Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Capote - 2005

Sometimes to achieve something you have to push the envelope. Cross the lines of nicety. Break the barriers. The people who act as catalysts of change in thought were never people who were popular.

To twist the famous Spiderman quote, sometimes with great success come people who think you should shoulder great responsibility too.

On November 16, 1959 Truman Capote came across a news item in the inner pages of New York Times about the Clutter family that was shot dead in a Kansas village. He was already a successful novelist and a short story writer. He had a good life, he was famous and infamous, he moved in important circles. Like a compulsive writer, he was looking for a new subject. This item appealed to him, and he decided that he would write a book on it.

He wanted to write a true account, a novel that was like a newspaper article, meticulous and factual rather than fiction. The best way to go about it was to go down to Kansas and research for his book material there. He recruited the assistance of his longtime friend, Nelle Harper Lee.

Nelle was able to help him gain a foothold into the Kansas community. He wormed his way into people's minds to gain their confidence, elicit information that was necessary for the book. He even bribed, charmed and cajoled his way around to be able to get up, close and personal with the two killers, Smith and Hikock. He used tact and tricks, lied and twisted facts to get his way. He plied the prisoner with books, and even promises of help with their case.

He even arranged for a lawyer for the killers which made them look upon him as a savior. They start believing that he is out to help them and opened up to him. It was a victory for Capote. To be able to look into the mind of killers first hand. He had the background of the victims in place, thanks to Harper Lee and her help. The investigations were revealed to Capote thanks to being close to the Police.

Back in New York, in the literary circles, he was able to generate curiosity about the book even without having written a word, such was his way with people. He was able to sell the idea of the book. When he did write the book, it lived up to the hype. In fact, he created a new genre, the factual fiction. Capote had the right ingredient to make it work, the working of the mind of a criminal. The book was serialized in New Yorker, but was yet to be completed.

Until the case concluded either way, in pardon or in execution, he could not complete the book. He was looking for closure. Admittedly, a death-sentence would provide the required thrill to the end. A pardon would water it down. The tussle here was between being an opportunist, and being humane towards the killers. It is implied in the movie, that through inaction, failure to provide the killers with additional legal help, he actually was instrumental in getting the killers executed.

As a professional writer, Capote's motive was to get as deep into the scene of the crime as possible, as deep into the minds of the criminals as he could. Whether it automatically pegs on him the responsibility to help the criminals or not is debatable. The fact is, he could not have written a novel as compelling as 'In Cold Blood' unless he had broken the barriers of niceties.

As for the other faults that the movie listed, showing off, partying, promoting himself shamelessly, well, every person has these quirks which make them interesting and tolerable. It is the faultless people who are so boring and intolerable.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

The Flightplan

Jodie Foster stars in this thriller. Jodie Foster is big and can be relied upon to carry a movie. It starts with Jodie who is dealing with loss. Her husband has just died. She is carrying the coffin of her husband to America by air, and is accompanied by her 6 year old daughter.

En route she loses her daughter. No one on board believes she had her daughter with her. For starters, how can a child get 'lost' on a plane? The Captain (Sean Bean) launches a search for the girl, but without any result. He makes a few calls and finds out that the Jodie's girl had also died along with her husband. She is treated as a mental case and an on-board psycologist (Greta Satchi) comes to counsel her.

The air marshall Carson, (Peter Saarsguard) seems sympathetic to her and seems to want to help her. Jodie keeps slipping away to conduct searches of her own, which yeild nothing. She even opens her husbands coffin in the luggage area to check.

So far, the ambience of the movie manages to create a psycological thriller look. Even we are forced to question, does the little girl exist on 'plane or is she a figment of Jodies distraught imagination. The movie moves on a grand scale. We imagine either a large conspiracy or a straitjacket for Jodie.

But alas, the movie wimps out when Carson is seen as a villian who has a plan of planting a bomb on the plane and blaming it on Jodie. He plans to run away with the ransom while the police put a bullet in Jodie's head. In all this huge conspiracy he is helped only by an airhostess. Of course, Jodie manages to total the guy and blow him up with the plane and walk out with her daughter.

In the end.. just a run of the mill thriller.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Safar - 1970

I was wakeful a couple of nights back. Flipping channels, I caught a young Sharmila talking to a boy. I stuck around, the scene was interesting. A couple of scenes later, realised the movie was Safar. A 1970 offering by Asit Sen starring Sharmila Tagore, Rajesh Khanna, Feroze Khan and Ashok Kumar.

The movie was about a couple of medical students, Neela (Sharmila) and Avinash (Rajesh) who love each other but things lie unsaid between them. Neela tutors a young boy Montu. Montu's older brother, Shekhar (Feroze) falls headlong for Neela and proposes marriage. In the meantime, Avinash finds out that he is terminally ill with blood cancer. He forces Neela to accept Shekhar's proposal, as Shekhar is healthy and rich, and will keep her happy. Neela accepts and is a dutiful wife, if not wholly loving. She can't get over Avinash and Shekhar realises it. He becomes obsessed with Neela and ruins his business and finally commits suicide.

The irony here was, a terminally ill man, Avinash, survives Shekhar. Neela finds she has lost her love, Avinash, as well as her husband, Shekhar.

Well scripted, well acted and well made, the movie was a treat. The ambiance and the dialog were very real. Well, a little dramatic at times, maybe.

But the songs, they were extremely pleasing.

1. Jeevan se bhari teri aankhen
2. Nadiya chale chale re dhara
3. Hum the jinke sahare
4. Jo tumko ho pasand wohi baat kahenge
and the ever popular
5. Zindagi ka safar hai ye kaisa safar

The last song reflects the mood of the movie. Had Neela remained faithful to Avinash, what little time he had would have been well spent, and Neela could have had a fulfilling marriage. Though Avinash was the one who was dying, my heart went out to Shekhar who loves Neela so deeply and so hopelessly.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

JOSH -- The Chak De India Girls

Shahrukh Khan is an established star, the Badshah of Bollywood. He worked with a one film director Shimit Amin and 16 newcomers to give us the magic that is Chak De India.

After the movie was over, the viewers wanted to know ‘Who are the Chak De Girls?’ It is a triumph on part of the casting team of CDI that they managed to pick up 16 raw and extremely believable girls to form the rookie hockey team. The girls actually come from different parts of India. Here is a list of the girls and how they were picked.

Anaitha Nair, 21

On field: Aliya Bose
Position: Right Out
Jersey No. 7
How I was picked: I got third time lucky after missing out on the film’s hockey and acting auditions. So it was five months from my first audition in February to my making it to the team last June. I was one of the few with zero hockey experience. I had done English theatre in Bangalore for five years, a Malayalam film, By the People, apart from a brief role in Phir Milenge.
The best and the worst: Getting into the mental discipline of a sportsperson was quite difficult as I’ve never had even a remote connection with any sport.
SRK moment: Every moment initially. We were so thrilled that he was around though later of course we got used to it.
Next move: My next release is going to be the Nagesh Kukunoor directed Aashaye opposite John Abraham.Chak de means: It’s a term of celebration.

Tania Abrol,21
Abohar, Punjab

On field: Balbir Kaur
Position: Full back
Jersey No. 3
How I was picked: The production team was scouting around colleges in Punjab and found Tania in MCM DAV College in Chandigarh. ‘‘They told me to hit the ball and say a few lines,’’ says Tania. She hit it hard and was called to Mumbai for another round of auditions.
The best and the worst: The worst was definitely the alarm going off at 3.30 am and the run for the practise sessions. ‘‘But once there, we had a rocking time. We forgot all about our injuries, bruised ankles, back aches, and just got down to the game.’’
SRK moment: The Main Hoon Naa hug he gives everyone on the sets and all of us playing soccer with him.
Next move: Studies—she’s in third year college—but who knows it could be films after that!
Chak de means: A milestone in my life.
— Jaskiran Kaur

Shubhi Mehta, 28

On field: Gunjan Lakhani
Position: Right HalfM
Jersey No. 4
How I was picked: Being an MTV roadie finalist, I was asked if I would like to go for the film’s hockey auditions. Next happened my acting audition and that worked fine too as I had done theatre in Bangalore.
The best and the worst: The best thing was that I got to learn hockey. The worst was that I got injured a lot.
SRK moment: On the first day of the shoot, I was sitting in a corner of the cloakroom on a small stool. Shah Rukh walked up and asked if he could share it with me. We sat there chatting for nearly 20 minutes and then I asked him a really silly question, ‘Do you enjoy acting?’ He replied, ‘‘I guess after 16 years I am supposed to enjoy it,’’ before adding, ‘‘Choti choti stulon par aisi badi badi batein hoti hain…’’
Next move: A couple of scripts have come my way.
Chak de means: Sportsman spirit. It’s a magic call that lifts you.

Sagarika Ghatge, 20

On field: Preeti Sabarwal
Position:Centre forward
Jersey No. 9
How I was picked: I’ve always wanted to be an actress but my parents insisted I complete my graduation. So the day my BCom final exams were over, I went for the audition with a few of my regular photographs. I didn’t even have a portfolio. But I was selected on the day of my audition itself. I was the last one to join the team.
The best and the worst:Getting to know so many people and keeping pace with Shah Rukh sir was the high point. Getting up at 4.30 am for training was the tough bit.
SRK moment: My entry scene where I was supposed to show attitude, but I was so nervous of Shah Rukh that I could hardly do it convincingly. But he gave me some tips.
Next move: I’ve got film offers.
Chak de means: Play your heart out and make India proud.

Arya Menon, 19

On field: Gul Iqbal
Position: Left
Jersey No. 10
How I was picked: Having played school level hockey I went for the film’s Bangalore auditions just for the heck of it. My Hindi wasn’t too good, so I didn’t think I would be selected. However, one of the film’s assistant directors who saw my hockey audition liked my performance and I was called for the role after a month.
The best and the worst: We trained for two months and then all through the film’s shoot. The best thing about training was meeting so many wonderful people.
SRK moment: When I saw him with the stubble I told him, ‘Please don’t shave off the beard, you look so hot in it!’ And he bragged about it to every one.
Next move: I definitely see a career for myself in south Indian cinema.
Chak de means: Fun! Let go! The most awesome experience ever!

Seema Azmi, 30
Azamgarh, UP

On field: Rani Dispotta
Position: Right Defender
Jersey No. 2
How I was picked: I am an NSD graduate and have acted in many films including Water. The casting director had seen my work and I guess they thought I fitted in. My mother tongue Bhojpuri helped my essaying the character of the Jharkhandi girl Rani better.
The best and the worst: The training was great but I hated waking up at 3.30 am in the morning.
SRK moment: The way he used to recharge us with his infectious spirit especially when we were all tired. I liked the way he would exhort us for another run with his signature shout of ‘Bhago India bhago!’
Next move: I am currently directing a play on war widows called The Silent Front in Bangalore. I have some interesting character roles in Hindi films as well.
Chak de means: An experience that has changed my whole life.

Vidya Malvade, 32

On field: Vidya Sharma
Position: Goalie and Captain
Jersey No. 18
How I was picked: The casting director had seen me on my travel show. So, there I was playing the goalie and the captain—even though I had no association with hockey.
The best and the worst: The training taught us the spirit of the game, so much so that when I held the Cup as captain, I cried spontaneously. The toughest part was getting into the pads initially and getting the moves right. But being a Kathak dancer helped.
SRK moment: My first scene with him that had only him, me and a hockey stick and I hit his leg with my first move. But he just said chill and taught me how to wield it right.
Next move: I am doing Sanjay Gadhvi’s Kidnap and Junction starring Abhay Deol.
Chak de means: Just go for what you believe in!

Kimberly Miranda, 21

On field: Rachna Prasad
Position: Utility Player (one who can play any position)
Jersey No. 14
How I was picked: The director and the casting agent came to my college, St Andrew’s, during Sunday practice and watched me play. Later they asked me if I was interested in being a part of the film. I said yes because it is about a sport that is close to my heart.
The best and the worst: The fitness was the best thing. The worst was that sometimes you over-did your exercises.
SRK moment: In Australia, we used to play football after the shoot. SRK is a good footballer.
Next move: A graduate in History from Khalsa College and a state hockey player, Miranda has shifted focus to football. Is currently a senior level footballer representing Maharashtra.
Chak de means: India!

Nichola Sequeira, 17

On field: Nichola
Position: Bench and also a Utility player
Jersey No. 12
How I was picked: A friend had gone for an audition and recommended my name. The casting agent then came down during a tournament at St Andrew’s College where I study and saw me play. They offered me a role but then decided against it because I was only 16. But they changed their mind.
The best and the worst: I practice regularly so there is nothing particularly good or bad about it.
SRK moment: In a scene, which was later edited out, my character was to replace Gunjan. The scene was not shot in sync-sound so SRK came up to me and said, ‘‘I can’t think of anything to say, so I will quietly mouth ABCD, make sure you don’t laugh.’’
Next move: I’m clueless. I guess sports, hockey.
Chak de means: Hockey and India.

Raynia Mascarenhas, 21

Played: Raynia
Position: Utility player
Jersey No.16
How I was picked: I have played hockey and represented Mumbai. I read an article in the newspaper and got interested. So my mother who works with Radio City got in touch with some friends who put me through Yashraj Studios.
The best and the worst: Nothing apart from the fact that it was really grilling and that too is both a good thing and a bad thing.
SRK moment: He took us clubbing in Melbourne and later we all partied the night away at our apartment.
Next move: I just want to concentrate on my job now. I work with Spice Jet in the ground support control department.
Chak de means: All the 16 girls in the team.

Nisha Nair, 20

On field: Soi Moi
Position: Defence
Jersey No. 17
How I was picked: I am a state level player. The casting agent came to BHA (Bombay Hockey Association) and I was asked to audition and later they let me know that I’d been chosen for the part.
The best and the worst: There is nothing better than playing hockey or football in the rain. There was no bad part.
SRK moment: Meeting him for the first time on the field at BHA and later playing football after a shoot in Melbourne.
Next move: Studies and sports.
Chak de means: Hockey.

Lalhming Kimi, 20

On field: Mary
Position: Defender
How I was picked: A goalkeeper in her state team, her game and a great voice got her the role.
The best and the worst: Hockey came easy to her.
Next Move: Kimi is all set to graduate from player to coach—she’s pursuing a diploma in hockey coaching from Netaji Subhash National Institute of Sports, Patiala.

Sandia Furtado, 20

On Field: Nethra Reddy
Position: Left Out
Jersey No. 11
How I was picked: I had dropped in at the Yashraj office to meet my mum who was auditioning some of the actors for the movie. That’s when the casting director saw me and suggested I get on board.
The best and the worst: The best thing about the training was doing the stunts.
SRK moment: There’s a scene where I am being bullied by Bindiya and Shah Rukh just comes along and puts his arm around me. A lot of people really envied me.
Next move: I am a third year student of sociology and anthropology and first want to be done with college. I am open to doing ads but films are a strict no till I finish college.
Chak de means: Being one.

Chonchon Zimik, 24

On field: Molly
Position: Left Half (back)
Jersey No. 6
How I was picked: A fashion design student from IITC, Pune, Zimik’s friend recommended her to a casting agent from Yashraj Films. ‘‘I was called for an audition. It was a hilarious experience because I was asked to say some fighting dialogues in Hindi. I don't speak Hindi well so the entire effect was rather comic. But I guess it worked.
The best and the worst: I trained for three months and I am happy that I can now play our national sport. Waking up at 4:30 am everyday for three months was the tough bit!
SRK moment: I’m clumsy and I was always getting into a spot. Shah Rukh always laughed at that and I can never forget that smile and that twinkle in his eye when he would look at me.
Next move: Post film, I was slightly confused. But I’ll be realistic, I am not exactly what Bollywood is looking for. I work in Mumbai in a fashion designing workshop and will stick to fashion designing. But if there is a good role in a film that deals with the North-East or my state, then I am game for it.
Chak de means: Victory!

Chitrashi Rawat, 17
Dehra Dun

On field: Komal Chautala
Position: Right In
Jersey No. 8
How I was picked: I had gone to Jabalpur as a member of the Uttaranchal hockey team to play in the national women’s tournament when I was asked to come for the audition. The film’s director saw me play the left striker in a couple of matches after which I was selected.
The best and the worst: Though I am a professional player I got to learn a lot on the techniques used in international hockey. On the personal front, since I was the youngest team member, everyone pampered me silly. However, the worst thing was getting up every day at 4am for practice that would continue till 2 pm.
SRK moment: There is a scene where Shah Rukh hugs and lifts me. We did so many retakes of the scene that by the time it was finally canned I had begun to smell like him.
Next move: I intend completing my graduation in Mass Media and I will be playing hockey for my college from September. As for acting, the offer has to be really exciting. For now, she’s content doing her Haryanvi Komal Chautala act for friends.
Chak de means: An emotional mantra for motivation.

Shilpa Shukla, 26

On field: Bindiya Naik
Position: Centre Half
Jersey No. 5
How I was picked: Having worked in theatre for six years I was fine about the acting bit, the hockey part was a bit dicey. Casting director Abhimanyu and director Shimit Amin had seen my performance in Khamosh Paani and were keen on casting me. I too was keen on playing the 'bad girl'. So I landed up at the audition, the only girl with a hockey stick, two days after my husband gifted me one on Valentine's Day.
The best and the worst: I had never imagined I would ever go through six hours of daily practice. The high point was being coached by Mir Ranjan Negi (former Indian player and coach).
SRK moment: It’s the Zipper scene when I come on to Shah Rukh. Though I was never daunted by his star status, after doing the scene I was literally shivering for two or three minutes. I wrote my experience of doing that scene on a card and gave it to him. He read it and gave me an assuring hug.
Next move: I have signed a film, Junction, opposite Abhay Deol
Chak de means: Urja, energy, enthusiasm and power.


Saturday, May 19, 2007

First they stood together on the stage ..

Then he turned to the crowds and shouted : No condom no sex

The crowd clapped and cheered.

Then he turned towards the lady and saluted her .. thus;

And thus;

And the crowds they roared and cheered.

That would have been the end of the matter, but the Aids Awareness event for Truckers in Delhi was a well covered event. With two celebrities like Richard Gere and Shilpa Shetty on stage, there was ample video, still and press coverage. The news channels went berserk relaying the ‘kissing clip’ again and again. One guy got so mad (in far away Jaipur) that he file a PIL (Public Interest Litigation) and got an arrest warrant out for Richard Gere. But then, Richard Gere isnt an Indian Citizen. Now the matter has gone sub-judice and next hearing is on 26th May. Indian citizens may be keep their TVs switched off against an onslaught of the ‘kissing clip’ once again. Curious NRI’s may search the You Tube for the same. There are plenty of zealous souls out there helping the world know what Shilpa and Gere did.

Gere is in India so very often. He is a disciple of Dalai Lama and forever zooming down to Dharamsala. Then he spends ample time in Mumbai’s socialite circles helping their various causes, attending dinners et all. Pinkbee thinks he should be well aware of the Indian aversion to PDA. (public display of affection- for the uninitiated) Upon being introduced, there are women who will look stonily at the profferred hand and say ‘namaste’ with folded hands instead. This happens in several Barjatya movies too. Young people are supposed to dip down and touch your feet instead of shaking hands. But then, Sigh, this is Pinkbee’s middle class world. In the higher socities people peck at cheeks all the time, and which Socialite would scorn a peck on the cheek by an International Star?

Maybe Gere wanted to give a live demo of ‘No condom no sex’ when he spotted Shilpa by his side, and teach his audience how to go ‘thus far and no further’. His motivation is a mystery to Pinkbee and she wishes the matter would go away. Alas, Shilpa pops up again and says – Gere calls me at least once a day and sometimes twice too inquire about my welfare. He is concerned and wants to know if I am coping well with all the adverse publicity. He is a gentleman, if not an officer. India gets a regressive image abroad by all this tut-tuts Shilpa. But the regressive crowds are here : they are burning effigies and photographs.


They want their share of the publicity pie. They are not bothered about India’s image abroad.

The hoi polloi (like yours truly) say, we are not like that, we don’t think there is any harm in that kiss. The media is trying to milk TRPs, The PIL guy is looking for publicity, the effigy burning crowds are looking for publicity, Shilpa and Gere are getting publicity. The truckers have had their fun. Let it RIP


Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Namastey London


Akshay Kumar is an old khiladi. He has proved his hand at action, comedy and drama. Katerina Kaif is a pretty girl and manages not to get on your nerves. A good call for someone who is known more as an eye-candy and more for her hunky boyfriend than as an actress. Rishi Kapoor is again an old hand at convincing portrayals. He wowed us as the choclately young hero in Bobby etc and is now doing great job in ‘senior’ roles. Upen Patel is the eye candy for females. Look on girls and don’t expect serious histrionics here. The director, Vipul Amrutlal Shah has given us movies like Aankhen and Waqt – The race against time.
East meets west, west realizes the superiority of east, west bows to east. Katerina is the pretty Londoner who is made to go back to India by her desi-at-heart father. Who should she find milking the cows in apna pind but Akshay Kumar who tries to convince her about the desi goodness. Full of ‘funjabi’ elements, with dependable Akshay the movie can do no wrong.
For a full list of credits check http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0795434/fullcredits
With the word ‘Fun’ in the tagline and with no other movie in competition, Namastey London is all set to storm the box office. Moviegoers like Akshay and Katerina. All they want is that the movie be made well and have some funny situations. The college kids are running up the ticket sales in the weekday shows and the family/working crowd is doing the same at weekends.
Years ago when Manoj Kumar made Purab aur Paschim- he presented Saira Banu as an Indian-British girl, wearing tight fur lined micro minis with an atrocious blonde wig. She smoked cigarettes non-stop and blew humungous amounts of smoke. She also wore loads of eyeliner and pink lipstick. She was supposed to portray a ‘good’ girl who doesn’t know the Indian ways thanks to her British mother. It is left to Manoj Kumar to show her what being an Indian means, reducing the audience to clapping frenzy by chanting ‘bharat maa’ after every 10 seconds. Now Vipul Shah teams up with Akshay Kumar to do that all over again with a better dressed Katerina and lots more humor and lot less preaching.

Friday, March 23, 2007

The Namesake




THE NAMESAKE comes to us with impressive credentials. Mira Nair has given us movies that entertain and provoke. Sooni Taraporevala is an acclaimed photographer and scriptwriter. Jhumpa Lahiri’s novel was well received. Tabu needs no introduction as a serious and accomplished actress. Likewise Irfan Khan always comes up an impressive performance. Kal Penn is the face of overseas Indian perpetually dealing with the angst of being an alien in a land where he was born and brought up. The character actors like Ruma Guha Thakurta, Sabyasachi Mukherjee, Tanushree Shanker, are all names to reckon with.


Born in the USA, bred of Bengali parents, torn between two cultures. That is the shell of the Namesake. Those who have read the novel will have a fair idea of what is to come.
Those who haven’t, can enjoy the surprise. Big names and the hat-ke movie will draw the discerning crowds to the cinema halls. Reviewers are expected to praise the movie. In all fairness, the movie is likely to be worthy of it.

For a full list of credits check http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0433416/fullcredits


You are not likely to find houseful boards there just yet. But the sale might pick up. No rickshawallahs in the hall to whistle along with the proceedings. A MUST SEE FOR THE REGULAR MIDDLE CLASS UPWARD CROWD THAT HUNGER'S FOR GOOD DECENT MOVIES TO WATCH. Movies that are like movies and less like kitsch.


When Bend it like Beckham released in India, it was a huge hit. The cinema hall was full of young college going crowd and several ‘families’. Their empathy with a dark skinned girl who just wants to play football and make out with her cute coach was total. The movie was ‘dil se’ and real. Ever since then, this crowd of filmgoers has been adopting wholeheartedly movies by Gurinder Chadda, Mira Nair, Deepa Mehta which speak about the Indian diaspora, albeit on the celluloid.