high drama, the key word here is high, not drama that is subtle, that doesn’t scream its lungs out. Hell, even Rocket Singh, a film that was all heart and soul, a film I know you loved too- failed last year because apart from the poor marketing, it lacked high drama. It was very much mainstream entertainment with generous doses of humor and heart-tugging moments, but its relaxed, non-gimmicky tone wasn’t very appreciated, was it? I’ve even read reviews that described it as an office ‘documentary’. Yes.

And since when did you need to be cine-literate to appreciate a good film? A masterpiece is a masterpiece is a masterpiece, and hits you right between the eyes — and shoves you in the heart with the force of a roundhouse right — no matter what you know about the craft of cinema. A good film is a visceral experience, and you do not need to be aware of technique or predecessors to be overwhelmed by it. Sure, film theorists and critics and their mothers all have different ways of consuming a film, but a solid film — which could be personally smashing for any single one of us — doesn’t need cinematic education to show off its chops. At all.

Oh, come *yaw*on. Are you really that naïve? A masterpiece is a masterpiece is a masterpiece, eh? So whatever happened to Eklavya, which you hailed as one? My God, there’s so much utopian idealism in this one paragraph that it would put Ashutosh Gowariker to shame. One man’s visceral experience can be the other person’s headache, even unintentional laugh riot. Black, anyone? Hell, I’m sure I can find folks who found Dabangg a visceral experience. Gosh.

Then again, as a friend suggests, perhaps this too is strategy on the part of the masterful marketing maestro. Berate the masses, and dare them to come see a film in defiance of the claim that they won’t get it.

Your friend, I’m sorry- and there’s no polite way of putting this- sounds stunningly daft. Yes, film-marketing is done using wildly experimental reverse-psychology methods. Right.

But what bugged me most of all in the column is this bit:

The sheer level of condescension in that quote is alarming. As a member of your audience, Mr Khan, that quote just hurts. It is thoughtless, callous, dismissive and most uncalled for.

Really, Raja- since when did you, of all movie buffs and critics, become such a darling of the masses? You, who has spawned twenty-odd ‘I Hate Raja Sen’ clubs? You, who makes it a point to regularly diss moronic money-spinners (The likes of Rajneeti and my very own bête-noire Sajid Khan’s potty films) and casually throws in American pop-culture references in your reviews (and kindly also provides corresponding Wikipedia links to explain them)? Damn, I bet half the audience you are so bravely standing up for doesn’t even understand the language in your reviews.

Aren’t you the guy who ‘groaned’ a few weeks back, when audiences danced in the aisles watching Dabangg? And so- as someone correctly asked at an online movie forum- you have every right to be condescending to an audience, and Aamir doesn’t? At least Dabanng wasn’t pretentious. It delivered what it promised. This on the other hand is, and Raja, no disrespect, but um, this is total shit. You’ve beaten your friend @MallikaLA’s push-up bras and bustiers, when it comes to making a mountain out of a molehill.

I was tempted to ask: Did you write this column only because you’re dumb? I don’t believe so, because despite appearances, I’m not the founder member of one of those silly hate clubs. Despite your occasional pompousness and self-indulgent writing, (And facepalmy moments like when you award Ghajini’s music 5 star and hail Kisna as ‘a return to form by a director who knows exactly what he’s doing’ for and… well, let it be) the reason some of us liked your writing is that you were bold, fun, and irreverent. You weren’t a sell-out. Your reviews came across as passionate and with solid and convincing arguments- even when we disagreed with you wholeheartedly. Come on man, we are all condescending and elitist at some level, and you know it. Let’s at least not pretend otherwise and be apologetic about it.

#KThanxBai. Or better still- Good Night, and Good Morning, Mr. Sen.

Aamir Ko Darr Kyon Lagta Hai ?

Posted: November 20, 2010 by moifightclub in bollywood, cinema, Special
Tags: , , ,

And so Raja Sen, the movie critic with Rediff, wrote this column for Mumbai Mirror last wednesday. Some of us liked it, thought it made sense, but ButtUpSajid (the self-proclaimed alter-ego of the biggest fartmaker of our time Sajid Khan) felt otherwise and since we believe in giving space to every fart that matters, here is ButtUpSajid’s take on Raja Sen’s column, his debut post. The piece is in two pfarts, smell the first one, he is busy cooking the second one.

Mujhe yeh dar lagta hai ki Dhobi Ghat shaayad audiences ko — matlab jo masses hai — unko pasand nahin aayegi. Kyonki yeh bahut hi fine film hai. Matlab jin logon ko cinema ki samajh hai, jo log sensitive hai, dil se jo jazbaati log hain, unke liye ye film hai.

“I fear that maybe audiences — the masses — won’t like Dhobi Ghat. Because it’s a very fine film. I mean people who have knowledge of cinema, who are sensitive, who think from the heart and are emotional, this film is for them.”

An innocuous quote, which generally wouldn’t make much difference to anyone. But this statement comes from Aamir Khan, so I guess it must be fussed over, eh? Clearly, our friend Raja Sen thought so, in his column in this week’s Mumbai Mirror.

A thoroughly silly piece focusing more on indulgent wordplay than logic, the column seriously pissed me off. I guess it was meant to elicit some reaction, considering how it played to the gallery, but what was appalling was not its hare-brained logic, but how much it stank of pure hypocrisy at every level. More on that later.

Let’s look at what Aamir actually said first. Granted, it wasn’t say, the smartest choice of words. He struggled to put across what he wanted to say, especially in Hindi: that Dhobi Ghat is not remotely mainstream stuff, its not even the kind of stuff we generally tag as ‘offbeat’ cinema: which encompasses everything from Taare Zameen Par to A Wednesday to (gulp) even a My Name Is Khan sometimes- all pretty mainstream for my money. Its format and treatment- from what one hears of it, and from what one sees in the lovely, just-released trailer- is clearly not mainstream ‘entertainment’- at least not in the Bollywood sense. By her own admission, Kiran Rao’s style is more attuned to art-house world cinema, and that shows in the first look of the film- a low-key feel, grainy, intimate visuals, a quaint, tender approach- and I’m glad to note: a distinct (woman’s) touch.

It’s a low-budget film that would normally have been finding a hard time creating buzz back home, getting a little publicity through fest-coverage perhaps. What’s made all the difference is one man: Aamir Khan, who hasn’t just produced Dhobi Ghat, but also features in it as a major character. The problem is rare: that of too much buzz, more than the makers actually want. It’s a legitimate concern, and that explains the nervousness on Aamir’s part, considering his matinee-idol status. For the first time, the widely acknowledged marketing whiz has to actually under-sell a film. Simply because- as I heard him say a few months back- ‘It’s not (a film) for everyone’.

Brand Aamir is a fascinating thing, an image cultivated with smart, calculated risk-taking, admirable foresight and a commendable consistency in churning out films with a certain amount of substance to them. Aamir has- in most of his films- maintained a certain standard of quality throughout his body of work, especially post the epoch-making Lagaan, which he courageously backed and produced, creating a watershed moment in Bollywood cinema. In the process, he also developed this image of an ‘intellectual’, thinking actor, or as they call him- the ‘perfectionist’. This could be attributed to his playing ‘hard-to-get’ with his audience by being super-selective with his work and also perhaps through his involvement with a cinema that has some social relevance- or at least seems to. (While it may seem otherwise, we really are an audience that loves being preached to.)

To be honest, of the Khans- Aamir doesn’t come close to say, a Shah Rukh or Salman when it comes to charisma or ‘star quality’- and Shah Rukh comes across as way more articulate and well read- I can’t imagine him, for example- making a statement as clumsy as the one quoted above. But where Aamir has stolen a march over them is in his superb choice of films. None of his films have been particularly risky. (Except, perhaps Lagaan, considering the time when it released- though then again- wasn’t it, after all- a formulaic, classic feel-good Hindi film?)

But Aamir’s had the smarts to recognize potential in films like Rang De Basanti and Taare Zameen Par– films that our other top heroes would consider dicey- and back them with gusto. At the same time, he’s also shrewdly thrown in a Fanaa and Ghajini in the mix. Even as a producer, he never jumped on the ‘big-movie’ bandwagon after Lagaan and launched say, a couple of monster-budgeted biggies featuring himself. Contrast this with Shah Rukh Khan, who, for all his shrewdness couldn’t resist starring in even a Billu, a small film turned into a mangled mess of set-pieces and item-songs.

Aamir Khan stands for consistency, because his steady body of work defines his stardom more than his persona. The average viewer walks into an Aamir Khan film (produced by/ starring him), knowing for sure that he/she’ll get ‘sensible’, quality entertainment. That belief is so strong that a shamelessly crowd-pleasing 3 Idiots or even a crude potboiler like Ghajini – is often passed off by a large number of people as serious, ‘cerebral’ cinema. It’s the Aamir stamp at work. He has miraculously managed to condition his audience to take his films seriously. We’ll still buy a forty-plus actor as a college student without much fuss-… because it’s Aamir. And there’s nothing that Ghajini-kant do, right?

(I’ll get back to where I started- the column. And Dhobi Ghat. To be continued.)

————————————————————————————————————————————————

Well, this part was more about Brand Aamir and his cinema, ButtUpSajid has promised that the next one will be on Raja’s column. ButtUpSajid ke fart ki kasam!