{Of all lies, art is the least untrue - Flaubert}

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Small Notes on Two Films


Don can be described as a roadside tea served in a high-end cool-interior coffee shop. The tea looses its open-air taste, and it costs more. Or it can be described as a tea-stall mass number remixed for Buddha Bar. Or see it as a thinking item girl, who can neither dance nor think well. There can be several such analogies but the point is this film has no charm of material it imitates or rediscover or re-interprets, and it is not saying that it does not have its own charm, which it has, although only at a few places. One more thing which came across my mind is lack of character artists in Hindi films today. We don't have anyone like Mac Mohan (working) today, so that part of Mac goes to an unknown and becomes nothing. I seriously think that small parts should be given to known faces, audience have such a little time and volatile memory to accommodate a newcomer. They could have casted a newcomer in the place of Boman Irani, who was really funny when he should be damn evil. Look at the old Don and we have all the smaller parts to known faces. Also, one more thing which I might not be able to express clearly about the films of DON era. I saw them as a child and while seeing them I used to do little calculations about the good and the bad and try to pick up hints who is the real bad guy, the way camera zooms to some of the characters to give as hints and at times those hints are false (You get all the such tricks when you see bunch of them). So eventually you have the whole kit (at least you feel so), and try to make your own guesses, not only about the evil guy but about plot twists and turns, and when director (or screen writer) beats you in that kids play, you feel strangely satisfied, and add that extra twist in your rules book so that you can apply it for the next film. The new DON turns the old to be either too intelligent or too dumb and the fun of the game is lost. Also remakes of such types, broadly they can be done in two extreme ways. One way is like offering tribute to your favorite deity, write him/her love letters and take it all seriously. The second way is a meta-movie, which is a parody of the old film. I think neither of the two will work. The first one is too religious and the second one is too blasphemous, too intelligent. Farhar Akhtar tried something in between (more towards the former approach), and now we know that too doesn't work.


Jaan-e-mann is one of the few Hindi films that I saw this year and came out satisfied, and even hopeful. If we see the whole film, there are several moments where it falls in the trap of conventions and cliches (especially in second half with the kid), but this film works as the revival of Bollywood musical, how music and narrative can be mixed with colorful imagination. Overall the film is not path breaking and all, but its quite conceptual in its musically over-the-top grand style. Here also, things are painted and clothes are designer, but they have an intentionally made-up feel with no intend to be real, which has its charm. Also the plot is so thin that we don't care about it, everybody knows what will happen and who will get the girl in the love triangle and cliches are there in place, but here shallowness has self-awareness. This romance is a costume drama, visual gimmick, a Broadway musical and homage to Bollywood. Here is a film where we sit to see the next song, the film moves from song to song, sometimes filling up for dialogues, sometimes for whole situations. There is a song, Kabool kar le, which is there to energize the routine situation, is filmed imaginatively and also works as the parody of all shaadi movies. Salman Khan is as self-aware and self-referential as the film, and he perfectly fits the bill, and so are Akshay Kumar and Priety Zinta. Even in this unreal and bizarre colored setting, somehow we feel the characters are not card board, this is I think, a big achievement. This film is interesting because it shows how cinematic medium can be used to elevate (if it sounds pompous read 'perk up' instead) the usual stuff without taking itself too seriously, most of the times. I sometime feel that life would have seen much more interesting if it had BGM, such movies strengthen that silly belief, as least for the time when you are in theatre.

1) Who-so-ever comments on this post, please write their favorite childhood movie. To start, mine is Mr. India. I have watched Mr. India more than 20 times and still have appetite for it.
2) Even if you feel its too difficult to answer the first question, feel free to comment. My blog can not afford to loose a comment ;)


Indrajith said...

I sometime feel that life would have seen much more interesting if it had BGM.

We are in sink man.. :) How can there be a life without Music? I am just thinking about howmany music directors would it take to conduct BGM for everyone all through his whole life. ( Theists might say one , GOD).

This is one of the post I liked after a very long time.

My Best childhood movie?? hmm.. in Tamil it will be Adimai pen. But I still remember me watching a punjabi movie named "Jagga" again and again Regional Language Film in DD. The Hero was the same who acted as Hanuman in Ramayana serial. Tara Singh?? Not sure.

Anonymous said...

i loved your post :))

RJ said...

First of all, change your blog settings d00d!! When I click on comments your original post disappears. It shows up when I click on "Show Original Post" but in a funny format. Switch to a more professional blogging software d00d.

I agree that there was nothing new or good about the new don. Being a SRK fan, I was more disappointed with the movie. He didn't add any value to the movie. He was trying to be the true SRK and at the same time trying to immitate AB. The output was too confusing.

Interesting analysis about Jaan-e-mann. I will surely watch this movie after reading your comments. I have always liked movies that have strong BGM. Unfortunately there are not too many Hindi movies. Let me get hold of this movie. Will let you know my analysis.

My fav childhood movie has to be Sholay or any of the other AB movies.

Very good post, btw.

wildflower seed said...

"tea-stall mass number remixed for Buddha Bar" and others....:D

Favorite childhood film is Ray's Hirok Rajar Deshe (In the Kingdom of Diamonds). This is a brilliantly clever film that works for all ages. Unfortunately, if you arent Bengali, you will not appreciate it, because almost the entire script is in Bengali verse, with comic puns and brilliant satire, which will only translate into any other language with much difficulty.

manish kumar said...

I liked ur style of writing :)
ur anology does create good interest around it.

but on first look it felt a bit heavy review on such a light movie. but its purely a personal view.

my childhood movie ... hmm chupke chupke :)

anurag said...

Indrajith, thanks and I found out a very detailed narrative of Adimai Pen here . The story is full of fantasy and awe.

Anon, I loved your comment too :)

RJ, no one else faced such a problem. I will check it anyway.

Thanks. You know, although I like Sholay etc, I was never a fan of Amitabh.

wfs, I will try to check out the movie. I can see it with a Bengali friend :)

Manish, Thanks a lot !

Alok said...

"thinking item girl" ???
What has this world come to? :)

your first paragraph had me in splits. hilarious... one of the funniest post you have written. :))

I used to love romantic movies when I was young... you know, young kids fall in love, and run away from home and parents and villains chase etc.. that used to be my favourite genre... i never really liked action movies.

favourite movie?.. hmmm.. I am very fond of dil hai ke maanta nahi. I have spent many sleepless nights in those years of early adolescence thinking about Pooja Bhatt, specially in that white dress of that title song. ;)

Alok said...

watched the song again


still has an erotic spark ;)

Anonymous said...

good write-ups on these movies :).
As for the character artist like Mac, your comment is bang on target. We hardly see any of those nowadays. This might very well be the difference in the feel-factor of the old and the remade one's, i guess. Even the villians are fading away...we need the bad boys desparately :) Gabbar, Mogambo, Pran, Prem Chopra, the eternal baddies. Bindu, Shobha Khote, Aruna Irani, etc eternal bitchy nanand or deorani and ofcourse there's an evil sasu-ma too (cann't remember the name, perhaps you can help :).
My childhood favorite movie is 'Tridev' (and don't you laugh now :) ).
That song is amazing 'Tirchi topi waale, ohoho ohoho, babu bhole bhale. Isn't it ?

-- rushikesh shenwai

anurag said...

Alok, I too like Dil hai ki manta nahin a lot. and thnaks for the song.

You know, they are trying to make Mr India 2. See this star-news report :)

Indrajith, he is Dara Singh, not Tara Singh.

Rushi, I can think of one, Lalita Pawar :)... and I like Tridev too. As a kid I always liked the movies where all the cast dance in the den of villain just before the final big fight :)

Anonymous said...

Well, I cannot agree more with you when you put across those funny analogies of road side tea et all for Don. So irritating my Don experience has been that I cannot refrain from rebuking it in my own language.

Having gone though the seclusion (and sometimes exclusion) that the intellect is often rewarded with, I was encouraged to partially believe in the “what is liked by people must be likable” theorem of the marketers. It is from this point of view, I try to appreciate the elements of the movie Don that made (or makes) it work. Unfortunately, my considerate effort returns me only exasperation.

I have always considered SRK to be one great monkey (SRK and his fans kindly excuse. I could not remember another word as appropriate as this) who got lucky all the way. I must admit that he has proven it once again. The irony is that the movie successfully banks on the undeserving grandeur that King Khan brings even when his failure to imitate Big B is as glaring as the mid day sun of a hot Indian summer.

“Self-awareness” (which, I believe, has always been kind of litmus to you) seems to have suffered a brutal death in the confused conspiracy of Farhan Akhtar and SRK. The plot (with added twists –appears to me to be Farhan’s only original contribution ), the songs and the those celebrated phrases definitely deserved better treatment. After all, was it necessary, Mr. Akhtar, to fevicol-paste the “Khayieeke Paan Banaraswala ..” song in a misfit back drop of bhayiaas in Malaysia ? or Was it necessary to enact the most important villainous role by some one like Bomi Irani who would best do his job in funny roles? Do we need to tell you, Mr. Khan, that please do not kill the adorable character of Vijay with the unbending arrogance that you have gleaned over a decade of luck or more precisely DO NOT EVER ATTEMPT TO TAKE CHARACTER ACTING AGAIN ?

And yet I must commend Farhan’s decision to entrust SRK for the Don’s role. Imagine any other bollywood actor (other than Big B himself) in the Don’s role in this badly-crafted movie without the huge (though undeserved) fan support that SRK gets. I must also appreciate Farhan’s commitment to the age-old tricks with which he succeeds to bring out the sophistication that the character of Don should display in this age of computers and golf. And finally a hearty applause to those who have greatly enhanced the music by blending jazzy (or may be some techno) effects and yet retaining the charm of original music.

--Amit Roy

dolly said...

Favorite childhood movies are anything Amitab...DON, Mahaan, Great Gambler & Coolie. I cheer Iqbal every time I watch Coolie when he scream "HARTAAL"