Of Cubes and Colours

Ra.ONE

I would wish to start abruptly, just that i am undecided on how much should a movie be promoted. I could have written a paragraph, but i will choose not to. The promotions can in no way affect your product, the thing it can do is bring people to the theatres. The working title of this blog was :Kind HARTS and INTERNETS.
just in case you wanted to know. 

 The increase in  gimmicks as purists call it may  be due to the rise of one Mr.Salman Khan. Like the Khan himself, we are also clueless how he manages to break industry records with films like Ready and Body Guard.

Coming to our Khan, i.e. the Khan in this film has not had a release since My Name is Khan and it might help to remember that the Salman Blitzkrieg began immediately after that and I am right in thinking that I was not the only one who was irritated by the constant promotions of Ra.ONE. I actually thought it would be quite a bad film and went without much expectation.

Ra.ONE (following the tradition of Goldfinger, Octopussy by naming the film after its antagonist) begins in contemporary London.( like most Hindi films)

Prateik Subramanium, the only son of Tamil game developer Shekar Subramanium is quite ashamed of the uncool-ness of his ‘Appa’ (pause), here I would like to take some time on the portrayal of South Indians up North; although we have stood up together for the same national anthem all these years Subramaniums and Ramamurthys are not looked upon greatly and they have a certain tendency to think that everyone below Hyderabad are idly sambar consuming Brahmins, so when the main character is named Subramanium there is not much reason to celebrate but only an excuse to loop in more idly sambar jokes(‘Now it is time for a South Indian Coffee break, that means we resume work only tomorrow’ says Shekar).

But the laudable thing here is a major Hindi film with a Tamil protagonist; we must also notice that none of our (tamil) films have heroes named Ajay Rathore or Rahul Singhania, the last time I noticed a North Indian name here was Yousuf Khan who was Vijaykanth nemesis in one of his many trips to save India (‘from Kashmir to Kanyakumari’that itself seems like a good title for a Captain movie).

<Continues>

So Shekar wants to create an impression on his son and assigns to himself and his sinking company (Baron Games?)to develop Ra.ONE(clever wording there, SRK) an indestructible villain, which he hopes will make him closer to his bad-ass son. Sonia his wife, looks pretty and sits at dining table conversations where Shekar quotes from V.Shantaram, it is obvious that she loves him and my reasoning is confirmed when they discuss condoms.

Where there is a villain, a hero is not far behind. G.ONE created is created as an exact opposite to Ra.ONE . He may not have the might of Ra.ONE but he does have a good HART, the battle between the good and the bad, makes the rest of the movie.

 

The concept of a Super-hero in India is not entirely local; we have always lived-off the fantasies of creators at the DC and Marvel offices and have often been awed at their films. It is only understandable for SRK wanting to play super-hero in a land where heroes are worshipped as Gods and thanked for his restraint as to not playing God in the same. SRK does well, both as the man who could never park a car and as the guardian angel from the gaming world made of blue cubes.

The film is visually stunning (I saw it in 3D) and I can safely say that graphics and special effects are put to good use, not the trashy ‘Dangerous Dave’ types which are visually affecting and embarrassing usually seen. A lot of work has been done to provide a quality super-hero movie.

Ra.ONE may not be a (to use an often used phrase) watershed in Indian Cinema, its inspirations are clear for us to see (Terminator 2, Iron Man and in its own way Endhiran) and uses many ploys of already seen blockbusters are understandable and forgiven assuming they were taken as points of reference, Ra.ONE sets out to do what it was made for; in spite of the hype and SRK’s insecurities. Ra.ONE is an honest film with proper casting and already popular music. The voice of Akon suspiciously fits the virtual creation it dubs for, and already the public are hailing with having a better pronunciation of the Rashtriya Bhaasha than Katrina Kaif. 

Then there is Kareena Kapoor in a wafer thin red saree, there is something mysteriously good about it. Must be the color.

 

 

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RAISING MANORAMA SIX FEET UNDER

Manorama Six Feet Under

The screen lights up with shots of the vast desert, a lone water tank. The dryness is later joined by the wryness of the voiceover, Lakhot is a small town in the Indian Desert the voice informs us and it is in the news only a couple of times every year and that too not for reasons its citizens could be proud of.

Chinatown is one of my favorite movies and it is also the first movie that comes to my mind if some poor soul comes to me and makes the often committed mistake of asking which film I would suggest. Those people never usually come back to me for more recommendations, either they are irritated with the film or the person who suggested it. I am no expert on movies, but I do take my movies quite seriously and I wish to dwell among them, think about them and smile knowingly when something is going to happen. Chinatown is that sort of movie in which you feel the weight, the layers and the length which makes you feel to view the film again, at least in parts.

Manorama Six Feet Under borrows much from the above mentioned film, but in a way in which makes you happy and not make you shudder with limitless disgust, which is the normal reaction when it comes to remakes and rehashes.

A viewer’s demand for an original script is a legitimate one, but how much should the viewer’s demands be considered during the making of a film is an even more legitimate question. If we are a dedicated and rational audience, we would get better films every following Friday. So the debates blurs at that point, and the only conclusion we can come to is by assessing a film by its worth. All that matters is that whether it is good film or not.

Certain movies, by mere mention of a thought of a remake are censured. To re-kindle the memory, the recent uproar by both people and critics on the decision to re-do Sholay, although such a thing was done it was not received openly. Similar instances have prevailed even in the west, when attempts were done to colorize classics like Casablanca.

Chinatown

Manorama may lack the smoky trumpet jazz of Chinatown or the world weariness of Jack Nicholson’s performance, but it makes up for it in spirit and sincerity. Satyaveer is a suspended engineer in a nondescript desert town with writerly aims, his first book Manorama not going down too well. The humdrum of his life is brought to life by a mysterious lady in need of a detective.

Manorama, like Chinatown works on two fronts, the social and the personal. The social theme of the drought and bringing water to the desert and on the personal theme of betrayal, and like the sub-title goes ‘In the desert, nothing is what it seems’.

The director is clearly a devotee of the 1974 film and goes on to reference it in a matter-of-fact way, in places where he could have ripped off scenes without humility, Navdeep Singh decides to take a slightly different path and necessarily Indian, say like how there is not a proper concept of ‘a private detective’ in India and how every working man is tied down to his family and immediate circle of expecting in-laws and the importance of Diwali and every day humor even among thugs. Navdeep Singh scores in these parts, making the movie more accessible than its parent.

Chinatown itself hark backs to the film noirs of the fifties, Robert Towne’s immortal scripts dives into the sick minds of the people who walk the sun-light streets of LA (picturized expertly in color) shown from the view of a flawed but wise-cracking protagonist, the movie made critics come up with terms like neo-noir to define it.

Manorama Six Feet Under is a commendable film, not because it leaves us with no option but to compare it with its predecessor but because it achieves exactly what it sets out to achieve, in my opinion viz an Indian version of Chinatown.

I think Manorama Six Feet Under is a must watch, not just for people who grumble about the ‘heaviness’ of Chinatown but for everyone who loves a good mystery.

 Meanwhile, you can listen to the love theme from Chinatown

 

YES PUNCH, BUT NO FORCE PLEASE

  1. The credits at the beginning state that Nishikanth Kamath’s Force is inspired from Gautham Vasudev Menon’s Kaakha Kaakha, interesting to note that the word inspired was used, rather than a remake. Inspiration is too big a word to be discussed with just these two movies, but then it is almost impossible for a person who had watched KK before not to compare it with its successor  Force.
  2. Kaakha Kaakha is strongly etched in the minds and hearts of tamil cine-goers from the past decade, it shook some walls and provided the much needed breakthrough for actor Surya at the same time establishing Gautham Menon. But having said that, just because a film has a lot of repeat audiences doesn’t make it a great film and i will stop with that on my personal opinion on the tamil film.
  3. Force as a film tries to deliver more and of course it was not made for people like us( people who have watched KK), so there is point in complaining and indulging in futile comparisons, as a movie Force is quite good with its protagonist John Abraham striving hard, not just physically.
  4. Keeping the two films side by side, mentally and not comparing them, according to me would yield better results in appreciating both. Nishikanth Kamat should be praised for not involving himself in the strict sense of the word: a remake. A remake in Indian Cinema is usually taking a South film shot in Chennai and just change the setting to Bombay; of course with different actors. Remakes here, do not necessarily delve deeper than its predecessor and chalk out better characters or smudge errors. Most of the time, the remakes are worse than the originals and fall short even in creating what filmmakers superficially call ‘atmosphere’. But looking back at the films of Kamath, Evano Oruvan and Mumbai Meri Jaan, Force does lack his visible comfort in handling social issues. In Force, it is narcotics.
  5. KK was a more personal film, it was more of a love story than a police story and as the voice over in the states it is ‘an episode in a police officer’s life’. The relationship between Suriya and Jyothika, Suriya and Jeevan being the focal points for which the life of a policeman was a sturdy guise. Here, in Force it is more of a cop movie and how clever cops and hash smugglers are, these events take most of our time and we are exasperated when it comes to the lackluster romance between Genelia and John Abraham, at some points it is almost like a NDTV coverage of a drug bust.
  6. Most of the characters are the same, in Force the villain is as menacing as the hero and is the only character that interests. Good work by Vidyuth Jamwal. Genelia as usual thinks she is still playing her role from Santosh Subramanium and John Abraham smiles too much in what should have been a gruff and socially distant police officer.
  7. Note to Hindi Filmmakers, mouthing ‘Anna’ doesn’t make a person look like he has come from the south of the vindhyas and girls in Bharatnatyam attire strumming the sitar!!!pls this is not a lesson on national integration.
  8. I would like to end by saying that(i like this line, i have waited many a seminar for people to say this) Force is a good film, if only you can shut your mind of the fact that it has already been made before.
  9. Why remake anyway?