Some people hear their own Inner Voices with great clarity and they live by what they hear. Such people become crazy or become legends... - Jim Morrison

Monday, October 02, 2006

So much for "co-incidences"...

To every Tamil movie fan, the name Kamalhaasan, is a name that evokes pride. Pride in the fact that there is a creator cum actor, who can take, if not already taken, Tamil film-making to heights never seen before. I too had this sense of pride, after having watched Kamal's movies for almost all my life.

Then 'Netflix' happened to me. Never had I got a chance to watch world cinema as much as I have done in the last few years, thanks to the amazing concept of Netflix. Anyways, this article is not a promotion for the same. This article is about the authenticity (or the lack of) the 'Icon' of Indian cinema.

Kamal's career can be phased out into two distinct phases. The first phase was that of the "Actor"...his initial years were when his mentor (KB) and sometimes other directors had the most say in the works he did. Basically, Kamal was the actor in a director's movie, nothing more.

There has never been any doubts about his histrionic skills. He was and still is the most matured actors to have emerged out of Indian cinema. A person who isn't content with the work he does and the fame and fans that come with it. Needless to say, he came out of the shadows of film stars being just showpieces in a motion picture, that was a story told in the eyes of the director.

Then began the second phase...the "Creator"...The first step, any actor trying to get involved in the making of the movie, would do is writing. The story and screenplay department are the least populated areas of film-making. Scripts tailored to showcase an actor's histrionics, is every actor's dream.

Kamal too started his involvement in the making of a movie in a similar way. Eighties is when Kamal started to make head-way in the so-called journey of cinematic excellence. Raaja-Paarvai was his first screenplay...

"Striving to be independent, a blind but determined young man moves away from his overprotective family. The young man meets a kooky neighbor. His quick wit and good looks disarm the free-spirited neighbor, and before long they're more than just friends."

Did you think this was the gist of Raaja Paarvai? Wrong...this is the blurb of a Milton Katselas film based on a Leonard Gershe’s stage play. The film was "Butterflies Are Free".

Raaja Paarvai was not "inspired" from this New York tale. It requires great resourcefulness to adapt this film into the Indian context. Sai Paranjpe's 'Sparsh' was the movie that did this hard-work. 'Raaja-Paarvai' was re-inspired by Sparsh. The timeframes of both these movies re-inforces this fact. 'Sparsh' was released in 1980 while 'Raja Paarvai' came out in 1981.

There are more such 'co-incidences'...

Indiran Chandiran is another of Kamal's milestone movies. The movie was a first in the sense of experimentation with the look of the character. Disfiguring oneself to get under the skin of the character was something "new" to the Indian "intelligentia".

Indiran Chandiran (aka) Indrudu Chandrudu (aka) Mayor Saab is a down-right rip of the Richard Dreyfuss starrer "Moon Over Parador". This movie was the height of Richard Dreyfuss' dramatic skills. Richard Dreyfuss plays Jack Noah who is offered a role in the tiny Caribbean island of Parador; impersonating the nation's dictator, to whom he bears a resemblance. But he soon gets into trouble when he runs afoul of the Parador police chief, who wants to keep the dictator's demise a secret until he can takeover the country.

There are many more such "co-incidences"...

"Enakkul Oruvan" was inspired by "Reincarnation of Peter Proud(1975)" just as "Sathya" was inspired by "Marathon Man(1976)" starring Dustin Hoffman.

Kamal has a great admiration for Dustin Hoffman. It is evident in the roles/scripts he has adapted into the Indian context. Most of us know that "Chachi-420" (aka) "Avvai Shanmugi" was inspired from Robin Williams' "Mrs. Doubtfire". But the inspiration doesn't stop just there. The story line of "Avvai Shanmugi" is surely a rip from "Mrs. Doubtfire", but the character that Kamal portrayed, the body-language, the background of "Shanmugi Paati" itself is inspired from the character Dustin Hoffman plays in "Tootsie". Even the portion of the older Gemini Ganesan character falling for Shanmugi Paati, is taken out of "Tootsie".

The most interesting of adaptations out of Kamal's handi-works is "Anbe Sivam". The movie itself can be split into 2 portions. The first is the portion depicting the travel that Madhavan and Kamal make from Bhubaneshwar to Chennai. The second is the flashback portion involving the duel between the communist-Kamal and the industrialist-Nasser. The first portion is adapted from Steve Martin's "Planes, Trains and Automobiles". The second portion is inspired from Mel Gibson's "The Man without a Face".

The list of such "co-incidences" is endless...Here is a sampling...

"Magalir Mattum" from "Nine to Five" (1980, Jane fonda, Dolly Parton)
"Thenali" from "What About Bob" (1991, Richard Dreyfuss & Bill Murray)
"Virumandi" - The jail interviewing part and the abolition of Death Penalty is from "The Life of David Gale"(2003, Kevin Spacey, Laura Linney)
"Panchathanthiram" from "Very Bad Things"(1998)
"Naala Damayanthi" from "Green Card"(1990, Andie MacDowell, Gerard Depardieu)
"Sathi Leelavathi" from "She-Devil"(1989, Meryl Streep, Roseanne)
"Nammavar" from "To Sir With Love"(1967, Sidney Poitier)
"Guna" is based on "Tie me up Tie me down"(1990)

So much for "co-incidences"...

Inspiration is an instinct. It is the essence of one's imagination. At the same time it is a license that needs to be utilised like treading a tight rope.

Every great creator has always credited the source of his/her creations. Failing to do so, no matter what justice has been done to the inspired product, is a murder of the creator's essence.

Creators are inspired, true, agreed. What I dont understand is how come one creator alone is inspired from contemporary hollywood movies for every film he is involved creatively. Kamal is not inspired by the Mahabharatha or any epic, he is not inspired by a true life incident, he is not inspired by a book he reads. He is invariably inspired by a Hollywood movie made in the last 20-30 years. How else would one judge this kind of a selective inspiration?

To further my point, the Mexican director Alejjandro Gonzalez Inarittu's movie, '21 Grams' was inspired by a psalm in the bible, which talks about the weight of the soul. His movie starts with the credits line reading:- "Inspired by Psalm xx:yy". The inspiration is minimal, but the director stuck upon the idea of it when reading the psalm. But he still credits his inpiration. That is creative ethics at its zenith.

It is a general assumption that there is no-one better in the Indian film scape who has thought and acted differently when it comes to creativity and film-making than Kamal Haasan. Indian cinema has many creators who have been inspired from the west for most of their creations but have later faced ignominy when their plagiarism has been exposed. Deva is a shining example. For people who argue Kamal has adapted western scripts to Indian palettes, Deva has done an equally great job of adapting Western tunes to the Indian scape. Would anyone dare to weigh Kamal and Deva at the same level of genuineness in their respective fields?

Ignorance is bliss. In this case, the people's ignorance is Kamal's bliss.

Comments and brickbats welcome!!!

Friday, September 29, 2006

Name it as you please...

Another town bites the dust...this time its 'Pondichery' will soon be renamed as 'Pudhucheri'...After having made great 'achievements' with 'Mumbai', 'Chennai', 'Bangaluru' and 'Trivandrum', the naming gods (read as, vote-bank-seeking-dirty-a**-politicians) have now turned to rename the 'Beer capital of India'... 'The cities shud reflect the regional language', is what they proclaim...

I just spun the cranky side of my head and started imagining what 'Tamilian' naming-gurus, particularly 'Madrasis' wud name the US cities, if given a chance...lets see...

1) New York would be Pudhu Muttai-Manjal
2) Detroit would be 'D-ettu-rite' (the city wud be dedicated to Rajini's 'ettu-kulle vaazhkai' song)
3) Washington would be Kazhuvu-nooru (Wash + ton)
4) California would be Aatha-tholaipesi (Kaali + phone)
5) Chicago would be Kozhi-kunju-po
6) Colorado would be Kolaaru-doi

Indian politicians have been turning to many ideas to keep their vote banks safe by playing on people's sentiments...Naming cities in regional languages is in fashion of late...

It would do a world of good if they can think about the expense it costs the Government to change the name in every damn place...To think that its the people's hard-earned tax money is like rubbing salt on an already deep and bleeding wound...

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Sillunu Oru Kaadhal - 'Cooling Kammi !!!!'

Can Promos and fantastic still-photography give a movie a lift? The answer, my dear friends, is a big YES. You would know why, once you see JOK (Jillunu Oru Kaadhal). Aptly titled JOK(e) is in fact a real JOKE...

This is how the director would have gone about making this movie:-
1) Suriya and Jyothika are a hot pair, use your mentor's (Murugadoss)contacts and get their dates.
2) Go to your nearest video shop and pick out medium hindi or tamil movies off the rack with your eyes closed. If the movies happen to be 'Andha 7 Naatkal' or 'Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam' or one of those hazaar remakes/inspirations of the above, then you got your story.
3) OMG, you need one more female lead. Pick one thats not very busy, one thats shorter than Jothika, one that will do the movie for peanuts....wolah, there's Bhoomika!!!
4) Okay, get on the sets, cull out a child star thats doing rounds today on ads...let Jo and Suriya know that, they can just imagine that they are rehearsing for their married life in a small flat in Mumbai...they can manage that.

AR Rahman is back after a while. The music doesnt linger long in your minds. And as usual, the BGM is so very predictable. This has been the case with almost all ARR musicals. The background score in the scenes before a particular song appears in the movie, will be that of the song played with different instruments. Thats re-recording for you, ARR style. Would do him a world of good to learn from Raaja, who has taken re-recording to a whole new level.

The producer has done well to not just rely on the director's skills(if any). He has thought well, to rope-in an awesome photograper G Venkat Ram to do the promos. The film is sustaining interest among people, thanks to the great promos.

The only thing that would be unforgettable about the whole experience will be the 1 hr drive in a nasty weekend traffic to watch this trash...other than that 'Jillu'...oops..'Sillu...' is a forgettable movie...

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Sabhi Alvida Kehna....

My biggest doubt about all Karan Johar's movies is, 'Does this dude watch his movies with family and friends after completing it?'. Atleast one member of the myriad of people who would have seen this movie, should walk up to him and give him a heavy shake, and say, 'Buddy, if you got so much money, would you consider charity, rather than making movies like these?'.

What pleasure does this guy get, by borrowing heavily from the story of 'Silsila' and setting it in New York? Intellectually challenged people, who badly want to see skimpily clad foreigners roam around freely with 'desis', are the exact audience the whole movie is targeted on. Although I hate getting into details of 'art for trash's sake', I would still do it now...

There is not a single Indian in any of the major sport in the US, particularly MLS(Major League Soccer). And BTW, Mr. Johar, its soccer to the public in US and not football. Football (the American form) is a brutal contact sport that a person like Shah Rukh can play only for a day(he might not live to play the next day).

Preity Zinta, attends an interview in the opening sequence, and is shown explaining to her to-be-boss, Arjun Rampal, why they should take her. It appears as a small position in the fashion mag. But when the story flash-forwards to '4 years later', she already is the number one executive in the fash mag, and even voices orders to her so-called-boss Arjun Rampal....wishful thinking, I guess.

How many more days are we going to be tortured by tunes from previous Karan Johar movies (KKHH and KKKG in particular) appearing in every possible opportunity. I guess, this is one way of keeping these songs immortal !!!!

In short, all Karan Johars and Aditya Chopras are taking Bollywood-land to an abyss from where, no matter how hard they try, the Ram Gopal Vermas and the Rajkumar Hiranis, will find it very hard to bring it back to a face-saving state.

Friday, March 31, 2006

Its Raining Raina !!!

Hmmmm... This day had to come... I have been raving about Suresh Raina being a great prospect for a long time now to my near and dear... But now I had something to show them that I wasn't over-quoting my tongue...
Suresh Raina has finally graduated to the big league with a great knock in the 2nd ODI against England at
Good things are finally beginning to happen in Indian cricket. To all those mouths that said Dravid and Chappell are not as good as Ganguly and Gang in finding talent, I would like to say this...Buy yourself some listerine and wash the plaque off your mouths!!!
Anyways this blog is not to start the never-ending (Gang)uly controversy, but to throw light on the new bright-light of Indian cricket, Suresh Raina.
Suresh Raina was born on the 27th November, 1986 at Ghaziabad in Uttar Pradesh. He is from the same Sports College of Lucknow which gave us Mohd. Kaif.
I feel blessed for the fact that I got a chance to see the 2004 edition of the U-19 World Cup. During the league stages of the tournament India faced Scotland in one of the matches. "Why would you watch a Scotland vs India U-19 World Cup league match?????" that it...I heard you!!! I cant say why, but I did and I paid $15 to an internet streaming site for it.
Getting back to why I feel blessed for having done it...The match was a steamroller on Scotland. India scored 425 for the loss of just 3 wickets and the 3rd wicket partnership was for 131 runs off just 62 balls...Shikar Dhawan, the highest scorer in the Indian Innings with 155 contributed just 35 runs in the partnership. The rest came from the bat of a young 16 yr old Suresh Raina making his debut in the U-19 World Cup. He scored 90 runs of 38 balls. He hit 14 fours and 2 sixes.
He went on to win the Man of the Match award for the one against West Indies where he quietened himself and played a spectacular 66 off 84 balls. He then returned to pick 3 wkts for 23 runs of 10 overs in a terrific display of off-break bowling.
The contrast between those 2 knocks and his temperament on the field are things worth watching on a cricket field. Never for once was he carried away during that knok of 66(84) against WI where the great Indian top-order, heavily dependent on Shikar Dhawan had succumbed. The same kind of characteristics that one saw in him in the fourth ODI in Pakistan where he scored 35 off 34 balls and prevented the ever-famous Indian collapse which has happened so many times in the past.
He made a strong case for selection when he top scored with 55 in a warm-up game for India-A against Pakistan. The knock came under great pressure where India struggled to 189/7 from its 50 overs.
Now with this knock of 81 off 89 balss, Suresh Raina has truly announced his arrival in the big league. Hats off to Chappell and Dravid to have persisted with this young lad who is a dynamite-investment for Indian cricket's future.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

RDB and Oscar : The odds

Hmmm...its that time again...Aamir is out with a great movie, the movie's making great collections, the film's got an excellent star-cast and like every big 'n' excellent movie, the "Star" has not made others fade in his luminence, instead, has made his co-stars shine with him. So whats next??? OSCARS Khan-ji...aur kya???
So how does RDB weigh up in the race for the "best foreign film" Oscar. To be honest, its too early to tell. True, the best of the year is yet to come and you would never know which other Roberto Benigni is gonna come up with another "Life is Beautiful", or which other war-story is gonna give the world another "No Man's Land". But did we Indians ever know about "No Man's Land" until it beat "Lagaan" black n blue?? Or did we even know a nut-crack like Benigni existed b4 he gave us all a ball-dance on top of the table on Oscar night...the answer, my humble fellow country-men, is a N O !!! So its never too early or never too late to discuss about Foreign-film Oscars...
Having said that, lets make a list of things that go for RDB taking us to the ever-eluding OSCAR:

  • A movie made from the heart. No producer-satifsying compromises...If at all any, they were only made to enhance the quality of the movie.
  • A movie with lots of vibes and jibes which the west can relate to.
  • A movie about nationalist sentiments, which, irrespective of nation, has never failed to evoke applause from the foreign-film panelists. (some notable eg:- Evita, Motorcycle Diaries, etc.)
  • A movie, although carrying a huge-weight on its shoulders (in the form of subject), has made us sit thro' it with smiles on our faces...It never ever went into a preaching mode and never made us feel as if we were in an Osho sermon...
  • A vast set of characters brilliantly played and portrayed. And believe it or not, people watching the movie with just sub-titles and no understanding of the language, have still been able to appreciate it...(a few of my nut-crack friends are testimonies).
    A li'l bit of wise lobbying (Aamir already has an experience), will make RDB a loud bang on the door to an Academy recognition...

    Keepin my fingers crossed...all twenty of 'em !!!

About Me