Posts Tagged ‘RIP’

RIP Robin Williams – Genie, you’re free

Posted: August 13, 2014 by moifightclub in cinema, Hollywood, RIP
Tags: , ,

RW

I was around 8 years old when I saw my parents involved in a silly argument.
It was past my bedtime, and much like a sappy movie scene, I walked to them while dragging my favourite quilt along the floor.
“When are you getting a divorce?” I asked, rather hopefully. My father laughed and wondered aloud why I would ask such an inane question.
“So that you can dress up like a lady and be my Mrs. Doubtfire”, I answered with great sincerity. I hadn’t thought it through, of course. So I added, “And I will act like I don’t know it!”

In hindsight, this moment summed up the first time a movie directly affected my subconscious. And the first time I realized what Robin Williams—a pudgy old caretaker woman who transformed into a desperate juvenile father at will—did for me.
It was no coincidence that Genie in Aladdin—another defining character from my childhood—bore more than a passing resemblance to Williams’ quintessentially-underdog face: Lantern jaw, long nose, signature flappy ears, sunken cheeks, pleading eyes and the most tragic smile this side of a cocker spaniel.
It was the sad droopy smile a smitten boy would forcibly wear while cracking lame jokes to make his girl laugh. He would believe it to be hilarious, and in turn, make his awkwardness break the ice.

I remember that smile—that of a dysfunctional husband forcing it on us, when he reasoned with wife Sally Field in court in “Mrs. Doubtfire”. That wounded Oscar-winning smile when Stellan Skarsgard—his ex-friend and rival—mocked his romanticism in “Good Will Hunting”. Or that condemned smile of unrequited love when Annette Bening refused to get over her dead husband in the more recent “The Face Of Love”.

I was too young to fully grasp the experience of watching “Good Morning Vietnam” and “Dead Poets Society” for the first time. Now I’m too old to watch it without being influenced by his following work.
But I remember never being able to forgive the makers of “One Hour Photo”. They had taken my human robot (Bicentennial Man)—in my mind, a whacky invention of the lovable Dr. Kosevich (Nine Months), mutating my memories of Peter Pan into slimy Flubber, and turned him into a blonde-haired psychopathic lab technician. What made it worse is that he hadn’t really changed. Most of it was down to Williams’ own shape-shifting genius, but tell that to a dorky teen already struggling to adjust to Jim Carrey’s new dramatic persona. The barrier didn’t have to be broken in Williams’ case, because he was a naturally gifted performer blessed with an irrevocably needy face for a comedian.
When he tried too hard, he wanted it to show—it was part of his act.
All he had to do was smile more, which led to disturbing images of unstable characters in Insomnia and August Rush.

For some reason, I was forever under the impression that he appeared in an early Batman movie as the Penguin or Ridder. This made sense because if you combine Danny Devito’s old-world gravitas with Jim Carrey’s hyperactive freakishness, you’d get Robin Williams.
He was, in flesh and blood, the resurrection of Tragicomedy.

Moreover, Robin Williams looked like a broken-hearted man. Whether he was actually one, I selfishly chose not to know.
A sad man doing impersonations and silly voices to spread joy held a different kind of charm. It gave rise to a sort of hopeful laughter—not the kind of guffawing that follows stand-up comics who bring the house down, but the kind of restless smiles that made a troubled world a happier place. It was heartwarming, funny and poignant all at once.

Perhaps this is part of his act too, I’d reason—a philosophy and way of life reminiscent of the old frail Chinese magician in “The Prestige”. Was he so committed to his craft? Was life his greatest act?

“Bechaara (poor guy)”, I’d think whenever I’d saw his face on screen. And now I know why.

He was that famous old uncle. Every family has one—the life and joy of every party and festive gathering.
But nobody noticed that he arrived alone, and would always leave alone.

– by Reel Reptile aka Rahul Desai

(This was first posted on Rahul’s blog. For more posts by Rahul, you can visit his blog here)

Dear Favourite Fatso, Goodbye!

Posted: February 3, 2014 by moifightclub in Hollywood, RIP
Tags: ,

PSH

As this year’s Sundance selection list came out, a friend from Calcutta pinged me on whatsapp, and asked why am i not going to Sundance. I asked why. He said two new films of Philip Seymour Hoffman are premiering this year. I told him i am sending my man to get the job done. I was serious about it, but it was too early to let the news out.

A close friend and editorial team member of this blog, Neeraj Ghaywan, was selected to get the Mahindra Sundance Award. As our long chain mail between usual suspects went on and on about who wants what from Sundance – this bag, that merchandise, those liquor, that Quinoa, i said get me PSH. I never chase actors, they all are of the same breed, and mostly, boring. Have never bothered for anyone’s autograph or photograph – be it Hollywood or bollywood. It’s always the writers and directors whose tales attract me. But PSH was different. I reminded him again and again to get me his autograph on one of the posters of his new films. But if the film turned out to be bad? Well, it never mattered how the film was going to be. Because Hoffman was always great, in every bad film too.

Neeraj reached Sundance. Updated us about what he has got and what he hasn’t. I reminded him again – Get me PSH! He said he can’t find him. I joked how it is possible to not spot such a fat man. He can’t hide anywhere. I don’t know why i was insisting so much on getting his autograph this time. Because there have been few occasions in the past where i could have managed it. Always wanted it, and always thought i will manage it some day. So never pushed the way i did this time. Now, it all makes sense. Maybe that thing call intuition.

Few years back, as a friend updated me about how he came for the screening of their films at her film school in NY as he was executive producer on one of the shorts, i asked everything possible about him. As another friend saw one of his theatre act live, and narrated the experience, i would get gooseflesh imagining myself in place of him and thinking about his act in front of my eyes. Simply because he was one of my all time favourite actor. And one of the greatest actors of this generation.

It was Magnolia when i sat up and took notice of Hoffman’s talent for the first time. And then went back tracking him in all those small roles. The fat guy in supporting roles with hardly any screen time but making an impression in every role he portrayed – from Scent Of A Woman to Boogie Night, Hard Eight to Happiness. A drag act in Flawless to a suspicious act in The Talenetd Mr. Ripley. As he started getting noticed, meatier roles came his way, screen time increased, and so did his weight. And i always found that it worked in his favour. An actor so fat, it always made him look like he was one of us – not fit, never in perfect shape. Few actors are so fat. And among those, most just use their body as a prop for comedy. That’s the general routine. Fat actors in serious roles are a rare breed (Yes, Gandolfini too). A character actor who gradually when on to become the leading man with all his weight intact, he became my favourite fatso. In any conversation whenever we would talk about films and acting, i would call PSH exactly that – favourite fatso. It made me feel as if it was all cool and casual between us, as if i knew him well, and could joke about his weight like we do with close friends.

So when he portrayed any character, it just added a natural layer to it. He always looked like that distant uncle whom you are fond of, one who would give you a bear hug on a bad day, share a beer with you after yet another heart break, and will tell you stories about love, life and experiences of yesteryear.

When i watched him in Almost Famous, that was my first lesson in journalism – Be honest, and unmerciful. I thought was it really like that. Uncool? Few years later as i landed in bollywood, it turned out to be the ultimate truth. Just replace the rock scene with bollywood films. When i watched him down and out in Love Liza, i wanted to hug him and tell that his plane will fly the best. Whenever i have got angry on phone, i remember his SHUT UP, SHUT THE FUCK UP, SHUT SHUT SHUT SHUT SHUT SHUT UP in Punch Drunk Love, and have always felt shouting exactly like that. When he got his first sex scene with Marisa Tomei in Before The Devil Knows You Are Dead, i jumped with joy and shouted YAY! He finally got one. Fat man can fuck! Why should only the Greek Gods with bulging biceps get sex scenes in Hollywood. Graduating from a creepy phone sex to a real deal, i was the happiest as if a close friend of my just lost his virginity, and that too with Marisa Tomei. Only difference was this time it was on screen. And when i decided to learn swimming, many a times i would imagine that i will bump into Jack on the other end of the pool, struggling exactly like me as he did in Jack Goes Boating,

He made it difficult to believe that he wasn’t the real Dan Mahowny, or the real Truman Capote. And then came one of my favourite films starring Hoffman – The Savages. I saw my reflection in the role he portrayed, that bittersweet sibling equation, and it made me face my own fears. “Excuse me, we haven’t served refreshments yet” bit still brings a smile on my face. Watch this gem if you haven’t.

When the news came out of his collaboration with one of my favourite screenwriter, Charlie Kaufman, i tracked every possible news about it. The expectations were too high. The film left me bit cold with all its complexities, but i could not imagine any other actor who could pull that off with so much ease. He was the Caden Cotard who taught me what “Cotard’s Syndrome” is.

He held his own in front of Meryl Streep in Doubt, he made fat look cool in The Boat That Rocked. If i start counting all his films, the list is long – Charlie Wilson’s War, Moneyball,  The Ides Of March, and one of the most powerful roles in recent times – The Master.  The hypnosis he could do on screen always felt real. Has he ever done a film where you don’t remember him? Naah, i don’t recall.

As far as the autograph story goes, now it feels like Mary and Max story – an animation film which he voiced. There were no letters between us, i guess his films were enough. And like Mary, i also got bit late. Do watch this gem too if you haven’t.

Thanks for all the movies and the memories, PSH. I don’t understand actors. You were the one whom i really loved, respected, and was in total awe. It’s been 24 hours now, and it’s still difficult to believe that there won’t be any new film starring The Philip Seymour Hoffman.

– From a fanboy NotSoSnob

PSH1

(PS – As far as drugs go, we all got our demons to battle. Sometimes we win, sometimes they. It’s not a choice, and it’s not easy either. So keep your judgements for some other day, for some other things)

RIP Jagdish Raj – the man in khakee

Posted: July 28, 2013 by moifightclub in bollywood, RIP
Tags: ,

Jagdish Raj

Back in the 1960s, a big Hollywood casting director called Harvey Wood came and selected me for a police inspector’s role. Although I had done many films before as hero and villain, I don’t know why I found popularity only as police inspector. I got a lot of acting assignments, but all as police inspector. Twenty years later, I bumped into Harvey Wood again. He looked at me and said, “Bloody hell! You’re still in the same uniform.” He asked me to mail him the details of all my films as I was onto a world record for the most occupational role. Later the Guinness book people sent a team to Bombay to verify facts before they entered my name in their book.

Jagdish Raj, actor, born Sargodha, Pakistan, 1928

Text/pic from here.

TOI report on his death is here. He played cop in 144 films. Yes, 144.

dosar

Rituparno Ghosh’s 2006 film Dosar starts with an accident. A man and a woman in a car. She gets killed. He survives. His wife, and we – the audience, get to know that the man had gone out with his mistress. While returning back after spending the weekend together, they met with a fatal accident.

It’s a strange scenario for the couple. At the moment when the wife gets to know that her husband has survived a fatal accident, she also figures out that he was cheating on her. And at time when the husband doesn’t want to face the wife, he is severely injured, completely bed-ridden, and desperately needs her help for day to day basics. Now, what? How would they react? What would they do? Place yourself in the shoes of either of the characters, and you will realise what a daunting task it is to answer that question – now what?

Now, comes Rituparno Ghosh with his most powerful tool – conversation. It seems like the director puts his invisible camera there without disturbing the space between the husband and wife. In stark black and white, he captures them confronting the worst possible scenario in their relationship. With two other sub-plots in the film, these are essentially three man-woman stories set in different scenarios but with intersecting tracks. And Ghosh was a master at that. Give him a couple and he will give you conversation that will keep you easily hooked for two hours.

Remember, Raincoat? Another stunning work of his where ex-lovers meet to spend an afternoon together and fake their stories to make the other person believe that they are doing good and are happy. Another man-woman pair with an afternoon full on conversation. And another couple in a sub-plot to give a different perspective to a similar scenario. Interestingly, i saw the film in an afternoon show, and i felt like i was in the room with Mannu and Neeru, and when i came out of the theatre hall it was just “Before Sunset”. What felt like fly-on-the-wall direction is a mature, non-intrusive, deft and sensitive hand at work.

Ex-lovers met in Titli too. But there was a new twist in the tale – a terrific coming of age story of a young girl which starts with mother-daughter on the same side of the fence to soon becoming rivals in love. If you are used to closure or conclusive ending, Ghosh never gave that comfort. It was always about confronting it and have a conversation. Sometimes exploitative too, like it was in his heartfelt Bariwali, where a lonely middle-aged widow starts enjoying the company of a young charming filmmaker who comes to shoot a film at her old and sprawling house. Love has a habit of dying young, but rarely does it leave people so lonely, gloomy and hopeless in the woods. It was heartbreaking.

Chokher Bali, Antarmahal, Khela, Shob Charitro Kalpanik – you can see similar motifs in all his films. Man, Woman, and that conflicted space that needs a conversation. Antarmahal got mixed reviews when it released. But i think it is his bravest and most interesting film till date. The way he mixed religion, sexuality and humour, it’s a deadly cocktail, and i doubt anyone will even dare to think about it in today’s times. If you haven’t seen the film, just see the opening few minutes here (with english subs) – it’s sad, funny, and strangely, full of coital-conversation amidst the sound of a creaking bed.

Rituparno GhoshIn the last few years, he shifted his focus more towards acting and gave mainstream space to characters of marginalised or alternate sexuality. Arekti Premer Golpo (Just Another Love Story), Memories In March and Chitrangada – all dealt with gender themes. Compared to his earlier films, these looked weak but he was making strong statements about sexual politics. And perhaps the only one who was doing it in mainstream media. Also it became difficult to separate the real and reel Rituparno. There were many rumors floating around but he never bothered. His attire changed drastically. If you looked at the pics in this post, you can see his extreme makeover – from middle class Bengali attire to flamboyant cross-dressing. He was aware of what people were talking about him and he openly discussed these issues too. What he always hated was the labeling – why only man or woman? Sex and gender – they are always not so simple what we are taught in school books. So we will leave it at that, the way he wanted – not man, or woman, just Rituparno.

@CilemaSnob

(stills from Satyanweshi)

In a completely shocking news, filmmaker Rituparno Ghosh died of heart attack today morning. He was working on his latest film Satyanweshi – a Byomkesh Bakshi story starring filmmaker Sujoy Ghosh.

Easily one of the best filmmakers in the country, nobody explored the intimate space between two people like Ghosh did. All those film fanatics who are mad about world cinema, i hope they do get time to watch Ghosh’s films. His entire filmography is worth watching. Embedding the video of one of my favourite film – Titli – a terrific coming of age film. And easily the best desi film in that genre. It stars Mithun Chakraborty, Aparna Sen, Konkona SenSharma, and is with English subs. Do watch.

RIP Mister Ghosh.

(Pics courtesy – The Telegraph)

Ashok Mehta RIP

Posted: August 15, 2012 by moifightclub in bollywood, pics, RIP
Tags: , ,

Thanks for all those films and everlasting images, sir.

From the melancholy mood of 36, Chowringhee Lane to aridness of Bandit Queen, and from nostalgia-soaked Ijazzat to razzmatazz of bollywood, Ashok Mehta captured it all gorgeously and gave us memories to cherish. They not only pleased the eyes but touched the souls as well – that was some magic with camera!

And for a change, he’s in front of the camera in the following pics. Captured by Amit Ashar.

(PS – The pics were first posted here)

RIP Malegaon Ka Superman

Posted: September 7, 2011 by moifightclub in cinema, RIP
Tags: , , ,

Sheikh Shafique – the Superman of Malegaon – the fighter of local crime, social ills, unhealthy practices (including tobacco chewing) died today morning of mouth-cancer due to tobacco chewing, just a day after the Malegaon premiere of his film yesterday. A death most poetic, of a Superhero most odd. Rest in peace.

via Varun Grover’s FB wall

To read about the film and the actor, click here (HT -Malegaon Ka Superman: Small budget, big ripples), here ( OutLook : Sirens Of Malewood) and here.