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44 Responses to “Images from Life of Pi (updated)”
“Life of Pi,” director Ang Lee’s 3D adaptation of the best-selling novel, left the audience of movie exhibitors at the CinemaCon convention breathless on Thursday with its stunning, visually poetic shots of an Indian boy stranded on the open sea with a Bengal tiger.
The 3D images of the young protagonist ( Suraj Sharma) battling a tiger, a storm and a school of flying fish did more to illustrate the ground-breaking technology http://www.thewrap.com/column-post/ang-lee-3d-life-pi-stuns-cinemacon-37516
Cannes 2012Cannes 2012 review:
Anurag Kashyap’s Gangs of Wasseypur
By Bikas Mishra | Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012
With Gangs of Wasseypur, Anurag Kashyap’s quest for his distinctive cinematic style seems to have found a conclusion. While he reaffirms his position as a master craftsman of Indian cinema, his storytelling suffers at times from his keenness to trivialize emotions in favour of bizzare comedy. In GoW, his teenager-like fascination with talking sex continues. The film is engaging yet predictable both in story and storytelling. However, it is an important film in the career of the director as it solidifies his style and temperament.
Like his Black Friday, Kashyap utilises the tool of narration to set up the stage for a Godfather-esque saga involving three generations of rivalry. The comparisions to the Coppola masterpiece is inevitable here in the context of the overall narrative structure and especially the character played by Nawazuddin Siddiqui.
Much of Part one goes into setting up the massive canvas for the story of revenge and deceit. Although, one always felt that the canvas remains at best a passive backdrop for a lavish story.
Like Dev D, Anurag continues to use songs as background scores and uses phrases as dialogues at times to feed pop culture demands. A major attempt in that direction is a song in a mashed up language with words like upset-ana, nervous-ana.
That brings me to another solidified trait of Anurag Kashyap style – he deliberately trivialises potential cinematic moments where characters reveal their weaknesses. In a weak moment when the mafia don betrays his loss of faith in violence, his beloved wife sings the “nervous-ana nahi” song for him. She does the same when she visits him in a prison.
Though it is a film soaked in blood, the violence is stylized with a lighter tone. There is an entire song “jiya ho Bihar ke lala” picturized on a bullet-ridden dying don!
The film has the feel of a carnival. Even violence in the film seems celebratory, a kind of mix of Holi and Diwali (read guns and bloodbath). It’s a film that bursts out into a song much too often, though rarely disrupting the narrative. The director also attempts to capture the time and show progression of it through references to Bollywood songs and stars.
The film is also remarkable for some great performances led by Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Jaideep Ahlawat.
Gangs of Wasseypur is engaging after the first few minutes when one is bombarded with newsreel like informative narration. Once it manages to draw one into its world, it continues to remain engaging.
He did say that this was his most commercial film yet- it’s impossible to be commercially viable in Bollywood today without being infantile about sex. ;-) I wasn’t very excited about the film after watching he trailers- but this review piques my interest.
I don’t know how well it will do on the festival circuit- but I have a feeling that this could become a big hit at the Indian box office- and I’m sure that it will garner a lot of acclaim locally in Mumbai.
I don’t think that his Cannes appearance will make Kashyap a known figure on the international stage- but it will do a lot to boost his profile back home.
Ami, as I had said there is a very slim chance that any of these films would be better than Udaan, so I am not expecting too much from either of the 3 films- but one thing cannot be denied that Kashyap has made a mark
Cannes 2012: Anurag Kashyap on ‘Gangs of Wasseypur’ (Q&A)
India’s iconoclastic helmer discusses his epic Cannes entry, challenging the status quo and his upcoming collaboration with Danny Boyle.
The Hollywood Reporter: What is Gangs of Wasseypur about?
Anurag Kashyap: It is a film spanning six decades, from 1941 to 2009, and set on the lower rungs of the mafia (in India’s eastern hinterlands). Through the (characters) we learn the history of that place. They are not very educated and are totally obsessed with Bollywood stars who inspire their lives. It is about history, social issues, but it is also a revenge drama. It was difficult to find funding since nobody could understand what I wanted to do and why I wanted to make such a long film. The challenge was to make it in two parts that are independent of each other, yet still create a complete story.
THR: How do you see your entries at Cannes validating what you’ve been striving to do in India?\
Kashyap: If you get validation from outside, then suddenly everything you do at home is justified. We are brought up in a way where we do what our fathers do. You are not expected to rock the boat, you don’t change the status quo, especially in films, which have been traditionally controlled by a handful of people, actually film families. Outsiders are not supposed to change anything. I can’t complain about that, but now there is change happening. The young filmmakers really don’t give a damn about the establishment. They want to do their own thing, they are not star-struck, especially if you see the other Indian films at Cannes [director Ashim Ahluwalia’s Un Certain Regard entry Miss Lovely and Vasan Bala’s Peddlers]. I still have one foot in Bollywood (the mainstream Hindi industry), but these guys are totally independent of that. They worked hard for years to get their films made independently. My film is still funded by a studio [Viacom18 Motion Pictures]. My responsibility is now only to my kind of cinema, but these new directors will do more to change Indian cinema since their films are very fearless.
THR: So you don’t think Gangs of Wasseypur is fearless?
Kashyap: It is fearless only in its cost and casting [as it has mostly non-marquee but great actors, like Manoj Bajpai]. In terms of storytelling, it is entertaining and mainstream, but not that fearless. It is not a Bollywood film, but about a place that is impacted by Bollywood, so it makes it commercial. The West sometimes doesn’t understand Bollywood, but they can definitely understand how Bollywood influences people.
PDF: Cannes 2012: Download THR’s ‘Daily’ Guide to Cannes
THR: What is your agenda at Cannes?
Kashyap: We want to reach out to as many people as possible and try and sell our films as widely as possible. We want to expand our audience — that’s my main agenda. [Paris-based international sales agent] Elle Driver has taken on Gangs of Wasseypur and Peddlers, and we are working closely with them [via Kashyap’s banner AKFPL] to expand the market for these films.
THR: One of your upcoming projects is Bombay Velvet starring top Bollywood star Ranbir Kapoor. How are you exploring uncharted waters with that?
Kashyap: It is not an offbeat film, but for me Bombay Velvet is one that redefines the mainstream. It’s a love story set in 1960s Mumbai, showing the changing face of the city, the subculture and the jazz age. It’s a fictional take on actual events. It’s a film noir in the jazz underworld.
THR: Wasn’t Danny Boyle involved with Bombay Velvet? Your connection with him goes back to Slumdog Millionaire, for which he extensively referred to your 2004 film Black Friday.
Kashyap: In spirit, Danny Boyle is with Bombay Velvet, but details as to what kind of participation he will have are still to be finalized later with the studio [Viacom18 Motion Pictures]. Danny is always backing me. I keep bouncing Bombay Velvet stuff off of him.
THR: How do you see an unconventional director like you working with a mainstream star like Ranbir. Is there a conflict in sensibilities?
Kashyap: I don’t think so. Today there is a new crop of mainstream actors like Ranbir Kapoor, Ranveer Singh and Arjun Kapoor, who are of a different sensibility. I think the Internet has changed the world. Even in Hollywood, directors such as the Coen brothers, Chris Nolan and David Fincher were all considered experimental. And now they are the ones totally redefining the mainstream. I mean The Dark Knight is a really good movie that reached both critics and mainstream audiences. In Indian cinema that is missing, but now it is changing.
Saurabh- how has he made a mark? One positive review from Ebert alone is not enough to make a mark- Ebert writes more than a hundred positive reviews every year. There isn’t even one mainstream western critic who has put up a review for GoW yet- and Peddlers went by pretty much unnoticed. Apparently Miss Lovely has been picked up for distribution all over Europe- so maybe it will be more in tune with the Cannes sensibilities- but sadly so far the reception for the GoW and Peddlers at Cannes indicates that they haven’t created much of an impact at all. I’m hoping that GoW does get some good coverage in the next few days and disprove this impression- but there is no evidenc yet to say that Kashyap has made any kind of a mark.
I am not denying the relatively cold reception of his film (though an Ebert review cannot be taken lightly). But we should also see that he, an bollywood, is still baby steps where such hollywood film festivals r concerned. I believe u were expecting something big so u r disappointed but I was not bcos just see the other films and talents competing there. Also as far as Indian films r concerned an international film festival does not matter to me too much, simply bcos they give preference to a certain kind of cinema
Ebert is doubtlessly an excellent critic- but just because he gives a film a good review it doesn’t mean that it has been seen, discussed and appreciated enough to leave any sort of a mark. As for international film festivals not being too important for Kashyap’s cinema- I disagree with you- Kashyap is an auteur and he does need his work to be recognised by a system that has an intelligent culture of film criticism in place- it’s obvious from his own interviews how much this sort of recognition would mean to him.
I’ve never been an Ebert fan. Too bland for my taste.
Satyam- which critics do you like?
Jonathan Rosenbaum above all others among living critics. Even otherwise I might put him top of the list at least over the last half-century or so. Because while I do like many other critics I find him stimulating all of the time in singular ways. And this is because he is much more theoretically grounded than many others. Or let me rephrase that. He strikes the right balance between being grounded in this sense and yet writing for a very general reader. In other words he doesn’t sound ‘academic’. Not that there’s anything wrong with the latter. Godard once called him the greatest Western critic since Bazin and he might have been right. But there are many others I learn and have learnt from over the years. On Rosenbaum I always like to pitch a certain example because it ties in neatly with so many things I say on the topic. Rosenbaum has never been a Kurosawa fan and I have one of the director’s greatest fans! I would still rather read him on Kurosawa than many critics who love him. Once again when the writing is illuminating or makes you think differently agreement or disagreement are beside the point. The other great thing I like about the Western critical apparatus is that a minority position is not automatically considered absurd the way it is in India. For example if you try to say something nice about Raavan there’s a sense that you need to submit to a psychological examination as soon as possible! Rosenbaum likes the very late Kurosawa, the one who made those little films after Ran more than anything else. I doubt there’s another critic anywhere who shares that view. But I like that sort of iconoclasm because it is grounded. And more importantly no one ridicules him for this reason.
Among other living critics Jonathan Hoberman is possibly next on the list. Don’t say this with as much certainty though. As you can see if your first name is ‘Jonathan’ you make it to my list!
No ‘Paulettes’ here?
Satyam- I agree completely about Western critics not being ridiculed for taking the minority view unlike in India. I don’t think that I have ever read a review by Rosenbaum- which publication does he write for?
BTW- did you read the article Bliss posted about the kitschy appreciation of Bollywood by American critics? What do you think of Rachel Saltz’s reviews?
Used to write for the Chicago Reader but he’s retired at this point and focuses on his blog where he’s collected many of these pieces (and some newer ones). If you check out the sidebar here you will see his blog listed under ‘Blogroll’. He’s written many books as well among which I’ve found his last two major collections especially useful — Essential Cinema: On the Necessity of Film Canons (this also makes a valuable argument within the American context against Harold Bloom’s polemics) and Goodbye Cinema, Hello Cinephilia: Film Culture in transition.
Who is Saltz Ami? I like A. O. Scott also
Di- I love Pauline Kael- my grandfather has a huge collection of old New Yorker magazine issues in his house and she was probably the first critic whose reviews I read.
btw Ami, that day u were saying that I am not excited for Skyfall even though it’s an action flick- i i will tell u finally, a true-blue violent action film of my taste will arrive- Machete Kills
Grandpa had smart choice, good taste which granddaughter inherited!
Thanks for the info Satyam- will check his blog out.
Saurabh- Rachel Saltz is an NYT film critic who often reviews Bollywood films.
dont pass judgement merely by reading a half hearted review on the movie.wait for one month.moreover…since the setting of the movie is hinterland of jharkhand…and the teenager like fascination of sex is something endemic to all the indians more or less…i dont think it is so misplaced
Oops summit-your pic has suddenly disappeared..
Amy has texted me to say that she finds sumits pic quite nice and interesting ;-)
Just passing the message folks
thnx alex…pls pass this on to ami that i m floored and my only wish is to see her pic so that i can return her compliment
I used to enjoy reading the reviews of Maithili Rao in Man’s world. Don’t know if she still writes there or anywhere else. Don’t even see Man’s World on the stands or in bookshops. Must check out http://www.mansworldindia.com and see if it is still around. They used to have some quality writing.
Just checked–Maithili Rao is very much there, still writing for Man’s World ; am not sure if the magazine is doing as well as before though. Now seems Looks like a dumbed down version of its fromer self. Anyway, here is alink to a recent Maithili Rao piece– http://mansworldindia.com/blog/?p=1591
The review done by hollywood reporter is certainly more revealing than the one by Bikash Mishra.But why are the last two sons of Sardar Khan called ‘perpendicular’ and ‘definitive’?…is it so because as the stature of Sardar Khan grows more and more as a feared gangster..his mind becomes more and more abstract and alienated from the reality of things?
To the accusation of Bikash Mishra that “his storytelling suffers at times from his keenness to trivialize emotions in favour of bizzare comedy.”….that is precisely what the genre of black humour purports to achieve!
I personally think anurag kashyap is an obscenely inventive director…all his movies…..No smoking…gulaal….or devd are replete with metaphors….there are no bizzare elements in his movies which are there merely for the purpose of shocking the audience,but the same has an artistic justification…be it the character of ardhnareshwar ..or the labelling of liquors as democracy,republic,etc….in Gulaal…or the magic realistic plot of No smoking….the examples are many.
No matter how much anurag says that this is a mainstream movie….i know it is going to be an out and out subversive one…