Posts Tagged ‘That Girl in Yellow Boots’

And manage to successfully pull it off too. Now, ‘dare’ is a difficult term to describe.  Let’s try another definition. Do you read the back covers of the dvds where the synopsis of the film is printed? This is the list of the films whose brilliance can’t be summed up in those few lines, either in terms of the subject, story, story telling technique or execution. In no particular order.

1. 50/50 – There are stories that you tell and then there are stories that you have lived. And there’s no substitute for the latter. Nobody can tell that because nobody else has been there. Like Samuel Moaz’s Lebanon, 50/50 is inspired by screenwriter Will Reiser’s own story. Otherwise “cancer comedy” is a difficult genre to crack. The film finds the perfect fine balance between tragedy and comedy and is one of the nicest films of the year.

2. Michael – The subject is creepy and disturbing, the treatment is non-judgmental and brilliant. Inspired by real life events, the Austrian film directed by Markus Schleinzer revolves around the life of a pedophile who has locked up a 10-year old kid in the cellar. Its brilliance lies in the fact that it uses no gimmicks to show the day to day activities of the pedophile’s life and the predatory relationship between the two characters are on the verge of father-son equation, which gives it a human face.

3. The Cave Of Forgotten Dreams  – There is no doubt that 3D is here to stay and it’s a terrible news for people like us who wear glasses. The experience is not even rewarding because most of the films will serve the same purpose in 2D. This is where Werner Herzog scored over everyone else. Even with the new (3)D, trust the old Dude to show how it’s done. Watch this one to know what Depth is and how goregous it can look when captured in 3D. Exploring the Chauvet Cave, this documentary is a meditative piece on life, evolution and human existence.

4. That Girl In Yellow Boots – I was disappointed with this one but the magic of the film lies entirely in its making. Anurag Kashyap could dare to shoot a film in just 13 days and complete it too –  this story is going to be in textbooks of digital film making.

5. The Artist – The film is touted as one of the Oscar favorites now. But imagine, at a time when everyone is hell-bent on going 3D and motion capture, a filmmaker thought about making a black and white silent film. And how many people thought it was a joke? In the words of the filmmaker Michel Hazanavicius, “Nobody believed in the movie. Nobody wanted to put any money in the movie.” The story is nothing new but the story telling is so smart and charming that it will keep you hooked throughout.

6. Gandu – We can claim some credit for discovering this low-budget provocative piece from Calcutta. We uploaded its trailer twice, it was removed both times and we were warned that our account will be blocked. All because of the explicit nature of the content. But the film is much more than that. That thing called aesthetics, which is so rare in bollywood, is in abundance in Q’s Gandu. Plus, the bengali rap and the minimalist style gives it a distinct flavour. And if you have seen Q’s other films (here and here), you know that the filmmaker is not fluke, and he is not just selling sex and nudity.

7. Generation P – A heady cocktail of art, culture, religion, pop, politics, philosophy, advertising, consumerism and Che Guevara. This Russian film directed by Victor Ginzburg was in production for about five years and was the trippiest experience at the movies this year. Its daring in its subject, scale and story telling and the viewing experince was unique, to say the least. It makes fun of so many well-known advertising campaigns and strangely, it got the funding from all those brands which it makes fun of. Convincing everyone wasn’t an easy job but who said filmmaking is a cakewalk.

8.The Tree Of Life  – The Bollywood rule book says the bigger you aim, the dumber you have to be. And my guess is, the rule book is the same everywhere unless you are Terrence Malick. This film goes to the other extreme. Even with all the trappings that define a big hollywood film, this one is a meditative piece that doesn’t give a fuck about your IQ but needs complete submission and respects your EQ. Once you are inside Malick’s world, the experience is difficult to describe and all that you will crave for is some silence and space for your soul.

9. Midnight In Paris  – Trust Woody Allen to do something so ridiculous and still make it so charming. You will think about the absurdity of the plot, but Woody knows his characters and their lines to well that you will happily take the leap of faith. Its a difficult path to tread that could have turned completely messy. Writing anything more about it will kill the joy of discovering it. Watch it if you still haven’t.

10. We Need To Talk About Kevin – This film is like an antidote to The Tree Of Life. No, make that vice-versa. Like many other great films, this one doesn’t provide any easy answers but leave you with million questions. Revolving around a school massacre, Lynne Ramsay’s film is disturbing and will stay with you for hours after its over. It boldly portrays a scary relationship where the mother and son are being competitive to beat each other. Exploring the uncomfortable zones in a family affair, Kevin must have been a very difficult film to get a firm grasp on.

Other than these ten, there have many others which pushed the envelope in many ways. What’s your pick?

This has been a bad terrible year for hindi films. Forget ten, if you can spot even five great very good films this year, you should consider yourself lucky. Try, see how many you can count. And so, we are skipping the list of top films and are counting the exciting moments at the movies this year. Moments that you remembered long after the movie was over, discussion and dissection was done with, and they defined the films. In no particular order.

1. Opening Credit (Stanley Ka Dabba) – I have still not been able to understand why we don’t give much importance to credit roll in bollywood. It’s an ART. And a difficult one too. Click here to check out some of the best credit rolls. And this is where Stanley Ka Dabba scored over all other films. The film was an indie experiment and its delicious opening credit was like a Pixar short film. Done by one of India’s best animator Gitanjali Rao, it sets the perfect mood for the story to follow.

 

2. Monologue (Pyaar Ka Punchnama) – When the lead actor doesn’t get to kick the villains, he always gets a monologue. But if the actor is a newcomer, who would dare to give him a monologue? And 5minute long monologue? That’s rare, and if it manages to hold your attention, that’s rarest of rare. I have been accused of endorsing a misogynist and myopic view of the world because i like the film 1st half of the film. It’s a long debate but you can click here to read Paromita Vohra’s observation which i agree with. It was a small film with no names, no stars, all newcomers, but the film managed to survive on its own, and everyone who liked the film, talked about two factors – Liquid and the monologue. You can call it brutally sexist but it’s fun too.

3. Slo-mo sequence (Shaitan) – Who would have imagined that a shootout sequence on a classic song would make such a deadly combo. If there is an award for the most imaginative sequence of the year, give it to Bejoy Nambiar for Shaitan. Blazing guns, characters running and jumping around, bodies piling up, blood and gore making the screen red, and Suman Shridhar belting out a classic song, i was watching it wide-eyed. Killing never looked so cool on desi screen.

 

4. Cunnilingus (Delhi Belly) – Not sure if it re-defined bollywood’s “cool quotient” or “empowerment of mahila mandal” in anyway, but it was surely a welcome change. In a year when bollywood re-discovered machismo by doing zimby zouth remakes and stunts, a hindi film hero going down to pleasure his girlfriend was refreshing. It wasn’t presented as a big deal, it was just matter of fact. As casual as the hero getting a hard-on. Even that’s rare in Bollywood. Isn’t it?

5. The Girl On The Bike who smooched (Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara) – Ten years ago if Switzerland was the desi honeymoon fantasy (blame it on YRF), now it’s Katrina Kaif. How else do you explain her success? Just item numbers can’t take you so far.  Zoya Akhtar put her on a bike to chase the hero, grab him and plant a kiss. Was it easy because it was Spain? Or was it because it’s written and directed by a woman filmmaker? Whatever it is, a machine between the legs and a kiss on the lips is much better than dancing in the rain.

6. That Girl On the Phone (That Girl In Yellow Boots) – Pooja Swaroop. Going by the screenwriting rules, telephone conversations are generally boring. But she played a character whose only job was to be on the phone throughout the film. A bit of tease, a dose of humour, a chuckle, she blabbered her away to glory. Interestingly, we never get to see or hear the person on the other side of the line. Well, because there was none. That’s acting. And this was a masterstroke, as delightful as the scene where both characters (Kalki and Pooja) are on the phone at the same time, on two sides of the wall, in the same scene and talking to two different persons.

7. S and M (7 Khoon Maaf) – We got a hint of it in Abhishek Chaubey’s Ishqiya. In 7 Khoon Maaf, Vishal decided to go full throttle with the love story between Irrfan and Priyanka’s character. Benign by day, beast by night, the shayar who loved S&M – is there anything that Irrfan Khan can’t portray and make it look convincing?

8. Tum Ho (Rockstar) – (SPOILER) I had no clue that so many people were confused about the end of Rockstar. The song Tum ho left them clueless – was she dead or wasn’t she? At first instance it looked like a compromise for commercial sake, but once you hear the song carefully, you know it isn’t. As the song played and the credits rolled, i came out of the theater with the visuals of the last song stuck in my head. This was Rumi in Rahman’s song.

 

9. Booby Balan (The Dirty Picture) – Another monologue. And I don’t remember the last time i was so distracted during a monologue. In the film, there’s a scene where Silk (Vidya Balan) is given an award and then she delivers her acceptance speech. The speech in which she states her moral stand and insults the rest of the industry which is full of people with double standards. But even in that speech, all you remember is booby Balan. Someone should have told us to just hear the scene. Because it turned out to be funny in a weird way, you are hearing something and seeing something else.

10. Videokaaran – I don’t remember watching anything more exciting than Videokaaran this year. This was the best discovery of the year. Varun Grover found it, saw it, loved it and recco-ed it to us. Click here to read Jai Arjun Singh’s column on the film which was published in the Caravan magazine recently.

11. Ek Kwhater Bodvka (Tanu Weds Manu) – This one is for the cheap thrills. She famously said “you Besshterd”. Not once but in almost every film of hers. And we thought that’s the best that we can get from Kangana Ranaut. But she delivered something better in Tanu Weds Manu – ek kwhater bodvka.

What got you excited this year? Do let us know in the comments.

With any Anurag Kashyap film, one thing is for sure – a debate. A divided house. We are also swinging from one side to another with every new post on the film. This is Salik Shah‘s first post here. Read on..

That Girl In Yellow Boots is Kalki Koechlin’s debut as a filmmaker. It’s written all over the film. Anurag Kashyap just happened to be there while Rajeev Ravi was busy setting up his camera on the ‘stage.’ Except for one scene where Ruth smokes against the dazzling red screen, the audience never notices his camera tricks. There is one scene though — where they abruptly cut from a close up to a mid shot of the two protagonists who seem to have finally accepted the tragedy of their solitary existence— which seemed to be an attempt to tease the audience by not allowing them to have their ‘emotional cumshot’ exactly where they needed it.

Pulp Fiction is an old trick—but can provide little ‘happy endings’ in otherwise an unhappy film. The happy diversions in That Girl In Yellow Boots are just that. The sad thing is the mistiming. In an otherwise comic scene, where Ruth spins a story about her father’s death, a little mischief was desirable. A camera angle or two, hinting at her playfulness, where she appears brutally honest to the innocent criminal but palpably mischievous to us, might have been forgiven by the neo-realists. Excess is bad, but so is overt restraint.

Sound is a tricky affair; the jarring background score wasn’t called for at key scenes—or was it placed there to deny the audience any sympathy for Ruth? How I wish I could mute to listen deeply to Ruth’s silences… A minimalist approach might have further polarized the audience—but the result might have been a rewarding experience. Years ago, I couldn’t understand Nobody Needs to Know (Azazel Jacobs, 2003), but the expressionless, unfathomable face of its female lead has stayed with me. That Girl In Yellow Boots works in silence, often brilliantly.

There are people as they are—and many of AK’s assistants have verily filled in as Ruth’s steady customers. Prashant, however, is the film’s most visible link to the theater. The words he chooses, the way he moves—all seem to be a reminiscence of an era behind us. Be it in the Skeleton Woman, Ek, Do (FTII) or That Girl In Yellow Boots, he is there—loud, unchecked, mimicking himself. You can see that he is acting—a constant reminder of the film’s limitation.

Cinema is not an actively participatory experience like the theater. When the human contact is lost, you’ve to employ literary, theatrical or cinematic techniques to fuel the audience’s imagination to fill in the gaps in the visual narrative. That is why you get the unborn child manifested in Three Monkeys. That is why whole sequences in After the Rehearsal are devised to ‘mesmerize’ the audience. Here we get face to face with Ruth and Ben as they are—helpless, victims of their own doing, hopeless—all in a very straight-forward, good in a theatrical way.

If anything, it’s an exercise—for Anurag Kashyap, for you and for me. Why should it be anything else? Making a film is all that matters to him; while we go to great lengths to obtain and frame a fake poster of a pirated film! Strip the cinema of its greatness, please. Today every man with a camera is a filmmaker. While I don’t expect them to be Wong Kar-Wai or Tarkovsky—which they might very well be; they don’t need to be—I do believe if given a chance, they could be more authentic. It’s a good thing for cinema. It’s the new pen of our times; let them write; let us write with it. That’s indie. And no one seems to understand this better than this father of ‘Hindie.’

Keep shooting.

 — Salik

Forget Salman Khan, even Fatema Kagalwala is on a roll. One day, two posts. Click here to read her hilarious dissection of Bodyguard, and scroll down to read her post on Anurag Kashyap’s latest release, That Girl In Yellow Boots.

Seedy is not Mumbai’s underbelly, it is the defining aspect of its identity. In this quagmire is a young girl struggling to survive. An English citizen in a strange city, she is but twenty years old. At a time when most of us our dreaming of building fancy careers, watching our weight, worrying about skin/hair problems while striving to date that hot bod, she is fighting to stay afloat in the dense-ness of red tape and sexual exploitation.

She is Ruth, Anurag Kashyap’s protagonist in his latest film, ‘That Girl in Yellow Boots’. She is as vulnerable as she is steely and as undaunted as she is brittle. She meets exploitation at every corner, simply because she is young, female, single and white-skinned. She is looking for her father who abandoned her when she was five. There is darkness everywhere she turns and she buys some light with the money she earns by giving massages and handjobs to willing customers, what she ironically calls, ‘happy endings’. As the official synopsis reads ‘everyone wants a piece of her’, and she obliges – if it will lead her to father.

Anurag Kashyap lays it out thick. Grime, blood, sweat and semen. Loss, pain, failures and trauma. Darkness is no stranger to the film-maker, his oeuvre almost revels in it. He always says it as it is, sometimes even too much. But TGYIB doesn’t suffer from over-doing. Ruth’s world is murky and steeped in pain but there is spirit in her struggle. Her existence seems doomed but there is assurance in her steps. There is an emptiness in her eyes and a desperation in her heart but her mind is focused. She is love-less but not lost. She is gathered and determined.

So is the narrative. It follows its story with focus even though it becomes unstructured and loose at times. It doesn’t give into impulsive cinematic expressions at the cost of her character’s journey and that seems to be symptomatic of a creative evolution of the maker. For that alone, this can be called a notable film.

This time round there is no shying away from emotions. There is no uncomfortable distance from vulnerability and neediness is not wrong. There is a unique objectivity which is a hallmark frame of reference with Anurag Kashyap’s films, something that made Black Friday the classic it is. Along with this objectivity there was also apparent a seeming reluctance to engage emotionally with the character. Hence Dev simply remained a lost drunkard, Chanda an unapologetic fighter and Paro’s vulnerability never found the sure footing to blossom enough.

But Ruth is not like that. She is almost life and blood. I say almost because she falls prey to a lot of unsure moments in the film which keep her from blossoming fully. Her interactions with her boyfriend seem half-heartedly performed and the fault does not lie with the protagonist but the choreography and uncultivated chemistry between actors. Her denouement is not intense enough but while she is on unsure ground she is also explored from more ways than one. However, she is not sentimentalised and therein lies the strength of the film. Wouldn’t that have simply undone the very premise of her character?

Kashyap employs child abuse as a prominent theme, perhaps to enforce yet another layer of brutality to the already dismal world of the film. But this he juxtaposes with a fatherly figure, Ruth’s only male massage customer who is affectionate to her without objectifying her. Female strength finds yet another towering personification in the massage parlour owner, Maya (A brilliant, effortless and sparklingly honest Puja Sarup). Their identification and subsequent bond speaks volumes about the opposing forces of exploitation and survival.

Cinematic elements come together in harmony to tell the story of Ruth’s journey. Even as Rajiv Ravi’s digital camera caresses Ruth’s dismal life with an expressive graininess, Wasiq Khan’s seamless production design melts grunge with the dullness of the ordinary. We notice the torn beige sofa and the darkly-lit, narrow parlour lounge almost becoming metaphors of Ruth’s dislocated life.

In the pursuit of defining its protagonist’s journey, the film however fails it’s peripheral characters. Shiv Subramaniam, Mushtaq Khan, Divya Jagdale, Makrand Deshpande, Piyush Mishra, all remain mere tools of the exploitative environment without completing an experience. This singularity becomes representative and seems forced and has much to do with broad-stroked writing, seeming to take the ‘easy’ way out.

There is also the sketchily written character of Kannadiga ganglord Chitiappa explosively performed by Gulshan Devaiah, easily the star of the film. He settles in instantly and shines through till the end, effortlessly balancing the Nana Patekar-esque eccentric stereotype with the defencelessness of a school boy. This balance is what Prashant Prakash never gets right unfortunately. His see-sawing volatile character had immense scope to capture a spectrum of moods, emotions, swings and even personalities but he never really manages to get under our skin.

The film begins on an unsure footing, taking us slowly into Ruth’s world, introducing it through her encounters. Dialogues are many a times listless, almost murdering moments. Improvisation shows in the body language of actors and sync sound catches the uncertain intonations of lines made up on the spur of the moment. For a film crafted to evoke a response beyond the intellectual and focused on following Ruth’s path to her father, this serves as an undoing.

The film largely works because of its choice of actors. Kalki’s oval-faced innocence, a full-mouth unable to hide the Bugs Bunny teeth and the clear sad eyes looking at you become synonymous with Ruth right from the beginning. The actress wears her character unlike any other she has done before, and it is this certain ‘giving up to the character’ that one senses, which becomes the most appealing. We never cry with her or hurt for her but somewhere the film convinces us to feel enough for her to know what will happen to her and silently wish her well. As a takeaway, that is big.

Luis Bunuel said – “Fortunately, somewhere between chance and mystery lies imagination, the only thing that protects our freedom, despite the fact that people keep trying to reduce it or kill it off altogether.” Team TGYIB uses theirs very well to give us a world that is precisely between chance and mystery. 

And worst even, why should Bodyguard be his benchmark?

Is that even a nursery level contest – to make a film better than Bodyguard?

And if it’s so, you are on the wrong page. Like other film buffs, i have been following his campaign to sell 6,50,000 tickets so that he can keep on making his kind of cinema. Well, i hope it happens. And we need it to happen. Because as my twitter buddy @rmanish1 tweeted, kyunki har ek cinema zaroori hota hai.

But that should not be the reason to celebrate a mediocre attempt as the best thing to have happened to our cinema in recent times.

Anurag Kashyap and his brand of cinema needs no introduction. Few directors in this country can claim to have genuine fanboys. And believe it or not, a friend told me that a classmate of his from St Xavier’s even had a poster of AK in his room. To some extent, one of the reason is that everyone loves a good underdog story. He represents that. Everyone loves a good middle finger to be shown to the world that they hate but can’t do. He is been there, done that. And then there’s his filmography. Long list of films written and directed by him.

In the last few years he has almost become the messiah of everything independent. But since we are not sure how to define “indie” in India, let’s just say he is the strongest voice for anyone struggling to make a film. He is also easily the best filmmaking school in the country. Plus his talent to spot and back some of the best talents in front and behind the camera. Amit Trivedi, Amitabh Bhattacharya, Rajeev Ravi, Mahie Gill, Vikramaditya Motwane among many others.

Also, at a time when we are dying to find a connect with the auteurs of the world cinema and the film fests,  he became our window to the world. Name the fests, the actors or the filmmakers, and he is there.  The list is again long – Quentin Tarantino, Michael Winterbottom, Ang Lee, Wong Kar Wai, Tilda Swinton, Danis Tanovic and others.

So what do you expect from the filmmaker?

His last film released almost two years back. And in those two years, the cinema world map and awareness has also changed accordingly. With various legal and illegal means to source the best cinema from across the world, why should our benchmark be so low for any film, made in India or outside? And that’s why That Girl In Yellow Boots fails miserably.

I had read the script too. Well, only because he is one filmmaker who doesn’t fuss about his scripts being read and he will even happily show his unreleased film to anyone. All respect for that. Even when i read the script, i could not believe it was written by AK. Scenes would start and end with, Hi. Hello. Ok. Blah blah blah. Bye. I had to fight with a friend because i could not believe it was written by AK.

Then i saw the film. Twice. For me, it’s his most simplistic tale till date. Shocking? Morality? Huh! And i still can’t find the point of the film. What’s the motive behind making the film? What’s the point of telling this story? Hell yeah, what *exactly* are you trying to tell? I know, all artists have all the rights to do whatever they want. But to ponder and blabber over it, that’s mine.

Selling shock? There are Korean Masters.

Selling sex? There is Lars Von Trier. And then the French are there.

Selling indie? There is Once. Monster.And many many more. It doesn’t even come close.

Selling struggle? Jafar Panahi is in jail.

So where does TGIYB stands in the context of the world cinema, the cinema that we know, talk, discuss, follow, love and get excited by and aspire to be ? Sadly, nowhere.

TGIYB’s magic is only in the making. Someone can get the cast and crew excited about the script and complete the shoot in just two weeks, that’s a great achievement. But why should i count your struggle in my film viewing experience?

Gulshan Devaiya and Puja Sarup are just delicious. The film belongs to them even though they hardly matter in the main story. Dear Bollywood, can we please see them more? Kalki’s acting is uneven. In some scenes she is the perfect Ruth, you can’t think of anyone else, and then there are scenes that make you feel that she is Kashyap’s wife. Taken for granted. Prashant Prakash is so loud and theatrical. Someone needs to tell him that it’s not stage, there is a camera that register every nerve movement. AK’s brand of dry humour elevates the impact of many scenes but he fails in the finale. The scene which is designed to give the final blow, you cringe in your seat wondering how could he let it pass because the actor looks so clueless. It seems nobody was sure about his emotions.

With AK, you don’t need to worry about the craft, the sound or the visuals. Loved the scene where Kalki and Puja are on the phone, both talking to two different persons but it follows so smoothly. That’s the mark of a good director.

But all you worry about is why TGIYB is even a feature film? Why it couldn’t be a short? Some of the best filmmakers worldwide indulge in shorts whenever they feel like. TGIYB’s story even follows the pattern of a short. Then?

Was it designed to woo the fests? He should have sent his Black Friday then. Was it written/directed as a gift to Kalki? People do crazy things in love. It’s ok then. Or was it really written because he and Kalki felt like telling this story? Then it’s quite a lazy piece of writing.

To quote Kashyap’s review of Black, i would say TGIYB is best (or shocking or whatever you want to call) for those who haven’t seen better.

Let me quote few more lines from the same review,

On a day such as this, I can only hope we make better films than statements. Our best is far, far away from the world’s best cinema. They are not even a mile within the threshold of the top 100 films of world cinema.

It was written in 2005. We are still struggling. And the filmmaker who wrote these lines, if he can’t deliver, then whom do we expect to do it? Why should he get a concession?

Though it’s a great thrill to see the names of some of your best friends in the opening credits but why should that be a reason for not shouting out about the emperor’s clothes.

And strangely, for the fans of Salman Khan and Anurag Kashyap, who belong to two different extremes, one thing is common this weekend – disappointment. Both deserve much much better.

What’s the point of being a filmmaker if you don’t have fanboys, right?

So here’s a fanboy video made by the “usual suspects” which is inspired by Anurag Kashyap’s latest film That Girl In Yellow Boots. It’s easy to guess who the suspects  (read carefully) are but since it came from an anonymous mail id, we will let them be.

Click on the play button and check it out.

Anurag Kashyap’s next release That Girl In Yellow Boots finally gets an official poster. Not sure if it’s the same agency which has designed the posters of Dev D, Shaitan and now TGIYB but some design hangover seems to be there…similar elements, colours and that garish touch.

Sanjay Leela Bhansali is also ready with his next production, My Friend Pinto. Directed by debutant Raaghav Dar, it stars Prateik, Kalki Koechlin, Arjun Mathur, Divya Dutta, Raj Zutshi and Shruti Seth.

And the third one is Malegaon Ka Superman. This one comes from the cottage film industry of Malegaon. Do check out its tagline.